STRABO (c. 63 BCE- 18 CE)

Translated by H.L. Jones



Further, the greater part of the remainder of Colchis is on the sea. Through it flows the Phasis, a large river having its sources in Armenia and receiving the waters of the Glaucus and the Hippus, which issue from the neighboring mountains. It is navigated as far as Sarapana, a fortress capable of admitting the population even of a city. From here people go by land to the Cyrus in four days by a wagon road. On the Phasis is situated a city bearing the same name, an emporium of the Colchi, which is protected on one side by the river, on another by a lake, and on another by the sea. Thence people go to Amisus and Sinope by sea (a voyage of two or three days), because the shores are soft and because of the outlets of the rivers. The country is excellent both in respect to its produce--except its honey, which is generally bitter--and in respect to every thing that pertains to shipbuilding; for it not only produces quantities of timber but also brings it down on rivers. And the people make linen in quantities, and hemp, wax, and pitch. Their linen industry has been famed far and wide; for they used to export linen to outside places; and some writers, wishing to show forth a kinship between the Colchians and the Egyptians, confirm their belief by this. Above the aforesaid rivers in the Moschian country lies the temple of Leucothea, founded by Phrixus, and the oracle of Phrixus, where a ram is never sacrificed; it was once rich, but it was robbed in our time by Pharnaces, and a little later by Mithridates of Pergamum. For when a country is devastated, things divine are in sickly plight and wont not even to be respected, says Euripides.


The great fame this country had in early times is disclosed by the myths, which refer in an obscure way to the expedition of Jason as having proceeded as far even as Media, and also, before that time, to that of Phrixus. After this, when kings succeeded to power, the country being divided into "sceptuchies," they were only moderately prosperous; but when Mithridates Eupator grew powerful, the country fell into his hands; and he would always send one of his friends as sub-governor or administrator of the country. Among these was Moaphernes, my mother's uncle on her father's side. And it was from this country that the king received most aid in the equipment of his naval forces. But when the power of Mithridates had been broken up, all the territory subject to him was also broken up and distributed among many persons. At last Polemon got Colchis; and since his death his wife Pythodoris has been in power, being queen, not only of the Colchians, but also of Trapezus and Pharnacia and of the barbarians who live above these places, concerning whom I shall speak later on.3 Now the Moschian country, in which is situated the temple, is divided into three parts: one part is held by the Colchians, another by the Iberians, and another by the Armenians. There is also a small city in Iberia, the city of Phrixus, the present Ideëssa, well fortified, on the confines of Colchis. And near Dioscurias flows the Chares River.


There are four passes leading into their country; one through Sarapana, a Colchian stronghold, and through the narrow defiles there. Through these defiles the Phasis, which has been made passable by one hundred and twenty bridges because of the windings of its course, flows down into Colchis with rough and violent stream, the region being cut into ravines by many torrents at the time of the heavy rains. The Phasis rises in the mountains that lie above it, where it is supplied by many springs; and in the plains it receives still other rivers, among which are the Glaucus and the Hippus. Thus filled and having by now become navigable, it issues forth into the Pontus; and it has on its banks a city bearing the same name; and near it is a lake. Such, then, is the pass that leads from Colchis into Iberia, being shut in by rocks, by strongholds, and by rivers that run through ravines.



Translated by Dewing, H. B., 1940

III. vi.

These, then, are the things which the emperor Justinian did in Armenia. And it has seemed to me not inappropriate to record at this point in my account what he did for the Tzani, for they are neighbours of the Armenians. From ancient times the Tzani have lived as an independent people, without rulers, following a savage-like manner of life, regarding as gods the trees and birds and sundry creatures besides, and worshipping them, and spending their whole lives among mountains reaching to the sky and covered with forests, and cultivating no land whatever, but robbing and living always on their plunder. For they themselves are not skillled in cultivating the soil, and their country, at least where it is not occupied by the steepest mountains, is hilly. These uplands are not rolling hills, neither do they provide soil such as would produce harvests, if one should cultivate them, but they are excessively rough and extremely hard and altogether unfavourable to any crops. It is not possible either to irrigate the land or to harvest corn; one cannot find meadow-land in that region, indeed even the trees which grow in Tzanica bear no frit and are entirely unproductive, for reasons do not regularly follow one another the sun’s heat quickens it, but the land is held in the grip of an endlesss winter and buried under everlasting snows. For this reason the Tzani in ancient times used to live in independence, but during the reign of the present emperor Justinian they were defeated in battle by the Romans under the general Tzittas, and abandoning the struggle they all straightway yielded to him, preferring the toilless servitude to the dangerous liberty. And they immediately changed their belief to piety, all of them becoming Christians, and they altered their manner of life to a milder way, giving up all brigandage and always marching with the Romans whenever they went against their enemies. And the emperor Justinian, fearing that the Tzani at some time might alter their way of life and change their habits back to the wilder sort, devised the following measures.

