|Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].|
|<<Str. 10.3||Str. 10.4 (Greek English(2))||>>Str. 10.5|
HAVING described the islands about the Peloponnesus, and other islands also, some of which are upon, and others in front of, the Corinthian Gulf, we are next to speak of Crete, [Note] (for it belongs to the Peloponnesus,) and the islands near Crete, among which are the Cyclades and the Sporades. Some of these are worthy of notice, others are inconsiderable.10.4.2
At present we are to speak first of Crete.
According to Eudoxus, it is situated in the ægæan sea, but he ought not to have described its situation in that manner, but have said, that it lies between Cyrenaica and the part of Greece comprehended between Sunium and Laconia, [Note] extending in length in the direction from west to east, and parallel to these countries; [Note] that it is washed on the north by the ægæan and Cretan seas, and on the south by the African, which joins the Egyptian sea.
The western extremity of the island is near Phalasarna; [Note]
its breadth is about 200 stadia, and divided into two promontories; of which the southern is called Criu-Metopon, (or
Ram's head,) and that on the north, Cimarus. [Note] The eastern
promontory is Samonium, [Note]
Sosicrates, who, according to Apollodorus, had an exact knowledge of this island, determines its length (not?) [Note] to exceed 2300 stadia, and its breadth (about 300), [Note] so that according to Sosicrates the circuit of the island is not more than 5000 stadia, but Artemidorus makes it 4100. Hieronymus
says, that its length is 2000 stadia, and its breadth irregular, and that the circuit would exceed the number of stadia assigned by Artemidorus. Throughout one-third of its length, (beginning from the western parts, the island is of a tolerable width). [Note] Then there is an isthmus of about 100 stadia, on the northern shore of which is a settlement, called Amphimalla; [Note] on the southern shore is Phœnix, [Note] belonging to the Lampeis.
The greatest breadth is in the middle of the island.
Here again the shores approach, and form an isthmus narrower than the former, of about 60 stadia in extent, reckoning from Minoa, [Note] in the district of the Lyctii, [Note] to Therapytna, [Note] and the African sea. The city is on the bay. The shores then terminate in a pointed promontory, the Samonium, looking towards ægypt and the islands of the Rhodians. [Note]10.4.4
The island is mountainous and woody, but has fertile valleys.
The mountains towards the west are called Leuca, or the White Mountains, [Note] not inferior in height to the Taygetum, [Note] and extending in length about 300 stadia. They form a ridge, which terminates at the narrow parts (the isthmus). In the middle of the island, in the widest part, is (Ida), [Note] the highest of the mountains there. Its compass is about 600 stadia. It is surrounded by the principal cities. There are other mountains equal in height to the White Mountains, some of which terminate on the south, others towards the east.10.4.5
voyage of two days and nights. From Cimarus [to Malea] are 700 stadia. [Note] In the midway is Cythera. [Note] From the promontory Samonium [Note] to ægypt a ship sails in four days and nights, but, according to other writers, in three. Some say that it is a voyage of 5000 stadia; others, of still less than this. According to Eratosthenes, the distance from Cyrenaica to Criu-Metopon is 2000 stadia, and thence to Peloponnesus less than . [Note]10.4.6
One language is intermixed with another, says the poet;
there are in Crete,
Achæi, the brave Eteocretans, Cydones, Dorians divided into three
bands, [Note] and the divine Pelasgi. [Note]
Of these people, says Staphylus, the Dorians occupy the
eastern parts of the island, Cydonians the western, Eteocretans
the southern, to whom Prasus, a small town, belonged, where
is the temple of the Dictæan Jupiter; the other nations, being
more powerful, inhabited the plains. It is probable that the
Eteocretans [Note] and Cydonians were aboriginal inhabitants, and
that the others were foreigners, who Andron says came from
Thessaly, formerly called Doris, but now Hestiæotis, from
which country he says the Dorians, who were settled about
Parnassus, migrated, and founded Erineum, Bœum, and Cytinium, whence they are called by the poet Trichaïces, or tripartite. But the account of Andron is not generally admitted,
who represents the Tetrapolis Doris as composed of three
cities, and the metropolis of the Dorians as a colony of Thessalians. The epithet Trichaïces [Note] is understood to be derived
either from their wearing a triple crest, [Note] or from having crests
of hair. [Note]
calling it vast, and the palace of Minos. It maintained its pre-eminence for a long period. It afterwards lost its ascend- ency, and was deprived of many of its customs and privi- leges. The superiority was transferred to Gortyna and Lyc- tus. [Note] [Note] [Note] [Note] [Note] [Note] [Note]
Il. xiii. 450.
