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The Alps

From the Pyrenees to the river Narbo the country is
River Aude. The Tech and the Ruscino or Tet.
flat; and through it flow the Illeberis and Ruscinus, past some cities of the same name inhabited by Celts. In this plain there are found what are called underground fish.
A mistake of Timaeus as to the Rhone.
The soil is light, and produces a quantity of grass called agrostis; and below this soil the earth is sandy for a depth of two or three cubits, through which the overflow of the river percolates; and with this water, as it makes its way, the fish also get below the soil to feed, for they are exceedingly fond of the root of the agrostis, and have thus made the whole plain full of subterranean fish, which people dig up and take. . . .

The Rhone has not five, but two mouths. . . .

The Liger discharges itself between the Pictŏnes and Namnitae.

Britain is quite unknown to the southern Gauls.
There was in ancient times an emporium
The Loire between Poitou and Nantes. Coiron.
on this river called Corbilo, but none of its inhabitants, nor those of Massalia or Narbo, could give Scipio1 any information worth mentioning on the subject of Britain when questioned by him, though they were the most important cities in that part of the country; and yet Pytheas has ventured on all those stories about it. . . .

An animal is produced on the Alps of a peculiar form; its

The Elk.
shape is that of a stag except its neck and coat, which resemble that of a he-goat. Beneath its chin it has an excrescence about a span long, hairy at the end, about as thick as a colt's tail. . . .

Near Aquileia, in the territory of the Noric Taurisci, in my

A gold mine near Aquileia.
own time a gold mine was discovered, so easy to work, that by scraping away the surface soil for two feet, gold could be found immediately. The seam of gold was not more than fifteen feet; some of it was found unmixed with alloy in nuggets of the size of a bean or lupine, only an eighth of it disappearing in the furnace; and some wanted more elaborate smelting, but would still pay thoroughly well. Accordingly, on the Italians joining the barbarians in working this mine, in two months the price of gold went down a third throughout Italy: and when the Taurisci found out that, they expelled their Italian fellowworkers and kept the monopoly themselves. . . .

If we compare the mountains in Greece—Taygetus,

The four passes of the Alps,—the Cornice, Argentière, Genèvre (Val d'Aosta), Cenis.
Lycaeus, Parnassus, Olympus, Pelion, Ossa, and those in Thrace—Haemus, Rhodope, Dunax, with the Alps, we may state the case thus. Each one of the former may be ascended or skirted by an active traveller in a single day; but no one could ascend the Alps even in five days, the distance from the plain being two thousand two hundred stades.
Lago di Garda, Lago di Como.
Lago Maggiore.
There are but four passes, one through Liguria, nearest the Tyrrhenian Sea; the next through the Taurini, which was the one used by Hannibal; the third through the Salassi; and the last by the Rhaeti,2 all of them excessively precipitous. There are several lakes in the mountains, three of great size, the Benacus, five hundred by one hundred and thirty stades, out of which the Mincius flows; the Larius, four hundred stades long, and somewhat narrower than the Benacus, discharging the Addua; and thirdly, the Verbanus, about three hundred stades by thirty, from which comes a considerable river—the Ticinus. All these three rivers discharge themselves into the Padus. . . .

1 Which member of the Cornelian gens this was is unknown. He appears to have been at Marseilles in the 4th century B. C. inquiring as to centres of trade open to Rome in rivalry with Carthage.

2 Varro (Serv. ad Æn. 10, 13) adds a fifth by the Graian Alps, i.e. Little St. Bernard.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), VECTIGA´LIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ATAX
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), NÓRICUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), RHAETIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), RUSCINO
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SALSULAE
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
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