Tzanica was a very inaccessible country and altogether impossible for horses, being shut in on all sides by cliffs and for the most part by forests, as I have said. As a result of this it was impossible for the Tzani to mingle with their neighbours, living as they did a life of solitude among themselves in the manner of wild beasts. Accordingly he cut down all the trees by which the routes chanced to be obstructed, and transforming the rough places and making them smooth and passable for horses, he brought it about that they mingled with other peoples in the manner of men in general and concented to have intercourse with their neighbours. After this built a church for them in a place called Skhamalinikhon, and caused them to conduct services and to partake of the sacraments and propitiate god with prayers and perform the other acts of worship, so that they should know that they were human beings. And he built forts in all parts of the land, assigned to them very strong garrisons of Roman soldiers, and gave the Tzani unhampered intercourse wth other peoples. I shall now tell where in Tzanika he built these forts.

It happens that a certain point in that land forms the meeting-place of three roads; for the boundaries of the Persarmenians and the Tzani themselves begin here and extend out from this point. Here he constructed a very strong fortress which had not existed previously, Horonon by name, making it the mainstery of the peace of the region. For the Romans were first able to enter Tzanika from that point. Here too he established a military commander called a duke. And at a place two days journey distant from Horonon, where the territory of the Tzani who are called Okeniton commences -for Tzani are divided into many tribes-, there was a sort of stronghold built by men of former times, Kharton by name, which long before had already become a ruin through neglect. This the emperor Justinian restored, and he caused a large population to live there and to preserve order in the country. And as one goes from there towards the east, there is a precipitous ravine which extends around to the north; here he built a new fortress, Barkhon by name. Beyond this at the food of the mountain are folds where the cattle of the Okeniton Tzani, as they are called, find shelter; and they breed these cattle, not in order to plough the earth for the Tzani are altogether indolent and averse to the tasks of husbandry, as I have said (III. vi. 2), and they neither plough nor perform the other labours of husbandry- but in order to have a constant supply of milk and to eat their flesh. Beyond the foothills of the mountain, where the place called Kena lies in the level country, as one goes approximately westward there is a fort named Sisilisson; this had been built in ancient times, but, with the passage of time, had come to be deserted; so the emperor Justinian restored it and established there a sufficient garrison of Roman soldiers, just as in all the others. And as one goes on from that fort, there is a certain place on the left, towards the north, which the natives call Longini Fossatum, because in earlier times Longinus, a Roman general, an Isaurian by birth, had made an expedition against the Tzani on one occasion and built his camp there. In that place this emperor built a fortress called Bourgousnoes, one day’s journey distant from Sisilisson. This fort of Sisilisson too was rentered very strong by this same emperor, as was stated a little above. From there begins the territory of the Koksilinon Tzani, as they are called; and here he has now made two forts, one called Skhamalinikhon and the other is the one they call Tzanzakon and here he posted another military commander.

III. vii.

These things, then, were done by Emperor Justinian in Tzanica. In the land beyond this which lies along the Euxine Sea there is a city named Trapezus; and since there was a scarcity of water in that city, the Emperor Justinian built an aqueduct which they call the Aqueduct of the martyr Eugenis, and thus he put an and to the scarcity for the inhabitants of this place.



Translated by J.D.Frendo

Histories (c. 552-558 CE)


(1) The Lazi are a great and a proud people and they rule over other very considerable peoples. They pride themselves on their connection with the ancient name of the Colchians and have an exaggeratedly, though perhaps understandably, high opinion of themselves. (2) I certainly know of no other subject race with such ample resources of manpower at its command or which is blessed with such a superfluity of wealth, with such an ideal geographical position, with such an abundance of all the necessaries of life and with such a high standard of civilisation and refinement. (3) The ancient inhabitants of the place were indeed completely unaware of the benefits of navigation and had not even heard of ships until the arrival of the famous Argo. Nowadays they put out to sea whenever practicable and carry on a thriving commerce.



Anabasis ( 400 - 399 BCE )

Translated by Carleton L. Brownson

Xenophon in Seven Volumes
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA;
Willia Heinemann, Ltd., London., 1980.

