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IV.59‑85

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

of
Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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V.19‑40

(Vol. III) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

p93 Book V (beginning)

On the myths which are recounted about Sicily and the shape and size of the island (chap. 2).
On Demeter and Corê and the discovery of the fruit of wheat (chaps. 3‑6).
On Lipara and the other islands which are called the Aeolides (chaps. 7‑11).
On Melitê, Gaulus, and Cercina (chap. 12).
On Aethaleia, Cyrnus (Corsica), and Sardinia (chaps. 13‑15).
On Pityussa and the Gymnesiae islands, which some call the Baliarides (chaps. 16‑18).
On the islands in the ocean which lie towards the west (chaps. 19‑20).
On the island of Britain and that called Basileia, where amber is found (chaps. 21‑23).
On Gaul, Celtiberia, Iberia, Liguria, and Tyrrhenia, and on the inhabitants of these countries and the customs they observe (chaps. 24‑40).
On the islands in the ocean to the south, both the one called Hiera and that called Panchaea, and on what they are said to contain (chaps. 41‑46).
On Samothrace and the mysteries celebrated on the island (chaps. 47‑49).
On Naxos and Symê and Calydna (chaps. 50‑54).
On Rhodes and the myths which are recounted concerning it (chaps. 55‑59).
p95 On the Cherronesus which lies over against the territory of Rhodes (chaps. 60‑63).
On Crete and the myths which are recounted about it, down to comparatively recent times (chaps. 64‑80).
On Lesbos and the colonies which were led by Macareus to Chios, Samos, and Cos (chaps. 81‑82).
On Tenedos, the colonization of the island, and the fabulous tales told by the Tenedians about Tennes (chap. 83).
On the colonization by Minos of the islands of the smaller Cyclades (chap. 84).

p97 1 1 It should be the special care of historians, when they compose their works, to give attention to everything which may be of utility, and especially to the arrangement of the varied material they present. This eye to arrangement, for instance, is not only of great help to persons in the disposition of their private affairs1 if they would preserve and increase their property, but also, when men come to writing history, it offers them not a few advantages. 2 Some historians indeed, although they are worthy objects of praise in the matter of style and in the breadth of experience2 derived from the events which they record, have nevertheless fallen short in respect of the way in which they have handled the matter of arrangement, with the result that, whereas the effort and care which they expended receive the approbation of their readers, yet the order which they gave to the material they have recorded is the object of just censure. 3 Timaeus, for example, bestowed, it is true, the greatest attention upon the precision of his chronology and had due regard for the breadth of knowledge gained through experience, but he is criticized with good reason for his untimely and lengthy censures, and because of the excess to p99which he went in censuring he historian given by some men the name Epitimaeus or Censurer. 4 Ephorus, on the other hand, in the universal history which he composed has achieved success, not alone in the style of his composition, but also as regards the arrangement of his work; for each one of his Books is so constructed as to embrace events which fall under a single topic.3 Consequently we also have given our preference to this method of handling our material, and, in so far as it is possible, are adhering to this general principle. 2 And since we have given this Book the title "On the Islands,"4 in accordance with this heading the first island we shall speak about will be Sicily, since it is both the richest of the islands and holds first place in respect of the great age of the myths related concerning it.

The island in ancient times was called, after its shape, Trinacria,5 then Sicania after the Sicani who made their home there, and finally it has been given the name Sicily after the Siceli who crossed over in a body to it from Italy. 2 Its circumference is some four thousand three hundred and sixty stades; for of its three sides, that extending from Pelorias to Lilybaeum is one thousand seven hundred stades, that from Lilybaeum to Pachynus in the territory of Syracuse is a thousand five hundred, and the remaining side is one thousand one hundred and forty stades.6 3 The Siceliotae who dwell in the island have received the tradition from their ancestors, the report having ever been handed down successively from earliest time by one generation to the next, that the p101island is sacred to Demeter and Corê; although there are certain poets who recount the myth that at the marriage of Pluton and Persephonê Zeus gave this island as a wedding present7 to the bride. 4 That the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, the Sicani, were indigenous, is stated by the best authorities among historians, also that the goddesses we have mentioned first made their appearance on this island, and that it was the first, because of the fertility of the soil, to bring forth the fruit of the corn,º facts to which the most renowned of the poets also bears witness when he writes:8

But all these things grow there for them unsown

And e'en untilled, both wheat and barley, yea,

And vines, which yield such wine as fine grapes give,

And rain of Zeus gives increase unto them.

Indeed, in the plain of Leontini, we are told, and throughout many other parts of Sicily the wheat men call "wild" grows even to this day. 5 And, speaking generally, before the corn was discovered,9 if one were to raise the question, what manner of land it was of the inhabited earth where the fruits we have mentioned appeared for the first time, the meed of honour may reasonably be accorded to the richest land; and in keeping with what we have stated, it is also to be observed that the goddesses who made this discovery are those who receive the highest honours among the Siceliotae.

