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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Geography


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

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. IV) Strabo

 p207  Book VIII, Chapter 7

1 (383) In antiquity this country was under the mastery of the Ionians, who were sprung from the Athenians; and in antiquity it was called Aegialeia, and the inhabitants Aegialeians, but later it was called Ionia after the Ionians, just as Attica also was called Ionia​424 after Ion the son of Xuthus. They say that  p209 Hellen was the son of Deucalion, and that he was lord of the people between the Peneius and the Asopus in the region of Phthia and gave over his rule to the eldest of his sons, but that he sent the rest of them to different places outside, each to seek a settlement for himself. One of these sons, Dorus, united the Dorians about Parnassus into one state, and at his death left them named after himself; another, Xuthus, who had married the daughter of Erechtheus, founded the Tetrapolis of Attica, consisting of Oenoê, Marathon, Probalinthus, and Tricorynthus. One of the sons of Xuthus, Achaeus, who had committed involuntary manslaughter, fled to Lacedaemon and brought it about that the people there were called Achaeans; and Ion conquered the Thracians under Eumolpus, and thereby gained such high repute that the Athenians turned over their government to him. At first Ion divided the people into four tribes, but later into four occupations: four he designated as farmers, others as artisans, others as sacred officers, and a fourth group as the guards. And he made several regulations of this kind, and at his death left his own name to the country. But the country had then come to be so populous that the Athenians even sent forth a colony of Ionians to the Peloponnesus, and caused the country which they occupied to be called Ionia after themselves instead of Aegialus; and the men were divided into twelve cities and called Ionians instead of Aegialeians. But after the return of the Heracleidae they were driven out by the Achaeans and went back again to Athens; and from there they sent forth with the Codridae the Ionian colony to Asia, and these  p211 founded twelve cities on the seaboard of Caria and Lydia, thus dividing themselves into the same number of parts as the cities they had occupied in the Peloponnesus. Now the Achaeans were Phthiotae in race, but they lived in Lacedaemon; and when the Heracleidae prevailed, the Achaeans were won over by Tisamenus, the son of Orestes, as I have said before,​425 attacked the Ionians, and proving themselves more powerful than the Ionians drove them out and took possession of the land themselves; and they kept the division of the country the same as it was when they received it. 384And they were so powerful that, although the Heracleidae, from whom they had revolted, held the rest of the Peloponnesus, still they held out against one and all, and named the country Achaea. Now from Tisamenus to Ogyges they continued under the rule of kings; then, under a democratic government, they became so famous for their constitutions that the Italiotes,​426 after the uprising against the Pythagoreians,​427 actually borrowed most of their usages from the Achaeans.​428 And after the battle at Leuctra the Thebans turned over to them the arbitration of the disputes which the cities had with one another; and later, when their league was dissolved by the Macedonians, they gradually recovered themselves. When Pyrrhus made his expedition to Italy,​429 four cities came together and began a new league, among which were Patrae and Dymê;​430 and  p213 then they began to add some of the twelve cities, except Olenus and Helicê, the former having refused to join and the latter having been wiped out by a wave from the sea.431