[4.7.19] From there they journeyed four stages, twenty parasangs, to a large andprosperous inhabited city which was called Gymnias. From this city the ruler of the land sent the Greeks a guide, in order to lead them through territory that was hostile to his own. [4.7.20] When the guide came, he said that he would lead them within five days to a place from which they could see the sea;1 if he failed to do so, he was ready to accept death. Thus taking the lead, as soon as he had brought them into the hostile territory, he kept urging them to spread abroad fire and ruin, thereby making it clear that it was with this end in view that he had come, and not out of good-will toward the Greeks. [4.7.21] On the fifth day they did in fact reach the mountain;1 its name was Theches. Now as soon as the vanguard got to the top of the mountain, a great shout went up. [4.7.22] And when Xenophon and the rearguard heard it, they imagined that other enemies were attacking in front; for enemies were following behind them from the district that was in flames, and the rearguard had killed some of them and captured others by setting an ambush, and had also taken about twenty wicker shields covered with raw, shaggy ox-hides. [4.7.23] But as the shout kept getting louder and nearer, as the successive ranks that came up all began to run at full speed toward the ranks ahead that were one after another joining in the shout, and as the shout kept growing far louder as the number of men grew steadily greater, it became quite clear to Xenophon that here was something of unusual importance;
[4.7.24] so he mounted a horse, took with him Lycius and the cavalry, and pushed ahead to lend aid; and in a moment they heard the soldiers shouting, “The Sea! The Sea!” and passing the word along. Then all the troops of the rearguard likewise broke into a run, and the pack animals began racing ahead and the horses.
[4.7.25] And when all had reached the summit, then indeed they fell to embracing one another, and generals and captains as well, with tears in their eyes. And on a sudden, at the bidding of some one or other, the soldiers began to bring stones and to build a great cairn. [4.7.26] Thereon they placed as offerings a quantity of raw ox-hides and walking-sticks and the captured wicker shields; and the guide not only cut these shields to pieces himself, but urged the others to do so.1 [4.7.27] After this the Greeks dismissed the guide with gifts from the common stock—a horse, a silver cup, a Persian dress, and ten darics; but what he particularly asked the men for was their rings, and he got a considerable number of them. Then he showed them a village to encamp in and the road they were to follow to the country of the Macronians, and, as soon as evening came, took his departure.

4,7,9,n1. viz. Callimachus’ company.
4,7,16,n1. Xenophon doubtless remarks this fact because the Greek spear had a sharp point at the butt, to stick in the ground.
4,7,20,n1. i.e. the Euxine.
4,7,21,n1. The mountain which Xenophon seems to think he has already mentioned, a having been referred to by the guide.
4,7,26,n1. Still trying to fulfil his real mission of harming his people’s enemies. Cp. 19-20 above.

[4.8.1] From there the Greeks marched through the country of the Macronians threestages, ten parasangs. On the first of these days they reached the river which separated the territory of the Macronians from that of the Scythinians. [4.8.2] There they had on the right, above them, an exceedingly difficult bit of ground, and on the left another river, into which the boundary stream that they had to cross emptied. Now this stream was fringed with trees, not large ones, but of thick growth, and when the Greeks came up, they began felling them in their haste to get out of the place as speedily as possible. [4.8.3] But the Macronians, armed with wicker shields and lances and hair tunics, were drawn up in line of battle opposite the place where the Greeks must cross, and they were cheering one another on and throwing stones, which fell into the stream; for they never reached the Greeks or did them any harm.

[4.8.4] At this moment one of the peltasts came up to Xenophon, a man who said that he had been a slave at Athens, with word that he knew the language of these people; “I think,” he went on, “that this is my native country, and if there is nothing to hinder, I should like to have a talk with them.” [4.8.5] “Well, there is nothing to hinder,” said Xenophon; “so talk with them, and learn, to begin with, who they are.” In reply to his inquiry they said, “Macronians.” “Well, then,” said Xenophon, “ask them why they are arrayed against us and want to be our enemies.” [4.8.6] They replied, “Because you are coming against our land.” The generals directed the man to say, “We have not come to do you any harm whatever, but we have been at war with the King and are on our way back to Greece, and we want to reach the sea.” [4.8.7] The Macronians asked whether they would give pledges to this effect. They replied that they were ready both to give and to receive pledges. Thereupon the Macronians gave the Greeks a barbarian lance and the Greeks gave them a Greek lance, for the Macronians said that these were pledges; and both sides called the gods to witness.

[4.8.8] After this exchange of pledges the Macronians at once began to help the Greeks cut down the trees and to build the road in order to get them across, mingling freely with the Greeks; and they supplied as good a market1 as they could, and conducted the Greeks on their way for three days, until they brought them to the boundaries of the Colchians. [4.8.9] At this place was a great mountain, and upon this mountain the Colchians were drawn up in line of battle. At first the Greeks formed an opposing line of battle, with the intention of advancing in this way upon the mountain, but afterwards the generals decided to gather together and take counsel as to how they could best make the contest. [4.8.10] Xenophon accordingly said that in his opinion they should give up the line of battle and form the companies in column.1 “For the line,” he continued, “will be broken up at once; for we shall find the mountain hard to traverse at some points and easy at others; and the immediate result will be discouragement, when men who are formed in line of battle see the line broken up. [4.8.11] Furthermore, if we advance upon them formed in a line many ranks deep, the enemy will outflank us, and will use their outflanking wing for whatever purpose they please; on the other hand, if we are formed in a line a few ranks deep, it would be nothing surprising if our line should be cut through by a multitude both of missiles and men falling upon us in a mass; and if this happens at any point, it will be bad for the whole line. [4.8.12] But it seems to me we should form the companies in column and, by leaving spaces between them, cover enough ground so that the outermost companies should get beyond the enemy’s wings; in this way not only shall we outflank the enemy’s line, but advancing in column our best men will be in the van of the attack, and wherever it is good going, there each captain will lead forward his men. [4.8.13] And it will not be easy for the enemy to push into the space between the columns when there are companies on this side and that, and not any easier for him to cut through a company that is advancing in column. Again, if any one of the companies is hard pressed, its neighbour will come to its aid; and if one single company can somehow climb to the summit, not a man of the enemy will stand any longer.” [4.8.14] This plan was decided upon, and they proceeded to form the companies in column. And as Xenophon was going back from the right wing to the left,1 he said to the troops: “Soldiers, these men yonder whom you see are the only ones who still stand in the way of our being forthwith at the place we have long been striving to reach; if we possibly can, we must simply eat these fellows raw.” [4.8.15] When the officers had got to their several positions and had formed their companies in column, the result was about eighty companies of hoplites with each company numbering close upon one hundred;1 the peltasts and the bowmen, on the other hand, they formed in three divisions, one beyond the left wing of the hoplites, the second beyond the right, and the third in the centre, each division numbering about six hundred men. [4.8.16] After this the generals passed along the order to offer prayer, and when they had prayed and sung the paean they set forth. Now Cheirisophus and Xenophon and the peltasts with them got beyond the wings of the enemy’s line in their advance; [4.8.17] and when the enemy saw this, they ran out, some to the right and others to the left, to confront them, with the result that their line was pulled apart and a large portion of it in the centre was left deserted. [4.8.18] Then the peltasts of the Arcadian division, who were commanded by Aeschines the Acarnanian, getting the idea that the enemy were in flight, set up a shout and began to run; and they were the first to reach the summit of the mountain, while following close after them came the Arcadian division of hoplites, under the command of Cleanor of Orchomenus. [4.8.19] As for the enemy, once the peltasts began to run they no longer stood their ground, but betook themselves hither and thither in flight.After accomplishing the ascent the Greeks took up quarters in numerous villages, which contained provisions in abundance. [4.8.20] Now for the most part there was nothing here which they really found strange; but the swarms of bees in the neighbourhood were numerous, and the soldiers who ate of the honey all went off their heads, and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, and not one of them could stand up, but those who had eaten a little were like people exceedingly drunk, while those who had eaten a great deal seemed like crazy, or even, in some cases, dying men. [4.8.21] So they lay there in great numbers as though the army had suffered a defeat, and great despondency prevailed. On the next day, however, no one had died, and at approximately the same hour as they had eaten the honey they began to come to their senses; and on the third or fourth day they got up, as if from a drugging.

[4.8.22] From there they marched two stages, seven parasangs, and reached the sea at Trapezus, an inhabited Greek city on the Euxine Sea, a colony of the Sinopeans in the territory of Colchis. There they remained about thirty days in the villages of the Colchians, and from these as a base plundered Colchis.

[4.8.23] And the Trapezuntians supplied a market for the army, received the Greeks kindly, and gave them oxen, barley-meal, and wine as gifts of hospitality. [4.8.24] They likewise took part in negotiations with the Greeks in behalf of the near-by Colchians, who dwelt for the most part on the plain, and from these people also the Greeks received hospitable gifts of oxen.

. . .

4,8,8,n1. See note on Xen. Anab. 1.2.18.

4,8,10,n1. See Xen. Anab. 4.6.6, and note. Of course it is the opposite movement that is now in contemplation.

4,8,14,n1. Cheirisophus was commander of the van, Xenophon of the rear. The van of an army on the march became the right wing of the line of battle and the rear the left wing.It was at Cheirisophus’ post, on the right, that the council was held.

4,8,14,n2. A phrase as old as Homer ( 35).

4,8,15,n1. A total of 8000 as compared with an original strength of 11,700.

4,8,15,n2. One thousand eight hundred as compared with an original 2300.

4,8,16,n1. On the right and left wings respectively. See note on 14 above.

. . .

[5.2.3] When the Greeks had reached the highlands, the Drilae set fire to such of their strongholds as seemed to them easy to capture, and fell back; and the Greeks could secure nothing except an occasional pig or ox or other animal that had escaped the fire. There was one stronghold, however, which was their metropolis, and into this they had all streamed. Around it was an exceedingly deep ravine, and the approaches to the place were difficult. [5.2.4] Now the peltasts, who had run five or six stadia ahead of the hoplites, crossed this ravine and, seeing quantities of sheep and other property, essayed an attack upon the stronghold; in their train there followed a considerable number of spearmen who had set out after provisions, so that the party that crossed the ravine amounted to more than a thousand men. [5.2.5] But when they found themselves unable with all their fighting to capture the place (for there was a wide trench around it, backed by a rampart, and upon the rampart palisades had been set and wooden towers constructed at frequent intervals), their next move was to try to withdraw; and then the enemy pressed hard upon them. [5.2.6] To get away by running proved impossible, inasmuch as the descent from the stronghold to the ravine only allowed them to go in single file, and they accordingly sent a messenger to Xenophon, who was at the head of the hoplites. The messenger came and reported: [5.2.7] “There is a stronghold full of all kinds of stores. We cannot capture it, for it is strong; and we cannot easily get away, for the defenders rush out and attack us, and the road that leads back is a difficult one.” [5.2.8] Upon hearing this message Xenophon led on to the ravine, ordered the hoplites to halt there under arms, and himself crossed over with the captains and looked about to see whether it was better to withdraw the troops that had already crossed, or to lead over the hoplites also, on the presumption that the stronghold could be captured.
[5.2.9] The withdrawal, it seemed clear, could not be accomplished without the loss of many lives, while the capture of the place, in the opinion of the captains, was feasible, and Xenophon fell in with their opinion, in reliance upon his sacrifices; for the seers had declared that while there would be fighting to do, the issue of the expedition would be fortunate. [5.2.10] Accordingly he sent the captains to bring over the hoplites, while he himself remained on the further side, having drawn back the entire body of peltasts and forbidding any one to shoot at long range. [5.2.11] Upon the arrival of the hoplites he ordered each of the captains to form his company in the way he thought it would fight most effectively; for near one another were the captains who had all the time been vieing with one another in valour. [5.2.12] This order they proceeded to carry out, and meanwhile Xenophon passed word to all the peltasts to advance with hand on the thong, so that they could discharge their javelins when the signal should be given, to the bowmen to have their arrows upon the string, ready to shoot upon the signal, and to the slingers to have their bags full of stones; and he despatched the proper persons to look after all these things. [5.2.13] When all preparations had been made and the captains, lieutenants, and those among the men who claimed to be not inferior to them in bravery were all grouped together in the line1 and, moreover, watching one another (for the line was crescent-shaped, to conform with the position they were attacking), [5.2.14] then they struck up the paean and the trumpet sounded, and then, at the same moment, they raised the war cry to Enyalius, the hoplites charged forward on the run, and the missiles began to fly all together—spears, arrows, sling-stones, and very many stones thrown by hand, while some of the men employed firebrands also.
[5.2.15] By reason of the quantity of the missiles the enemy abandoned both their ramparts and their towers, so that Agasias the Stymphalian, putting aside his arms and clad only in his tunic, climbed up, then pulled up another man, and meanwhile another had made the climb, so that the capture of the stronghold was accomplished, as it seemed. [5.2.16] Thereupon the peltasts and the light troops rushed in and proceeded to snatch whatever plunder they severally could; but Xenophon, taking his stand at the gates, kept out as many as he could of the hoplites, for the reason that other enemies were coming into view upon certain strong heights. [5.2.17] After no long interval a shout arose within and men came pouring forth in flight, some carrying with them what they had seized, then soon a number of men that were wounded; and there was a deal of pushing about the gates. When those who were tumbling out were questioned, they said that there was a citadel within, that the enemy were numerous, and that they had sallied forth and were dealing blows upon the men inside. [5.2.18] Then Xenophon ordered Tolmides the herald to proclaim that whoever wanted to get any plunder should go in. At that many proceeded to rush into the gates, and the crowd that was pushing in overcame the crowd that was tumbling out and shut up the enemy again in their citadel. [5.2.19] So everything outside the citadel was seized and carried off by the Greeks, and the hoplites took up their position, some about the ramparts, others along the road leading up to the citadel.
[5.2.20] Meanwhile Xenophon and the captains were looking to see whether it was possible to capture the citadel, for in that case their safety was secured, while otherwise they thought it would be very difficult to effect their withdrawal; but the upshot of their consideration was, that the place was quite impregnable. [5.2.21] Then they made preparations for the withdrawal: they tore down the palisades, each division taking those on its own front, and sent off the men who were unfit for service or were carrying burdens, and likewise the greater part of the hoplites, the captains keeping behind only those troops that they each relied upon. [5.2.22] But the moment they began to retire, there rushed out upon them from within a great crowd of men armed with wicker shields, spears, greaves, and Paphlagonian helmets, while others set about climbing to the tops of the houses that were on either side of the road leading up to the citadel. [5.2.23] The result was that even a pursuit in the direction of the gates that led into the citadel was unsafe; for they would hurl down great logs from above, so that it was difficult either to remain or to retire. And the approach of night was also a cause for fear.
[5.2.24] In the midst of their fighting and perplexity some god gave to the Greeks a means of salvation. For of a sudden one of the houses on the right, set on fire by somebody or other, broke into a blaze; and as it began to fall in, there began a general flight from the other houses on the right side of the road. [5.2.25] The moment Xenophon grasped this lesson which chance had given him, he gave orders to set fire to the houses on the left also, which were of wood and so fell to burning very quickly. The result was that the people in these houses likewise took to flight. [5.2.26] It was only the enemy in their front who were now left to trouble the Greeks and manifestly intended to attack them as they passed out and down the hill. At this stage Xenophon sent out orders that all who chanced to be out of range of the missiles should set about bringing up logs and put them in the open space between their own forces and the enemy. As soon as enough logs had been collected, they set fire to them; and meanwhile they set fire also to the houses which were close along the palisade, so that the enemy’s attention might be occupied with these. [5.2.27] It was in this way that they effected, with difficulty, their withdrawal from the stronghold, by putting fire between themselves and the enemy. And the whole city was burned down, houses, towers, palisades, and everything else except the citadel. [5.2.28] On the next day the Greeks were for returning to camp with their provisions. But inasmuch as they feared the descent to Trapezus (for the way was steep and narrow), they laid a sham ambuscade: [5.2.29] a man of Mysia, who likewise bore the name of Mysus,1 took ten of the Cretans, stayed behind in a bit of undergrowth, and pretended to be trying to keep out of sight of the enemy; but their shields, which were of bronze, would now and then gleam through the bushes. [5.2.30] So the enemy, catching glimpses of these proceedings, were fearful that it was an ambuscade; and meanwhile the Greek army was making its descent. When it seemed that they had got down far enough, a signal was given to the Mysian to flee at the top of his speed, and he and his companions arose and took to flight. [5.2.31] The Cretans of the party (finding, as they said, that they were like to be overtaken in the running) plunged out of the road into the woods, and by tumbling down through the ravines made their escape, [5.2.32] but the Mysian held to the road in his flight and kept shouting for help; and they did go to his aid, and picked him up wounded. Then the rescuers in their turn proceeded to retreat, faces to the front, while the enemy kept throwing missiles at them and some of the Cretans replied with their arrows. In this way they all reached the camp safe and sound.

