translated by Shlomo Felberbaum

woman on a beach in Greece
photographs by Shane Solow

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved

Installment 7

Then Harpagus said that, although he knew well what they were to do, nevertheless he permitted them to take counsel. Accordingly in the time when Harpagus from the wall led away his host, the Phocaeans in that time drew their penteconters down to the water, put in their offspring, wives and all movables as well as, in addition, both the images from the shrines and all the other offerings, except whatever was bronze or stone or a picture and, after putting in everything else and their own going in, sailed toward Chios. And of Phocaea bereft of men the Persians got hold.

As to the Phocaeans, since the Chians did not want to sell them the islands called Oinoussae, when they were bargaining for them, for fear lest they become a mart and their island be shut out because of that, thereupon the Phocaeans journeyed to Cyrnus. For on Cyrnus twenty years earlier than that on the basis of an oracle they had set up a city whose name was Alalia and Arganthonius by that time had met with his end. So, journeying to Cyrnus, they first sailed down to Phocaea and slaughtered the Persians’ guard, which was keeping watch since receiving the city from Harpagus, and afterward, when that had been worked out by them, pronounced strong curses on whoever of themselves remained behind the expedition and in addition to those curses also sank an iron mass into the sea and swore they would not be present in Phocaea until that mass should reappear. But, as they journeyed to Cyrnus, of over half of the townsmen took hold a longing and pity for their city and the abodes of their country and they, proven forsworn, sailed away back to Phocaea, while who of them guarded their oath, got under way from Oinoussae and sailed.

When they had come to Cyrnus, they were settled jointly with them who had come before for five years, and set up shrines there. Since indeed they both led away and carried off the property of all settled round, then the Tyrsenians and Carchedonians by common consent advanced with an army against them, each with sixty ships. So the Phocaeans too for their part filled their boats, which were in number sixty, and went to meet them on the so-called Sardonian sea. And when they engaged in naval battle, a Cadmeian victory came about for the Phocaeans, in that forty ships of theirs were destroyed and the twenty that survived were useless, because they were bent back at their beaks. Then they sailed down to Alalia and took up their offspring, their wives and all the rest of their possessions that their ships proved able to carry, and thereupon let go of Cyrnus and sailed to Rhegium.

As for the destroyed ships’ men, the Carchedonians and the Tyrsenians got as their portion the far greater number of them and them they led out and stoned to death. Afterward for the Agyllians everything that passed by the place, in which the Phocaeans were stoned to death and buried, became distorted, crippled and paralyzed, alike cattle, yoke-animals and human beings. The Agyllians, then, sent men to Delphi, because they wanted to cure the failing, and Pythia bade them do what even now the Agyllians still bring to completion; for in fact to those dead they make offerings greatly and set up a gymnastic and equestrian contest. And so those of the Phocaeans met with a death like that, and the others of them took refuge in Rhegium and, making their base of operations there, they acquired that city in Oenotrian land which is now called Hyele. They founded it after learning from a Poseidonian man that Pythia had proclaimed to them to found the worship of Cyrnus, who was a hero, and not the island.

Now, concerning Phocaea in Ionia it was thus, and the Teians too did nearly the same as those, in that, when Harpagus had taken their wall by means of a pile of earth, they all went into their boats and went sailing toward Thrace and there founded the city of Abdera, which earlier than that a Clazomenian, Timesius, had not profited from founding, but driven out by the Thracians, he now has honors by the Teians in Abdera as a hero.

Now, those of the Ionians are the only, unwilling to bear up their slavery, to abandon their fatherlands, whereas all the other Ionians, except the Milesians, although they had come through the battle with Harpagus just as the abandoners and proven good men, each fighting concerning his own land, yet, worsted and captured, they remained in place and brought to completion what was commanded. But the Milesians, as has been said by me previously too, swore an oath with Cyrus himself and were at peace. Just then a second time Ionia was enslaved. When Harpagus had mastered the Ionians on the mainland, the Ionians who have islands in dread of that gave themselves to Cyrus. The Ionians being distressed and collected nonetheless in the Panionium, I have learned by inquiry that Bias, a Prienian man, showed forth the most useful judgement for Ionians, which if they had obeyed, it would have been in their power to be the most happy of the Greeks; he bade the Ionians in a common journey get under way and sail to Sardo and then found one city made up of all Ionians, and said that, if thus they were rid of slavery, they would be happy through their inhabiting the greatest of all islands together and ruling others and, if they remained in Ionia, they could not observe there would be freedom any longer. That was Bias the Prienian’s judgement made after the destruction of the Ionians, and a good one even before Ionia was destroyed, Thales a Milesian man’s, was made, who was by descent a Phoenician; he bade the Ionians possess one council-house, it be in Teos, since Teos was in the middle of Ionia, and all the other cities in their settlements nonetheless be considered just as if they should be demes.

