Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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10.3.6

With respect to the Curetes, some facts are related which belong more immediately, some more remotely, to the history of the ætolians and Acarnanians. The facts more immediately relating to them, are those which have been mentioned before, as that the Curetes were living in the country which is now called ætolia, and that a body of ætolians under the command of ætolus came there, and drove them into Acarnania; and these facts besides, that æolians invaded Pleuronia, which was inhabited by Curetes, and called Curetis, took away their territory, and expelled the possessors.

But Archemachus [Note] of Eubœa says that the Curetes had their settlement at Chalcis, but being continually at war about the plain Lelantum, and finding that the enemy used to seize and drag them by the hair of the forehead, they wore their hair long behind, and cut the hair short in front, whence they had the name of Curetes, (or the shorn,) from eura, (κουά,) or the tonsure which they had undergone; that they removed to ætolia, and occupied the places about Pleuron; that others, who lived on the other side of the Achelous, because they kept their heads unshorn, were called Acarnanians. [Note]

But according to some writers each tribe derived its name from some hero; [Note] according to others, that they had the

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name of Curetes from the mountain Curium, [Note] which is situated above Pleuron, and that this is an ætolian tribe, like the Ophieis, Agræi, Eurytanes, and many others.

But, as we have before said, when ætolia was divided into two parts, the country about Calydon was said to be in the possession of Œneus; and a portion of Pleuronia in that of the Porthaonidæ of the branch of Agrius, [Note] for they dwelt at Pleuron, and the lofty Calydon. [Note]
Il. xiv. 117.
Thestius however, father-in-law of Œneus, and father of Althea, chief of the Curetes, was master of Pleuronia. But when war broke out between the Thestiadæ, Œneus, and Meleager about a boar's head and skin, according to the poet, [Note] following the fable concerning the boar of Calydon, but, as is probable, the dispute related to a portion of the territory; the words are these, Curetes and ætolians, firm in battle, fought against one another. [Note]
Il. ix. 525.
These then are the facts more immediately connected (with geography). 10.3.7

There [Note]

are others more remote from the subject of this

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work, which have been erroneously placed by historians under one head on account of the sameness of name: for instance, accounts relating to Curetic affairs and concerning the Curetes have been considered as identical with accounts concerning the people (of the same name) who inhabited ætolia and Acarnania. But the former differ from the latter, and resemble rather the accounts which we have of Satyri and Silenes, Bacchæ and Tityri; for the Curetes are represented as certain dæmons, or ministers of the gods, by those who have handed down the traditions respecting Cretan and Phrygian affairs, and which involve certain religious rites, some mystical, others the contrary, relative to the nurture of Jupiter in Crete; the celebration of orgies in honour of the mother of the gods, in Phrygia, and in the neighbourhood of the Trojan Ida. There is however a very great variety [Note] in these accounts. According to some, the Corybantes, Cabeiri, Idæan Dactyli, and Telchines are repre- sented as the same persons as the Curetes; according to others, they are related to, yet distinguished from, each other by some slight differences; but to describe them in general terms and more at length, they are inspired with an enthusiastic and Bacchic frenzy, which is exhibited by them as ministers at the celebration of the sacred rites, by inspiring terror with armed dances, accompanied with the tumult and noise of cymbals, drums, and armour, and with the sound of pipes and shouting; so that these sacred ceremonies are nearly the same as those that are performed among the Samothracians in Lemnus, and in many other places; since the ministers of the god are said to be the same. [Note] The whole of this kind of

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discussion is of a theological nature, and is not alien to the contemplation of the philosopher. 10.3.8

But since even the historians, through the similarity of the name Curetes, have collected into one body a mass of dissimilar facts, I myself do not hesitate to speak of them at length by way of digression, adding the physical considerations which belong to the history. [Note] Some writers however endeavour to reconcile one account with the other, and perhaps they have some degree of probability in their favour. They say, for instance, that the people about ætolia have the name of Curetes from wearing long dresses like girls, (κόραι,) and that there was, among the Greeks, a fondness for some such fashion. The Ionians also were called tunic-trailers, [Note] and the soldiers of Leonidas, [Note] who went out to battle with their hair dressed, were despised by the Persians, but subjects of their admiration in the contest. In short, the application of art to the hair consists in attending to its growth, and the manner of cutting it, [Note] and both these are the peculiar care of girls and youths; [Note] whence in several ways it is easy to find a derivation of the name Curetes. It is also probable, that the practice of armed dances, first introduced by persons who paid so much attention to their hair and their dress, and who were called Curetes, afforded a pretence for men more warlike than others, and who passed their lives in arms, to be themselves called by the same name of Curetes, I mean those in Eubœa, ætolia, and Acarnania. Homer also gives this name to the young soldiers; selecting Curetes, the bravest of the Ach$eans, to carry from the swift ship, presents, which, yesterday, we promised to Achilles. [Note]

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And again; Curetes Acheei carried the presents. [Note]
Il. xvi. 617.
So much then on the subject of the etymology of the name Curetes. [The dance in armour is a military dance; this is shown by the Pyrrhic dance and by Pyrrichus, who, it is said, invented this kind of exercise for youths, to prepare them for military service.] [Note]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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