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V.3

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography

of
Strabo

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1923

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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VI.1

(Vol. II) Strabo
Geography

p427 Book V Chapter 4

1 (240) I began with the tribes that live next to the Alps, and with that part of the Apennine Mountains which lies next to them, and then, passing over that part, traversed all the country on this side which lies between the Tyrrhenian Sea and that part of the Apennine Mountains which bends towards the Adriatic and stretches to the countries of the Samnitae and the Campani; I shall now, therefore, go back and indicate the tribes that live in these mountains, and also in the foothills both of the country outside the mountains, as far as the Adriatic seaboard, and of the country this side. But I must begin again with the Celtic boundaries.270

2 Next after those cities of the Ombrici that are between Ariminum and Ancona comes the Picentine country.271 The Picentini are originally from the Sabine country, a woodpecker having led the way for their progenitors; and hence their name, for they call this bird "picus," and consider it sacred to Mars. The country they live in begins at the mountains and extends as far as the plains and the sea, thus having increased in length more than breadth; it is good for every use to which it may be put, though better for fruits than for grain. 241Its breadth — that from the mountains to the sea — taken at the different intervals,272 is irregular, while its length, by a voyage along the coast from the Aesis River to Castrum, is eight hundred stadia. Its cities are, first Ancona, a Greek city, founded by the Syracusans who fled from the tyranny of Dionysius; it is situated on a promontory, which by its curve p429towards the north encloses a harbour; and it is exceedingly productive of wine and wheat. Near it is the city of Auxumum, which is a short distance above the sea; then Septempeda, Pneuentia,273 Potentia and Firmum Picenum (its port-town is Castellum).274 Next in order comes the temple of Cupra,275 which was established, and founded as a city, by the Tyrrheni, who call Hera "Cupra"; then, the River Truentinus276 and the city named after it;277 then Castrum Novum, and the River Matrinus278 (which flows from the city of the Adriani),279 on which is Adria's port-town,280 named after the river. Not only is Adria in the interior, but also Asculum Picenum, a place that is well fortified by nature, not only where the wall is situated — but also the mountains that lie round about it are impassable for armies.281 Beyond the Picentine country are the Vestini, the Marsi, the Peligni, the Marrucini, and the Frentani (a Samnitic tribe); they occupy the mountain-country there, their territory touching upon the sea for only short stretches. These tribes are small, it is true, but they are very brave and oftentimes have exhibited this virtue to the Romans: first, when they went to war against them; a second time, when they took the field with them as allies; p431and a third time when, begging for freedom and political rights without getting them, they revolted and kindled what is called the Marsic War, for they proclaimed Corfinium (the metropolis of the Peligni) the common city for all the Italiotes, instead of Rome, making it their base of operations for the war and changing its name to Italica;282 and here it was that they mustered all their followers and elected consuls and praetors.283 And they persisted in the war for two years, until they achieved the partnership for which they went to war. The war was named "Marsic" after the people who began the revolt, Pompaedius in particular.284 Now these peoples live in villages, generally speaking, but they also have cities: first, above the sea, Corfinium, Sulmon, Maruvium, and Teate,285 the metropolis of the Marrucini. And, secondly, on the sea itself, Aternum, which borders on the Picentine country and is of like name with the river286 that separates the Vestine country from the Marrucine; for it flows from the territory of Amiternum, and through the Vestine country, leaving on its right that part of the Marrucine country which lies above the Peligni (it may be crossed by a pontoon-bridge).287 But although the little city288 that is named after the river p433belongs to the Vestini, 242it is used as a common port by the Peligni and the Marrucini. The pontoon-bridge is twenty-four stadia distant from Corfinium. After Aternum comes Orton, the port-town of the Frentani, and then Buca289 (it too belongs to the Frentani), whose territory borders on that of Teanum Apulum. Ortonium290 is in the country of the Frentani, a cliff-town belonging to pirates, whose dwellings are pieced together from the wreckage of ships; and in every other respect they are said to be a bestial folk. Between Orton and Aternum is the Sagrus River, which separates the country of the Frentani from that of the Peligni.291 The voyage along the coast from the Picentine country to the country of those Apuli whom the Greeks call "Daunii"292 is about four hundred and ninety stadia.

