Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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5.4.6

The Lucrine gulf extends in breadth as far as Baïæ; it is separated from the sea by a bank eight stadia in length, and the breadth of a carriage-way; this they say was constructed by Hercules when he drove away the oxen of Geryon. But as the wave covered its surface in stormy weather, rendering it difficult to pass on foot, Agrippa has repaired it. Small vessels can put into it, but it is useless as a harbour. [Note] It contains abundant oyster-beds. Some take this to be the Acherusian Lake, while Artemidorus confounds it with Avernus. They say that Baïæ took its name from Baius one of the companions of Ulysses, and Misenum from Misenus. Beyond is the strand and city of Dicæarchia. Formerly it was nothing but a naval station of the Cumæi. It was built on an eminence. But at the time of the war with Hannibal, the Romans established a colony there, and changed its name into Puteoli, [Note] [an appellation derived] from its wells; or, according to others, from the stench of its waters, the whole district from hence to Baïæ and Cumæ being full of sulphur, fire, and hot-springs. Some too are of opinion that it was on this account [that the country about] Cumæ was named Phlegra, and that the fables of the giants struck down by thunderbolts owe their origin to these eruptions of fire and water. This city has become a place of extensive commerce, having artificially constructed harbours, which were much facilitated by

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the facile nature of the sand, which contains much gypsum, and will cement and consolidate thoroughly. For mixing this sand with chalk-stones they construct moles in the sea, thus forming bays along the open coast, in which the largest transport ships may safely ride. Immediately above the city lies the Forum-Vulcani, [Note] a plain surrounded with hills which seem to be on fire, having in many parts mouths emitting smoke, frequently accompanied by a terrible rumbling noise; the plain itself is full of drifted sulphur. 5.4.7

After Dicæarchia is Neapolis, [Note] [founded [Note]












[Note]

it was on this account denominated Naples. [Note] Here is pointed out the tomb of Par-

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thenope, one of the sirens, and a gymnastic sport is celebrated by command of an oracle. In course of time the inhabitants, having disagreed amongst themselves, admitted certain Campanians; thus being forced to regard in the light of friends those most inimical to them, since their friends were hostile. This is proved by the names of their demarchi, the earlier of which are Grecian, but the latter a mixture of Campanian with the Grecian names. Many traces of Grecian institution are still preserved, the gymnasia, the ephebeia, [Note] the fratriæ, [Note] and the Grecian names of people who are Roman citizens. At the present time they celebrate, every fifth year, public games for music and gymnastic exercises during many days, which rival the most famous games of Greece. There is here a subterranean passage, similar to that at Cumæ, [Note] extending for many stadia along the mountain, [Note] between Dicæarchia [Note] and Neapolis: it is sufficiently broad to let carriages pass each other, and light is admitted from the surface of the mountain, by means of numerous apertures cut through a great depth. [Note] Naples also has hot springs and baths not at all inferior in quality to those at Baïæ, but much less frequented, for another city has arisen there, not less than Dicæarchia, one palace after another having been built. Naples still preserves the Grecian mode of life, owing to those who retire hither from Rome for the sake of repose, after a life of labour from childhood, and to those whose age or weakness demands relaxation. Besides these, Romans who find attractions in this style of life, and observe the numbers of persons dwelling there, are attracted by the place, and make it their abode. 5.4.8

Following this is the fortress of Heraclæum, [Note] built upon

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a promontory which projects out into the sea, and which, on account of the prevalence of the south-west wind, is a very healthy spot. The Osci [Note] originally possessed both this and Pompeia, [Note] which is next to it, by which the river Sarno [Note] flows; afterwards the Tyrrheni and Pelasgi, [Note] and then the Samnites [Note] obtained possession of them, and the last [Note] in their turn were driven from these regions. Pompeia is the port for Nola, [Note] Nuceria, [Note] and Acerræ, which bears the same name as the city near to Cremona. It is built on the river Sarno, by which merchandise is received and exported. Above these places is Mount Vesuvius, which is covered with very beautiful fields, excepting its summit, a great part of which is level, but wholly sterile. It appears ash-coloured to the eye, cavernous hollows appear formed of blackened stones, looking as if they had been subjected to the action of fire. From this we may infer that the place was formerly in a burning state with live craters, which however became extinguished on the failing of the fuel. Perhaps this [volcano] may have been the cause of the fertility of the surrounding country, the same as occurs in Catana, where they say that that portion which has been covered with ashes thrown up by the fires of ætna is most excellent for the vine. The land about Vesuvius contains fat, and a soil which has been subjected to fire, and is very strong and productive of fruit: when this fat superabounds, it is apt, like all sulphurous substances, to take fire, but being dried up by evaporation, extinguished, and pulverized, it becomes a productive earth. Adjoining

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Pompeia is Surrentum, [Note] [a city] of the Campanians, from whence the Athenæum, [Note] called by some the promontory of the Sirenuæ, projects [into the sea]; upon its summit is the temple of Minerva, founded by Ulysses. From hence to the island of Capreas the passage is short; after doubling the promontory you encounter various desert and rocky little islands, which are called the Sirenusæ. [Note]

On the side towards Surrentum there is shown a temple with the ancient offerings of those who held this place in veneration. Here is the end of the bay named Crater, [Note] which is bounded by the two promontories of Misenum [Note] and the Athenæum, both looking towards the south. The whole is adorned by the cities we have described, by villas, and plantations, so close together that to the eye they appear but one city.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 5.4.4 Str. 5.4.7 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 5.4.10

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