Antiochus the Great In Media
Arsaces expected that Antiochus would come as far as
The nature of the desert between Media and Parthia.
this district (of Media), but that he would not
venture to proceed across the adjoining desert
with so large a force, if for no other reason, yet
from the scarcity of water. For in this tract of
country there is no water appearing on the surface, though
there are many subterranean channels which have well-shafts
sunk to them, at spots in the desert unknown to persons unacquainted with the district. A true account of these channels
has been preserved among the natives to the effect that, during
the Persian ascendency, they granted the enjoyment of the
profits of the land to the inhabitants of some of the waterless
districts for five generations, on condition of their bringing
fresh water in; and that, there being many large streams flowing
down Mount Taurus, these people at infinite toil and expense
constructed these underground channels through a long tract
of country, in such a way, that the very people who now use
the water are ignorant of the sources from which the channels
are originally supplied.
When, however, Arsaces saw that Antiochus was determined to attempt to cross the desert,
he endeavoured at once to choke up and spoil the wells.
Antiochus prepares to cross it: Arsaces orders the wells to be choked.
But King Antiochus, upon this being reported
to him, despatched Nicomedes with a thousand
horse; who found that Arsaces had retired with
his main army, but came upon some of his cavalry in the act
of choking up the shafts which went down into the underground channels. They promptly attacked these men, and,
having routed and forced them to fly, returned back again to
The king, having thus accomplished
the journey across the desert, arrived before the
, which is situated in the
centre of Parthia
, and derives its name from the fact that the
roads which lead to all the surrounding districts converge there.