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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


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

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. II) Strabo

 p163  Book IV Chapter 1

Thayer's Note: For a detailed analysis and study of this chapter, see A. Dirkzwager, Strabo über Gallia Narbonensis, Vol. 6 of the Studies of the Dutch Archaeological and Historical Society; Leiden: Brill, 1975 (110pp, with illustrations and maps).

The author has kindly taken the trouble further to inform me that it includes an introduction on the sources of Strabo, a commentary on IV.1, and an appendix on the milestones between Lyon and Vienne; as well as maps based on Ptolemy's description of Gallia Narbonensis and many parallel texts.

1 (176) Next, in order,​1 comes Transalpine Celtica.​2 I have already​3 indicated roughly both the shape and the size of this country; but now I must speak of it in detail. Some, as we know, have divided it into three parts, calling its inhabitants Aquitani, Belgae, and Celtae.​4 The Aquitani, they said, are wholly different, not only in respect to their language but also in respect to their physique — more like the Iberians than the Galatae; while the rest of the inhabitants are Galatic in appearance, although not all speak the same language, but some make slight variations in their languages. Furthermore, their governments and their modes of life are slightly different. Now by "Aquitani" and "Celtae" they meant the two peoples (separated from each other by the Cemmenus Mountain) who live next to the Pyrenees; for, as has already been said,​5 this Celtica is bounded on the west 177by the Pyrenees Mountains, which join the sea on either side, that is, both the inner and the outer sea; on the east, by the River Rhenus, which is parallel to the Pyrenees; as for the parts on the north and the south, those on the north are surrounded by the ocean (beginning at the  p165 northern headlands of the Pyrenees) as far as the mouths of the Rhenus, while those on the opposite side are surrounded by the sea that is about Massilia and Narbo, and by the Alps (beginning at Liguria) as far as the sources of the Rhenus. The Cemmenus Mountain has been drawn at right angles to the Pyrenees, through the midst of the plains; and it comes to an end about the centre of these plains,​6 near Lugdunum,​7 with an extent of about two thousand stadia. So, then, by "Aquitani" they meant the people who occupy the northern parts of the Pyrenees and, from the country of the Cemmenus on to the ocean, the parts this side the Garumna River; by "Celtae" they meant the people whose territory extends in the other direction; — down to the sea that is about Massilia and Narbo — and also joins some of the Alpine Mountains; and by "Belgae" they meant the rest of the people who live beside the Rhenus and the Alps. Thus the Deified Caesar, also, has put it in his "Commentaries."​8 Augustus Caesar, however, divided Transalpine Celtica into four parts: the Celtae he designated as belonging to the province of Narbonitis;​9 the Aquitani he designated as the former Caesar had already done, although he added to them fourteen tribes of the peoples who dwell between the Garumna and the Liger Rivers; the rest of the country he divided into two parts: one part he included within the boundaries of Lugdunum as far as the upper districts  p167 of the Rhenus,​10 while the other he included within the boundaries of the Belgae.​11 Now although the geographer should tell of all the physical and ethnic distinctions which have been made, whenever they are worth recording, yet, as for the diversified political divisions which are made by the rulers (for they suit their government to the particular times), it is sufficient if one state them merely in a summary way; and the scientfic treatment of them should be left to others.

2 Now the whole of this country is watered by rivers: some of them flow down from the Alps, the others from the Cemmenus and the Pyrenees; and some of them are discharged into the ocean, the others into Our Sea. Further, the districts through which they flow are plains, for the most part, and hilly lands with navigable water-courses. The river-beds are by nature so well situated with reference to one another that there is transportation from either sea into the other; for the cargoes are transported only a short distance by land, with an easy transit through plains, but most of the way they are carried on the rivers — on some into the interior, on the others to the sea. The Rhodanus offers an advantage in this regard; for not only is it a stream of many tributaries, as has been stated,​12 but it also connects with Our Sea, which is better than the outer sea, and traverses a country which is the most favoured of all in that part of the world. 178For example, the same fruits are produced by the whole of the province of Narbonitis as by Italy. As you proceed towards the north and the Cemmenus Mountain, the olive-planted and fig-bearing land indeed ceases, but the other things still grow. Also the vine, as  p169 you thus proceed, does not easily bring its fruit to maturity. All the rest of the country produces grain in large quantities, and millet, and nuts, and all kinds of live stock. And none of the country is untilled except parts where tilling is precluded by swamps and woods. Yet these parts too are thickly peopled — more because of the largeness of the population​13 than because of the industry of the people; for the women are not only prolific, but good nurses as well, while the men are fighters rather than farmers. But at the present time they are compelled to till the soil, now that they have laid down their arms. However, although I am here speaking only in a general way of the whole of outer Celtica,​14 let me now take each of the fourth parts separately and tell about them, describing them only in rough outline. And first, Narbonitis.

