Sidebilder
PDF

ourselves have witnessed) their men when going to battle mount with great exultation. They call them I\eszni.' '

31. They have also as many cities as Media, and villages as strongly built as towns in other countries, inhabited by large bodies of citizens. In short, it is the richest quarter of the kingdom.

32. In these districts the lands of the Magi are fertilei and it may be as well to give a short account of that sect and their studies, since we have occasion to mention their name. Plato, that most learned deliverer of wise opinions, teaches us that Magise is by a mystic name Machagistia,' that is to say, the purest worship of divine beings ; of which know~ ledge in olden times the Bactrian Zoroaster derived much from the secret rites of the Chaldaeans ; and after him Hystaspes, a very wise monarch, the father of Darius. .

33. Who while boldly penetrating into the remoter districts of upper India, came to a certain woody retreat, of which with its tranquil silence the Brahmans, men of sublime genius, were the possessors. From their teaching he learnt the principles of the motion of the world and of the stars. and the pure rites of sacrifice, as _far as he could ; and of what he learnt he infused some portion into the minds of the Magi, which they have handed down by tradition to later ages, each instructing his own children, and adding to it their own system of divination.

34. From his time, though many ages to the present era, a number of priests of one and the same race has arisen, dedicated to the worship of the gods. And they say, if it can be believed, that they even keep alive in everlasting fires a flame which descended from heaven among them; a small portion of which, as a favourable omen, used to be borne before the kings of Asia. _ ,

35. Of this class the number among the ancients was small, and the Persian sovereigns employed their ministry in the solemn performance of divine sacrifices, and it was profanation to approach the altars, or to touch a victim before a Magus with solemn prayers had poured over it a preliminary libation. But becoming gradually more

‘ A name not very unlike Nejid, to this day the most celebrated

Arab breed. ‘ 2 There is evidently some corruption here; there is no such Greek

wonl as Machagistia.

[ocr errors]

numerous they arrived at the dignity and reputation of a substantial race; inhabiting towns protected by no fortifications, allowed to live by their own laws, and honoured from the regard borne to their religion.

36. It was of this race of Magi that the ancient volumes relate that after the death of Cambyses, seven men seized on the kingdom of Persia, who were put down by Darius, after he obtained the kingdom through the neighing of his horse.

37. In this district a medical oil is prepared with which if an arrow be smeared, and it be shot gently from a loose bow (for it loses its effect in a rapid flight), wherever it sticks it burns steadily, and if any one attempts to quench it with water it only bums more fiercely, nor can it be put out by any means except by throwing dust on it.

-38. It is made in this manner. Those skilful in such arts mix common oil with a certain herb, keep it a long time, and when the mixture is completed they thicken it with a material derived from some natural source, like a thicker oil. The material being a liquor produced in Persia, and called, as I have already said, naphtha in their native language.

39. In this district there are many cities, the most celebrated of which are Zombis, Patigran, and Gazaca; but the richest and most strongly fortified are Heraclia, Arsaoia, Europos, Cyropolis, and Ecbatana, all of which are situated in the Syromedian region at the foot of Mount J asonius.

40. There are many rivers in this country, the principal of which are the Choaspes, the Gyndes, the Amardus, the Charinda, the Cambyses, and the Cyrus, to which, on account of its size and beauty, the elder Cyrus, that amiable king, gave its present name, abolishing that which it used to bear, when he was proceeding on his expedition against Scythia; his reason being that it was strong, as he accounted himself to be, and that making its way with great violence, as he proposed to do, it falls into the Caspian Sea.

4-1. Beyond this frontier ancient Persia, stretching towards the south, extends as far as the sea, and is very thickly peopled, being also rich in grain and date-trees, and well supplied with excellent water. Many of its rivers fall into the gulf already mentioned, the chief of which are the Vatrachites, the Rogomanis, the Brisoana, and the Bagrada.

Z

42. Its inland towns are very considerable; it is uncertain why they built nothing remarkable on the sea-coast. Those of most note are Persepolis, Ardea, Obroatis, and Tragonice. The only islands visible from that coast are these :-—Tabiana, Fara, and Alexandria.

43. On the borders of this ancient Persia towards the north is Parthia, a country subject tosnow and frost ; the principal river which intersects that region is the Ohoatres; the chief towns are Genonia, Moesia, Charax, Apamia, Artacana, and Heoatompylos; from its frontier along the shores of the Caspian Sea-to the Caspian gates is a distance of 1040 furlongs.

44. The inhabitants of all the countries in that district are fierce and warlike, and they are so fond of war and battle that he who is slain in battle is accounted the happiest of men, while those who die a natural death are reproached as degenerate and cowardly.