3 1 Again, the fact that the Rape of Corê took place in Sicily is, men say, proof most evident that the p103goddesses made this island their favourite retreat because it was cherished by them before all others. 2 And the Rape of Corê, the myth relates, took place in the meadows in the territory of Enna. The spot lies near the city, a place of striking beauty for its violets and every other kind of flower and worthy of the goddess. And the story is told that, because of the sweet odour of the flowers growing there, trained hunting dogs are unable to hold the trail, because their natural sense of smell is balked.a And the meadow we have mentioned is level in the centre and well watered throughout, but on its periphery it rises high and falls off with precipitous cliffs on every side. And it is conceived of as lying in the very centre of the island, which is the reason why certain writers call it the navel of Sicily. 3 Near to it also are sacred groves, surrounded by marshy flats, and a huge grotto which contains a chasm which leads down into the earth and opens to the north, and through it, the myth relates, Pluton, coming out with his chariot, effected the Rape of Corê. And the violets, we are told, and the rest of the flowers which supply the sweet odour continue to bloom, to one's amazement, throughout the entire year, and so the whole aspect of the place is one of flowers and delight.

4 And both Athena and Artemis, the myth goes on to say, who had made the same choice of maidenhood as had Corê and were reared together with her, joined with her in gathering the flowers, and all of them together wove the robe for their father Zeus. And because of the time they had spent together and their intimacy they all loved this island above any other, and each one of them received for her portion a territory, Athena receiving hers in the region of p105Himera, where the Nymphs, to please Athena, caused the springs of warm water10 to gush forth on the occasion of the visit of Heracles to the island, and the natives consecrated a city to her and a plot of ground which to this day is called Athena's. 5 And Artemis received from the gods the island at Syracuse which was named after her, by both the oracles and men, Ortygia.11 On this island likewise these Nymphs, to please Artemis, caused a great fountain to gush forth to which was given the name Arethusa. 6 And not only in ancient times did this fountain contain large fish in great numbers, but also in our own day we find these fish still there, considered to be holy and not to be touched by men; and on many occasions, when certain men have eaten them amid stress of war, the deity has shown a striking sign, and has visited with great sufferings such as dared to take them for food.b Of these matters we shall give an exact account in connection with the appropriate period of time.12

4 1 Like the two goddesses whom we have mentioned Corê, we are told, received as her portion the meadows round about Enna; but a great fountain was made sacred to her in the territory of Syracuse and given the name Cyanê or "Azure Fount." 2 For the myth relates that it was near Syracuse that Pluton effected the Rape of Corê and took her away in his chariot, and that after cleaving the earth asunder he himself descended into Hades, taking along with him the bride whom he had seized, and that he caused p107the fountain named Cyanê to gush forth, near which the Syracusans each year hold a notable festive gathering; and private individuals offer the lesser victims, but when the ceremony is on behalf of the community, bulls are plunged in the pool, this manner of sacrifice having been commanded by Heracles on the occasion when he made the circuit of all Sicily, while driving off the cattle of Geryones.13

3 After the Rape of Corê, the myth does on to recount, Demeter, being unable to find her daughter, kindled torches in the craters of Mt. Aetna and visited many parts of the inhabited world, and upon the men who received her with the greatest favour she conferred briefs, rewarding them with the gift of the fruit of the wheat. 4 And since a more kindly welcome was extended the goddess by the Athenians than by any other people, they were the first after the Siceliotae14 to be given the fruit of the wheat; and in return for this gift the citizens of that city in assembly honoured the goddess above all others with the establishment both of most notable sacrifices and of the mysteries of Eleusis, which, by reason of their very great antiquity and sanctity, have come to be famous among all mankind. From the Athenians many peoples received a portion of the gracious gift of the corn, and they in turn, sharing the gift of the seed with their neighbours, in this way caused all the inhabited world to abound with it. 5 And the inhabitants of Sicily, since by reason of the intimate relationship of Demeter and Corê with them they were the first to share in the corn after its discovery, instituted to each one of the goddesses sacrifices and festive gatherings, which they named after them, and by the time chosen for these made p109acknowledgement of the gifts which had been conferred upon them. 6 In the case of Corê, for instance, they established the celebration of her return at about the time when the fruit of the corn was found to come to maturity, and they celebrate this sacrifice and festive gathering with such strictness of observance and such zeal as we should reasonably expect those men to show who are returning thanks for having been selected before all mankind for the greatest possible gift; 7 but in the case of Demeter they preferred that time for the sacrifice when the sowing of the corn is first begun, and for a period of ten days they hold a festive gathering which bears the name of this goddess and is most magnificent by reason of the brilliance of their preparation for it, while in the observance of it they imitate the ancient manner of life. And it is their custom during these days to indulge in coarse language as they associate one with another, the reason being that by such coarseness the goddess, grieved though she was at the Rape of Corê, burst into laughter.