3 The figure of Narbonitis is approximately a parallelogram, since, on the west, it is traced by the Pyrenees, and, on the north, by the Cemmenus; as for the remaining sides, the southern is formed by the sea between the Pyrenees and Massilia, the eastern by the Alps, partly, and also by the intervening distance (taken in a straight line with the Alps) between the Alps and those foot-hills of the Cemmenus that reach down to the Rhodanus and form a right angle with the aforesaid straight line from the Alps. To the southern part there belongs an addition to the aforesaid figure, I mean the seaboard that follows next​15 which is inhabited by the Massiliotes and the Sallyes, as far as the Ligures, to those parts that lie towards Italy and to the Varus River. This river is, as I stated before,​16 the boundary between this Province and Italy. It is only a small  p171 river in summer, but in winter it broadens out to a breadth of as much as seven stadia. Now from this river the seaboard extends as far as the temple of the Pyrenaean Aphrodite. This temple, moreover, marks the boundary between the province of Narbonitis and the Iberian country, although some represent the place where the Trophies of Pompey are as marking the boundary between Iberia and Celtica. The distance thence to Narbo is sixty-three miles, from here to Nemausus​17 eighty-eight, from Nemausus through Ugernum and Tarusco to the hot waters that are called "Sextian,"​18 which are near Massilia, fifty-three, and thence to Antipolis and the Varus River seventy-three; so that the sum total amounts to two hundred and seventy-seven miles. Some, however, have recorded the distance from the temple of Aphrodite on to the Varus River as two thousand six hundred stadia, while others add two hundred more; for there is disagreement with respect to the distances. But if you go by the other road — that leads through the country of the Vocontii and that of Cottius: from Nemausus the road is identical with the former road 179as far as Ugernum and Tarusco, but thence it runs across the Druentia River and through Caballio sixty-three miles to the frontiers of the Vocontii and the beginning of the ascent of the Alps; and thence, again, ninety-nine miles to the other frontiers of the Vocontii, at the country of Cottius, to the village of Ebrodunum; then, another ninety-nine through the village of Brigantium and Scingomagus and the pass that leads over the Alps to Ocelum, the end of the land of Cottius.  p173 Moreover, from Scingomagus on you begin to call the country Italy; and the distance from here to Ocelum is twenty-eight miles.

4 Massilia was founded by the Phocaeans,​a and it is situated on a rocky place. Its harbour lies at the foot of a theatre-like rock which faces south. And not only is the rock itself well fortified, but also the city as a whole, though it is of considerable size. It is on the headland, however, that the Ephesium and also the temple of the Delphinian​19 Apollo are situated. The latter is shared in common by all Ionians, whereas the Ephesium is a temple dedicated solely to the Ephesian Artemis: for when the Phocaeans were setting sail from their homeland an oracle was delivered to them, it is said, to use for their voyage a guide received from the Ephesian Artemis; accordingly, some of them put in at Ephesus and inquired in what way they might procure from the goddess what had been enjoined in a dream. Now the goddess, in a dream, it is said, had stood beside Aristarcha, one of the women held in very high honour, and commanded her to sail away with the Phocaeans, taking with her a certain reproduction​20 which was among the sacred images; this done and the colony finally settled, they not only established the temple but also did Aristarcha the exceptional honour of appointing her priestess; further, in the colonial cities​21 the people everywhere do this goddess honours of the first rank, and they preserve the artistic design of the "xoanon"​22 the same, and all the other usages precisely the same as is customary in the mother-city.

