IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
By Nick Lloyd - Home - Contact
 

Strabo on Iberia

The Roman writer Strabo wrote what is often considered as the first attempt to synthesise a universal geography. He began "Geography" in 30-25 BC and probably revised it in his old age around 15-18 AD. The first two books deal with the principals of Geography. The rest of the 15 books are a heavily Roman-centric description of the known world. He begins the third book precisely with Iberia, which incidentally I believe he never visited. This is in all probability the first geographical work on the Iberian Peninsula. Strabo employed a variety of sources, many of which were apocryphal, and his recording of distance is extremely imprecise, or downright wrong. No information is given on the political division of the territory ( Hispania). Despite this, a similar work of synthesis was not achieved until 15 centuries later during the Renaissance.

Translations of some of the places used in the text:

  • Our Sea : The Mediterranean
  • The Pillars/Columnas: The Pillars of Hercules - Gibraltar and Ceuta
  • Sacred Cape : San Vincent Cape (Sao Vicente), in Southern Portugal
  • Cape of the Artabrians/Cape Nerium: Cape Finisterre
  • River Betis/ Baetis : River Guadalquivir
  • River Anas: River Guadiana
  • Calpe : Stopping place somewhere between Malaga and Cadiz. Probably Gibraltar.
  • Turdetania: Roughly equivalent to Andalusia
  • Exterior Sea : The Atlantic
  • Gades: Cadiz
  • Híspalis: Seville
  • Astigis: Ecija
  • Castalo: Cazlona
  • Gymnesiae/Baliarides: The Balearics
  • Onaba: Huelva
  • Asta: Jerez de la Frontera --MORE TO COME

Book III, Chapter I: Iberia

In which Strabo gives a general outline of Iberia , describing the Peninsula as an outstretched an ox-hide (or bull's hide). He notes the general inhospitabilty and ruggedness of the North and the fertility of the South

Book III, Chapter II: Iberia

In which Strabo decribes the rich region of Turdetania and the Turdetanians

Book III, Chapter III: Iberia

Book III, Chapter IV: Iberia

Book III, Chapter V: Iberia

Chapter 1: Iberia (Text lifted from here)

§1. Now that I have given the first general outline of geography, it is proper for me to discuss next the several parts of the inhabited world; indeed, I have promised to do so, and I think that thus far my treatise has been correctly apportioned. But I must begin again with Europe and with those parts of Europe with which I began at first, and for the same reasons.

§2. As I was saying, the first part of Europe is the western, namely, Iberia . Now of Iberia the larger part affords but poor means of livelihood; for most of the inhabited country consists of mountains, forests, and plains whose soil is thin - and even that not uniformly well-watered. And Northern Iberia , in addition to its ruggedness, not only is extremely cold, but lies next to the ocean, and thus has acquired its characteristic of inhospitality and aversion to intercourse with other countries; consequently, it is an exceedingly wretched place to live in. Such, then, is the character of the northern parts; but almost the whole of Southern Iberia is fertile, particularly the region outside the Pillars. This will become clear in the course of my detailed description of Iberia . But first I must briefly describe its shape and give its dimensions.

§3. Iberia is like an ox-hide ( or bull's hide ) extending in length from west to east, its fore-parts toward the east, and in breadth from north to south. It is six thousand stadia in length all told, and five thousand stadia in its greatest breadth; though in some places it is much less than three thousand stadia in breadth, particularly near the Pyrenees, which form its eastern side. That is, an unbroken chain of mountains, stretching from north to south, forms the boundary line between Celtica and Iberia; and since Celtica, as well as Iberia, varies in breadth, the part of each country that is narrowest in breadth between Our Sea and the ocean is that which lies nearest to the Pyrenees, on either side of those mountains, and forms gulfs both at the ocean and at Our Sea ( The Mediterranean ). The Celtic gulfs, however, which are also called Galatic, are larger, and the isthmus which they form is narrower as compared with that of Iberia . So the eastern side of Iberia is formed by the Pyrenees; the southern side is formed in part by Our Sea, from the Pyrenees to the Pillars ( The Pillars of Hercules - Gibraltar and Cueta ) , and from that point on by the ocean, up to what is called the Sacred Cape( Cape San Vicente, in France ); the third is the western side, which is approximately parallel to the Pyrenees and extends from the Sacred Cape to that Cape of the Artabrians which is called Nerium ( Cape Finisterre ); and the fourth side extends from Cape Nerium up to the northern headlands of the Pyrenees.

§4. But, to resume, let me describe Iberia in detail, beginning with the Sacred Cape . This cape is the most westerly point, not only of Europe, but of the whole inhabited world; for, whereas the inhabited world comes to an end in the west with the two continents (in the one hand, at the headlands of Europe, and in the other, at the extremities of Libya, of which regions the Iberians occupy the one, and the Maurusians the other), the headlands of Iberia project at the aforementioned cape about fifteen hundred stadia beyond those of Libya. Moreover, the country adjacent to this cape they call in the Latin language "Cuneus," meaning thereby to indicate its wedge-shape. But as for the cape itself, which projects into the sea, Artemidorus (who visited the place, as he says) likens it to a ship; and he says that three little islands help to give it this shape, one of these islands occupying the position of a ship's beak, and the other two, which have fairly good places of anchorage, occupying the position of cat-heads. But as for Heracles, he says, there is neither a temple of his to be seen on the cape (as Ephorus wrongly states), nor an altar to him, or to any other god either, but only stones in many spots, lying in groups of three or four, which in accordance with a native custom are turned round by those who visit the place, and then, after the pouring of a libation, are moved back again. And it is not lawful, he adds, to offer sacrifice there, nor, at night, even to set foot on the place, because the gods, the people say, occupy it at that time; but those who come to see the place spend the night in a neighbouring village, and then enter the place by day, taking water with them, for there is no water there.

§5. Now these assertions of Artemidorus are allowable, and we should believe them; but the stories which he has told in agreement with the common crowd of people are by no means to be believed. For example, it is a general saying among the people, according to Poseidonius, that in the regions along the coast of the ocean the sun is larger when it sets, and that it sets with a noise much as if the sea were sizzling to extinguish it because of its falling into the depths. But, says Poseidonius, this is false, as also the statement that night follows instantly upon sunset; for night does not come on instantly, but after a slight interval, just as it does on the coasts of the other large seas. For in regions where the sun sets behind mountains, he says, the daylight lasts a longer time after sunset, as a result of the indirect light; but on the sea-coasts no considerable interval ensues, albeit the darkness does not come on instantly, either, any more than it does on the great plains. And, he says, the visual impression of the size of the sun increases alike both at sunset and sunrise on the seas, because at those times a greater amount of vapour rises from the water; that is, the visual rays, in passing through this vapour as through a lens, are broken, and therefore the visual impression is magnified, just as it is when the setting or the rising sun, or moon, is seen through a dry, thin cloud, at which time the heavenly body also appears somewhat ruddy. He convinced himself, he says, of the falsity of the above assertions during his stay of thirty days in Gades (Cadiz), when he observed the settings of the sun. Nevertheless, Artemidorus says that the sun sets a hundred times larger than usual, and that night comes on immediately! However, if we look closely at his declaration, we are obliged to assume that he did not himself see this phenomenon at the Sacred Cape, for he states that no one sets foot on the place by night; and hence no one could set foot on it while the sun was setting, either, if it be true that night comes on immediately. Neither, in fact, did he see it at any other point on the ocean-coast, for Gades is also on the ocean, and Poseidonius and several others bear witness against him.

§6. The coastline adjacent to the Sacred Cape , on the west, is the beginning of the western side of Iberia as far as the mouth of the Tagus River , and, on the south, the beginning of the southern side as far as another river, the Anas, and its mouth. Both rivers flow from the eastern regions; the Tagus, which is a much larger stream than the other, flows straight westward to its mouth, whereas the Anas turns south, and marks off a boundary of the interfluvial region, which is inhabited for the most part by Celtic peoples, and by certain of the Lusitanians who were transplanted thither by the Romans from the other side of the Tagus. But in the regions farther inland dwell Carpetanians, Oretanians, and large numbers of Vettonians. This country, to be sure, has only a moderately happy lot, but that which lies next to it on the east and south takes pre-eminence in comparison with the entire inhabited world in respect of fertility and of the goodly products of land and sea. This is the country through which the Baetis flows, which rises in the same districts as both the Anas and the Tagus, and in size is about midway between the other two rivers. Like the Anas, however, it at first flows towards the west, and then turns south, and empties on the same coast as the Anas. They call the country Baetica for the river, and also Turdetania after the inhabitants; yet they call the inhabitants both Turdetanians and Turdulians, some believing that they are the same people, others that they are different. Among the latter is Polybius, for he states that the Turdulians are neighbours of the Turdetanians on the north; but at the present time there is no distinction to be seen among them. The Turdetanians are ranked as the wisest of the Iberians; and they make use of an alphabet, and possess records of their ancient history, poems, and laws written in verse that are six thousand years old, as they assert. And also the other Iberians use an alphabet, though not letters of one and the same character, for their speech is not one and the same, either. Now Turdetania, the country this side the Anas, stretches eastward as far as Oretania, and southward as far as the coastline that extends from the mouths of the Anas to the Pillars. But I must describe it and the regions that are close to it at greater length, telling all that contributes to our knowledge of their natural advantages and happy lot.

§7. Between this stretch of coastline, on which both the Baetis and the Anas empty, and the limits of Maurusia, the Atlantic Ocean breaks in and thus forms the strait at the Pillars, and by this strait the interior sea connects with the Exterior Sea . Now at this strait there is a mountain belonging to those Iberians that are called Bastetanians, who are also called Bastulians; I mean Calpe , which, although its circumference is not great, rises to so great a height and is so steep that from a distance it looks like an island. So when you sail from Our Sea into the Exterior Sea , you have this mountain on your right hand; and near it, within a distance of forty stadia, is the city Calpe , an important and ancient city, which was once a naval station of the Iberians. And some further say that it was founded by Heracles, among whom is Timosthenes, who says that in ancient times it was also called Heracleia, and that its great city-walls and its docks are still to be seen.

§8. Then comes Menlaria, with its establishments for salting fish; and next, the city and river of Belon . It is from Belon that people generally take ship for the passage across to Tingis in Maurusia; and at Belon there are trading-places and establishments for salting fish. There used to be a city of Zelis , also, a neighbour of Tingis, but the Romans transplanted it to the opposite coast of Iberia , taking along some of the inhabitants of Tingis; and they also sent some of their own people thither as colonists and named the city "Julia Ioza." Then comes Gades, an island separated from Turdetania by a narrow strait, and distant from Calpe about seven hundred and fifty stadia (though some say eight hundred). This island does not differ at all from the others except that, because of the daring of its inhabitants as sailors, and because of their friendship for the Romans, it has made such advances in every kind of prosperity that, although situated at the extremity of the earth, it is the most famous of them all. But I shall tell about Gades when I discuss the other islands.

§9. Next in order comes what is called the Port of Menestheus , and then the estuary at Asta and Nabrissa. (The name of estuaries is given to hollows that are covered by the sea at the high tides, and, like rivers, afford waterways into the interior and to the cities on their shores.) Then immediately comes the outlet of the Baetis, which has a twofold division; and the island that is enclosed by the two mouths has a coastal boundary of one hundred stadia, or, as some say, still more than that. Hereabouts is the oracle of Menestheus; and also the tower of Caepio, which is situated upon a rock that is washed on all sides by the waves, and, like the Pharos tower, is a marvellous structure built for the sake of the safety of mariners; for not only do the alluvial deposits that are discharged by the river form shallows, but the region in front of it is full of reefs, so that there is need of a conspicuous beacon. Thence is the waterway up the Baetis, and the city of Ebura , and the shrine of Phosphorus, which they call "Lux Dubia." Then come the waterways up to the estuaries; and after that the Anas River , which also has two mouths, and the waterway from both mouths into the interior. Then, finally, comes the Sacred Cape , which is less than two thousand stadia distant from Gades. Some, however, say that the distance from the Sacred Cape to the mouth of the Anas is sixty miles, and thence to the mouth of the Baetis, a hundred, and then, to Gades, seventy.

