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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,
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(Vol. IV) Strabo

 p377  Book IX, Chapter 4

1 (425) Locris comes next in order, and therefore I must describe this country. It is divided into two parts: one part is that which is inhabited by the Locrians and faces Euboea; and, as I was saying, it was once split into two parts, one on either side of Daphnus. The Opuntians were named after their metropolis,211 and the Epicnemidians after a mountain called Cnemis. The rest of Locris is inhabited by the Western Locrians, who are also called Ozolian Locrians. They are separated from the Opuntians and the Epicnemidians by Parnassus, which is situated between them, and by the Tetrapolis of the Dorians. But I must begin with the Opuntians.

2 Next, then, after Halae,212 where that part of the Boeotian coast which faces Euboea terminates,  p379 lies the Opuntian Gulf. Opus is the metropolis, as is clearly indicated by the inscription on the first of the five pillars in the neighbourhood of Thermopylae, near the Polyandrium:213 "Opoëis,º metropolis of the Locrians of righteous laws, mourns for these who perished in defence of Greece against the Medes." It is about fifteen stadia distant from the sea, and sixty from the sea-port. Cynus is the sea-port, a cape which forms the end of the Opuntian Gulf, the gulf being about forty stadia in extent. Between Opus and Cynus is a fertile plain; and Cynus lies opposite Aedepsus in Euboea, where are the hot waters of Heracles, and is separated from it by a strait one hundred and sixty stadia214 wide. Deucalion is said to have lived in Cynus; and the grave of Pyrrha is to be seen there, though that of Deucalion is to be seen at Athens. Cynus is about fifty stadia distant from Mount Cnemis. The island Atalanta is also situated opposite Opus, and bears the same name as the island in front of Attica. It is said that a certain people in Eleia are also called Opuntians, but it is not worth while to mention them, except to say that they are reviving a kinship which exists between them and the Opuntians. Now Homer says that Patroclus was from Opus,215 and that after committing an involuntary murder he fled to Peleus, but that his father Menoetius remained in his native land; for thither Achilles says that he promised Menoetius to bring  p381 back Patroclus when Patroclus should return from the expedition. However, Menoetius was not king of the Opuntians, but Aias the Locrian, whose native land, as they say, was Narycus. They call the man who was slain by Patroclus "Aeanes"; and both a sacred precinct, the Aeaneium, and a spring, Aeanis, named after him, are to be seen.

3 426Next after Cynus, one comes to Alopê and to Daphnus, which latter, as I said, is rased to the ground;216 and here there is a harbour which is about ninety stadia distant from Cynus, and one hundred and twenty stadia from Elateia, for one going on foot into the interior. We have now reached the Maliac Gulf, which is continuous with the Opuntian Gulf.

4 After Daphnus one comes to Cnemides, a natural stronghold, about twenty stadia by sea; and opposite it, in Euboea, lies Cenaeum, a cape facing the west and the Maliac Gulf, and separated from it by a strait about twenty stadia in width. At this point we have now reached the territory of the Epicnemidian Locrians. Here, too, lying off the coast, are the three Lichades Islands, as they are called, named after Lichas; and there are also other islands along the coast, but I am purposely omitting them. After twenty stadia from Cnemides one comes to a harbour, above which, at an equal distance in the interior, lies Thronium. Then one comes to the Boagrius River, which flows past Thronium and empties into the sea. They also call it Manes. It is a winter stream, so that at times one can cross it dry-shod, though at other times it has a breadth of two plethra. After this one comes to Scarpheia, which is situated ten stadia above the  p383 sea, thirty stadia distant from Thronium, and slightly less from the harbour itself. Then one comes to Nicaea and Thermopylae.

5 As for the remaining cities, it is not worthwhile to mention any of them except those which are mentioned by Homer. Calliarus is no longer inhabited, but is now a beautifully-tilled plain, and they so call it from what is the fact in the case.217 Bessa, too, does not exist; it is a wooded place. Neither does Augeiae, whose territory is held by the Scarphians. Now this Bessa should be written with a double s (for it is named from its being a wooded place, being spelled the same way — like Napê218 in the plain of Methymnê, which Hellanicus ignorantly names Lapê), whereas the deme in Attica, whose inhabitants are accordingly called Besaeeis, should be written with one s.

