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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


published in Vol. III
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. III) Strabo

 p275  Book VII, Chapter 6

1 (318) The remainder of the country between the Ister and the mountains on either side of Paeonia consists of that part of the Pontic seaboard which extends from the Sacred Mouth of the Ister as far as the mountainous country in the neighbourhood of the Haemus and as far as the mouth at Byzantium. And just as, in traversing the Illyrian seaboard, I  p277 proceeded as far as the Ceraunian Mountains, because, although they fall outside the mountainous country of Illyria, they afford an appropriate limit, and just as I determined the positions of the tribes of the interior by these mountains, because I thought that marks​355 of this kind would be more significant as regards both the description at hand and what was to follow, so also in this case the seaboard, even though it falls beyond the mountain-line, will nevertheless end at an appropriate limit — the mouth of the Pontus — 319as regards both the description at hand and that which comes next in order. So, then, if one begins at the Sacred Mouth of the Ister and keeps the continuous seaboard on the right, one comes, at a distance of five hundred stadia, to a small town, Ister, founded by the Milesians; then, at a distance of two hundred and fifty stadia, to a second small town, Tomis; then, at two hundred and eighty stadia, to a city Callatis,​356 a colony of the Heracleotae;​357 then, at one thousand three hundred stadia, to Apollonia,​358 a colony of the Milesians. The greater part of Apollonia was founded on a certain isle, where there is a temple of Apollo, from which Marcus Lucullus carried off the colossal statue of Apollo, a work of Calamis,​359 which he set up in the Capitolium. In the interval between Callatis and Apollonia come also Bizone,​360 of which a considerable part was engulfed by earthquakes,​361 Cruni,362  p279 Odessus,​363 a colony of the Milesians, and Naulochus,​364 a small town of the Mesembriani. Then comes the Haemus Mountain, which reaches the sea here;​365 then Mesembria, a colony of the Megarians, formerly called "Menebria" (that is, "city of Menas," because the name of its founder was Menas, while "bria" is the word for "city" in the Thracian language. In this way, also, the city of Selys is called Selybria​366 and Aenus​367 was once called Poltyobria).​368 Then come Anchiale,​369 a small town belonging to the Apolloniatae, and Apollonia itself. On this coast-line is Cape Tirizis,​370 a stronghold, which Lysimachus​371 once used as a treasury. Again, from Apollonia to the Cyaneae the distance is about one thousand five hundred stadia; and in the interval are Thynias,​372 a territory belonging to the Apolloniatae (Anchiale, which also belongs to the Apolloniatae),​373 and also Phinopolis and Andriaca,​374 which border on Salmydessus.​375 Salmydessus is a desert and stony beach, harbourless and wide open to the north winds, and in length extends as far as the Cyaneae, a distance of about seven hundred stadia; and all who are cast ashore on this beach are plundered by the Astae, a Thracian tribe who are situated above it. The  p281 Cyaneae​376 are two islets near the mouth of the Pontus, one close to Europe and the other to Asia; they are separated by a channel of about twenty stadia and are twenty stadia distant both from the temple of the Byzantines and from the temple of the Chalcedonians.​377 And this is the narrowest part of the mouth of the Euxine, for when one proceeds only ten stadia farther one comes to a headland which makes the strait only five stadia​378 in width, and then the strait opens to a greater width and begins to form the Propontis.

2 Now the distance from the headland that makes the strait only five stadia wide to the harbour which is called "Under the Fig-tree"​379 is thirty-five stadia; and thence to the Horn of the Byzantines,​380 five stadia. 320The Horn, which is close to the wall of the Byzantines, is a gulf that extends approximately towards the west for a distance of sixty stadia; it resembles a stag's horn,​381 for it is split into numerous gulfs — branches, as it were. The pelamydes382 rush into these gulfs and are easily caught — because of their numbers, the force of the current that drives them together, and the narrowness of the gulfs; in fact, because of the narrowness of the area, they are even caught by hand. Now these fish are hatched in the marshes of Lake Maeotis, and when they have gained a little strength they rush out through  p283 the mouth of the lake in schools and move along the Asian shore as far as Trapezus and Pharnacia. It is here​383 that the catching of the fish first takes place, though the catch is not considerable, for the fish have not yet grown to their normal size. But when they reach Sinope, they are mature enough for catching and salting. Yet when once they touch the Cyaneae and pass by these, the creatures take such fright at a certain white rock which projects from the Chalcedonian shore that they forthwith turn to the opposite shore. There they are caught by the current, and since at the same time the region is so formed by nature as to turn the current of the sea there to Byzantium and the Horn at Byzantium, they naturally are driven together thither and thus afford the Byzantines and the Roman people considerable revenue. But the Chalcedonians, though situated near by, on the opposite shore, have no share in this abundance, because the pelamydes do not approach their harbours; hence the saying that Apollo, when the men who founded Byzantium at a time subsequent to the founding of Chalcedon​384 by the Megarians consulted the oracle, ordered them to "make their settlement opposite the blind," thus calling the Chalcedonians "blind", because, although they sailed the regions in question at an earlier time, they failed to take possession of the country on the far side, with all its wealth, and chose the poorer country.