They, then, had showed forth to them judgements like these, and Harpagus, having subjected Ionian, made an expedition against the Carians, the Caunians and the Lycians, at the same time as he took with himself both the Ionians and the Aeolians. Of those, the Carians are they who had come to the mainland from the islands; for, anciently being Minos’ subjects and called Lelegians, they had the islands and, although they paid no tribute, in so far as indeed I am able to come at the matter with the greatest striving through hearsay, yet they, whenever Minos asked, filled his ships. Seeing that in fact Minos had subjected much land and was of good fortune in war, the Carian nation was the greatest to speak of of all the nations together during that same time in far the highest degree. And by them three inventions were made that the Greeks used; for in fact the Carians are the discoverers of how to fasten crests on helmets and to make devices on shields and they are the first makers of handles for shields; until that time, however, all carried their shields without handles who were wont to use shields, and they guided them with leather straps which they had placed round their necks and their left shoulders. Afterward, a long time later, the Dorians and Ionians expelled the Carians from the islands and thus they came to the mainland. Concerning the Carians, then, the Cretans say it happened thus; however, the Carians themselves speak unlike those, but for their part consider themselves to be autochthonous mainlanders and continual users on each and every occasion of the same name of which they are now. And they show forth as evidence Carian Zeus’ ancient shrine in Mylasa, of which the Mysians and Lydians have a share, on the ground that they are kinsmen of the Carians, because Lydus and Mysus, they say, were Car’s brothers. Theirs, then, is a share, and for all those who, being of another nation, proved of similar tongue to the Carians, there’s no share.

The Caunians are autochthonous, as far as it seems to me; however, they themselves say they are from Crete. So in tongue they have approached the Carian nation or the Carians the Caunian (for that I am unable exactly to decide), whereas they observe laws far different from all the other human beings and the Carians, in that for them it is most beautiful by age and friendship in bands to have intercourse for drinking, men, women and children. Moreover, foreign shrines having been set up by them thereafter, when they had decided against them and decided to use the gods of their fathers alone, on putting on armor, all Caunians from the youth upwards, struck with lances the lower air up to the Calyndian boundaries and gave pursuit and said they were banishing the foreign gods.

And so they observe manners like those, and as to the Lycians, they of old are descended from Crete (for barbarians had anciently Crete in its entirety). Yet, men having quarrelled in Crete concerning the kingdom of Europe’s sons, Sarpedon and Minos, after Minos had become master by his faction, he drove out Sarpedon himself and the men of his faction; so they were thrust away and came in Asia to the Milyian land, because that which the Lycians now inhabit, anciently was Milyian, and the Milyians then were called Solymians. Indeed as long as Sarpedon ruled them, they, then, were called the very name that they had brought with themselves and still now the Lycians are called by those settled round them, Termilians. However, after Lycus, the son of Pandion, had come to the Termilians to Sarpedon and that man driven out by his brother, Aegeus, just then after Lycus’ name the Lycians in time were called. As to laws, they partly observe Cretan and partly Carian. But they are the possessors of one peculiar law as follows and in it they resemble no others among human beings; they call themselves after their mothers and not after their fathers. So if one asks one’s neighbor who he is, he will describe his pedigree by his mother’s side and count up his mother’s mothers. Even if a townswoman cohabits with a slave, the offspring are considered well-born, while if a townsman, even the first of them, has as a wife a foreigner or a concubine, the offspring are born without civic rights.

Now, the Carians, without showing forth any brilliant action, were enslaved by Harpagus, without either the Carians themselves showing forth any or any of all the Greeks that are settled in that country. And there are settled both others and the Lacedaemonians’ colonists, the Cnidians, who, since their own country is turned seaward (and it’s that which is called Triopium) and has its beginning at the Bybassian Chersonesus and since thus all Cnidia except a little is surrounded by water, in that the Cerameician gulf skirts its parts toward the north wind and the sea off Syme and Rhodes its parts toward the south, dug therefore that very little, which it was that extended approximately five stades, because they, the Cnidians, all the while that Harpagus was engaged in subjecting Ionia, wanted to make their country an island. Thus their whole land was becoming insulated; for, where the Cnidian country ends at the mainland, there is the isthmus that they were digging. And so, when the Cnidians were working with a large band, since somewhat more and more divinely the workers appeared to be wounded than was reasonable in all the other parts of the body and especially those of the eyes by the rock’s shattering, they sent to Delphi messengers to consult the oracles to ask about the opposition. And Pythia proclaimed to them, as the Cnidians themselves say, in trimeter meter this:

The isthmus stop towering and stop digging;
Zeus would have made an island, had he wanted.

