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Pliny's Natural history. In thirty-seven books online

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point of the North Pole, some have placed the Hyperborei ;
of whom we have spoken at large in the Treatise of Europe.
The first Promontory that you meet with in the Country
Celtica is named Lytarmis : and then the River Carambucis,
where, by the forcible influence of the Stars, the Mountains
Rhiphaei are deprived of their ragged Tops. And there we
have heard that there are a People named Arimphaei: a
Nation not much unlike the Hyperborei. They have their
Habitations in Forests ; their Food is Berries ; both Women
and Men count it a shame to have Hair ; mild in their man-
ners; and therefore, by report, they are held to be sacred,
and to be inviolable even by those wild People that dwell
near them ; neither do they respect them only, but also those
who fly to them. At some distance beyond them are the
Scythians, 1 as well the Cimmerii, Cicianthi, and Georgi ;
and the Nation of the Amazons. These reach to the Caspian
and Hircanian Sea : for it breaketh forth from the Scythian
Ocean, 2 toward the back parts of Asia, and is called many
Names by the neighbouring Inhabitants, but especially by
two of the most celebrated, the Caspian and Hircanian.
Clitarchus is of opinion that this Sea is full as great as the

1 At this day, the Moschovites, white and black Russians, Georgians,
Amazonians, and the less Tartary. Wern. Club.

a Strabo (lib. xi.) entertains the same erroneous opinions respecting
the Caspian Sea. That both these intelligent writers, as well as other
ancient geographers, should have been so mistaken is the more extraor-
dinary, as Herodotus (lib. i. 203) had given a just description of it long
before. " The Caspian Sea," he says, " is a sea of itself, which does not
mingle with any other." Wern. Club.



1.12 History of Nature. [BooK VI.

Pontus Euxinus. And Eratosthenes setteth down the mea-
sure of it as being from East to South, along the Coast of
Cadusia and Albania, 5400 Stadia : from thence by the
Aratiatici, Amarbi, and Hircanii, to the mouth of the River
Zonus, 4800 Stadia : from it to the mouth of the Jaxartes,
2400 Stadia: which being put together amount to 1575
Miles. Artemidorus counteth less by 25 Miles. Agrippa, in
limiting the Circuit of the Caspian Sea, and the Nations
around it, and Armenia with them, from the East with the
Ocean of the Seres, Westward with the Mountains of Cau-
casus, on the South side with the Mountain Taurus, and on
the North with the Scythian Ocean, hath written, That the
whole, so far as is known, may contain in Length 590 Miles,
and 290 in Breadth. There want not others who say, That
the whole Circuit of that Sea, from the Strait is 2500 Miles.
This throat is very narrow where it bursts forth, but exceed-
ingly long : but where it beginneth to enlarge it fetcheth a
Compass withlunated Horns, and after the manner of a Scy-
thian Bow, as M. Varro saith, it windeth along from its
Mouth toward the Lake Moeotis. The first Gulf is called
Scythicus ; for the Scythians inhabit on both Sides, and by
means of the narrow Straits between have business one with
another : for on one side are the Nomades and Sauromatae,
with many Names : and on the other, the Abzoae, who have
no fewer denominations. At the entry of this Sea on the
right hand, the Udini, a People of the Scythians, dwell
upon the very point of these Straits : and then along the
Coast, the Albani, descended (as they say) from Jason ;
where the Sea that lieth before them is called Albanum.
This Nation is spread also upon the Mountains of Caucasus
to the River Cyrus, and descendeth, as hath been said, to the
border of Armenia and Iberia. Above the Maritime Coasts
of Albania and the Nation of the Udini, the Sarmatse, called
Utidorsi, and Atoderes, are planted : and behind them the
Sauromatides, Amazons, already pointed out. The Rivers of
Albania, which fall into the Sea, are Cassios and Albanos :
and then Carnbises, which hath its Head in the Caucasian
Mountains : and soon after Cyrus, which ariseth out of the