5,2,13,n1. A formation which the captains judged to be the “most effective” ( 11 above).

5,2,29,n1. Which itself means “Mysian”—just as “English” might be the family name of an Englishman.

[5.3.1] And now, seeing that Cheirisophus was not returned1 that they had not an adequate number of ships,2 and that it was no longer possible to get provisions, they resolved to depart by land. On board the ships they embarked the sick, those who were more than forty years of age, the women and children, and all the baggage which they did not need to keep with them. They put aboard also Philesius and Sophaenetus, the eldest of the generals, and bade them take charge of the enterprise; [5.3.2] then the rest tookup the march, the road having been already constructed. And on the third day of their journey they reached Cerasus, a Greek city on the sea, being a colony planted by the Sinopeans in the territory of Colchis.
[5.3.3] There they remained ten days; and the troops were reviewed under arms and numbered, and there proved to be eight thousand six hundred men.1 So many were left alive. The rest had perished at the hands of the enemy or in the snow, a few also by disease.

. . .

[5.4.1] Leaving Cerasus, the people who had thus far been conveyed by sea1 went on as before, while the rest continued their journey by land. [5.4.2] When they reached the boundary of the Mossynoecians,1 they sent to them Timesitheus the Trapezuntian, who was official representative of the Mossynoecians at Trapezus, and asked whether in marching through their country they were to regard it as friendly or hostile.

. . .

5,4,1,n1. See Xen. Anab. 5.3.1.



Geography and toponyms

According to most classic authors, a district which was bounded on the southwest by Pontus , on the west by the Pontus Euxinus as far as the river Corax (probably the present day Bzyb River , Abkhazia ), on the north by the chain of the Greater Caucasus , which lay between it and Asiatic Sarmatia , on the east by Iberia and Montes Moschici (now the Lesser Caucasus ), and on the south by Armenia . There is some little difference in authors as to the extent of the country westward: thus Strabo makes Colchis begin at Trapezus , while Ptolemy , on the other hand, extends Pontus to the river Phasis . Pityus was the last town to the north in Colchis.
The name of Colchis first appears in Aeschylus and Pindar . The earlier writers only speak of it under the name of Aea (Aia), the residence of the mythical king Aeetes . The main river was the Phasis (now Rioni ), which was according to some writers the south boundary of Colchis, but more probably flowed through the middle of that country from the Caucasus west by south to the Euxine, and the Anticites or Atticitus (now Kuban ). Arrian mentions many others by name, but they would seem to have been little more than mountain torrents: the most important of them were Charieis, Chobus or Cobus, Singames, Tarsuras, Hippus, Astelephus, Chrysorrhoas, several of which are also noticed by Ptolemy and Pliny . The chief towns were Dioscurias or Dioscuris (under the Romans called Sebastopolis , now Sokhumi ) on the sea-board of the Euxine, Sarapana (now Shorapani ), Phasis (now Poti ), Pityus (now Bichvinta ), Apsaros (now Gonio ), Surium (now Surami ), Archaeopolis (now Nokalakevi), Macheiresis, and Cyta or Cutatisium (now Kutaisi ), the traditional birthplace of Medea . Scylax mentions also Mala or Male, which he, in contradiction to other writers, makes the birthplace of Medea .