Book III, Chapter 2

§1. At all events, it is above the coast this side the Anas that Turdetania lies, and through it flows the Baetis River . And its boundary is marked off on the west and north by the Anas River , on the east by a part of Carpetania and by Oretania, and on the south by those of the Bastetanians who occupy a narrow stretch of coast between Calpe and Gades and by the sea next to that stretch as far as the Anas. But these Bastetanians of whom I have just spoken also belong to Turdetania, and so do those Bastetanians beyond the Anas, and most of its immediate neighbours. The extent of this country is not more than two thousand stadia, that is, in length or breadth, but it contains a surpassing number of cities - as many, indeed, as two hundred, it is said. The best known are those situated on the rivers, on the estuaries, and on the sea; and this is due to their commercial intercourse. But the two that have grown most in fame and in power are Corduba, which was founded by Marcellus, and the city of the Gaditanians: the latter, because of its maritime commerce and because it associated itself with the Romans as an ally; the former because of the excellence of its soil and the extent of its territory, though the Baetis River has also contributed in great measure to its growth; and it has been inhabited from the beginning by picked men of the Romans and of the native Iberians; what is more, the first colony which the Romans sent to these regions was that to Corduba. After Corduba and the city of the Gaditanians, Hispalis, itself also a colony of the Romans, is most famous, and still remains the trade-centre of the district; yet, in the matter of distinction, that is, in the fact that the soldiers of Caesar have recently colonised it, Baetis ranks higher, albeit a city not notable for its population.

§2. After these cities come Italica and Ilipa, both near the Baetis River; and Astigis, farther away from the river, and Carmo, and Obulco, and, besides these, the cities in which the sons of Pompey were defeated, namely, Munda, Ategua, Urso, Tuccis, Ulia, and Aegua; and all of these cities are not far from Corduba. In a way, Munda has become the capital city of this region. Munda is one thousand four hundred stadia distant from Carteia, whither Gnaeus fled after his defeat; he sailed away from there, and disembarked into a certain mountainous region overlooking the sea, where he was put to death. But his brother Sextus escaped from Corduba, carried on war for a short time in Iberia , and later on caused Sicily to revolt; then, driven out of Sicily into Asia , he was captured by the generals of Antony , and ended his life at Miletus . In the country of the Celti, Conistorgis is the best known city; but on the estuaries Asta is the best known, where the Gaditanians of to-day usually hold their assemblies, and it is situated not much more than one hundred stadia beyond the seaport of the island.

§3. The Baetis has a large population along its shores, and is navigable for approximately one thousand two hundred stadia from the sea up to Corduba and the regions a little higher up. Furthermore, the land along the river, and the little islands in the river, are exceedingly well cultivated. And besides that, there is the charm of the scenery, for the farms are fully improved with groves and gardens of the various plants. Now, up to Hispalis, the river is navigable for merchant-vessels of considerable size, that is, for a distance not much short of five hundred stadia; to the cities higher up the stream as far as Ilipa, for the smaller merchant vessels; and, as far as Corduba, for the river-boats (at the present time these are builded boats, whereas in antiquity they were merely dugout canoes); but above Corduba, in the direction of Castalo, the river is not navigable. On the north, there are some mountain-ridges which extend parallel to the river, approaching it closely, sometimes more so, sometimes less, and they are full of mines. Silver, however, is the most plentiful in the regions about Ilipa, and in those about Sisapo - I mean what is called the Old Sisapo as well as the New Sisapo; and at the place called Cotinae both copper and gold are mined at the same time. Now on your left, as you sail up the river, are these mountains, while on your right is a large plain, high, very productive, with lofty trees, and affording good pasturage. The Anas also is navigable, though neither for such large vessels nor for so great a distance. Beyond the Anas, too, lie mountains that contain ores, and these mountains reach down to the Tagus River . Now the regions which contain ores are necessarily rugged as well as rather poor in soil, precisely as are the regions that join Carpetania, and still more so those that join Celtiberia. And such is the nature of Baeturia also, which contains arid plains that stretch along the Anas.

§4. Turdetania itself is marvellously blessed by nature; and while it produces all things, and likewise great quantities of them, these blessings are doubled by the facilities of exportation; for its surplus products are bartered off with ease because of the large number of the merchant vessels. This is made possible by the rivers, and by the estuaries as well, which, as I have said, resemble rivers, and, like rivers, are navigable inland from the sea, not only for small boats but also for large ones, to the cities of the interior. For the whole country beyond the seaboard that lies between the Sacred Cape and the Pillars is a plain for a considerable distance inland. And here, at a large number of places, are inlets which run up from the sea into the interior, resembling moderate-sized ravines or simply river-beds, and extending for many stadia; and these inlets are filled by the overflows of the sea at the flood-tides, so that one can sail inland thereon as readily as on the rivers - in fact, better, for it is like sailing down the rivers, not only because there is no opposing current, but because, on account of the flood-tide, the sea wafts you onwards just as the river-current does. And the overflows are greater on this coast than in the other regions, because the sea, coming from the great ocean, is compressed into the narrow strait which Maurusia forms with Iberia , there meets resistance, and then easily rushes to those parts of the land that yield to it. Now, while a number of the inlets of this kind are emptied at the ebb-tides (though some of them do not become wholly dry), yet a number of them enclose islands within themselves. Such, then, are the estuaries between the Sacred Cape and the Pillars, for they have an excessive rise of tide as compared with those in the other regions. A rise of tide like this affords a certain advantage to be utilised by sailors, namely, the estuaries are made more numerous and larger, oftentimes being navigable even for a distance of eight stadia; so that, after a fashion, it renders the whole country navigable and convenient both for exporting and importing merchandise. And yet it also affords a certain annoyance; for, on account of the vehemence of the flood-tides, which press with superior force against the current of the rivers, navigation on the rivers is attended by no small danger to the vessels, alike in their descent and ascent. But in the case of the estuaries the ebb-tides too are harmful; for the ebb-tides too grow violent in proportion to the strength of the flood-tides, and on account of their swiftness have oftentimes even left the ship stranded on dry land. Again, the cattle which cross over to the islands that lie off the rivers or the estuaries have at times actually been engulfed; at other times they have merely been cut off, and in their struggle to get back to the land lacked the strength to do so, and perished. But the cows, they say, are by observation actually aware of what happens, wait for the retirement of the sea, and then make off for the mainland.

§5. At any rate, it was because the people had learned the character of these regions and that the estuaries could subserve the same purpose as the rivers, that they built cities and other settlements on their banks, just as on the rivers. Among these cities are Asta, Nabrissa, Onoba, Ossonoba, Maenoba, and several others. Again, canals that have been dug in a number of places are an additional aid, since many are the points thereon from which and to which the people carry on their traffic, not only with one another but also with the outside world. And further, the meetings of the waters when the flood-tides reach far inland are likewise helpful, for the waters pour across over the isthmuses that separate the waterways, thus rendering the isthmuses navigable also; so that one can cross over by boat from the rivers into the estuaries and from the estuaries into the rivers. But all the foreign trade of the country is carried on with Italy and Rome , since the voyage as far as the Pillars is good, except, perhaps, for a certain difficulty in passing the strait, and also the voyage on the high seas of Our Sea. For the sea-routes all pass through a zone of fair weather, particularly if the sailor keeps to the high seas; and this fact is advantageous to the merchant-freighters. And further, the winds on the high seas are regular. Added to that, too, is the present peace, because all piracy has been broken up, and hence the sailors feel wholly at ease. Poseidonius says that he observed a peculiar circumstance on his return voyage from Iberia, namely, that the east winds on that sea, as far as the gulf of Sardinia, blew at a fixed time each year; and that this was why he barely reached Italy even in three months; for he was driven out of his course in both directions, not only near to the Gymnesian Islands and Sardinia, but also to the different parts of Libya opposite to these islands.

§6. There are exported from Turdetania large quantities of grain and wine, and also olive oil, not only in large quantities, but also of best quality. And further, wax, honey, and pitch are exported from there, and large quantities of kermes, and ruddle which is not inferior to the Sinopian earth. And they build up their ships there out of native timber; and they have salt quarries in their country, and not a few streams of salt water; and not unimportant, either, is the fish-salting industry that is carried on, not only from this county,A comment or correction but also from the rest of the seaboard outside the Pillars; and the product is not inferior to that of the Pontus. Formerly much cloth came from Turdetania, but now, wool, rather of the raven-black sort. And it is surpassingly beautiful; at all events, the rams are bought for breeding purposes at a talent apiece. Surpassing, too, are the delicate fabrics which are woven by the people of Salacia. Turdetania also has a great abundance of cattle of all kinds, and of game. But there are scarcely any destructive animals, except the burrowing hares, by some called "peelers"; for they damage both plants and seeds by eating the roots. This pest occurs throughout almost the whole of Iberia , and extends even as far as Massilia, and infests the islands as well. The inhabitants of the Gymnesian Islands, it is said, once sent an embassy to Rome to ask for a new place of abode, for they were being driven out by these animals, because they could not hold out against them on account of their great numbers. Now perhaps such a remedy is needed against so great a warfare (which is not always the case, but only when there is some destructive plague like that of snakes or field-mice), but, against the moderate pest, several methods of hunting have been discovered; more than that, they make a point of breeding Libyan ferrets, which they muzzle and send into the holes. The ferrets with their claws drag outside all the rabbits they catch, or else force them to flee into the open, where men, stationed at the hole, catch them as they are driven out. The abundance of the exports of Turdetania is indicated by the size and the number of the ships; for merchantmen of the greatest size sail from this country to Dicaearchia, and to Ostia, the seaport of Rome; and their number very nearly rivals that of the Libyan ships.

§7. Although the interior of Turdetania is so productive, it will be found that the seaboard vies with it in its goodly products from the sea. For the various kinds of oysters as well as mussels are in general surpassing, both in their number and in their size, along the whole of the Exterior Sea; but especially so here, inasmuch as the flood-tides and the ebb-tides have increased power here, and these tides, it is reasonable to suppose, are, on account of the exercise they give, responsible both for the number and the size of them. So it is, in the same way, with respect to all the cetaceans; narwhals, "phalaenae" and spouting-whales; when these spout, the distant observer seems to see a cloud-like pillar. And further, the conger-eels become monsters, far exceeding in size those of Our Sea; and so do the lampreys and several other edible fish of the kind. And at Carteia, it is said, there are shells of trumpet-fish and purple-fish which hold ten cotylae, and in the regions farther out to sea the lamprey and the conger-eel weigh even more than eighty minae, the sea-polypus a talent, the cuttle-fish are two cubits long - and other things in like proportion. Again, large numbers of plump, fat tunny-fish congregate hither from the other coast, namely, that outside the Pillars. And they feed on the acorns of a certain very stunted oak that grows at the bottom of the sea and produces very large fruit. This oak also grows in abundance on the dry land, in Iberia; and although its roots are large like those of a full-grown oak, yet it does not grow as high as a low bush. But the sea-oak brings forth so much fruit that, after the ripening, the seacoast, both inside and outside the Pillars, is covered with the acorns, for they are cast ashore by the tides. However, those inside the Pillars are always smaller, and are to be found in greater quantities. Polybius tells us that the sea casts these acorns ashore even as far as Latium, unless perhaps, says he, also Sardinia and the neighbouring land produce them. And further, the nearer the tunny-fish approach the Pillars, in coming from the Exterior Sea , the leaner they become, since their food fails them. This creature, says Polybius, is therefore a sea-hog, for it is fond of the acorn and gets exceedingly fat on it; and whenever the sea-oak has produced a large crop of acorns, there is also a large crop of tunny-fish.