5 1 That the Rape of Corê took place in the manner we have described is attested by many ancient historians and poets. Carcinus15 the tragic poet, for instance, who often visited in Syracuse and witnessed the zeal which the inhabitants displayed in the sacrifices and festive gatherings for both Demeter and Corê, has the following verses16 in his writings:

p111 Demeter's daughter, her whom none may name,

By secret schemings Pluton, men say, stole,

And then he dropped into earth's depths, whose light

Is darkness. Longing for the vanished girl

Her mother searched and visited all lands

In turn. And Sicily's land by Aetna's crags

Was filled with streams of fire which no man could

Approach, and groaned throughout its length; in grief

Over the maiden now the folk, beloved

Of Zeus, was perishing without the corn.

Hence honour they these goddesses e'en now.

2 But we should not omit to mention the very great benefaction which Demeter conferred upon mankind; for beside the fact that she was the discoverer of corn, she also taught mankind how to prepare it for food and introduced laws by obedience to which men became accustomed to the practice of justice, this being the reason, we are told, why she has been given the epithet Thesmophoros or Lawgiver.17 3 Surely a benefaction greater than these discoveries of hers one could not find; for they embrace both living and living honourably. However, as for the myths which are current among the Siceliotae, we shall be satisfied with what has been said.

6 1 We must now write briefly about the Sicani who were the first inhabitants of Sicily, in view of the fact that certain historians are not in agreement about this people. Philistus,18 for instance, says that p113they removed from Iberia and settled the island, having got the name they bore from a certain river in Iberia named Sicanus, but Timaeus adduces proof of the ignorance of this historian and correctly declares that they were indigenous; and inasmuch as the evidences he offers of the antiquity of this people are many, we think that there is no need for us to recount them. 2 The Sicani, then, originally made their homes in villages, building their settlements upon the strongest hills because of the pirates; for they had not yet been brought under the single rule of a king, but in each settlement there was one man who was lord. 3 And at first they made their home in every part of the island and secured their food by tilling the land; but at a later time, when Aetna sent up volcanic eruptions in an increasing number of places and a great torrent of lava was poured forth over the land, it came to pass that a great stretch of the country was ruined. And since the fire kept consuming a large area of the land during an increasing number of years, in fear they left the eastern parts of Sicily and removed to the western. And last of all, many generations later, the people of the Siceli crossed over in a body from Italy into Sicily and made their home in the land which had been abandoned by the Sicani. 4 And since the Siceli steadily grew more avaricious and kept ravaging the land which bordered on theirs, frequent wars arose between them and the Sicani, until at last they struck covenants and set up boundaries, upon which they had agreed, for the territory. With regard to the Sicani we shall give a detailed account in connection with the appropriate period of time.19 5 The p115colonies of the Greeks — and notable ones they were — were the last to be made in Sicily, and their cities were founded on the sea. All the inhabitants mingled with one another, and since the Greeks came to the island in great numbers, the natives learned their speech, and then, having been brought up in the Greek ways of life, they lost in the end their barbarian speech as well as their name, all of them being called Siceliotae.20

7 1 But since we have spoken about these matters at sufficient length we shall turn our discussion to the islands known as the Aeolides.21 These islands are seven in number and bear the following names: Strongylê, Euonymus, Didymê, Phoenicodes, Ericodes, Hiera Hephaestu,22 and Lipara,23 on which is situated a city of the same name. 2 They lie between Sicily and Italy in a straight line from the Strait, extending from east to west. They are about one hundred and fifty stades distant from Sicily and are all of about the same size, and the largest one of them is about one hundred and fifty stades in circumference. 3 All of them have experienced great volcanic eruptions, and the resulting craters and openings may be seen to this day. On Strongylê and Hiera even at the present time there are sent forth from the open mouths great exhalations accompanied by an enormous roaring, and sand and a multitude of red-hot stones are erupted, as may also be seen taking place on Aetna. 4 The reason is, as some say, that passages lead under the earth from these islands p117to Aetna and are connected with the openings at both ends of them, and this is why the craters on these islands usually alternate in activity with those of Aetna.

5 We are told that the islands of Aeolus24 were uninhabited in ancient times, but that later Liparus, as he was called, the son of Auson the king, was overcome by his brothers who rebelled against him, and securing some warships and soldiers he fled from Italy to the island, which received the name Lipara after him; on it he founded the city which bears his name and brought under cultivation the other islands mentioned before. 6 And when Liparus had already come to old age, Aeolus, the son of Hippotes, came to Lipara with certain companions and married Cyanê, the daughter of Liparus; and after he had formed a government in which his followers and the natives shared equally he became king over the island. To Liparus, who had a longing for Italy, Aeolus gave his aid in securing for him the regions about Surrentum, where he became king and, after winning great esteem, ended his days; and after he had been accorded a magnificent funeral he received at the hands of the natives honours equal to those offered to the heroes. 7 This is the Aeolus to whom, the myth relates, Odysseus came in the course of his wanderings.25 He was, they say, pious and just and kindly as well in his treatment of strangers; furthermore, he introduced sea-farers to the use of sails and had learned, by long observation of what the fire26 foretold, to predict with accuracy the local winds,27 this being the reason why the myth has p119referred to him as the "keeper of the winds";28 and it was because of his very great piety that he was called a friend of the Gods.