 p175  5 The government under which the Massiliotes lives is aristocratic, and of all aristocracies theirs is the best ordered,​23 since they have established an Assembly of six hundred men, who hold the honour of that office for life; these they call Timouchoi.​24 Over the Assembly are set fifteen of its number, and to these fifteen it is given to carry on the immediate business of the government. And, in turn, three, holding the chief power, preside over the fifteen.​25 However, a Timouchos cannot become one of these three unless he has children or is a descendant of persons who have been citizens for three generations. Their laws are Ionic, and are published to the people. They possess a country which, although planted with olive-trees and vines, is, on account of its ruggedness, too poor for grain; so that, trusting the sea rather than the land, they preferred their natural fitness for a seafaring life. 180Later, however, their valour enabled them to take in some of the surrounding plains, thanks to the same military strength by which they founded their cities, I mean their stronghold-cities, namely, first, those which they founded in Iberia as strongholds against the Iberians​26 (they also taught the Iberians the sacred rites of the Ephesian Artemis, as practised in the fatherland, so that they sacrifice by the Greek ritual); secondly, Rhoë Agathe, as a stronghold against the barbarians who live round about the River Rhodanus; thirdly, Tauroentium, Olbia, Antipolis, and Nicaea, against the tribe of the Sallyes  p177 and against those Ligures who live in the Alps. There are also dry-docks and an armoury among the Massiliotes. In earlier times they had a good supply of ships, as well as of arms and instruments that are useful for the purposes of navigation and for sieges; and thanks to these they not only held out against the barbarians, but also acquired the Romans as friends, and many times not only themselves rendered useful service to the Romans, but also were aided by the Romans in their own aggrandizement. At any rate, Sextius, who defeated the Sallyes, after founding not very far from Massilia a city which bears his own name and that of the "hot waters"​27 (some of which, they say, have changed to cold waters), not only settled a garrison of Romans there, but also drove back the barbarians out of the seaboard which leads from Massilia into Italy, since the Massiliotes could not entirely keep them back. Yet not even Sextius could effect more than merely this — that at those parts of the coast where there were good harbours the barbarians retired for a distance of only twelve stadia, and at the rugged parts, only eight. And the country thus abandoned by them he has given over to the Massiliotes. And in their citadel are set up great quantities of the first fruits of their victories, which they captured by defeating in naval battles those who from time to time unjustly disputed their claim to the mastery of the sea. In earlier times, then, they were exceptionally fortunate, not only in everything else, but also in their friendship with the Romans, of which one may detect many signs; what is more, the "xoanon"​28 of that Artemis which is on the Aventine Hill was constructed by the  p179 Romans on the same artistic design as the "xoanon" which the Massiliotes have. But at the time of Pompey's sedition against Caesar they joined the conquered party and thus threw away the greater part of their prosperity. Nevertheless traces of their ancient zeal are still left among the people, especially in regard to the making of instruments and to the equipment of ships. But since, on account of the overmastery of the Romans, the barbarians who are situated beyond the Massiliotes became more and more subdued as time went on, and instead of carrying on war have already turned to civic life and farming, it may also be the case that the Massiliotes themselves no longer occupy themselves so earnestly with the pursuits aforementioned. 181Their present state of life makes this clear; for all the men of culture turn to the art of speaking and the study of philosophy; so that the city, although a short time ago it was given over as merely a training-school for the barbarians and was schooling the Galatae to be fond enough of the Greeks to write even their contracts in Greek, at the present time has attracted also the most notable of the Romans, if eager for knowledge, to go to school there instead of making their foreign sojourn at Athens. Seeing these men and at the same time living at peace, the Galatae are glad to adapt their leisure to such modes of life, not only as individuals, but also in a public way; at any rate, they welcome sophists,​29 hiring some at private expense, but others in common, as cities, just as they do physicians. And the following might be set down as not the least proof of the simplicity of the modes of life, and of the self-restraint, of the Massiliotes: the maximum dowry among them is a hundred  p181 gold pieces, and five for dress, and five for golden ornaments;​30 but more than this is not permitted. Both Caesar and the commanders who succeeded him, mindful of the former friendship, acted in moderation with reference to the wrongs done in the war, and preserved to the city the autonomy which it had had from the beginning; so that neither Massilia nor its subjects are subject to the praetors who are sent to the province.​31 So much for Massilia.

6 While the mountainous country of the Sallyes inclines more and more from the west to the north and retires little by little from the sea, the coastline bends round to the west; but after extending a short distance from the city of the Massiliotes, about a hundred stadia, to a fair-sized promontory near some stone-quarries, the coastline then begins to curve inland and to form with the precincts of Aphrodite (that is, the headland of the Pyrenees) the Galatic Gulf, which is also called the Gulf of Massilia. The Gulf is double, for, in the same circuit, Mount Setium,​32 with the help of the Isle of Blascon,​33 which is situated near by, juts out and thus marks off two gulfs. Of the two gulfs, the larger, into which the mouth of the Rhodanus discharges, is again called, in the proper sense of the term, "Galatic Gulf"; the smaller is opposite Narbo and extends as far as the Pyrenees. Now Narbo lies above the outlets of the Atax and the Lake of Narbonitis, and it is the greatest of the emporiums in  p183 this country, though there is a city near the Rhodanus which is no small emporium, namely, Arelate. These emporiums are about an equal distance from each other and from the aforesaid headlands — Narbo from the precincts of Aphrodite, and Arelate from Massilia. On either side of Narbo there flow other rivers — some from the Cemmenus Mountains, the others from the Pyrenees — and they have cities to which voyages of no considerable length are made in small ships. From the Pyrenees flow both the Ruscino and the Ilibirris, each of them having a city of like name; and, as for the Ruscino, there is not only a lake near by, but also, a short distance above the sea, a marshy district, full of salt-springs, which contains the "dug mullets"; for if one digs only two or three feet and thrusts his trident down into the muddy water, it is possible to spit a fish that is notable for its size; and it feeds on the mud just as the eels do. These, then, are the rivers which flow from the Pyrenees between Narbo and the precincts of Aphrodite; while on the other size of Narbo there flow to the sea from the Cemmenus (from which the Atax flows) both the Orbis and the Arauris. On the former of these rivers is situated Baetera, a safe city, near Narbo, and on the other, Agathe, founded by the Massiliotes.