§8. Now, although the aforesaid country has been endowed with so many good things, still one might welcome and admire, not least of all, but even most of all, its natural richness in metals. For the whole country of the Iberians is full of metals, although not all of it is so rich in fruit, or so fertile either, and in particular that part of it which is well supplied with metals. It is rare for a country to be fortunate in both respects, and it is also rare for the same country to have within a small area an abundance of all kinds of metals. But as for Turdetania and the territory adjoining it, there is no worthy word of praise left to him who wishes to praise their excellence in this respect. Up to the present moment, in fact, neither gold, nor silver, nor yet copper, nor iron, has been found anywhere in the world, in a natural state, either in such quantity or of such good quality. And the gold is not only mined, but is also washed down; that is, the gold-bearing sand is carried down by the rivers and the torrents, although it is often found in the waterless districts also; but in these districts it cannot be seen, whereas in the flooded districts the gold-dust glitters. Besides, they flood the waterless districts by conducting water thither, and thus they make the gold-dust glitter; and they also get the gold out by digging pits, and by inventing other means for washing the sand; and the so-called "gold-washeries" are now more numerous than the gold mines. The Galatae hold that their own mines, both those in the Cemmenus Mountains and those situated at the foot of the Pyrenees themselves, are equal to those of Turdetania; the metals from the latter, however, are held in greater esteem. And in the gold-dust, they say, nuggets weighing as much as half a pound are some found, which are called "palae," and they need but little refining. They further say that when stones are split they find in them small nuggles resembling nipples, and when the gold is smelted and refined by means of a sort of styptic earth the residuum thereof is "electrum"; and, again, that when this electrum, which contains a mixture of silver and gold, is smelted, the silver is burned away, while the gold remains. For the alloy-type is easily fused and stone-like. For this reason, too, the gold is preferably melted with chaff-fire, because the flame, on account of its softness, is suitable to a substance that yields and fuses easily; but the charcoal-fire consumes much of it because, owing to its intensity, it over-melts the gold and carries it off as vapour. The soil is carried along in the streams, and is washed in by troughs; or else a pit is dug, and the soil that has been accumulated is there washed. They build the silver-smelting furnaces with high chimneys, so that the gas from the ore may be carried high into the air; for it is heavy and deadly. Some of the copper-mines are called gold-mines, and from this fact it is inferred that in former times gold was mined from them.

§9. Poseidonius, in praising the quantity and the excellence of these ores, does not abstain from his usual rhetorical speech; indeed, he enthusiastically concurs with the extravagant stories told; for example, he does not discredit the story, he says, that, when on a time the forests had been burned, the soil, since it was composed of silver and gold ores, melted and boiled out over the surface, because, as he says, every mountain and every hill is bullion heaped up there by some prodigal fortune. And, in general, he says, anyone who had seen these regions would declare that they are everlasting storehouses of nature, or a never-failing treasury of an empire. For the country was, he adds, not only rich, but also rich down below; and with the Turdetanians it is verily Pluto, and not Hades, who inhabits the region down below. Such, then, are the flowery utterances of Poseidonius on this subject - himself drawing much of his language from a mine, as it were. Again, in speaking of the industry of the miners, he cites the statement of Demetrius of Phalerum. Demetrius, he says, states in reference to the Attic silver-mines, that the people dig as strenuously as if they expected to bring up Pluto himself. So Poseidonius implies that the energy and industry of the Turdetanian miners is similar, since they cut their shafts aslant and deep, and, as regards the streams that meet them in the shafts, oftentimes draw them off with the Egyptian screw. However, the whole affair, he says, is never the same for these miners as for the Attic miners; indeed, for the latter, mining is like a riddle: "What they took up," he says, "they did not take, yet what they had, they lost"; but, for the Turdetanians, mining is profitable beyond measure, since one-fourth of the ore brought out by their copper-workers is pure copper, while some of their private adventurers who search for silver pick up within three days a Euboean talent of silver. Tin, however, is not found there on the surface of the ground, he says, as the historians continually repeat, but is dug up; and it is produced both in the country of the barbarians who live beyond Lusitania, and in the Cassiterides Islands; and tin is brought to Massilia from the British Islands also. But among the Artabrians, who live farthest on the north-west of Lusitania, the soil "effloresces," he says, with silver, tin, and "white gold" (for it is mixed with silver). This soil, however, he adds, is brought by the streams; and the women scrape it up with shovels and wash it in sieves woven basket-like. Such, then, is what Poseidonius has said about the mines.

§10. Polybius, in mentioning the silver-mines of New Carthage, says that they are very large; that they are distant from the city about twenty stadia and embrace an area four hundred stadia in circuit; and that forty thousand workmen stay there, who (in his time) bring into the Roman exchequer a daily revenue of twenty-five thousand drachmae. But as for the processes of the work, I omit all he says about it (for it is a long story) except what he says of the silver-bearing ore that is carried along in the streams, namely, that it is crushed and by means of sieves disengaged in water; then the sediment is again crushed, and again strained through (the waters meantime being poured off), and crushed; then the fifth sediment is smelted, and, after the lead has been poured off, yields the pure silver. The silver-mines are still being worked at the present time; they are not state-property, however, either at New Carthage or anywhere else, but have passed over to private ownership. But the majority of the gold-mines are state-property. Both in Castalo and elsewhere there is a special metal of mined lead; this, too, has a slight quantity of silver mixed with it, though not enough to make the refining of it profitable.

§11. Not very far from Castalo is also the mountain in which the Baetis is said to rise; it is called "Silver Mountain" on account of the silver-mines that are in it. According to Polybius, however, both this river and the Anas, though distant from each other as much as nine hundred stadia, rise in Celtiberia; for, as a result of their growth in power, the Celtiberians caused the whole neighbouring country to have the same name as their own. The ancients seem to have called the Baetis River "Tartessus"; and to have called Gades and the adjoining islands "Erytheia"; and this is supposed to be the reason why Stesichorus spoke as he did about the neat-herd of Geryon, namely, that he was born "about opposite famous Erytheia, beside the unlimited, silver-rooted springs of the river Tartessus, in a cavern of a cliff." Since the river had two mouths, a city was planted on the intervening territory in former times, it is said,- a city which was called "Tartessus," after the name of the river; and the country, which is now occupied by Turdulians, was called "Tartessis." Further, Eratosthenes says that the country adjoining Calpe is called "Tartessis," and that Erytheia is called "Blest Isle." Eratosthenes is contradicted by Artemidorus, who says that this is another false statement of Eratosthenes, like his statement that the distance from Gades to the Sacred Cape is a five days' sail (although it is not more than one thousand seven hundred stadia), and his statement that the tides come to an end at the Sacred Cape (although the tides take place round the whole circuit of the inhabited world), and his statement that the northerly parts of Iberia afford an easier passage to Celtica than if you sail thither by the ocean; and, in fact, every other statement which he had made in reliance upon Pytheas, on account of the latter's false pretensions.

§12. The poet, man of many voices, so to speak, and of wide information, affords us grounds for the argument that even these regions were not unheard of by him, if one were only willing to argue scientifically from both statements that are made about these regions, not only from the worse, but also from the better and more truthful. Worse, namely, the statement that Tartessus was known by hearsay as "farthermost in the west," where, as the poet himself says, falls into Oceanus "the sun's bright light, drawing black night over earth, the grain-giver." Now, that night is a thing of evil omen and associated with Hades, is obvious; also that Hades is associated with Tartarus. Accordingly, one might reasonably suppose that Homer, because he heard about Tartessus, named the farthermost of the nether-regions Tartarus after Tartessis, with a slight alteration of letters; and that he also added a mythical element, thus conserving the creative quality of poetry. Just as the poet, because he knew that the Cimmerians had taken their abode in northern and gloomy regions about the Bosporus, settled them in the neighbourhood of Hades, though perhaps he did it also in accordance with a certain common hatred of the Ionians for this tribe (indeed, it was in the time of Homer, or shortly before his time, they say, that that Cimmerian invasion which reached as far as Aeolis and Ionia took place). Again, the poet modelled his "Planctae" after the "Cyaneae," always bringing in his myths from some historical fact or other. For example, he tells a mythical story of certain rocks that are dangerous, just as they say the Cyaneae are (from which fact the Cyaneae are also called "Symplegades"), and this is the reason why he cited Jason's voyage through them. But both the strait at the Pillars and that at Sicily suggested to him the myth about the Planctae. As regards that worse statement, therefore, one might get a hint from the mythical invention of Tartarus that Homer had in mind the regions about Tartessus.

§13. As regards the latter, on the other hand, one might get hints from the following: In the first place, the expeditions of Heracles and of the Phoenicians, since they both reached as far as Iberia, suggested to Homer that the people of Iberia were in some way rich, and led a life of ease. Indeed, these people became so utterly subject to the Phoenicians that the greater number of the cities in Turdetania and of the neighbouring places are now inhabited by the Phoenicians. Secondly, the expedition of Odysseus, as it seems to me, since it actually had been made to Iberia, and since Homer had learned about it through inquiry, gave him an historical pretext; and so he also transferred the Odyssey, just as he had already transferred the Iliad, from the domain of historical fact to that of creative art, and to that of mythical invention so familiar to the poets. For not only do the regions about Italy and Sicily and certain other regions betray signs of such facts, but in Iberia also a city of Odysseia is to be seen, and a temple of Athene, and countless other traces, not only of the wanderings of Odysseus, but also of other wanderings which took place thither after the Trojan War and afflicted the capturers of Troy quite as much as it did the vanquished (for the capturers, as it happened, carried off only a Cadmean victory). And since the Trojan homes were in ruins, and the booty that came to each Greek was but small, the result was that the surviving Trojans, after having escaped from the perils of the war, turned to acts of piracy, as did also the Greeks; the Trojans, because their city was now in utter ruins; the Greeks, for shame, since every Greek took it for granted that it was "verily shameful to wait long" far from his kindred "and then" back to them "empty-handed go." Thirdly, the wanderings of Aeneas are a traditional fact, as also those of Antenor, and those of the Henetians; similarly, also, those of Diomedes, Menelaus, Odysseus, and several others. So then, the poet, informed through his inquiries of so many expeditions to the outermost parts of Iberia, and learning by hearsay about the wealth and the other good attributes of the country (for the Phoenicians were making these facts known), in fancy placed the abode of the blest there, and also the Elysian Plain, where Proteus says Menelaus will go and make his home: "But the deathless gods will escort thee to the Elysian Plain and the ends of the earth, where is Rhadamanthys of the fair hair, where life is easiest. No snow is there, nor yet great storm, nor ever any rain; but always Oceanus sendeth forth the breezes of clear-blowing Zephyrus." For both the pure air and the gentle breezes of Zephyrus properly belong to this country, since the country is not only in the west but also warm; and the phrase "at the ends of the earth" properly belongs to it, where Hades has been "mythically placed," as we say. And Homer's citing of Rhadamanthys suggests the region that is near Minos, concerning whom he says: "There it was I saw Minos, glorious son of Zeus, holding a golden sceptre, rendering decisions to the dead." Furthermore, the poets who came after Homer keep dinning into our ears similar stories: the expedition of Heracles in quest of the kine of Geryon and likewise the expedition which he made in quest of the golden apples of the Hesperides - even calling by name certain Isles of the Blest, which, as we know, are still now pointed out, not very far from the headlands of Maurusia that lie opposite to Gades.