8 1 To Aeolus, we are told, sons were born to the number of six, Astyochus, Xuthus, and Androcles, and Pheraemon, Jocastus, and Agathyrnus, and they every one received great approbation both because of the fame of their father and because of their own high achievements. Of their number Jocastus held fast to Italy and was king of the coast as far as the regions about Rhegium, but Pheraemon and Androcles were lords over Sicily from the Strait as far as the regions about Lilybaeum. Of this country the parts to the east were inhabited by Siceli and those to the west by Sicani. 2 These two peoples quarrelled with each other, but they rendered obedience of their own free will to the sons of Aeolus we have mentioned, both because of the piety of their father Aeolus, which was famed afar, and because of the fair-dealing of the sons themselves. Xuthus was king over the land in the neighbourhood of Leontini, which is known after him as Xuthia to this day. Agathyrnus, becoming king of the land now called Agathyrnitis, founded a city which was called after him Agathyrnus; and Astyochus secured the lordship over Lipara. 3 All these men followed the example which their father had set for both piety and justice and hence were accorded great approbation. Their descendants succeeded to their thrones over many generations, but in the end the kings of the house of Aeolus were overthrown throughout Sicily.

p121 9 1 After this the Siceli put the leadership in each case in the hands of the ablest man, but the Sicani quarrelled over the lordship and warred against each other during a long period of time. But many years later than these events, when the islands29 again were becoming steadily more destitute of inhabitants, certain men of Cnidus and Rhodes, being aggrieved at the harsh treatment they were receiving at the hands of the kings of Asia, resolved to send out a colony. 2 Consequently, having chosen for their leader Pentathlus of Cnidus — who traced his ancestry back to Hippotes, who was a descendant of Heracles — in the course of the Fiftieth Olympiad,30 that in which Epitelidas of Sparta won the "stadion,"31 these settlers, then, of the company of Pentathlus sailed to Sicily to the regions about Lilybaeum, where they found the inhabitants of Egesta and of Selinus at war with one another. 3 And being persuaded by the men of Selinus to take their side in the war, they suffered heavy losses in the battle, Pentathlus himself being among those who fell. Consequently the survivors, since the men of Selinus had been defeated in the war, decided to return to their homes; and choosing for leaders Gorgus and Thestor and Epithersides, who were relatives of Pentathlus, they sailed off through the Tyrrhenian Sea. 4 But when they put in at Lipara and received a kindly reception, they were prevailed upon to make common cause with the inhabitants of Lipara in forming a single community there, since of the colony of Aeolus there remained only about five hundred men. At a later p123time, because they were being harassed by the Tyrrheni who were carrying on piracy on the sea, they fitted out a fleet, and divided themselves into two bodies, one of which took over the cultivation of the islands which they had made the common property of the community, whereas the other was to fight the pirates; their possessions also they made common property, and living according to the public mess system,c they passed their lives in this communistic fashion for some time. 5 At a later time they apportioned among themselves the island of Lipara, where their city also lay, but cultivated the other islands in common. And in the final stage they divided all the islands among themselves for a period of twenty years, and then they cast lots for them again at every expiration of this period.32 After effecting this organization they defeated the Tyrrhenians in many sea-fights, and from their booty they often made notable dedications of a tenth part, which they sent to Delphi.

10 1 It remains for us now, as regards the city of the Liparians, to give an explanation of the causes why in later times it grew to a position, not only of prosperity, but even of renown. These, then, are the reasons: The city is adorned by nature with excellent harbours and springs of warm water which are famed far and wide; for not only do the baths there contribute greatly to the healing of the sick, but they also, in keeping with the peculiar property of such warm springs, provide pleasure and enjoyment of no ordinary kind. Consequently many people throughout Sicily who are afflicted by illnesses p125of a peculiar nature come to the city and by taking the baths regain their health in a marvellous manner. 2 And this island contains the far-famed mines of styptic earth,33 from which the Liparians and Romans derive great revenues. For since styptic earth is found nowhere else in the inhabited world and is of great usefulness, it stands to reason that, because they enjoy a monopoly of it and can raise the price, they should get an unbelievable amount of money; for on the island of Melos alone is there found a deposit of styptic earth, but a small one, which cannot suffice for many cities. 3 The island of the Liparians is also small in extent but sufficiently fruitful and, so far as the wants of men are concerned, it supports even a high degree of luxury; for it supplies the inhabitants with a multitude of fish of every kind and contains those fruit trees which can offer the most pleasure when one enjoys them. But as regards Lipara and the rest of the islands of Aeolus, as they are called, we shall be satisfied with what has been said.