3 Next in order after Latium come both Campania, which stretches along the sea, and, above Campania, in the interior, the Samnite country,293 which extends as far as the country of the Frentani and the Daunii; then the Daunii themselves, and the rest of the tribes on to the Sicilian Strait. But I must first speak of Campania. There is a fair-sized gulf which, beginning at Sinuessa, extends along the coast next thereafter as far as Misenum, and also another gulf, much larger than the first, which begins at Misenum; they call p435the latter294 the "Crater,"295 and the "Crater" forms a bay between the two capes of Misenum296 and Athenaeum.297 Above these coasts lies the whole of Campania; it is the most blest of all plains, and round about it lie fruitful hills, and the mountains of the Samnitae and of the Osci. Antiochus,298 it is true, says that the Opici once lived in this country and that "they are also called Ausones," but Polybius clearly believes that they are two different tribes, for he says "the Opici and the Ausones live in this country round about the Crater." Again, others say that, although at first it was inhabited by the Opici, and also by the Ausones,299 later on it was taken by the Sidicini, an Oscan tribe,300 but the Sidicini were ejected by the Cumaei, and in turn the Cumaei by the Tyrrheni. For on account of its fertility, they continue, the plain became an object of contention; and the Tyrrheni founded twelve cities in the country and named their capital city "Capua";301 but on account of their luxury living they became soft, and consequently, just as they had been made to get out of the country round about the Padus,302 so now they had to yield this country to the Samnitae; and in turn the Samnitae were ejected by the Romans. A proof of the fruitfulness of the country is that it produces the finest grain — I mean the wheat from which groats are made, which is superior, not only to every kind of rice, but also to almost every kind of grain-food. It is reported p437that, in the course of one year, some of the plains are seeded twice with spelt, the third time with millet, 243and others still the fourth time with vegetables. And indeed it is from here that the Romans obtain their best wine, namely, the Falernian, the Statanian, and the Calenian,303 though already the Sorrentine wine is taking its place as a rival of the three, for recent tests show that it admits of aging. And so, in the same way, all the country round about Venafrum, which is on the border of the plains, is well-supplied with the olive.

4 The cities on the sea after Sinuessa are: Liternum, where is the tomb of Scipio, the one first to be called "Africanus"; for he spent his last days here, giving up the affairs of state, so strong was his hatred for certain persons. A river304 of like name flows by the city. And so, likewise, the Vulturnus has a name like that of the city305 which is situated beside it and which comes next in order after Sinuessa; this river flows through Venafrum and the centre of Campania. Next in order after these two cities comes Cumae,306 a city founded in most ancient times by people from Chalcis and Cumae; for it is the oldest of all the Sicilian and the Italiote cities. However, the men who led the expedition, Hippocles of Cumae307 and Megasthenes of Chalcis, made an agreement with one another that the city should be a colony of Chalcis, and a namesake of Cumae; and, hence, although the city is now called Cumae, it is reputed to have been founded by the Chalcidians alone. In earlier times, then, the city was prosperous, and so was what is called the Phlegraean Plain, p439which mythology has made the setting of the story of the Giants — for no other reason, it would seem, than that the land, on account of its excellence, was a thing to fight for; but later on, when the Campani became established as masters of the city, they committed numerous outrages against the people in general, and, what is more, cohabited with the wives of the citizens. Nevertheless, many traces of the Greek decorum and usages are still preserved there. But according to some, "Cumae" is named after the "Kumata";308 for the neighbouring shore is surfy and exposed to the wind. And Cumae also has the best fisheries for the catching of large fish. Moreover, on this gulf there is a forest of scrub trees, extending for many stadia over a waterless and sandy tract, which they call "Silva Gallinaria."309 Here it was that the admirals of Sextus Pompeius assembled bands of pirates at that critical time when he caused Sicily to revolt.310