7 Now the aforesaid seaboard has not merely one marvel, namely, that of the "dug mullets," but also another which one might say is greater than that, about which I shall now speak: Between Massilia and the outlets of the Rhodanus 182there is a plain, circular in shape, which is as far distant from  p185 the sea as a hundred stadia, and is also as much as that in diameter. It is called Stony Plain​34 from the fact that it is full of stones as large as you can hold in your hand, although from beneath the stones there is a growth of wild herbage which affords abundant pasturage for cattle.​35 In the middle of the plain stand water and salt springs, and also lumps of salt. Now although the whole of the country which lies beyond, as well as this, is exposed to the winds, the Black North, a violent and chilly wind, descends upon this plain with exceptional severity; at any rate, it is said that some of the stones are swept and rolled along, and that by the blasts the people are dashed from their vehicles and stripped of both weapons and clothing. Now Aristotle says that the stones, after being vomited to the surface by those earthquakes that are called "Brastae,"​36 rolled together into the hollow places of the districts. But Poseidonius says that, since it​37 was a lake, it solidified​38 while the waves were dashing, and because of this was parted into a number of stones — as are the river-rocks and the pebbles on the sea-shore; and by reason of the similarity of origin, the former, like the latter, are both smooth and equal in size. And an account of the cause has been given by both men. Now the argument in both treatises is plausible; for of necessity the stones that have been assembled together  p187 in this way cannot separately, one by one, either have changed from liquid to solid or have been detached from great masses of rock that received a succession of fractures. 183What was difficult to account for, however, Aeschylus, who closely studied the accounts or else received them from another source, removed to the realm of myth. At any rate, Prometheus, in Aeschylus' poem, in detailing to Heracles the route of the roads from the Caucasus to the Hesperides says: "And thou wilt come to the undaunted host of the Ligurians, where thou wilt not complain of battle, I clearly know, — impetuous fighter though thou art; because there it is fated that even thy missiles shall fail thee, and no stone from the ground shalt thou be able to choose, since the whole district is soft ground. But Zeus, seeing thee without means to fight, will have pity upon thee, and, supplying a cloud with a snow-like shower of round stones, will put the soil under cover; and with these stones, thereupon, thou wilt pelt, and easily push thy way through, the Ligurian host."​39 Just as if it were not better, says Poseidonius, for Zeus to have cast the stones upon the Ligures themselves and to have buried the whole host than to represent Heracles as in need of so many stones. Now, as for the number ("so many"), he needed them all if indeed the poet was speaking with reference to a throng that was very numerous; so that in this, at least, the writer of the myth is more plausible than the man who revises the myth. Furthermore, by saying "it is fated," the poet forbids one to find fault in a captious way with anything else in the  p189 passage — "captious," I say, for one might also find in the discussions on "Providence" and "Presdestination" many instances among the affairs of men and among the natural occurrences of such a kind that, in reference to them, one might say that it were much better for this to have taken place than that; for example, for Egypt to be well-watered by rains, rather than that Ethiopia should soak its soil with water; and for Paris to have met his reversal by shipwreck on the voyage to Sparta, instead of later carrying off Helen and paying the penalty to those whom he had wronged, after he had effected all that ruin of Greeks and barbarians — a ruin which Euripides attributed to Zeus: "For Zeus, the father, willing not only evil for the Trojans but also sorrow for the Greeks, resolved upon all this."

8 With respect to the mouths of the Rhodanus: Polybius reproves Timaeus by saying that there are not five but two; Artemidorus says three; Marius, later, seeing that, in consequence of the silting, its mouths were becoming stopped up and difficult of entrance, cut a new channel, and, upon admitting the greater part of the river here, presented it to the Massiliotes as a meed of their valour in the war against the Ambrones and Toÿgeni;​40 and the wealth they carried off from this source was considerable, because they exacted tolls from all who sailed up and all who sailed down it. Nevertheless, the mouths still remain difficult of entrance for ships, not only on account of the impetuosity of the river and the silting up, 184but also of the lowness of the  p191 country, so that in foul weather one cannot descry the land even when close to it. Wherefore the Massiliotes set up towers as beacons, because they were in every way making the country their own; and, in truth, they also established a temple of the Ephesian Artemis there, after first enclosing a piece of land which is made an island by the mouths of the river. Beyond the outlets of the Rhodanus lies a sea-water marsh; it is called "Stomalimne,"​41 and it has a very great quantity of oysters, and, besides that, is well supplied with fish. This lake was by some counted in with the mouths of the Rhodanus, and particularly by those who said there were seven mouths, although they were right in neither the latter nor the former; for there is a mountain intervening which separates the lake from the river. This, then, is approximately the nature and the extent of the seaboard from the Pyrenees to Massilia.

