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IX.1

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography

of
Strabo

published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1927

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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IX.3

(Vol. IV) Strabo
Geography

p277 Book IX, Chapter 2

1 (400) Next in order is Boeotia; and when I discuss this country and the tribes that are continuous with it, I must, for the sake of clearness, call to mind what I have said before.60 As I have said, the seaboard from Sunium to Thessaloniceia extends towards the north, slightly inclining towards the west and keeping the sea on the east; and that the parts above this seaboard lie towards the west — ribbon-like stretches of country extending parallel to one another through the whole country. The first of these parts is Attica together with Megaris — a ribbon-like stretch of country, having as its eastern p279side the seaboard from Sunium to Oropus and Boeotia, and as its western side the Isthmus and the Alcyonian Sea, which extends from Pagae to the boundaries of Boeotia near Creusa, and as its remaining two sides, the seaboard from Sunium to the Isthmus and the mountainous country approximately parallel thereto which separates Attica from Boeotia. The second of these parts is Boeotia, extending ribbon-like from the east towards the west, from the Euboean Sea to the sea at the Crisaean Gulf; and it is about equal in length to Attica or perhaps less; in the fertility of its soil, however, it is far superior.

2 Ephorus declares that Boeotia is superior to the countries of the bordering tribes, not only in fertility of soil, but also because it alone has three seas and has a greater number of good harbours; in the Crisaean and Corinthian Gulfs it receives the products of Italy and Sicily and Libya, while in the part which faces Euboea, since its seaboard branches off on either side of the Euripus, on one side towards Aulis and the territory of Tanagra and on the other towards Salganeus and Anthedon, the sea stretches unbroken61 in the one direction towards Egypt and Cyprus and the islands, and in the other direction p281towards Macedonia and the regions of the Propontis and the Hellespont. And he adds that Euboea has, in a way, been made a part of Boeotia by the Euripus, since the Euripus is so narrow and is spanned by a bridge to Euripus only two plethra62 long. 401Now he praises the country on account of these things; and he says that it is naturally well suited to hegemony, but that those who were from time to time its leaders neglected careful training and education, and therefore, although they at times achieved success, they maintained it only for a short time, as is shown in the case of Epameinondas; for after he died the Thebans immediately lost the hegemony, having had only a taste of it; and that the cause of this was the fact that they belittled the value of learning and of intercourse with mankind, and cared for the military virtues alone. Ephorus should have added that these things are particularly useful in dealing with Greeks, although force is stronger than reason in dealing with the barbarians. And the Romans too, in ancient times, when carrying on war with savage tribes, needed no training of this kind, but from the time that they began to have dealings with more civilised tribes and races, they applied themselves to this training also, and so established themselves as lords of all.

3 Be that as it may, Boeotia in earlier times was inhabited by barbarians, the Aones and the Temmices, who wandered thither from Sunium, and by the Leleges and the Hyantes. Then the Phoenicians occupied it, I mean the Phoenicians with Cadmus, p283the man who fortified the Cadmeia63 and left the dominion to his descendants. Those Phoenicians founded Thebes in addition to the Cadmeia, and preserved their dominion, commanding most of the Boeotians until the expedition of the Epigoni. On this occasion they left Thebes for a short time, but came back again. And, in the same way, when they were ejected by the Thracians and the Pelasgians, they established their government in Thessaly along with the Arnaei for a long time, so that they were all called Boeotians. Then they returned to the homeland, at the time when the Aeolian fleet, near Aulis in Boeotia, was now ready to set sail, I mean the fleet which the sons of Orestes were despatching to Asia. After adding the Orchomenian country to Boeotia (for in earlier times the Orchomenians were not a part of the Boeotian community, nor did Homer enumerate them with the Boeotians, but as a separate people, for he called them Minyae),64 they, with the Orchomenians, drove out the Pelasgians to Athens (it was after these that a part of the city was named "Pelasgicon," though they took up their abode below Hymettus), and the Thracians to Parnassus; and the Hyantes founded a city Hyas in Phocis.

4 Ephorus says that the Thracians, after making a treaty with the Boeotians, attacked them by night when they, thinking that peace had been made, were encamping rather carelessly; and when the Boeotians frustrated the Thracians, at the same time making the charge that they were breaking the treaty, the Thracians asserted that they had not broken it, 402for the treaty said "by day," whereas they had made the attack by night; whence arose p285the proverb, "Thracian pretense"; and the Pelasgians, when the war was still going on, went to consult the oracle, as did also the Boeotians. Now Ephorus is unable, he says, to tell the oracular response that was given to the Pelasgians, but the prophetess replied to the Boeotians that they would prosper if they committed sacrilege; and the messengers who were sent to consult the oracle, suspecting that the prophetess responded thus out of favour to the Pelasgians, because of her kinship with them (indeed, the temple also was from the beginning Pelasgian), seized the woman and threw her upon a burning pile, for they considered that, whether she had acted falsely or had not, they were right in either case, since, if she uttered a false oracle, she had her punishment, whereas, if she did not act falsely, they had only obeyed the order of the oracle. Now those in charge of the temple, he says, did not approve of putting to death without trial — and that too in the temple — the men who did this, and therefore they brought them to trial, and summoned them before the priestesses, who were also the prophetesses, being the two survivors of the three; but when the Boeotians said that it was nowhere lawful for women to act as judges, they chose an equal number of men in addition to the women. Now the men, he says, voted for acquittal, but the women for conviction, and since the votes cast were equal, those for acquittal prevailed; and in consequence of this prophecies are uttered at Dodona by men to Boeotians only; the prophetesses, however, explain the oracle to mean that the god ordered the Boeotians to steal the tripods65 and p287take one of them to Dodona every year; and they actually do this, for they always66 take down one of the dedicated tripods by night and cover it up with garments, and secretly, as it were, carry it to Dodona.