It is generally admitted with regard to Crete that in ancient times it was governed by good laws, and induced the wisest of the Greeks to imitate its form of government, and particularly the Lacedæmonians, as Plato shows in his Laws, and Ephorus has described in his work Europe. Afterwards there was a change in the government, and for the most part for the worse. For the Tyrrheni, who chiefly infested our sea, were followed by the Cretans, who succeeded to the haunts and piratical practices of the former people, and these again afterwards were subject to the devastations of the Cilicians. But the Romans destroyed them all after the conquest of Crete, [Note] and demolished the piratical strongholds of the Cilicians. At present Cnossus has even a colony of Romans.10.4.10
So much then respecting Cnossus, a city to which I am no stranger; but owing to the condition of human affairs, their vicissitudes and accidents, the connexion and intercourse that subsisted between ourselves and the city is at an end. Which may be thus explained. Dorylaiis, a military tactician, a friend of Mithridates Euergetes, was appointed, on account of his experience in military affairs, to levy a body of foreigners, and was frequently in Greece and Thrace, and often in the company of persons who came from Crete, before the Romans were in possession of the island. A great multitude of mercenary soldiers was collected there, from whom
even the bands of pirates were recruited. During the stay of Dorylaüs in the island, a war happened to break out between the Cnossians and the Gortynians. He was appointed general by the Cnossians, and having finished the war speed- ily and successfully, he obtained the highest honours. A short time afterwards, being informed that Euergetes had been treacherously put to death by his courtiers at Sinope, and that he was succeeded in the government by his wife and children, he abandoned everything there, remained at Cnossus, and married a Macedonian woman of the name of Sterope, by whom he had two sons, Lagetas and Stratarchas, (the latter I myself saw when in extreme old age,) and one daughter. Of the two sons of Euergetes, he who was surnamed Eupator succeeded to the throne when he was eleven years of age; Dorylaüs, the son of Philetærus, was his foster brother. Philetærus was the brother of Dorylaüs the Tactician. The king had been so much pleased with his intimacy with Dorylaüs when they lived together as children, that on attaining manhood he not only promoted Dorylaiis to the highest honours, but extended his regard to his relations and sent for them from Cnossus. At this time Lagetas and his brother had lost their father, and were themselves grown up to manhood. They quitted Cnossus, and came to Mithridates. My mother's mother was the daughter of Lagetas. While he enjoyed prosperity, they also prospered; but upon his downfal (for he was detected in attempting to transfer the kingdom to the Romans with a view to his own appointment to the sovereignty) the affairs of Cnossus were involved in his ruin and disgrace; and all intercourse with the Cnossians, who themselves had experienced innumerable vicissitudes of fortune, was suspended.
So much then respecting Cnossus.10.4.11
After Cnossus, the city Gortyna seems to have held the second place in rank and power. For when these cities acted in concert they held in subjection all the rest of the inhabitants, and when they were at variance there was discord throughout the island; and whichever party Cydonia espoused, to them she was a most important accession.
The city of the Gortynians lies in a plain, and was perhaps anciently protected by a wall, as Homer also intimates,
and Gortyna, a walled city; [Note]Il. ii. 646.
