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Such are the customs of the Babylonians generally. There are
likewise three tribes among them who eat nothing but fish. These are
caught and dried in the sun, after which they are brayed in a
mortar, and strained through a linen sieve. Some prefer to make
cakes of this material, while others bake it into a kind of bread.
When Cyrus had achieved the conquest of the Babylonians, he
conceived the desire of bringing the Massagetae under his dominion.
Now the Massagetae are said to be a great and warlike nation, dwelling
eastward, toward the rising of the sun, beyond the river Araxes, and
opposite the Issedonians. By many they are regarded as a Scythian
As for the Araxes, it is, according to some accounts, larger,
according to others smaller than the Ister (Danube). It has islands in
it, many of which are said to be equal in size to Lesbos. The men
who inhabit them feed during the summer on roots of all kinds, which
they dig out of the ground, while they store up the fruits, which they
gather from the trees at the fitting season, to serve them as food
in the winter-time. Besides the trees whose fruit they gather for this
purpose, they have also a tree which bears the strangest produce. When
they are met together in companies they throw some of it upon the fire
round which they are sitting, and presently, by the mere smell of
the fumes which it gives out in burning, they grow drunk, as the
Greeks do with wine. More of the fruit is then thrown on the fire,
and, their drunkenness increasing, they often jump up and begin to
dance and sing. Such is the account which I have heard of this people.
The river Araxes, like the Gyndes, which Cyrus dispersed into
three hundred and sixty channels, has its source in the country of the
Matienians. It has forty mouths, whereof all, except one, end in
bogs and swamps. These bogs and swamps are said to be inhabited by a
race of men who feed on raw fish, and clothe themselves with the skins
of seals. The other mouth of the river flows with a clear course
into the Caspian Sea.
The Caspian is a sea by itself, having no connection with any
other. The sea frequented by the Greeks, that beyond the Pillars of
Hercules, which is called the Atlantic, and also the Erythraean, are
all one and the same sea. But the Caspian is a distinct sea, lying
by itself, in length fifteen days' voyage with a row-boat, in breadth,
at the broadest part, eight days' voyage. Along its western shore runs
the chain of the Caucasus, the most extensive and loftiest of all
mountain-ranges. Many and various are the tribes by which it is
inhabited, most of whom live entirely on the wild fruits of the
forest. In these forests certain trees are said to grow, from the
leaves of which, pounded and mixed with water, the inhabitants make
a dye, wherewith they paint upon their clothes the figures of animals;
and the figures so impressed never wash out, but last as though they
had been inwoven in the cloth from the first, and wear as long as
the garment.
On the west then, as I have said, the Caspian Sea is bounded by
the range of Caucasus. On the cast it is followed by a vast plain,
stretching out interminably before the eye, the greater portion of
which is possessed by those Massagetae, against whom Cyrus was now
so anxious to make an expedition. Many strong motives weighed with him
and urged him on- his birth especially, which seemed something more
than human, and his good fortune in all his former wars, wherein he
had always found that against what country soever he turned his
arms, it was impossible for that people to escape.
At this time the Massagetae were ruled by a queen, named
Tomyris, who at the death of her husband, the late king, had mounted
the throne. To her Cyrus sent ambassadors, with instructions to
court her on his part, pretending that he wished to take her to
wife. Tomyris, however, aware that it was her kingdom, and not
herself, that he courted, forbade the men to approach. Cyrus,
therefore, finding that he did not advance his designs by this deceit,
marched towards the Araxes, and openly displaying his hostile

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