5 Near Cumae is Cape Misenum, and between them is the Acherusian Lake, a kind of shoal-water estuary of the sea. After you double Cape Misenum you immediately come to a harbour, at the base of the cape, and, after the harbour, to a stretch of coast which runs inland and forms a deeply indented gulf — 244the coast on which is situated Baiae, and those hot springs that are suited both to the taste of the fastidious and to the cure of disease. Contiguous to Baiae is Gulf Lucrinus,311 and also, behind this gulf, Gulf Avernus,312 which forms a peninsula of the land that is cut off as far as Misenum, beginning from the p441transverse line which runs between Cumae and Avernus, for there remains an isthmus only a few stadia broad, that is, reckoning straight through the tunnel to Cumae itself and to the sea next to Cumae.313 The people prior to my time were wont to make Avernus the setting of the fabulous story of the Homeric "Necyia";314 and, what is more, writers tell us that there actually was an oracle of the dead here and that Odysseus visited it. Now Gulf Avernus is deep up to the very shore and has a clear outlet;315 and it has both the size and character of a harbour, although it is useless as a harbour because of the fact that Gulf Lucrinus lies before it and is somewhat shallow as well as considerable in extent. Again, Avernus is enclosed round about by steep hill-brows that rise above it on all sides except where you sail into it (at the present time they have been brought by the toil of man into cultivation, though in former times they were thickly covered with a wild and untrodden forest of large trees); and these hill-brows, because of the superstition of man, used to make the gulf a shadowy place. And the natives used to add the further fable that all birds that fly over it fall down into the water,316 being killed by the vapours that p443rise from it, as in the case of all the Plutonia.317 And people used to suppose that this too was a Plutonian place and that the Cimmerians318 had actually been there. At any rate, only those who had sacrificed beforehand and propitiated the nether deities could sail into Avernus, and priests who held the locality on lease it were there to give directions in all such matters; and there is a fountain of potable water at this place, on the sea, but people used to abstain from it because they regarded it as the water of the Styx; and the oracle, too, is situated somewhere near it; and further, the hot springs near by and Lake Acherusia319 betokened the River Pyriphlegethon.320 Again, Ephorus, in the passage where he claims the locality in question for the Cimmerians, says: They live in underground houses, which they call "argillae,"321 and it is through tunnels that they visit one another, back and forth, and also admit strangers to the oracle, which is situated far beneath the earth; and they live on what they get from mining, and from those who consult the oracle,322 and from the king of the country, who has appointed them fixed allowances;323 and those who live p445about the oracle have an ancestral custom, that no one should see the sun, but should go outside the caverns only during the night; and it is for this reason that the poet speaks of them as follows: "And never does the shining sun look upon them"; 245but later on the Cimmerians were destroyed by a certain king, because the response of the oracle did not turn out in his favour; the seat of the oracle, however, still endures, although it has been removed to another place. Such, then, are the stories the people before my time used to tell, but now that the forest round about Avernus has been cut down by Agrippa, and the tracts of land have been built up with houses, and the tunnel has been cut from Avernus to Cumae, all those stories have proven be mere myths; and yet the Cocceius324 who made, not only this tunnel, but also the one from Dicaearchia (near Baiae) to Neapolis, was pretty well acquainted with the story just now related about the Cimmerians, and it may very well be that he also deemed it an ancestral custom,325 for this region, that its roads should run through tunnels.

6 Gulf Lucrinus broadens out as far as Baiae; and it is shut off from the outer sea by a mound eight stadia in length and broad as a wagon-road. This mound is said to have been brought to completion by Heracles, when he was driving the cattle of Geryon. But since it admitted the waves over its surface in times of storm, so that it could not easily be traversed on foot, Agrippa built it up higher. The gulf affords entrance to light boats only; and, though useless as a place to moor boats, p447it affords most abundant catches of oysters. And some say that this gulf itself is Lake Acherusia, while Artemidorus says that Gulf Avernus itself is that lake. But Baiae is said to be named after one of the companions of Odysseus, Baius; and also Misenum.326 Next in order come the headlands that are in the neighbourhood of Dicaearchia, and then the city itself. In earlier times it was only a port-town of the Cumaeans, situated on the brow of a hill,327 but at the time of Hannibal's expedition the Romans settled a colony there, and changed its name to Puteoli from the wells328 there — though some say that it was from the foul smell329 of the waters, since the whole district, as far as Baiae and Cumae, has a foul smell, because it is full of sulphur and fire and hot waters. And some believe that it is for this reason that the Cumaean country was called "Phlegra,"330 and that it is the wounds of the fallen giants, inflicted by the thunderbolts, that pour forth those streams of fire and water. And the city has become a very great emporium, since it has havens that have been made by the hand of man — a thing made possible by the natural qualities of the sand, for it is in proper proportion to the lime,331 and takes a firm set and solidity. And therefore, by mixing the sand-ash332 with the lime, they can run jetties out into the sea and thus make the wide-open shores p449curve into the form of bays, so that the greatest merchant-ships can moor therein with safety. 246Immediately above the city lies the Forum of Hephaestus,333 a plain shut in all round by exceedingly hot ridges, which in numerous places have fumaroles that are like chimneys and that have a rather noisome smell; and the plain is full of drifted sulphur.

7 After Dicaearchia comes Neapolis, a city of the Cumaeans. At a later time it was re-colonised by Chalcidians, and also by some Pithecussaeans and Athenians, and hence, for this reason, was called Neapolis.334 A monument of Parthenope, one of the Sirens, is pointed out in Neapolis, and in accordance with an oracle a gymnastic contest is celebrated there. But at a still later time, as the result of a dissension, they admitted some of the Campani as fellow-inhabitants, and thus they were forced to treat their worst enemies as their best friends, now that they had alienated their proper friends. This is disclosed by the names of their demarchs, for the earliest names are Greek only, whereas the later are Greek mixed with Campanian.335 And very many traces of Greek culture are preserved there — gymnasia, ephebeia,336 phratriae,337 and Greek names of things, although the people are Romans. And at the present time a sacred contest is celebrated among them every four years, in music338 as well as gymnastics; it lasts for several days, and vies with the p451most famous of those celebrated in Greece.339 Here, too, there is a tunnel — the mountain between Dicaearchia and Neapolis having been tunneled like the one leading to Cumae,340 and a road having been opened up for a distance of many stadia that is wide enough to allow teams going in opposite directions to pass each other.341 And windows have been cut out at many places, and thus the light of day is brought down from the surface of the mountain along shafts that are of considerable depth.342 Furthermore, Neapolis has springs of hot water and bathing-establishments that are not inferior to those at Baiae, although it is far short of Baiae in the number of people, for at Baiae, where palace on palace has been built, one after another, a new city has arisen, not inferior to Dicaearchia. And greater vogue is given to the Greek mode of life at Neapolis by the people who withdraw thither from Rome for the sake of rest — I mean the class343 who have made their livelihood by training the young, or still others who, because of old age or infirmity, long to live in relaxation; and some of the Romans, too, taking delight in this way of living and observing the great number of men of the same culture as themselves sojourning there, gladly fall in love with the place and make it their permanent abode.