§14. The Phoenicians, I say, were the informants of Homer; and these people occupied the best of Iberia and Libya before the age of Homer, and continued to be masters of those regions until the Romans broke up their empire. The wealth of Iberia is further evidenced by the following facts: the Carthaginians who, along with Barcas, made a campaign against Iberia found the people in Turdetania, as the historians tell us, using silver feeding-troughs and wine-jars. And one might assume that it was from their great prosperity that the people there got the additional name of "Macraeones," and particularly the chieftains; and that this is why Anacreon said as follows: "I, for my part, should neither wish the horn of Amaltheia, nor to be king of Tartessus for one hundred and fifty years"; and why Herodotus recorded even the name of the king, whom he called Arganthonius. For one might either take the phrase of Anacreon literally or as meaning "a time equal to the king's," or else in a more general way, "nor the king of Tartessus for a long time." Some, however, call Tartessus the Carteia of to-day.

§15. Along with the happy lot of their country, the qualities of both gentleness and civility have come to the Turdetanians; and to the Celtic peoples, too, on account of their being neighbours to the Turdetanians, as Polybius has said, or else on account of their kinship; but less so the Celtic peoples, because for the most part they live in mere villages. The Turdetanians, however, and particularly those that live about the Baetis, have completely changed over to the Roman mode of life, not even remembering their own language any more. And most of them have become Latins, and they have received Romans as colonists, so that they are not far from being all Romans. And the present jointly-settled cities, Pax Augusta in the Celtic country, Augusta Emerita in the country of the Turdulians, Caesar-Augusta near Celtiberia, and some other settlements, manifest the change to the aforesaid civil modes of life. Moreover, all those Iberians who belong to this class are called "Togati." And among these are the Celtiberians, who were once regarded the most brutish of all. So much for the Turditanians.

Book III Chapter 3

§1. Now if we again begin at the Sacred Cape, following the coast in the other direction, namely, towards the Tagus River, there is first a gulf, then a promontory, Barbarium, and near it the mouths of the Tagus; and the distance to these mouths in a direct voyage is ten stadia. Here, too, there are estuaries; one of them extends inland from the afore-mentioned tower for more than four hundred stadia, and along this estuary the country is watered as far as Salacia. Now the Tagus not only has a width of about twenty stadia at its mouth, but its depth is so great that very large merchant-ships can ascend it. And when the flood-tides come on, it forms two estuaries in the plains that lie above it, so that it forms a sea for a distance of one hundred and fifty stadia, and renders the plain navigable, and also, in the upper estuary, encloses an island about thirty stadia in length, and in breadth a trifle short of the length - an island with fine groves and vines. The island is situated opposite Moron , a city happily situated on a mountain near the river, at a distance of about five hundred stadia from the sea. And further, not only is the country round about the city rich, but the voyages thither are easy - even for large ships a considerable part of the way, though only for river-boats the rest of the way. And beyond Moron , also, the river is navigable for a still greater distance. This city Brutus, surnamed Callaicus, used as a base of operations when he warred against the Lusitanians and brought these people under subjection. And, to command the bar of the river, he fortified Olysipo, in order that the voyages inland and the importation of provisions might be unimpeded; so that among the cities about the Tagus these are strongest. The Tagus abounds in fish, and is full of oysters. It rises in Celtiberia, and flows through Vettonia, Carpetania, and Lusitania, towards the equinoctial west, up to a certain point being parallel to both the Anas and the Baetis, but after that diverging from those rivers, since they bend off towards the southern seaboard.

§2. Now of the peoples situated beyond the mountains mentioned above, the Oretanians are most southerly, and their territory reaches as far as the seacoast in part of the country this side of the Pillars; the Carpetanians are next after these on the north; then the Vettonians and the Vaccaeans, through whose territory the Durius River flows, which affords a crossing at Acutia, a city of the Vaccaeans; and last, the Callaicans, who occupy a very considerable part of the mountainous country. For this reason, since they were very hard to fight with, the Callaicans themselves have not only furnished the surname for the man who defeated the Lusitanians but they have also brought it about that now, already, the most of the Lusitanians are called Callaicans. Now as for Oretania, its city of Castalo is very powerful, and so is Oria.

§3. And yet the country north of the Tagus , Lusitania , is the greatest of the Iberian nations, and is the nation against which the Romans waged war for the longest times. The boundaries of this country are: on the southern side, the Tagus ; on the western and northern, the ocean; and on the eastern, the countries of the Carpetanians, Vettonians, Vaccaeans, and Callaicans, the well-known tribes; it is not worth while to name the rest, because of their smallness and lack of repute. Contrary to the men of to-day, however, some call also these peoples Lusitanians. These four peoples, in the eastern part of their countries, have common boundaries, thus: the Callaicans, with the tribe of the Asturians and with the Celtiberians, but the others with only the Celtiberians. Now the length of Lusitania to cape Nerium is three thousand stadia, but its breadth, which is formed between its eastern side and the coast-line that lies opposite thereto, is much less. The eastern side is high and rough, but the country that lies below is all plain even to the sea, except a few mountains of no great magnitude. And this, of course, is why Poseidonius says that Aristotle is incorrect in making the coast-line and Maurusia the cause of the flood-tides and the ebb-tides; whom he quotes as saying that the sea ebbs and flows on account of the fact that the coast-lands are both high and rugged, which not only receive the waves roughly but give them back with equal violence. For on the contrary, Poseidonius correctly says, the coast-lands are for the most part sandy and low.

§4. At all events, the country of which I am speaking is fertile, and it is also traversed by rivers both large and small, all of them flowing from the eastern parts and parallel to the Tagus; most of them offer voyages inland and contain very great quantities of gold-dust as well. Best known of the rivers immediately after the Tagus are the Mundas, which offers short voyages inland, and likewise the Vacua. After these two is the Durius, which, coming from afar, flows by Numantia and many other settlements of the Celtiberians and Vaccaenas, and is navigable for large boats for a distance of about eight hundred stadia inland. Then come other rivers. And after these the River of Lethe, which by some persons is called Limaeas, but by others Belion; and this river, too, rises in the country of the Celtiberians and the Vaccaenas, as also does the river that comes after it, namely the Baenis (others say "Minius"), which is by far the greatest of the rivers in Lusitania - itself, also, being navigable inland for eight hundred stadia. Poseidonius, however, says that the Baenis rises in Cantabria. Off its mouth lies an island, and two breakwaters which afford anchorage for vessels. The nature of these rivers deserves praise, because the banks which they have are high, and adequate to receive within their channels the sea at high tide without overflowing or spreading over the plains. Now this river was the limit of Brutus' campaign, though farther on there are several other rivers, parallel to those mentioned.

§5. Last of all come the Artabrians, who live in the neighbourhood of the cape called Nerium, which is the end of both the western and the northern side of Iberia . But the country round about the cape itself is inhabited by Celtic people, kinsmen of those on the Anas; for these people and the Turdulians made an expedition thither and then had a quarrel, it is said, after they had crossed the Limaeas River; and when, in addition to the quarrel, the Celtic peoples also suffered the loss of their chieftain, they scattered and stayed there; and it was from this circumstance that the Limaeas was also called the River of Lethe. The Artabrians have many thickly-peopled cities on that gulf which the sailors who frequent those parts call the Harbour of the Artabrians. The men of to-day, however, call the Artabrians Arotrebians. Now about thirty different tribes occupy the country between the Tagus and the Artabrians, and although the country was blest in fruits, in cattle, and in the abundance of its gold and silver and similar metals, still, most of the people had ceased to gain their livelihood from the earth, and were spending their time in brigandage and in continuous warfare with each other and with their neighbours across the Tagus, until they were stopped by the Romans, who humbled them and reduced most of their cities to mere villages, though they improved some of their cities by adding colonies thereto. It was the mountaineers who began this lawlessness, as was likely to be the case; for, since they occupied sorry land and possessed but little property, they coveted what belonged to the others. And the latter, in defending themselves against the mountaineers, were necessarily rendered powerless over their private estates, so that they, too, began to engage in war instead of farming; and the result was that the country, neglected because it was barren of planted products, became the home only of brigands.

§6. At any rate, the Lusitanians, it is said, are given to laying ambush, given to spying out, are quick, nimble, and good at deploying troops. They have a small shield two feet in diameter, concave in front, and suspended from the shoulder by means of thongs (for it has neither arm-rings nor handles). Besides these shields they have a dirk or a butcher's-knife. Most of them wear linen cuirasses; a few wear chain-wrought cuirasses and helmets with three crests, but the rest wear helmets made of sinews. The foot-soldiers wear greaves also, and each soldier has several javelins; and some also make use of spears, and the spears have bronze heads. Now some of the peoples that dwell next to the Durius River live, it is said, after the manner of the Laconians - using anointing-rooms twice a day and taking baths in vapours that rise from heated stones, bathing in cold water, and eating only one meal a day; and that in a cleanly and simple way. The Lusitanians are given to offering sacrifices, and they inspect the vitals, without cutting them out. Besides, they also inspect the veins on the side of the victim; and they divine by the tokens of touch, too. They prophesy through means of the vitals of human beings also, prisoners of war, whom they first cover with coarse cloaks, and then, when the victim has been struck beneath the vitals by the diviner, they draw their first auguries from the fall of the victim. And they cut off the right hands of their captives and set them up as an offering to the gods.

§7. All the mountaineers lead a simple life, are water-drinkers, sleep on the ground, and let their hair stream down in thick masses after the manner of women, though before going into battle they bind their hair about the forehead. They eat goat's-meat mostly, and to Ares they sacrifice a he-goat and also the prisoners and horses; and they also offer hecatombs of each kind, after the Greek fashion - as Pindar himself says, "to sacrifice a hundred of every kind." They also hold contests, for light-armed and heavy-armed soldiers and cavalry, in boxing, in running, in skirmishing, and in fighting by squads. And the mountaineers, for two-thirds of the year, eat acorns, which they have first dried and crushed, and then ground up and made into a bread that may be stored away for a long time. They also drink beer; but they are scarce of wine, and what wine they have made they speedily drink up in merry feastings with their kinsfolk; and instead of olive-oil they use butter. Again, they dine sitting down, for they have stationary seats builded around the walls of the room, though they seat themselves forward according to age and rank. The dinner is passed round, and amid their cups they dance to flute and trumpet, dancing in chorus, but also leaping up and crouching low. But in Bastetania women too dance promiscuously with men, taking hold of their hands. All the men dress in black, for the most part in coarse cloaks, in which they sleep, on their beds of litter. And they use waxen vessels, just as the Celts do. But the women always go clad in long mantles and gay-coloured gowns. Instead of coined money the people, at least those who live deep in the interior, employ barter, or else they cut off pieces from beaten silver metal and pass them as money. Those who are condemned to death they hurl from precipices; and the parricides they stone to death out beyond their mountains or their rivers. They marry in the same way as the Greeks. Their sick they expose upon the streets, in the same way as the Egyptians did in ancient times, for the sake of their getting suggestions from those who have experienced the disease. Again, up to the time of Brutus they used boats of tanned leather on account of the flood-tides and the shoal-waters, but now, already, even the dug-out canoes are rare. Their rock-salt is red, but when crushed it is white. Now this, as I was saying, is the mode of life of the mountaineers, I mean those whose boundaries mark off the northern side of Iberia, namely, the Callaicans, the Asturians, and the Cantabrians, as far as the Vasconians and the Pyrenees; for the modes of life of all of them are of like character. I shrink from giving too many of the names, shunning the unpleasant task of writing them down - unless it comports with the pleasure of some one to hear "Pleutaurans," "Bardyetans," "Allotrigans," and other names still less pleasing and of less significance than these.

