CHAPTER I.ASIA is contiguous to Europe, approaching close to it at the Tanaïs or Don. I am to describe this country next, after dividing it, for the sake of perspicuity, by certain natural boundaries. What Eratosthenes has done with respect to the whole habitable earth, this I propose to do with respect to Asia.  The Taurus, extending from west to east, embraces the middle of this continent, like a girdle, leaving one portion to the north, another to the south. The Greeks call the former Asia Within the Taurus,1 the latter, Asia Without the Taurus. We have said this before, but it is repeated now to assist the memory.  The Taurus has in many places a breadth of 3000 stadia; its length equals that of Asia, namely 45,000 stadia,2 reckoning from the continent opposite to Rhodes to the eastern extremities of India and Scythia.  It is divided into many parts, which are circumscribed by boundaries of greater or less extent, and distinguished by various names. But as such an extended range of mountains must comprise nations some of which are little known, and others with whom we are well acquainted, as Parthians,3 Medes, Armenians, some of the Cappadocians, Cilicians, and Pisidians; those which approach near the northern parts must be assigned to the north, (northern Asia,) those approximating the southern parts, to the south, (southern Asia,) and those situated in the middle of the mountains must be placed on account of the similarity of the temperature of the air, for it is cold to the north, while the air of the south is warm. The currents of almost all the rivers which flow from the Taurus are in a direction contrary to each other, some running to the north, others to the south, at least at the commencement of their course, although afterwards some bend towards the east or west. They naturally suggest the adoption of this chain of mountains as a boundary in the division of Asia into two portions; in the same manner that the sea within the Pillars, which for the most part runs in the same line with these mountains, conveniently forms two continents, Europe and Africa, and is a remarkable boundary to both.  In passing in our geographical description from Europe to Asia, the first parts of the country which present themselves are those in the northern division, and we shall therefore begin with these. Of these parts the first are those about the Tanaïs, (or Don,) which we have assumed as the boundary of Europe and Asia. These have a kind of peninsular form, for they are surrounded on the west by the river Tanaïs (or Don) and the Palus Maotis4 as far as the Cimmerian Bosporus,5 and that part of the coast of the Euxine which terminates at Colchis; on the north by the Ocean, as far as the mouth of the Caspian Sea; on the east by the same sea, as far as the confines of Albania and Armenia, where the rivers Cyrus6 and Araxes7 empty themselves; the latter flowing through Armenia, and the Cyrus through Iberia8 and Albania;9 on the south is the tract of country extending from the mouth of the Cyrus as far as Colchis, and comprising about 3000 stadia from sea to sea, across the territory of the Albani, and Iberes,10 so as to represent an isthmus.11 Those writers do not deserve attention who contract the isthmus as much as Cleitarchus, according to whom it is subject to inundations of the sea from either side. According to Posidonius the isthmus is 1500 stadia in extent, that is, as large as the isthmus from Pelusium to the Red Sea. And I think, says he, that the isthmus between the Palus Mæotis and the Ocean is not very different from this in extent.  I know not how any one can rely upon his authority respecting what is uncertain, when he has nothing probable to advance on the subject; for he reasons so falsely respecting things which are evident, and this too when he enjoyed the friendship of Pompey, who had carried on war against the Iberes and Albani, and was acquainted with both the Caspian and Colchian12 Seas on each side of the isthmus. It is related, that when Pompey13 was at Rhodes, on his expedi- tion against the pirates, (he was soon afterwards to carry on war against Mithridates and the nations as far as the Caspian Sea,) he accidentally heard a philosophical lecture of Posidonius; and on his departure he asked Posidonius if he had any commands; to which he replied,
Add to this, that he wrote the history of Pompey. For these reasons he ought to have paid a greater regard to truth.  The second portion is that above the Hyrcanian,15 which we also call the Caspian Sea, extending as far as the Scythians near the Indians. The third portion is continuous with the above-mention- ed isthmus, and consists of the country following next in order to the isthmus and the Caspian Gates,16 and approaching nearest the parts within the Taurus, and to Europe; these are Media, Armenia, Cappadocia, and the intervening country.17 The fourth portion consists of the tract within the Halys,18 and the parts upon and without the Taurus, which coincide with the peninsula formed by the isthmus,19 which separates the Euxine and the Cilician Seas. Among the other countries beyond the Taurus we place Indica and Ariana,20 as far as the nations which extend to the Persian Sea, the Arabian Gulf, and the Nile, and to the Ægyptian and the Issic seas.
“ To stand the first in worth, as in command.14”Il. vi. 208. Pope.