8 Next after Neapolis comes the Heracleian Fortress,344 with a promontory which runs out into the sea and so admirably catches the breezes of the southwest wind that it makes the settlement a p453healthful place to live in. 247Both this settlement and the one next after it, Pompaia345 (past which flows the River Sarnus), were once held by the Osci; then, by the Tyrrheni and the Pelasgi; and after that, by the Samnitae; but they, too, were ejected from the places. Pompaia, on the River Sarnus — a river which both takes the cargoes inland and sends them out to sea — is the port-town of Nola, Nuceria, and Acherrae346 (a place with name like that of the settlement347 Cremona). Above these places lies Mt. Vesuvius, which, save for its summit, has dwellings all round, on farm-lands that are absolutely beautiful. As for the summit, a considerable part of it is flat, but all of it is unfruitful, and looks ash-coloured, and it shows pore-like cavities in masses of rock that are soot-coloured on the surface, these masses of rock looking as though they had been eaten out by fire; and hence one might infer that in earlier times this district was on fire and had craters of fire, and then, because the fuel gave out, was quenched. Perhaps, too, this is the cause of the fruitfulness of the country all round the mountain; just as at Catana, it is said, that part of the country which had been covered with ash-dust from the hot ashes carried up into the air by the fire of Aetna made the land suited to the vine; for it348 contains the substance that fattens349 both the soil which is burnt out and that p455which produces the fruits;350 so then, when it351 acquired plenty of fat, it was suited to burning out, as is the case with all sulphur-like substances, and then when it had been evaporated352 and quenched353 and reduced to ash-dust, it passed into a state of fruitfulness. Next after Pompaia comes Surrentum, a city of the Campani, whence the Athenaeum354 juts forth into the sea, which some call the Cape of the Sirenussae. There is a sanctuary of Athene, built by Odysseus, on the tip of the Cape. It is only a short voyage from here across to the island of Capreae; and after doubling the cape you come to desert, rocky isles, which are called the Sirens. On the side of the Cape toward Surrentum people show you a kind of temple, and offerings dedicated there long ago, because the people in the neighbourhood hold the place in honour. Here, then, the gulf that is called the "Crater"355 comes to an end, being marked off by two capes that face the south, namely, Misenum and Athenaeum. And the whole of the gulf is garnished, in part by the cities which I have just mentioned, and in part by the residences and plantations, which, since they intervene in unbroken succession, present the appearance of a single city.

9 The island of Prochyta lies off Cape Misenum, and it is a fragment broken off of Pithecussae.356 Pithecussae was once settled by Eretrians and also p457Chalcidians, who, although they had prospered there on account of the fruitfulness of the soil and on account of the gold mines, forsook the island357 as the result of a quarrel; later on they were also driven out of the island by earthquakes, and by eruptions of fire, sea, and hot waters; for the island has "fistulas" of this sort, 248and it was these that caused also the people sent thither by Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse to forsake the island and the fortress they had erected there; and then the Neapolitans came over and took possession. Hence, also, the myth according to which Typhon lies beneath this island, and when he turns his body the flames and the waters, and sometimes even small islands containing boiling water, spout forth. But what Pindar says is more plausible, since he starts with the actual phenomena; for this whole channel, beginning at the Cumaean country and extending as far as Sicily, is full of fire, and has caverns deep down in the earth that form a single whole, connecting not only with one another but also with the mainland; and therefore, not only Aetna clearly has such a character as it is reported by all to have, but also the Lipari Islands, and the districts round about Dicaearchia, Neapolis, and Baiae, and the island of Pithecussae. This, I say, is Pindar's thought when he says that Typhon lies beneath the whole region: "Now, however, both Sicily and the sea-fenced cliffs beyond Cumae press hard upon his shaggy breast." And p459Timaeus, also, says that many marvellous things are told by the ancients about Pithecussae, and that only shortly before his own time the hill called Epopeus, in the centre of the island, on being shaken by earthquakes, cast forth fire and shoved the part between it and the sea back to the open sea; and the part of the land that had been burned to ashes, on being lifted high into the air, crashed down again upon the island like a whirlwind; and the sea retreated for three stadia, but not long after retreating turned back and with its reverse current deluged the island; and consequently, the fire in the island was quenched, but the noise was such that the people on the mainland fled from the coast into Campania. The hot springs in the island are thought to cure those who have gall-stones. Capreae had two small towns in ancient times, though later on only one. The Neapolitans took possession of this island too; and although they lost Pithecussae in war, they got it back again, Augustus Caesar giving it to them, though he appropriated Capreae to himself personally and erected buildings on it. Such, then, are the seaboard cities of Campania and the islands that lie off it.