Leucocomas and Euxynthetus his erastes (or lover), whom Theophrastus mentions in his discourse on Love, were natives of Leben. [Note] One of the tasks enjoined Euxynthetus by Leucocomas was this, according to Theophrastus, to bring him his dog from Prasus. [Note] The Prasii border upon the Lebenii at the distance of 60 stadia from the sea, and from Gortyn 180. We have said that Prasus was subject to the Eteocretans, and that the temple of the Dictæan Jupiter was there. For Dicte [Note] is near; not, as Aratus [Note] alleges, near Ida; since Dicte is distant 1000 stadia from Mount Ida, and situated at that distance from it towards the rising sun; and 100 stadia from the promontory Samonium. Prasus was situated between the promontory Samonium, and the Cherrhonesus, at the distance of 60 stadia from the sea. It was razed by the Hierapytnii. He says, too, that Callimachus [Note] is not right in asserting that Britomartis, in her escape from the violence offered by Minos,leaped from Dicte among the nets of the fishermen (δίκτυα), and that hence she had the name of Dictynna from the Cydoniatæ, and the mountain that of
Dicte. For Cydonia is not at all situated in the neighbour hood of these places, but lies at the western extremity of the island. The mountain Tityrus [Note] belongs to the Cydonian territory; upon it is situated a temple, not called Dictæan, but Dictynnsean.10.4.13
Cydonia is situated on the sea, fronting Laconia, at an equal distance from both Cnossus and Gortyn, about 800 stadia, and from Aptera 80, and from the sea in this quarter 40 stadia. Cisamus [Note] is the naval arsenal of Aptera. [Note] The Polyrrhenii border upon the Cydoniatæ towards the west; in their territory is the temple of Dictynna. They are at the distance of about 30 stadia from the sea, and 60 from Phalasarna. Formerly they lived in villages; then Achæans and Laconians settled there together, and fortified with a wall a strong site fronting the south.10.4.14
Of the three cities founded by Minos, the last, which
was Phæstus, [Note] was razed by the Gortynians; it was at the
distance of 60 stadia from Gortyn, 20 from the sea, and from
Matalum, the arsenal, 40 stadia. They who razed the city
possess the territory. Rhytium also together with Phæstus
belongs to the Gortynians,
both Phæstus and Rhytium. [Note]Il. ii. 648.
Cherrhonesus, [Note] as it is called, is the arsenal of Lyttus or (Lyctus), which we have before mentioned; on the former is the temple of Britomartis.
Miletus and Lycastus, the cities which were enumerated together with Lyctus, no longer exist; but the territory, after they had razed the city (Lyctus), was partitioned among Lyctians and Cnossians.10.4.15
As the poet in one place speaks of Crete as having a hundred, and in another ninety, cities, Ephorus says, that ten were founded in later times after the Trojan war by the Dori-
ans, who accompanied Alhæmenes the Argive, and that
hence Ulysses speaks of its ninety cities. This account is
probable. But others say, that the ten were razed by the
enemies of Idomeneus; but the poet does not say that Crete
had a hundred cities at the time of the Trojan war, but in his
own age, for he speaks in his own person; but if the words
had been those of some person then living, as those in the
Odyssey, where Ulysses says, Crete had ninety cities, they
might have been properly understood in this manner. But
even if we admit this, the subsequent verses will not be exempt from objection. For neither at the time of the expedition, nor after the return of Idomeneus, is it probable that
these cities were destroyed by his enemies, for the poet says,
but Idomeneus brought back all his companions who had survived the
war to Crete; the sea had not deprived him of any of them; [Note]
for he would have mentioned such a misfortune. Ulysses indeed might not have been acquainted with the destruction of
these cities, for he had not had any intercourse with any of the
Greeks either during or after his wanderings; but (Nestor),
who had been the companion of Idomeneus in the expedition
and in his escape from shipwreck, could not be ignorant of
what had happened at home during the expedition and before
his return. But he must certainly have been aware of what
occurred after his return. For if he and all his companions
escaped, he returned so powerful that their enemies were not
in a position to deprive them of ten cities.
Such then is the general description of the country of Crete.10.4.16
With respect to the form of government, which Ephorus has described at large, it will be sufficient to give a cur- sory account of the principal parts. The law-giver, says Ephorus, seems to lay, as the foundation of his constitution, the greatest good that states can enjoy, namely, liberty; for it is this alone which makes the property of every kind which a man possesses his own; in a state of slavery it belongs to the governor, and not to the governed. The liberty also which men enjoy must be guarded. Unanimity ensues, when the dissensions that arise from covetousness and luxury [Note] are
removed. Now where all live temperately and frugally, neither envy, nor injuries, nor hatred have place among equals. Whence the young were enjoined to repair to the Agelæ, and those of mature age to assemble at the Syssitia, or common meals, called Andreia, in order that the poorer sort, who were fed at the public charge, might partake of the same fare as the rich.
