Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.1.1 Str. 5.1.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.1.8


[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

-- 315 --

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.

-- 316 --


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,

-- 317 --

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]

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.1.1 Str. 5.1.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.1.8

Powered by PhiloLogic