Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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CHAPTER I. 5.1.1

AT the foot of the Alps commences the region now known as Italy. The ancients by Italy merely understood Œnotria, which reached from the Strait of Sicily to the Gulf of Taranto, and the region about Posidonium, [Note] but the name has extended even to the foot of the Alps; comprehending on one side that portion of Liguria situated by the sea, from the confines of Tyrrhenia to the Var; and on the other, that portion of Istria which extends as far as Pola. It seems probable that the first inhabitants were named Italians, and, being successful, they communicated their name to the neighbouring tribes, and this propagation [of name] continued until the Romans obtained dominion. Afterwards, when the Romans conferred on the Italians the privileges of equal citizenship, and thought fit to extend the same honour to the Cisalpine Galatæ and Heneti, [Note] they comprised the whole under the general denomination of Italians and Romans; they likewise founded amongst them numerous colonies, some earlier, some later, of which it would be difficult to say which are the most considerable. 5.1.2

It is not easy to describe the whole of Italy under any one geometrical figure; although some say that it is a promontory of triangular form, extending towards the south and winter rising, with its apex towards the Strait of Sicily, and

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its base formed by the Alps. . . . . . [No one can allow this definition either for the base or one of the sides,] although it is correct for the other side which terminates at the Strait, and is washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea. But a triangle, properly so called, is a rectilinear figure, whereas in this instance both the base and the sides are curved. So that, if I agree, I must add that the base and the sides are of a curved figure, and it must be conceded to me that the eastern side deviates, as well; otherwise they have not been sufficiently exact in describing as one side that which extends from the head of the Adriatic to the Strait [of Sicily]. For we designate as a side a line without any angle; now a line without any angle is one which does not incline to either side, or but very little; whereas the line from Ariminum [Note] to the Iapygian promontory, [Note] and that from the Strait [of Sicily] to the same promontory, incline very considerably. The same I consider to be the case with regard to the lines drawn from the head of the Adriatic and Iapygia, for meeting about the neighbourhood of Ariminum and Ravenna, they form an angle, or if not an angle, at least a strongly defined curve. Consequently, if the coast from the head [of the Adriatic] to Iapygia be considered as one side, it cannot be described as a right line; neither can the remainder of the line from hence to the Strait [of Sicily], though it may be considered another side, be said to form a right line. Thus the figure [of Italy] may be said to be rather quadrilateral than trilateral, and can never without impropriety be called a triangle. It is better to confess that you cannot define exactly ungeometrical figures. 5.1.3

[Italy], however, may be described in the following manner. The roots of the Alps are curved, and in the form of a gulf, the head turned towards Italy; the middle of the gulf in the country of the Salassi, and its extremities turned, the one towards Ocra and the head of the Adriatic, the other towards the coast of Liguria as far as Genoa, a mercantile city of the Ligurians, where the Apennines fall in with the Alps. Immediately under [the Alps] there is a considerable plain, of about an equal extent of 2100 stadia both in breadth and length; its southern side is closed by the coast of the Heneti [Note] and the Apennines, which extend to Ariminum and

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Ancona; for these mountains, commencing at Liguria, enter Tyrrhenia, leaving but a narrow sea-coast; they afterwards retire by degrees into the interior, and having reached the territory of Pisa, turn towards the east in the direction of the Adriatic as far as the country about Ariminum and Ancona, where they approach the sea-coast of the Heneti at right angles. Cisalpine Keltica is enclosed within these limits, and the length of the coast joined to that of the mountains is 6300 stadia; its breadth rather less than 2000. The remainder of Italy is long and narrow, and terminates in two promontories, one [Note] extending to the Strait of Sicily, the other [Note] to Iapygia. It is embraced on one side by the Adriatic, [Note] on the other by the Tyrrhenian Sea. [Note] The form and size of the Adriatic resembles that portion of Italy bounded by the Apennines and the two seas, and extending as far as Iapygia and the isthmus which separates the Gulf of Taranto from that of Posidonium. [Note] The greatest breadth of both is about 1300 stadia, and the length not much less than 6000. The remainder of the country is possessed by the Bruttii, and certain of the Leucani. Polybius tells us, that traversing the sea-coast on foot from Iapygia [Note] to the Strait [of Sicily] there are 3000 stadia, the coast being washed by the Sea of Sicily; but that going by water it is 500 stadia less. The Apennines, after approaching the country about Ariminum and Ancona, and determining the breadth of Italy at this point from sea to sea, change their direction and divide the whole country throughout its length. As far as the Peucetii and Leucani they do not recede much from the Adriatic, but on arriving at the Leucani they decline considerably towards the other sea, [Note] and traversing the remainder of the distance through the Leucani and Bruttii, terminate at Leucopetra, [Note] in Reggio. Such is a general description of the whole of present Italy. We will now endeavour to undertake a description of its various parts. And, first, of those situated below the Alps.

