Natural History by Pliny Book VI/Chapter 25

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Pliny the Elder, The Natural History

John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A., Ed. London, 1855.

Chap. 25. — The Ariani and the adjoining Nations.

Wikified by Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

We will now proceed to give some further particulars relative to the four Satrapies, of which we have postponed further mention1 till the present occasion.

(23). After passing the nations in the vicinity of the Indus, we come to the mountain districts. The territory of Capisene formerly had a city, called Capisa2, which was destroyed by Cyrus.

Arachosia3 has a river and a city of the same name; the city was built by Semiramis; by some writers it is called Cophen. The river Erymanthus4 flows past Parabeste5 which belongs to the Arachosii. Writers make the Dexendrusi come next, forming the boundary of the Arachotæ on the southern side, and of the Paropanisadæ on the north.

The city of Cartana6 lies at the foot of Caucasus; in later times it has been called Tetragonis.7 This region lies over against that of the Bactri, who come next, and whose chief city is Alexandria8, so ,from the name of its founder. We then come to the Syndraci9 the Dangalæ10 the Parapinæ11, the Catuces, and the Mazi; and then at the foot of Caucasus, to the Cadrusi, whose town12 was built by Alexander.

Below all these countries, is the line of coast which we come to after leaving the Indus. Ariana13 is a region parched by the sun and surrounded by deserts; still, however, as the face of the country is every here and there diversified with well-shaded spots, it finds communities grouped together to cultivate it, and more especially around the two rivers, known as the Tonberos14 and the Arosapes.15 There is also the town of Artacoana16, and the river Arius17, which flows past Alexandria18 a city founded by Alexander; this place is thirty stadia in extent. Much more beautiful than it, as well as of much greater antiquity, is Artacabane19, fortified a second time by Antiochus, and fifty stadia in breadth.

We then come to the nation of the Dorisdorsigi, and the rivers Pharnaracotis20, and Ophradus; and then to Prophthasia21, a city of the Zaraspades, the Drangæ22, the Evergetæ23, the Zarangæ, and the Gedrusi24;....

....the towns of Pucolis, Lyphorta, the desert of the Methorgi25, the river Manais26, the nation of the Acutri, the river Eorum, the nation of the Orbi, the Pomanus, a navigable river in the territories of the Pandares, the Apirus in the country of the Suari, with a good harbour at its mouth, the city of Condigramma, and the river Cophes27; into which last flow the navigable streams of the Saddaros28, the Parospus, and the Sodanus.

Some writers will also have it that Daritis29 forms part of Ariana, and give the length of them both as nineteen hundred and fifty miles, and the breadth one half of that30 of India. Others again have spread the Gedrusi and the Pasires over an extent of one hundred and thirty-eight miles, and place next to them the Ichthyophagi Oritæ31, a people who speak a language peculiar to themselves, and not the Indian dialect, extending over a space of two hundred miles.

Alexander forbade the whole of the Ichthyophagi32 to live any longer on fish. Next after these the writers have placed extensive deserts, and then Carmania, Persia, and Arabia.

Foot Notes

1 Mentioned already, towards the conclusion of c. 23 of the present Book. See p. 51.

2 This place was included in the district of the Paropanisus or Hindoo Koosh. It is doubtful whether Pliny is correct in saying that it was destroyed by Cyrus, as we have no reason for supposing that he ever advanced so far to the north-east. It is supposed by some that Capisene represents the valley of the Kabul river, and Capisa the town on the Indus, now known as Peshawar. Lassen, in his researches, has found in the Chinese annals a kingdom called Kiapiche, in the valley of Ghurbend, to the east of Bamian. It is not improbable that Capisa and Kiapiche were different forms of the same name.

3 See the Notes in p. 50.

4 The principal river of Drangiana, which rises in the lower range of the Paropanisus or Hindoo Koosh, and enters Lake Zarah. Its present name is Ilmend or Helmend. Burnouf has supposed it to be the same as the Arachotus; but Professor Wilson is of opinion that the Arachotus was one of the tributaries of the Erymanthus or Erymandrus, and probably the modern Arkand-Ab.

5 Parisot takes the meaning of this word to be "valley," and is of opinion that it is the modern Chabul; not to be confounded, however, with the country of Cabul, to the east of which it is situate.

6 Now called Birusen, according to Parisot, and not the city of Cabul, as supposed by Hardouin.

7 Or the "four-cornered city."

8 This place has not been identified. It has been suggested that it is the same as the modern city of Candahar; but that was really Alexandria of the Paropanisadæ, quite a different place.

9 Inhabiting the district now called Arassen, according to Parisot.

10 Inhabiting the modern Danra, according to Parisot.

11 Inhabitants of the modern Parasan, according to Parisot.

12 The modern Candahar is generally supposed to occupy its site.

13 Pliny is thought to have here confounded the extensive district of Ariana with the smaller province of Aria, which only formed a portion of it. Ariana comprehended nearly the whole of what had been previously ancient Persia.

14 The river known in modern times as the Ilincut, according to Parisot.

15 This is supposed by Forbiger to be the modern Arghasan, one of the tributaries of the Helmend. Parisot says that it was the same as the modern Sat.

16 27 Supposed to be the same as the "Aria civitas," or "city of Aria" of other authors, which, however, is most probably represented by Alexandria, the modern Herat, situate on the small stream now called the Heri-Rud. At all events, Artacoana (proved by M. Court to be a word of Persian origin —Arde Koun) was, if not the same place, at a very small distance from it. M. Barbie de Bocage is of opinion that it occupied the site of Fushing, a town on the Heri river, one stage from Herat; and by M. Court it is thought to have been at Obeh, near the same place.

17 Now called the Heri-Rud, which runs to the west of Herat.

18 It is said that, judging from a traditional verse still current among the people of Herat, that town is believed to unite the claims of the ancient capital built by Alexander the Great, or indeed, more properly, repaired by him, as he was but a short time in Aria. The distance also from the Caspian Gates to Alexandria favours its identification with the modern Herat.

19 This place does not appear to have been identified.

20 Ansart suggests that the river Pharnacotis is the same as the modern Ferrichround, and the Ophradus probably the Kouchround.

21 Ansart suggests that the modern name is Zarang. Parisot says that it is Corcharistan.

22 The inhabitants of Drangiana, a district at the eastern end of the modern kingdom of Persia, and comprehending part of the present Sejestan or Seistan.

23 They gave its name to the modern Eudras, according to Parisot.

24 It is doubtful whether these are the same as the Gedrosi, mentioned by Pliny in c. 23, 24. Parisot censures Hardouin for confounding them, and says that these inhabited the modern Bassar. In Dr. Smith's Dictionary, they are looked upon as the same people.

25 Parisot says that this is the desert region now known as Eremaier, to the east of Mount Maugracot.

26 As Parisot remarks, our author is now approaching the sea-shore; these places, however, do not appear to have been identified.

27 Not the same as the river Cophen or Cophes mentioned in c. 24, the modern Kabul. Hardouin takes it to be the same as the Arbis or Arabius of Ptolemy, the modern Hilmend or Ilmend.

28 Parisot seems to think that the modern names of these rivers are the Sal, the Ghir, and the Ilmentel, which, according to him, flow into the Ilmend.

29 Situate, according to Ptolemy, in the eastern parts of Media.

30 For this measurement see c. 21.

31 Meaning the "Fish-eating Mountaineers." According to Parisot they occupied the site of the modern Dulcidan, and Goadel, which are bounded by mountains, whence the name.

32 Not only the Oritæ, but all those mentioned in the following Chapter. For further particulars as to the Ichthyophagi, see B. vii. c. 2.