Book III, Chapter 2
§1. At all events, it is above the coast this side the Anas that Turdetania lies, and through it flows the Baetis River. And its boundary is marked off on the west and north by the Anas River, on the east by a part of Carpetania and by Oretania, and on the south by those of the Bastetanians who occupy a narrow stretch of coast between Calpe and Gades and by the sea next to that stretch as far as the Anas. But these Bastetanians of whom I have just spoken also belong to Turdetania, and so do those Bastetanians beyond the Anas, and most of its immediate neighbours. The extent of this country is not more than two thousand stadia, that is, in length or breadth, but it contains a surpassing number of cities — as many, indeed, as two hundred, it is said. The best known are those situated on the rivers, on the estuaries, and on the sea; and this is due to their commercial intercourse. But the two that have grown most in fame and in power are Corduba, which was founded by Marcellus, and the city of the Gaditanians: the latter, because of its maritime commerce and because it associated itself with the Romans as an ally; the former because of the excellence of its soil and the extent of its territory, though the Baetis River has also contributed in great measure to its growth; and it has been inhabited from the beginning by picked men of the Romans and of the native Iberians; what is more, the first colony which the Romans sent to these regions was that to Corduba. After Corduba and the city of the Gaditanians, Hispalis, itself also a colony of the Romans, is most famous, and still remains the trade-centre of the district; yet, in the matter of distinction, that is, in the fact that the soldiers of Caesar have recently colonised it, Baetis ranks higher, albeit a city not notable for its population.
§2. After these cities come Italica and Ilipa, both near the Baetis River; and Astigis, farther away from the river, and Carmo, and Obulco, and, besides these, the cities in which the sons of Pompey were defeated, namely, Munda, Ategua, Urso, Tuccis, Ulia, and Aegua; and all of these cities are not far from Corduba. In a way, Munda has become the capital city of this region. Munda is one thousand four hundred stadia distant from Carteia, whither Gnaeus fled after his defeat; he sailed away from there, and disembarked into a certain mountainous region overlooking the sea, where he was put to death. But his brother Sextus escaped from Corduba, carried on war for a short time in Iberia, and later on caused Sicily to revolt; then, driven out of Sicily into Asia, he was captured by the generals of Antony, and ended his life at Miletus. In the country of the Celti, Conistorgis is the best known city; but on the estuaries Asta is the best known, where the Gaditanians of to-day usually hold their assemblies, and it is situated not much more than one hundred stadia beyond the seaport of the island.
§3. The Baetis has a large population along its shores, and is navigable for approximately one thousand two hundred stadia from the sea up to Corduba and the regions a little higher up. Furthermore, the land along the river, and the little islands in the river, are exceedingly well cultivated. And besides that, there is the charm of the scenery, for the farms are fully improved with groves and gardens of the various plants. Now, up to Hispalis, the river is navigable for merchant-vessels of considerable size, that is, for a distance not much short of five hundred stadia; to the cities higher up the stream as far as Ilipa, for the smaller merchant vessels; and, as far as Corduba, for the river-boats (at the present time these are builded boats, whereas in antiquity they were merely dugout canoes); but above Corduba, in the direction of Castalo, the river is not navigable. On the north, there are some mountain-ridges which extend parallel to the river, approaching it closely, sometimes more so, sometimes less, and they are full of mines. Silver, however, is the most plentiful in the regions about Ilipa, and in those about Sisapo — I mean what is called the Old Sisapo as well as the New Sisapo; and at the place called Cotinae both copper and gold are mined at the same time. Now on your left, as you sail up the river, are these mountains, while on your right is a large plain, high, very productive, with lofty trees, and affording good pasturage. The Anas also is navigable, though neither for such large vessels nor for so great a distance. Beyond the Anas, too, lie mountains that contain ores, and these mountains reach down to the Tagus River. Now the regions which contain ores are necessarily rugged as well as rather poor in soil, precisely as are the regions that join Carpetania, and still more so those that join Celtiberia. And such is the nature of Baeturia also, which contains arid plains that stretch along the Anas.