6 Tarphê is situated on a height, at a distance of twenty stadia from Thronium; its territory is both fruitful and well-wooded, for already219 this place had been named from its being thickly wooded. But it is now called Pharygae; and here is situated a temple of Pharygaean Hera, so called from the  p385 Hera in the Argive Pharygae; and, indeed, they say that they are colonists of the Argives.

7 However, Homer does not mention the Western Locrians, or at least not in express words, but only in that he seems by contrast to distinguish these from those other Locrians of whom I have already spoken, when he says, "of the Locrians who dwell opposite sacred Euboea," implying that there was a different set of Locrians. But they have not been much talked about by many others either. The cities they held were Amphissa and Naupactus; of these, Naupactus survives, near Antirrhium, and it was named from the shipbuilding220 that was once carried on there, 427whether it was because the Heracleidae built their fleet there, or (as Ephorus says) because the Locrians had built ships there even before that time. It now belongs to the Aetolians, having been adjudged to them by Philip.

8 Here, also, is Chalcis, which the poet mentions in the Aetolian Catalogue;221 it is below Calydon. Here, also, is the hill Taphiassus, on which are the tombs of Nessus and the other Centaurs, from whose putrefied bodies, they say, flows forth at the base of the hill the water which is malodorous and clotted; and it is on this account, they add, that the tribe is also called Ozolian.222 Molycreia, an Aetolian town, is also near Antirrhium. The site of Amphissa is on the edge of the Crisaean Plain; it was rased to the ground by the Amphictyons, as I have said.223 And  p387 both Oeantheia and Eupalium belong to the Locrians. The whole voyage along the Locrian coast slightly exceeds two hundred stadia in length.

9 There is a place named Alopê, not only here and among the Epicnemidian Locrians, but also in Phthiotis. Now these224 are colonists of the Epicnemidian Locrians, but the Epizephyrian Locrians are colonists of these.225

10 The Aetolians border on the western Locrians; and the Aenianians who inhabit Mount Oeta border on the Epicnemidian Locrians; and in the middle between them are Dorians.226 Now these Dorians are the people who inhabited the Tetrapolis, which, they say, was the metropolis of all the Dorians; and the cities they held were Erineus, Boeum, Pindus and Cytinium. Pindus is situated above Erineus; and a river bearing the same name flows past it, emptying into the Cephissus not very far from Lilaea. By some, however, Pindus is called Acyphas. The king of these Dorians was Aegimius, who was driven from his throne, but was brought back again, as the story goes, by Heracles; accordingly, Aegimius requited the favour to Heracles after the latter's death on Oeta; for he adopted Hyllus, the eldest of the sons of Heracles; and Hyllus and his descendants became his successors on the throne. From here it was that the Heracleidae set out on their return to the Peloponnesus.

11 Now for a time the cities in question were held in respect, although they were small and had poor soil, but afterwards they were lightly esteemed. During the Phocian War and the domination of the  p389 Macedonians, Aetolians, and Athamanians — it is marvellous that even a trace of them passed to the Romans. And the Aenianians had the same experience, for they too were destroyed by the Aetolians and the Athamanians: by the Aetolians, when they waged war in conjunction with the Acarnanians, and were very powerful, and by the Athamanians, when they attained to distinction (the last of the Epeirotes to do so, the other peoples having by this time been worn out) and under their king Amynander had acquired power. 428These Athamanians kept possession of Oeta.

12 This mountain extends from Thermopylae in the east to the Ambracian Gulf in the west; and, in a way, it cuts at right angles the mountainous country which extends from Parnassus to Pindus and to the barbarians who are situated beyond Pindus. Of this mountain, the part which verges towards Thermopylae is called Oeta; its length is two hundred stadia, and it is rugged and high; but it is highest at Thermopylae, for there it rises into a peak, and ends at the sea in sharp and abrupt precipices, though it leaves a narrow pass for invasions from Thessaly into the country of the Locrians.

13 Now the pass is called not only "Pylae" and "Narrows," but also "Thermopylae,"227 for there are hot waters near it that are held in honour as sacred to Heracles; and the mountain that lies above it is called Callidromus, but by some the remaining part of the mountain, which extends through Aetolia and Acarnania to the Ambracian Gulf, is also called Callidromus. Near Thermopylae, inside the narrows, are forts — Nicaea, towards the sea of the  p391 Locrians, and above it, Teichius and Heracleia, the latter in earlier times having been called Trachin, a settlement of Lacedaemonians. Heracleia is about six stadia distant from the old Trachin. Next one comes to Rhoduntia, a natural stronghold.