The Cnidians, at Pythia’s proclaiming that, ceased from their excavation and to Harpagus who advanced with his army surrendered themselves without a fight.

The Pedasians, however, were settlers of the inland country above Halicarnassus, for whom, whenever anything untoward was to be, for them and those settled round, the priestess of Athena got a large beard—thrice that happened for them—and they of those men round Caria were the only to hold out a time against Harpagus and caused him the most troubles by walling the mountain whose name was Lida.

Now, the Pedasians in time were removed, and the Lycians, when Harpagus had driven his army into the Xanthian plain, in going out in opposition and fighting, few against many, showed forth virtuous deeds, but, worsted and cooped up within their town, they gathered together in the acropolis their wives, their children, their property and their household slaves and thereupon set fire to that whole acropolis for it to be burnt. And after doing that and swearing together terrible oaths, they went out in opposition and all the Xanthians died fighting. Indeed of those Lycians now said to be Xanthians the greater number, except for eighty households, are incomers, and those eighty households, in fact, at that time were abroad and thus survived.

Of Xanthus, then, thus Harpagus got hold and nearly the same way of Caunus too got hold; for in fact the Caunians imitated the Lycians in the greater part of their actions.

Now, the lower parts of Asia Harpagus caused to migrate, and the upper parts of it Cyrus himself by subjecting every nation and letting go none. Now, the greater number of them we will let go, but which caused him the most toil and are most worth relating, those I will mention.

Cyrus, after he had brought all the parts of the mainland under his hand, applied himself to the Assyrians. In Assyria, although there are, I suppose, also many other great boroughs, yet the most named and most powerful and where, Ninus made to migrate, the royal palace was established, was Babylon, a city being just like that: it lies on a great plain, since it is in size on each side a hundred and twenty stades, in that it is square, and those stades of the circumference of the city amount to four hundred and eighty. Now, the size is so great of the town of Babylon, while it was ordered as no other borough of those of which we know. A ditch, first, deep and broad, full of water runs round it and afterward a wall, being fifty royal cubits in its breadth and in height two hundred cubits (the royal cubit is three fingers longer than the ordinary).

I must then, in addition to the foregoing, still point out where the earth from the ditch was used up and the wall, what manner it was constructed. At the same time as they dug the ditch, they made bricks of the earth that came from the excavation and, on moulding sufficient bricks, baked them in ovens; afterwards, having hot asphalt as mortar and every thirty courses of brick stuffing mats of reeds in between, they built first the ditch’s lips and second the wall itself in the same manner. And atop the wall along its edges they built rooms of a story, turned to one another, and between the rooms they left space for a team of four horses abreast to drive round. Gates too stand in place round about the wall, a hundred all bronze, and door-posts and lintels likewise.

There is another city distant eight day’s journey from Babylon; Is is its name. At that spot is a river, not a long one; Is is also the river’s name and it discharges into the Euphrates river its stream. That Is river, then, together with its water sends up many lumps of asphalt, whence the asphalt for the wall in Babylon was conveyed.

Now, Babylon was walled in a manner like this, and there are two quarters of the city. For the middle of it a river divides, whose name is the Euphrates, and, being long, deep and quick, flows from the Armenians and it discharges into the Red sea. The very wall, then, on each side has its curves carried down to the river and from then on as it bends by each lip of the river a fence of baked bricks stretches. And the town itself, being full of houses of three stories and of four stories, has its ways cut up straight, all the others and those crosswise that extend to the river. So then at each way in the fence by the river little gates were in place, just so many in number as are the alleys, and they too were bronze, themselves also leading to the river itself.

