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After passing the last, we come to the Gates of Caucasus,1 by many persons most erroneously called the Caspian Passes; a vast work of nature, which has suddenly wrenched asunder in this place a chain of mountains. At this spot are gates barred up with beams shod with iron, while beneath the middle there runs a stream which emits a most fetid odour; on this side of it is a rock, defended by a fortress, the name of which is Cumania,2 erected for the purpose of preventing the passage of the innumerable tribes that lie beyond. Here, then, we may see the habitable world severed into two parts by a pair of gates; they are just opposite to Harmastis, a town of the Iberi.

Beyond the Gates of Caucasus, in the Gordyæan Mountains, the Valli and the Suani, uncivilized tribes, are found; still, however, they work the mines of gold there. Beyond these nations, and extending as far away as Pontus, are numerous nations of the Heniochi, and, after them, of the Achæi. Such is the present state of one of the most famous tracts upon the face of the earth.

Some writers have stated that the distance between the Euxine and the Caspian Sea is not more than three hundred and seventy-five miles; Cornelius Nepos makes it only two hundred and fifty. Within such straits is Asia pent up in this second instance3 by the agency of the sea! Claudius Cæsar has informed us that from the Cimmerian Bosporus to the Caspian Sea is a distance of only one hundred and fifty4 miles, and that Nicator Seleucus5 contemplated cutting through this isthmus just at the time when he was slain by Ptolemy Ceraunus. It is a well-known fact that the distance from the Gates of Caucasus to the shores of the Euxine is two hundred miles.

1 There are two chief passes over the chain of the Caucasus, both of which were known to the ancients. The first is between the eastern extremity of its chief north-eastern spur and the Caspian sea, near the modern Derbend. This was called "Albaniæ," and sometimes, "Caspiæ Pylie," the "Albanian" or "Caspian Gates." The other, which was nearly in the centre of the Caspian range, was called "Caucasiæ" or "Sarmaticæ Pylæ," being the same as the modern pass of Dariyel, and probably the one here referred to.

2 Probably the same as the present fortress of Dariyel.

3 The first instance was that of the narrow isthmus to which the continent of Asia is reduced from Sinope across to the Gulf of Issus, as mentioned in c. 2.

4 The shortest distance across, in a straight line, is in reality little less than 600 miles.

5 The ancestor of the Seleucidæ, kings of Syria, treacherously slain by Ptolemy Ceraunus, brother of Ptolemy Philadelphus.

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  • Cross-references to this page (12):
    • Harper's, Fiscellus
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), APOLLO´NIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ARE´TIAS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ASSY´RIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), BO´SPORUS THRA´CIUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HAMAXO´BII
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), IBE´RIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LYTARNIS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TREBULA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TYLUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), UDAE
    • Smith's Bio, Ares
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