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Beyond this river are the peoples of Scythia. The Persians have called them by the general name of Sacæ,1 which properly belongs to only the nearest nation of them. The more ancient writers give them the name of Aramii. The Scythians themselves give the name of "Chorsari" to the Persians, and they call Mount Caucasus Graucasis, which means "white with snow." The multitude of these Scythian nations is quite innumerable: in their life and habits they much resemble the people of Parthia. The tribes among them that are better known are the Sacæ, the Massagetæ,2 the Dahæ,3 the Essedones,4 the Ariacæ,5 the Rhymmici, the Pæsici, the Amardi,6 the Histi, the Edones, the Came, the Camacæ, the Euchatæ,7 the Cotieri, the Anthusiani, the Psacæ, the Arimaspi,8 the Antacati, the Chroasai, and the Œtei; among them the Napæi9 are said to have been destroyed by the Palæi. The rivers in their country that are the best known, are the Mandragæus and the Carpasus. Indeed upon no subject that I know of are there greater discrepancies among writers, from the circumstance, I suppose, of these nations being so extremely numerous, and of such migratory habits. Alexander the Great has left it stated that the water of this sea10 is fresh, and M. Varro informs us, that some of it, of a similar character, was brought to Pompey, when holding the chief command in the Mithridatic war in its vicinity; the salt,11 no doubt, being overpowered by the volume of water discharged by the rivers which flow into it. He adds also, that under the direction of Pompey, it was ascertained that it is seven days' journey from India to the river Icarus,12 in the country of the Bactri, which discharges itself into the Oxus, and that the merchandize of India being conveyed from it13 through the Caspian Sea into the Cyrus, may be brought by land to Phasis in Pontus, in five days at most. There are numerous islands throughout the whole of the Caspian sea: the only one that is well known is that of Tazata.14

1 The Sacæ probably formed one of the most numerous and most powerful of the Scythian Nomad tribes, and dwelt to the east and north-east of the Massagetæ, as far as Servia, in the steppes of Central Asia, which are now peopled by the Kirghiz Cossacks, in whose name that of their ancestors, the Sacæ, is traced by some geographers.

2 Meaning the "Great Getæ." They dwelt beyond the Jaxartes and the Sea of Aral, and their country corresponds to that of the Khirghiz Tartars in the north of Independent Tartary.

3 The Dahæ were a numerous and warlike Nomad tribe, who wandered over the vast steppes lying to the east of the Caspian Sea. Strabo has grouped them with the Sacæ and Massagetæ, as the great Scythian tribes of Inner Asia, to the north of Bactriana.

4 See also B. iv. c. 20, and B. vi. c. 7. The position of the Essedones, or perhaps more correctly, the Issedones, may probably be assigned to the east of Ichim, in the steppes of the central border of the Kirghiz, in the immediate vicinity of the Arimaspi, who dwelt on the northern declivity of the Altaï chain. A communication is supposed to have been carried on between these two peoples for the exchange of the gold that was the produce of those mountain districts.

5 They dwelt, according to Ptolemy, along the southern banks of the Jaxartes.

6 Or the Mardi, a warlike Asiatic tribe. Stephanus Byzantinus, following Strabo, places the Amardi near the Hyrcani, and adds, "There are also Persian Mardi, without the a;" and, speaking of the Mardi, he mentions them as an Hyrcanian tribe, of predatory habits, and skilled in archery.

7 D'Anville supposes that the Euchatæ may have dwelt at the modern Koten, in Little Bukharia. It is suggested, however, by Parisot, that they may have possibly occupied a valley of the Himalaya, in the midst of a country known as "Cathai," or the "desert."

8 The first extant notice of them is in Herodotus; but before him there was the poem of Aristeas of Proconnesus, of which the title was 'Arimaspea;' and it is mainly upon the statements in it that the stories told relative to this people rest—such as their being one-eyed, and as to their stealing the gold from the Gryphes, or Griffins, under whose custody it was placed. Their locality is by some supposed to have been on the left bank of the Middle Volga, in the governments of Kasan, Simbirsk, and Saratov: a locality which is sufficiently near the gold districts of the Uralian chain to account for the legends connecting them with the Gryphes, or guardians of the gold.

9 The former reading was, "The Napæi are said to have perished as well as the Apellæi." Sillig has, however, in all probability, restored the correct one. "Finding," he says, "in the work of Diodorus Siculus, that two peoples of Scythia were called, from their two kings, who were brothers, the Napi and the Pali, we have followed close upon the footsteps of certain MSS. of Pliny, and have come to the conclusion that some disputes arose between these peoples, which ultimately led to the destruction of one of them."

10 Of the Caspian Sea.

11 Said on the supposition that it is a bay or gulf of the Scythian or Septentrional Ocean.

12 Ansart suggests that this is the modern Rocsha.

13 From the Oxus.

14 Ansart suggests that this island is that now called Idak, one of the Ogurtchinski group.

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  • Cross-references to this page (16):
    • Harper's, Dahae
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), DAHAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), I´NDIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ISSE´DONES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), JOMANES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MASSA´GETAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ME´THORA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MODOGALINGA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MODUBAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MOLINDAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), OXUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), OXYMAGIS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PRASIACA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TALUCTAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TILADAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), UBERAE
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (8):
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