2 For the sea was raised by an earthquake and it submerged Helicê, and also the temple of the Heliconian Poseidon, whom the Ionians​432 worship even to this day, offering there​433 the Pan-Ionian sacrifices. And, as some suppose, Homer recalls this sacrifice when he says: "but he breathed out his spirit and bellowed, as when a dragged bull bellows round the altar of the Heliconian lord."​434 And they infer that the poet lived after the Ionian colonisation, since he mentions the Pan-Ionian sacrifice, which the Ionians perform in honour of the Heliconian Poseidon in the country of the Prienians; for the Prienians themselves are also said to be from Helicê; and indeed as king for this sacrifice they appoint a Prienian young man to superintend the sacred rites. But still more they base the supposition in question on what the poet says about the bull; for the Ionians believe that they obtain omens in connection with this sacrifice only when the bull bellows while being sacrificed. But the opponents of the supposition apply the above-mentioned inferences concerning the bull and the sacrifice to Helicê, on the ground that these were customary there and that the poet was merely comparing the rites that were celebrated there.  p215 Helicê was submerged by the sea two years before the battle at Leuctra. And Eratosthenes says that he himself saw the place, and that the ferrymen say that there was a bronze Poseidon in the strait, standing erect, holding a hippo-campus in his hand, which was perilous for those who fished with nets. And Heracleides​435 says that the submersion took place by night in his time, and, although the city was twelve stadia distant from the sea, 385this whole district together with the city was hidden from sight; and two thousand men who had been sent by the Achaeans were unable to recover the dead bodies; and they divided the territory of Helicê among the neighbours; and the submersion was the result of the anger of Poseidon, for the Ionians who had been driven out of Helicê sent men to ask the inhabitants of Helicê particularly for the statue of Poseidon, or, if not that, for the model of the temple; and when the inhabitants refused to give either, the Ionians sent word to the general council of the Achaeans; but although the assembly voted favorably, yet even so the inhabitants of Helicê refused to obey; and the submersion resulted the following winter; but the Achaeans later gave the model of the temple to the Ionians. Hesiod​436 mentions still another Helicê, in Thessaly.

3 Now for twenty​437 years the Achaeans continued to have a general secretary and two generals, elected annually; and with them a common council was convened at one place (it was called Amarium),438  p217 in which these, as did the Ionians before them, dealt with affairs of common interest; then they decided to elect only one general. And when Aratus was general he took the Acrocorinthus away from Antigonus​439 and added the city of Corinth to the Achaean League, just as he had added his native city; and he also took over the Megarians; and breaking up the tyrannies in the several cities he made the peoples who were thus set free members of the Achaean League. And he set the Peloponnesus free from its tyrannies, so that Argos, Hermion, Phlius, and Megalopolis, the largest city in Arcadia, were added to the League; and it was at this time that the League reached the height of its power. It was the time when the Romans, after their expulsion of the Carthaginians from Sicily,​440 made their expedition against the Galatae​441 who lived in the region of the Padus River. But although the Achaean League persisted rather firmly until the time of the general­ship of Philopoemen, yet it was gradually dissolved, since by this time the Romans were in possession of the whole of Greece, and they did not deal with the several states in the same way, but wished to preserve some and to destroy others. Then he​442 tells the cause of his enlarging upon the subject of the Achaeans, saying that, although they increased in power to the point of surpassing even the Lacedaemonians, they are not as well known as they deserve to be.

 p219  4 The order of the places in which the Achaeans settled, after dividing the country into twelve parts, is as follows:​443 First after Sicyon lies Pellenê; then, second, Aegeira; third, Aegae, which has a temple of Poseidon; fourth, Bura; after Bura, Helicê, whither the Ionians fled for refuge after they were conquered in battle by the Achaeans, and whence at last they were expelled; and, after Helicê, 386Aegium and Rhypes and Patrae​444 and Pharae;​445 then Olenus, past which flows the Peirus, a large river; then Dymê and Tritaea.​446 Now the Ionians lived in villages, but the Achaeans founded cities; and to certain of these they later united others, transferring them from the other divisions, as, for example, Aegae to Aegeira (the inhabitants, however, were called Aegaeans), and Olenus to Dymê. Traces of the old settlement of the Olenians are shown between Patrae and Dymê; and here, too, is the notable temple of Asclepius, which is forty stadia distant from Dymê and eighty from Patrae. Of the same name as this Aegae is the Aegae in Euboea; and of the same name as Olenus is the settlement in Aetolia, this too preserving only traces of its former self. Now the poet does not mention the Olenus in Achaea, just as he does not mention several other inhabited places in the region of the Aegialus, although he speaks of them in a rather general way: "And through all the Aegialus and about broad Helicê."​447 But he mentions the  p221 Aetolian Olenus, when he says: "those who dwelt in Pleuron and Olenus."​448 And he speaks of both places called Aegae: the Achaean Aegae, when he says, "yet they bring up gifts for thee into both Helicê and Aegae";​449 but when he says, "Aegae, where is his famous palace in the deeps of the mere,"​450 "where Poseidon halted his horses,"​451 it is better to take him as meaning the Aegae in Euboea, from which it is probable that also the Aegean Sea got its name; and here too the poet has placed the activities of Poseidon in connection with the Trojan War. Close to the Achaean Aegae flows the Crathis River, which is increased by the waters of two other rivers; and it gets its name from the fact that it is a mixture,​452 as does also the Crathis in Italy.