14 These places are rendered difficult of access both by the ruggedness of the country and by the number of streams of water which here form ravines through which they flow. For besides the Spercheius, which flows past Anticyra, there is the Dyras River, which, they say, tried to quench the funeral pyre of Heracles, and also another228 Melas, which is five stadia distant from Trachin. To the south of Trachin, according to Herodotus,229 there is a deep gorge through which the Asopus, bearing the same name as the aforesaid Asopus Rivers,230 empties into the sea outside Pylae after receiving the Phoenix River, which meets it from the south and bears the name of the hero Phoenix, whose tomb is to be seen near it. The distance from the Asopus to Thermopylae is fifteen stadia.

15 Now at that time these places were at the height of their fame when they held the mastery over the keys of the Narrows, and when there were struggles for the primacy between the peoples outside the Narrows and those inside them; for instance, Philip used to call Chalcis and Corinth "the fetters of Greece," having Macedonia in view as his base of operations;231 and the men of later times called, not only these, but also the city Demetrias "shackles,"  p393 for Demetrias commanded the passes round Tempê, since it held both Pelion and Ossa. 429But later, now that all peoples have been brought into subjection to a single power, everything is free from toll and open to all mankind.

16 It was at these Narrows that Leonidas and his men, with a few who came from the neighbourhood thereof, held out against all those forces of the Persians, until the barbarians, coming around the mountains through by-paths, cut them down. And to‑day their Polyandrium232 is to be seen, and pillars, and the oft-quoted inscription on the pillar of the Lacedaemonians, which is as follows: "Stranger, report to the Lacedaemonians that we lie here in obedience to their laws."

17 There is also a large harbour here, and a temple of Demeter, in which at the time of every Pylaean assembly the Amphictyons performed sacrificial rites. From the harbour to Heracleian Trachin the distance on foot is forty stadia, and by boat to Cenaeum seventy stadia. The Spercheius empties immediately outside Pylae. The distance to Pylae from the Euripus is five hundred and thirty stadia. And whereas Locris ends at Pylae, the parts outside Pylae towards the east and the Maliac Gulf belong to the Thessalians, and the parts towards the west belong to the Aetolians and the Acarnanians. As for the Athamanians, they are now extinct.

18 Now the largest and most ancient composite part of the Greeks is that of the Thessalians, who have been described partly by Homer and partly by several others. The Aetolians Homer always speaks of under one name, classing cities, not tribes, under  p395 them, except the Curetes, who in part should be classified as Aetolians.233 But I must begin with Thessaly, omitting such things as are very old and mythical and for the most part not agreed upon, as I have already done in all other cases, and telling such things as seem to me appropriate to my purpose.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

211 Opus.

212 See 9.2.13.

213 A polyandrium is a place where many heroes are buried.

214 An error. The actual distance is about half this.

215 Iliad 23.85.

216 9.3.17.º

217 i.e. from καλος (beautiful) and ἀρόω (till). Eustathius (note on Iliad 2.531) says: "Calliarus, they say, was named after Calliarus, son Hodoedocus and Laonomê: others say that it was named Calliara, in the neuter gender, because the land there was beautifully tilled."

218 Both "bessa" and "napê" mean "wooded glen."

219 i.e. in the time of Homer, who names Tarphê (cp. "tarphos," "thicket") and Thronium together, Iliad 2.533.

220 "Naus" (ship) and "pactos" (put together, built), the Doric spelling of the verbal πηκτός.

221 Iliad 2.640.

222 i.e. Ozolian Locrians, as well as Western (see 9.4.1). The authorities quoted by Strabo derive "Ozolian" from "ozein" (to smell).

223 9.3.4.

224 He means, apparently, the Ozolian Locrians.

225 Again he appears to mean the Ozolian Locrians.

226 See 9.3.1.

227 "Hot-gates."

228 See Vol. III, Book 7, Frag. 52.

229 7.198, 200.

230 8.6.24 and 9.2.23.

231 i.e. by holding these places he could control Greece even from distant Macedonia.

232 See 9.4.2 and footnote.

233 Cf. 10.3.1.

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