5 After this the Boeotians cooperated with Penthilus67 and his followers in forming the Aeolian colony, sending with him most of their own people, so that it was also called a Boeotian colony. A long time afterwards the country was thoroughly devastated by the Persian war that took place near Plataeae. Then they recovered themselves to such an extent that the Thebans, having conquered the Lacedaemonians in two battles, laid claim to supremacy over the Greeks. But Epameinondas fell in the battle, and consequently they were disappointed in this hope; but still they went to war on behalf of the Greeks against the Phocians, who had robbed their common temple. 403And after suffering loss from this war, as also from the Macedonians when these attacked the Greeks,68 they lost their city,69 which was rased to the ground by these same people, and then received it back from them when rebuilt.70 From that time on the Thebans have fared worse and worse down to our own time, and Thebes to‑day does not preserve the character even of a respectable village; and the like is true of other Boeotian cities, except Tanagra and Thespiae, which, as compared with Thebes, have held out fairly well.

6 Next in order I must make a circuit of the country, beginning at that part of the coastline p289opposite Euboea which joins Attica. The beginning is Oropus, and the Sacred Harbour, which is called Delphinium, opposite which is the ancient Eretria in Euboea, the distance across being sixty stadia. After Delphinium, at a distance of twenty stadia, is Oropus; and opposite Oropus is the present Eretria, and to it the passage across the strait is forty stadia.

7 Then one comes to Delium, the sanctuary of Apollo, which is a reproduction of that in Delos. It is a small town of the Tanagraeans, thirty stadia distant from Aulis. It was to this place that the Athenians, after their defeat in battle, made their headlong flight; and in the flight Socrates the philosopher, who was serving on foot, since his horse had got away from him, saw Xenophon the son of Gryllus lying on the ground, having fallen from his horse, and took him up on his shoulders and carried him in safety for many stadia, until the flight ceased.

8 Then one comes to a large harbour, which is called Bathys Limen;71 then to Aulis, a rocky place and a village of the Tanagraeans. Its harbour is large enough for only fifty boats; and therefore it is reasonable to suppose that the naval station of the Greeks was in the large harbour. And near by, also, is the Euripus at Chalcis, to which the distance from Sunium is six hundred and seventy stadia; and over it is a bridge two plethra long,72 as I have p291said;73 and a tower stands on each side, one on the side of Chalcis, and the other on the side of Boeotia; and tube-like passages have been constructed into the towers.74 Concerning the refluent currents of the Euripus it is enough to say only thus much, that they are said to change seven times each day and night;75 but the cause of the changes must be investigated elsewhere.

9 Near the Euripus, upon a height, is situated a place called Salganeus. It is named after Salganeus, a Boeotian, who was buried there — the man who guided the Persians when they sailed into this channel from the Maliac Gulf. It is said that he was put to death before they reached the Euripus by Megabates, the commander of the fleet, because he was considered a villain, on the ground that he had deceitfully rushed the fleet into a blind alley of p293the sea, but that the barbarian, when he perceived that he himself was mistaken, not only repented, but deemed worthy of burial the man who had been put to death without cause.

10 404Near Oropus is a place called Graea, and also the temple of Amphiaraüs, and the monument of Narcissus the Eretrian, which is called "Sigelus's,"76 because people pass it in silence.77 Some say that Graea is the same as Tanagra. The Poemandrian territory is the same as the Tanagraean;78 and the Tanagraeans are also called Gephyraeans. The temple of Amphiaraüs was transferred hither in accordance with an oracle from the Theban Cnopia.

11 Also Mycalessus, a village, is in the Tanagraean territory. It is situated on the road that leads from Thebes to Chalcis; and in the Boeotian dialect it is called Mycalettus. And Harma is likewise in the Tanagraean territory; it is a deserted village near Mycalettus, and received its name from the chariot of Amphiaraüs, and is a different place from the Harma in Attica, which is near Phylë, a deme of Attica bordering on Tanagra.79 Here originated the proverb, "when the lightning flashes through Harma"; for those who are called the Pythaistae look in the general direction of Harma, in accordance with an oracle, and note any flash of lightning in that direction, and then, when they see the p295lightning flash, take the offering to Delphi.80 They would keep watch for three months, for three days and nights each month, from the altar of Zeus Astrapaeus;81 this altar is within the walls82 between the Pythium and the Olympium.83 In regard to the Harma in Boeotia, some say that Amphiaraus fell in the battle out of his chariot84 near the place where his temple now is, and that the chariot was drawn empty to the place which bears the same name; others say that the chariot of Adrastus, when he was in flight, was smashed to pieces there, but that Adrastus safely escaped on Areion.85 But Philochorus86 says that Adrastus was saved by the inhabitants of the village, and that on this account they obtained equal rights of citizenship from the Argives.

12 To anyone returning from Thebes to Argos,87 Tanagra is on the left; and88 . . . is situated on the right. And Hyria,89 also, belongs to the Tanagraean territory now, though in earlier times it belonged to the Theban territory. Hyria is the scene of the myth of Hyrieus, and of the birth of Orion, of which Pindar speaks in his dithyrambs;90 it is situated near Aulis. Some say that Hysiae is p297called Hyria, belonging to the Parasopian country91 below Cithaeron, near Erythrae, in the interior, and that it is a colony of the Hyrieans and was founded by Nycteus, the father of Antiope. There is also a Hysiae in the Argive territory, a village; and its inhabitants are called Hysiatae. The Erythrae in Ionia is a colony of this Erythrae. And Heleon, also, is a village belonging to Tanagra, having been so named from the "hele."92

13 After Salganeus one comes to Anthedon, a city with a harbour; and it is the last city on that part of the Boeotian seaboard which is opposite to Euboea, as the poet says, 405"Anthedon at the extremity."93 As one proceeds a little farther, however, there are still two small towns belonging to the Boeotians: Larymna, near which the Cephissus empties, and, still farther on, Halae, which bears the same name as the Attic demes.94 Opposite this seaboard is situated, it is said, the Aegae95 in Euboea, in which is the temple of the Aegaean Poseidon, which I have mentioned before.96 The distance across the strait from Anthedon to Aegae is one hundred and twenty stadia, but from the other places it is much less. The temple is situated on a high mountain, where there was once a city. And Orobiae97 also is near Aegae. In the Anthedonian territory is Mount p299Messapius,98 named after Messapus, who, when he came into Iapygia, called the country Messapia.99 Here, too, is the scene of the myth of Glaucus, the Anthedonian, who is said to have changed into a sea-monster.100

14 Near Anthedon, and belonging to Boeotia, is a place that is esteemed sacred, and contains traces of a city, Isus, as it is called, with the first syllable pronounced short. Some, however, think that the verse should be written, "sacred Isus and Anthedon at the extremity,"101 lengthening the first syllable by poetic licence on account of the meter,102 instead of "sacred Nisa,"103 for Nisa is nowhere to be seen in Boeotia, as Apollodorus says in his work On Ships;104 so that Nisa could not be the correct reading, unless by "Nisa" the poet means "Isus"; for there was a city Nisa bearing the same name in the territory of Megara, whose inhabitants emigrated to the foothills of Cithaeron, but it has now disappeared. Some, however, think that we should write "sacred Creusa," taking the poet to mean the Creusa of to‑day, the naval station of the Thespians, which is situated in the Crisaean Gulf; but others think that we should read "sacred Pharae." Pharae is p301one of the "Four United Villages" in the neighbourhood of Tanagra, which are: Heleon, Harma, Mycalessus, and Pharae. And still others write as follows: "sacred Nysa." And Nysa is a village in Helicon.105 Such, then, is the seaboard facing Euboea.

15 The plains in the interior, which come next in order, are hollows, and are surrounded everywhere on the remaining sides106 by mountains; by the mountains of Attica on the south, and on the north by the mountains of Phocis; and, on the west, Cithaeron inclines, obliquely, a little above the Crisaean Sea; it begins contiguous with the mountains of Megara and Attica, and then bends into the plains, 406terminating in the neighbourhood of Thebes.

16 Some of these plains are marshy, since rivers spread out over them, though other rivers fall into them and later find a way out; other plains are dried up, and on account of their fertility are tilled in all kinds of ways. But since the depths of the earth are full of caverns and holes,107 it has often happened that violent earthquakes have blocked up some of the passages, and also opened up others, some up to the surface of the earth and others through underground channels. The result for the waters, therefore, is that some of the streams flow through underground channels, whereas others flow on the surface of the earth, thus forming lakes and rivers. And when the channels in the depths of the earth are stopped up, it comes to pass that the lakes expand as far as the inhabited places, so that they p303swallow up both cities and districts, and that when the same channels, or others, are opened up, these cities and districts are uncovered; and that the same regions at one time are traversed in boats and at another on foot, and the same cities at one time are situated on the lake108 and at another far away from it.

17 One of two things has taken place: either the cities have remained unremoved, when the increase in the waters has been insufficient to overflow the dwellings because of their elevation, or else they have been abandoned and rebuilt elsewhere, when, being oftentimes endangered by their nearness to the lake, they have relieved themselves from fear by changing to districts farther away or higher up. And it follows that the cities thus rebuilt which have kept the same name, though at first called by names truly applying to them, derived from local circumstances, have names which no longer truly apply to them; for instance, it is probable that "Plataeae" was so called from the "blade"109 of the oars, and "Plataeans" were those who made their living from rowing; but now, since they live far away from the lake, the name can no longer truly apply to them. Helos and Heleon and Heilesium were so called because they were situated near marshes;110 but now the case is different with these places, since they have been rebuilt elsewhere, or else the lake has been greatly reduced because of outflows that later took place; for this is possible.

18 p305 This is best shown by the Cephissus, which fills lake Copais; for when the lake had increased so much that Copae111 was in danger of being swallowed up (Copae is named by the poet,112 and from it the lake took its name), a rent in the earth, which was formed by the lake near Copae, opened up a subterranean channel113 about thirty stadia in length and admitted the river; and then the river burst forth to the surface near Larymna in Locris; I mean the Upper Larymna, for there is another Larymna, which I have already mentioned,114 the Boeotian Larymna115 on the sea, to which the Romans annexed the Upper Larymna.116 The place is called Anchoê;117 407and there is also a lake of the same name. And when it leaves this lake the Cephissus at last flows out to the sea. Now at that time, when the flooding of the lake ceased, there was also a cessation of danger to those who lived near it, except in the case of the cities which had already been swallowed up. And though the subterranean channels filled up again, Crates the mining engineer of Chalcis ceased clearing away the obstructions118 because of party strife among the Boeotians, although, as he himself says in the letter to Alexander, many places had already been drained. Among these places, some writers suppose, was the ancient site of Orchomenus, and others, those of Eleusis and Athens on the p307Triton River.119 These cities, it is said, were founded by Cecrops, when he ruled over Boeotia, then called Ogygia, but were later wiped out by inundations. And it is said that a fissure in the earth opened up near Orchomenus, also, and that it admitted the Melas River, which flowed through the territory of Haliartus120 and formed there the marsh which produces the reed that is used for flutes.121 But this river has completely disappeared, either because it is dispersed by the fissure into invisible channels or because it is used up beforehand by the marshes and lakes in the neighbourhood of Haliartus, from which the poet calls the place "grassy," when he says, "and grassy Haliartus."122

19 Now these rivers flow down from the Phocian mountains, and among them the Cephissus, which takes its beginning at Lilaea, a Phocian city, as Homer says: "And those who held Lilaea, at the sources of Cephissus."123 And flowing through Elateia, the largest of the cities of Phocis, and through Parapotamii and Phanoteus,124 which are likewise Phocian towns, it goes on into Chaeroneia in Boeotia, and then through the territories of Orchomenus and Coroneia, and discharges into Lake Copais. And also the Permessus and the Olmeius, flowing from Helicon, meet one another and fall into the same p309Lake Copais near Haliartus; and also other streams empty into it. Now it is a large lake, having a circuit of three hundred and eighty stadia, but its outlets are nowhere to be seen, except for the fissure which admits the Cephissus, and for the marshes.

20 Among the neighbouring lakes are Lake Trephia125 and the Cephissian Lake, which is also mentioned by the poet: "Who dwelt in Hylê, strongly intent upon wealth, on the shore of the Cephissian Lake."126 For he does not mean Lake Copais, as some think, but lake Hylicê (accented on the last syllable like lyricé), which is named after the village near by that is called Hylê (accented like lýra and thýra), not Hydê, as some write, "who dwelt in Hydê." For Hydê is in Lydia, 408"below snowy Tmolus in the fertile land of Hydê,"127 whereas Hylê is in Boeotia; at any rate, the poet appends to the words, "on the shore of the Cephissian Lake," the words, "and near him dwelt the rest of the Boeotians." For Lake Copais is large, and not in the territory of Thebes; whereas the other is small, and is filled from lake Copais through subterranean p311channels; and it is situated between Thebes and Anthedon. Homer, however, uses the word in the singular number, at one time making the first syllable long, as in the Catalogue, "and Hȳlê and Peteôn,128 by poetic licence, and at another making it short, "who dwelt in Hy̆lê," and "Tychius . . . , by far the best of leatherworkers, who had his home in Hylê."129 And certain critics are not correct in writing Hydê here, either; for Aias was not sending to fetch his shield from Lydia.

21 These lakes suggest the order of the places that come next after them, so that nominally their positions are clearly determined, because the poet observes no order in naming the places, whether those that are worthy of mention or those that are not. But it is difficult, in naming so many places, most of them insignificant and situated in the interior, to avoid error in every case in the matter of their order. The seaboard, however, has a certain advantage with regard to this: the places there are better known; and, too, the sea more readily suggests the order of places. Therefore I, too, shall try to take my beginnings from the seaboard, although at present I shall disregard this intention, and following the poet shall make my enumeration of the places, adding everything taken from other writers, but omitted by him, that may be useful to p313us. He begins at Hyria and Aulis, concerning which I have already spoken.130

22 Schoenus131 is a district of the Theban territory on the road that leads from Thebes to Anthedon, and is about fifty stadia distant from Thebes; and there is also a river Schoenus which flows through it.

23 Scolus is a village in the Parasopian132 country at the foot of Mount Cithaeron, a place that is rugged and hardly habitable; whence the proverb, "neither go to Scolus thyself nor follow another thither." And this is also said to be the place from which Pentheus was brought when he was torn to pieces.133 And there was another Scolus among the cities in the neighbourhood of Olynthus bearing the same name as this village. And, as I have already said,134 there is also in the Trachinian Heracleia a village called Parasopii, past which flows a River Asopus; and in Sicyonia there is another Asopus River, and also the country Asopia, through which that Asopus flows; and there are also other rivers which bear this name.

24 The name "Eteonus"135 was changed to "Scarphê," and Scarphê too is in Parasopia; for the Asopus and the Ismenus flow through the plain which is in front of Thebes. And there is the spring called Dircê; and also Potniae, 409where is the scene of the myth of Glaucus of Potniae, who was torn to pieces by the Potnian mares near the city. Cithaeron, also, ends not far from Thebes. The p315Asopus flows past it, washing its foothills and causing the division of the Parasopii into several settlements; and all the settlements are subject to Thebes, though another set of writers say that Scolus, Eteonus, and Erythrae are in the territory of the Plataeans, for the river flows past Plataea, also, and empties near Tanagra. And in the territory of Thebes are also Therapnae and Teumessus, which latter Antimachus has adorned with praise in many verses,136 although he enumerates goodly attributes which do not belong to it, as, for instance, "there is a windy little hill"; but the verses are well known.

25 The "Thespiae" of to‑day is by Antimachus spelled "Thespeia"; for there are many names of places which are used in both ways, both in the singular and in the plural, just as there are many which are used both in the masculine and in the feminine, whereas there are others which are used in either one or the other number only. Thespiae is a city near Mt. Helicon, lying somewhat to the south of it; and both it and Helicon are situated on the Crisaean Gulf. It has a seaport Creusa, also called Creusis. In the Thespian territory, in the part lying towards Helicon, is Ascrê, the native city of Hesiod; it is situated on the right of Helicon,137 on a high and rugged place, and is about forty stadia distant from Thespiae. This city Hesiod himself has satirised in verses which allude to his father, p317because at an earlier time his father changed his abode to this place from the Aeolian Cymê, saying: "And he settled near Helicon in a wretched village, Ascrê, which is bad in winter, oppressive in summer, and pleasant at no time."138 Helicon is contiguous to Phocis in its northerly parts, and to a slight extent also in its westerly parts, in the region of the last harbour belonging to Phocis, the harbour which, from the fact in the case, is called Mychus;139 for, speaking generally, it is above this harbour of the Crisaean Gulf that Helicon and Ascrê, and also Thespiae and its seaport Creusa, are situated. This is also considered the deepest recess of the Crisaean Gulf, and in general of the Corinthian Gulf. The length of the coast-line from the harbour Mychus to Creusa is ninety stadia; and the length from Creusa as far as the promontory called Holmiae is one hundred and twenty; and hence Pagae and Oenoê, of which I have already spoken,140 are situated in the deepest recess of the gulf. Now Helicon, not far p319distant from Parnassus, rivals it both in height and in circuit; 410for both are rocky and covered with snow, and their circuit comprises no large extent of territory.141 Here are the temple of the Muses and Hippu-crenê142 and the cave of the nymphs called the Leibethrides; and from this fact one might infer that those who consecrated Helicon to the Muses were Thracians, the same who dedicated Pieris and Leibethrum and Pimpleia to the same goddesses.143 The Thracians used to be called Pieres, but, now that they have disappeared, the Macedonians hold these places. It has been said144 that Thracians once settled in this part of Boeotia, having overpowered the Boeotians, as did also Pelasgians and other barbarians. Now in earlier times Thespiae was well known because of the Eros of Praxiteles, which was sculptured by him and dedicated by Glycera the courtesan (she had received it as a gift from the artist) to the Thespians, since she was a native of the place. Now in earlier times travellers would go up to Thespeia, a city otherwise not worth seeing, to see the Eros; and at present it and Tanagra are the only Boeotian cities that still endure; but of all the rest only ruins and names are left.

26 After Thespiae Homer names Graea and Mycalessus, concerning which I have already spoken.145 He likewise says concerning the rest:146 "And those p321who lived about Harma and Eilesium and Erythrae, and those who held Eleon and Hylê and Peteon."147 Peteon is a village in the Theban territory near the road to Anthedon. Ocaleê is midway between Haliartus and Alalcomenium, thirty stadia distant from each; and a river bearing the same name flows past it. The Phocian Medeon is on the Crisaean Gulf, at a distance of one hundred and sixty stadia from Boeotia, whereas the Boeotian Medeon, which was named after it, is near Onchestus at the base of the mountain Phoenicius; and from this fact its name has been changed to Phoenicis. This mountain is also called a part of the Theban territory; but by some both Medeon and Ocalea are called a part of the territory of Haliartus.

27 Homer then goes on to say: "Copae, and Eutresis, and Thisbê abounding in doves."148 Concerning Copae I have already spoken.149 It lies towards the north on Lake Copais; and the others around the lake are these: Acraephiae, Phoenicis, Onchestus, Haliartus, Ocalea, Alalcomenae, Tilphusium, Coroneia. In early times, at least, the lake had no common name, 411but was called by different names corresponding to the several settlements lying on it, as, for instance, Copais from Copae, Haliartis from Haliartus, and so in the case of the rest of the settlements; but later the whole lake was called Copais, this name prevailing over p323all others; for the region of Copae forms the deepest recess of the lake. Pindar calls this lake Cephissis;150 at any rate, he places near it the spring Tilphossa, which flows at the foot of Mount Tilphossius near Haliartus and Alalcomenae, near which latter is the tomb of Teiresias; and here, too, is the temple of the Tilphossian Apollo.

28 Next in order after Copae Homer names Eutresis, a small village of the Thespians, where Zethus and Amphion are said to have lived before they reigned over Thebes. Thisbê is now called Thisbae; the place is inhabited and is situated slightly above the sea, bordering on the territory of the Thespians and on that of Coroneia; and it, too, lies at the foot of Helicon on the south; and it has a seaport situated on a rocky place, which abounds in doves, in reference to which the poet says, "Thisbê abounding in doves." From here to Sicyon is a voyage of one hundred and sixty stadia.

29 Next Homer names Coroneia, Haliartus, Plataeae, and Glissas. Now Coroneia is situated on a height near Helicon. The Boeotians took possession of it on their return from the Thessalian Arnê after the Trojan War, at which time they also occupied Orchomenus. And when they got the mastery of Coroneia, they built in the plain before the city the temple of the Itonian Athena, bearing the same name as the Thessalian temple; and they called the river which flowed past it Cuarius, giving it the same name as the Thessalian river. But Alcaeus calls it Coralius, when he says, "Athena, p325warrior queen, who dost keep watch o'er the corn-fieldsº of Coroneia before thy temple on the banks of the Coralius River." Here, too, the Pamboeotian Festival used to be celebrated. And for some mystic reason, as they say, a statue of Hades151 was dedicated along with that of Athena. Now the people in Coroneia are called Coronii, whereas those in the Messenian Coroneia are called Coronaeis.

30 Haliartus is no longer in existence, having been rased to the ground in the war against Perseus; and the country is held by the Athenians, a gift from the Romans. It was situated in a narrow place, between the mountain situated above it and Lake Copais, near the Permessus and Olmeius Rivers and the marsh that produces the flute reed.

31 Plataeae, which Homer152 speaks of in the singular number, 412is at the foot of Cithaeron, between it and Thebes, along the road that leads to Athens and Megara, on the confines of Attica and Megaris; for Eleutherae is near by, which some say belongs to Attica, others to Boeotia. I have already said153 that the Asopus flows past Plataeae. Here it was that the forces of the Greeks completely wiped out Mardonius and his three hundred thousand Persians; p327and they built a temple of Zeus Eleutherius, and instituted the athletic games in which the victor received a crown, calling them the Eleutheria. And tombs of those who died in the battle, erected at public expense, are still to be seen. In Sicyonia, also, there is a deme called Plataeae, the home of Mnasalces the poet:154 "The tomb of Mnasalces the Plataean." Homer speaks of Glissas, a settlement in the mountain Hypatus, which is in the Theban country near Teumessus and Cadmeia. The hillocks below which lies the Aonian Plain, as it is called, which extends from the Hypatus mountain to Thebes, are called "Dria."155

32 In these words of the poet, "and those who held Hypothebes,"156 some take him to mean some little city called Hypothebes, others Potniae; for Thebes, the latter say, was deserted because of the expedition of the Epigoni and had no part in the Trojan War. The former, however, say that the Thebans indeed had a part in the war, but that they were living in the level districts below Cadmeia157 at that time, since they were unable to rebuild Cadmeia; and since Cadmeia was called Thebes, they add, the poet called the Thebans of that time "Hypothebans" instead of "people who live below Cadmeia."

33 Onchestus is where the Amphictyonic Council p329used to convene, in the territory of Haliartus near Lake Copais and the Teneric Plain; it is situated on a height, is bare of trees, and has a sacred Precinct of Poseidon, which is also bare of trees. But the poets embellish things, calling all sacred precincts "sacred groves," even if they are bare of trees. Such, also, is the saying of Pindar concerning Apollo: "stirred, he traversed both land and sea, and halted on great lookouts above mountains, and whirled great stones, laying foundations of sacred groves."158 But Alcaeus is wrong, for just as he perverted the name of the River Cuarius, so he falsified the position of Onchestus, placing it near the extremities of Helicon, 413although it is at quite a distance from this mountain.

34 The Teneric Plain is named after Tenerus. In myth he was the son of Apollo by Melia, and was a prophet of the oracle on the Ptoüs Mountain, which the same poet calls three-peaked: "and once he took possession of the three-peaked hollow of Ptoüs."159 And he calls Tenerus "temple-minister, prophet, called by the same name as the plains." The Ptoüs lies above the Teneric Plain and Lake Copais near Acraephium. Both the oracle and the mountain belonged to the Thebans. And Acraephium p331itself also lies on a height. They say that this is called Arnê by the poet, the same name as the Thessalian city.

35 Some say that Arnê too was swallowed up by the lake, as well as Mideia.160 Zenodotus, who writes "and those who possessed Ascrê161 rich in vineyards," seems not to have read the statements of Hesiod concerning his native land, nor those of Eudoxus, who says much worse things concerning Ascrê. For how could anyone believe that such a place was called "rich in vineyards" by the poet? Wrong, also, are those who write "Tarnê" instead of "Arnê"; for not a single place named Tarnê is pointed out among the Boeotians, though there is one among the Lydians, and this the poet mentions: "Idomeneus then slew Phaestus, son of Borus the Maeonian, who came from fertile Tarnê." The remaining Boeotian cities concerning which it is worthwhile to make mention are: of those situated round the lake, Alalcomenae and Tilphossium, and, of the rest, Chaeroneia, Lebadeia, and Leuctra.

36 Now as for Alalcomenae, the poet mentions it, but not in the Catalogue: "Argive Hera and Alalcomenian Athena."162 It has an ancient temple of Athena which is held in great honour; and they say, at least, that the goddess was born there, just as Hera was born in Argos, and that it was because of p333this that the poet named them both in this way, as natives of these places. And it was because of this, perhaps, that he did not mention in the Catalogue the men of Alalcomenae, since, being sacred, they were excused from the expedition. And in fact the city always continued unravaged, although it was neither large nor situated in a secure position, but in a plain. But all peoples, since they revered the goddess, held aloof from any violence towards the inhabitants, so that when the Thebans, at the time of the expedition of the Epigonoi, left their city, they are said to have fled for refuge to Alalcomenae, and to Tilphossius, the mountain, a natural stronghold that lies above it; and at the base of this mountain is a spring called Tilphossa, and the monument of Teiresias, who died there at the time of the flight.

37 414Chaeroneia is near Orchomenus. It was here that Philip the son of Amyntas conquered the Athenians, Boeotians, and Corinthians in a great battle,163 and set himself up as lord of Greece. And here, too, are to be seen tombs of those who fell in the battle, tombs erected at public expense. And it was in the same region that the Romans so completely defeated the forces of Mithridates, many tens of thousands in number, that only a few escaped in safety to the sea and fled in their ships, whereas the rest either perished or were taken captive.

38 At Lebadeia is situated an oracle of Trophonian Zeus. The oracle has a descent into the earth consisting of an underground chasm; and the person who consults the oracle descends into it himself. It is situated between Mt. Helicon and Chaeroneia, near Coroneia.

39 p335 Leuctra is the place where Epameinondas defeated the Lacedaemonians in a great battle and found a beginning of his overthrow of them; for after that time they were never again able to regain the hegemony of the Greeks which they formerly held, and especially because they also fared badly in the second clash near Mantineia. However, although they had suffered such reverses, they continued to avoid being subject to others until the Roman conquest. And among the Romans, also, they have continued to be held in honour because of the excellence of their government. This place is to be seen on the road that leads from Plataeae to Thespiae.

40 Next the poet gives the catalogue of the Orchomenians, whom he separates from the Boeotian tribe. He calls Orchomenus "Minyeian," after the tribe of the Minyae. They say that some of the Minyae emigrated from there to Iolcus, and that from this fact the Argonauts were called Minyae. Clearly it was in early times both a rich and very powerful city. Now to its wealth Homer also is a witness, for when enumerating the places that abounded in wealth he says: "Nor yet all that comes to Orchomenus164 nor all that comes to Egyptian Thebes."165 And of its power there is this proof, that the Thebans were wont to pay tribute to the Orchomenians and to Erginus their tyrant, who is said to have been put to death by Heracles. Eteocles, one of those who reigned as king at Orchomenus, who founded a p337temple of the Graces, was the first to display both wealth and power; for he honoured these goddesses either because he was successful in receiving graces,166 or in giving them, or both. For necessarily, when he had become naturally inclined to kindly deeds, 415he began doing honour to these goddesses; and therefore he already possessed this power; but in addition he also had to have money, for neither could anyone give much if he did not have much, nor could anyone have much if he did not receive much. But if he has both together, he has the reciprocal giving and receiving; for the vessel that is at the same time being emptied and filled is always full for use; but he who gives and does not receive could not succeed in either, for he will stop giving because his treasury fails; also the givers will stop giving to him who receives only and grants no favours; and therefore he could not succeed in either way. And like things might be said concerning power. Apart from the common saying, "money is the most valuable thing to men, and it has the most power of all things among men," we should look into the subject in detail. We say that kings have the greatest power; and on this account we call them potentates. They are potent in leading the multitudes whither they wish, through persuasion or force. Generally they persuade through kindness, for persuasion through words is not kingly; indeed, this belongs to the p339orator, whereas we call it kingly persuasion when kings win and attract men whither they wish by kindly deeds. They persuade men, it is true, through kindly deeds, but they force them by means of arms. Both these things may be bought with money; for he has the largest army who is able to support the largest, and he who possesses the most means is also able to show the most kindness.

They say that the place now occupied by Lake Copais was formerly dry ground, and that it was tilled in all kinds of ways when it was subject to the Orchomenians, who lived near it. And this fact, accordingly, is adduced as an evidence of their wealth.

41 Aspledon was by some called Spledon, without the first syllable. Then the name, both of it and of the country, was changed to Eudeielos, perhaps because, from its "evening" inclination,167 it offered a special advantage peculiar to its inhabitants, especially the mildness of its winters; for the two ends of the day are coldest; and of these the evening is colder than the morning, for as night approaches the cold is more intense, and as night retires it abates. But the sun is a means of mitigating the cold. The place, therefore, that is warmed most by the sun at the coldest time is mildest in winter. Eudeielos is twenty p341stadia distant from Orchomenus. And the River Melas is between them.

42 416Above the Orchomenian territory lies Panopeus, a Phocian city, and also Hyampolis. And bordering on these is Opus, the metropolis of the Epicnemidian Locrians. Now in earlier times Orchomenus was situated on a plain, they say, but when the waters overflowed, the inhabitants migrated up to the mountain Acontius, which extends for a distance of sixty stadia to Parapotamii in Phocis. And they relate that the Achaeans in Pontus, as they are called, are a colony of Orchomenians who wandered there with Ialmenus after the capture of Troy. There was also an Orchomenus in the neighbourhood of Carystus. Those who have written concerning the Ships168 have supplied us well with such materials, and are the writers we follow when they say things appropriate to the purpose of our work.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

60 2.5.21, 7.7.4, and 9.1.2.

61 i.e. unbroken by an isthmus or other obstacle.

62 202 English feet.

63 The acropolis of Thebes.

64 Iliad 2.511.

65 i.e. steal the dedicated tripods, thus committing sacrilege.

66 i.e. every year.

67 See 13.1.3.

68 At the battle of Chaeroneia (338 B.C.).

69 335 B.C.

70 By Cassander (316 B.C.).

71 Deep Harbour.

72 In 411 B.C. Chalcis was joined to the mainland by a bridge. Moles were thrown out into the Euripus from each shore, high towers were built at the ends of the two moles, leaving a passage through for a single ship, and "wooden bridges were set over the channels" (Diodorus Siculus 13.47). The plurals "bridges" and "channels" may be explained by the fact that there was a small rocky island in the middle of the strait between the two channels. In 334 B.C. they fortified the bridge with towers and gates and a wall, and included the Boeotian Mt. Canethus (Karababa?) as a bridgehead within the circuit of the city of Chalcis (Strabo 10.1.8). Chalcis was still joined to the continent by a bridge in 200 B.C. (Livy 28.6), and Aemilius Paulus went to see it about 167 B.C. (Livy 45.27). And there was still a bridge there in the time of Livy himself, although the tower mentioned by him (28.6) was no longer there (note the tense of claudebat). Strabo's "two plethra" (202 feet) is accurate enough for the entire stretch across the strait, and he must have included the moles in his term "bridge." To‑day the western channel is entirely closed, while the eastern is spanned by a swing-bridge about 85 feet long.

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73 9.2.2.

74 The usual interpretation of this clause, "a canal (σῦριγξ) has been constructed between (εἰς) the towers" seems impossible. The literal translation is "a tube has been constructed across into them" (the towers). Bréquigny (quoted in the French trans., vol. III, Eclaircissemens X, appears to be on the right track: "On y a pratiqué des σῦριγξ (souterrains) pour y communiquer" ("they have constructed subterranean passages so as to communicate with the towers"). Livy (28.6) says: "The city has two fortresses, one threatening the sea, and the other in the middle of the city. Thence by a cuniculum (literally, "rabbit-hole," and hence a "tube-like passageway") "a road leads to the sea, and this road used to be shut off from the sea by a tower of five stories, a remarkable bulwark." Certainly σῦριγξ should mean an underground passage or else a roofed gallery of some sort above the ground (cf. the use of the word in Polybius 9.41.9 concerning the investment of Echinus by Philip, and in 15.30.6); and Strabo probably means that there was a protected passage across to the towers from both sides. See Leake's Travels in Northern Greece, II, 259; Grote's Greece, VIII, ch. 63; and the discussion by the French translators (l.c.), who believe that there were two passages for ships, one on each side of the strait.

75 "They take place, not seven times in the twenty-four hours, as Strabo says, but at irregular intervals" (Tozer, Selections, p234). See the explanation of Admiral Mansell in Murray's Greece, pp387‑388.

76 i.e. "Silent's" (monument).

77 For love of the indifferent Narcissus Echo died of a broken heart. Nemesis punished him by causing him to fall desperately in love with his own image which he saw in a fountain. He pined away and was changed to the flower which bears his name.

78 "The people of Tanagra say that their founder was Poemander" (Pausanias 9.10).

79 Strabo means the Tanagraean territory.

80 See Dittenberger 611, note 3.

81 "Wielder of Lightning."

82 Of Athens.

83 The temples of Pythian Apollo and Olympian Zeus.

84 "Harma."

85 "The fleet horse of Adrastus, of divine descent" (Iliad 23.346).

86 See footnote on 9.1.6.

87 If Strabo wrote "Argos," which is doubtful (see critical note), he must have been thinking of the route taken by Amphiaraüs, or Adrastus, back to the Peloponnesus.

The critical note to the Greek text (Ἄργος) reads:

On Ἄργος, which the editors in general consider corrupt, see C. Müller, Ind. Var. Lect., p1000. Daebritz (De Artemidoro Strabonis Auctore Capita Tria) conj. εἰς Ἀθήνας ἰόντι.

88 See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (ἀπιόντι) reads:

For ἀπιόντι, Meineke reads ἀνιόντι.

89 The place mentioned in Homer, Iliad 2.496.

90 Frag. 73 (Bergk).

91 i.e. the country along the Asopus River.

92 "Marshes."

93 Iliad 2.508.

94 i.e. Halae Aexonides and Halae Araphenides.

95 See Iliad 13.21, Odyssey 5.381. Aegae was on the site of the modern Limni, or else a little to the south of it (see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. "Aigai.")

96 8.7.4.

97 Destroyed by a tidal wave 426 B.C. (Thucydides 3.89).

98 The modern Ktypa.

99 See 6.3.1.

100 On the change of Glaucus to a sea deity, cf. Pausanias 9.22 and Plato's Republic 611.

101 Iliad 2.508.

102 i.e. they make the letter "I" long, and so indicate by using the circumflex accent instead of the acute; or he might mean that they lengthen the syllable by pronouncing the "s" as a double "s."

103 The "i" in Nisa is long by nature.

104 i.e. On the (Homeric) Catalogue of Ships (see 1.2.24).

105 The range of mountains in Boeotia between Lake Copais and the Corinthian Gulf.

106 i.e. except the eastern side, on the Euboean Sea.

107 Cf. 8.8.4.

108 Strabo is thinking primarily of Lake Copais. For a complete account of this lake, which is now completely drained, see Tozer, note on Pausanias 9.24.1.

109 In Greek, "platē."

110 Helos ("marsh"), Helê ("marshes").

111 In Greek, "oars."

112 Iliad 2.502.

113 See Tozer, Selections, p236, note 2.

114 9.2.13.

115 Lower Larymna.

116 According to Pausanias (9.23.4), "Lower Larymna anciently belonged to Opus," the Locrian city, but later "joined the Boeotian confederacy." For a complete account of the two Larymnas see Frazer, note on Pausanias 9.23.7.

117 "Outflow" (Ἀγχόη).

118 There seems to be an omission here. We should expect, "Crates . . . began to clear away the obstructions but ceased."

119 On the Triton River, see Pausanias 9.33.5.

120 How could this be when the Melas lay on the northern side of the lake and Haliartus on the southern (Tozer, op. cit., p237)?

121 So Pliny 16.66.

122 Iliad 2.503.

123 Iliad 2.523.

124 The usual spelling is "Panopeus."

125 Otherwise unknown.

126 Iliad 5.708.

127 Iliad 20.385.

Thayer's Note: But in XIII.4.6, q.v., Strabo writes that there is no place called Hydê in Lydia.

128 Iliad 2.500.

129 Iliad 7.221.

130 9.2.8 and 9.2.12.

131 Iliad 2.497.

132 i.e. along the Asopus River.

133 i.e. by the Bacchic women.

134 8.6.24.

135 See 7.3.6.

136 In his epic poem entitled Thebais.

137 i.e. as viewed from Thespiae.

138 Works and Days 639‑40.

Thayer's Note: Quoted also in 13.3.6.

139 i.e. "Mychus," "Recess," of what is now Gulf Zalitza.

140 8.6.22.

141 i.e. they descend sharply and without foothills to the plains.

142 See 8.6.21.

143 Cp. 10.3.17.

144 9.2.3.

145 9.2.10, 11.

146 9.2.11, 12, 17, 20.

147 Iliad 2.499.

148 Iliad 2.502.

149 9.2.18.

150 Cp. 9.2.20.

151 P. Foucart (see Bulletin de Ia Correspondance Hellénique, 1885, IX.433), on the basis of a Boeotian inscription, conjectures that "Hades" should be corrected to "Ares."

152 Iliad 2.504.

153 8.6.24.

154 Of his works only sixteen epigrams are now extant.

155 i.e. "Thickets."

156 Iliad 2.505.

157 The acropolis of Thebes.

158 i.e. foundations of temples. This fragment from Pindar is otherwise unknown (see Bergk, Frag. 101).

159 Bergk, Frag. 102.

160 Cf. 1.3.18.

161 i.e. Zenodotus emended Homer's "Arnê" (Iliad 2.507) to "Ascrê."

162 Iliad 4.8.

163 338 B.C.

164 On the wealth of Orchomenus, see Pausanias 8.33.

165 Iliad 9.381.

166 i.e. favours.

167 Deilinou klimatos: apparently a false etymology of "Eudeielos," based on the fact that the effect of the sun's heat is greatest in the deilê (evening). But the most likely meaning of eudeielos is "sunny," the word being used of places exposed to the hot sun (e.g. see Pindar, O. 3.111 and Gildersleeve's note thereon), and having a southerly rather than an "evening" (westerly) inclination, as is the case with Aspledon (Buttmann Lexilogus, s.v. Δείλη §§ 7‑9, q.v.). Butcher and Lang, and Murray, in their translations of the Odyssey (e.g. 9.21), translate the word "clear-seen," and Cunliffe (Lexicon Homeric Dialect), "bright, shining," as though used for εὔδηλος. Certainly Strabo, as the context shows, is thinking of the position of the place and of the sun's heat (see 10.2.12, where he discusses "eudeielos Ithaca" at length).

168 i.e. Homer's Catalogue of Ships.


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