11 1 Beyond Lipara, toward the west, lies an island in the open sea which is small in extent and uninhabited and bears the name Osteodes34 because of the following strange occurrence. During the time when the Carthaginians were waging many great wars with the Syracusans they were employing notable forces on both land and sea, and on the occasion in question they had many mercenaries who were gathered from every people; such troops are always trouble-makers and make it their practice to cause many and serious p127mutinies, especially on occasions when they do not get their pay promptly, and at the time of which we are speaking they practised their accustomed knavishness and audacity. 2 For being in number about six thousand and not receiving their pay, they at first massed together and inveighed against the generals, and since the latter were without funds and time after time kept deferring payment, they threatened that they would take up arms and wreak vengeance upon the Carthaginians, and they even laid violent hands upon the commanders. 3 Though the senate35 admonished them, the quarrel always blazed forth the more, whereupon the senate gave secret orders to the generals to do away with all the recalcitrants; and the generals then, acting upon the commands, embarked the mercenaries upon ships and sailed off as if upon some mission of war. And putting in at the island we have mentioned they disembarked all the mercenaries upon it and then sailed away, leaving the recalcitrants upon the island. 4 The mercenaries, being in deep distress at the condition in which they found themselves and yet unable to wreak vengeance upon the Carthaginians, perished from hunger. And since it was a small island on which so many confined men died, it came to pass that the place, little as it was, was filled with their bones; and this is the reason why the island received the name it bears. In this way, then, did the mercenaries, who were guilty of crime in the manner we have described, suffer the greatest misfortune, perishing for lack of food.

12 1 But for our part, since we have set forth the facts concerning the islands of the Aeolides, we shall consider it appropriate to make mention in turn of p129the islands which lie on the other side.36 For off the south of Sicily three islands lie out in the sea, and each of them possesses a city and harbours which can offer safety to ships which are in stress of weather. 2 The first one is that called Melitê,37 which lies about eight hundred stades from Syracuse, and it possesses many harbours which offer exceptional advantages, and its inhabitants are blest in their possessions; for it has artisans skilled in every manner of craft, the most important being those who weave linen, with is remarkably sheer and soft, and the dwellings on the island are worthy of note, being ambitiously constructed with cornices and finished in stucco with unusual workmanship. 3 This island is a colony planted by the Phoenicians, who, as they extended their trade to the western ocean, found in it a place of safe retreat, since it was well supplied with harbours and lay out in the open sea; and this is the reason why the inhabitants of this island, since they received assistance in many respects through the sea-merchants, shot up quickly in their manner of living and increased in renown.

4 After this island there is a second which bears the name of Gaulus,38 lying out in the open sea and adorned with well-situated harbours, a Phoenician colony. Next comes Cercina,39 facing Libya, which has a modest city and most serviceable harbours which have accommodations not only for merchant vessels but even for ships of war.

But now that we have spoken of the islands which are to the south of Sicily, we shall turn back to those p131which follow upon Lipara and lie in the sea which is known as the Tyrrhenian.

13 1 Off the city of Tyrrhenia known as Poplonium there is an island which men call Aethaleia.40 It is about one hundred stades distant from the coast and received the name it bears from the smoke (aithalos) which lies so thick about it. For the island possesses a great amount of iron-rock, which they quarry in order to melt and cast and thus to secure the iron, and they possess a great abundance of this ore. For those who are engaged in the working of this ore crush the rock and burn the lumps which have thus been broken in certain ingenious furnaces; and in these they smelt the lumps by means of a great fire and form them into pieces of moderate size which are in their appearance like large sponges. 2 These are purchased by merchants in exchange either for money or for goods and are then taken to Dicaearchia41 or the other trading-stations, where there are men who purchase such cargoes and who, with the aid of a multitude of artisans in metal whom they have collected, work it further and manufacture iron objects of every description. Some of these are worked into the shape of armour, and others are ingeniously fabricated into shapes well suited for two-pronged forks and sickles and other such tools; and these are then carried by merchants to every region and thus many parts of the inhabited world have a share in the usefulness which accrues from them.

3 After Aethaleia there is an island, some three hundred stades distant, which is called Cyrnus by the Greeks, but Corsica by the Romans and those p133who dwell upon it. This island, being easy to land on, has a most excellent harbour which is called Syracosium. There are also on it two notable cities, the one being known as Calaris and the other as Nicaea. 4 Calaris42 was founded by Phocaeans, who made their home there for a time and were then driven out of the island by Tyrrhenians; but Nicaea was founded by Tyrrhenians at the time they were masters of the sea and were taking possession of the islands lying off Tyrrhenia. They were lords of the cities of Cyrnus for a considerable period and exacted tribute of the inhabitants in the form of resin, wax, and honey, since these things were found in the island in abundance. 5 Slaves from Cyrnus are reputed to be superior to all others for every service which the life of man demands, nature herself giving them this characteristic.43 And the entire island, which is of great extent, has mountainous land over much of its area, which is thickly covered with continuous forests and traversed by small rivers.

14 1 The inhabitants of Cyrnus use for their food milk and honey and meat, the land providing all these in abundance, and among themselves they live lives of honour and justice, to a degree surpassing practically all other barbarians. Any honeycomb, for instance, which may be found in the trees on the mountainside belongs to the first man to find it, no one disputing his claim; their cattle are distinguished by brands, and even though no man may watch over them, they are still kept safe for their owners; and in their other ways of living one and p135all it is astonishing how they revere uprightness before everything else. 2 But the most amazing thing which takes place among them is connected with the birth of their children; for when the wife is about to give birth she is the object of no concern as regards her delivery, but it is her husband who takes to his bed, as though sick, and he practises couvade for a specified number of days, feigning that his body is in pain.44 3 There also grows in this island box-wood in great abundance and of excellent quality, and it is due to it that the honey of the island is altogether bitter. And the island is inhabited by barbarians who have a language which is different from others and hard to understand, and they are in number more than thirty thousand.

