previous next

The whole of the country has severe winters as far as the regions by the sea that are between the Borysthenes and the mouth of Lake Maeotis; but of the regions themselves that are by the sea the most northerly are the mouth of the Maeotis and, still more northerly, the mouth of the Borysthenes, and the recess of the Gulf of Tamyraces,1 or Carcinites, which is the isthmus of the Great Chersonesus.2 The coldness of these regions, albeit the people live in plains, is evident, for they do not breed asses, an animal that is very sensitive to cold; and as for their cattle, some are born without horns, while the horns of others are filed off, for this part of the animal is sensitive to cold; and the horses are small, whereas the sheep are large; and bronze water-jars burst3 and their contents freeze solid. But the severity of the frosts is most clearly evidenced by what takes place in the region of the mouth of Lake Maeotis: the waterway from Panticapaeum4 across to Phanagoria5 is traversed by wagons, so that it is both ice and roadway. And fish that become caught in the ice are obtained by digging6 with an implement called the “gangame,”7 and particularly the antacaei,8 which are about the size of dolphins.9 It is said of Neoptolemus, the general of Mithridates, that in the same strait he overcame the barbarians in a naval engagement in summer and in a cavalry engagement in winter.10 And it is further said that the vine in the Bosporus region is buried during the winter, the people heaping quantities of earth upon it. And it is said that the heat too becomes severe, perhaps because the bodies of the people are unaccustomed to it, or perhaps because no winds blow on the plains at that time, or else because the air, by reason of its density, becomes superheated (like the effect of the parhelia11 in the clouds). It appears that Ateas,12 who waged war with Philip13 the son of Amyntas, ruled over most of the barbarians in this part of the world.

1 Now Karkinit Bay.

2 The Tauric Chersonese, now the Crimea.

3 See 2. 1. 16.

4 Now Kertch.

5 Near what is now Taman.

6 Strabo seems to mean that the fish were imbedded in the ice, and not that “the ice was first broken, and the fish extracted from the water beneath with a net” (Tozer, Selections from Strabo, p. 196).

7 A pronged instrument like a trident. Tozer (loc. cit.) takes “gangame” to mean here “ a small round net;” but see Stephanus, Thesaurus, and especially Hesychius (s.v.).

8 A kind of sturgeon (see Hdt. 4.53), being one of the fish from the roe of which the Russian caviar is now prepared.

9 This sentence is transposed by Meineke to a position after the sentence that follows, but see footnote on “Carcinites,” 7. 4. 1.

10 Cp. 2. 1. 16.

11 Aristot. Meteorologica 3.2.6, 3.6.5 refers to, and explains, the phenomena of the “parhelia” (“mock-suns”) in the Bosporus region.

12 According to Lucian Macrob. 10 Anteas (sic) fell in the war with Philip when about ninety years of age. The Roman writers spell the name “Atheas.”

13 359-336 B.C.; the father of Alexander the Great.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
load focus Greek (1877)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (7 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: