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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.
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(Vol. IV) Strabo

 p227  Book VIII, Chapter 8

1 (388) Arcadia lies in the middle of the Peloponnesus; and most of the country which it includes is mountainous. The greatest mountain in it is Cyllenê; at any rate some say that its perpendicular height is twenty stadia, though others say about fifteen. The Arcadian tribes — the Azanes, the Parrhasians, and other such peoples — are reputed to be the most ancient tribes of the Greeks. But on account of the complete devastation of the country it would be inappropriate to speak at length about these tribes; for the cities, which in earlier times had become famous, were wiped out by the continuous wars, and the tillers of the soil have been disappearing even since the times when most of the cities  p229 were united into what was called the "Great City."465 But now the Great City itself has suffered the fate described by the comic poet: "The Great City is a great desert."466 But there are ample pastures for cattle, particularly for horses and asses that are used as stallions. And the Arcadian breed of horses, like the Argolic and the Epidaurian, is most excellent. And the deserted lands of the Aetolians and Acarnanians are also well adapted to horse-raising — no less so than Thessaly.

2 Now Mantineia was made famous by Epameinondas, who conquered the Lacedaemonians in the second battle, in which he himself lost his life. But Mantineia itself, as also Orchomenus, Heraea, Cleitor, Pheneus, Stymphalus, Maenalus, Methydrium, Caphyeis, and Cynaetha, no longer exist; or else traces or signs of them are scarcely to be seen. But Tegea still endures fairly well, and so does the temple of the Alean Athenê; and the temple of Zeus Lycaeus situated near Mt. Lycaeum is also honoured to a slight extent. But three of the cities mentioned by the poet, "Rhipê and Stratiê, and windy Enispê,"467 are not only hard to find, but are of no use to any who find them, because they are deserted.

3 Famous mountains, in addition to Cyllenê, are  p231 Pholoê, 389Lycaeum, Maenalus, and the Parthenium, as it is called, which extends from the territory of Tegea down to the Argive country.

4 I have already mentioned the marvellous circumstances pertaining to the Alpheius and the Eurotas,468 and also to the Erasinus, which now flows underground from the Stymphalian Lake,469 and issues forth into the Argive country, although in earlier times it had no outlet, since the "berethra,"470 which the Arcadians call "zerethra," were stopped up and did not admit of the waters being carried off so that the city of the Stymphalians471 is now fifty stadia472 distant from the lake, although then it was situated on the lake. But the contrary was the case with the Ladon, since its stream was once checked because of the blocking up of its sources; for the "berethra" near Pheneus, through which it flowed, fell in as the result of an earthquake and checked the stream as far down into the depths of the earth as the veins which supplied its source. Thus some writers tell it. But Eratosthenes says that near Pheneus the river Anias,473 as it is called, makes a lake of the region in front of the city and flows down into sink-holes, which are called "zerethra"; and when these are stopped up the water sometimes overflows into the  p233 plains, and when they are again opened up it rushes out of the plains all at once and empties into the Ladon and the Alpheius, so that even at Olympia the land around the temple was once inundated, while the lake was reduced; and the Erasinus, which flows past Stymphalus, sinks and flows beneath the mountain474 and reappears in the Argive land; and it was on this account, also, that Iphicrates, when he was besieging Stymphalus and accomplishing nothing, tried to block up the sink with a large quantity of sponges with which he had supplied himself, but desisted when Zeus sent an omen from the sky. And near Pheneus is also the water of the Styx, as it is called — a small stream of deadly water which is held to be sacred. So much may be said concerning Arcadia.

5 Polybius475 states that the distance from Maleae towards the north as far as the Ister is about ten thousand stadia, but Artemidorus corrects the statement in an appropriate manner by saying that from Maleae to Aegium is a journey of fourteen hundred stadia, and thence to Cyrrha a voyage of two hundred, and thence through Heracleia to Thaumaci a journey of five hundred, and then to Larisa and the Peneius three hundred and forty, and then through Tempê to the outlets of the Peneius two hundred and forty, and then to Thessaloniceia six hundred and sixty, and thence through Eidomenê and Stobi and Dardanii to the Ister three thousand two hundred. According to Artemidorus, therefore, the distance from the Ister to Maleae amounts to  p235 six thousand five hundred and forty stadia. The cause of this excess476 is that he does not give the measurement of the shortest route, but of the chance route which one of the generals took. And it is not out of place, perhaps, to add also the colonisers, mentioned by Ephorus, of the peoples who settled in the Peloponnesus after the return of the Heracleidae: Aletes, the coloniser of Corinth, Phalces of Sicyon, Tisamenus of Achaea, Oxylus of Elis, Cresphontes of Messenê, Eurysthenes and Procles of Lacedaemon, Temenus and Cissus of Argos, and Agaeus and Deïphontes of the region about Actê.477

The Editor's Notes:

465 Megalopolis.

466 The authorship of these words is unknown.

467 Iliad 2.606.

468 6.2.9.

469 i.e. "through a subterranean channel."

470 "Pits."

471 Stymphalus.

472 It is incredible that Strabo wrote "fifty" here. Leake (Morea, III.146, quoted approvingly by Tozer (Selections, 224), says that "five" must be right, which is "about the number of stades between the site of Stymphalus and the margin of the lake, on the average of the seasons." Palaeographically, however, it is far more likely that Strabo wrote "four" (see critical note).

The critical note to the Greek text, at πεντήκοντα, reads:

For πεντήκοντα (ν′) Tozer, following conj. of Leake and C. O. Müller, reads πέντε (ε′). But Jones conj. τέσσαρα (δ′).

473 The river formed by the confluence of the Aroanius and the Olbius, according to Frazer (note on Pausanias, 8.4.13).

474 Apparently Mt. Chaon (see Pausanias, 2.24).

475 XXXIV. Frag. 12.

476 i.e. in the estimate of Polybius, apparently, rather than in that of Artemidorus.

477 The eastern coast of Argolis was called "Actê" ("Coast").

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