15 1 Adjoining Cyrnus is an island which is called Sardinia, and in size it is about the equal of Sicily and is inhabited by barbarians who bear the name of Iolaës and are thought to be descendants of the men who settled there along with Iolaüs and the Thespiadae.45 For at the time when Heracles was accomplishing his famous Labours he had many sons by the daughters of Thespius, and these Heracles dispatched to Sardinia, in accordance with a certain oracle, sending along with them a notable force composed of both Greeks and barbarians, in order to plant a colony. 2 Iolaüs, the nephew of Heracles, was in charge of the undertaking, and taking possession of the island he founded in it notable cities, and when he had divided the land into allotments he p137called the folk of the colony Iolaës after himself; and he also constructed gymnasia and temples to the gods and everything else which contributes to making happy the life of man, memorials of this remaining even to this day; since the fairest plains there derive their name from him and are called "Iolaeia," and the whole body of the people preserve to the present the name which they took from Iolaüs.

3 Now the oracle regarding the colony contained also the promise that the participants in this colony should maintain their freedom for all time, and it has indeed come to pass that the oracle, contrary to what one would expect, has preserved autonomy for the natives unshaken to this day. 4 Thus the Carthaginians, though their power extended far and they subdued the island, were not able to enslave its former possessors, but the Iolaës fled for safety to the mountainous part of the island and built underground dwellings, and here they raised many flocks and herds which supplied them with food in abundance, so that they were able to maintain themselves on a diet of milk and cheese and meat; and since they had retired from the plain country, they avoided the hardship which accompanies labour, but ranged over the mountainous part of the island and led a life which had no share in hardship, in that they continued to use the foods mentioned above. 5 And although the Carthaginians made war upon them many times with considerable armies, yet because of the rugged nature of the country and the difficulty of dealing with their dug-out dwellings the people remained unenslaved. Last of all, when the Romans conquered the island and oftentimes made p139war on them, they remained unsubdued by the troops of an enemy for the reasons we have mentioned. 6 In the early period, however, Iolaüs, after helping to establish the affairs of the colony, returned to Greece, but the Thespiadae were the chief men of the island for many generations, until finally they were driven out into Italy, where they settled in the region of Cymê;46 the mass of the colonists who were left behind became barbarized, and choosing the best among the natives to be their chieftains, they have maintained their freedom down to our own day.

16 1 But now that we have spoken about Sardinia at sufficient length we shall discuss the islands in the order in which they lie. After those we have mentioned there comes first an island called Pityussa,47 the name being due to the multitude of pine-trees (pityes) which grow throughout it. It lies out in the open sea and is distant from the Pillars of Heracles a voyage of three days and as many nights, from Libya a day and a night, and from Iberia one day; and in size it is about as large as Corcyra. 2 The island is only moderately fertile, possessing little land that is suitable for the vine, but it has olive trees which are engrafted upon the wild olive. And of all the products of the island, they say that the softness of its wool stands first in excellence. The island is broken up at intervals by notable plains and highlands and has a city named Eresus, a colony of the Carthaginians. 3 And it also possesses excellent harbours, huge walls, and a multitude of well-constructed houses. Its inhabitants consist of barbarians p141of every nationality, but Phoenicians preponderate. The date of the founding of the colony falls one hundred and sixty years after the settlement of Carthage.48

17 1 There are other islands lying opposite Iberia, which the Greeks call Gymnesiae because the inhabitants go naked (gymnoi) of clothing in the summer time, but which the inhabitants of the islands and the Romans call Baliarides because in the hurling (ballein) of large stones with slings the natives are the most skilful of all men. The larger of these is the largest of all islands after the seven, Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Euboea, Cyrnus, and Lesbos,49 and it is a day's voyage distant from Iberia; the smaller lies more to the east and maintains great droves and flocks of every kind of animal, especially of mules, which stand very high and are exceptionally strong. 2 Both islands have good land which produces fruits, and a multitude of inhabitants numbering more than thirty thousand, but as for their food products they raise no wine whatsoever; consequently the inhabitants are one and all exceedingly addicted to indulgence in wine because of the scarcity of it among them; and they are altogether lacking in olive-oil and therefore prepare an oil from the mastich-tree, which they mix with the fat from pigs, and with this they anoint their bodies.