That wall, then, is a breast plate and another wall on the inside runs round, not a great deal more without strength than the other wall, but of smaller extent. And in each quarter of the city was a walling in its midst, in the one of the royal palace with a tall and mighty enclosure and in the other of Belian Zeus’ shrine by a bronze gate, that shrine that existed still even to my time, of two stades every way, since it was square. And in the middle of the shrine a solid tower is built, a stade in both its length and its breadth, and on top of that tower another tower stands, and one again on top of that, up to eight towers. Moreover, an ascent to them that extends round all the towers on the outside in a circle has been made, and for one somewhere at the middle of the ascent is a resting-place and chairs for reposing, on which the ascending sit down and repose. And in the last tower a large temple is in place and in the temple a large couch is placed, well smoothed, and by it a golden table is placed. Moreover, no image is within set up in that place, and no one of the human beings takes up quarters within at night except only whichever woman of the natives that the god chooses out of all, as the Chaldeans say, who are priests of that god. Those same, then, say, although they make statements not credible to me, the god himself resorts to the temple and reposes on the couch, just as in Egyptian Thebes in the same manner, as the Egyptians say—for in fact in that place a woman goes to bed in Theban Zeus’, and both those women are said to resort to intercourse with no men—and just as in Patara in Lycia the prophetess of the god, whenever she comes to be, since there is not on each and every occasion a seat of prophecy in that place, and whenever she comes to be, at that time, then, she is shut up with him during the nights inside in the temple.

There is also another temple below of the shrine in Babylon, wherein is sitting a large image of Zeus of gold and by it a large table of gold is placed and its base and throne are gold. And, as the Chaldeans said, the foregoing are made of eight hundred talents of gold. Moreover, outside the temple is an alter of gold and there is also another alter of large size, on which are sacrificed full-grown cattle; for on the gold alter it is not possible to sacrifice anything except sucklings alone and on the larger alter the Chaldeans even burn a thousand talents of frankincense each year at that time whenever they hold the festival for that god. And there was in that precinct still during that time also a statue of twelve cubits of solid gold. I did not see it, but which is said by the Chaldeans, that I say. Although upon that statue Darius, the son of Hystaspes formed designs, he dared not to take hold, whereas Xerxes, the son of Darius did take hold and killed the priest, when he forbade him to move the statue. That shrine, then, thus is ordered and there are also many private offerings.

In that Babylon, many others, surely, became kings, of whom in the Assyrian accounts I will make mention, who added ornaments to the walls and the shrines, and, moreover, indeed also two women; the one who had ruled earlier, born five generations before the later, whose name was Semiramis, she showed forth mounds throughout the plain that were worth beholding, as previously the river was wont to make a sea throughout the whole plain; the other queen born after her, whose name was Nitocris, she proved more intelligent than the one who had ruled earlier and on the one hand left behind memorials that I will relate and on the other, when she saw the rule of the Medes was great and would not be still, but other towns were taken by them and, moreover, even Ninus, she took as many precautions as she could. First, the Euphrates river, being straight before that, which flows through their city’s middle, she formed by digging farther upstream into trenches and made it something so very crooked that indeed thrice into one of the villages in Assyria it comes in its flowing. And the village’s name into which the Euphrates comes is Ardericca, and now whoever are conveyed from this sea to Babylon, sailing down the Euphrates river, thrice they arrive at that same village and in three days. That, then, she made like that, and she piled a mound by each lip of the river worthy of marvelling at, in size and height how great a thing it is. Further, far above Babylon she dug a reservoir for a lake and stretched it a little away from the river; in depth she dug to the water on each and every occasion and in breadth she made its perimeter four hundred and twenty stades; the soil that was being dug from that excavation she used up by heaping it by the lips of the river. Then, after the digging had been completed for her, she brought stones and drew a rim in a circle round it. And she caused both those things, the river to be crooked and the whole excavation swamp, that the river might be slower in its broken course round many bends, the sailings be crooked into Babylon and so after the sailings follow the long way round of the lake. And at that part of the country she worked where were the approaches and the short cuts of the way from the Medes, that the Medes might not have intercourse with her and learn thoroughly her affairs.

Those structures, then, in depth she put round herself, and she had herself made as addition from them like this: the city being of two quarters and the river having its middle, in the time of the earlier kings, whenever anyone wished to cross over from the one quarter to the other, he had to cross over by boat, and that was, as I think, troublesome. And she provided for that too; for, when she dug the reservoir for the lake, she left behind this other memorial from that work: she had herself cut out very long stones and, when for her the stones were ready and the place had been dug, she diverted the river’s whole stream into the place that she had dug and, in the time when it was filled, in that time, the ancient channel being dried up, on the one hand the lips of the river along the city and the descents that led from the little gates to the river she built up with baked bricks in the same way as the wall and on the other somewhere near the middle of the city with the stones that she had had herself dug out she built a bridge by tying the stones with iron and lead. And she laid on it, whenever day came, square pieces of wood, on which the Babylonians crossed over, but during the nights those pieces of wood she removed for this reason, that they might not go all over and steal from one another. So when what had been dug out had been made a full lake by the river and the work of the bridge had been ordered, the Euphrates river into its ancient channels from the lake she drew out and thus what had been dug out in becoming marsh was thought to have become so opportunely and for her fellow-citizens a bridge was constructed.