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5.1.4

This is a superb plain variegated with fruitful hills. The Po divides it almost through its midst, one side being denominated Cispadana, and the other Transpadana. Cispadana comprehends that part next the Apennines and Liguria, and Transpadana the remainder. The former [division] is inhabited by Ligurian and Keltic nations, the former inhabiting the mountains and the latter the plains; and the latter [division] by Kelts and Heneti. These Kelts are of the same race as the Transalpine Kelts. Concerning the Heneti there are two traditions, some saying that they are a colony of those Kelts of the same name who dwell by the ocean. [Note] Others say that they are descended from the Veneti of Paphlagonia, who took refuge here with Antenor after the Trojan war; and they give as a proof of this the attention these people bestow on rearing horses; which, though now entirely abandoned, was formerly in great esteem among them, resulting from the ancient rage for breeding mules, which Homer thus mentions: From the Eneti for forest mules renowned. [Note]
Iliad ii. 857.
It was here that Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, kept his stud of race-horses. And, in consequence, the Henetian horses were much esteemed in Greece, and their breed in great repute for a long period. 5.1.5

The whole of this country [Note] is full of rivers and marshes, especially the district of the Heneti, which likewise experiences the tides of the sea. This is almost the only part of our sea [Note] which is influenced in the same manner as the ocean, and, like it, has ebb and flood tides. In consequence most of the plain is covered with lagoons. [Note] The inhabitants have dug canals and dikes, after the manner of Lower Egypt, so that part of the country is drained and cultivated, and the rest is navigable. Some of their cities stand in the midst of water like islands, others are only partially surrounded. Such as lie above the marshes in the interior are situated on rivers navigable for a surprising distance, the Po in particular,

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which is both a large river, and also continually swelled by the rains and snows. As it expands into numerous outlets, its mouth is not easily perceptible and is difficult to enter. But experience surmounts even the greatest difficulties. 5.1.6

Formerly, as we have said, the district next this river was chiefly inhabited by Kelts. The principal nations of these Kelts were the Boii, the Insubri, and the Senones and Gæsatæ, who in one of their incursions took possession of Rome. The Romans afterwards entirely extirpated these latter, and expelled the Boii from their country, who then migrated to the land about the Danube, where they dwelt with the Taurisci, and warred against the Dacians until the whole nation was destroyed; and they left to the surrounding tribes this sheep-pasturing district of Illyria. The Insubri still exist; their metropolis is Mediolanum, [Note] which formerly was a village, (for they all dwelt in villages,) but is now a considerable city, beyond the Po, and almost touching the Alps. Near to it is Verona, a large city, and the smaller towns Brescia, Mantua, Reggio, and Como. This latter was but a very indifferent colony, having been seriously impaired by the Rhæti who dwelt higher up, but it was repeopled by Pompey Strabo, father of Pompey the Great. Afterwards Caius Scipio [Note] transferred thither 3000 men, and finally divus Cæsar peopled it with 5000 men, the most distinguished of whom were 500 Greeks. He conferred on these the privileges of citizens, and enrolled them amongst the inhabitants. They not only took up their abode here, but left their name to the colony itself; for all the inhabitants taking the name of νεοκωμῖται, this was translated [into Latin], and the place called Novum-Comum. Near to this place is Lake Larius, [Note] which is filled by the river Adda, and afterwards flows out into the Po. The sources of this river, as well as those of the Rhine, rise in Mount Adulas. [Note] 5.1.7