§4. Turdetania itself is marvellously blessed by nature; and while it produces all things, and likewise great quantities of them, these blessings are doubled by the facilities of exportation; for its surplus products are bartered off with ease because of the large number of the merchant vessels. This is made possible by the rivers, and by the estuaries as well, which, as I have said, resemble rivers, and, like rivers, are navigable inland from the sea, not only for small boats but also for large ones, to the cities of the interior. For the whole country beyond the seaboard that lies between the Sacred Cape and the Pillars is a plain for a considerable distance inland. And here, at a large number of places, are inlets which run up from the sea into the interior, resembling moderate-sized ravines or simply river-beds, and extending for many stadia; and these inlets are filled by the overflows of the sea at the flood-tides, so that one can sail inland thereon as readily as on the rivers — in fact, better, for it is like sailing down the rivers, not only because there is no opposing current, but because, on account of the flood-tide, the sea wafts you onwards just as the river-current does. And the overflows are greater on this coast than in the other regions, because the sea, coming from the great ocean, is compressed into the narrow strait which Maurusia forms with Iberia, there meets resistance, and then easily rushes to those parts of the land that yield to it. Now, while a number of the inlets of this kind are emptied at the ebb-tides (though some of them do not become wholly dry), yet a number of them enclose islands within themselves. Such, then, are the estuaries between the Sacred Cape and the Pillars, for they have an excessive rise of tide as compared with those in the other regions. A rise of tide like this affords a certain advantage to be utilised by sailors, namely, the estuaries are made more numerous and larger, oftentimes being navigable even for a distance of eight stadia; so that, after a fashion, it renders the whole country navigable and convenient both for exporting and importing merchandise. And yet it also affords a certain annoyance; for, on account of the vehemence of the flood-tides, which press with superior force against the current of the rivers, navigation on the rivers is attended by no small danger to the vessels, alike in their descent and ascent. But in the case of the estuaries the ebb-tides too are harmful; for the ebb-tides too grow violent in proportion to the strength of the flood-tides, and on account of their swiftness have oftentimes even left the ship stranded on dry land. Again, the cattle which cross over to the islands that lie off the rivers or the estuaries have at times actually been engulfed; at other times they have merely been cut off, and in their struggle to get back to the land lacked the strength to do so, and perished. But the cows, they say, are by observation actually aware of what happens, wait for the retirement of the sea, and then make off for the mainland.
§5. At any rate, it was because the people had learned the character of these regions and that the estuaries could subserve the same purpose as the rivers, that they built cities and other settlements on their banks, just as on the rivers. Among these cities are Asta, Nabrissa, Onoba, Ossonoba, Maenoba, and several others. Again, canals that have been dug in a number of places are an additional aid, since many are the points thereon from which and to which the people carry on their traffic, not only with one another but also with the outside world. And further, the meetings of the waters when the flood-tides reach far inland are likewise helpful, for the waters pour across over the isthmuses that separate the waterways, thus rendering the isthmuses navigable also; so that one can cross over by boat from the rivers into the estuaries and from the estuaries into the rivers. But all the foreign trade of the country is carried on with Italy and Rome, since the voyage as far as the Pillars is good, except, perhaps, for a certain difficulty in passing the strait, and also the voyage on the high seas of Our Sea. For the sea-routes all pass through a zone of fair weather, particularly if the sailor keeps to the high seas; and this fact is advantageous to the merchant-freighters. And further, the winds on the high seas are regular. Added to that, too, is the present peace, because all piracy has been broken up, and hence the sailors feel wholly at ease. Poseidonius says that he observed a peculiar circumstance on his return voyage from Iberia, namely, that the east winds on that sea, as far as the gulf of Sardinia, blew at a fixed time each year; and that this was why he barely reached Italy even in three months; for he was driven out of his course in both directions, not only near to the Gymnesian Islands and Sardinia, but also to the different parts of Libya opposite to these islands.
