Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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10.3.22

Some writers say that the first inhabitants of the country at the foot of Mount Ida were called Idæan Dac-

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tyli, for the country below mountains is called the foot, and the summits of mountains their heads; so the separate extremities of Ida (and all are sacred to the mother of the gods) are called Idæan Dactyli. [Note]

But Sophocles [Note] supposes, that the first five were males, who discovered and forged iron, [Note] and many other things which were useful for the purposes of life; that these persons had five sisters, and from their number had the name of Dactyli. [Note] Different persons however relate these fables differently, connecting one uncertainty with another. They differ both with respect to the numbers and the names of these persons; some of whom they call Celmis, and Damnameneus, and Hercules, and Acmon, who, according to some writers, were natives of Ida, according to others, were settlers, but all agree that they were the first workers in iron, and upon Mount Ida. All writers suppose them to have been magicians, attendants upon the mother of the gods, and to have lived in Phrygia about Mount Ida. They call the Troad Phrygia, because, after the devastation of Troy, the neighbouring Phrygians became masters of the country. It is also supposed that the Curetes and the Corybantes were descendants of the Idæan Dactyli, and that they gave the name of Idæan Dactyli to the first hundred persons who were born in Crete; that from these descended nine Curetes, each of whom had ten children, who were called Idæan Dactyli. [Note] 10.3.23

Although we are not fond of fabulous stories, yet we have expatiated upon these, because they belong to subjects of a theological nature.

All discussion respecting the gods requires an examination of ancient opinions, and of fables, since the ancients expressed enigmatically their physical notions concerning the nature of things, and always intermixed fable with their discoveries. It is not easy therefore to solve these enigmas exactly, but if we lay before the reader a multitude of fabulous tales, some consistent with each other, others which are contradictory, we

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may thus with less difficulty form conjectures about the truth. For example, mythologists probably represented the ministers of the gods, and the gods themselves, as coursing over the mountains, and their enthusiastic behaviour, for the same reason that they considered the gods to be celestial beings, and to exercise a providential care over all things, and especially over signs and presages. Mining, hunting, and a search after things useful for the purposes of life, appeared to have a relation to this coursing over the mountains, but juggling and magic to be connected with enthusiastic behaviour, religious rites, and divination. Of such a nature, and connected in particular with the improvement of the arts of life, were the Dionysiac and Orphic arts. But enough of this subject.

CHAPTER IV. 10.4.1

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.

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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] which does not stretch much further towards the east than Sunium. [Note] 10.4.3

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

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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]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 10.3.20 Str. 10.4.1 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 10.4.6

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