5 Each of the twelve divisions consisted of seven or eight communities, so populous was the country. Pellenê is situated sixty stadia above the sea, and it is a strong fortress. But there is also a village Pellenê, from which come the Pellenic cloaks, which they were also wont to set up as prizes at the games; it lies between Aegium and Pellenê. But Pellana is different from these two; it is a Laconian place, and its territory inclines, approximately, towards the territory of Megalopolis. Aegeira is situated on a hill. Bura, which was swallowed up in an earthquake, is situated above the sea at a distance of about forty stadia; and they say that it was  p223 from the spring Sybaris in Bura that the river​453 in Italy got its name. 387Aega (for Aegae is also called thus) is now uninhabited, and the city​454 is in the possession of the people of Aegium. But Aegium has a considerable population. The story is told that Zeus was nursed by a goat there, just as Aratus says: "Sacred goat, which, in story, didst hold thy breast o'er Zeus;"​455 and he goes on to say that "the interpreters call her the Olenian goat of Zeus,"​456 thus clearly indicating that the place is near Olenê. Here too is Ceraunia,​457 which is situated on a high rock. These places belong to the people of Aegium, and so does Helicê, and Amarium, precinct of Zeus, where the Achaeans met to deliberate on affairs of common interest. And the Selinus River flows through the territory of Aegium; it bears the same name as the river that flows in Ephesus past the Artemisium, and also the river in the Eleia of to‑day​458 that flows past the plot of land which Xenophon says he bought for Artemis in accordance with an oracle.​459 And there is another Selinus; it flows past the territory of the Hyblaean Megarians,​460 whom the Carthaginians forced to migrate. As for the remaining cities, or divisions, of the Achaeans,  p225 one of them, Rhypes, is uninhabited, and the territory called Rhypis was held by the people of Aegium and the people of Pharae. Aeschylus, too, says somewhere: "Sacred Bura and thunder-smitten Rhypes."​461 Myscellus, the founder of Croton, was from Rhypes. And Leuctrum too, a deme of Rhypes, belonged to the district of Rhypis. After Rhypes comes Patrae, a noteworthy city; between the two, however, is Rhium (also Antirrhium),​462 which is forty stadia distant from Patrae. And recently the Romans, after their victory at Actium, settled a considerable part of the army at Patrae; and it is exceptionally populous at present, since it is a Roman colony; and it has a fairly good anchoring-place. Next comes Dymê, a city without a harbour, the farthest of all towards the west, a fact from which it takes its name.​463 But in earlier times it was called Stratos. The boundary between it and the Eleian country, Buprasium, is formed by the Larisus River, which flows from a mountain. Some writers call this mountain Scollis, but Homer calls it the Olenian Rock. When Antimachus calls Dymê "Cauconian," some interpret "Cauconian" as an epithet derived from the Cauconians, since the Cauconians extended as far as Dymê, as I have already said above,​464 but others as derived from a River Caucon, just as Thebes is called "Dircaean" and "Asopian," Argos "Inacheian," and Troy "Simuntian." But shortly before my time Dymê received as colonists a mixed group of people 388whom Pompey still had left over from the  p227 crowd of pirates, after he broke up all piracy and settled some of the pirates at Soli in Cilicia and others in other places — and in particular at Dymê. Phara borders on the territory of Dymê. The people of this Phara are called Phareis, but those of the Messenian city Pharaeatae; and in the territory of Phara is a spring Dircê which bears the same name as the spring at Thebes. But Olenus is deserted; it lies between Patrae and Dymê; and its territory is held by the people of Dymê. Then comes Araxus, the promontory of the Eleian country, one thousand and thirty stadia from the isthmus.