§6. There are exported from Turdetania large quantities of grain and wine, and also olive oil, not only in large quantities, but also of best quality. And further, wax, honey, and pitch are exported from there, and large quantities of kermes, and ruddle which is not inferior to the Sinopian earth. And they build up their ships there out of native timber; and they have salt quarries in their country, and not a few streams of salt water; and not unimportant, either, is the fish-salting industry that is carried on, not only from this county,A comment or correction but also from the rest of the seaboard outside the Pillars; and the product is not inferior to that of the Pontus. Formerly much cloth came from Turdetania, but now, wool, rather of the raven-black sort. And it is surpassingly beautiful; at all events, the rams are bought for breeding purposes at a talent apiece. Surpassing, too, are the delicate fabrics which are woven by the people of Salacia. Turdetania also has a great abundance of cattle of all kinds, and of game. But there are scarcely any destructive animals, except the burrowing hares, by some called "peelers"; for they damage both plants and seeds by eating the roots. This pest occurs throughout almost the whole of Iberia, and extends even as far as Massilia, and infests the islands as well. The inhabitants of the Gymnesian Islands, it is said, once sent an embassy to Rome to ask for a new place of abode, for they were being driven out by these animals, because they could not hold out against them on account of their great numbers. Now perhaps such a remedy is needed against so great a warfare (which is not always the case, but only when there is some destructive plague like that of snakes or field-mice), but, against the moderate pest, several methods of hunting have been discovered; more than that, they make a point of breeding Libyan ferrets, which they muzzle and send into the holes. The ferrets with their claws drag outside all the rabbits they catch, or else force them to flee into the open, where men, stationed at the hole, catch them as they are driven out. The abundance of the exports of Turdetania is indicated by the size and the number of the ships; for merchantmen of the greatest size sail from this country to Dicaearchia, and to Ostia, the seaport of Rome; and their number very nearly rivals that of the Libyan ships.
§7. Although the interior of Turdetania is so productive, it will be found that the seaboard vies with it in its goodly products from the sea. For the various kinds of oysters as well as mussels are in general surpassing, both in their number and in their size, along the whole of the exterior sea; but especially so here, inasmuch as the flood-tides and the ebb-tides have increased power here, and these tides, it is reasonable to suppose, are, on account of the exercise they give, responsible both for the number and the size of them. So it is, in the same way, with respect to all the cetaceans; narwhals, "phalaenae" and spouting-whales; when these spout, the distant observer seems to see a cloud-like pillar. And further, the conger-eels become monsters, far exceeding in size those of Our Sea; and so do the lampreys and several other edible fish of the kind. And at Carteia, it is said, there are shells of trumpet-fish and purple-fish which hold ten cotylae, and in the regions farther out to sea the lamprey and the conger-eel weigh even more than eighty minae, the sea-polypus a talent, the cuttle-fish are two cubits long — and other things in like proportion. Again, large numbers of plump, fat tunny-fish congregate hither from the other coast, namely, that outside the Pillars. And they feed on the acorns of a certain very stunted oak that grows at the bottom of the sea and produces very large fruit. This oak also grows in abundance on the dry land, in Iberia; and although its roots are large like those of a full-grown oak, yet it does not grow as high as a low bush. But the sea-oak brings forth so much fruit that, after the ripening, the seacoast, both inside and outside the Pillars, is covered with the acorns, for they are cast ashore by the tides. However, those inside the Pillars are always smaller, and are to be found in greater quantities. Polybius tells us that the sea casts these acorns ashore even as far as Latium, unless perhaps, says he, also Sardinia and the neighbouring land produce them. And further, the nearer the tunny-fish approach the Pillars, in coming from the exterior sea, the leaner they become, since their food fails them. This creature, says Polybius, is therefore a sea-hog, for it is fond of the acorn and gets exceedingly fat on it; and whenever the sea-oak has produced a large crop of acorns, there is also a large crop of tunny-fish.
