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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


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

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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(Vol. IV) Strabo

 p13  Book VIII, Chapter 2

1 335Now the Peloponnesus is like a leaf of a plane tree in shape,14 its length and breadth being almost equal, that is, about fourteen hundred stadia. Its length is reckoned from the west to the east, that is, from Chelonatas15 through Olympia and Megalopolis to the Isthmus; and its width, from the south towards the north, that is, from Maleae16 through Arcadia to Aegium.17 The perimeter, not following the sinuosities of the gulfs, is four thousand stadia, according to Polybius, although Artemidorus adds four hundred more;18 but following the sinuosities of the gulfs, it is more than five thousand six hundred. The width of the Isthmus at the "Diolcus,"19 where the ships are hauled overland from one sea to the other, is forty stadia, as I have already said.

 p15  2 The western part of this peninsula is occupied by the Eleians and the Messenians, whose countries are washed by the Sicilian Sea. In addition, they also hold a part of the sea-coast in both directions, for the Eleian country curves towards the north and the beginning of the Corinthian Gulf as far as Cape Araxus (opposite which, across the straits, lie Acarnania and the islands off its coast — Zacynthos, Cephallenia, Ithaca, and also the Echinades, among which is Dulichium), whereas the greater part of the Messenian country opens up towards the south and the Libyan Sea as far as what is called Thyrides,20 near Taenarum. Next after the Eleian country comes the tribe of the Achaeans,21 whose country faces towards the north and stretches along the Corinthian Gulf, ending at Sicyonia. Then come in succession Sicyon and Corinth, the territory of the latter extending as far as the Isthmus. After the Messenian country come the Laconian and the Argive, the latter also extending as far as the Isthmus. The gulfs on this coast are: first, the Messenian; second, the Laconian; third, the Argolic; fourth, the Hermionic; and fifth, the Saronic, by some called the Salaminiac. Of these gulfs the first two are filled by the Libyan Sea, and the others by the Cretan and Myrtoan Seas. Some, however, call the Saronic Gulf "Strait" or "Sea." In the interior of the peninsula is Arcadia, which touches as next door neighbour the countries of all those other tribes.

3 The Corinthian Gulf begins, on the one side, at the outlets of the Evenus (though some say at the  p17 outlets of the Acheloüs, the river that separates the Acarnanians and the Aetolians), and, on the other, at Araxus;22 for here the shores on either side first draw notably nearer to one another; then in their advance they all but23 meet at Rhium and Antirrhium, where they leave between them a strait only about five stadia in width. Rhium, belonging to the Achaeans, is a low-lying cape; it bends inwards (and it is in fact called "Sickle ").24 336It lies between Patrae and Aegium, and possesses a temple of Poseidon. Antirrhium is situated on the common boundary of Aetolia and Locris; and people call it Molycrian Rhium.25 Then, from here, the shoreline on either side again draws moderately apart, and then, advancing into the Crisaean Gulf, it comes to an end there, being shut in by the westerly limits of Boeotia and Megaris.26 The perimeter of the Corinthian Gulf if one measures from the Evenus to Araxus, is two thousand two hundred and thirty stadia; but if one measures from the Acheloüs, it is about a hundred stadia more. Now from the Acheloüs to the Evenus the coast is occupied by Acarnanians;27 and thence to Antirrhium, by Aetolians; but the remaining coast, as far as the Isthmus, belongs to28 the Phocians, the  p19 Boeotians and Megaris — a distance of one thousand one hundred and eighteen stadia. The sea from Antirrhium as far as the Isthmus29 is called Alcyonian, it being a part of the Crisaean Gulf. Again, from the Isthmus to Araxus the distance is one thousand and thirty stadia. Such, then, in general terms, is the position and extent of the Peloponnesus, and of the land that lies opposite to it across the arm of the sea as far as the recess; and such, too, is the character of the gulf that lies between the two bodies of land. Now I shall describe each part in detail, beginning with the Eleian country.

The Editor's Notes:

14 Cp. 2.1.30.

15 Cape Chelonatas, opposite the island Zacynthos; now Cape Tornese.

16 Cape Maleae.

17 The Aegion, or Aegium, of to‑day, though until recent times more generally known by its later name Vostitza.

18 Polybius counted 8⅓ stadia to the mile (7, Frag. 56).

19 Literally, "Haul-across"; the name of "the narrowest part of the Isthmus" (8.6.4), and probably applied to the road itself.

20 See 8.5.1, and footnote.

21 See 8.7.4, and footnote.

22 Cape Araxus; now Kalogria.

23 Lit. "more completely" (see critical note).

The critical note to the Greek text, at "προϊοῦσαι δὲ πλέον", reads:

Capps happily suggests that Strabo probably wrote σχεδόν instead of πλέον or that σχεδόν has fallen out of the text after πλέον.

24 Cape "Drepanum." Strabo confuses Cape Rhium with Cape Drepanum, since the two were separated by the Bay of Panormus (see Frazer's Pausanias, notes on 7.22.10 and 7.23.4, and Curtius' Peloponnesos, I p447).

25 After Molycreia, a small Aetolian town near by.

26 "Crisaean Gulf" (the Gulf of Salona of to‑day) was often used in this broader sense. Cp. 8.6.21.

27 Strabo thus commits himself against the assertion of others (see at the beginning of the paragraph) that the Acheloüs separates the Acarnanians and the Aetolians.

28 The Greek for "the Locrians and" seems to have fallen out of the MSS. at this point; for Strabo has just said that "Antirrhium is on the common boundary of Aetolia and Locris" (see 9.3.1).

29 Some of the editors believe that words to the following effect have fallen out at this point: "is the Crisaean Gulf; but the sea from the city Creusa."

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Page updated: 14 Oct 08