Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 5.2.7

Cyrnus is called by the Romans Corsica; it is poorly inhabited, being both rugged and in many parts entirely inaccessible, so that the mountaineers, who live by plunder, are more savage than wild beasts. Whenever any Roman general invades the country, and, penetrating into the wilds, seizes a vast number of slaves, it is a marvel to behold in Rome how savage and bestial they appear. For they either scorn to live, or if they do live, aggravate their purchasers by their apathy and insensibility, causing them to regret the purchase-money, however small. [Note] We must remark, however, that some districts are habitable, and that there are some small cities, for instance Blesino, Charax, Eniconiæ, and Vapanes. [Note] The chorographer [Note] says that the length of this island is 160 miles, its breadth 70; that the length of Sardinia is 220, and its breadth 98. According to others, the perimeter of Cyrnus is said to be about 1200 [Note] stadia, and of Sardinia 4000. A great portion of this latter is rugged and untranquil; another large portion is fertile in every production, but particularly in wheat. There are many cities, some are considerable, as Caralis [Note] and Sulchi. [Note] There is however an evil, which must be set against the fertility of these places; for during the summer the island is unhealthy, more particularly so in the most fertile districts; in addition to this, it is often ravaged by the mountaineers, whom they call Diagesbes, [Note] who formerly were named Iolaënses. For it is said that Iolaus [Note] brought hither certain of the children of Hercules, and established himself amongst the barbarian pos-

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sessors of the island, who were Tyrrhenians. Afterwards the Phœnicians of Carthage became masters of the island, and, assisted by the inhabitants, carried on war against the Romans; but after the subversion of the Carthaginians, the Romans became masters of the whole. There are four nations of mountaineers, the Parati, Sossinati, Balari, and the Aconites. These people dwell in caverns. Although they have some arable land, they neglect its cultivation, preferring rather to plunder what they find cultivated by others, whether on the island or on the continent, where they make descents, especially upon the Pisatæ. The prefects sent [into Sardinia] sometimes resist them, but at other times leave them alone, since it would cost too dear to maintain an army always on foot in an unhealthy place: they have, however, recourse to the arts of stratagem, and taking advantage of the custom of the barbarians, who always hold a great festival for several days after returning from a plundering expedition, they then fall upon them, and capture many. There are rams here which, instead of wool, have hair resembling that of a goat; they are called musmones, and the inhabitants make corselets of their hides. They likewise arm themselves with a pelta and a small sword.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.2.4 Str. 5.2.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.2.9

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