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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. VI) Strabo

 p163  Book XIII, Chapter 4

1 (623) A kind of hegemony is held over these places by Pergamum, which is a famous city and for a long time prospered along with the Attalic kings; indeed I must begin my next description here, and first I must show briefly the origin of the kings and the end to which they came. Now Pergamum was a treasure-hold of Lysimachus, the son of Agathocles, who was one of the successors of Alexander, and its people are settled on the very summit of the mountain; the mountain is cone-like and ends in a sharp peak. The custody of this stronghold and the treasure, which amounted to nine thousand talents,  p165 was entrusted to Philetaerus of Tieium, who was a eunuch from boyhood; for it came to pass at a certain burial, when a spectacle was being given at which many people were present, that the nurse who was carrying Philetaerus, still an infant, was caught in the crowd and pressed so hard that the child was incapacitated. He was a eunuch, therefore, but he was well trained and proved worthy of this trust. Now for a time he continued loyal to Lysimachus, but he had differences with Arsinoê, the wife of Lysimachus, who slandered him, and so he caused Pergamum to revolt, and governed it to suit the occasion, since he saw that it was ripe for a change; for Lysimachus, beset with domestic troubles, was forced to slay his son Agathocles, and Seleucus Nicator invaded his country and overthrew him, and then he himself was overthrown and treacherously murdered by Ptolemy Ceraunus. During these disorders the eunuch continued to be in charge of the fortress and to manage things through promises and courtesies in general, always catering to any man who was powerful or near at hand. At any rate, he continued lord of the stronghold and the treasure for twenty years.

2 624 He had two brothers, the elder of whom was Eumenes, the younger Attalus. Eumenes had a son of the same name, who succeeded to the rule of Pergamum, and was by this time sovereign of the places round about, so that he even joined battle with Antiochus the son of Seleucus near Sardeis and conquered him. He died after a reign of twenty‑two years.​1 Attalus, the son of Attalus and Antiochis,  p167 daughter of Achaeus, succeeded to the throne and was the first to be proclaimed king, after conquering the Galatians in a great battle. Attalus not only became a friend of the Romans but also fought on their side against Philip along with the fleet of the Rhodians. He died in old age, having reigned as king forty-three years;​2 and he left four sons by Apollonis, a woman from Cyzicus, Eumenes, Attalus, Philetaerus, and Athenaeus. Now the two younger sons remained private citizens, but Eumenes, the elder of the other two, reigned as king. Eumenes fought on the side of the Romans against Antiochus the Great and against Perseus, and he received from the Romans all the country this side the Taurus that had been subject to Antiochus. But before that time the territory of Pergamum did not include many places that extended as far as the sea at the Elaïtic and Adramyttene Gulfs. He built up the city and planted Nicephorium with a grove, and the other elder brother,​3 from love of splendour, added sacred buildings and libraries and raised the settlement of Pergamum to what it now is. After a reign of forty-nine years​4 Eumenes left his empire to Attalus, his son by Stratonicê, the daughter of Ariathres, king of the Cappadocians. He appointed his brother Attalus​5 as guardian both of his son, who was extremely young, and of the empire. After a reign of twenty‑one years,​6 his brother died an old man, having won success in many undertakings; for  p169 example, he helped Alexander, the son of Antiochus, to defeat in war Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, and he fought on the side of the Romans against the Pseudo-Philip, and in an expedition against Thrace he defeated Diegylis the king of the Caeni, and he slew Prusias, having incited his son Nicomedes against him, and he left his empire, under a guardian, to Attalus. Attalus, surnamed Philometor, reigned five years,​7 died of disease, and left the Romans his heirs. The Romans proclaimed the country a province, calling it Asia, by the same name as the continent. The Caïcus flows past Pergamum, through the Caïcus Plain, as it is called, traversing land that is very fertile and about the best in Mysia.

3 625 Pergamenians have become famous in my time: Mithridates the son of Menodotus and of Adobogion. Menodotus was of the family of the tetrarchs of the Galatians, and Adobogion, it is said, was also the concubine of King Mithridates,​8 and for this reason her relatives gave to the child the name of Mithridates, pretending that he was the son of the king. At any rate, he became a friend to the deified Caesar and reached so great preferment with him that he was appointed tetrarch from his mother's family and king both of the Bosporus and other territories. He was overthrown by Asander, who not only slew King Pharnaces but also took possession of the Bosporus. Mithridates, then, has been  p171 thought worthy of a great name, as has also Apollodorus the rhetorician, who wrote the work on Rhetoric and was the leader of the Apollodoreian sect, whatever in the world it is; for numerous philosophies were prevalent, but to pass judgment upon them is beyond my power, and among these are the sects of Apollodorus and Theodorus. But the friendship of Caesar Augustus has most of all exalted Apollodorus, who was his teacher in the art of speech. And Apollodorus had a notable pupil in Dionysius, surnamed Atticus, his fellow-citizen, for he was an able sophist and historian and speech-writer.