§8. Now, although the aforesaid country has been endowed with so many good things, still one might welcome and admire, not least of all, but even most of all, its natural richness in metals. For the whole country of the Iberians is full of metals, although not all of it is so rich in fruit, or so fertile either, and in particular that part of it which is well supplied with metals. It is rare for a country to be fortunate in both respects, and it is also rare for the same country to have within a small area an abundance of all kinds of metals. But as for Turdetania and the territory adjoining it, there is no worthy word of praise left to him who wishes to praise their excellence in this respect. Up to the present moment, in fact, neither gold, nor silver, nor yet copper, nor iron, has been found anywhere in the world, in a natural state, either in such quantity or of such good quality. And the gold is not only mined, but is also washed down; that is, the gold-bearing sand is carried down by the rivers and the torrents, although it is often found in the waterless districts also; but in these districts it cannot be seen, whereas in the flooded districts the gold-dust glitters. Besides, they flood the waterless districts by conducting water thither, and thus they make the gold-dust glitter; and they also get the gold out by digging pits, and by inventing other means for washing the sand; and the so-called "gold-washeries" are now more numerous than the gold mines. The Galatae hold that their own mines, both those in the Cemmenus Mountains and those situated at the foot of the Pyrenees themselves, are equal to those of Turdetania; the metals from the latter, however, are held in greater esteem. And in the gold-dust, they say, nuggets weighing as much as half a pound are some found, which are called "palae," and they need but little refining. They further say that when stones are split they find in them small nuggles resembling nipples, and when the gold is smelted and refined by means of a sort of styptic earth the residuum thereof is "electrum"; and, again, that when this electrum, which contains a mixture of silver and gold, is smelted, the silver is burned away, while the gold remains. For the alloy-type is easily fused and stone-like. For this reason, too, the gold is preferably melted with chaff-fire, because the flame, on account of its softness, is suitable to a substance that yields and fuses easily; but the charcoal-fire consumes much of it because, owing to its intensity, it over-melts the gold and carries it off as vapour. The soil is carried along in the streams, and is washed in by troughs; or else a pit is dug, and the soil that has been accumulated is there washed. They build the silver-smelting furnaces with high chimneys, so that the gas from the ore may be carried high into the air; for it is heavy and deadly. Some of the copper-mines are called gold-mines, and from this fact it is inferred that in former times gold was mined from them.
§9. Poseidonius, in praising the quantity and the excellence of these ores, does not abstain from his usual rhetorical speech; indeed, he enthusiastically concurs with the extravagant stories told; for example, he does not discredit the story, he says, that, when on a time the forests had been burned, the soil, since it was composed of silver and gold ores, melted and boiled out over the surface, because, as he says, every mountain and every hill is bullion heaped up there by some prodigal fortune. And, in general, he says, anyone who had seen these regions would declare that they are everlasting storehouses of nature, or a never-failing treasury of an empire. For the country was, he adds, not only rich, but also rich down below; and with the Turdetanians it is verily Pluto, and not Hades, who inhabits the region down below. Such, then, are the flowery utterances of Poseidonius on this subject — himself drawing much of his language from a mine, as it were. Again, in speaking of the industry of the miners, he cites the statement of Demetrius of Phalerum. Demetrius, he says, states in reference to the Attic silver-mines, that the people dig as strenuously as if they expected to bring up Pluto himself. So Poseidonius implies that the energy and industry of the Turdetanian miners is similar, since they cut their shafts aslant and deep, and, as regards the streams that meet them in the shafts, oftentimes draw them off with the Egyptian screw. However, the whole affair, he says, is never the same for these miners as for the Attic miners; indeed, for the latter, mining is like a riddle: "What they took up," he says, "they did not take, yet what they had, they lost"; but, for the Turdetanians, mining is profitable beyond measure, since one-fourth of the ore brought out by their copper-workers is pure copper, while some of their private adventurers who search for silver pick up within three days a Euboean talent of silver. Tin, however, is not found there on the surface of the ground, he says, as the historians continually repeat, but is dug up; and it is produced both in the country of the barbarians who live beyond Lusitania, and in the Cassiterides Islands; and tin is brought to Massilia from the British Islands also. But among the Artabrians, who live farthest on the north-west of Lusitania, the soil "effloresces," he says, with silver, tin, and "white gold" (for it is mixed with silver). This soil, however, he adds, is brought by the streams; and the women scrape it up with shovels and wash it in sieves woven basket-like. Such, then, is what Poseidonius has said about the mines.
§10. Polybius, in mentioning the silver-mines of New Carthage, says that they are very large; that they are distant from the city about twenty stadia and embrace an area four hundred stadia in circuit; and that forty thousand workmen stay there, who (in his time) bring into the Roman exchequer a daily revenue of twenty-five thousand drachmae. But as for the processes of the work, I omit all he says about it (for it is a long story) except what he says of the silver-bearing ore that is carried along in the streams, namely, that it is crushed and by means of sieves disengaged in water; then the sediment is again crushed, and again strained through (the waters meantime being poured off), and crushed; then the fifth sediment is smelted, and, after the lead has been poured off, yields the pure silver. The silver-mines are still being worked at the present time; they are not state-property, however, either at New Carthage or anywhere else, but have passed over to private ownership. But the majority of the gold-mines are state-property. Both in Castalo and elsewhere there is a special metal of mined lead; this, too, has a slight quantity of silver mixed with it, though not enough to make the refining of it profitable.