The Editor's Notes:

424 See 8.1.2, and 9.1.5.

425 8.5.5.

426 The Greeks in Italy.

427 The Pythagoreian Secret Order, which was composed of exclusive clubs at Crotona and other cities in Magna Graecia, was aristocratical in its tendencies, and in time seems to have become predominant in politics. This aroused the resentment of the people and resulted in the forcible suppression of the Order. At Crotona, for example, the people rose up against the "Three Hundred" during one of their meetings and burnt up the building and many of the assembled members.

428 So Polybius, 2.39.

429 280 B.C.

430 The other two were Tritaea and Pharae (Polybius 2.41).

431 So 1.3.18.

432 In Asia Minor.

433 At Panionium, on the promontory called Mycalê, according to Herodotus (1.148); "in a desert place in the neighbourhood of what is called Mycalê," according to Diodorus Siculus, 15.49.

434 Iliad 20.403.

435 Heracleides of Pontus (see Dictionary, Vol. I).

436 Shield of Heracles, 381.

437 Polybius (2.43) says twenty-five.

438 Amarium was the name of the sacred precinct of Zeus Amarius near Aegium, again mentioned in 8.7.5.

439 Antigonus Gonatas.

440 241 B.C.

441 224 B.C.

442 See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text, at εἶτα λέγει, reads:

εἶτα . . . γνωρίζεσθαι, omitted in Bnok, but later added in the margin, Meineke ejects, indicating lacuna after βουλομένων. It seems clear (1) that the words are the work of an abbreviator and that Στράβων should be supplied as subject of λέγει, or else (2) that a lacuna after βουλομένων should be assumed and that Πολύβιος, whom Strabo seems now to be following rather closely, should be supplied (so think Casaubon and Groskurd). The former is more probable, for the extant text of Polybius (2.37 ff.) contains no such statement, although in view of his dignity and favourable discussion of the Achaeans one might by implication ascribe the thought to him.

443 Cp. the names and their order in Herodotus (1.145), Polybius (2.41) and Pausanias (7.6).

444 The Greek has "Patreis" ("the Patraeans").

445 The Greek has "Phareis" ("the Pharaeans").

446 The Greek has "Tritaeeis" ("the Tritaeans").

447 Iliad 2.575.

448 Iliad 2.639.

449 Iliad 8.203.

450 Iliad 13.21.

451 Iliad 13.34.

452 Cp. Κρᾶθις and κραθῆναι.

453 See 6.1.12‑13.

454 Others emend "city" to "country," but Strabo often speaks of cities thus, whether inhabited or not; and in giving the name of a city he often means to include all the surrounding territory which it possesses.

455 Phaenomena, 163.

456 Ibid., 164.

457 Ceraunia is almost certainly an error for "Ceryneia," the city mentioned by Polybius (2.41), Pausanias (7.6), and others.

458 See 8.3.1.

459 Anabasis, 5.3.8.

460 Megara Hyblaea was on the eastern coast of Sicily, to the north of Syracuse.

461 Frag. 403 (Nauck).

462 See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text, at καὶ τὸ Ἀντίρριον, reads:

καὶ τὸ Ἀντίρριον, Meineke ejects; Corais emends the καί to κατά ("opposite").

463 δύειν "to set," δύσμη "setting," "west."

464 8.3.11, 17.

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