Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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5.2.5

They say that the greatest length of Tyrrhenia, which is along the coast from Luna to Ostia, is about 2500 stadia; and that its breadth in the direction of the mountains is less than half that number. Then from Luna to Pisa there are more than 400 stadia; from thence to Volaterræ [Note] 280; thence to Pop-

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lonium 270; and from Poplonium to Cossa [Note] near 800, or as some say, 600. Polybius, however, says that there are not [Note] in all 1330. [Note] Of these Luna is a city and harbour; it is named by the Greeks, the harbour and city of Selene. [Note] The city is not large, but the harbour [Note] is very fine and spacious, containing in itself numerous harbours, all of them deep near the shore; it is in fact an arsenal worthy of a nation holding dominion for so long a time over so vast a sea. The harbour is surrounded by lofty mountains, [Note] from whence you may view the sea [Note] and Sardinia, and a great part of the coast on either side. Here are quarries of marble, both white and marked with green, so numerous and large, as to furnish tablets and columns of one block; and most of the material for the fine works, both in Rome and the other cities, is furnished from hence. The transport of the marble is easy, as the quarries lie near to the sea, and from the sea they are conveyed by the Tiber. Tyrrhenia likewise supplies most of the straightest and longest planks for building, as they are brought direct from the mountains to the river. Between Luna and Pisa flows the Macra, [Note] a division which many writers consider the true boundary of Tyrrhenia and Liguria. Pisa was founded by the Pisatæ of the Peloponnesus, who went under Nestor to the expedition against Troy, but in their voyage home wandered out of their course, some to Metapontium, [Note] others to the Pisatis; they were, however, all called Pylians. The city lies between the two rivers Arno [Note] and æsar, [Note] at their point of confluence; the former of which, though very full, descends from Arretium [Note] not in one body, but divided into three; the second flows

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down from the Apennines. Where they fall into one current, the shock between them is so great as to raise the water to that height, that people standing on either bank are not able to see each other; so that necessarily the voyage up from the sea is difficult. This voyage is about 20 stadia. There is a tradition, that when these rivers first descended from the mountains they were impeded by the inhabitants of the district, lest falling together they should inundate the country; however, they promised not to inundate it, and they have kept their word. This city appears to have been formerly flourishing, and at the present day it still maintains its name, on account of its fertility, its marble-quarries, and its wood for building ships, which formerly they employed to preserve themselves from danger by sea; for they were more warlike than the Tyrrheni, and were constantly irritated by the Ligurians, troublesome neighbours, who dwelt on the coast. At the present day the wood is mostly employed for building houses in Rome, and in the country villas [of the Romans], which resemble in their gorgeousness Persian palaces. 5.2.6

The country of the Volaterrani [Note] is washed by the sea. Their city is situated in a deep hollow on the top of a high hill. The wall of the city is built round its summit, which is flat and precipitous on every side. From its base, the ascent upward is fifteen stadia, steep and difficult. Here certain of the Tyrrhenians and of those proscribed by Sulla, [Note] took their stand, and having organized four bands, sustained a siege for two years, and at last secured articles of truce before surrendering the place. Poplonium is situated on a lofty promontory, which projects into the sea, and forms a cher- sonesus. It likewise sustained a siege about the same time. This little place is now deserted, with the exception of the temples and a few houses; the sea-port, which is situated at the root of the mountain, is better inhabited, having both a small harbour and ship-sheds. This appears to me the only one of the ancient Tyrrhenian cities situated on the sea; the reason being that this territory affords no harbours. The founders [of the cities] therefore either avoided the sea altogether, or threw up fortifications in order that they might not become the ready prey of those who might sail against them. On the

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summit [of the cape] there is a look-out for thunnies. [Note] From this city there is an indistinct and distant view of Sardinia. Cyrnus, [Note] however, is nearer, being distant from Sardinia about 60 stadia. While æthalia [Note] is much nearer to the continent than either, being distant therefrom only 300 [Note] stadia, and the same number from Cyrnus. Poplonium is the best starting- place to any of the three mentioned islands. We ourselves observed them from the height of Poplonium, in which place we saw certain mines which had been abandoned, we also saw the craftsmen who work the iron brought from æthalia; for they cannot reduce it into bars in the furnaces on the island, and it is therefore transferred direct from the mines to the continent. There is another remarkable circumstance, that the exhausted mines of the island in course of time are again refilled similarly to what they say takes place at the platamones [Note] in Rhodes, the marble-quarries in Paros, and the salt-mines in India, mentioned by Clitarchus. Eratosthenes was therefore incorrect in saying that from the mainland you could neither see Cyrnus nor Sardinia; and so was Artemidorus in his assertion, that both these places lay in the high sea at a distance of 1200 stadia. For whatever others might, I certainly could never have seen them at such a distance, however carefully I had looked, particularly Cyrnus. æthalia has a harbour named Argoiis, [Note] derived, as they say, from the [ship] Argo, Jason having sailed hither, seeking the abode of Circe as Medea wished to see that goddess; and that from the sweat scraped off by the Argonauts and hardened, are formed the variegated pebbles now seen on the beach. [Note] This and similar traditions prove what we before stated, that Homer did not invent them all himself, but, hearing the numerous current stories, he merely transferred the scenes to other localities and exaggerated the distances: as he makes Ulysses wander

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over the ocean, so does he narrate of Jason, as he too had been renowned for his travels: and the same he likewise relates of Menelaus. This is what we have to say of æthalia.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.2.3 Str. 5.2.6 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.2.8

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