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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


published in Vol. V
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. V) Strabo

 p3  Book X, Chapter 1

1 (444) Since Euboea lies parallel to the whole of the coast from Sunium to Thessaly, with the exception of the ends on either side,​1 it would be appropriate to connect my description of the island with that of the parts already described before passing on to Aetolia and Acarnania, which are the remaining parts of Europe to be described.

2 In its length, then, the island extends parallel to the coast for a distance of about one thousand two hundred stadia from Cenaeum to Geraestus, but its breadth is irregular and generally only about one hundred and fifty stadia. Now Cenaeum lies opposite to Thermopylae and, to a slight extent, to the region outside Thermopylae, whereas Geraestus and Petalia lie towards Sunium. Accordingly, the island lies across the strait and opposite Attica, Boeotia, Locris, and the Malians. Because of its narrowness and of the above-mentioned length, it was named Macris​2 by the ancients. 445It approaches closest to the mainland at Chalcis, where it juts out in a convex curve towards the region of Aulis in Boeotia and forms the  p5 Euripus. Concerning the Euripus I have already spoken rather at length,​3 as also to a certain extent concerning the places which lie opposite one another across the strait, both on the mainland and on the island, on either side of the Euripus, that is, the regions both inside and outside​4 the Euripus. But if anything has been left out, I shall now explain more fully. And first, let me explain that the parts between Aulis and the region of Geraestus are called the Hollows of Euboea; for the coast bends inwards, but when it approaches Chalcis it forms a convex curve again towards the mainland.

3 The island was called, not only Macris, but also Abantis; at any rate, the poet, although he names Euboea, never names its inhabitants "Euboeans," but always "Abantes": "And those who held Euboea, the courage-breathing Abantes . . . . And with him​5 followed the Abantes."​6 Aristotle​7 says that Thracians, setting out from the Phocian Aba, recolonised the island and renamed those who held it "Abantes." Others derive the name from a hero,​8 just as they derive "Euboea" from a heroine.​9 But it may be, just as a certain cave on the coast which fronts the Aegaean, where Io is said to have given birth to Epaphus, is called Boösº Aulê,​10 that the  p7 island got the name Euboea​11 from the same cause. The island was also called Ochê; and the largest of its mountains bears the same name. And it was also named Ellopia, after Ellops the son of Ion. Some say that he was the brother of Aïclus and Cothus; and he is also said to have founded Ellopia, a place in Oria, as it is called, in Histiaeotis​12 near the mountain Telethrius, and to have added to his dominions Histiaea, Perias, Cerinthus, Aedepsus, and Orobia; in this last place was an oracle most averse to falsehood (it was an oracle of Apollo Selinuntius). The Ellopians migrated to Histiaea and enlarged the city, being forced to do so by Philistides the tyrant, after the battle of Leuctra. Demosthenes says that Philistides was set up by Philip as tyrant of the Oreitae too;​13 for thus in later times the Histiaeans were named, and the city was named Oreus instead of Histiaea. But according to some writers, Histiaea was colonised by Athenians from the deme of the Histiaeans, as Eretria was colonised from that of the Eretrians. Theopompus says that when Pericles over­powered Euboea the Histiaeans by agreement migrated to Macedonia, and that two thousand Athenians who formerly composed the deme of the Histiaeans came and took up their abode in Oreus.

4 Oreus is situated at the foot of the mountain Telethrius in the Drymus,​14 as it is called, 446on the River Callas, upon a high rock; and hence, perhaps,  p9 it was because the Ellopians who formerly inhabited it were mountaineers that the name Oreus​15 was assigned to the city. It is also thought that Orion was so named because he was reared there. Some writers say that the Oreitae had a city of their own, but because the Ellopians were making war on them they migrated and took up their abode with the Histiaeans; and that, although they became one city, they used both names, just as the same city is called both Lacedaemon and Sparta. As I have already said,​16 Histiaeotis in Thessaly was also named after the Histiaeans who were carried off from here into the mainland by the Perrhaebians.

5 Since Ellopia induced me to begin my description with Histiaea and Oreus, let me speak of the parts which border on these places. In the territory of this Oreus lies, not only Cenaeum, near Oreus, but also, near Cenaeum, Dium​17 and Athenae Diades, the latter founded by the Athenians and lying above that part of the strait where passage is taken across to Cynus; and Canae in Aeolis was colonised from Dium. Now these places are in the neighbourhood of Histiaea; and so is Cerinthus, a small city by the sea; and near it is the Budorus River, which bears the same name as the mountain in Salamis which is close to Attica.