9 Again, the seaboard which extends from Massilia to the Varus River and to those Ligures who live in the region of the river has not only the following cities of the Massiliotes, namely, Tauroentium, Olbia, Antipolis, and Nicaea, but also that naval-station of Caesar Augustus which is called Forum Julium. This naval-station is situated between Olbia and Antipolis, at a distance of about six hundred stadia from Massilia. The Varus is between Antipolis and Nicaea, at a distance of about twenty stadia from the latter and sixty from the former, so that, according to what is now the declared boundary,​42 Nicaea becomes a part of Italy, although it belongs to the Massiliotes; for the Massiliotes founded these places as strongholds against those  p193 barbarians who were situated beyond, wishing at least to keep free the sea, since the land was controlled by the barbarians; for it is mountainous and also strong for defence, since, although next to Massilia it leaves a strip of level land of moderate width, yet as you proceed towards the east it squeezes the strip off altogether towards the sea, and scarcely leaves the road itself passable. Now the first of these districts are occupied by the Sallyes, but the last by those Ligures whose territory connects with Italy, concerning whom I shall speak hereafter. But at present I need add only this, that, although Antipolis is situated among the parts that belong to Narbonitis, and Nicaea among those that belong to Italy, Nicaea remains subject to the Massiliotes and belongs to the Province,​43 while Antipolis is classed among the Italiote cities,​44 having been so adjudged in a suit against the Massiliotes and thereby freed from their orders.

10 Lying off these narrow stretches of coast, if we begin at Massilia, are the five Stoechades Islands,​45 three of them of considerable size, but two quite small; they are tilled by Massiliotes. In early times the Massiliotes had also a garrison, which they placed there to meet the onsets of the pirates, whence the islands were well supplied with harbours. 185Next, after the Stoechades, are the islands of Planasia and Lero, which have colonial settlements. In Lero there is also a hero-temple, namely, that in honour of Lero; this island lies off Antipolis. And,  p195 besides, there are isles that are not worth mentioning, some off Massilia itself and the others off the rest of the aforesaid shore. As for the harbours, the one that is at the naval-station is of considerable size, and so is that of the Massiliotes, whereas the others are only of moderate size; among these latter is the harbour that is called Oxybius, so named after the Oxybian Ligures. This is what I have to say about the seaboard.

11 As for the country that lies beyond the seaboard, its geographical limits are, in a general way, traced by the mountains that lie round about it, and also by the rivers — by the Rhodanus River especially, for it not only is the largest but also affords the most navigation inland, since the number of the streams from which it is filled is large. However, I must tell about all these regions in order. If you begin, then, at Massilia, and proceed towards the country that is between the Alps and the Rhodanus: Up to the Druentia River the country is inhabited by the Sallyes for a distance of five hundred stadia; but if you cross the river by ferry into the city of Caballio, the whole country next thereafter belongs to the Cavari, up to the confluence of the Isar with the Rhodanus; this is also approximately where the Cemmenus Mountain joins the Rhodanus; the length of your journey from Druentia up to this place is seven hundred stadia. Now the Sallyes occupy — I mean in their own country​46 — not only the plains but also the mountains that lie above the plains, whereas above the Cavari are situated the Vocontii, Tricorii, Iconii, and Medulli. Between the Druentia and the Isar there are still other rivers which flow from the Alps to the  p197 Rhodanus, namely, two that flow round a city of the Cavaran Vari,​47 and coming together in a common stream empty into the Rhodanus; and a third, the Sulgas, which mingles its waters with the Rhodanus near the city of Undalum,​48 where in a great battle Gnaeus Ahenobarbus turned many myriads of Celti to flight. And there are in the intervening space​49 the cities of Avenio,​50 Arausio,​51 and Aeria​52 — "an 'Aeria' in reality," says Artemidorus, "because it is situated on a lofty elevation." All the country, however, is level and good for pasturage, except that the stretch from Aeria to Durio​53 has mountainous passes that are narrow and wooded. But where the Isar River and the Rhodanus and the Cemmenus Mountain meet, Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, with less than thirty thousand men all told, cut down two hundred thousand Celti; and on the spot he set up a trophy of white marble, and also two temples, one in honour of Ares, the other in honour of Heracles. From the Isar to Vienna, the metropolis of the Allobroges, situated on the Rhodanus, the distance is three hundred and twenty  p199 stadia. 186Near Vienna, and beyond it, is situated Lugdunum, at which the Arar and the Rhodanus mingle with one another; and the distance to Lugdunum​54 in stadia is, if you go by foot through the territory of the Allobroges, about two hundred, but if by voyage up the river, slightly more than that. Formerly the Allobroges kept up warfare with many myriads of men, whereas now they till the plains and the glens that are in the Alps, and all of them live in villages, except that the most notable of them, inhabitants of Vienna (formerly a village, but called, nevertheless, the "metropolis" of the tribe), have built it up into a city. It is situated on the Rhodanus. This river runs from the Alps in great volume and impetuosity — since on its way out, while passing through the Lemenna Lake, its stream is clearly visible for many stadia. And after coming down into the plains of the country of the Allobroges and Segusiavi, it meets the Arar at Lugdunum, a city of the Segusiavi. The Arar, too, flows from the Alps, since it separates the Sequani from the Aedui and the Lingones; then, later, taking on the waters of the Dubis — a navigable river that runs from the same mountains — it prevails over the Dubis with its name, and though made up of both mingles with the Rhodanus as the "Arar." And, in its turn, the Rhodanus prevails, and runs to Vienna. So the result is, that at first the three rivers run northwards, and then westwards; and then, immediately after they have joined together into one  p201 bed, the stream again takes another turn and runs a southerly course as far as its outlets (although before this it has received the other rivers), and from there begins to make the remainder of its course as far as the sea. Such, then, is approximately the nature of the country which lies between the Alps and the Rhodanus.