3 The Baliares are of all men the most fond of women and value them so highly above everything else that, when any of their women are seized by p143visiting pirates and carried off, they will give as ransom for a single woman three and even four men. Their dwellings they make under hollow rocks, or they dig out holes along the faces of sharp crags, in general putting many parts of them underground, and in these they pass their time, having an eye both to the shelter and to the safety which such homes afford. 4 Silver and gold money is not used by them at all, and as a general practice its importation into the island is prevented, the reason they offer being that of old Heracles made an expedition against Geryones, who was the son of Chrysaor and possessed both silver and gold in abundance.50 Consequently, in order that their possessions should consist in that against which no one would have designs, they have made wealth in gold and silver alien from themselves. And so, in keeping this decision of theirs, when in early times they served once in the campaigns of the Carthaginians, they did not bring back their pay to their native land but spent it all upon the purchase of women and wine.

18 1 The Baliares have also an amazing custom which they observe in connection with their marriages; for during their wedding festivities the relatives and friends lie with the bride in turn, the oldest first and then the next oldest and the rest in order, and the last one to enjoy this privilege is the bridegroom.51 2 Peculiar also and altogether strange is their practice regarding the burial of the dead; for they dismember the body with wooden knives, p145and then they place the pieces in a jar and pile upon it a heap of stones. 3 Their equipment for fighting consists of three slings, and of these they keep one around the head, another around the belly, and the third in the hands. In the business of war they hurl much larger stones than do any other slingers, and with such force that the missile seems to have been shot, as it were, from a catapult; consequently, in their assaults upon walled cities, they strike the defenders on the battlements and disable them, and in pitched battles they crush both shields and helmets and every kind of protective armour. 4 And they are so accurate in their aim that in the majority of cases they never miss the target before them. The reason for this is the continual practice which they get from childhood, in that their mothers compel them, while still young boys, to use the sling continually; for there is set up before them as a target a piece of bread fastened to a stake, and the novice is not permitted to eat until he has hit the bread, whereupon he takes it from his mother with her permission and devours it.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The word oikonomia, literally "management of a household," translated "arrangement" in the preceding sentence and "disposition of private affairs" here, in its transferred sense may mean "prudent management," "good organization of material," or, as here, "skilful disposition and arrangement."

2 Cp. Book 1.1 f. for the value of the vicarious "experience" which history stores up for readers.

3 i.e. each book was a unit. Diodorus says in another place (16.76.5) that each book had an Introduction.

4 No such title appears in the MSS.

5 "Three Capes"; cp. Strabo, 6.2.1.

6 The sum of the lengths of the three sides fall 20 stades short of the total circumference given before.

7 The Greek word meant originally "festival of unveiling," when the bride first took off her maiden veil and received presents.

8 Homer, Odyssey 9.109‑11, describing the land of the Cyclopes.

9 i.e. before the cultivation of wheat was known and then passed on from people to people.

10 Mentioned before in Book 4.23.1.

11 "Quail-island." Several islands of this name are known in the Greek world, and on one of them Artemis slew Orion (Odyssey, 5.123); hence she received the name "Ortygia."

12 Instances of punishments for the desecration of the shrines of Demeter and Corê are given in Book 14.63 and 70‑1.

13 Cp. Book 4.23.

14 See note on p114.

15 Two writers of tragedies by this name are known, both of Acragas in Sicily, a Carcinus the elder, who was exhibiting in Athens at the opening of the Peloponnesian War, and his grandson.

16 Frg. 5 (Nauck).

17 Cp. Book 1.14.4.

18 Shortly before his death in about 365 B.C. Philistus of Syracuse composed in thirteen Books his history of Sicily from the earliest times to approximately his own day.

19 No such account is found in the extant books of Diodorus.

20 The name obviously is used here to include, not only the Greeks in contrast to Sicels, as in other authors, but such natives of Sicily as adopted the Greek language and manners.

21 The Lipari islands.

22 "Sacred to Hephaestus."

23 The modern names are Stromboli, Panaria, Salina, Filicuri, Alicuri, Vulcano, and Lipari respectively.

Thayer's Note: Languages and placenames will continue to evolve; today (2008), but already well before the date of this Loeb edition of Diodorus, see the Smith's Dictionary article below: Filicudi, Alicudi; Prof. Oldfather must have relied on some very old handbook.

It's interesting, also, to note that of the seven, the one that was called sacred (Hiera Hephaestou = "Sacred [island] of Hephaestos") is the one, Vulcano, from which the god has given his name to all volcanoes everywhere: see also the Loeb editor's note to Strabo, VI.10.

24 Called above the "Aeolides."

25 The account is in the Odyssey, 10.1 ff.

26 i.e. of the volcano.

27 Or "predict . . . winds to the natives" (cp. critical note).

The critical note to the Greek text, at προλέγειν τοὺς ἐγχωρίους ἀνέμους εὐστόχως, reads:

τοῖς ἐγχωρίοις A, Bekker, Dindorf, τοὺς ἐγχωρίους other MSS., Vogel.

28 Cp. the Odyssey, 10.21.

29 i.e. the Aeolides.

30 i.e. between 580 and 576 B.C.

31 The famous foot-race at Olympia, 606¾ feet long.

32 Pöhlmann, Geschichte der sozialen Frage und des Sozialismus in der antiken Welt3 sees no ground for questioning the historicity of the preceding picture of a communistic state of the Liparians. Many parallels to its organization are provided by the customs of the Germanic tribe of the Suebi, described by Caesar, The Gallic War 4.1.