§11. Not very far from Castalo is also the mountain in which the Baetis is said to rise; it is called "Silver Mountain" on account of the silver-mines that are in it. According to Polybius, however, both this river and the Anas, though distant from each other as much as nine hundred stadia, rise in Celtiberia; for, as a result of their growth in power, the Celtiberians caused the whole neighbouring country to have the same name as their own. The ancients seem to have called the Baetis River "Tartessus"; and to have called Gades and the adjoining islands "Erytheia"; and this is supposed to be the reason why Stesichorus spoke as he did about the neat-herd of Geryon, namely, that he was born "about opposite famous Erytheia, beside the unlimited, silver-rooted springs of the river Tartessus, in a cavern of a cliff." Since the river had two mouths, a city was planted on the intervening territory in former times, it is said,— a city which was called "Tartessus," after the name of the river; and the country, which is now occupied by Turdulians, was called "Tartessis." Further, Eratosthenes says that the country adjoining Calpe is called "Tartessis," and that Erytheia is called "Blest Isle." Eratosthenes is contradicted by Artemidorus, who says that this is another false statement of Eratosthenes, like his statement that the distance from Gades to the Sacred Cape is a five days' sail (although it is not more than one thousand seven hundred stadia), and his statement that the tides come to an end at the Sacred Cape (although the tides take place round the whole circuit of the inhabited world), and his statement that the northerly parts of Iberia afford an easier passage to Celtica than if you sail thither by the ocean; and, in fact, every other statement which he had made in reliance upon Pytheas, on account of the latter's false pretensions.
§12. The poet, man of many voices, so to speak, and of wide information, affords us grounds for the argument that even these regions were not unheard of by him, if one were only willing to argue scientifically from both statements that are made about these regions, not only from the worse, but also from the better and more truthful. Worse, namely, the statement that Tartessus was known by hearsay as "farthermost in the west," where, as the poet himself says, falls into Oceanus "the sun's bright light, drawing black night over earth, the grain-giver." Now, that night is a thing of evil omen and associated with Hades, is obvious; also that Hades is associated with Tartarus. Accordingly, one might reasonably suppose that Homer, because he heard about Tartessus, named the farthermost of the nether-regions Tartarus after Tartessis, with a slight alteration of letters; and that he also added a mythical element, thus conserving the creative quality of poetry. Just as the poet, because he knew that the Cimmerians had taken their abode in northern and gloomy regions about the Bosporus, settled them in the neighbourhood of Hades, though perhaps he did it also in accordance with a certain common hatred of the Ionians for this tribe (indeed, it was in the time of Homer, or shortly before his time, they say, that that Cimmerian invasion which reached as far as Aeolis and Ionia took place). Again, the poet modelled his "Planctae" after the "Cyaneae," always bringing in his myths from some historical fact or other. For example, he tells a mythical story of certain rocks that are dangerous, just as they say the Cyaneae are (from which fact the Cyaneae are also called "Symplegades"), and this is the reason why he cited Jason's voyage through them. But both the strait at the Pillars and that at Sicily suggested to him the myth about the Planctae. As regards that worse statement, therefore, one might get a hint from the mythical invention of Tartarus that Homer had in mind the regions about Tartessus.