BOOK VI.] History of Nature. 113

Mountains Corax, as is before said. Agrippa writeth that
this whole Coast, from the lofty and inaccessible Mountains
of Caucasus, containeth 425 Miles. Beyond the Cyrus, the
Caspian Sea beginneth to take that Name ; and the Caspii
dwell there. And here the error of many is to be corrected,
even of those who were lately with Corbulo in Armenia with
the Army : for they called those Gates of Caucasus, of which
we spoke before, the Caspian Gates of Iberia : and the Maps
and Descriptions which are painted and sent from thence,
have that Name written on them. Likewise the threatening
of Prince JVero, when he sought to gain those Gates, which
through Iberia lead into Sarmatia, made mention of the
Gates Caspise ; which had scarcely any Passage by reason
of the Mountains so closely approaching each other. There
are other Gates near the Caspian Sea, that join upon the
Caspian Nations, which could not have been distinguished
from the other but by the relation of those that accompanied
Alexander the Great in his Expeditions. For the Kingdoms
of the Persians, which at this day we take to be those of
the Parthians, are elevated between the Persian and Hir-
canian Seas upon the Mountains of Caucasus ; in the Descent
of which on both sides bordering upon Armenia the Greater,
and on that part of the front which vergeth to Comagene, it
joineth (as we have said) with Sephenise : and upon it bor-
dereth Adiabene, the beginning of the Assyrians : Arbelitis,
which is nearest to Syria, is a part of this: where Alexander
vanquished Darius. All this Tract the Macedonians surnamed
Mygdonia, 1 from its resemblance. The Towns Alexandria ;
and Antiochia, which they call Nisibis : from Artaxata it is
750 Miles. There was also Ninus, 2 seated upon the Tigris,
looking towards the West, and in Times past highly re-
nowned. But on the other Side, where it lieth toward the
Caspian Sea, the Region Atropatenc, separated by the River
Araxes from Oterie in Armenia : its City, Gazse, is 450 Miles

1 From its resemblance to a part of Greece of that name, with which
they were well acquainted. Wern. Club.
8 The ancient Nineveh. Wern. Club.
VOL. II. I



114 History of Nature . [BooK VI.

from Artaxata : and as many from Ecbatana of the Medes,
some part of which the Atropateni hold.

CHAPTER XIV.
Media, and the Gates Caspice.

ECBATANA, the head of Media, was founded by King
Seleucus : and it is from Seleucia the Great 750 Miles : and
from the Caspian Gates 20. The other Towns of the Medes
are Phausia, Agamzua, and Apamia, named also Rhaphane.
The Straits there, (called the Caspian Gates,) have the same
reason for being so named as the other (by Caucasus) ; be-
cause the Mountains are broken through with so narrow
a Passage, that hardly a single line of Carts is able to pass
it for the Length of Eight Miles : and all done by the hand
of Man. The Cliffs that hang over on the right Side and on
the left are as if they were scorched : through a silent Tract
of 38 Miles ; for all the Moisture running together out of
those Cliffs, and pouring through the Straits, obstructs the
Passage. Besides, the Multitude of Serpents prevents Tra-
velling except in Winter.

CHAPTER XV.
Nations about the Hircanian Sea.

UNTO Adiabene are joined the Carduchi, so called in
Times past, and now Cordueni ; along which the Tigris
runneth ; and on them the Pratitse border, called also Pare-
doni, who hold the Caspian Gates. On the other side of
whom you meet with the Deserts of Parthia, and the Moun-
tains of Cithenus : and beyond these is the most pleasant
Tract of the same Parthia, called Choara. There stand two
Cities of the Parthians, formerly opposed against the Me-
dians : namely, Calliope ; and Issatis, situated in times past
upon another Rock. The Capital of Parthia itself, lleca-
tompylos, is from the (Caspian) Gates 133 Miles. Thus the
Kingdoms of the Parthians are shut up by Doors. When



BOOK VI.] History of Nature. 115

passed out of these Gates, presently we enter on the Cas-
pian Nation, which reacheth as far as the Sea-shore, and
gave the Name to the Gates and the Sea. The left hand is
full of Mountains : and from this Nation backward to the
River Cyrus, is by report 220 Miles. From that River, if
you would go higher up to the Gates, it is 700 Miles. And
from this starting-place began Alexander to reckon his
Journeys : making from those Gates to the Entrance of
India, 15,680 Stadia : from thence to the Town of Bactra,
which they call Zariaspa, 3700, and thence to the River
Jaxartes five Miles.