4 As one proceeds from the plain and the city towards the east, one comes to a city called Apollonia, which lies on an elevated site, and also, towards the south, to a mountain range, and also, towards the south, to a mountain range, on crossing which, on the road to Sardeis, one comes to Thyateira, on the left-hand side, a settlement of the Macedonians, which by some is called the farthermost city of the Mysians. On the right is Apollonis, which is three hundred stadia distant from Pergamum, and the same distance from Sardeis, and it is named after the Cyzicene Apollonis. Next one comes to the plain of Hermus and to Sardeis. The country to the north of Pergamum is held for the most part by the Mysians, I mean the country on the right of the Abaeïtae, as they are called, on the borders of which is the Epictetus​9 as far as Bithynia.

5 Sardeis is a great city, and, though of later date than the Trojan times, is nevertheless old, and has a strong citadel. It was the royal city of the Lydians, whom the poet calls Meïonians; and later  p173 writers call them Maeonians, some identifying them with the Lydians, and others representing them as different, but it is better to call them the same people. Above Sardeis is situated Mt. Tmolus, a blest mountain, with a look‑out on its summit, an arcade of white marble, a work of the Persians, whence there is a view of the plains below all round, particularly the Caÿster Plain. And round it dwell Lydians and Mysians and Macedonians. The Pactolus River flows from Mt. Tmolus; in early times a large quantity of gold-dust was brought down in it, whence, it is said, arose the fame of the riches of Croesus 626 and his forefathers. But the gold-dust has given out. The Pactolus runs down into the Hermus, into which also the Hyllus, now called the Phrygius, empties. These three, and other less significant rivers with them, meet and empty into the sea near Phocaea, as Herodotus says.​10 The Hermus rises in Mysia, in the sacred mountain Dindymenê, and flows through the Catacecaumene country into the territory of Sardeis and the contiguous plains, as I have already said,​11 to the sea. Below the city lie the plain of Sardeis and that of the Cyrus and that of the Hermus and that of the Caÿster, which are contiguous to one another and are the best of all plains. Within forty stadia from the city one comes to Gygaea,​12 which is mentioned by the poet, the name of which was later changed to Coloê, where is the temple of Coloënian Artemis, which is characterised by great holiness. They say that at the festivals here the  p175 baskets dance,​13 though I do not know why in the world they talk marvels rather than tell the truth.

6 The verses of Homer are about as follows: "Mnesthles and Antiphus, the two sons of Talaemenes, whose mother was Lake Gygaea, who led also the Meïonians, who were born at the foot of Tmolus";​14 but some add the following fourth verse: "At the foot of snowy Tmolus, in the first land of Hydê." But there is no Hydê to be found in the country of the Lydians.​a Some also put Tychius there, of whom the poet says, "far the best of workers in hide, who lived in Hydê."​15 And they add that the place is woody and subject to strokes of lightning, and that the Arimi live there, for after Homer's verse, "in the land of the Arimi where men say is the couch of Typhon,"​16 they insert the words, "in a wooded place, in the fertile land of Hydê." But others lay the scene of this myth in Cilicia, and some lay it in Syria, and still others in the Pithecussae Islands, who say that among the Tyrrhenians "pitheci"​17 are called "arimi." Some call Sardeis Hydê, while others call its acropolis Hydê. But  p177 the Scepsian​18 thinks that those writers are most plausible who place the Arimi in the Catacecaumene country in Mysia. But Pindar associates the Pithecussae which lie off the Cymaean territory, as also the territory in Sicily, with the territory in Cilicia, for he says that Typhon lies beneath Aetna: "Once he dwelt in a far‑famed Cilician cavern; now, however, 627 his shaggy breast is o'er‑pressed by the sea‑girt shores above Cymae and by Sicily."​19 And again, "round about him lies Aetna with her haughty fetters," and again, "but it was father Zeus that once amongst the Arimi, by necessity, alone of the gods, smote monstrous Typhon of the fifty heads."​20 But some understand that the Syrians are Arimi, who are now called the Arimaeans, and that the Cilicians in Troy, forced to migrate, settled again in Syria and cut off for themselves from Syria what is now called Cilicia. Callisthenes says that the Arimi, after whom the neighbouring mountains are called Arima, are situated near Mt. Calycadnus and the promontory of Sarpedon near the Corycian cave itself.

