Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.1.1 Str. 5.1.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.1.9


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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.1.1 Str. 5.1.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.1.9

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