6 Carystus is at the foot of the mountain Oche; and near it are Styra and Marmarium, in which latter are the quarry of the Carystian columns​18 and a  p11 temple of Apollo Marmarinus; and from here there is a passage across the strait to Halae Araphenides. In Carystus is produced also the stone which is combed and woven,​19 so that the woven material is made into towels, and, when these are soiled, they are thrown into fire and cleansed, just as linens are cleansed by washing. These places are said to have been settled by colonists from the Marathonian Tetrapolis​20 and by Steirians. Styra was destroyed in the Malian war by Phaedrus, the general of the Athenians; but the country is held by the Eretrians. There is also a Carystus in the Laconian country, a place belonging to Aegys, towards Arcadia; whence the Carystian wine of which Alcman speaks.

7 Geraestus is not named in the Catalogue of Ships, but still the poet mentions it elsewhere: "and at night they landed at Geraestus."​21 And he plainly indicates that the place is conveniently situated for those who are sailing across from Asia to Attica, since it comes near to Sunium. It has a temple of Poseidon, the most notable of those in that part of the world, and also a noteworthy settlement.

8 After Geraestus one comes to Eretria, the greatest city in Euboea except Chalcis; and then to Chalcis, which in a way is the metropolis of the island, being situated on the Euripus itself. 447Both  p13 are said to have been founded by the Athenians before the Trojan War. And after the Trojan War, Aïclus and Cothus, setting out from Athens, settled inhabitants in them, the former in Eretria and the latter in Chalcis. There were also some Aeolians from the army of Penthilus​22 who remained in the island, and, in ancient times, some Arabians who had crossed over with Cadmus. Be this as it may, these cities grew exceptionally strong and even sent forth noteworthy colonies into Macedonia; for Eretria colonised the cities situated round Pallenê and Athos, and Chalcis colonised the cities that were subject to Olynthus, which later were treated outrageously by Philip. And many places in Italy and Sicily are also Chalcidian. These colonies were sent out, as Aristotle​23 states, when the government of the Hippobotae,​24 as it is called, was in power; for at the head of it were men chosen according to the value of their property, who ruled in an aristocratic manner. At the time of Alexander's passage across,​25 the Chalcidians enlarged the circuit of the walls of their city, taking inside them both Canethus and the Euripus, and fortifying the bridge with towers and gates and a wall.26

9 Above the city of the Chalcidians lies the so‑called Lelantine Plain. In this plain are fountains of hot water suited to the cure of diseases, which were used by Cornelius Sulla, the Roman commander. And in this plain was also a remarkable mine which contained copper and iron together, a thing which is not reported as occurring elsewhere; now, however, both metals have given out, as in the case of the  p15 silver mines at Athens. The whole of Euboea is much subject to earthquakes, but particularly the part near the strait, which is also subject to blasts through subterranean passages, as are Boeotia and other places which I have already described rather at length.​27 And it is said that the city which bore the same name as the island was swallowed up by reason of a disturbance of this kind. This city is also mentioned by Aeschylus in his Glaucus Pontius:​28 "Euboïs, about the bending shore of Zeus Cenaeus, near the very tomb of wretched Lichas." In Aetolia, also, there is a place called by the same name Chalcis: "and Chalcis near the sea, and rocky Calydon,"​29 and in the present Eleian country: "and they went past Cruni and rocky Chalcis,"​30 that is, Telemachus and his companions, when they were on their way back from Nestor's to their homeland.