7 Near Lake Coloê are the monuments of the kings. At Sardeis is the great mound, on a lofty base, of Alyattes, built, as Herodotus​21 says, by the  p179 common people of the city, most of the work on which was done by prostitutes; and he says that all women of that country prostituted themselves; and some call the tomb of Alyattes a monument of prostitution. Some report that Lake Coloê is an artificial lake, made to receive the overflows which take place when the rivers are full. Hypaepa is a city which one comes to on the descent from Mt. Tmolus to the Caÿster Plain.

8 Callisthenes says that Sardeis was captured first by the Cimmerians, and then by the Treres and the Lycians, as is set forth by Callinus the elegiac poet, and lastly in the time of Cyrus and Croesus. But when Callinus says that the incursion of the Cimmerians was against the Esioneis, at the time of which Sardeis was captured, the Scepsian​22 and his followers surmise that the Asioneis were by Callinus called the Esioneis, in the Ionic dialect; for perhaps Meïonia, he says, was called Asia, and accordingly him likewise says, "on the Asian mead about the streams of the Caÿster." The city was later restored in a notable way because of the fertility of its territory, and was inferior to none of its neighbours, though recently it has lost many of its buildings through earthquakes. However, the forethought of Tiberius, our present ruler, has, by his beneficence, restored not only this city but many others — I mean all the cities that shared in the same misfortune at about the same time.

9 Notable men of the same family were born at Sardeis: the two Diodoruses, the orators, 628 of whom  p181 the elder was called Zonas, a man who many times pleaded the cause of Asia; and at the time of the attack of King Mithridates, he was accused of trying to cause the cities to revolt from him, but in his defence he acquitted himself of the slander. The younger Diodorus, who was a friend of mine, is the author, not only of historical treatises, but also of melic and other poems, which display full well the ancient style of writing. Xanthus, the ancient historian, is indeed called a Lydian, but whether or not he was from Sardeis I do not know.

10 After the Lydians come the Mysians; and the city Philadelphia, ever subject to earthquakes. Incessantly the walls of the houses are cracked, different parts of the city being thus affected at different times. For this reason few people live in the city, and most of them spend their lives as farmers in the country, since they have a fertile soil. Yet one may be surprised at the few, that they are so fond of the place when their dwellings so insecure; and one might marvel still more at those who founded the city.

11 After this region one comes to the Catacecaumene country,​23 as it is called, which has a length of five hundred stadia and a breadth of four hundred, whether it should be called Mysia or Meïonia (for both names are used); the whole of it is without trees except the vine that produces the Catacecaumenite wine, which in quality is inferior to none of the notable wines. The surface of the plains are covered with ashes, and the mountainous and rocky country  p183 is black, as though from conflagration. Now some conjecture that this resulted from thunderbolts and from fiery subterranean outbursts, and they do not hesitate to lay there the scene of the mythical story of Typhon; and Xanthus adds that a certain Arimus was king of this region; but it is not reasonable to suppose that all that country was burnt all at once by reason of such disturbances, but rather by reason of an earth-born fire, the sources of which have now been exhausted. Three pits are to be seen there, which are called "bellows," and they are about forty stadia distant from each other. About them lie rugged hills, which are reasonably supposed to have been heaped up by the hot masses blown forth from the earth. That such soil should be well adapted to the vine one might assume from the land of Catana, which was heaped with ashes and now produces excellent wine in great plenty. Some writers, judging from places like this, wittily remark that there is good reason for calling Dionysus "Pyrigenes."24