§13. As regards the latter, on the other hand, one might get hints from the following: In the first place, the expeditions of Heracles and of the Phoenicians, since they both reached as far as Iberia, suggested to Homer that the people of Iberia were in some way rich, and led a life of ease. Indeed, these people became so utterly subject to the Phoenicians that the greater number of the cities in Turdetania and of the neighbouring places are now inhabited by the Phoenicians. Secondly, the expedition of Odysseus, as it seems to me, since it actually had been made to Iberia, and since Homer had learned about it through inquiry, gave him an historical pretext; and so he also transferred the Odyssey, just as he had already transferred the Iliad, from the domain of historical fact to that of creative art, and to that of mythical invention so familiar to the poets. For not only do the regions about Italy and Sicily and certain other regions betray signs of such facts, but in Iberia also a city of Odysseia is to be seen, and a temple of Athene, and countless other traces, not only of the wanderings of Odysseus, but also of other wanderings which took place thither after the Trojan War and afflicted the capturers of Troy quite as much as it did the vanquished (for the capturers, as it happened, carried off only a Cadmean victory). And since the Trojan homes were in ruins, and the booty that came to each Greek was but small, the result was that the surviving Trojans, after having escaped from the perils of the war, turned to acts of piracy, as did also the Greeks; the Trojans, because their city was now in utter ruins; the Greeks, for shame, since every Greek took it for granted that it was "verily shameful to wait long" far from his kindred "and then" back to them "empty-handed go." Thirdly, the wanderings of Aeneas are a traditional fact, as also those of Antenor, and those of the Henetians; similarly, also, those of Diomedes, Menelaus, Odysseus, and several others. So then, the poet, informed through his inquiries of so many expeditions to the outermost parts of Iberia, and learning by hearsay about the wealth and the other good attributes of the country (for the Phoenicians were making these facts known), in fancy placed the abode of the blest there, and also the Elysian Plain, where Proteus says Menelaus will go and make his home: "But the deathless gods will escort thee to the Elysian Plain and the ends of the earth, where is Rhadamanthys of the fair hair, where life is easiest. No snow is there, nor yet great storm, nor ever any rain; but always Oceanus sendeth forth the breezes of clear-blowing Zephyrus." For both the pure air and the gentle breezes of Zephyrus properly belong to this country, since the country is not only in the west but also warm; and the phrase "at the ends of the earth" properly belongs to it, where Hades has been "mythically placed," as we say. And Homer's citing of Rhadamanthys suggests the region that is near Minos, concerning whom he says: "There it was I saw Minos, glorious son of Zeus, holding a golden sceptre, rendering decisions to the dead." Furthermore, the poets who came after Homer keep dinning into our ears similar stories: the expedition of Heracles in quest of the kine of Geryon and likewise the expedition which he made in quest of the golden apples of the Hesperides — even calling by name certain Isles of the Blest, which, as we know, are still now pointed out, not very far from the headlands of Maurusia that lie opposite to Gades.
§14. The Phoenicians, I say, were the informants of Homer; and these people occupied the best of Iberia and Libya before the age of Homer, and continued to be masters of those regions until the Romans broke up their empire. The wealth of Iberia is further evidenced by the following facts: the Carthaginians who, along with Barcas, made a campaign against Iberia found the people in Turdetania, as the historians tell us, using silver feeding-troughs and wine-jars. And one might assume that it was from their great prosperity that the people there got the additional name of "Macraeones," and particularly the chieftains; and that this is why Anacreon said as follows: "I, for my part, should neither wish the horn of Amaltheia, nor to be king of Tartessus for one hundred and fifty years"; and why Herodotus recorded even the name of the king, whom he called Arganthonius. For one might either take the phrase of Anacreon literally or as meaning "a time equal to the king's," or else in a more general way, "nor the king of Tartessus for a long time." Some, however, call Tartessus the Carteia of to-day.
§15. Along with the happy lot of their country, the qualities of both gentleness and civility have come to the Turdetanians; and to the Celtic peoples, too, on account of their being neighbours to the Turdetanians, as Polybius has said, or else on account of their kinship; but less so the Celtic peoples, because for the most part they live in mere villages. The Turdetanians, however, and particularly those that live about the Baetis, have completely changed over to the Roman mode of life, not even remembering their own language any more. And most of them have become Latins, and they have received Romans as colonists, so that they are not far from being all Romans. And the present jointly-settled cities, Pax Augusta in the Celtic country, Augusta Emerita in the country of the Turdulians, Caesar-Augusta near Celtiberia, and some other settlements, manifest the change to the aforesaid civil modes of life. Moreover, all those Iberians who belong to this class are called "Togati." And among these are the Celtiberians, who were once regarded the most brutish of all. So much for the Turditanians.
Onto Chapter 3