10 In the interior, take first Capua: It is the capital city — a "capital" in reality, as the etymology of its name implies,358 for in comparison with it all the rest might be regarded as only small towns, except Teanum Sidicinum, 249which is indeed a noteworthy city. It, too,359 lies on the Appian Way, and so do the three cities which, among the rest, lead from it360 p461to Brentesium,361 namely, Calatia, Caudium, and Beneventum. But Casilinum is situated towards Rome,362 on the River Vulturnus; it was here that five hundred and forty of the Praenestini held out against Hannibal — then at the height of his strength — for so long that, by reason of famine, a "medimnus"363 was sold for two hundred "drachmae,"364 and the man who sold it died of hunger, whereas the man who bought it escaped with his life. And when Hannibal saw them sowing turnips near the wall, he wondered, and with reason, at their long-suffering — that they expected to hold out long enough for the turnips to get ripe; and in fact they all survived, it is said, except a few who perished either because of hunger or in the battles.

11 But in addition to the cities aforesaid, the following (to which I have adverted before) are also Campanian cities — Cales365 and Teanum Sidicinum, whose territories are separated by the two temples of Fortune situated on either side of the Latin Way; and so are Suessula, Atella, Nola, Nuceria, Acherrae, Abella, and other settlements (some of which are said to be Samnite) that are still smaller than these. As for the Samnitae: In earlier times they made expeditions even as far as that part of the Latin country which is about Ardea, p463and then, after that, ravaged Campania itself, and therefore they must have possessed considerable power (indeed, the Campani, since they were already schooled in the obedience of other despots, quickly submitted to the new commands); but now they have been completely worn out — first by others and last of all by Sulla, who became dictator of the Romans; for when, on putting down the insurrection of the Italiotes by many battles, he saw that the Samnitae, almost alone, were holding together and, in like manner as before, were on the border, ready actually to march against Rome itself, he joined battle with them before the walls; and some of them he cut down in the battle (for he had ordered that none be taken alive), while the rest, who had flung their arms (about three or four thousand men, it is said) he brought down to the Villa Publica in the Campus Martius and imprisoned; three days later, however, he let soldiers loose upon them and thus slaughtered them all; and further, he would not stop making proscriptions until either he had destroyed all Samnitae of importance or banished them from Italy. And to those who found fault with him for such excessive wrath he said he had realised from experience that not a Roman could ever live in peace so long as the Samnitae held together as a separate people. And verily their cities have now come to be mere villages (though some have utterly vanished), 250I mean Bovianum, Aesernia, Panna, Telesia (close to Venafrum), and others like them. No one of these deserves to be regarded as a city, but I, for my part, am thus going into detail, within due bounds, because of the glory and power of Italy. Beneventum, p465however, has held up very well, and so has Venusia.

12 Concerning the Samnitae there is another story current to this effect: The Sabini, since they had long been at war with the Ombrici, vowed (just as some of the Greeks do) to dedicate everything that was produced that year; and, on winning the victory, they partly sacrificed and partly dedicated all that was produced; then a dearth ensued, and some one said that they ought to have dedicated the babies too; this they did, and devoted to Mars all the children born that year; and these children, when grown to manhood, they sent away as colonists, and a bull led the way; and when the bull lay down to rest in the land of the Opici (who, as it chanced, were living only in villages), the Sabini ejected them and settled on the spot, and, in accordance with the utterance of their seers, slaughtered the bull as a sacrifice to Mars who had given it for a guide. It is reasonable to suppose therefore that their name "Sabelli" is a nickname derived from the name of their forefathers,366 while their name "Samnitae" (the Greeks say "Saunitae") is due to a different cause.367 Some say, moreover, that a colony of Laconians joined the Samnitae, and that for this reason the Samnitae actually became philhellenes, and that some of them were even called "Pitanatae."368 But it is thought that the Tarantini simply fabricated this, to flatter, and at the same time to win the friendship of, a powerful people on their borders; because, on a time, the Samnitae were wont to send forth an army of as many as eighty thousand infantry p467and eight thousand cavalry. And they say that among the Samnitae there is a law which is indeed honourable and conducive to noble qualities; for they are not permitted to give their daughters in marriage to whom they wish, but every year ten virgins and ten young men, the noblest of each sex, are selected, and, of these, the first choice of the virgins is given to the first choice of the young men, and the second to the second, and so on to the end; but if the young man who wins the meed of honour changes and turns out bad, they disgrace him and take away from him the woman given him. Next after the Samnitae come the Hirpini, and they too are Samnitae; they got their name from the wolf that led the way for their colony (for "hirpus" is what the Samnitae call the wolf); and their territory adjoins that of those Leucani who live in the interior. So much, then, for the Samnitae.