12 The parts situated next to this region towards the south as far as the Taurus are so inwoven with one another that the Phrygian and the Carian and the Lydian parts, as also those of the Mysians, since they merge into one another, are hard to distinguish. To this confusion no little has been contributed by the fact that the Romans did not divide them according to tribes, but in another way organised their jurisdictions, within which they hold their popular assemblies and their courts. Mt. Tmolus is a quite contracted mass of mountain and has only a moderate circumference, its limits lying within the territory of the Lydians themselves; but the Mesogis extends  p185 in the opposite direction as far as Mycalê, beginning at Celaenae, according to Theopompus. And therefore some parts of it are occupied by the Phrygians, I mean the parts near Celaenae and Apameia, and other parts by Mysians and Lydians, 629 and other parts by Carians and Ionians. So, also, the rivers, particularly the Maeander, form the boundary between some of the tribes, but in cases where they flow through the middle of countries they make accurate distinction difficult. And the same is to be said of the plains that are situated on either side of the mountainous territory and of the river-land. Neither should I, perhaps, attend to such matters as closely as a surveyor must, but sketch them only so far as they have been transmitted by my predecessors.

13 Contiguous on the east to the Caÿster Plain, which lies between the Mesogis and the Tmolus, is the Cilbian Plain. It is extensive and well settled and has a fertile soil. Then comes the Hyrcanian Plain, a name given it by the Persians, who brought Hyrcanian colonists there (the Plain of Cyrus, likewise, was given its name by the Persians). Then come the Peltine Plain (we are now in Phrygian territory) and the Cillanian and the Tabene Plains, which have towns with a mixed population of Phrygians, these towns also containing a Pisidian element; and it is after these that the plains themselves were named.

14 When one crosses over the Mesogis, between the Carians and the territory of Nysa, which latter is  p187 a country on the far side of the Maeander extending to Cibyratis and Cabalis, one comes to certain cities. First, near the Mesogis, opposite Laodiceia, to Hierapolis, where are the hot springs and the Plutonium,​25 both of which have something marvellous about them; for the water of the springs so easily congeals and changes into stone that people conduct streams of it through ditches and thus make stone fences​26 consisting of single stones, while the Plutonium, below a small brow of the mountainous country that lies above it, is an opening of only moderate size, large enough to admit a man, but it reaches a considerable depth, and it is enclosed by a quadrilateral handrail, about half a plethrum in circumference, and this space is full of a vapour so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Now to those who approach the handrail anywhere round the enclosure the air is harmless, 630 since the outside is free from that vapour in calm weather, but any animal that passes inside meets instant death. At any rate, bulls that are led into it fall and are dragged out dead; and I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell. But the Galli,​27 who are eunuchs, pass inside with such impunity that that they even approach the opening, bend over it, and descend into it to a certain depth, though they hold their breath as much as they can (for I could see in their countenances an indication of a kind of suffocating attack, as it were), — whether this immunity belongs  p189 to all who are maimed in this way or only to those round the temple, or whether it is because of divine providence, as would be likely in the case of divine obsessions, or whether it is the result of certain physical powers that are antidotes against the vapour. The changing of water into stone is said also to be the case with the rivers in Laodiceia, although their water is potable. The water at Hierapolis is remarkably adapted also to the dyeing of wool, so that wool dyed with the roots​28 rivals that dyed with the coccus​29 or with the marine purple.​30 And the supply of water is so abundant that the city is full of natural baths.

15 After Hierapolis one comes to the parts on the far side of the Maeander; I have already described​31 those round Laodiceia and Aphrodisias and those extending as far as Carura. The next thereafter are the parts towards the west, I mean the city of the Antiocheians on the Maeander, where one finds himself already in Caria, and also the parts towards the south, I mean Greater Cibyra and Sinda and Cabalis, extending as far as the Taurus and Lycia. Now Antiocheia is a city of moderate size, and is situated on the Maeander itself in the region that lies near Phrygia, and there is a bridge over the river. Antiocheia has considerable territory on each side of the river, which is everywhere fertile, and it produces in greatest quantities the "Antiocheian" fig, as it is called, though they also name the same fig "three-leaved." This region, too, is much subject to earthquakes. Among these people  p191 arose a famous sophist, Diotrephes, whose complete course was taken by Hybreas,​b who became the greatest orator of my time.

16 The Cabaleis are said to be the Solymi; at any rate, the hill that lies above the fortress of the Termessians is called Solymus, and the Termessians themselves are called Solymi. Near by is the Palisade of Bellerophon, and also the tomb of his son Peisander, who fell in the battle against the Solymi. This account agrees also with the words of the poet, for he says of Bellerophon, "next he fought with the glorious Solymi,"​32 and of his son, 631 "and Peisander​33 his son was slain by Ares, insatiate of war, when he was fighting with the Solymi."​34 Termessus is a Pisidian city, which lies directly above Cibyra and very near it.

