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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. V) Strabo

 p295  Book XI, Chapter 12

1 (520) Since the northern parts of Asia are formed by the Taurus, — I mean the parts which are also called "Cis‑Tauran" Asia,​1 I have chosen to describe these first. These include all or most of the regions in the mountains themselves. All that lie farther east than the Caspian Gates admit of a simpler description because of the wildness of their inhabitants; and it would not make much difference whether they were named as belonging to this "clima"​2 or that, whereas all that lie to the west afford abundant matter for description, and therefore I must proceed to the parts which are adjacent to the Caspian Gates. Adjacent to the Caspian Gates on the west is Media, a country at one time both extensive and powerful, and situated in the midst of the Taurus, which is split into many parts in the region of Media and contains many valleys, as is also the case in Armenia.

2 For this mountain has its beginning in Caria and Lycia; there, indeed, it has neither any considerable breadth nor height, but it first rises to a considerable height opposite the Chelidoniae, which are islands at the beginning of the coast of Pamphylia, 521 and then stretching towards the east encloses long valleys, those in Cilicia, and then on one side the Amanus Mountain splits off it and on the other the Antitaurus Mountain, in which latter is situated Comana, in Upper Cappadocia, as it is called. Now  p297 the Antitaurus ends in Cataonia, whereas the mountain Amanus extends to the Euphrates River and Melitenê, where Commagenê lies adjacent to Cappadocia. And it is succeeded in turn by the mountains on the far side of the Euphrates, which are continuous with those aforementioned, except that they are cleft by the river that flows through the midst of them. Here its height and breadth greatly increase and its branches are more numerous. At all events, the most southerly part is the Taurus proper, which separates Armenia from Mesopotamia.

3 Thence flow both rivers, I mean the Euphrates and the Tigris, which encircle Mesopotamia and closely approach each other in Babylonia and then empty into the Persian Sea. The Euphrates is not only the larger of the two rivers, but also, with its winding stream, traverses more country, having its sources in the northerly region of the Taurus, and flowing towards the west through Greater Armenia, as it is called, to Lesser Armenia, having the latter on its right and Acilisenê on the left. It then bends towards the south, and at its bend joins the boundaries of Cappadocia; and leaving these and the region of Commagenê on the right, and Acilisenê and Sophenê in Greater Armenia on the left, it runs on to Syria and again makes another bend into Babylonia and the Persian Gulf. The Tigris, running from the southerly part of the same mountain to Seleuceia, approaches close to the Euphrates and with it forms Mesopotamia, and then flows into the same gulf as the Euphrates. The sources of the  p299 Euphrates and the Tigris are about two thousand five hundred stadia distant from each other.

4 Now the Taurus has numerous branches towards the north, one of which is that of the Antitaurus, as it is called, for there too the mountain which encloses Sophenê in a valley situated between itself and the Taurus was so named. On the far side of the Euphrates, near Lesser Armenia and next to the Antitaurus towards the north, there stretches a large mountain with many branches, one of which is called Paryadres, another the Moschian Mountains, and another which is called by various names; and these comprehend the whole of Armenia as far as Iberia and Albania. Then other mountains rise towards the east, I mean those which lie above the Caspian Sea, extending as far as Media, 522 not only the Atropatian Media but also the Greater Media. Not only all these parts of the mountains are called Parachoathras, but also those which extend to the Caspian Gates and those which extend still farther towards the east, I mean those which border on Aria. The mountains on the north, then, bear these names, whereas those on the south, on the far side of the Euphrates, in their extent towards the east from Cappadocia and Commagenê, are, at their beginning, called Taurus proper,​3 which separates Sophenê and the rest of Armenia from Mesopotamia; by some, however, these are called the Gordyaean Mountains, and among these belongs also Masius, the mountain which is situated above Nisibis and Tigranocerta. Then the Taurus rises higher and bears the name Niphates; and somewhere here are the sources of the Tigris, on  p301 the southern side of the mountainous country. Then from the Niphates the mountain-chain extends still farther and farther and forms the mountain Zagrus which separates Media and Babylonia. After the Zagrus there follows, above Babylonia, the mountainous country of the Elymaei and that of the Paraetaceni, and also, above Media, that of the Cossaei. In the middle are Media and Armenia, which comprise many mountains, many plateaus, and likewise many low plains and large valleys, and also numerous tribes that live round among the mountains and are small in numbers and range the mountains and for the most part are given to brigandage. Thus, then, I am placing inside the Taurus both Media, to which the Caspian Gates belong, and Armenia.

5 According to the way in which I place them, then, these tribes would be towards the north, since they are inside the Taurus, but Eratosthenes, who is the author of the division of Asia into "Southern Asia" and "Northern Asia" and into "Sphragides,"​4 as he calls them, calling some of the "sphragides" "northern" and others "southern," represents the Caspian Gates as a boundary between the two "climata";​5 reasonably, therefore he might represent as "southern" the parts that are more southerly, stretching towards the east,​6 than the Caspian Gates, among which are Media and Armenia, and the more northerly as "northern," since this is the case no matter what distribution into parts is otherwise made of the country. But perhaps it did not strike Eratosthenes that no part either of Armenia or of Media lay outside the Taurus.

The Editor's Notes:

1 See 11.1.1‑5.

2 See Vol. I, p22, foot-note 2.

3 Cf. 11.12.3.

4 See 2.1.35 and note on "Sphragides."

5 See Vol. I, p22, foot-note 2.

6 "Stretching towards the east" seems to be an interpolation (see critical note).

The critical note to the Greek text, after εἰκότως οὖν τὰ νοτιωτέρα, πρὸς ἕω τείνοντα, reads:

πρὸς ἕω τείνοντα Kramer suspects, Meineke ejects.

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