§8. The quality of intractability and wildness in these peoples has not resulted solely from their engaging in warfare, but also from their remoteness; for the trip to their country, whether by sea or by land, is long, and since they are difficult to communicate with, they have lost the instinct of sociability and humanity. They have this feeling of intractability and wildness to a less extent now, however, because of the peace and of the sojourns of the Roman among them. But wherever such sojourns are rarer the people are harder to deal with and more brutish; and if some are so disagreeable merely as the result of the remoteness of their regions, it is likely that those who live in the mountains are still more outlandish. But now, as I have said, they have wholly ceased carrying on war; for both the Cantabrians (who still to-day more than the rest keep together their bands of robbers) and their neighbours have been subdued by Augustus Caesar; and instead of plundering the allies of the Romans, both the Coniacans and the Plentuisans, who live near the source of the Iberus, now take the field for the Romans. Further, Tiberius, his successor, has set over these regions an army of three legions (the army already appointed by Augustus Caesar), and it so happens that he already has rendered some of the peoples not only peaceable but civilised as well.

Book III Chapter 4

§1. There remains of Iberia the seaboard of Our Sea from the Pillars to the Pyrenees Mountains, and also the whole of the interior above it, which is unequal in breadth but slightly more than four thousand stadia in length, though the length of the seaboard has been given as still greater than that by as much as two thousand stadia. They say that the distance from Calpe, the mountain near the Pillars, to New Carthage is two thousand two hundred stadia; and this coast is inhabited by Bastetanians, who are also called Bastulians, and, in part, by Oretanians also; thence to Iberus is another distance of about the same number of stadia, and this coast is occupied by Edetanians; and thence, this side the Iberus, to the Pyrenees and the Trophies of Pompey is a coast of sixteen hundred stadia, which is inhabited by a few of the Edetanians, and also, for the rest of the way, by the peoples called Indicetans, who have been divided into four tribes.

§2. In detail: if we begin from Calpe , we have a mountain-chain belonging to Bastetania and to the Oretanians, which has dense forests of tall trees, and separates the coast from the interior. Here also, in many places, there are mines of gold and other metals. The first city on this coastline is Malaca, which is as far distant from Calpe as Gades is; it is now an emporium for the Nomads on the opposite coast and it also has great establishments for salting fish. Some regard Malaca as identical with Maenaca, which, as we have been taught, lies farthest of the Phocaean cities in the west; but this is not true. On the contrary, the city of Maenaca is farther away from Calpe, and is now in ruins (though it still preserves the traces of a Greek city), whereas Malaca is nearer, and bears the stamp of a Phoenician city. Next thereafter comes the cityLink to the editor's note at the bottom of this page of the Exitanians, after which the salted fish take their trade name.

§3. After this city comes Abdera, which is itself a place founded by the Phoenicians. Beyond the regions in question, in the mountain country, Odysseia is to be seen, and in it the temple of Athene, as has been stated by Poseidonius, Artemidorus, and Asclepiades the Myrlean, a man who taught grammar in Turdetania and has published an account of the tribes of that region. According to Asclepiades, shields and ships' beaks have been nailed up in the temple of Athene as memorials of the wanderings of Odysseus; and some of those who made the expedition with Teucer lived in Callaicia, and there were once two cities there, of which one was called Hellenes, and the other, Amphilochi; for not only did Amphilochus die at the place, but his companions wandered as far as the interior of the country. And, he further says, history tells us that some of the companions of Heracles and of the emigrants from Messene colonised Iberia . As for Cantabria, a part of it was seized and held by the Laconians, according to both Asclepiades and others. Here, too, they mention a city Opsicella, founded by Ocelas, who in company with Antenor and his children crossed over to Italy . Furthermore, in the case of Libya, some have believed, giving heed to the merchants of Gades (as Artemidorus has already stated), that the people who live beyond Maurusia next to the Western Ethiopians are called Lotus-eaters because they feed on lotus (a sort of plant and root) and do not need drink, or have any, either, since there is no water in their entire country, although it stretches even as far as the regions of Cyrene. And there is still another people called Lotus-eaters, who dwell in one of the two islands off the Lesser Syrtis, I mean Meninx.

§4. So no one could be surprised if, in the first place, the poet has written his mythical account of the wanderings of Odysseus in such a way as to set most of his stories of Odysseus in the Atlantic Sea beyond the Pillars of Heracles (for the stories he told were so closely related to the facts, both in respect of places and of everything else created by his fancy, that he rendered his fiction not unplausible); nor surprised if, in the second place, some men, having believed in these stories themselves and also in the wide learning of the poet, have actually turned the poetry of Homer to their use as a basis of scientific investigations, as has been done by Crates of Mallos and certain others as well. Other men, however, have greeted all attempts of that sort with such ferocity that they not only have cast out the poet, as though he were a mere ditch-digger or harvest-labourer, from the whole field of scientific knowledge of this kind, but also have supposed to be madmen all who have taken in hand such a task as that; but as for introducing any defence, or revision, or anything else of the kind, for the assertions of those men, no one either among the grammarians or the scientific experts has ventured to do so. And yet, to me at least, it seems to be possible not only to defend many of their assertions, but to bring them under revision, and in particular all those wherein Pytheas has led astray those men who, in ignorance both of the regions in the west and of those in the north along the ocean, have believed him. But let us pass by these matters, since they involve a special and lengthy discussion.

§5. Now the wanderings of the Greeks to the barbarian nations might be regarded as caused by the fact that the latter had become split up into petty divisions and sovereignties which, on the strength of their self-sufficiency, had no intercourse with one another; and hence, as a result, they were powerless against the invaders from abroad. This spirit of self-sufficiency, among the Iberians I mean, was particularly intense, since by nature they had already received both the quality of knavery and that of insincerity. For by their modes of life they became inclined to attack and to rob, venturing only upon petty undertakings, and never throwing themselves into large ones, because they would not establish large forces and confederations. For surely, if they had been willing to be shield-fellows with one another, it would not have been possible, in the first place, for the Carthaginians to overrun and subdue the most of their country by superiority of forces, or in still earlier times for the Tyrians to do so, or after that, for those Celti who are now called Celtiberians and Veronains; nor, in the second place, later on, for the brigand Viriathus, or for Sertorius, or for any others who may have coveted wider dominion. And the Romans, since they carried on merely a piecemeal war against the Iberians, attacking each territory separately, spent some considerable time in acquiring dominion here, subjecting first one group and then another, until, after about two hundred years or longer, they got them all under control. But I return to my geographical description.

§6. After Abdera, then, comes New Carthage, which was founded by Hasdrubal, the successor of Barcas, the father of Hannibal . New Carthage is by far the most powerful of all the cities in this country, for it is adorned by secure fortifications, by walls handsomely built, by harbours, by a lake, and by the silver mines of which I have spoken. And here, as well as as at the places near by, the fish-salting industry is large. Furthermore, New Carthage is a rather important emporium, not only of the imports from the sea for the inhabitants of the interior, but also of the exports from the interior for all the outside world. On the coast from New Carthage up to the Iberus, about midway between these two points, are the Sucro River and its mouth, and a city with the same name as the river. The river rises in the mountain which connects with the mountain-chain that lies beyond Malaca and the regions about New Carthage; it can be waded, runs about parallel to the Iberus, and is slightly less distant from New Carthage than from the Iberus. Now between the Sucro River and New Carthage, not far from the river, there are three small Massiliote cities. Of these, the best known is Hemeroscopeium, a place held in very great esteem, since it has on its promontory a temple of the Ephesian Artemis; and it was used by Sertorius as a naval base. For it is a natural stronghold and adapted to piracy, and is visible at a considerable distance to the approaching sailors. It is also called "Dianium," the equivalent of "Artemisium"; it has iron mines with fine deposits near by, and small islands, Planesia and Plumbaria, and above it a lagoon of salt-water four hundred stadia in circuit. Next, and quite near to New Carthage, comes the Island of Heracles , which they call Scombraria, from the scomber-fish caught there, from which the best fish-sauce is prepared. It is twenty-four stadia distant from New Carthage. And again, on the other side of the Sucro, as you go towards the mouth of the Iberus, is Saguntum, founded by Zacynthians, which Hannibal destroyed despite his treaty with the Romans, thereby kindling the second war against the Carthaginians. Near Saguntum are the cities of Cherronesus, Oleastrum, and Cartalias; and at the very crossing of the Iberus is the settlement of Dertossa. The course of the Iberus, which rises in Cantabria, is southwards through a great plain and parallel to the Pyrenees Mountains .

§7. Between where the Iberus turns out seaward and the heights of the Pyrenees, on which are situated the Trophies set up by Pompey, the first city is Tarraco. It has no harbour, indeed, but it is situated on a bay and is adequately supplied with all other advantages; and at present it is not less populous than New Carthage. Indeed, it is naturally suited for the residence of the Prefects, and is a metropolis, as it were, not only of the country this side the Iberus, but also of the greater part of the country beyond the Iberus. And the Gymnesian Islands , which lie near by off the coast, and Ebusus, all noteworthy islands, suggest that the position of the city is a happy one. Eratosthenes says that the city has also a roadstead, although, as Artemidorus, contradicting him, has already stated, it is not particularly blessed even with places of anchorage.

§8. Further, the whole coastline from the Pillars to Tarraco has few harbours, but from Tarraco on, all the way to Emporium, the coasts have fine harbours, and the country is fertile, both that of the Leëtanians and the Lartolaeëtans, and of other such peoples. Emporium was founded by the people of Massilia; it is about two hundred stadia distant from the Pyrenees and from the common boundary between Iberia and Celtica, and this coast too, all of it, is fertile and has good harbours. Here, too, is Rhodus, a small town belonging to the Emporitans, though some say it was founded by Rhodians. Both in Rhodus and in Emporium they worship Artemis of the Ephesians, and I shall tell the reason for this in my account of Massilia. The Emporitans formerly lived on a little island off the shore, which is now called Old City , but they now live on the mainland. And their city is a double one, because, in former times, the city had for neighbours some of the Indicetans, who, although they maintained a government of their own, wished, for the sake of security, to have a common wall of circumvallation with the Greeks, with the enclosure in two parts - for it has been divided by a wall through the centre; but in the course of time the two peoples united under the same constitution, which was a mixture of both Barbarian and Greek laws - a thing which has taken place in the case of many other peoples.

§9. There is a river that flows near by, which has its source in the Pyrenees ; and its outlet serves as a port for the Emporitans. The Emporitans are quite skilful in flax-working. As for the inland territory which they hold, one part of it is fertile, while the other produces the spart of the rather useless, or rush, variety; it is called "Juncarian" Plain. But some of the Emporitans occupy even some of the heights of the Pyrenees, as far as the Trophies that were set up by Pompey, past which runs the road from Italy to what is called "Farther" Iberia, and in particular to Baetica. This road sometimes approaches the sea, though sometimes it stands off at a distance from the sea, and particularly in the regions on the west. It runs towards Tarraco from the Trophies that were set up by Pompey, through the Juncarian Plain and through Veteres and what in the Latin tongue is called Fennel Plain, because it produces so much fennel. From Tarraco it runs towards the passage of the Iberus at the city of Dertossa; thence, after passage through Saguntum and the city of Setabis, it gradually departs from the sea and joins what is called the Spartarian - or, as we should say, "Rush" - Plain. This plain is large and has no water, but produces the kind of spart that is suitable for twisting into ropes, and is therefore exported to all regions, and particularly to Italy . Now formerly the road must have passed through the centre of this plain and through Egelasta, a road rough and long, but at the present day they have made it run towards the coastal regions, merely touching upon the Rush Plain, yet leading to the same place as did the former road, namely, to the regions round about Castalo and Obulco; and through these cities the road runs to Corduba and Gades, the greatest of the trading-places. The distance from Corduba to Obulco is about three hundred stadia. The historians say that Caesar went from Rome to Obulco and the camp there in twenty-seven days, when he was about to engage in the battle near Munda.