17 It is said that the Cibyratae are descendants of the Lydians who took possession of Cabalis, and later of the neighbouring Pisidians, who settled there and transferred the city to another site, a site very strongly fortified and about one hundred stadia in circuit. It grew strong through its good laws; and its villages extended alongside it from Pisidia and the neighbouring Milyas as far as Lycia and the Peraea​35 of the Rhodians. Three bordering  p193 cities were added to it, Bubon, Balbura, and Oenoanda, and the union was called Tetrapolis, each of the three having one vote, but Cibyra two; for Cibyra could send forth thirty thousand foot-soldiers and two thousand horse. It was always ruled by tyrants; but still they ruled it with moderation. However, the tyranny ended in the time of Moagetes, when Murena overthrew it and included Balbura and Bubon within the territory of the Lycians. But none the less the jurisdiction of Cibyra is rated among the greatest in Asia. The Cibyratae used four languages, the Pisidian, that of the Solymi, Greek, and that of the Lydians;​36 but there is not even a trace of the language of the Lydians in Lydia. The easy embossing of iron is a peculiar thing at Cibyra. Milya is the mountain-range extending from the narrows at Termessus and from the pass that leads over through them to the region inside the Taurus towards Isinda, as far as Sagalassus and the country of the Apameians.

The Editor's Notes:

1 263‑41 B.C.

2 241‑197 B.C.

3 Others make ἐκεῖνος refer to Eumenes, but the present translator must make it refer to Attalus, unless the text is corrupt.

4 But he died in 159 B.C. (see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v."Eumenes," p1103), thus having reigned 197‑159 B.C.

5 Attalus Philadelphus.

6 159‑138 B.C.

7 138‑133 B.C.

8 Mithridates the Great.

9 Phrygia Epictetus (see 12.3.7, 12.4.1, and 12.4.5).

10 1.80.

11 Cf. 13.1.2.

12 Lake Gygaea, Iliad 2.865.

13 Thought to be the baskets carried on the heads of maidens at festivals.

Thayer's Note: The Greek text has φασὶ δ’ ἐνταῦθα χορεύειν τοὺς καλάθους; where the kalathos is a basket, alright, but just about as unsuited to carrying on one's head as to dancing: see the article Calathus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, with its illustration. But the baskets more commonly carried by maidens on their heads in religious rites, whence the translator's absent-minded note, were κάνεα: an illustration of these kanea is given in the article Canephoros.

The passage has exercised copyists and modern editors alike. The Loeb editor's critical note on the Greek text reads:

Instead of καλάθους, rw read καθόλου; mz, Ald., and Casaubon πιθήκους; Lobeck conj. πιθάκνας and certain others καλάμους.

Now there's nothing marvelous in monkeys dancing, so by my lights baskets is fine; nor would I explain it away, as at least one commentator has done (W. M. Ramsay in J. H. S. IV.42), as the baskets swaying to the music because those that carried them were dancing: again, what's incredible about that? The only change I would make is in the footnote: Probably baskets carried in religious processions.

14 Iliad 2.864.

15 Iliad 7.221.

16 Iliad 2.783.

17 i.e. monkeys.

18 Demetrius of Scepsis.

19 Pythian Odes, 1.31.

20 Frag. 93 (Bergk).

21 1.93.

22 Again Demetrius of Scepsis.

23 i.e. "burnt" country, situated about the upper course of the Hermus and its tributaries. Hamilton (Researches, II, p136), quoted by Tozer (Selections, p289), confirms Strabo's account.

24 "Fire-born."

25 On the "Plutonia," see Vol. II, p442, footnote 1.

26 "The road over­looks many green spots, once vineyards and gardens, separated by partitions of the same material" (Chandler, Travels in Asia Minor, I p288), quoted by Tozer (op. cit., p290).

27 Priests of Cybelê.

28 Madder-root.

29 Kermes-berries.

30 Using this particular water, of course.

31 12.8.13, 16, 17.

32 Iliad 6.184.

33 The Homeric text reads "Isander" (see 12.8.5).

34 Iliad 6.203.

35 Mainland territory.

36 See A. H. Sayce, Anatolian Studies presented to Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, p396.

Thayer's Notes:

a But see IX.2.20.

b The translation is unfortunate, because it might mislead us into thinking of a structured course as in a modern university. The Greek merely has οὗ διήκουσεν Ὑβρέας — "whom Hybreas heard thoroughly."

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