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Alexander started out for Hyrcania and on the third day encamped near a city called Hecatontapylus.1 This was a wealthy city with a profusion of everything contributing to pleasure, so he rested his army there for some days. [2] Then, advancing one hundred and fifty furlongs, he encamped near a huge rock2; under its base there was a marvellous cave from which flowed a great river known as the Stiboeites.3 This tumbles out with a rapid current for a distance of three furlongs, and then divides into two courses on either side of a breast-shaped "rock," beneath which there is a vast cavern. Into this the river plunges with a great roar, foaming from its clash against the rock. After flowing underground a distance of three hundred furlongs, it again breaks its way to the surface.4 [3]

Alexander entered Hyrcania with his army and took possession of all the cities there as far as the so-called Caspian Sea, which some name the Hyrcanian. In this they say are spawned many large serpents and fish of all sorts quite different in colour from ours.5 [4] He passed through Hyrcania and came to the Fortunate Villages, as they are called, and truly such they are, for their land produces crops far more generously than elsewhere. [5] They say that each vine produces a metretes of wine, while there are some fig trees which produce ten medimni of dried figs.6 The grain which is overlooked at the harvest and falls to the ground germinates without being sown and brings to maturity an abundant harvest. [6] There is a tree known to the natives like an oak in appearance, from the leaves of which honey drips; this some collect and take their pleasure from it abundantly.7 [7] There is a winged animal in this country which they call anthredon, smaller than the bee but very useful. It roams the mountains gathering nectar from every kind of flower. Dwelling in hollow rocks and lightning-blasted trees it forms combs of wax and fashions a liquor of surpassing sweetness, not far inferior to our honey.8

1 Usually called Hecatompylus; Curtius 6.2.15.

2 Cp. on chap. 28.1, note.

3 Curtius 6.4.3-7. The spring is identified as the modern Chesmeh-i-Ali about fifteen miles north-west of Hecatompylus; cp. P. Pédech, Revue des Études Anciennes, 60 (1958), 67-81.

4 Curtius 6.4.4-5 gives the same figures.

5 Curtius 6.4.18.

6 Strabo 11.7.2 (cp. Strabo 2.1.14), who says sixty medimni. A metretes was about four and one-half gallons, a medimnus about one and one-half bushels.

7 This item comes from Onesicritus, and concerns a fig tree called "occhus." Cp. Curtius 6.4.22; Theophrastus Historia Plantarum 4.4.12; Pliny Naturalis Historia 12.18.33.

8 With some exaggeration, Cleitarchus said of this insect (Jacoby, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, no. 137, F 14): "It lays waste the hill-country and dashes into the hollow oaks." Tarn (Alexander the Great, 2.90) may be right in preferring the manuscript reading which would make it "smaller than the bee but with a vast appearance," although I do not see precisely what this would mean. Cp. Strabo 2.1.14.

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