Earliest times
The area was home to the well-developed bronze culture known as the Colchian culture , related to the neighbouring Koban culture , that emerged towards the Middle Bronze Age . In at least some parts of Colchis the process of urbanization seems to have been well advanced by the end of the second millennium BC, centuries before Greek settlement. Their Late Bronze Age (15th to 8th Century BC) saw the development of an expertise in the smelting and casting of metals that began long before this skill was mastered in Europe . Sophisticated farming implements were made and fertile, well-watered lowlands blessed with a mild climate promoted the growth of progressive agricultural techniques.
Colchis was inhabited by a number of relative, but still pretty different tribes whose settlements lay chiefly along the shore of the Black Sea. The chief of those were the Machelones , Heniochi , Zydretae , Lazi , Tibarenni , Mosinici , Macrones , Moschi , Marres , Apsilae (probably modern-day Abkhaz -speakers), Abasci (possibly modern-day Abaza ), Sanigae , Coraxi , Coli , Melanchlaeni , Geloni and Soani (Suani) . These tribes differed so completely in language and appearance from the surrounding nations that the ancients originated various theories to account for the phenomenon. Herodotus , who states that they, with the Egyptians and the Ethiopia ns, were the first to practice circumcision , believed them to have sprung from the relics of the army of Pharaoh Sesostris III ( 1878 - 1841 BC ), and thus regarded them as Egyptians. Apollonius Rhodius states that the Egyptians of Colchis preserved as heirlooms a number of wooden tablets showing seas and highways with considerable accuracy. Though this theory was not generally adopted by the ancients, it has been defended – but not with complete success, by some modern writers. There seems to have been a Negroid component (which predates the Arab slave trade) along the Black Sea region, whose origins could very well be traced to an Ancient Extra-African expedition, although this cannot be verified by archaelogical evidence.

Modern theories suggest that the main Colchian tribes are direct ancestors of the Laz - Mingrelia ns, and played a significant role in ethnogenesis of the Georgian and Abkhazia n peoples.

Qulha (Kolkha)

In the 13th century BC , the Kingdom of Colchis was formed as a result of the increasing consolidation of the tribes inhabiting the region. This power celebrated in Greek mythology as the destination of the Argonauts , the home of Medea and the special domain of sorcery, was known to Urartians as Qulha (aka Kolkha, or Kilkhi). Being in permanent wars with the neighbouring nations, the Colchians managed to absorb part of Diaokhi in the 750s BC , but lost several provinces (including the “royal city� of Ildemusa) to the Sarduris II of Urartu following the wars of 750 - 748 and 744 - 742 BC . Overrun by the Cimmerians and Scythians in the 730s-720s BC, the kingdom disintegrated and came under the Achaemenid Persian Empire towards the mid- 6th century BC . The tribes living in the southern Colchis ( Tibarenni , Mosinici , Macrones , Moschi , and Marres ) were incorporated in the 19th Satrapy of the Persia, while the northern tribes submitted “voluntarily� and had to send to the Persian court 100 girls and 100 boys in every 5 years. The influence exerted on Colchis by the vast Achaemenid Empire with its thriving commerce and wide economic and commercial ties with other regions accelerated the socio-economic development of the Colchian land. Subsequently the Colchis people appear to have thrown off the Persian yoke, and to have formed an independent state.

Greek colonization

The advanced economy and favorable geographic and natural conditions of the area attracted the Milesian Greeks who colonized the Colchian coast establishing here their trading posts at Phasis , Gyenos , and Dioscurias in the 6th-5th centuries BC. It was considered "the farthest voyage" according to an ancient Greek proverbial expression, the easternmost location in that society's known world, where the sun rose. It was situated just outside the lands conquered by Alexander the Great . Phasis and Dioscurias were the splendid Greek cities dominated by the mercantile oligarchies, sometimes being troubled by the Colchians from hinterland before seemingly assimilating totally. After the fall of the Persian Empire, significant part of Colchis locally known as Egrisi was annexed to the recently created Kingdom of Iberia ( Kartli ) in ca. 302 BC . However, soon Colchis seceded and broke up into several small princedoms ruled by [ ''sceptuchi'']. They retained a degree of independence until conquered (circa 101 BC ) by Mithradates VI of Pontus .