13 As for the Campani, it was their lot, because of the fertility of their country, to enjoy in equal degree both evil things and good. For they were so extravagant that they would invite gladiators, in pairs, to dinner, regulating the number by the importance of the dinners;369 and when, on their instant submission to Hannibal, they received his army into winter-quarters, 251the soldiers became so effeminate because of the pleasures afforded them that Hannibal said that, although victor, he was in danger of falling into the hands of his foes, because the soldiers he had got back were not his men, but only women. But when the Romans got the mastery, they brought them to their sense by many severe lessons, and, last of all, portioned out to Roman p469settlers a part of the land. Now, however, they are living in prosperity, being of one mind with the new settlers, and they preserve their old-time reputation, in respect to both the size of their city and the high quality of its men. After Campania, and the Samnite country (as far as the Frentani),370 on the Tyrrhenian Sea dwells the tribe of the Picentini,371 a small offshoot of those Picentini who dwell on the Adriatic, which has been transplanted by the Romans to the Poseidonian Gulf; this gulf is now called the Paestan Gulf; and the city of Poseidonia, which is situated in the centre of the gulf, is now called Paestus. The Sybaritae, it is true, had erected fortifications on the sea,372 but the settlers removed them farther inland;373 later on, however, the Leucani took the city away from the Sybaritae, and, in turn, the Romans took it away from the Leucani. But the city is rendered unhealthy by a river that spreads out into marshes in the neighbourhood.374 Between the Sirenussae and Poseidonia lies Marcina, a city founded by the Tyrrheni and now inhabited by Samnitae. From here to Pompaia, by way of Nuceria, the distance across the isthmus is not more than one hundred and twenty stadia. The country of the Picentes extends as far as the River Silaris, which p471separates the old Campania from this country.375 In regard to this river, writers report the following as a special characteristic, that although its water is potable, any plant that is let down into it turns to stone, though it keeps its colour and its shape.376 Picentia first belonged to the Picentes, as metropolis, but at the present time they live only in villages, having been driven away by the Romans because they had made common cause with Hannibal. And instead of doing military service, they were at that time appointed to serve the State as couriers and letter-carriers (as were also, for the same reasons, both the Leucani and the Brettii); and for the sake of keeping watch over the Picentes the Romans fortified Salernum against them, a city situated only a short distance above the sea. The distance from the Sirenussae to the Silaris is two hundred and sixty stadia.


The Editor's Notes:

270 That is, the southern boundaries of Cisalpine Celtica (Gaul): see 5.1.3 and 5.2.10.

271 Picenum.

272 That is, at the different cities on the seacoast.

273 "Pneuentia" is otherwise unknown; perhaps Strabo wrote "Pollentia" (see Corais - du Theil - Letronne, vol. II, p236, and Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, vol. II, p422.

274 Castellum Firmanorum, now Porto di Fermoº or Porto San Giorgio.

275 In Latin, "Cuprae Fanum."

276 Now the Tronto.

277 Truentum, also called Castrum Truentinum.

278 Now the Piomba.

279 Adria, or Hadria.

280 Matrinum.

281 The words "not only . . . armies" are awkward in English as in the Greek, but the meaning is clear enough. Kramer's guess (see critical note on the opposite page) would yield the following: "not only on account of the hill on which the wall is situated, but also (on account of) the mountains that lie round about it, which are impassable for armies."

282 But on coins the name is spelled "Italia," not "Italica" (Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. "Corfinium").

283 They chosen two consuls and twelve praetors, in imitation of the Roman government (see Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, vol. II, p448, and also Corais - du Theil - Letronne, vol. II, p242.

284 Pompaedius Silo, the Marsian, was killed in battle in 88 B.C., shortly before the end of the war.

285 Now Chieti.

286 The Aternus.

287 On this bridge, see Nissen, Italische Landeskunde, vol. II, p439.

288 The same Aternum above-mentioned.

289 Apparently what is now Termoli (see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v., and Nissen, vol. II, p783).