CHAPTER XVI.
Other Nations also.

FROM the Caspian Country eastward, lieth the Region
called Zapanortene, 1 and in it Daricum, a place celebrated
for Fertility. Then come the Nations of the Tapyri, Anariaci,
Stauri, and Hircani, at whose Coasts the same Sea beginneth
to take the Name Hircanum, from the River Syderis. About
it are the Rivers Mazeras and Stratos, all issuing out of
Caucasus. Then follows the Region Margiana, famous for
its warm Sunshine, and the only place in all that quarter
which yieldeth Vines. It is environed with pleasant Moun-
tains, for the compass of 1500 Stadia: difficult of approach
by reason of the Sandy Deserts for the space of 120 Miles;
and it is situated over against the Tract of Parthia, wherein
Alexander had built Alexandria ; which being destroyed by
the Barbarians, Antiochus the Son ofSeleucus rebuilt it in the
same place, upon the River Margus, which runneth through
it, together with another River Zotale, and it was called
Syriana. 2 But he desired rather that it should be named
Antiochia. This City containeth in Circuit 70 Stadia:
and into it Orodes, after the Slaughter of Crassus and his
Army, brought his Roman Prisoners. Being past the high
Country (Margiana), you come to the Nation of the Mardi,

1 Some copies read Zapauortene and Apauortene. Wern. Club.

2 Or rather Seleucia.



] 16 History of Nature. [BooK VI.

a Fierce People, subject to none; they inhabit the Rocky
Summits of Caucasus, which reach as far as to the Bac-
trians. Beyond that Tract are the Nations Ochani, Chomari,
Berdrigei, Hermatotrophi, Bomarci, Commani, Marucsei,
Mandrueni and latii. The Rivers Mandrus and Gridinus.
Beyond, inhabit the Chorasmii, Gandari, Attasini, Paricani,
Sarangae, Parrasini, Maratiani, Nasotiani, Aorsi, Gelse, whom
the Greeks called Cadusii, and the Matiani. The Town
Heraclea, built by Alexander, which afterwards was over-
thrown : but when it was repaired again by Antiochus, he
named it Achais. The Derbices, through the midst of whose
Borders runneth the River Oxus, which hath its Beginning
from the Lake Oxus : the Syrmatae, Oxii, Tagae, Heniochi,
Bateni, Saraparse, and the Bactri, with their Town Zariaspe,
called afterwards Bactrum, from the River (Bactra) ; this
Nation inhabiteth the back parts of the Mountain Paropa-
misus, over against the Source of the River Indus ; and it is
inclosed by the River Ochus. Beyond are the Sogdiani;
the Town Panda ; and in the utmost Borders of their Terri-
tory is Alexandria, built by Alexander the Great. There are
the Altars erected by Hercules and Liber Pater, also by
Cyrus, Semiramis, and Alexander : the very end of all their
Voyages in that part of the World being included within the
River Jaxartes, which the Scythians call Silys: Alexander
and his Soldiers thought it had been the Tanais. Demonax,
a General of the Kings Seleucus and Antiochus, passed over
that River, and set up Altars to Apollo Didymceus. And
this Demonax for the most part we follow.

CHAPTER XVII.
The Scythian Nation.

