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colour of reason, that Egypt planted on the Phasis a learned and polite colony,* which manufactured linen, built navies, and invented geographical maps. The ingenuity of the moderns has peopled, with flourishing cities and nations, the isthmus between the Euxine and the Caspian ;f and a lively writer, observing the resemblance of climate, and, in his apprehension, of trade, has not hesitated to pronounce Colchos the Holland of antiquity.J

But the riches of Colchos shine only through the darkness of conjecture or tradition; and its genuine history presents a uniform scene of rudeness and poverty. If one hundred and thirty languages were spoken in the market of Dioscurias,§ they were the imperfect idioms of so many savage tribes or families, sequestered from each other in the valleys of mount Caucasus; and their separation, which diminished the importance, must have multiplied the number, of their rustic capitals. In the present state of Mingrelia, a village is an assemblage of huts within a wooden fence; the fortresses are seated in the depth of forests; the princely town of Cyta, or Cotatis, consists of two hun

golden fleece, which classical piety reveres as an historical fact, most probably gave rise to the ideal riches of a region, which appears in fact never to have been otherwise than rude and poor. Such were Arrian's authorities for repeating the tale.—Ed.]

* Herodot. I 2, c. 104, 105, p. 150, 151. Diodor. Sicul. I 1, p. 33, edit. Wesseling; Dionys. Perieget. 689, and Eustath. ad loc. Scholiast, ad Apollonium Argonaut. 1. 4, 282—291. + Montesquieu,

Esprit des Loix, 1. 21, c. 6. L'Isthme . . . convert de villes et nations qui ne sont plus. J Bougainville, Memoires de r Academic

des Inscriptions, tom, xxvi, p. 33, on the African voyage of Hanno and the commerce of antiquity. § A Greek historian, Timos

thenes, had affirmed, in eam ccc nationes dissimilibus linguis descendere; and the modest Pliny is content to add, et a postea a nostris cxxx interpretibus negotia ibi gesta (6. 5); but the words nunc deserta cover a multitude of past fictions. [Cursory readers will here not perceive, that Gibbon discredits all that the ancients related of the wonderful trade of Dioscurias. So sensible a writer as Pliny, should not have condescended to quote an historian, who told him of three hundred different languages anywhere, but most of all in such a vicinity. His meaning appears however to have been misconstrued. If, in Roman times, sufficient business had been transacted at Dioscurias to employ a hundred and thirty interpreters, it would not have implied that each of them spoke a distinct dialect. That number even of "imperfect idioms" is incredible. His words "littora /era nationes tenent" disprove any extensive previous civilization. Strabo intimates (1 . 11) that the various tongues, said

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dred houses, and a stone edifice appertains only to the magnificence of kings. Twelve ships from Constantinople, and about sixty barks, laden with the fruits of industry, annually cast anchor on the coast; and the list of Colchian exports is much increased, since the natives had only slaves and hides to offer in exchange for the corn and salt which they purchased from the subjects of Justinian. Not a vestige can be found of the art, the knowledge, or the navigation, of the ancient Colchians; few Greeks desired or dared to pursue the footsteps of the Argonauts; 'and even the marks of an Egyptian colony are lost on a nearer approach. The rite of circumcision is practised only by the Mahometans of the Euxine; and the curled hair and swarthy complexion of Africa no longer disfigure the most perfect of the human race. It is in the adjacent climates of Georgia, Mingrelia, and Circassia, that nature has placed, at least to our eyes, the model of beauty, in. the shape of the limbs, the colour of the skin, the symmetry of the features, and the expression of the countenance.* According to the destination of the two sexes, the men seemed formed for action, the women for love; and the perpetual supply of females from mount Caucasus has purified the blood, and improved the breed, of the southern nations of Asia. The proper district of Mingrelia, a portion only of the ancient Colchos, has long sustained an exportation of twelve thousand slaves. The number of prisoners or criminals would be inadequate to the annual demand; but the common people are in a state of servitude to their lords: the exercise of fraud or rapine is unpunished in a lawless community; and the market is continually replenished by the abuse of civil and paternal authority. Such a trade,f which reduces the human species to the level of cattle, may tend to encourage marriage and population: since the multitude to have been assembled in Dioscurias, were by no means those of busy merchants.—Ed.] * Buffon (Hist. Nat.