§10. Such, then, is the character of the whole seaboard from the Pillars up to the common boundary of Iberia and Celtica. The interior country that lies beyond the seaboard (I mean the country enclosed by the Pyrenees Mountains and the northerly side of Iberia as far as Asturia) is divided by two mountain-ranges, speaking roughly. Of these mountains, one is parallel to the Pyrenees, beginning in Cantabria and ending at Our Sea (they call this mountain Idubeda); whereas the other, beginning at the centre of the first one, stretches towards the west, though it inclines towards the south and the coastline that runs from the Pillars. This latter mountain is at first a mere hill and bare of trees, and passes through the so-called Spartarian Plain; then it joins the forest that lies beyond both New Carthage and the regions round about Malaca; it is called Orospeda. It is between the Pyrenees and Idubeda, then, that the Iberus River flows, which is parallel with both mountains and is filled by the rivers and the other waters that pour down from them. On the Iberus is a city called Caesar Augusta; also Celsa, a colonial settlement, where there is a stone bridge across the river. This country is jointly settled by several tribes, though the best known is what is called the tribe of the Iaccetanians. Their country begins at the foothills of the Pyrenees and then broadens out over the plains and joins the districts round about Ilerda and Osca, that is, the districts which belong to the Ilergetans, not very far from the Iberus. It was in these two cities, and in Calaguris (a city of the Vasconians), and in the two cities of Tarraco and Hemeroscopeium on the coast, that Sertorius fought his last battles after his expulsion from Celtiberia; but it was at Osca that he came to his end. And it was in Ilerda that Afranius and Petreius, the generals of Pompey, were defeated in battle later on by the Deified Caesar. Ilerda is distant from the Iberus one hundred and sixty stadia, to a man travelling approximately towards the west; from Tarraco, on the south, about four hundred and sixty stadia; from Osca, on the north, five hundred and forty stadia. Through these districts runs the road from Tarraco to those outermost Vasconians on the ocean who live about Pompelo, and about the city of Oeaso, which is at the ocean itself - a road of two thousand four hundred stadia, reaching to the very frontier of Aquitania and Iberia. Iaccetania is the country where not only Sertorius carried on war in his day against Pompey, but also, later on, Sextus, the son of Pompey, against the generals of Caesar. It is beyond Iaccetania, towards the north, that the tribe of the Vasconians is situated, where there is a city Pompelo or, as one might say, Pompeiopolis.

§11. As for the Pyrenees themselves, the Iberian side is well-wooded with trees of every kind and with evergreens; whereas the Celtic side is bare, although the central portions of it encompass glens that are capable of affording a good livelihood. These glens are occupied mostly by Carretanians, of the Iberian stock; and among these people excellent hams are cured, rivalling those of Cantabria, and affording the people no small revenue.

§12. Crossing over the Idubeda Mountain , you are at once in Celtiberia, a large and uneven country. The greater part of it in fact is rugged and river-washed; for it is through these regions that the Anas flows, and also the Tagus, and the several rivers next to them, which, rising in Celtiberia, flow down to the western sea. Among these are the Durius, which flows past Numantia and Serguntia, and the Baetis, which, rising in the Orospeda, flows through Oretania into Baetica. Now, in the first place, the parts to the north of the Celtiberians are the home of the Veronians, neighbours of the Cantabrian Coniscans, and they too have their origin in the Celtic expedition; they have a city, Varia, situated at the crossing of the Iberus; and their territory also runs contiguous to that of the Bardyetans, whom the men of to-day call Bardulians. Secondly, the parts on the western side are the home of some of the Asturians, Callaicans, and Vaccaeans, and also of the Vettonians and Carpetanians. Thirdly, the southern parts are the home, not only the Oretanians, but of all other tribes of those Bastetanians and Edetanians that live on the Orospeda. And fourthly, on the east lies the Idubeda.

§13. Again, of the four divisions into which the Celtiberians have been separated, the most powerful, generally speaking, are the Arvacans, who live on the east and south, where their territory joins Carpetania and the sources of the Tagus ; and they have a city of very great renown, Numantia. They gave proof of their valour in the Celtiberian War against the Romans, which lasted for twenty years; indeed, many armies, officers and all, were destroyed by them, and at the last the Numantians, when besieged, endured till death, except a few who surrendered the fortress. The Lusonians, likewise, live in the east, and their territory, too, joins the sources of the Tagus . The cities of Segeda and Pallantia both belong to the Arvacans. The distance of Numantia from Caesar Augusta, which latter, as I was saying, is situated on the Iberus, is as much as eight hundred stadia. The cities of Segobriga and Bilbilis both belong to the Celtiberians, and it is near these cities that Metellus and Sertorius had their war. Polybius, in detailing the tribes and districts of the Vaccaeans and Celtiberians, includes with the rest of the cities both Segesama and Intercatia. Poseidonius says that Marcus Metellus exacted a tribute of six hundred talents from Celtiberia, from which it may be inferred that Celtiberians were rich as well as numerous, albeit the country they live in is rather poor. But because Polybius went on to say that Tiberius Gracchus destroyed three hundred cities in Celtiberia, Poseidonius makes fun of him, saying that the man did this merely to gratify Gracchus, for he called the towers cities just as they do in the triumphal processions. And perhaps this remark of Poseidonius is not to be discredited, for not only generals but historians as well are easily led to indulge in such falsification as this, in trying to embellish the deeds they describe. In fact, even those who assert that there are more than one thousand cities in Iberia seem to me to be led to do so by calling the big villages cities; for, in the first place, the country is naturally not capable, on account of the poverty of its soil or else on account of the remoteness or wildness of it, of containing many cities, and, secondly, the modes of life and the activities of the inhabitants (apart from those who live on the seaboard of Our Sea) of not suggest anything of the kind; for those who live in villages are wild (and such are most of the Iberians), and even the cities themselves cannot easily tame their inhabitants when these are outnumbered by the folk that live in the forests for the purpose of working mischief upon their neighbours.

§14. Next after the Celtiberians, on the south, are the people who live in the Orospeda Mountain and in the country round about the Sucro River , namely, the Edetanians, who extend as far as New Carthage; and then the Bastetanians and the Oretanians, who extend almost as far as Malaca.

§15. The Iberians were once, virtually all of them, peltasts, and wore light armour on account of their brigand life (as I said of the Lusitanians), using javelin, sling, and dirk. And intermingled with their forces of infantry was a force of cavalry, for their horses were trained to climb mountains, and, whenever there was need for it, to kneel down promptly at the word of command. Iberia produces many deer and wild horses. In places, also, its marshes teem with life; and there are birds, swans and the like; and also bustards in great numbers. As for beavers, the rivers produce them, but the castor from these beavers does not have the same efficacy as that from the beavers of the Pontus ; for the medicinal quality of the castor from the Pontus is peculiar to it, as is the case with qualities in many other things. For instance, says Poseidonius, the copper of Cyprus is the only copper which produces calamine and chalcanthite and spodium. And it is peculiar to Iberia , according to Poseidonius, that the crows are black there and also that the slightly dappled horses of Celtiberia change their colour when they brought over to Farther Iberia. The Celtiberian horses are like those of Parthia, he says, for not only are they faster but they are also smoother runners than the other horses.

§16. Iberia also produces quantities of those roots that are useful for dyeing. As for olive-trees, grape-vines, fig-trees, and the similar plants, the Iberian coast on Our Sea is richly supplied with them all, as is also a great part of the outer coasts. But the ocean-coast on the north has none on account of the cold, and, for the most part, the rest of the ocean-coast has none on account of the slovenly character of the people and the fact that they live on a low moral plane - that is, they have regard, not for rational living, but rather for satisfying their physical needs and bestial instincts - unless some one thinks those men have regard for rational living who bathe with urine which they have aged in cisterns, and wash their teeth with it, both they and their wives, as the Cantabrians and the neighbouring peoples are said to do. But both this custom and that of sleeping on the ground the Iberians share with the Celts. Some say the Callaicans have no god, but the Celtiberians and their neighbours on the north offer sacrifice to a nameless god at the seasons of the full moon, by night, in front of the doors of their houses, and whole households dance in chorus and keep it up all night. The Vettonians, when they visited the camp of the Romans for the first time, upon seeing some of the officers promenading up and down the streets merely for the sake of walking around, supposed they were crazy and proceeded to lead the way for them to the tents, thinking they should either remain quietly seated or else be fighting.

§17. One might also class as barbaric in character the ornaments of some of the women, of which Artemidorus has told us. In some places, he says, they wear round their necks iron collars which have curved rods that bend overhead and project far in front of their foreheads; and at will they draw their veil down over these curved rods, so that the veil, thus spread out, furnishes a sunshade for the face; and all this they consider an ornament. In other places, he says, the women wear round their heads a "tympanium," rounded to the back of the head, and, as far as the ear-lobes, binding the head tightly, but gradually turned back at the top and sides; and other women keep the hair stripped from the forepart of the head so closely that it glistens more than the forehead does; and still other women put a rod about a foot high on the head, twist the hair round the rod, and then drape it with a black veil. And besides the true reports of this sort, many other things have not only been seen but also narrated with fictitious additions about all the Iberian tribes in common, but especially the northerners - I mean not only the stories relating to their courage but also those relating to their ferocity and bestial insensibility. For instance, at the time of the Cantabrian War mothers killed their children before being taken captive; and even a small boy, whose parents and brothers were in fetters as captives of war, gained possession of a sword and, at the command of his father, killed them all; and a woman killed all her fellow captives; and a certain Cantabrian, upon being summoned into the presence of drunken men, threw himself upon a pyre. But these traits too are shared in common by them with the Celtic as also with the Thracian and Scythian tribes; and in common also the traits relating to courage - I mean the courage of women as well as of men. For example, these women till the soil, and when they have given birth to a child they put their husbands to bed instead of going to bed themselves and minister to them; and while at work in the fields, oftentimes, they turn aside to some brook, give birth to a child, and bathe and swaddle it. Poseidonius says that in Liguria his host, Charmoleon, a man of Massilia, narrated to him how he had hired men and women together for ditch-digging; and how one of the women, upon being seized with the pangs of childbirth, went aside from her work to a place near by, and, after having given birth to her child, came back to her work at once in order not to lose her pay; and how he himself saw that she was doing her work painfully, but was not aware of the cause till late in the day, when he learned it and sent her away with her wages; and she carried the infant out to a little spring, bathed it, swaddled it with what she had, and brought it safely home.

§18. Nor yet is the following custom peculiar to the Iberians alone: they ride double on horseback, though in the time of battle one of the two fights on foot; nor the especially great number of the mice, from which pestilential diseases have often ensued. This was so much the case for the Romans in Cantabria that, although a proclamation was made that mice-catchers would gain bounties graded in proportion to the number caught, the Romans could barely come through with their lives; and, besides the plague, there was a scarcity, not only of other stuffs, but of grain too; and only with difficulty could they get supplies out of Aquitania on account of the rough roads. As for the insensibility of the Cantabrians, this instance is also told, namely, that when some captive Cantabrians had been nailed on their crosses they proceeded to sing their paean of victory. Now such traits as these would indicate a certain savageness; and yet there are other things which, although not marks of civilisation perhaps, are not brutish; for instance, it is the custom among the Cantabrians for the husbands to give dowries to their wives, for the daughters to be left as heirs, and the brothers to be married off by their sisters. The custom involves, in fact, a sort of woman-rule - but this is not at all a mark of civilisation. It is also an Iberian custom habitually to keep at hand a poison, which is made by them out of an herb that is nearly like parsley and painless, so as to have it in readiness for any untoward eventuality; and it is an Iberian custom, too, to devote their lives to whomever they attach themselves, even to the point of dying for them.