BEYOND (the Realm Sogdiana) inhabit the People of the
Scythians. The Persians called them in general Sacas, from
a People adjoining, and the Ancients Aramei. The Scythians
for their part called the Persians, Chorsari : and the Moun-
tain Caucasus, they called Graucasus, that is to say, White



BOOK VI.] History of Nature. 117

with Snow. 1 The People are exceedingly numerous : as
much so as the Parthians. The principal People of Scythia
are the Sacse, Massagetae, Dahse, Essedones, Ariacae, Rhym-
nici, Pesici, Amordi, Histi, Edones, Camee, Camacse, Eu-
chatse, Corieri, Antariani, Pialae, Arirnaspi, formerly called
Cacidiri, Assei, and Oetei. The Napsei and Apellsei who
dwelt there, are said to have perished. The noble Rivers of
those People are Mandagrseus and Caspasius. And surely
there is not a Region wherein Geographers vary as they do
in this : and I believe this to proceed from the very great
number of those Nations, and their wandering to and fro.
Alexander the Great reporteth that the Water of the Scy-
thian Sea is fresh and potable ; and M. Varro saith that
Pompey had such Water brought to him when he carried on
the War in that Neighbourhood against Mithridates: by
reason, no doubt, of the great Rivers that fall into it, which
overcome the Saltness of the Water. Varro saith also, that
during this Expedition of Pompey to the Bactri it was known
that it is but seven Days' Journey from India to the River
Icarus, which runneth into the Oxus : and that the Mer-
chandise of India, transported by the Caspian Sea, and so
to the River Cyrus, may be brought in not more than five
Days by Land as far as to Phasis in Pontus. Many Islands
lie all over that Sea : but one above the rest is Tazata ; for
thither all the Shipping from the Caspian Sea and the Scy-
thian Ocean bend their Course, the Sea-coasts being all
turned to the East. The first part of this is uninhabitable,
from the Scythian Promontory, by reason of the Snow : and
the next Regions to this are left uncultivated because of the
Fierceness of those Nations that border upon it. The An-
thropophagi are in Scythia, who live on Man's flesh. 2 This
is the cause why there are nothing there but vast Deserts,

1 The Emodus or Imaus of Pliny (a word which in the language of
the inhabitants signifies snowy,) derived its origin immediately from the
Ilimaleh of the Hindoos ; which really signifies in their language " snowy,"
or more strictly speaking, "the seat of snow." Quarterly Review^ vol. xxiv.
p. 103. Wern. Club.

2 We find a further account of this people, whom the ancients regarded
with horror, in the 7th Book, c. 2. The nation referred to was probably



History of Nature. [BoOK VI.

with a multitude of Wild Beasts, lying in wait for Men as
savage as themselves. Then again the Scythians ; and again
a Wilderness full of Wild Beasts, as far as to the craggy
Mountain overlooking the Sea, called Tabis. Almost one-half
of the length of that Coast, which looketh toward the East,
is uninhabited. The first of the People that are known are
the Seres, 1 famous for the fine Silk that their Woods yield.
They collect from the Leaves of the Trees their hoary Down,
and when it is steeped in Water they card it; wherein our
Women have a double Labour, both of undoing and again of
weaving this kind of Thread : with so much Labour and so
far away is it sought after, that our Matrons when they go
abroad in the street may shine with Transparency. The
Seres are a mild People, but they resemble Beasts, in that they
fly the Company of other People 2 when they desire inter-

the Samoieds, in the north of Russia : their name signifying people who
eat each other ; but the word has long survived the practice it described.
Ovid speaks of such a people seated near the place of his exile on the
Euxine :

" UK quos audis hominum gaudere cruore."

TRIST. 1. 4., explained by AGELL. ix. 4. Wern. Club.

1 There can be no question that the people here referred to are the
Chinese, who are again mentioned in the 22d chapter. It was a pardon-
able error to suppose that silk was the produce of a tree, instead of being
the production of a creature which fed on it ; but it appears that the
Romans were at great pains in disentangling the woven texture, that
it might again be formed into garments which better suited their taste
or habits. Martial speaks of this material under the name of Bombycina
(Apophoreta, 24), and from his account it was of very fine texture, and
probably expensive. When it was worn, the hair was bound up into a
knot and fastened with a gold pin, in order that it might not soil so
exquisite a dress. It permitted the beauty of form and colour to be seen
through its substance.

" Fo3mineum lucet sic per bombycina corpus :"
So female beauty shines through woven silk.