10 As for Eretria, some say that it was colonised from Triphylian Macistus by Eretrieus, but others say from the Eretria at Athens, which now is a market-place. There is also an Eretria near Pharsalus. 448In the Eretrian territory there was a city Tamynae, sacred to Apollo; and the temple, which is near the strait, is said to have been founded by Admetus, at whose house the god served as an hireling for a year. In earlier times Eretria was called Melaneïs and Arotria. The village Amarynthus, which is seven stadia distant from the walls,​a  p17 belongs to this city. Now the old city was rased to the ground by the Persians, who "netted" the people, as Herodotus​31 says, by means of their great numbers, the barbarians being spread about the walls (the foundations are still to be seen, and the place is called Old Eretria); but the Eretria of to‑day was founded on it.​32 As for the power the Eretrians once had, this is evidenced by the pillar which they once set up in the temple of Artemis Amarynthia. It was inscribed thereon that they made their festal procession with three thousand heavy-armed soldiers, six hundred horsemen, and sixty chariots. And they ruled over the peoples of Andros, Teos, Ceos, and other islands. They received new settlers from Elis; hence, since they frequently used the letter r,​33 not only at the end of words, but also in the middle, they have been ridiculed by comic writers. There is also a village Oechalia in the Eretrian territory, the remains of the city which was destroyed by Heracles; it bears the same name as the Trachinian Oechalia and that near Triccê, and the Arcadian Oechalia, which the people of later times called Andania, and that in Aetolia in the neighbourhood of the Eurytanians.

11 Now at the present time Chalcis by common consent holds the leading position and is called the metropolis of the Euboeans; and Eretria is second. Yet even in earlier times these cities were held in  p19 great esteem, not only in war, but also in peace; indeed, they afforded philosophers a pleasant and undisturbed place of abode. This is evidenced by the school of the Eretrian philosophers, Menedemus and his disciples, which was established in Eretria, and also, still earlier, by the sojourn of Aristotle in Chalcis, where he also ended his days.34

12 Now in general these cities were in accord with one another, and when differences arose concerning the Lelantine Plain they did not so completely break off relations as to wage their wars in all respects according to the will of each, but they came to an agreement as to the conditions under which they were to conduct the fight. This fact, among others, is disclosed by a certain pillar in the Amarynthium, which forbids the use of long distance missiles.​35 In fact among all the customs of warfare and of the use of arms there neither is, nor has been, any single custom; for some use long distance missiles, as, for example, bowmen and slingers and javelin-throwers, whereas others use close-fighting arms, as, for example, those who use sword, or outstretched spear; for the spear is used in two ways, one in hand-to‑hand combat and the other for hurling like a javelin; just as the pike serves both purposes, for it can be used both in close combat and as a missile for hurling, which is also true of the sarissa​36 and the hyssus.37

13 The Euboeans excelled in "standing" combat, which is also called "close" and  p21 "hand-to‑hand" combat; and they used their spears outstretched, as the poet says: 449"spearmen eager with outstretched ashen spears to shatter corselets."​38 Perhaps the javelins were of a different kind, such as probably was the "Pelian ashen spear," which, as the poet says, "Achilles alone knew how to hurl;"​39 and he​40 who said, "And the spear I hurl farther than any other man can shoot an arrow,"​41 means the javelin-spear. And those who fight in single combat are first introduced as using javelin-spears, and then as resorting to swords. And close-fighters are not those who use the sword alone, but also the spear hand-to‑hand, as the poet says: "he pierced him with bronze-tipped polished spear, and loosed his limbs."​42 Now he introduces the Euboeans as using this mode of fighting, but he says the contrary of the Locrians, that "they cared not for the tolls of close combat, . . . but relying on bows and well-twisted slings of sheep's wool they followed with him to Ilium."​43 There is current, also, an oracle which was given out to the people of Aegium, "Thessalian horse, Lacedemonian woman, and men who drink the water of sacred Arethusa," meaning that the Chalcidians are best of all, for Arethusa is in their territory.

14 There are now two rivers in Euboea, the Cereus and the Neleus; and the sheep which drink  p23 from one of them turn white, and from the other black. A similar thing takes place in connection with the Crathis River, as I have said before.44

15 When the Euboeans were returning from Troy, some of them, after being driven out of their course to Illyria, set out for home through Macedonia, but remained in the neighbourhood of Edessa, after aiding in war those who had received them hospitably; and they founded a city Euboea. There was also a Euboea in Sicily, which was founded by the Chalcidians of Sicily, but they were driven out of it by Gelon; and it became a stronghold of the Syracusans. In Corcyra, also, and in Lemnos, there were places called Euboea; and in the Argive country a hill of that name.

16 Since the Aetolians, Acarnanians, and Athamanians (if these too are to be called Greeks) live to the west of the Thessalians and the Oetaeans, it remains for me to describe these three, in order that I may complete the circuit of Greece; I must also add the islands which lie nearest to Greece and are inhabited by the Greeks, so far as I have not already included them in my description.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. the promontories of Thermopylae and Sunium, which lie beyond the corresponding extremities of Euboea — Cenaeum and Geraestus.