12 As for the country which lies on the other side of the river, most of it is occupied by those Volcae who are called Arecomisci. Narbo is spoken of as the naval-station of these people alone, though it would be fairer to add "and of the rest of Celtica" — so greatly has it surpassed the others in the number of people who use it as a trade-centre. Now, although the Volcae border on the Rhodanus, with the Sallyes and also the Cavari stretching along parallel to them on the opposite side of the river, the name of the Cavari prevails, and people are already calling by that name all the barbarians in that part of the country — no, they are no longer barbarians, but are, for the most part, transformed to the type of the Romans, both in their speech and in their modes of living, and some of them in their civic life as well. Again, situated alongside the Arecomisci as far as the Pyrenees, are other tribes, which are without repute and small. Now the metropolis of the Arecomisci is Nemausus, which, although it comes considerably short of Narbo in its throng of foreigners and of merchants, surpasses Narbo in that of citizens; for it has, subject to its authority, twenty-four villages, which are exceptional in their supply of strong men, of stock like its own, and contribute towards its expenses; and it has also what is called the "Latin right,"​55 187so that those who  p203 have been thought worthy of the offices of aedile and quaestor at Nemausus are by that preferment Roman citizens, and, on account of this fact, this tribe too is not subject to the orders of the praetors who are sent out from Rome.​56 The city is situated on the road that leads from Iberia into Italy, which, although it is easy to travel in summer, is muddy and also flooded by the rivers in winter and spring. Now some of the streams are crossed by ferries, others by bridges — some made of timber, others of stone. But it is the torrents that cause the annoying difficulties that result from the waters, since, after the melting away of the snows, they sometimes rush down from the Alps even till the summer-time. Of the aforesaid road, the branch​57 that leads straight to the Alps is, as I stated, the short cut through the territory of the Vocontii, whereas that through the Massilian and Ligurian seaboard is indeed longer, although the passes it affords over into Italy are easier since the mountains begin to lower there. The distance of Nemausus from the Rhodanus — reckoning from a point opposite the town of Tarusco, on the other side of the river — is about a hundred stadia; but from Narbo, seven hundred and twenty. Again, in territory that joins the Cemmenus Mountain, and that takes in also the southern side​58 of the mountain as far as its summits, there live that people of the Volcae who are called Tectosages and also certain others. About these others I shall speak later on.

13 The people who are called Tectosages closely approach the Pyrenees, though they also reach over small parts of the northern side of the Cemmenus;  p205 and the land they occupy is rich in gold. It appears that at one time they were so powerful and had so large a stock of strong men that, when a sedition broke out in their midst, they drove a considerable number of their own people out of the homeland; again, that other persons from other tribes made common lot with these exiles; and that among these are also those people who have taken possession of that part of Phrygia which has a common boundary with Cappadocia and the Paphlagonians.​59 Now as proof of this we have the people who are still, even at the present time, called Tectosages; for, since there are three tribes, one of them — the one that lives about the city of Ancyra — is called "the tribe of the Tectosages," while the remaining two are the Trocmi and the Tolistobogii. As for these latter peoples, although the fact of their racial kinship with the Tectosages indicates that they emigrated from Celtica, I am unable to tell from what districts they set forth; for I have not learned of any Trocmi or Tolistobogii who now live beyond the Alps, or within them, or this side of them. But it is reasonable to suppose that nothing has been left of them in Celtica on account of their thoroughgoing migrations — just as is the case with several other peoples. For example, some say that the second Brennus​60 who made an invasion against Delphi was a Prausan, but I am unable to say where on earth the Prausans formerly lived, either. 188And it is further said that the Tectosages shared in the expedition to Delphi; and even the treasures that were found among them in the city of Tolosa by  p207 Caepio, a general of the Romans, were, it is said, a part of the valuables that were taken from Delphi, although the people, in trying to consecrate them and propitiate the god, added thereto out of their personal properties, and it was on account of having laid hands on them that Caepio ended his life in misfortunes — for he was cast out by his native land as a temple-robber, and he left behind as his heirs female children only, who, as it turned out, became prostitutes, as Timagenes has said, and therefore perished in disgrace. However, the account of Poseidonius is more plausible: for he says that the treasure that was found in Tolosa amounted to about fifteen thousand talents (part of it in sacred lakes), unwrought, that is, merely gold and silver bullion; whereas the temple at Delphi was in those times already empty of such treasure, because it had been robbed at the time of the sacred war by the Phocians; but even if something was left, it was divided by many among themselves; neither is it reasonable to suppose that they reached their homeland in safety, since they fared wretchedly after their retreat from Delphi and, because of their dissensions, were scattered, some in one direction, others in another. But, as has been said both by Poseidonius and several others, since the country was rich in gold, and also belonged to people who were god-fearing and not extravagant in their ways of living, it came to have treasures in many places in Celtica; but it was the lakes, most of all, that afforded the treasures their inviolability, into which the people let down heavy masses of silver or even of gold. At all events, the Romans, after they  p209 mastered the regions, sold the lakes for the public treasury, and many of the buyers found in them hammered mill-stones of silver. And, in Tolosa, the temple too was hallowed, since it was very much revered by the inhabitants of the surrounding country, and on this account the treasures there were excessive, for numerous people had dedicated them and no one dared to lay hands on them.