These cities are situated high above the marshes; near to them is Patavium, [Note] the finest of all the cities in this

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district, and which at the time of the late census [Note] was said to contain 500 equites. Anciently it could muster an army of 120,000 men. The population and skill of this city is evinced by the vast amount of manufactured goods it sends to the Roman market, especially clothing of all kinds. It communicates with the sea by a river navigable from a large harbour [at its mouth], the river runs across the marshes for a distance of 250 stadia. This harbour, [Note] as well as the river, [Note] is named Medoacus. Situated in the marshes is the great [city of] Ravenna, built entirely on piles, [Note] and traversed by canals, which you cross by bridges or ferry-boats. At the full tides it is washed by a considerable quantity of sea-water, as well as by the river, and thus the sewage is carried off, and the air purified; in fact, the district is considered so salubrious that the [Roman] governors have selected it as a spot to bring up and exercise the gladiators in. It is a remarkable peculiarity of this place, that, though situated in the midst of a marsh, the air is perfectly innocuous; the same is the case with respect to Alexandria in Egypt, where the malignity of the lake during summer is entirely removed by the rising of the river which covers over the mud. Another remarkable peculiarity is that of its vines, which, though growing in the marshes, make very quickly and yield a large amount of fruit, but perish in four or five years. Altinum [Note] stands likewise in the marshes, its situation being very similar to that of Ravenna. Between them is Butrium, [Note] a small city of Ravenna, and Spina, [Note] which is now a village, but was anciently a celebrated Grecian city. In fact, the treasures of the Spinitæ are shown at Delphi, and it is, besides, reported in history that

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they had dominion over the sea. They say that it formerly stood on the sea; now, however, the district is inland about 90 stadia from the sea. Ravenna is reported to have been founded by Thessalians, who not being able to sustain the violence of the Tyrrheni, welcomed into their city some of the Ombrici, who still possess it, while they themselves returned home. These cities for the most part are surrounded, and, as it were, washed by the marshes. 5.1.8

Opitergium, [Note] Concordia, Atria, [Note] Vicetia, [Note] as well as some smaller cities, are less annoyed by the marshes: they communicate by small navigable canals with the sea. They say that Atria was formerly a famous city, from which the Adriatic Gulf, with a slight variation, received its name. Aquileia, which is the nearest to the head [of the gulf], was founded by the Romans, [Note] to keep in check the barbarians dwelling higher up. You may navigate transport ships to it up the river Natisone for more than sixty stadia. This is the trading city with the nations of Illyrians who dwell round the Danube. Some deal in marine merchandise, and carry in waggons wine in wooden casks and oil, and others exchange slaves, cattle, and hides. Aquileia is without the limits of the Heneti, their country being bounded by a river which flows from the mountains of the Alps, and is navigable for a distance of 1200 stadia, as far as the city of Noreia, [Note] near to where Cnæus Carbo was defeated in his attack upon the Kimbrians. [Note] This place contains fine stations for gold washing and iron-works. At the very head of the Adriatic is the Timavum, [Note] a temple consecrated to Diomede, worthy of notice. For it contains a harbour and a fine grove, with seven springs of fresh water, which fall into the sea in a broad, deep river. [Note] Polybius, however, says that, with the exception of one, they are all salt springs, and that it is on this account the place is called by the inhabitants—the source and mother of the sea. Posidonius, on the other hand, tells us that the river Timavo, after flowing from the mountains, precipitates itself into a chasm,

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and after flowing under ground about 130 stadia, discharges itself into the sea. 5.1.9

