IN proceeding from the Hyrcanian Sea towards the east,
on the right hand are the mountains which the Greeks call
Taurus, extending as far as India. They begin from Pamphylia and Cilicia, and stretch to this part from the west in
a continuous line, bearing different names in different places.
The northern parts1
of this range are occupied first by Gelæ,
Cadusii, and Amardi, as we have said, and by some tribes of
Hyrcanians; then follow, as we proceed towards the east
and the Ochus, the nation of the Parthians, then that of the
Margiani and Arii, and the desert country which the river
Sarnius separates from Hyrcania. The mountain, which extends to this country, or within a small distance of it, from
Armenia, is called Parachoathras.
From the Hyrcanian sea to the Arii are about 6000 stadia.2
Next follow Bactriana, Sogdiana, and lastly nomade Scythians.
The Macedonians gave the name of Caucasus to all the
mountains which follow after Ariana,3
but among the barbarians the heights and the northern parts of the Parapomisus were called Emoda, and Mount Imaus;4
names of this kind were assigned to each portion of this
On the left hand5
opposite to these parts are situated
the Scythian and nomadic nations, occupying the whole of
the northern side. Most of the Scythians, beginning from
the Caspian Sea, are called Dahæ Scythæ, and those situated
more towards the east Massagetæ and Sacæ; the rest have
the common appellation of Scythians, but each separate tribe
has its peculiar name. All, or the greatest part of them, are
nomades. The best known tribes are those who deprived
the Greeks of Bactriana, the Asii, Pasiani, (Asiani?) Tochari,
and Sacarauli, who came from the country on the other side
of the Iaxartes,6
opposite the Sacæ and Sogdiani, and which
country was also occupied by Sacæ; some tribes of the
Dahæ are surnamed Aparni, some Xanthii, others Pissuri.7
The Aparni approach the nearest of any of these people to
llyrcania, and to the Caspian Sea. The others extend as far
as the country opposite to Aria.
Between these people, Hyrcania, and Parthia as far as
Aria lies a vast and arid desert, which they crossed by long
journeys, and overran Hyrcania, the Nesæan country, and
the plains of Parthia. These people agreed to pay a tribute
on condition of having permission to overrun the country at
stated times, and to carry away the plunder. But when these
incursions became more frequent than the agreement allowed,
war ensued, afterwards peace was made, and then again war
was renewed. Such is the kind of life which the other Nomades also lead, continually attacking their neighbours, and
then making peace with them.
The Sacæ had made incursions similar to those of the
Cimmerians and Treres, some near their own country, others
at a greater distance. They occupied Bactriana, and got
possession of the most fertile tract in Armenia, which was
called after their own name, Sacasene. They advanced even
as far as the Cappadocians, those particularly situated near
the Euxine; who are now called Pontici. When they were
assembled together and feasting on the division of the booty,
they were attacked by night by the Persian generals who
were then stationed in that quarter, and were utterly exterminated. The Persians raised a mound of earth in the form
of a hill over a rock in the plain, (where this occurred,) and
fortified it. They erected there a temple to Anaïtis and tile
gods Omanus and Anadatus, Persian deities who have a
They also instituted an annual festival, (in
memory of the event,) the Sacæa, which the occupiers of Zela,
for this is the name of the place, celebrate to this day. It is
a small city chiefly appropriated to the sacred attendants.
Pompey added to it a considerable tract of territory, the inhabitants of which he collected within the walls. It was one
of the cities which he settled after the overthrow of Mithridates.
Such is the account which is given of the Sacæ by some
writers. Others say, that Cyrus in an expedition against the
Sacæ was defeated, and fled. He advanced with his army to
the spot where he had left his stores, consisting of large supplies of every kind, particularly of wine; he stopped a short
time to refresh his army, and set out in the evening, as
though he continued his flight, the tents being left full of provisions. He proceeded as far as he thought requisite, and
then halted. The Sacæ pursued, who, finding the camp abandoned and full of the means of gratifying their appetites, indulged themselves without restraint. Cyrus then returned
and found them drunk and frantic; some were killed, stretched on the ground drowsy or asleep; others, dancing and maddened with wine, fell defenceless on the weapons of their
enemies. Nearly all of them perished. Cyrus ascribed
this success to the gods; lie consecrated the day to the goddess worshipped in his own country, and called it Sacæ.