§19. Now although some assert that this country has been divided into four divisions, as I have already stated, others say it has five divisions. But it is impossible, in this case, for us to represent a division that is scientifically accurate, because of the changes which have taken place and the disrepute of the regions. For it is only in the case of the well-known and reputable regions that the migrations, the divisions of the country, the changes in the names, and everything else of that kind, are well known. Indeed, our ears are filled with these things by many, and particularly by Greeks, who have come to be the most talkative of all men. But as for all the nations that are barbarian and remote, as well as small in territory and split up, their records are neither safe to go by nor numerous; and as for all the nations, of course, that are far off from the Greeks, our ignorance is still greater. Now although the Roman historians are imitators of the Greeks, while the fondness for knowledge that they of themselves bring to their histories is inconsiderable; hence, whenever the Greeks leave gaps, all the filling in that is done by the other set of writers is inconsiderable - especially since most of the very famous names are Greek. Take, for example, even Iberia: the historians of former times, it is said, give the name of Iberia to all the country beyond the Rhodanus and that isthmus which is comprised between the two Galatic gulfs, whereas the historians of to-day set the Pyrenees as the limit of Iberia and speak synonymously of this same country as "Iberia" and "Hispania"; but they used to give the name of "Iberia" solely to the country this side the Iberus, although the historians still before that called the inhabitants of this very country "Igletes," who occupy no large territory, as Asclepiades the Myrlean says. But though the Romans called the country as a whole both "Iberia" and "Hispania" synonymously, they spoke of one division of it as "Farther" and of the other as "Hither"; at different times, however, they divide the country in different ways, suiting their government of the country to the requirements of the times.

§20. At the present time, now that some of the provinces have been declared the property of the people and the senate, and the others that of the Roman emperor, Baetica belongs to the people; and to govern it they send a praetor, who has under him both a quaestor and a legatus; its boundary, though, on the east, has been set in the neighbourhood of Castalo. But all the rest of Iberia is Caesar's; and he sends thither two legati, praetorian and consular respectively; the praetorian legatus, who has with him a legatus of his own, being sent to administer justice to those Lusitanians whose country is situated alongside Baetica and extends as far as the Durius River and its outlets (indeed, at the present time they apply the name Lusitania specifically to this country); and here, too, is there of Augusta Emerita. The remainder of Caesar's territory (and this is most of Iberia ) is under the consular governor, who has under him, not only a noteworthy army of, I should say, three legions, but also three legati. One of the three, with two legions, guards the frontier of the whole country beyond the Durius to the north: the inhabitants of this country were spoken of by the people of former times as Lusitanians, but by the people of to-day they are called Cantabrians. The River Melsus flows through Asturia; a little farther on is the city of Noega ; and near Noega there is an estuary from the ocean, which estuary is a boundary between the Asturians and the Cantabrians. The country next thereafter, along the mountains as far as the Pyrenees , is guarded by the second of the three legati and the other legion. The third legatus oversees the interior, and also conserves the interests of those peoples who are already called "Togati" (or, as you might say, "peaceably inclined"), and have become transformed, clad in their toga-robe, to their present gentleness of disposition and their Italian mode of life; these latter are the Celtiberians and the peoples that live near them on both sides of the Iberus as far as the regions next to the sea. As for the governor himself, he passes his winters administering justice in the regions by the sea, and especially in New Carthage and Tarraco, while in the summer-time he goes the rounds of his province, always making an inspection of some of the things that require rectification. Caesar also has procurators there, of the equestrian rank, who distribute among the soldiers everything that is necessary for the maintenance of their lives.

Book III Chapter 5

§1. Of the islands which lie off Iberia, the two Pityussae, and the two Gymnesiae (which are also called the Baliarides),Link to the editor's note at the bottom of this page lie off the stretch of coast that is between Tarraco and Sucro, whereon Saguntum is situated; they are also out in the open sea, all of them, although the Pityussae have a greater inclination to the west than the Gymnesiae. Now one of the Pityussae is called Ebusus, and it has a city of the same name; the circuit of the island is four hundred stadia, with the breadth and the length about equal. The other island, Ophiussa, which lies near Ebusus, is desert and much smaller. Of the Gymnesiae, the larger has two cities, Palma and Polentia, one of which, Polentia, is situated in the eastern part of the island, and the other in the western. The length of the island falls but little short of six hundred stadia, and the breadth but little short of two hundred - although Artemidorus has stated the length and breadth at double these figures. The smaller of the two is about two hundred and seventy stadia distant from Polentia. Now although it falls far short of the larger island in size, it is in no respect inferior thereto in the excellence of its soil; for both are blessed with fertility, and also have good harbours, though the harbours are full of reefs at the entrances, so that there is need of vigilance on the part of those who sail in. And it is on account of the fertility of these regions that the inhabitants are peaceable, as is also the case with the people on the island of Ebusus . But merely because a few criminals among them had formed partnerships with the pirates of the high seas, they were all cast into disrepute, and an over-sea expedition was made against them by Metellus, surnamed Balearicus, who is the man that founded their cities. On account of the same fertility of their islands, however, the inhabitants are ever the object of plots, albeit they are peaceable; still they are spoken of as the best of slingers. And this art they have practised assiduously, so it is said, ever since the Phoenicians took possession of the islands. And the Phoenicians are also spoken of as the first to clothe the people there in tunics with a broad border; but the people used to go forth to their fights without a girdle on - with only a goat-skin, wrapped round the arm, or with a javelin that had been hardened in the fire (though in rare cases it was also pointed with a small iron tip), and with three slings worn round the head, of black-tufted rush (that is, a species of rope-rush, out of which the ropes are woven; and Philetas, too, in his "Hermeneia" says, "Sorry his tunic befouled with dirt; and round about him his slender waist is entwined with a strip of black-tufted rush," meaning a man girdled with a rush-rope), of black-tufted rush, I say, or of hair or of sinews: the sling with the long straps for the shots at short range, and the medium sling for the medium shots. And their training in the use of slings used to be such, from childhood up, that they would not so much as give bread to their children unless they first hit it with the sling. This is why Metellus, when he was approaching the islands from the sea, stretched hides above the decks as a protection against the slings. And he brought thither as colonists three thousand of the Romans who were in Iberia .

§2. In addition to the fruitfulness of the soil, there is also the fact that no injurious animal can easily be found in the Gymnesiae. For even the rabbits there, it is said, are not native, but the stock sprang from a male and female brought over by some person from the opposite mainlind; and this stock was, for a fact, so numerous at first, that they even overturned houses and trees by burrowing beneath them, and that, as I have said, the people were forced to have recourse to the Romans. At present, however, the ease with which the rabbits are caught prevents the pest from prevailing; indeed, the landholders reap profitable crops from the soil. Now these islands are this side of what are called the Pillars of Heracles.

§3. Close to the Pillars there are two isles, one of which they call Hera's Island ; moreover, there are some who call also these isles the Pillars. Gades, however, is outside the Pillars. Concerning Gades I have said only thus much, that it is about seven hundred and fifty stadia distant from Calpe (that is, it is situated near the outlet of the Baetis), but there is more to be said about it than the others. For example, here live the men who fit out the most and largest merchant-vessels, both for Our Sea and the outer sea, although, in the first place, it is no large island they live in, and secondly, they do not occupy much of the continent opposite the island, and, thirdly, are not well-off in the possession of other islands; indeed, they live mostly on the sea, though a mere few keep at home or else while away their time at Rome. In population, however, Gades does not fall short, it would seem, of any of the cities except Rome ; at any rate I have heard that in one of the censuses of our own time there were five hundred men assessed as Gaditanian Knights - a number not equalled even in the case of the Italian cities except Patavium. But though the Gaditanians are so numerous, they occupy an island not much larger than a hundred stadia in length, and in places merely a stadium in breadth. As for their city, the one they lived in at first was very small indeed, but Balbus of Gades, who gained the honour of a triumph, founded another for them, which they call "Nea"; and the city which is composed of the two they call "Didyme," although it is not more than twenty stadia in circuit, and even at that not crowded. For only a few stay at home in the city, because in general they are all at sea, though some live on the continent opposite the island, and also, in particular, on account of its natural advantages, on the islet that lies off Gades; and because they take delight in its geographical position they have made the island a rival city, as it were, to Didyme. Only a few, however, comparatively speaking, live either on the islet or in the harbour-town which was constructed for them by Balbus on the opposite coast of the mainland. The city of Gades is situated on the westerly parts of the island; and next to it, at the extremity of the island and near the islet, is the temple of Cronus; but the temple of Heracles is situated on the other side, facing towards the east, just where the island runs, it so happens, most closely to the mainland, thus leaving a strait of only about a stadium in width. And they say that the temple is twelve miles distant from the city, thus making the number of the miles equal to that of the Labours; yet the distance is greater than that and amounts to almost as much as the length of the island; and the length of the island is that from the west to the east.

§4. By "Erytheia," in which the myth-writers place the adventures of Geryon, Pherecydes seems to mean Gades. Others, however, think that Erytheia is the island that lies parallel to this city and is separated from it by a strait of a stadium in width, that is, in view of the fine pasturage there, because the milk of the flocks that pasture there yields no whey. And when they make cheese they first mix the milk with a large amount of water, on account of the fat in the milk. Further, the animals choke to death within fifty days, unless you open a vein and bleed them. The grass upon which they graze is dry, but it makes them very fat and it is from this fact, it is inferred, that the myth about the cattle of Geryon has been fabricated. The whole of the coast, however, is peopled jointly.

§5. In telling stories of the following sort about the founding of Gades, the Gaditanians recall a certain oracle, which was actually given, they say, to the Tyrians, ordering them to send a colony to the Pillars of Heracles: The men who were sent for the sake of spying out the region, so the story goes, believed, when they got near to the strait at Calpe, that the two capes which formed the strait were the ends of the inhabited world and of Heracles' expedition, and that the capes themselves were what the oracle called "Pillars"; and they therefore landed at a place inside the narrows, namely, where the city of the Exitanians now is; and there they offered sacrifice, but since the sacrifices did not prove favourable they turned homeward again; but the men who were sent at a later period went on outside the strait, about fifteen hundred stadia, to an island sacred to Heracles, situated near the city of Onoba in Iberia, and believing that this was where the Pillars were they offered sacrifice to the god, but since again the sacrifices did not prove favourable they went back home; but the men who arrived on the third expedition founded Gades, and placed the temple in the eastern part of the island but the city in the eastern. For this reason some are of the opinion that the capes at the strait are the Pillars; others, Gades; and others that they lie on ahead still farther outside the strait than Gades. Again, some have supposed that Calpe and Abilyx are the Pillars, Abilyx being that mountain in Libya opposite Calpe which is situated, according to Eratosthenes, in Metagonium, country of a nomadic tribe; while others have supposed that the isles near each mountain, one of which they call Hera's Island, are the Pillars. Artemidorus speaks of Hera's Island and her temple, and he says there is a second isle, yet he does not speak of Mount Abilyx or of a Metagonian tribe. There are some who transfer hither both the Planctae and the Symplegades, because they believe these rocks to be the pillars which Pindar calls the "gates of Gades" when he asserts that they are the farthermost limits reached by Heracles. And Dicaearchus, too, and Eratosthenes and Polybius and most of the Greeks represent the Pillars as in the neighbourhood of the strait. But the Iberians and Libyans say that that Pillars are in Gades, for the regions in the neighbourhood of the strait in no respect, they say, resemble pillars. Others say that it is the bronze pillars of eight cubits in the temple of Heracles in Gades, whereon is inscribed the expense incurred in the construction of the temple, that are called the Pillars; and those people who have ended their voyage with visiting these pillars and sacrificing to Heracles have had it noisily spread abroad that this is the end of both land and sea. Poseidonius, too, believes this to be the most plausible account of the matter, but that the oracle and the many expeditions from Tyre are a Phoenician lie. Now, concerning the expeditions, what could one affirm with confidence as to their falsity of the trustworthiness when neither of the two opinions is contrary to reason? But to deny that the isles or the mountains resemble pillars, and to search for the limits of the inhabited world or of the expedition of Heracles at Pillars that were properly so called, is indeed a sensible thing to do; for it was a custom in early times to set up landmarks like that. For instance, the people of Rhegium set up the column - a sort of small tower - which stands at the strait; and opposite this column there stands what is called the Tower of Pelorus . And in the land about midway between the Syrtes there stand what are called the Altars of the Philaeni. And mention is made of a pillar placed in former times on the Isthmus of Corinth, which was set up in common by those Ionians who, after their expulsion from the Peloponnesus, got possession of Attica together with Megaris, and by the peoples who got possession of the Peloponnesus; they inscribed on the side of the pillar which faced Megaris, "This is not the Peloponnesus, but Ionia," on the other, "This is the Peloponnesus, not Ionia." Again, Alexander set up altars, as limits of his Indian Expedition, in the farthermost regions reached by him in Eastern India , thus imitating Heracles and Dionysus. So then, this custom was indeed in existence.