 p285  I have now carried my description as far as Byzantium, because a famous city, lying as it does very near to the mouth, marked a better-known limit to the coasting-voyage from the Ister. And above Byzantium is situated the tribe of the Astae, in whose territory is a city Calybe,​385 where Philip the son of Amyntas settled the most villainous people of his kingdom.386

The Editor's Notes:

355 Others wrongly emend "marks" to "outlines." See critical note to Greek text, and especially cp. 17.1.48 where the "marks" on the wall of the well indicate the risings of the Nile.

356 On these three places, see 7.5.12.

357 Cp. 7.4.2.

358 Now Sizeboli.

359 Flourished at Athens about 450 B.C. This colossal statue was thirty cubits high and cost 500 talents (Pliny 34.18).

360 Now Kavarna.

361 Cp. 1.3.10.

362 Now Baltchik.

363 Now Varna.

364 In Pliny (4.18), "Tetranaulochus"; site unknown.

Thayer's Note: notice that in the Mayhoff edition of Pliny online, the text appears, no doubt by emendation, not as oppidum Tetranaulochus but as oppidum Ereta, Naulochus: not "the stronghold of Tetranaulochus," but "the stronghold of Ereta, (and) Naulochus."

365 In Cape Emineh-bouroun ("End of Haemus").

366 Or Selymbria; now Selivri.

367 Now Aenos.

368 Or Poltymbria; city of Poltys.

369 Now Ankhialo.

370 Cape Kaliakra.

371 See 7.3.8, 14.

372 Now Cape Iniada.

373 The parenthesised words seem to be merely a gloss (see critical note).

374 The sites of these two places are unknown.

375 Including the city of Salmydessus (now Midia).

376 Cp. 1.2.10 and 3.2.12. The islet, or rock, on the Asiatic side was visible in the sixteenth century, but "is now submerged," — "on the bight of Kabakos" (Tozer, op. cit., p198). Tozer (loc. cit.) rightly believes that the ancients often restricted the Cyanean Rocks to those on the European side — what are now the Oräkje Tashy (see Pliny 4.27).

377 These temples were called the Sarapieium and the temple of Zeno Urius; and they were on the present sites of the two Turkish forts which command the entrance to the Bosporus (Tozer).

378 But cp. "four stadia" in 2.5.23.

379 Now Galata.

380 The Golden Horn.

381 So the harbour of Brindisi (6.3.6).

382 A kind of tunny-fish.

383 Pharnacia (cp. 12.3.19).

384 Byzantium appears to have been founded about 659 B.C. (see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v.). According to Herodotus (4.144), Chalcedon (now Kadi Koi) was founded seventeen years earlier. Both were Megarian colonies.

385 i.e., "Hut," called by Ptolemaeus (3.11) and others "Cabyle"; to be identified, apparently, with the modern Tauschan-tépé, on the Toundja River.

386 Suidas (s.v. Δούλων πόλις) quotes Theopompus as saying that Philip founded in Thrace a small city called Poneropolis u285x ("City of Villains"), settling the same with about two thousand men — the false-accusers, false-witnesses, lawyers, and all other bad men; but Poneropolis is not to be identified with Cabyle if the positions assigned to the two places by Ptolemaeus (3.11) are correct. However, Ptolemaeus does not mention Poneropolis, but Philippopolis, which latter, according to Pliny (4.18), was the later name of Poneropolis.

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Page updated: 13 Apr 18