That Diomedes did hold sovereignty over the country around this sea, [Note] is proved both by the Diomedean islands, [Note] and the traditions concerning the Daunii and Argos-Hippium. [Note] Of these we shall narrate as much as may be serviceable to history, and shall leave alone the numerous falsehoods and myths; such, for instance, as those concerning Phaethon and the Heliades [Note] changed into alders near the [river] Eridanus, which exists no where, although said to be near the Po; [Note] of the islands Electrides, opposite the mouths of the Po, and the Meleagrides, [Note] found in them; none of which things exist in these localities. [Note] However, some have narrated that honours are paid to Diomedes amongst the Heneti, and that they sacrifice to him a white horse; two groves are likewise pointed out, one [sacred] to the Argian Juno, and the other to the ætolian Diana. They have too, as we might expect, fictions concerning these groves; for instance, that the wild beasts in them grow tame, that the deer herd with wolves, and they suffer men to approach and stroke them; and that when pursued by dogs, as soon as they have reached these groves,

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the dogs no longer pursue them. They say, too, that a certain person, well known for the facility with which he offered himself as a pledge for others, being bantered on this subject by some hunters who came up with him having a wolf in leash, they said in jest, that if he would become pledge for the wolf and pay for the damage he might do, they would loose the bonds. To this the man consented, and they let loose the wolf, who gave chase to a herd of horses unbranded, and drove them into the stable of the person who had become pledge for him. The man accepted the gift, branded the horses with [the representation of] a wolf, and named them Lucophori. They were distinguished rather for their swiftness than gracefulness. His heirs kept the same brand and the same name for this race of horses, and made it a rule never to part with a single mare, in order that they might remain sole possessors of the race, which became famous. At the present day, however, as we have before remarked, this [rage for] horse-breeding has entirely ceased.

After the Timavum [Note] comes the sea-coast of Istria as far as Pola, which appertains to Italy. Between [the two] is the fortress of Tergeste, distant from Aquileia 180 stadia. Pola is situated in a gulf forming a kind of port, and containing some small islands, [Note] fruitful, and with good harbours. This city was anciently founded by the Colchians sent after Medea, who not being able to fulfil their mission, condemned themselves to exile. As Callimachus says, It a Greek would call
The town of Fugitives, but in their tongue
'Tis Pola named.
The different parts of Transpadana are inhabited by the Heneti and the Istrii as far as Pola; above the Heneti, by the Carni, the Cenomani, the Medoaci, and the Symbri. [Note] These nations were formerly at enmity with the Romans, but the Cenomani and Heneti allied themselves with that nation, both prior to the expedition of Hannibal, when they waged war with the Boii and Symbrii, [Note] and also after that time. 5.1.10

Cispadana comprehends all that country enclosed be-

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tween the Apennines and the Alps as far as Genoa and the Vada-Sabbatorum. [Note] The greater part was inhabited by the Boii, the Ligurians, the Senones, and Gæsatæ; but after the depopulation of the Boii, and the destruction of the Gæsatæ and Senones, the Ligurian tribes and the Roman colonies alone remained. The nation of the Ombrici [Note] and certain of the Tyrrheni are also mixed amongst the Romans. These two nations, before the aggrandizement of the Romans, had some disputes with each other concerning precedence. Having only the river Tiber between, it was easy to commence war upon each other; and if the one sent out an expedition against any nation, it was the ambition of the other to enter the same country with an equal force. Thus, the Tyrrheni, having organized a successful expedition against the barbarians [dwelling in the countries] about the Po, but having speedily lost again through their luxury [all they had acquired], the Ombrici made war upon those who had driven them out. Disputes arose between the Tyrrheni and Ombrici concerning the right of possessing these places, and both nations founded many colonies; those, however, of the Ombrici were most numerous, as they were nearest to the spot. When the Romans gained the dominion, they sent out colonies to different parts, but preserved those which had been formerly planted by their predecessors. And although now they are all Romans, they are not the less distinguished, some by the names of Ombri and Tyrrheni, others by those of Heneti, Ligurians, and Insubri. 5.1.11

Both in Cispadana and around the Po there are some fine cities. Placentia [Note] and Cremona, situated about the middle of the country, are close to each other. Between these and Ariminum, [Note] are Parma, Mutina, [Note] and Bononia, [Note] which is near to Ravenna; amongst these are smaller cities on the route to Rome, as Acara, [Note] Rhegium-Lepidum, [Note] Macri-Campi, [Note] where a public festival is held every year, Claterna, [Note] Forum- Cornelium; [Note] while Faventia [Note] and Cæsena, situated near to the river Savio [Note] and the Rubicon, [Note] are adjacent to Ariminum.