45. These tribes are bounded on the east and the south by Arabia Felix, so called because it abounds equally in corn, catt1e,‘vines, and every kind of spice: a great portion 3f that country reaches on the right down to the Red Sea, and on its left extends to the Persian Gulf; so that the inhabitants reap the benefits of both.

46. There are in that country many havens and secure harbours, and well-frequented marts; many spacious and splendid abodes for their kings, and wholesome springs of water naturally warm, and a great number of rivers and streams; the climate is temperate and healthy, so that if one considers the matter rightly, the natives seem to want nothing to perfect their happiness.

47. There are in it very many cities both on the coast and inland; many fertile hills and valleys. The chief cities are Geapolis, Nascon, Baraba, Nagara, Mephra, Taphra, and Dioscurias. And in both seas it possesses several islands lying off the coast, which it is not worth while to enumerate. But the most important of them is Turgana, in which there is said to be a magnificent temple of Serapis.

48. Beyond the frontier of this nation is the greater Carmania, lying on high ground, and stretching to the

-lndian Sea; fertile in fruit and timber trees, but neither

so producti ‘e nor so extensive as Arabia. With rivers it

[ocr errors]

is as well supplied, and in grass and herbage scarcely inferior.

49. The most important rivers are the Sagareus, the

is, and the Hydriacus. The cities are not numerous, but admirably supplied with all the necessaries and luxuries of life; the most celebrated of them all are Carmania the metropolis, Portospana, Alexandria, and Herrnopolis.

50. Proceeding inland, we next come to the Hyrcanians, who live on the coast of the sea of that name. Here the land is so poor that it kills the seed crops, so that agriculture is not much attended to; but they live by hunting, taking wonderful pleasure in every kind of sport. Thousands of tigers are found among them, and all kinds of wild beasts; we have already mentioned the various devices by which they are caught.

51. Not indeed that they are ignorant of the art of ploughing, and some districts where the soil is fertile are regularly sown; nor are trees wanting to plant in suitable spots: many of the people too support themselves by commerce.

52. In this province are two rivers of universal celebrity the Oxus and the Maxera, which tigers sometimes, when urged by hunger, cross by swimming, and unexpectedly ravage the neighbouring districts. It has also besides other smaller towns some strong cities, two on the seashore named Socunda and Saramanna; and some inland, such as Azmorna and Sole, and Hyrcana, of higher reputation than either.

53. Opposite to this tribe, towards the north, live the Abii, a very devout nation, accustomed to trample under foot all worldly things, and whom, as Homer somewhat fabulously says, Jupiter keeps in view from Mount Ida.

54. The regions next to the Hyrcaneans are possessed by the Margiani, whose district is almost wholly surrounded by high hills, by which they are separated from the sea; and although the greater part of this province is deserted from want of water, still there are some towns ir: it ; the best known of which are Jasonium,Antiochia, and Nisaea.

55. Next to them are the Bactrians, a nation formerly very warlike and powerful, and always hostile to the Persians, till they drew all the nations around under their

[ocr errors]

dominion, and united them under their own name; and in old time the Bactrian kings were formidable even to Arsaces.

56. The greater part of their country, like that of the Margiani, is situated far from the sea-shore, but its soil is fertile, and the cattle which feed both on the plains and on the mountains in that district are very large and powerful; of this the camels which Mithridates brought from thence, and which were first seen by the Romans at the siege of (Jyzicus, are a proof.

57. Many tribes are subject to the Bactrians, the most considerable of which are the Tochari: their country is like Italy in the number of its rivers, some of which are the Artemis and the Zariaspes, which were formerly joined, and the Oc-hus and Orchomanes, which also unite and afterwards fall into the Oxus, and increase that large river with their streams.

58. There are also cities in that country, many of them on the border of different rivers, the best of which are Chatra, Charte, Alicodra, Astacea, Menapila, and Bactra itself, which has given its name both to the region and to the people.

59. At the foot of the mountains lie a people called the Sogdians, in whose country are two rivers navigable for large vessels, the Araxates and the Dymas, which. flowing among the hills and through the valleys into the open plain, form the extensive Oxian marsh. In this district the most celebrated towns are Alexandria, Oyreschata, and Drepsa the metropolis.

60. Bordering on these are the Sacae, a fierce nation dwelling in a. gloomy-looking district, only fit for cattle, and on that account destitute of cities. They are at the foot of Mount Ascanimia and Mount Comedus, along the bottom of which. and by a town called tho Stone Tower, is the long road much frequented by merchants which leads to China.

61. Around the glens at the bottom of the Imauian and Tapurian mountains, and within the Persian frontier, is a. tribe of Scythinns, bordering on the Asiatic Sarmatians, and touching the furthest side of the Allemanni, who, like dwellers in a secluded spot, and made for solitude, are scattered over the regions at long distances from one another, and live on hard and poor food.

« ForrigeFortsett »