tom, iii, p. 433—437) collects the unanimous suffrage of naturalists and travellers. If, in the time of Herodotus, they were in truth jitXayxpoti and ouXorpixee (and he had observed them with care), this precious fact is an example of the influence of climate on a foreign colony. ")• The Mingrelian ambassador arrived at Constan

tinople with two hundred persons; but he ate (sold) them day by day, till his retinue was diminished to a secretary and two valets. (Tavernier, tom, i, p. 365.) To purchase his mistress, a Mingrelian gentleman sold twelve priests and his wife to the Turks. (Chardin, tom, i, p. 66).

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of children enriches their sordid and inhuman parent. But this source of impure wealth must inevitably poison the national manners, obliterate the sense of honour and virtue, and almost extinguish the instincts of nature; the Christians of Georgia and Mingrelia are the most dissolute of mankind; and their children, who in a tender age are sold into foreign slavery, have already learned to imitate the rapine of the father and the prostitution of the mother. Yet amidst the rudest ignorance, the untaught natives discover a singular dexterity both'of mind and hand; and although the want of union and discipline exposes them to their more powerful neighbours, a bold and intrepid spirit has animated the Colchians of every age. In the host of Xerxes, they served on foot; and their arms were a dagger or a javelin, a wooden casque, and a buckler of raw hides. But m their own country the use of cavalry has more generally prevailed: the meanest of the peasants disdain to walk; the martial nobles are possessed, perhaps, of two hundred horses; and above five thousand are numbered in the train of the prince of Mingrelia. The Colchian government has been always a pure and hereditary kingdom; and the authority of the sovereign is only restrained by the turbulence of his subjects. Whenever they were obedient he could lead a numerous army into the field; but some faith is requisite to believe, that the single tribe of the Suanians was composed of two hundred thousand soldiers, or that the population of Mingrelia now amounts to four millions of inhabitants.*

It was the boast of the Colchians, that their ancestors had checked the victories of Sesostris; and the defeat of the Egyptian is less incredible than his successful progress a3 far as the foot of Mount Caucasus. They sank, without any memorable effort, under the arms of Cyrus; followed in distant wars the standard of the great king, and presented him every fifth year with one hundred boys, and as many virgins, the fairest produce of the land.f Tet he accepted

* Strabo, 1. 11, p. 765. Lamberti, Relation de la Mingrelie. Yet "we must avoid the contrary extreme of Chardin, who allows no more than twenty thousand inhabitants to supply an annual exportation of twelve thousand slaves, an absurdity unworthy of that judicious traveller. + Herodot . 1.3, c. 97. See, in 1. 7, c. 79, their

arms and service in the expedition of Xerxes against Greece. VOL. IV. 2 I

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this gift like the gold and ebony of India, the frankincense of the Arabs, or the negroes and ivory of Ethiopia: the Colchians were not subject to the dominion of a satrap, and they continued to enjoy the name as well as substance of national independence.* After the fall of the Persian empire, Mithridates, king of Pontus, added Colchos to the wide circle of his dominions on the Euxine; and when the natives presumed to request that his son might reign over them, he bound the ambitious youth in chains of gold, and delegated a servant in his place. In the pursuit of Mithridates, the Romans advanced to the banks of the Phasis, and their galleys ascended the river till they reached the camp of Ponipey and his legions.f But the senate, and afterwards the emperors, disdained to reduce that distant and useless conquest into the form of a province. The family of a Greek rhetorician was permitted to reign in Colchos and the adjacent kingdoms, from the time of Mark Antony to that of Nero; and after the race of PolemoJ was extinct,