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Ariminum, like Ravenna, is an ancient colony of the Ombri. but both of them have received also Roman colonies. An- minum has a port and a river [Note] of the same name as itself. From Placentia to Ariminum there are 1300 stadia. About 36 miles above Placentia, towards the boundaries of the kingdom of Cottius, is the city of Ticinum, [Note] by which flows a river [Note] bearing the same name, which falls into the Po, while a little out of the route are Clastidium, [Note] Derthon, [Note] and Aquæ-Statiellæ. [Note] But the direct route as far as Ocelum, [Note] along the Po and the Doria Riparia, [Note] is full of precipices, intersected by numerous other rivers, one of which is the Durance, [Note] and is about 160 miles long. Here commence the Alpine mountains and Keltica. [Note] Near to the mountains above Luna is the city of Lucca. Some [of the people of this part of Italy] dwell in villages, nevertheless it is well populated, and furnishes the greater part of the military force, and of equites, of whom the senate is partly composed. Derthon is a considerable city, situated about half way on the road from Genoa to Placentia, which are distant 400 stadia from each other. Aquæ-Statiellæ is on the same route. That from Placentia to Ariminum we have already described, but the sail to Ravenna down the Po requires two days and nights. A [Note] great part of Cispadana likewise was covered by marshes, through which Hannibal passed with difficulty on his march into Tyrrhenia. [Note] But Scaurus drained the plains by navigable canals from the Po [Note] to the country of the Parmesans. For the Trebia meeting the Po near Placentia, and having previously received many other rivers, is over-swollen near this place. I allude to the Scaurus [Note] who also made the æmilian road through Pisa and Luna as far as Sabbatorum, and thence through Derthon. There is another æmilian road, which continues the Flaminian. For Marcus Lepidus and Caius Flaminius being colleagues in the consulship, and having vanquished the Ligurians, the one made the Via Flaminia from Rome across

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Tyrrhenia and Ombrica as far as the territory of Ariminum, [Note] the other, the road as far as Bononia, [Note] and thence to Aquileia [Note] by the roots of the Alps, and encircling the marshes. The boundaries which separate from the rest of Italy this country, which we designate Citerior Keltica, [Note] were marked by the Apennine mountains above Tyrrhenia and the river Esino, [Note] and afterwards by the Rubicon. [Note] Both these rivers fall into the Adriatic. 5.1.12

The fertility of this country is proved by its population, the size of its cities, and its wealth, in all of which the Romans of this country surpass the rest of Italy. The cultivated land produces fruits in abundance and of every kind, and the woods contain such abundance of mast, that Rome is principally supplied from the swine fed there. Being well supplied with water, millet grows there in perfection. This affords the greatest security against famine, inasmuch as millet resists any inclemency of the atmosphere, and never fails, even when there is scarcity of other kinds of grain. Their pitch-works are amazing, and their casks give evidence of the abundance of wine: these are made of wood, and are larger than houses, and the great supply of pitch allows them to be sold cheap. The soft wool and by far the best is produced in the country round Mutina [Note] and the river Panaro; [Note] while the coarse wool, which forms the main article of clothing amongst the slaves in Italy, is produced in Liguria and the country of the Symbri. There is a middling kind grown about Patavium, [Note] of which the finer carpets, gausapi, [Note] and every thing else of the same sort, whether with the wool on

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one or on both sides, are made. The mines are not worked now so diligently, because not equally profitable with those of Transalpine Keltica and Iberia; but formerly they must have been, since there were gold-diggings even in Vercelli, near to Ictimuli, [Note] both which villages are near to Placentia. [Note] Here we finish our description of the first part of Italy, and pass on to the second.



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