14 Tolosa is situated on the narrowest part of the isthmus which separates the ocean from the sea that is at Narbo, which isthmus, according to Poseidonius is less than three thousand stadia in width. But it is above all worth while to note again a characteristic of this region which I have spoken of before​61 — the harmonious arrangement of the country with reference, not only to the rivers, but also to the sea, alike both the outer sea​62 and the inner; for one might find, if he set his thoughts upon the matter, that this is not the least factor in the excellence of the regions — I mean the fact that the necessities of life are with ease interchanged by every one with every one else and that the advantages which have arisen therefrom are common to all; 189but especially so at present, when being at leisure from the weapons of war, the people are tilling the country diligently, and are devising for themselves modes of life that are civil. Therefore, in the cases of this sort, one might believe that there is confirmatory evidence for the workings of Providence, since the regions are laid out, not in a fortuitous way, but as though in accordance with some calculated plan. In the first place, the voyage which the Rhodanus affords inland is a considerable one, even for vessels of great burden, and reaches numerous  p211 parts of the country, on account of the fact that the rivers which fall into it are navigable, and in their turns receive most of the traffic. Secondly, the Rhodanus is succeeded by the Arar, and by the Dubis (which empties into the Arar); then the traffic goes by land as far as the Sequana River; and thence it begins its voyage down to the ocean, and to the Lexobii and Caleti;​63 and from these peoples it is less than a day's run to Britain. But since the Rhodanus is swift and difficult to sail up, some of the traffic from here​64 preferably goes by land on the wagons, that is, all the traffic that is conveyed to the Arvernians and the Liger River — albeit in a part of its course the Rhodanus draws close to these also;​65 still, the fact that the road is level and not long (about eight hundred stadia)​66 is an inducement not to use the voyage upstream,​67 since it is easier to go by land; from here, however, the road is naturally succeeded by the Liger; and it flows from the Cemmenus Mountain to the ocean. Thirdly, from Narbo traffic goes inland for a short distance by the Atax River, and then a greater distance by land to the Garumna River; and this latter distance is about eight hundred or seven hundred stadia. And the Garumna, too, flows to the ocean. This, then, is what I have to say about the people who inhabit the dominion of Narbonitis, whom the men of former times named "Celtae"; and it was from the Celtae, I think, that the Galatae as a whole were by  p213 the Greeks called "Celti" — on account of the fame of the Celtae, or it may also be that the Massiliotes, as well as other Greek neighbours, contributed to this result, on account of their proximity.

The Editor's Notes:

1 That is, after Iberia.

2 The "Transalpine Gaul" of the Romans.

3 2.5.28 and 3.1.3.

4 See 4.1.14 for the distinction between "Celtae" and "Celti."

5 2.5.28.

6 Cp.  2.5.28.

7 Lyon.

8 For a technical discussion of Strabo's description of Gaul, the reader is referred to Cäsarstudien, by A. Klotz, 1910, pp57‑135.

9 Provincia Narbonensis.

10 Gallia Lugdunensis.

11 Gallia Belgica.

12 Not by Strabo, although he again mentions this in § 14 below.

13 Cp. 4.4.3.

14 Ulterior Gallia, that is, Transalpine Gaul.

15 After Massilia.

16 But there is no previous mention of the Varus River to be found in any of the MSS. of Strabo.

17 Now Nîmes.

18 "Aquae Sextiae," now Aix.

19 Not to be confused with the "Delphian" (Pythian) Apollo. The Delphinian Apollo appears originally to have been a seafaring god who, in the guise of a dolphin, guided ships over the sea (see Etymologicum Magnum 255.18); also Pauly-Wissowa, under Ἀπόλλων Δελφίνιος, p47.

20 Of Artemis.

21 That is, of Massilia.

22 Strictly speaking, the "xoana" were the primitive wooden images which were supposed originally to have fallen from heaven. Here, as on page 177, "xoanon" is used of a reproduction.

23 Aristotle describes and praises the orderliness and moderation of this aristocracy (Politics 7.7.4 and 8.6.2‑3). See also Cicero Pro Flacco 25.63.

24 Literally, "Honour-holders."

25 The later editors, by a slight emendation, add at this point "and one over the three."

26 Hemeroscopeium, Emporium and Rhodus (3.4.6‑8).

27 "Aquae Sextiae," now Aix. See 4.1.3.

28 See § 4 (above).

29 "Sophists" in the good sense, who taught wisdom in speech and action, dicendi faciendique sapientia (Cicero, de Oratore 3.16).