* Xenophon, who had encountered the Colchians in his retreat (Anabasis, 1 . 4, p. 320. 343. 348, edit. Hntchinson; and Foster'! Dissertation, p. 53—58, in Spelman's English version, vol. ii,) styles them avrovofioj. Before the conquest of Mithridates, they are named by Appian IBvot apiipavec, (de Bell. Mithridatico, c. 15, tom, i, p. 661, of the last and best edition, by John Schweighseuser, Lipaiae, 1785, 3 vols, large octavo). + The conquest of Colchis by Mithri

dates and Pompey is marked by Appian (de Bell. Mithridat.) and Plutarch (in Vit. Pomp.). J We may trace the rise and fall

of the family of Polemo, in Strabo (1. 11, p. 755; 1.12, p. 867), Dion Cassius or Xiphilin (p. 588. 593. 601. 719. 754. 915. 946. edit. Reimar.), Suetonius (in Neron. c. 18, in Vespasian. c. 8), Eutropius, (7.14,) Josephus (Antiq. Judaic. 1. 20, c. 7, p. 970, edit. Havercamp), and Eusebius (Chron. with Scaliger. Animadvers. p. 196.). [All the most ancient of these writers, to whom may be added Tacitus (Hist. 3. 47) make the Polemons kings of Pontus, not of Colchis, which, according to Josephus, was at that time subject to Herodes. Polemon, the son of Zeno of Apamea, first received from Antony, B.C. 39, a part of Cilicia; but on the removal of Darius, son of Pharnaces, Pontus was given to him, B.o. 36. (Clinton, F. H. iii. 428.) Strabo, indeed, says at p. 763, that Polemon and his queen Pythodoris reigned in Colchis; but at p. 833 he contradicts this by making them sovereigns of the Tibareni, a people of Pontus (Cellarius ii. 283), and the Chaldsei (a mistake for Chalybes). He says also that their territories did not extend beyond Trebizond and were bounded on the east by Colchis. The city of Polemonopolis was in Pontus and gave its name to one division of the province. Agrippa, B.0.16, granted the additional kingdom of Bosporus to Polemon, and the Rou was confirmed by Caligula

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the eastern Pontus, which preserved his name, extended no farther than the neighbourhood of Trebizond. Beyond these limits the fortifications of Hyssus, of Apsarus, of the Phasis, of Dioscurias or Sebastopolis, and of Pityus, were guarded by sufficient detachments of horse and foot; and six princes of Colchos received their diadems from the lieutenants of Csesar. One of these lieutenants, the eloquent and philosophic Arrian, surveyed, and has described, the Buxine coast, under the reign of Hadrian. The garrison which he reviewed at the mouth of the Phasis, consisted ot four hundred chosen legionaries; the brick walls and towers, the double ditch, and the military engines on the rampart, rendered this place inaccessible to the barbarians; but the new suburbs which had been built by the merchants and veterans, required, in the opinion of Arrian, some external defence.* As the strength of the empire was gradually impaired, the Bomans stationed on the Phasis were either withdrawn or expelled; and the tribe of the Lazi,t whose posterity speak a foreign dialect, and inhabit the sea-coast of Trebizond, imposed their name and dominion on the ancient kingdom of Colchos. Their independence was soon invaded by a formidable neighbour, who bad acquired, by arms and treaties, the sovereignty of Iberia. The depen

A.d. 38, in his father's dominions. But their sovereignty was only nominal, and did not continue for a century; the last of them resigned his kingdom to Nero, who introduced into it the Roman imperial administration.—Ed.]

* In the time of Procopius, there were no Roman forts on the Phasis. Pityus and Sebastopolis were evacuated on the rumour of the Persians (Goth. 1. 4, c. 4), but the latter was afterwards restored by Justinian (de Edif. 1 . 4, c. 7). + In the time of Pliny,

Arrian, and Ptolemy, the Lazi were a particular tribe on the northern skirts of Colchos (Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq. tom. ii, p. 222). In the age of Justinian, they spread, or at least reigned, over the whole country. At present they have migrated along the coast towards Trebizond, and compose a rude seafaring people, with a peculiar language. (Chardin, p. 149. Peyssonnel, p. 64.) [The Lazi were said to have wandered from the Bosphorus, to settle in Colchis. But they were never heard of in the former neigbourhood; aud their name indicates their Slavonian origin.- Laza, in their language, denotes a forest, and they were therefore foresters. In early times the country was thickly wooded, (Procop. de Bell. Pers. 2. 15) and modern travellers have found it the same (Chardin. p. 196). In these retreats, stragglers or deserters from Slavonian tribes most probably took up their abode, and assumed, as their numbers increased, the designation under which

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