290 "Ortonium" is otherwise unknown. The text appears to be corrupt, but all emendations are mere guesses. Meineke relegates the whole sentence to the foot of the page. We should have expected Strabo to refer here to the Frento River as the southern boundary of the country of the Frentani.

291 Ptolemaeus (3.16)º wrongly associates the mouth of the Sagrus with the country of the Peligni (cp. Nissen, vol. II, p778), for the Sagrus empties between Ortona and Histonium (not Aternum). Strabo's assertion, however, might be interpreted to mean, not the lower course, but the northerly fork, of the Sagrus; otherwise he too is in error.

292 Cp. 5.1.9 and 6.3.9.

293 Samnium.

294 The Gulf of Naples.

295 Cp. 5.4.8.

296 Now Cape Miseno.

297 In Latin, Minerva; now Punta della Campanella.

298 Antiochus Syracusanus, the historian.

299 See Pauly-Wissowa, s.v.

300 See 5.3.9.

301 Cp. 5.4.10.

302 See 5.1.10.

303 Cp. 5.3.6.

304 The Liternus.

305 Vulturnum.

306 In Greek "Cyme."

307 The Euboean "Cyme."

308 In Greek, "billows."

309 Poultry-Forest.

310 Cp. 6.1.6.

311 Now Lake Lucrino.

312 Now Lake Averno.

313 Agrippa connected Lake Avernus and Lake Lucrinus with a canal, and Lake Avernus with the port of Cumae with a tunnel.

314 "Necyia" is the title the ancients gave to the eleventh book of the Odyssey, which tells the story of Odysseus' descent into Hades and of the magic rites by which the ghosts of the dead were called up, and also relates the various conversations in Hades.

315 Although the Romans called Lucrinus and Avenus "lakes", Strabo calls them "gulfs" — the former a sea-gulf and the latter an inner gulf connecting with the former. The configuration of the country has been greatly changed since Strabo's time, for instance, in 1538 A.D., when what is now Monte Nuova (455 ft.) was upheaved by volcanic eruption, and the area of Lake Lucrinus was much reduced.

316 Cp. Virgil, Aeneid 6.239 and Lucretius 6.740. The word "Avernus" means "Birdless."

317 For example, the "Plutonium" at Hierapolis in Asia Minor (13.4.14). The "Plutonia" were precincts where mephitic vapours arose, and they were so called because they were regarded as entrances to the nether world. The cave itself, within the "Plutonium," was called "Charonium" (14.1.11 and 14.1.44).

318 See 1.1.10 and 1.2.9.

319 Now Lake Fusaro.

320 Literally, "flaming with fire." This river was a tributary of the Acheron in the nether world. The River Acheron (now Phanariotikos), in Epirus, was associated with the nether world: it disappears in the earth for some distance and then reappears, losing its waters in the marshy "Acherusian Lake" before emptying into the Ionian Sea.

321 "Argillae" apparently means "clay"-dwellings.

322 That is, as we may infer, on the meat of the sacrificial victims, in addition to any fees which may have been charged.

323 Thus acknowledging, according to Ephorus, that the country belongs to the Cimmerians.

324 L. Cocceius Auctus, an architect and engineer, employed by Agrippa.

325 Cocceius was a native of the region in question.

326 That is, after Misenus (see 1.2.18).

327 By Strabo's time the city had expanded a considerable distance along the coast in both directions.

328 In Latin, "putei."

329 In Latin, "puteo," "stink."

330 That is, "Blazing-land," if the etymologists here referred to by Strabo were right. "Phlegra" was also the old name p447of Pallene, the westernmost of the peninsulas of Chalcidice, and a volcanic region. Mythology associates the Giants with both regions (cp. 5.4.4).

331 That is, its constituents are in proper proportion to the constituents of the lime.

332 This volcanic substance is now called "pozzuolana," or "tuff."

333 In Latin, "Forum Vulcani"; now La Solfatara.

334 That is, "New City". The older name was "Parthenope" (see 14.2.10, and Beloch, Campanien, 1890, pp29‑30).

335 "Demarch" was the local title of the chief magistrates; and apparently several of them held office together (see Tozer, Selections, p168, and Beloch, Campanien, pp31, 45).

336 Places for youths (ephebi) to take exercise.

337 Beloch (pp41‑44), from inscriptions of Neapolis, gives the names of nine different phratriae.

338 "Music" is here used, apparently, in the broad sense, including all the arts over which the Muses presided.

339 Augustus himself attended the contest shortly before his death (Suetonius, Augustus 98).

340 See 5.4.5.

341 See 5.3.8 and the footnote (on the size of the sewers at Rome).

342 But to‑day the Grotta di Posilipo has no shafts of light; and Seneca (Epist. 57.1) complains of its darkness and dust. Accordingly, Beloch (p84) concludes that Strabo confused the tunnel in question with that of Cumae.

