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 Polybius tells us that in his time the gold mines were so rich about Aquileia, but particularly in the countries of the Taurisci Norici, that if you dug but two feet below the surface you found gold, and that the diggings [generally] were not deeper than fifteen feet. In some instances the gold was found pure in lumps about the size of a bean or lupin, and which diminished in the fire only about one eighth; and in others, though requiring more fusion, was still very profitable. Certain Italians1 aiding the barbarians in working [the mines], in the space of two months the value of gold was diminished throughout the whole of Italy by one third. The Taurisci on discovering this drove out their fellow-labourers, and only sold the gold themselves. Now, however, the Romans possess all the gold mines. Here, too, as well as in Iberia, the rivers yield gold-dust as well as the diggings, though not in such large quantities. The same writer, speak- ing of the extent and height of the Alps, compares with them the largest mountains of Greece, such as Taygetum,2 Lycæum,3 Parnassus,4 Olympus,5 Pelion,6 Ossa,7 and of Thrace, as the Hæmus, Rhodope, and Dunax, saying that an active person might almost ascend any of these in a single day, and go round them in the same time, whereas five days would not be sufficient to ascend the Alps, while their length along the plains extends 2200 stadia.8 He only names four passes over the mountains, one through Liguria close to the Tyrrhenian Sea,9 a second through the country of the Taurini,10 by which Hannibal passed, a third through the country of the Salassi,11 and a fourth through that of the Rhæti,12 all of them precipitous. In these mountains, he says, there are numerous lakes; three large ones, the first of which is Benacus,13 500 stadia in length and 130 in breadth, the river Mincio flows from it. The second is the Verbanus,14 400 stadia [in length], and in breadth smaller than the preceding; the great river Ticino15 flows from this [lake]. The third is the Larius,16 its length is nearly 300 stadia, and its breadth 30, the river Adda flows from it. All these rivers flow into the Po. This is what we have to say concerning the Alpine mountains.
1 The Italians also went into Spain, and there engaged in working the mines. Vide Diodorus Siculus, lib. v. c. 36, 38.
2 A mountain of Laconia.
3 In Arcadia, some suppose it to be the modern Tetragi, others Diaphorti, and others Mintha.
4 In Phocis, Iapara, or Liokura.
5 Olympus is a mountain range of Thessaly, bordering on Macedonia, its summit is thirty miles north of Larissa, in lat. 40° 4′ 32″ N., long. 22° 25′ E. Its estimated height is 9745 feet.
6 Petras or Zagora.
7 Now Kissovo; it is situated to the east of the river Peneus, immediately north of Mount Pelion, and bounds the celebrated vale of Tempe on one side.
8 Gosselin observes, both Polybius and Strabo extended the Alps from the neighbourhood of Marseilles to beyond the Adriatic Gulf, a distance twice 2200 stadia. It appears probable from the words of Polybius himself, (lib. ii. c. 14,) that he merely intended to state the length of the plains situated at the foot of the mountains, which bound Italy on the north; and in fact the distance in a right line from the foot of the Alps about Rivoli or Pignerol to Rovigo, and the marshes formed at the mouths of the Adige and Po, is 63 leagues, or 2200 stadia of 700 to a degree.
9 This route passes from Tortona, by Vadi, Albinga, Vintimille, and Monaco, where it crosses the maritime Alps, and thence to Nice, Antibes, &c. Gosselin.
10 This route passes by Briançon, Mont Genèvre, the Col de Sestrière, and the Val Progelas.
11 The passage by the Val Aouste.
12 This route, starting from Milan, passed east of the lake of Como by Coire, and then by Bregentz to the Lake of Constance.
13 The Lago di Garda.
14 Lago Maggiore.
15 Ticinus. We have followed the example of the French translators in making the Ticino to flow from the Lago Maggiore, and the Adda from the Lake of Como; by some inexplicable process the text of Strabo has been corrupted and these rivers transposed. Kramer notices the inconsistency of the text.
16 The Lake of Como.
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