§6. More than that, it is reasonable for place where a landmark is to take on the same appellation, and especially after time has once destroyed the landmark that has been set up. For instance, the Altars of the Philaeni no longer remain, yet the place has taken on the appellation. In India, too, there are no pillars, it is said, either of Heracles or of Dionysus to be seen standing, and, of course, when certain of the places there were spoken of or pointed out to the Macedonians, they believed to be Pillars those places only in which they found some sign of the stories told about Dionysus or of those about Heracles. So, in the case of Gades, too, one might not disbelieve that the first visitors used, so to speak, "hand-wrought" landmarks - altars or towers or pillars - setting them up in the most conspicuous of the farthermost places they came to (and the most conspicuous places for denoting both the ends and beginnings of regions are the straits, the mountains there situated, and the isles), and that when the hand-wrought monuments had disappeared, their name was transferred to the places - whether you mean thereby the isles, or the capes that form the strait. For this is a distinction now hard to make - I mean to which of the two we should attach the appellation - because the term "Pillars" suits both. I say "suits" because both are situated in places of a sort that clearly suggest the ends; and it is on the strength of this fact that the strait has been called a "mouth," - not only this strait, but several others as well: that is, as you sail in, the mouth is the beginning, and, as you sail out, the end. Accordingly, it would not be foolish for one to liken to pillars the isles at the mouth, since they have the attributes of being both sharp of outline and conspicuous as signs; and so, in the same way, it would not be foolish to liken to pillars the mountains that are situated at the strait, since they present just such a prominent appearance as do columns or pillars. And in this way Pindar would be right in speaking of the "gates of Gades," if the pillars were conceived of as at the mouth; for the mouths of straits are like gates. But Gades is not situated in such a geographical position as to denote an end; rather it lies at about the centre of a long coastline that forms a bay. And the argument that refers those pillars which are in the temple of Heracles at Gades to the Pillars of Heracles is less reasonable still, as it appears to me. For it is plausible that the fame of the name "Pillars of Heracles" prevailed because the name originated, not with merchants, but rather with commanders, just as in the case of the Indian pillars; and besides that, "the inscription" which they speak of, since it does not set forth the dedication of a reproduction but instead a summary of expense, bears witness against the argument; for the Heracleian pillars should be reminders of Heracles' mighty doings, not of the expenses of the Phoenicians.

§7. Polybius says that there is a spring in the Heracleium at Gades, with a descent of only a few steps to the water (which is good to drink), and that the spring behaves inversely to the flux and reflux of the sea, since it fails at the time of the flood-tides and fills up at the time of the ebb-tides. And he alleges as the cause of this that the air which is expelled from the depths of the earth to the surface, if the surface be covered by the waters at the time of the overflows of the sea, is shut off from its proper exit there, and turning back into the interior blocks up the passages of the spring and thus causes a failure of water, whereas if the surface be bared of waters again the air passes straight forward and thus sets free the veins of the spring, so that it gushes forth abundantly. As for Artemidorus, although he speaks out against Polybius and at the same time puts forth a cause of his own, and also recalls the opinion of Silanus the historian, he does not seem to me to have stated anything worth recording, since both he himself and Silanus are, you might say, laymen with respect to these matters. But Poseidonius, although he calls the story of this spring false, says that there are two wells in the Heracleium and a third in the city; and, of the two wells in the Heracleium, if you draw water continuously from the smaller it actually fails in the same hour, and if you leave off drawing the water, it fills up again; whereas you may draw water all day long from the larger (though it is diminished thereby, of course, just as all other wells are), and it fills up by night if you no longer draw from it, but since the ebb-tide often occurs at the particular time of the well's fullness, the natives have believed anew in the inverse-behaviour. Now not only has Poseidonius told us that the story has been believed, but I too, since it is told over and over again among the paradoxes, have been taught the story. And I have been hearing that there are still other wells, some in the gardens in front of the city, and others within the city, but that on account of the impurity of the water reservoirs of cistern-water are prevalent in the city. Whether, however, any of these wells proves the truth of the supposition of the inverse-behaviour, I do not know. But as for the causes alleged - if it be true that the case is as reported - we should, regarding the problem as a difficult one, welcome them. For it is reasonable to suppose that the cause is what Polybius says it is; and it is reasonable to suppose also that some of the veins of the spring, if soaked from the outside, become relaxed and thus afford their water an outflow at the sides, instead of forcing it up along the old channel into the spring (the veins are necessarily soaked when the tidal wave has washed over the land). Yet if, as Artemidorus says, the case with the flood-tides and with the ebb-tides is like inhalation and exhalation, then, of the flowing waters, he says, there might be some which by certain passages (whose mouths, of course, we call fountains or springs) naturally have their outflow to the surface, and by certain other passages are drawn in together to the depths of the sea; that is, in helping raise the sea to flood-tide when the exhalation, as it were, takes place, they abandon their proper channel, and then retreat to their proper channel again when the sea itself takes its retreat.

§8. I do not know how Poseidonius, who in other instances has represented the Phoenicians as clever people, can here charge them with foolishness rather than shrewdness. In the first place, a day and night is measured by the revolution of the sun, which, at one time, is below the earth, but, at another, shines above the earth. And yet Poseidonius says that the movement of the ocean is subject to periods like those of the heavenly bodies, since, behaving in accord with the moon, the movement exhibits first the diurnal, secondly the monthly, and thirdly the yearly period; for when the moon rises above the horizon to the extent of a zodiacal sign, the sea begins to swell, and perceptibly invades the land until the moon is in the meridian; but when the heavenly body begins to decline, the sea retreats again, little by little, until the moon rises a zodiacal sign above her setting; than remains stationary until such time as the moon reaches the setting itself, and, still more than that, until such time as the moon, moving on below the earth, should be a sign distant from the horizon; then invades the land again until the moon reaches the meridian below the earth; then retreats until the moon, moving round towards her risings, is a sign distant from the horizon; but remains stationary again until the moon is elevated a sign above the earth, and then it again invades the land. This, he continues, is the diurnal period. As for the monthly period, he says the flux and reflux become greatest about the time of the conjunction, and then diminish until half-moon; and, again, they increase until the full moon and diminish again until the waning half-moon; and then, until the conjunction, the increases take place again, and the increases are further increased in respect both to duration and to speed. As for the annual periods, he says that he learned of them from the people at Gades, who told him that both the retreat and the invasion grew greatest at the time of the summer solstice. And from this he himself surmises that they are diminished from that solstice up to the equinox, increased up to the winter solstice, then diminished up to the spring equinox, and then increased up to the summer solstice. But if these periods repeat themselves every separate day and night, the sea invading the land twice and also retreating twice during the combined time of day and night, in regular order both within the day-time and within the night-time, how is it possible for the filling up of the well to occur "often" at the time of the ebb-tides but for the failure not also to occur often? or often, but not equally often? or even equally often indeed, but for the people of Gades to have been incapable of observing these phenomena that were taking place every day, and yet to have been capable of observing the annual periods from what occurred only once a year? Furthermore, that Poseidonius really believes these people, is clear from the surmise which he adds to their story, namely, that the diminutions, and, in turn, the increases, take place from one solstice on to the other, and also that recurrences take place from the latter solstice back to the former. Moreover, that other supposition of Poseidonius is not reasonable either, namely, that, although they were an observant people, they did not see the phenomena that occurred and yet believed in the things that did not occur.

§9. Be that as it may, he says that Seleucus - the Seleucus from the region of the Erythraean Sea - speaks of a certain irregularity in these phenomena, or regularity, according to the differences of the signs of the zodiac; that is, if the moon is in the equinoctial signs, the behaviour of the tides is regular, but, in the solstitial signs, irregular, in respect both to amount and to speed, while, in each of the other signs, the relation is in proportion to the nearness of the moon's approach. But although he himself spent several days in the Heracleium at Gades at the summer solstice, about the time of the full moon, as he says, he was unable to discern those annual differences in the tides; about the time of the conjunction, however, during that month, he observed at Ilipa a great variation in the back-water of the Baetis, that is, as compared with the previous variations, in the course of which the water did not wet the banks so much as half-way up, whereas at the time in question the water overflowed to such an extent that the soldiers got their supply of water on the spot (and Ilipa is about seven hundred stadia distant from the sea). And, he continues, although the plains near the sea were covered as far as thirty stadia inland, to such a depth that islands were enclosed by the flood-tide, still the altitude of the foundations, but the foundation of the temple in the Heracleïum and that of the mole which lies in front of the port of Gades, was, by his own measurement, as he says, not covered as high up as ten cubits; and further, if one should add the double of this figure for the additional increases which at times have taken place, one might thus present to the imagination the aspect which is produced in the plains by the magnitude of the flood-tide. This behaviour of the tides, then, according to his account, is general along the whole circuit of the ocean-coast, whereas the behaviour of the Iberus River is "novel, and peculiar," he says, to that river, namely: it floods the country in some places, even independently of rains or snows, when the north winds blow to excess; and the lake through which the river flows is the cause of this, since the lake-water is by the winds driven out of the lake along with the river-water.

§10. Poseidonius also tells of a tree in Gades which has branches that bend to the ground, and oftentimes has leaves (they are sword-like) a cubit in length but only four fingers in breadth. And near New Carthage, he says, there is a tree whose thorns yield a bark out of which most beautiful woven stuffs are made. Now I too know a tree in Egypt which is like that in Gades so far as the bending down of the branches is concerned, but unlike it in respect to the leaves and also in that it has no fruit (he says the tree in Gades has fruit). Thorn-stuffs are woven in Cappadocia also; it is no tree, however, that produces the bark-yielding thorn, but only a sort of herb that keeps close to the ground. In regard to the tree at Gades, this additional circumstance is told: if a branch is broken, milk flows from it, while if a root is cut, a red liquid oozes forth. Concerning Gades, then, I have said enough.

§11. The Cassiterides are ten in number, and they lie near each other in the high sea to the north of the port of the Artabrians. One of them is desert, but the rest are inhabited by people who wear black cloaks, go clad in tunics that reach to their feet, wear belts around their breasts, walk around with canes, and resemble the goddesses of vengeance in tragedies. They live off their herds, leading for the most part a nomadic life. As they have mines of tin and lead, they give these metals and the hides from their cattle to the sea-traders in exchange for pottery, salt and copper utensils. Now in former times it was the Phoenicians alone who carried on this commerce (that is, from Gades), for they kept the voyage hidden from every one else. And when once the Romans were closely following a certain ship-captain in order that they too might learn the markets in question, out of jealousy the ship-captain purposely drove his ship out of its course into shoal water; and after he had lured the followers into the same ruin, he himself escaped by a piece of wreckage and received from the State the value of the cargo he had lost. Still, by trying many times, the Romans learned all about the voyage. After Publius Crassus crossed over to these people and saw that the metals were being dug from only a slight depth, and that the men there were peaceable, he forthwith laid abundant information before all who wished to traffic over this sea, albeit a wider sea than that which separates Britain from the continent. So much, then, for Iberia and the islands that lie off its coast.


 

 

 

-

-