Under Pontus

Mithradates VI quelled an uprising in the region in 83 BC and gave Colchis to his son Mithradates Chrestus, who was soon executed being suspected in having plotted against his father. During the Third Mithridatic War , Mithridates VI made another his son Machares king of Colchis, who held his power but for a short period. On the defeat of Mithradates in 65 BC , Colchis was occupied by Pompey , who captured one of the local chiefs (sceptuchus) Olthaces, and installed Aristarchus as a '' dynast '' ( 65 - 47 BC ). On the fall of Pompey, Pharnaces II , son of Mithridates , took advantage of Julius Caesar being occupied in Egypt , and reduced Colchis, Armenia , and some part of Cappadocia , defeating Domitius Calvinus , whom Caesar subsequently sent against him. His triumph was, however, short-lived. Under Polemon I , the son and successor of Pharnaces II , Colchis was part of the Pontus and the Bosporan Kingdom . After the death of Polemon (after 2 BC ), his second wife Pythodoris retained possession of Colchis as well as of Pontus itself, though the kingdom of Bosporus was wrested from her power. Her son and successor Polemon II was induced by Emperor Nero to abdicate the throne, and both Pontus and Colchis were incorporated in the Province of Galatia ( 63 ) and later in Cappadocia ( 81 ).

Under the Roman rule

Despite the fact that all major fortresses along the seacoast were occupied by the Romans, their rule was pretty loose. In 69 , the people of Pontus and Colchis under Anicetus staged a major uprising against the Romans which ended unsuccessfully. The lowlands and coastal area were frequently raided by the fierce mountainous tribes with the Soanes and Heniochi being the most powerful of them. Paying a nominal homage to Rome , they created their own kingdoms and enjoyed significant independence. Christianity began to spread in the early 1st century. Traditional accounts relate the event with St. Andrew , St. Simon the Canaanite , and St. Matata . However, the Hellenistic , local pagan and Mithraic religious beliefs would be widespread until the 4th century .

By the 130 s, the kingdoms of Machelons , Heniochi , Lazica , Apsilia , Abasgia , and Sanigia had occupied the district form south to north. Goths , dwelling in the Crimea and looking for their new homes, raided Colchis in 253 , but they were repulsed with the help of the Roman garrison of Pityus . By the 3rd-4th centuries, most of the local kingdoms and principalities had been subjugated by the Lazic kings, and thereafter the country was generally referred to as Lazica (Egrisi).


Little is known of the rulers of Colchis;
• Aeetes celebrated in Greek legends as a powerful king of Colchis is thought by some historians to be a historic person, though there is no evidence to support the idea.

• Kuji, a presiding prince (eristavi) of Egrisi under the authority of Pharnavaz I of Iberia (''ca'' 302 - 237 BC ) (according to the medieval Georgian annals).

• Akes (''Basileus Aku'') (end of the 4th century BC ), king of Colchis; his name is found on a coin issued by him.

• Saulaces, "king" in the 2nd century BC (according to some ancient sources).

• Mithradates Chrestus (fl 83 BC ), under the authority of Pontus .

• Machares (fl 65 BC ), under the authority of Pontus .

''Note: During his reign, the local chiefs, sceptuchi, continued to exercise some power. One of them, Olthaces, is mentioned by the Roman sources as a captive of Pompey in 65 BC .''

• Aristarchus ( 65 - 47 BC ), a dynast under the authority of Pompey

Colchis in Greek mythology

According to the Greek mythology , Colchis was a fabulously wealthy land situated on the mysterious periphery of the heroic world. Here in the sacred grove of the war god Ares , King Aeetes hung the Golden Fleece until it was seized by Jason and the Argonauts . Colchis was also the land where the mythological Prometheus was punished by being chained to a mountain while an eagle ate at his liver for revealing to humanity the secret of fire. Amazons also were said to be of Scythia n origin from Colchis.

The main mythical characters from Colchis are Aeetes , Medea , Apsyrtus , Chalciope , Circe , Eidyia , Pasiphaë .

See also
• Lazica (as a successor state of Colchis )

• History of Georgia

• Pontus

External links
• Colchis (in German)

• History of Laz-Mingrelians

• Colchis

• Colchis (in German)

• LoveToKnow Article on Colchis

• Colchis in Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)

• Kingdom of Colchis (Egrisi) (in Georgian)

• Colchian coins

• Strabo on Colchis

• Herodotus on Colchis

Further reading

• Braund, David. 1994. ''Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia 550 BC-AD 562.'' Clarendon Press, Oxford. ISBN 0198144733

• Gocha R. Tsetskhladze. ''Pichvnari and Its Environs, 6th c BC-4th c AD.'' ''Annales Littéraires de l'Université de Franche-Comté'', 659, Editeurs: M. Clavel-Lévêque, E. Geny, P. Lévêque. Paris: Presses Universitaires Franc-Comtoises, 1999. ISBN 2-913322-42-5

• Otar Lordkipanidze. ''Phasis: The River and City of Colchis.'' ''Geographica Historica 15'', Franz Steiner 2000. ISBN 3515072713

• Alexander Melamid. ''Colchis today. (northeastern Turkey)'': An article from: ''The Geographical Review.'' American Geographical Society, 1993. ISBN B000925IWE

• Akaki Urushadze. ''The Country of the Enchantress Media'', Tbilisi, 1984 (in Russian and English)