343 Strabo means Greeks.

344 Herculaneum.

345 On "Pompaia," the Oscan name of Pompeii, see Nissen, Landeskunde II., p763, footnote 3.

346 In Latin, "Acerrae."

347 "Acerrae," as spelled by Polybius (2.34).

348 That is, the "hot ashes" (what we call "volcanic ash," a finely powdered lava), now ash-dust.

349 Strabo wrongly thought that the volcanic ash itself contained a fatty substance which enriched the soil. The enriching substance, of course, was the organic matter which accumulated in the ash-dust during a long period of weathering. In time the ash-dust became ash-soil. In 6.2.3 Strabo quotes Poseidonius as saying that this same part of the country was covered with volcanic ash "to a considerable depth."

350 Some of the ash-soil, Strabo means, becomes so rich that it is combustible, and unfit for the vine and different fruits; but he does not say whether it is later burnt out by volcanic matter, or by some accidental or human agency. The burning out of excessively rich soil was at one time not an uncommon practice in England and Germany (F. H. Storer, Agriculture, 7th ed., Vol III, pp188 ff.). The English company now operating in the region of Lake Copais in Boeotia burns out the soil before putting it in cultivation.

351 That is, the ash-dust, now ash-soil.

352 As often, Strabo is unduly concise. He means: "when the ash-soil had taken fire, and the excess fat had been driven out by the fire."

353 In natural course, and by the rain.

354 Cp. 1.2.12.

355 Cp. 5.4.3.

356 But cp. 1.3.19.

357 Strabo's conciseness (if the MSS. are correct) leaves the passage obscure as to whether (1) both peoples left together because of a quarrel with other inhabitants, and later on returned, only to be driven out by the earthquakes (about 500 B.C.), or (2) left separately, first, the Chalcidians, because of a quarrel between the two, and, later on, the Eretrians, because of the earthquakes, or (3) part of each left at first, and the rest later on; but the first interpretation seems more likely. Livy (8.22), without mentioning the Eretrians, ascribes the founding of Cumae to the Chalcidians who had previously settled "Aenaria and Pithecussa."

358 Cp. 5.4.3.

359 As well as Capua.

360 That is, from Capua.

361 See 5.3.6 and footnote.

362 From Capua, not from Teanum Sidicinum.

363 About a bushel and a half (of grain). But, following Casaubon, all the editors except Groskurd emend "medimnus" to "rat," to agree with the story of Pliny (8.82), Valerius Maximus (7.6), and Frontinus (Strategemata 4.5.20). And it seems almost certain that Strabo so wrote.

364 In Latin, "denarii"; that is, about forty dollars; but with far greater purchasing power than now. The three writers quoted in the preceding footnote say "two hundred denarii."

365 5.3.9.

366 The Greek word here translated "nickname" often means simply a "diminutive." In that case, Strabo means by "Sabelli" merely "Little Sabini"; but since the people in question are "Sons of War," he seems to allude also to the Latin "bellum."

367 Cp. Pliny 3.17.

368 That is, as though from Pitane, in Laconia, or as though members of a Spartan clan by that name.

369 Some of the editors emend the text to read "by the rank of their guests."

370 Strabo says elsewhere (5.4.2) that the Frentani were a "Samnitic tribe," but he has preferred to discuss the two peoples and their countries separately (see also 5.4.3).

371 Hereafter Strabo will call this tribe "Picentes" (cp. the Latin terms).

372 This was merely a fortified trading-post. It was near what the Romans called "Portus Alburnus" (see Nissen, Landeskunde, vol. II, p892).

373 About one-half of a mile inland, to the site of Poseidonia.

374 Meineke, following the suggestion of Du Theil, transposes the Greek for "The Sybaritae . . . neighbourhood" to a position after the first sentence in Book VI, assuming that the Greek as it stands makes Poseidonia a city of the Picentini. But the words in question seem to be merely a digression; and in that case "the settlers" now referred to are not to be confused with the "transplanted" Picentini, whose city was Picentia. The river in question is now represented by the "Fosso Capo dei Fiumi" and the marshes near it.

375 The later editors emend "Campania" to "Italy" (cp. 5.1.1). But it seems far more likely that Strabo wrote (or else had in mind) the words "Lucania and" before "the Silaris River." In this case "this country" means Lucania. Indeed, Strabo says in the succeeding paragraph (6.1.1) that Lucania begins at Silaris. And he has already defined the seaboard of the Campania of his own time as beginning at Sinuessa, and ending at Surrentum and the Cape of Minerva (see 5.2.1, 5.3.4, 5.4.3, and 5.4.8‑9).

376 So Pliny (2.106) and Silius Italicus (8.581).


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