In Armenia itself there are many mountains and many plateaus, in which not even the vine can easily grow; and also many valleys, some only moderately fertile, others very fertile, for instance, the Araxene Plain, through which the Araxes River flows to the extremities of Albania and then empties into the Caspian Sea. After these comes Sacasene, this too bordering on Albania and the Cyrus River; and then comes Gogarene. Indeed, the whole of this country abounds in fruits and cultivated trees and evergreens, and even bears the olive. There is also Phauene, a province of Armenia, and Comisene, and Orchistene, which last furnishes the most cavalry. Chorsene and Cambysene are the most northerly and the most subject to snows, bordering on the Caucasian mountains and Iberia and Colchis. It is said that here, on the passes over the mountains, whole caravans are often swallowed up in the snow when unusually violent snowstorms take place, and that to meet such dangers people carry staves, which they raise to the surface of the snow in order to get air to breathe and to signify their plight to people who come along, so as to obtain assistance, be dug out, and safely escape. It is said that hollow masses of ice form in the snow which contain good water, in a coat of ice as it were; and also that living creatures breed in the snow (Apollonides1
calls these creatures "scoleces",2
); and that good water is enclosed in these hollow masses which people obtain for drinking by slitting open the coats of ice; and the genesis of these creatures is supposed to be like that of the gnats which spring from the flames and sparks at mines.