Page 0382


extent and nature of those countries immediately surrounding the original Parthian

kingdom, but have by no means included in the description the wide range of countries

beyond-countries included in the times of Mithridates in the Parthian Empire. On the

north-east we have first of all the extensive country of Bactria. In different ages this

region has been variously defined. In general, the country so named was bounded on the

south and south-east by the mountains of Hindu Kush; on the north by the Oxus; on the west

by Chorasmia and Margiana. In the times of the Parthian ascendancy, however, Bactria

extended northward far beyond the Oxus proper to the northern branch of that river,

skirting the mountain range which defined the southern limit of Scythia. The country had

much of the same character with Margiana and Chorasmia, but was less of a desert, more of

a hill country, especially toward the east. The triangular apex of Bactria lying among the

mountains under the meridian of 74 east from Greenwich, marked the uttermost limit of the

Parthian dominion on the side of India. It suffices to say that the country for a long

time resisted the ambitions of the Parthian kings, and it was near the close of the second

century B. C. before it was included in their dominions.

On the south of the country just described, bordered on the west by Arya and Sarangia, was

the small province of Arachosia, another mountain region of similar character to Bactria,

but less severe in climate. It was watered by the river Etymandrus and its tributaries,

reaching far into the highlands on the northeast. The country here described occupied the

southern, as Bactria occupied the northern, slopes of the Hindu Kush. The province

extended through about four meridians of longitude, and was nearly square, marking the

extreme south-eastern limits of the Parthian Empire.

Following the boundary of that great dominion to the south-west, we come to the two

countries of Sacastana and Carmania, the first lying south of Sarangia and almost wholly

desert in character. Carmania is also, in its northern part, a desert waste, and on its

southern border next to Gedrosia, a mountainous region. Indeed, the whole of the two

countries just mentioned were in ancient times, as they are at present, as little

attractive and as poorly adapted to civilization as almost any region of Central Asia.

On the west, however, we come to the country of Persis, or Persia proper, lying along the

gulf of the same name, a region of hills and streams and pleasant prospects. We have here

reached, against the sea, the southern limit of the Parthian Empire, at its greatest

estate, in one of the most attractive and interesting regions of the whole. Persia has

been already described, not only in its narrower, but in its imperial extent; nothing need

here be added as to the physical characteristics and. possibilities of the country. So

also of both the Medias, the Magna, and the Atropatene. These have been amply described in

a former Book.

On the south and west of these great and important countries, but still included in the

Parthian dominion, lay Babylonia and all the Mesopotamian countries, bounded by the

Euphrates on the west. Here were Susiana, Assyria, Adiabene, and all the regions as far

north as the Armenian mountains. The country of Armenia was also included in the Empire of

Mithridates, but here we reach the ultimate limits of that Empire on the west. Viewing it

as a whole, we find it extending from the extreme western deflection of the Upper

Euphrates, in longitude 38 30' east to the meridian of 74 in the Hindu Kush. The

northernmost limit was on the Oxus, a little above the parallel of 42 N., and the extreme

southern boundary on the Persian gulf under the parallel 27 30' N. The whole extent from

east to west was hardly less than fifteen hundred miles, and the greatest breadth from

north to south about four hundred miles. The geographical area was not far from 450,000

square miles, being about coextensive with the area of the modern Persian Empire.

It must not be understood, however, that the two dominions-Ancient Parthia and Modern

Persia-coincided in their boundaries. A glance at the two maps will enable the reader to

note how different were the limits of the ancient Empire from those of its modern

representative. We