With a view that courage, and not fear, should predominate, they were accustomed from childhood to the use of arms, and to endure fatigue. Hence they disregarded heat and cold, rugged and steep roads, blows received in gymnastic exercises and in set battles.
They practised archery, and the dance in armour, which the Curetes first invented, and was afterwards perfected by Pyrrhichus, and called after him Pyrrhiche. Hence even their sports were not without their use in their training for war. With the same intention they used the Cretan measures in their songs; the tones of these measures are extremely loud; they were invented by Thales, to whom are ascribed the pæans and other native songs and many of their usages. They adopted a military dress also, and shoes, and considered armour as the most valuable of all presents.10.4.17
Some, he says, alleged that many of the institutions supposed to be Cretan were of Lacedæmonian origin; but the truth is, they were invented by the former, but perfected by the Spartans. The Cretans, when their cities, and particularly Cnossus, were ravaged, neglected military affairs, but some usages were more observed by the Lyttii and Gortynii, and some other small cities, than by the Cnossians. Those persons, who maintain the priority of the Laconian institutions, adduce as evidence of this those of the Lyttii, because as colonists they would retain the customs of the parent state. Otherwise, it would be absurd for those, who lived under a better form of constitution and government, to be imitators of a worse. But this is not correct. For we ought not to form conjectures respecting the ancient from the present state of things, for each has undergone contrary changes. The Cretans were formerly powerful at sea, so that it was a proverbial saying addressed to those who pretended to be ignorant of what they knew, a Cretan, and not know the sea; but at present they have abandoned nautical affairs.
Nor did it follow necessarily that, because there were some cities in Crete colonized by Spartans, they should continue to observe Spartan usages, since many of the cities of colonists do not preserve the customs of the mother country; and there are many cities in Crete, the inhabitants of which are not colonists, and yet have the same usages as those that have received colonies.10.4.18
Lycurgus, the Spartan legislator, he says, was five
generations later than Althæmenes, who conducted the colony
into Crete. He is said by historians to have been the son of
Cissus, who founded Argos [Note] about the same time that Procles
was engaged in establishing a colony at Sparta. It is also
generally admitted that Lycurgus was the sixth in descent
from Procles. [Note] Copies do not precede the models, nor modern precede ancient things. The usual kind of dancing
practised among the Lacedæmonians, the measures, and the
pæans sung according to a certain mood, and many other
usages, are called among them Cretan, as if they came from
Crete. But among the ancient customs, those relative to the
administration of the state have the same designations as in
Crete, [Note] as the council of Gerontes [Note] and that of the Knights, [Note]
except that in Crete the knights had horses; whence it is
conjectured, that the council of Knights in Crete is more
ancient, since the origin of the appellation is preserved. But
the Spartan knight did not keep a horse. They who perform the same functions as the Cosmi in Crete, have the different title of Ephori [in Sparta]. The Syssitia, or common
meal, is even at present called Andreia among the Cretans;
but among the Spartans they did not continue to call it by its
former name, as it is found in the poet Alcman;
In festivals and in joyous assemblies of the Andreia, it is fit to begin
the pean in honour of the guests.
The occasion of the journey of Lycurgus to Crete is said by the inhabitants to be as follows. The elder brother of Lycurgus was Polydectes, who, at his death, left his wife pregnant. Lycurgus reigned in place of his brother till the
birth of a son. He then became the guardian of the child, who was heir to the kingdom. Some one said to him insultingly, he was sure Lycurgus would be king. Suspecting that by this speech he might be accused of contriving a plot against the child, and fearing that, if the child should die by any accident, his enemies might impute its death to him, he departed to Crete. This is said to have been the cause of his journey. Upon his arrival in Crete he became acquainted with Thales, the lyric poet and legislator. He learnt from this person the plan adopted by Rhadamanthus in former times, and afterwards by Minos in promulgating their laws, so as to procure a belief that they proceeded from Jupiter. He was also in ægypt, and obtained information respecting the laws and customs of that country. [Note] According to some writers, he met at Chios with Homer, who was living there, and then returned to his own country, where he found Charilaus, the son of his brother Polydectes, upon the throne. He then began to frame laws, repairing to the god at Delphi, and bringing thence ordinances, as Minos brought his from the cave of Jupiter. [Note] The greater part of these ordinances were similar to those of Minos.10.4.20
The following are the principal of the laws of Crete, which Ephorus has given in detail.