2 i.e. "Long" Island (see Map VIII, end of Loeb Vol. IV).

3 9.2.28.

4 "Inside" means the lower or south-eastern region, "outside" the upper or north-western.

5 Elephenor.

6 Iliad 2.536, 542.

7 Aristotle of Chalcis wrote a work on Euboea, but it is no longer extant. He seems to have flourished in the fourth century B.C.

8 Abas, founder of Aba, who later conquered Euboea and reigned over it (Stephanus Byzantinus, s.vv. Ἄβας and Ἀβαντίς).

9 On the heroine "Euboea," see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. "Euboea" (4).

10 Cow's Stall.

11 i.e. from the Greek words "eu" (well) and "bous" (cow).

12 Or Hestiaeotis (see 9.5.3 and footnote 239).º

13 Third Philippic 32 (119 Reiske).

14 "Woodland."

15 i.e. from "oreius" (mountaineer).

16 9.5.17.

17 Mentioned in Iliad 2.538.

18 See 9.5.16.

19 i.e. asbestos.

20 See 8.7.1.

21 Od. 3.177.

22 Son of Orestes (13.1.3).

23 See note on Aristotle, 10.1.3.

24 "Knights."

25 Across the Hellespont to Asia, 334 B.C.

26 Cf. 9.2.8 and foot-notes.

27 1.3.16.

28 Frag. 30 (Nauck).

29 Iliad 2.640.

30 Od. 15.295.

31 "Whenever they took one of the islands, the barbarians, as though capturing each severally, would net the people. They net them in this way: the men link hands and form a line extending from the northern sea to the southern, and then advance through the whole island hunting out the people" (6.31).

32 i.e. on a part of the old site.

33 i.e. like the Eleians, who regularly rhotacised final s (see Buck, Greek Dialects, § 60).

34 322 B.C.

35 The rest of the paragraph is probably an interpolation; see critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text, after μὴ χρῆσθαι τηλεβόλοις, reads:

καὶ γὰρ . . . ὁ ὑσσός Meineke, following conj. of Kramer, rejects as an interpolation.

36 Used by the Macedonian phalanx.

37 The Roman "¬pilum¬."

38 Iliad 2.543.

39 Iliad 19.389.

40 Odysseus.

41 Od. 8.229.

42 Iliad 4.469.

43 Iliad 13.713, 716.

44 6.1.13.

Thayer's Note:

a Archaeologists took the text at face value and spent a century looking for the temple that will be mentioned a bit later in this paragraph, at seven stadia from Eretria. Recently, however, Swiss archaeologist Denis Knoepfler, having found some stone from Antiquity reused in a Byzantine church nowhere near there, decided that the text of Strabo should read not ζ´ (7) but ξ´ (60): i.e., not seven stadia but sixty stadia (about seven miles). One squiggle skipped in that letter by a copyist in a moment of inattention. . . . The temple was promptly found in the vicinity of the modern village of Amarynthos.

It may be objected that the text of Strabo as we have it today (in the Loeb edition, at any rate) reads ἀφ’ ἑπτὰ σταδίων, not ἀφ’ ζ´ σταδίων: but the number that one copyist writes in letters, his predecessor may well have written as a numeral; students new to textual criticism take note — but veterans should not have let this slip by them, all the more so that numerals are notoriously very often corrupt.

[For a few hours, this note of mine pointed out finding the temple near Amarynthos was hardly surprising since Strabo explicitly mentions the place; but I am indebted to Prof. Dimitri Nakassis of the University of Colorado Boulder for catching me in an equally elementary mistake: the village's modern name does not continue its name in Antiquity, the place having received the name only in 1911. Because of Turkish depredations in the Middle Ages, the coastal site had been abandoned for centuries in favor of Vathia in the hills a few kilometers away from the coast; once the danger was past, some of Vathia's inhabitants eventually moved back to the coast and refounded the coastal town, which for a time bore the name Kato Vathia ("Lower Vathia"). Thus, though the temple was indeed found in Amarynthos, the modern placename doesn't strictly speak either way to Strabo's accuracy. Of course, the uncertainty as to the location of ancient Amarynthos is a red herring, not affecting the copyist error and its subsequent emendation by Prof. Knoepfler, except to the extent that the name of the modern village might possibly have played a part in suggesting it.]

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