Epig. B. 8. 68.

See book ii. c. xxii. where Pliny corrects the errors of this chapter.
Wern. Club.

2 Even at this day they set abroad their wares with the prices, upon
the shore, and go their ways : then the foreign merchants come and lay
down the money, and have away the merchandise ; and so depart with-
out any communication at all.



BOOK VI.] History of Nature. 119

course with them. The first River known among them is
Psitaras : the next Carabi : the third Lanos : beyond which
the Promontory, the Gulf Chryse, the River Cymaba, the
Bay Attanos, and the Nation of the Attaci, a kind of People
secluded from all noisome Wind by pleasant Hills, with the
same Temperature that the Hyperboreans live in. Of this
People, Amonetus hath specially written a Book ; as Hera-
taus hath done of the Hyperboreans. Beyond the Attacores
are the Thyri and Tochari, and then the Casiri, who now
belong to the Indians. But they withinland, that lie toward
the Scythians, feed on Man's Flesh. The Nomades of
India likewise wander to and fro. Some write that they
border upon the very Ciconians and Brysanians on the North
Side. But there (as all agree) the Mountains Emodi arise,
and the Nation of the Indians beginneth, lying not only by
that Sea, but also on the Southern, which we have named
the Indian Sea. And this part opposite the East, stretcheth
straightforward to that place where it beginneth to bend
toward the Indian Sea; and it containeth 1875 Miles.
Then that Tract which is bent towards the South taketh
2475 Miles (as Eratosthenes hath set down), even to the
River Indus, which is the utmost limit of India Westward.
But many others have set down the whole Length of India
in this manner ; that it requireth 40 Days and Nights' Sail-
ing ; and also, that from the North to the South is 2750
Miles. Agrippa saith that it is 3003 Miles Long, and
2003 Broad. Posidonius hath measured it from the North-
east to the South-east ; and by this means fixeth it directly
opposite to Gaul, which he likewise measured along the
West Coast, from the North-west point where the Sun goeth
down at Midsummer, to the South-west, where it setteth
in the midst of Winter. He teacheth also, by very good
Reasons, that this West Wind, which from opposite bloweth
upon India, is very healthful for that Country. The Indians
have a different Aspect of the Sky from us. Other Stars rise
in their Hemisphere. They have two Summers in the Year ;
two Harvests : and their Winter between hath the Etesian
Winds blowing instead of the Northern Blasts with us. The



120 History of Nature. [BooK VI.

Winds are mild with them, the Sea navigable, the Nations
and the Cities innumerable, if any one would take in Hand
to reckon them all. For India hath been discovered, not
only by the Arms of Alexander the Great, and of other
Kings his Successors (for Seleucus and Antiochus, and their
Admiral Patrocles, sailed about it, even to the Hircan and
Caspian Seas) : but also other Greek Authors, who abode
with the Kings of India (as Megasthenes, and Dionysius, who
was sent thither for this purpose by Plriladelphus) have
made relation of the Forces of those Nations. And further
Diligence is to be employed, considering they wrote of
Things so various and incredible. They who accompanied
Alexander the Great in his Indian Voyage have written,
that in that Quarter of India which he conquered, there
were 5000 Towns, not one of them less than (the City) Cos :
and -nine Nations. Also that India is a third Part of the
whole Earth r 1 that the People in it were innumerable. And
this they delivered with good Appearance of Reason : for the
Indians were almost the only Men of all others that never
went out of their own Country. They collect that from the
Time of Father Liber to Alexander the Great, there reigned
over them 154 Kings, for the Space of 5402 Years and three
Months. The Rivers are of wonderful bigness. It is reported
that Alexander sailed every Day at least 600 Stadia upon the
River Indus, and yet it took him five Months and some few
Days to reach the end of that River, although it is allowed to
be less than the Ganges. Also, Seneca, one of ourselves, who
laboured to write Commentaries on India, hath made Report
of 60 Rivers therein, and of Nations, 118. It would be as
great a Labour to reckon up the Mountains. Imaus, Emo-
dus, Paropamisus, parts of Caucasus, join together ; from
which the whole passes into a very extensive Plain, like to
Egypt. But to shew the Continent, we will follow the Steps
of Alexander the Great. Dwgnetus and J3eton, the Mea-
surers of the Journeys of that Prince, have written, that from

1 "India, a third part of the whole earth;" which is near the truth,
although it contradicts what Pliny says in the 33d chapter of this Book.
Wern. Club.