That same queen also contrived a deception like this: over the most thronged gates of the town she had constructed a grave for herself in mid air on top of the gates themselves and engraved into the grave letters that said this: “Let anyone of those who later than me become kings of Babylon, if he lacks money, open my grave and take hold of as much money as he wants; however, if he lacks not, let him not open it otherwise; for it’s better not.” That grave was inviolate until the kingdom devolved to Darius. And to Darius it seemed quite terrible to use those gates at all and, the money being laid up and the letters themselves offering invitation, not to take hold of it. (He would not use those gates for this reason, that the dead body came to be overhead when he rode through.) So he opened the grave and found not money, but the dead body and letters that said this: “If you were not insatiate of money and shamefully greedy, you would not open dead bodies’ burial-places.”

Now, that queen is said to have proven a person like that, and indeed Cyrus against that woman’s son advanced with an army, who had the name of his own father, Labynetus, and the rule of the Assyrians. So the Great King advanced with an army both well prepared with grain from home and cattle and, what’s more, at the same time water from the Choaspes river that flows by Susa, was taken with him, the only that the king drinks from and from no other river. After that Choaspes’ water has been boiled off, very many four-wheeled mule-drawn wagons convey it in silver vessels and follow wheresoever he rides on each occasion.

When Cyrus was making his way to Babylon and came to be on the Gyndes river, whose springs are among the Matienians and which flows through the Dardanians and disembogues in to another river, the Tigris (and it flows along the city of Opis and disembogues into the Red sea), while that very Gyndes river Cyrus attempted to cross over, since it was navigable, then one of his sacred white horses because of its violence stepped into the river and attempted to cross over, but it swept him away under water and went carrying him off. Then Cyrus was very angry at the river, because it was insolent in that, and threatened it that he would make it so very without strength that in the future even women would easily cross over it without wetting the knee. And after his threat he let go of his expedition against Babylon and divided up his host in two and, when he had divided it, he demarcated by tracing one hundred and eighty trenches straight as a line by each lip of the Gyndes, turned in every direction; then he drew up his army and bade them dig. Although, inasmuch as a large crowd worked, the work was being completed, yet nevertheless the whole summer season right there they spent working.

When Cyrus had punished the Gyndes river by splitting it into three hundred and sixty trenches and the next spring was beginning to shine, just then he drove against Babylon. Thereupon the Babylonians advanced out with an army and waited for him. After he had come driving near the city, the Babylonians engaged in an encounter and, worsted in the battle, were cooped up in their town. And, inasmuch as they knew well still earlier Cyrus would not be still, but they saw he was laying hands on every nation alike, they stored up in advance food for very many years. Then they accounted the siege nothing and Cyrus was in the grip of difficulties, seeing that a long time was passing and his affairs were not at all advancing farther.

Therefore, because either another probably had made the suggestion to him in his difficulty or maybe he himself had learned what had to be done by him, he then acted like this: he arrayed all his host at the entrance of the river, where it rushes into the city, and afterward behind the city he arrayed others, where the river runs out of the city, and commanded the army, whenever they saw the channel become fordable, to go by that way into the city. Then, after he had arrayed them thus and exhorted them in that fashion, he himself drove away with the useless part of the army. And on coming to the lake, like those very deeds that the queen of the Babylonians had done concerning the river and concerning the lake, he himself did other deeds; for the river with a trench he led into the lake which is marsh and caused the ancient channel to be fordable on the river’s sinking. So, when that had been done like that, the very Persians that had been arrayed for that very purpose at the stream of the Euphrates river after its having sunk pretty near about to a man’s mid-thigh at that point went into Babylon. Now, if the Babylonians had learned by inquiry beforehand or had come to know what was done by Cyrus, they then would have allowed the Persians to enter into the city and destroyed them in the worst way, because, by shutting all the little gates that extended to the river and their own going up on the fences that were drawn by the lips of the river, they would have gotten hold of them as if in a wheel. But as it was, unexpectedly the Persians stood by them. And because of the size of the city, as is said by those settled there, those round the edges of the city having been captured, those of the Babylonians who were settled in its middle were not aware they had been captured, but, since they in fact were holding a festival, they danced during that time and were engaged in enjoyments, until the very time when they learned it by inquiry very much. And Babylon thus then for the first time was captured