33 This is the alumen described by Pliny (35.52), probably an iron sulphate, which was used in dyeing and in medicine.

34 "Bony."

Thayer's Note: Usually said to be today's Ustica, but the identification is problematic. Here is what Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography has to say:

Osteo′des (Ὀστεώδης), a small island in the Tyrrhenian sea, lying off the N. coast of Sicily, and W. of the Aeolian Islands. Diodorus tells us that it derived its name (the Bone Island) from the circumstance of the Carthaginians having on one occasion got rid of a body of 6000 turbulent and disaffected mercenaries by landing them on this island, which was barren and uninhabited, and leaving them there to perish (Diod. V.11). He describes it as situated in the open sea, to the west of the Liparaean or Aeolian Islands; a description which applies only to the island now called Ustica. The difficulty is, that both Pliny and Ptolemy distinguish Ustica (Οὐστίκα) from Osteodes, as if they were two separate islands (Plin. H.N. III.8 s14; Ptol. III.4 § 17). The former writer says, "a Solunte LXXV M. Osteodes, contraque Paropinos Ustica." But as there is in fact but one island in the open sea W. of the Lipari Islands (all of which are clearly identified), it seems certain that this must have been the Osteodes of the Greeks, which was afterwards known to the Romans as Ustica, and that the existence of the two names led the geographers to suppose they were two distinct islands. Mela does not mention Ustica, but notices Osteodes, which he reckons one of the Aeolian group; and its name is found also (corruptly written Ostodis) in the Tabula, but in a manner that affords no real clue to its position (Mel. II.7 § 18; Tab. Peut. [in the latter, the first island above Sicily from the left. (B. T.)]).

Ustica is an island of volcanic origin, about 10 miles in circumference, and is situated about 40 miles N. of the Capo di Gallo near Palermo, and 60 miles W. of Alicudi, the westernmost of the Lipari Islands. It is at this day well inhabited, and existing remains show that it must have been so in the time of the Romans also (Smyth's Sicily, p279).

The problem can be solved by asserting, as did for example a page at Diving Center Ustica (now apparently taken offline), that there really once were two islands but that one has disappeared, which would hardly be unheard of in the earthquake-prone Mediterranean. (Note also that as that page points out, the Latin name Ustica most likely derives from urere = "to burn:, i.e., "Burnt Island"; although that doesn't affect the arguments as to one or two islands.)

35 i.e. of the Carthaginians.

36 i.e. of Sicily.

37 Malta.

38 The modern Gozo.

39 The modern Kerkenna or Kerkenah, at the west end of the Lesser Syrtis.

40 Elba.

41 The Roman Puteoli.

42 Called by Herodotus (1.165) Alalia, the Aleria of the Romans. The name "Calaris" here is probably a corruption.

43 But Strabo (5.2.7) says just the opposite, owners of Corsican slaves repenting of their purchase even though they had paid almost nothing for them.

44 Strabo (3.4.17) ascribes this custom to the Basques, and Apollonius Rhodius (2.101 ff.) to the Tibareni; it is still practised among several primitive peoples.

Thayer's Note: For fuller details, see the Encyclopaedia Britannica article Couvade.

45 Cp. Book 4.29.2 ff.

46 Cumae.

47 It is in fact, the two islands, Ibiza and Formentera.

48 The date of the founding of Carthage given by Timaeus, whom Diodorus is probably following here, was 814 B.C.

49 Strabo (14.2.10) makes the same assertion, on the authority of Timaeus, but adds that Timaeus was in error.

50 Cp. Book 4.17.

51 A similar custom is ascribed by Herodotus (4.172) to the Nasamones of Libya.


Thayer's Notes:

a It would have been nice to find this statement also in Grattian's Cynegeticon, a work on hunting dogs by a man who may well have been from Sicily, and who does speak of both Sicily and tracking a scent; or in the Cynegetica of Nemesianus. But we don't: the closest we come is the assertion by the latter (235‑236) that Tuscan dogs are not set awry by such meadows; the implication is that other dogs are.

b It is often stated that Arethusa, uncontaminated with sea-water until then, only became brackish in A.D. 1170, as a result of an earthquake. Athenaeus, however, writing just short of a thousand years before that, calls the water of Arethusa both hard and brackish (42D) and says that it's the only example of both at the same time, which suggests some interesting chemistry. Arethusa was also persistently connected by the ancients with a fresh water source boiling up in the sea not far away; this is also reported by at least two 19c travelers (Swinburne, as quoted in Thomas Curtis's London Encyclopaedia, 1829, s.v. Arethusa, p651; and in greater detail and apparently first-hand, Patrick Brydone, Tour through Sicily and Malta, 1813, p116). At any rate I too would have thought twice about eating fish that may have spent their lives in an underground watercourse concentrating toxic minerals from volcano-ridden Sicily or vents of hot water on the sea floor.

c That is, like the Spartans, who took all their meals in common; see Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus, 12).


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