BOOK VI.] History of Nature. 121

the Caspian Ports to Hecatompylos of the Parthians, there
are as many Miles as we have set down already. From
thence to Alexandria Arion, which City the same King
founded, 562 Miles: from whence to Prophthasia of the
Drangse, 199 Miles : and so forward to the Town of the
Arachosi, 515 Miles. From thence to Orthospanum, 250
Miles : thence to the Town of Alexandria in Opianum, 50
Miles. In some Copies these Numbers are found to differ :
this City is situated at the very Foot of Caucasus. From
which to the River Chepta, and Pencolaitis, a Town of the
Indians, are 227 Miles. From thence to the River Indus
and the Town Taxila, 60 Miles : to the noble River Hy-
daspes, 120 Miles: to Hypasis, a River of no less account,
4900, or 3900 j 1 which was the End of Alexanders Voyage :
but he passed over the River, and on the opposite Bank he
dedicated Altars. The Letters also of the King himself
agree to this. The other Parts of the Country were sur-
veyed by Seleucus Nicator: to Hesidrus, 168 Miles : to the
River Joames as much ; and some Copies add five Miles
more : from thence to the Ganges, 112 Miles : to Rhodapha,
119; and some say, that between them it is .325 Miles. From
it to the Town Calinipaxa 167 Miles and a half, others say
265. Thence the Junction of the Rivers Jomanes and
Ganges 625 Miles, and many put thereto 13 Miles more:
from thence to the Town Palibotra 625 Miles. To the Mouth
of the Ganges 638 Miles. The Nations which it is not irk-
some to name, from the Mountains Emodi, of which the
Promontory is called Imaus, which signifieth in the Lan-
guage of the Inhabitants, Snowy : 2 there are the Isari, Cosyri,
Izgi, and upon the very Mountains, the Ghisiotosagi : also
the Brachmanse, 3 a Name common to many Nations, among
whom are the Maccocalinga?. Rivers, Pumas and Cainas,

1 " Ad Hypasin non ignobiliorcm xxix. mill, cccxc. Hoc est novem et
viginti milliaria cum trecentis et xc. pass." Note in the Regent Edition.
Wern. Club.

2 Seep. 117.

3 If these were a sect of the Gymnosophists, they are referred to by
Plutarch in his life of Alexander ; but Pliny seems to be of opinion that



122 History of Nature. [BooK VI.

the latter of which runneth into the Ganges, and both are
navigable. The Nations called Calingse are close upon the
Sea ; but the Mandei and Malli, among whom is the Moun-
tain Mall us, are above them ; and then is the Ganges, the
farthest Bound of all that Tract.

CHAPTER XVIII.
The River Ganges.

SOME have said that the Fountains of the Ganges are
uncertain, like those of the Nilus ; and that it overfloweth the
neighbouring Countries in the same manner. Others have
said that it issueth out of the Mountains ofScythia. There
run into it nineteen Rivers : of which, besides those before-
named, there are navigable, Canucha, Varna, Erranoboa,
Cosaogus, and Sonus. Some report that the Ganges pre-
sently breaketh out to a great Magnitude from its own
Sources with great Violence, falling down over steep and
craggy Rocks : and when it is arrived in the flat arid even
Country, that it taketh Shelter in a certain Lake ; and out of
it carrieth a gentle Stream, 8 Miles broad where it is nar-
rowest : and 100 Stadia over for the most part, but 160
where it largest : but in no Place under 20 Paces deep.

CHAPTER XIX.

The Nations of India.

THE first Nation is that of the Gandaridae; the Region of
the Calingae is called Parthalis. The King hath in readiness



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