Wherever there is a temple of this goddess, there the Sacœan
festival, a sort of Bacchanalian feast, is celebrated, in which
both men and women, dressed in the Scythian habit, pass day
and night in drinking and wanton play.
The Massagetæ signalized their bravery in the war with
Cyrus, of which many writers have published accounts; we
must get our information from them. Such particulars as
the following are narrated respecting this nation; some
tribes inhabit mountains, some plains, others live among
marshes formed by the rivers, others on the islands among the
marshes. The Araxes is said to be the river which is the chief
cause of inundating the country; it is divided into various
branches and discharges itself by many mouths into the other
towards the north, but by one only into the Hyrcanian
Gulf. The Massagetæ regard no other deity than the sun, and
to his honour they sacrifice a horse. Each man marries only
one wife, but they have intercourse with the wives of each
other without any concealment. He who has intercourse with
the wife of another man hangs up his quiver on a waggon,
and lies with her openly. They account the best mode of
death to be chopped up when they grow old with the flesh of
sheep, and both to be devoured together. Those who die of'
disease are cast out as impious, and only fit to be the prey of
wild beasts; they are excellent horsemen, and also fight well
on foot. They use bows, swords, breastplates, and sagares
of brass, they wear golden belts, and turbans10
on their heads
in battle. Their horses have bits of gold, and golden breastplates; they have no silver, iron in small quantity, but gold
and brass in great plenty.
Those who live in the islands have no corn-fields. Their
food consists of roots and wild fruits. Their clothes are made
of the bark of trees, for they have no sheep. They press out
and drink the juice of the fruit of certain trees.
The inhabitants of the marshes eat fish. They are clothed
in the skins of seals, which come upon the island from the sea.
The mountaineers subsist on wild fruits. They have besides a few sheep, but they kill them sparingly, and keep
them for the sake of their wool and milk. Their clothes
they variegate by steeping them in dyes, which produce a
colour not easily effaced.
The inhabitants of the plains, although they possess land,
do not cultivate it, but derive their subsistence from their
flocks, and from fish, after the manner of the nomades and
Scythians. I have frequently described a certain way of life
common to all these people. Their burial-places and their
manners are alike, and their whole manner of living is independent, but rude, savage, and hostile; in their compacts, however, they are simple and without deceit.
The Attasii (Augasii?) and the Chorasmii belong to
the Massagetæ and Sacæ, to whom Spitamenes directed his
flight from Bactria and Sogdiana. He was one of the Persians who, like Bessus, made his escape from Alexander by
flight, as Arsaces afterwards fled from Seleucus Callinicus,
and retreated among the Aspasiacæ.
Eratosthenes says, that the Bactrians lie along the Arachoti
and Massagetæ on the west near the Oxus, and that Sacæ and
Sogdiani, through the whole extent of their territory,11
are opposite to India, but the Bactrii in part only, for the greater part
of their country lies parallel to the Parapomisus; that the
Sacæ and Sogdiani are separated by the Iaxartes, and the
Sogdiani and Bactriani by the Oxus; that Tapyri occupy
the country between Hyrcani and Arii; that around the
shores of the sea, next to the Hyrcani, are Amardi, Anariacæ,
Cadusii, Albani, Caspii, Vitii, and perhaps other tribes extending as far as the Scythians; that on the other side of the
Hyrcani are Derbices, that the Caducii are contiguous both to
the Medes and Matiani below the Parachoathras.
These are the distances which he gives.
|From the Caspian Sea to the Cyrus about||1800|
|Thence to the Caspian Gates||5600|
|Thence to Alexandreia in the territory of the Arii||6400|
|Thence to the city Bactra, which is called also Zariaspa||3870|
|Thence to the river Iaxartes, which Alexander reached, about||5000|
|Making a total of||22,670|
He also assigns the following distances from the Caspian
Gates to India.
|To Alexandreia13 in the country of the Arii (Ariana)||4530|
|Thence to Prophthasia14 in Dranga15 (or according to others 1500）||1600|
|Thence to the city Arachoti16||4120|
|Thence to Ortospana on the three roads from Bactra17||2000|
|Thence to the confines of India||1000|
|Which together amount to||15,30018|
We must regard as continuous with this distance, in a straight
line, the length of India, reckoned from the Indus to the,
Thus much then respecting the Sacæ.