The power of the Babylonians in many other ways I will make clear how great a thing it is and, moreover, in this: by the Great King for his nourishment and his host’s has been divided up, besides the tribute, all the land that he rules. Accordingly, of the twelve months coming to a year, four months the Babylonian country provides him nourishment and eight of the months all the rest of Asia. Thus the Assyrian country is equal in its power to all the rest of Asia. And the rule of that country, which the Persians call a satrapy, is of all the rules somewhat far the best, inasmuch as for Tritantaechmes, the son of Artabazus, who from the king had that district, of silver came in each day a full artaba (the artaba is a Persian measure holding three Attic choenices more than an Attic medimnus) and his horses there alone were, besides those for war, eight hundred who mount the females and sixteen thousand who are mounted; for each of those males mounted twenty horses. Further, of Indian dogs just so great a multitude were provided nourishment that four large villages of those in the plain, being free from all the other taxes, were assigned to supply the dogs food. So to the ruler of Babylon belonged possessions that were like that.

The land of the Assyrians is rained on little and that is what nourishes the root of the wheat. However, being watered by the river, the standing crop ripens, and the wheat is grown, not just as in Egypt where the river itself rises into the fields, but by being watered by hand and swipes. For the whole Babylonian country, just as the Egyptian, is cut up into trenches and the largest of the trenches is navigable, turned to the sun in winter, and stretches from the Euphrates to another river, to the Tigris, alongside which the city of Ninus had its settlement. It is of all countries far the best of those that we know of at bringing forth Demeter’s fruit, because indeed it doesn’t even try to begin with to bring up all the rest of the trees, neither a fig nor a vine nor an olive, but Demeter’s fruit it is so good at bringing forth that it yields two-hundredfold usually and, whenever it itself produces its best, it brings forth three-hundredfold. Moreover, the blades of the wheat and the barley there in their breadth amount to four fingers easily, while from a seed of millet and of sesame how large a tree in size is grown, although I have thorough knowledge, I will not make mention, since I know well that for those who have not come to the Babylonian country what’s said pertaining fruits has come to much disbelief. They use oil from the olive not at all, but make it from sesame seeds. Theirs are palms grown throughout the whole plain, the greater number of them fruit-bearing, from which they make themselves breads, wine and honey; them like figs they tend in all other respects and the fruit of those palms that the Greeks call male they tie round with the date-bearing of the palms, that the gall-insect may bring them the date to maturity by creeping in and the fruit of the palm not fall off; for indeed the male carry gall-insects in their fruit exactly just as the caprifigs.

What is the greatest marvel for me of all those there, at least after the city itself, I am going to point out. Boats are theirs that make their way down the river to Babylon, which are all circular and leather; for, whenever among the Armenians who have their settlements upstream of the Assyrians they cut for themselves and build ribs of willow, they stretch round them watertight hides on the outside like a bottom, without either distinguishing a stern or drawing a prow to a point, but, making circular like a shield and filling with straw that whole boat, they let it go to be borne down the river after filling it with wares; they carry down especially jars made of palm full of wine. Steering is done by two rudders and two men standing upright; one pulls his rudder inwards and the other thrusts his outwards. Those boats are made both very large and smaller and the largest of them actually has a burden of five thousand talents. On each boat is a live ass and on the larger ones a greater number. Accordingly, whenever they come sailing to Babylon and dispose of their cargo, then the boat’s ribs and all the straw they auction off and the hides they load on the asses and drive off to the Armenians; for indeed up the river it is not possible to sail in any manner because of the river’s quickness and on account of that they build their boats not out of wood but out of hides. So whenever they drive their asses and come back to the Armenians, they build other boats in the same manner.

Their boats, then, are like that and they wear clothing like this, a linen tunic that reaches the foot; then over it another tunic of wool one puts on, a white small cloak wraps round and wears native sandals pretty near to Boeotian slippers. Moreover, since they grow their hair long, they bind up their heads with turbans, and they’re anointed over their whole body; each has a signet ring and a handmade staff and on top of each staff is fashioned either an apple or a rose or a lily or an eagle or something else, because their law is not to have a staff without a device.

(to be continued)

detail, Siphnian treasury frieze, Delphi

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