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[6]

But the Chersonesus, except for the mountainous district that extends along the sea as far as Theodosia, is everywhere level and fertile, and in the production of grain it is extremely fortunate. At any rate, it yields thirty-fold if furrowed by any sort of a digging-instrument.1 Further, the people of this region, together with those of the Asiatic districts round about Sindice, used to pay as tribute to Mithridates one hundred and eighty thousand medimni2 and also two hundred talents of silver.3 And in still earlier times the Greeks imported their supplies of grain from here, just as they imported their supplies of salt-fish from the lake. Leuco, it is said, once sent from Theodosia to Athens two million one hundred thousand medimni.4 These same people used to be called Georgi,5 in the literal sense of the term, because of the fact that the people who were situated beyond them were Nomads and lived not only on meats in general but also on the meat of horses, as also on cheese made from mare's milk, on mare's fresh milk, and on mare's sour milk, which last, when prepared in a particular way, is much relished by them. And this is why the poet calls all the people in that part of the world “Galactophagi.”6 Now although the Nomads are warriors rather than brigands, yet they go to war only for the sake of the tributes due them; for they turn over their land to any people who wish to till it, and are satisfied if they receive in return for the land the tribute they have assessed, which is a moderate one, assessed with a view, not to an abundance, but only to the daily necessities of life; but if the tenants do not pay, the Nomads go to war with them. And so it is that the poet calls these same men at the same time both “just” and “resourceless”; for if the tributes were paid regularly, they would never resort to war. But men who are confident that they are powerful enough either to ward off attacks easily or to prevent any invasion do not pay regularly; such was the case with Asander,7 who, according to Hypsicrates,8 walled off the isthmus of the Chersonesus which is near Lake Maeotis and is three hundred and sixty stadia in width, and set up ten towers for every stadium. But though the Georgi of this region are considered to be at the same time both more gentle and civilized, still, since they are money-getters and have to do with the sea, they do not hold aloof from acts of piracy, nor yet from any other such acts of injustice and greed.

1 Or perhaps, “plough-share.”

2 The Attic medimnus was about one bushel and a half.

3 The Attic silver talent was about $1000.

4 Leuco sent to Athens 400,000 medimni of wheat annually, but in the year of the great famine (about 360 B.C.) he sent not only enough for Athens but a surplus which the Athenians sold at a profit of fifteen talents (Demosthenes, Against Leptines, 20. 32-33).

5 i.e.,, “Tillers of the soil.”

6 Cp. 7. 3. 3, 7, 9.

7 Asander unsurped the throne of the Bosporus in 47 (or 46) B.C., after he had overthrown and killed his chief, King Pharnaces, and had defeated and killed Mithridates of Pergamon who sought the throne. His kingdom extended as far as the Don (see 11. 2. 11 and 13. 4. 3), and he built the fortifications above mentioned to prevent the invasions of the Scythians.

8 Hysicrates flourished in the time of Julius Caesar. He wrote a number of historical and geographical treatises, but the exact titles are unknown (see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v.).

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