All the Cretans, who are selected at the same time from the troop (ἀγέλη) of youths, are compelled to marry at once. They do not however take the young women whom they have married immediately to their homes, until they are qualified to administer household affairs.
The woman's dower, if she has brothers, is half of the brother's portion.
The children are taught to read, to chaunt songs taken from the laws, and some kinds of music.
While they are still very young they are taken to the Syssitia, called Andreia. They sit on the ground, eating their food together, dressed in mean garments, which are not changed in winter or summer. They wait upon themselves and on the men. Both those of the same and those of different messes have battles with one another. A trainer of boys presides over each Andreion. As they grow older they are formed into
(αγέλαι) or troops of youths. The most illustrious and powerful of the youths form Agelæ, each individual assembling together as many as he can collect. The governor of the troop is generally the father of the youth who has assembled them together, and has the power of taking them to hunt and to exercise themselves in running, and of punishing the disobedient. They are maintained at the public charge.
On certain set days troop encounters troop, marching in time to the sound of the pipe and lyre, as is their custom in actual war. They inflict blows, some with the hand, and some even with iron weapons.10.4.21
They have a peculiar custom with respect to their attachments. They do not influence the objects of their love by persuasion, but have recourse to violent abduction. The lover apprizes the friends of the youth, three or more days beforehand, of his intention to carry off the object of his affection. It is reckoned a most base act to conceal the youth, or not to permit him to walk about as usual, since it would be an acknowledgment that the youth was unworthy of such a lover. But if they are informed that the ravisher is equal or superior in rank, or other circumstances, to the youth, they pursue and oppose the former slightly, merely in conformity with the custom. They then willingly allow him to carry off the youth. If however he is an unworthy person, they take the youth from him. This show of resistance does not end, till the youth is received into the Andreium to which the ravisher belongs. They do not regard as an object of affection a youth exceedingly handsome, but him who is distinguished for courage and modesty. The lover makes the youth presents, and takes him away to whatever place he likes. The persons present at the abduction accompany them, and having passed two months in feasting, and in the chase, (for it is not permitted to detain the youth longer,) they return to the city. The youth is dismissed with presents, which consist of a military dress, an ox, and a drinking cup; the last are prescribed by law, and besides these many other very costly gifts, so that the friends contribute each their share in order to diminish the expense.
The youth sacrifices the ox to Jupiter, and entertains at a feast those who came down with him from the mountains. He then declares concerning the intercourse with the lover,
whether it took place with his consent or not, since the law allows him, if any violence is used in the abduction, to insist upon redress, and set him free from his engagement with the lover. But for the beautiful and high-born not to have lovers is disgraceful, since this neglect would be attributed to a bad disposition.
The parastathentes, for this is the name which they give to those youths who have been carried away, enjoy certain honours. At races and at festivals they have the principal places. They are permitted to wear the stole, which distinguishes them from other persons, and which has been presented to them by their lovers; and not only at that time, but in mature age, they appear in a distinctive dress, by which each individual is recognised as Kleinos, for this name is given to the object of their attachment, and that of Philetor to the lover.
These then are the usages respecting attachments.10.4.22
They elect ten Archons. On matters of highest moment they have recourse to the counsel of the Gerontes, as they are called. They admit into this council those who have been thought worthy of the office of Cosmi, and who were otherwise persons of tried worth.
I considered the form of government among the Cretans as worthy of description, on account both of its peculiarity and its fame. Few of these institutions are now in existence, and the administration of affairs is chiefly conducted according to the orders of the Romans, as is the case also in their other provinces.
|Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].|
|<<Str. 10.3||Str. 10.4 (Greek English(2))||>>Str. 10.5|