30 Roughly, $550.

Thayer's Note: That was in Prof. Jones's time, 1923. Now (2003) that would be, as it happens, pretty much exactly ten times as much: $5500, or £3250.

31 See 4.2.2 and footnote 77.

Thayer's Note: That link will send you off to a circular set of references in the Loeb edition, but to no explanation. For an explanation, see the article Latinitas in Smith's Dictionary.

32 Cape de Cette.

Thayer's Note: The name of the town and its cape were officially respelled Sète in 1928, five years after this translation. On today's maps therefore, Cap de Sète.

33 Brescon, a rock opposite Agde, which has been connected with the mainland to form the port of Agde (Gosselin).

34 Now the Plaine de la Crau.

35 So Pliny, 21.57. And Murray (Handbook for France, vol. 2, p154) says that to‑day there grows under the stones on this plain a short sweet herbage which the sheep obtain by turning over the stones, and that during the winter months the plain is covered with flocks driven thither from the French Alps, where they spend the summer.

36 Aristotle says (De Mundo 4) that "those earthquakes are called 'Brastae' which heave up and down at right angles."

37 The antecedent of "it" in Poseidonius must have been "what is now the stony surface of the plain."

38 Poseidonius was thinking of both the congealing and petrifying of the waters.

39 These verses were quoted by Strabo from the Prometheus Unbound, now lost.

40 These two peoples joined the Cimbri for the purpose of invading Italy. With the aid of Massiliotes, Marius defeated them at Aix (102 B.C.).

41 Literally, "Mouth-marsh."

42 The Varus. Cp. 4.1.3.

43 That is, of Narbonitis (see 4.1.3).

44 An Italiote city was a Greek city in Italy.

45 Thus called from the Greek "stoichades," "in a row," — a fairly suitable appellation. Pliny (3.11) applies the name only to the three large ones, while Pomponius Mela (2.7) includes the other islands off the shore from Massilia as far as the country of the Ligures.

46 South of the Druentia.

47 Groskurd, believing with Gosselin that the Ouvèze and the Mède are the rivers meant by Strabo, emends "and the Vari" to "Carpenteron" — the "Carpentoracte" (to‑day Carpentras) of Pliny (3.5). Several scholars (see critical note above, on this page) omit "and the Vari" altogether. Ukert (Geogr. 1832, vol. III, page 138) thinks he recognizes in "Cavari" and "Vari" the corrupted names of the rivers now called Rubion and Jabrou, and that the city (which he thinks has fallen out of the text) is Akousio (mentioned by Ptolemaeus), to‑day Anconne. But Béretta (Les Cités Mystérieuses de Strabon,º pp36‑44) rightly defends the Greek text and seems to prove that the city in question was what is now Bédarrides, at the confluence of the Ouvèze and the Mède.

48 What is now Sorgues,º according to Béretta (op. cit. p49). The name is also spelled "Vindalum."

49 Between the Druentia and the Isar.

50 Now Avignon.

51 Now Orange.

52 Béretta (op. cit. pp50‑73) convincingly identifies Aeria with what is now Carpentras.

53 A. Béretta (op. cit. 74‑100) identifies Durio with what is now Malaucène. Some scholars emend to "Luerio," a place referred to in 4.6.3, but otherwise unknown, while others, including Meineke, wrongly emend to Avenio (Avignon).

54 That is, from Vienna, now Vienne.

55 "Jus Latii" (see footnote on "Latins," 3.2.15).

Thayer's Note: That link will send you off to a circular set of references in the Loeb edition, but to no explanation. For an explanation, see the article Latinitas in Smith's Dictionary.

56 See 4.2.2 and footnote on "autonomous".

57 See 4.1.2.

58 To Strabo, the Cemmenus ran east and west.

59 Strabo refers to Galatia, a part of Greater Phrygia (12.8.1). One of the three Galatian tribes retained the name of "Tectosages," "from the tribe of that name in Celtica" (12.5.1).

60 That is, the Gallic Brennus who made an invasion against Delphi in 278 B.C. with 152,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry (see Pausanias 10.19); not the Gallic Brennus who a century before sacked Rome.

61 4.1.2.

62 The ocean.

63 The former lived south, the latter north, of the mouth of the Sequana.

64 Apparently from the Rhodanus, at its confluence with the Arar, at Lugdunum (Lyon).

65 The Rhone for some distance runs as close as thirty miles to the Loire (Liger); the Arvernians lived still farther west. But there seems to have been no convenient way here to transfer merchandise to the Loire.

66 About the distance from Lyon to Bourbon-Lancy on the Loire; but it is by no means certain what terminal Strabo had in mind.

67 That is, up the Arar, following the first route above-mentioned to the ocean.

Thayer's Note:

a Somewhere in this passage, a description of Phocaea, out of geographical order though it would have been, may be missing. In XIV.1.38, Strabo tells us will pass over Phocaea, since he's already talked about it in his account of Massilia; yet nowhere in the Geography does Strabo describe Phocaea. I haven't seen another mistake of this kind in the work, so suspecting a lacuna here seems reasonable.

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