This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 Between the Tigris and the Euphrates flows a river, called Basileios (or the Royal river), and about Anthemusia another called the Aborrhas.1 The road for merchants going from Syria to Seleuceia and Babylon lies through the country of the (Arabian) Scenitæ, [now called Malii,]2 and through the desert belonging to their territory. The Euphrates is crossed in the latitude of Anthemusia, a place in Mesopotamia.3 Above the river, at the distance of four schœni, is Bambyce, which is called by the names of Edessa and Hierapolis,4 where the Syrian goddess Atargatis is worshipped. After crossing the river, the road lies through a desert country on the borders of Babylonia to Scenæ, a considerable city, situated on the banks of a canal. From the passage across the river to Scenæ is a journey of five and twenty days. There are (on the road) owners of camels, who keep resting-places, which are well supplied with water from cisterns, or transported from a distance. The Scenitæ exact a moderate tribute from merchants, but [otherwise] do not molest them: the merchants, therefore, avoid the country on the banks of the river, and risk a journey through the desert, leaving the river on the right hand at a distance of nearly three days' march. For the chiefs of the tribes living on both banks of the river, who occupy not indeed a fertile territory, yet one less sterile than the rest (of the country), are settled in the midst of their own peculiar domains, and each exacts a tribute of no moderate amount for himself. And it is difficult among so large a body of people, and of such daring habits, to establish any common standard of tribute advantageous to the merchant. Scene is distant from Seleuceia 18 schœni.
1 These appear to be the rivers found in the neighbourhood of Roha or Orfa, the ancient Edessa. One of these rivers bears the name of Beles, and is perhaps the Baseleios of Strabo. Chabur is the Aborrhas.
2 Probably an interpolation.
3 The passage of the Euphrates here in question was effected at the Zeugma of Commagene, called by Strabo the present passage. On passing the river you entered Anthemusia, a province which appears to have received, later on, the name of Osroene. It extended considerably towards the north, for in it the Aborrhas, according to Strabo, had its source; but it is doubtful whether it extended to the north of Mount Masius, where the latitudes, as given by Ptolemy, would place it. I do not exactly know whether Strabo intends to speak of a city or a province, for the position of the city is unknown; we only learn from a passage in Pliny, vi. c. xxvi., that it was not on the Euphrates. The word τόπος is not, I think, so applicable to a province as to a city, and in this last sense I have understood it, giving also to κατὰ the meaning of latitude, in which it is so often applied by Strabo; strictly speaking, the sense of ‘vis-á-vis,’ ‘opposite to,’ might be given to it.—Letronne.
4 This is an error of the author or of the copyist. Edessa (now Orfah) is not to be confounded with Bambyce (Kara-Bambuche, or Buguk Munbedj) of Cyrrhestica in Syria, which obtained its Hellenic name from Seleucus Nicator.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.