Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.1 Str. 6.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.3

CHAPTER II. 6.2.1

SICILY is triangular in form, and on this account was at first called Trinacria, but afterwards the name was softened and it was changed into Thrinacia. [Note]


Three low headlands bound the figure: Pelorias is the name of that towards Cænys and the Columna Rheginorum which forms the strait; Pachynus [Note] is that which stretches towards the east, and is washed by the Sea of Sicily, looking towards the Peloponnesus and in the direction of the passage to Crete; the third is Lilybæum, [Note] and is next to Africa, looking towards that region and the setting of the sun in winter. [Note] Of the sides which these three headlands bound, two are somewhat concave, while the third is slightly convex, it runs from Lilybæum to Pelorias, and is the longest, being, as Posidonius has said, 1700 stadia adding

-- 401 --

further twenty. Of the others, that extending to Pachynus from Lilybæum is the longer, while the shortest faces the Strait and Italy, extending from Pelorias to Pachynus, being about 1120 or 1130 stadia. Posidonius shows that the circumference is 4400 stadia, but in the Chorography the distances are declared to exceed the above numbers, being severally reckoned in miles. Thus from Cape Pelorias to Mylæ, [Note] 25 miles; from Mylæ to Tyndaris, [Note] 25; thence to Agathyrnum, [Note] 30; from Agathyrnum to Alæsa, [Note]
30; from Alæsa to Cephalœdium, [Note] 30; these are but insignificant places; from Cephalœdium to the river Himera, [Note] which runs through the midst of Sicily, 18; from thence to Panormus, [Note] 35; [thence] to the Emporium [Note] of the ægestani, 32; leaving to Lilybæum [Note] a distance of 38; thence having doubled the Cape and coasting the adjacent side to Heracleum, [Note] 75; and to the Emporium [Note]

of the Agrigentini, 20; and to [Note] Cama-

-- 402 --

rina, [Note] another 20; then to Pachynus, 50; thence again along the third side to Syracuse, 36; [Note] from Syracuse to Catana, 60; then to Tauromenium, [Note] 33; thence to Messana, 30. [Note] Thus on foot [Note] from Pachynus to Pelorias we have 168 [miles], and from Messana [Note] to [Cape] Lilybeum, on the Via Valeria, [Note] we have 235 [Note] [miles]. Some have estimated the circuit in a more simple way, as Ephorus, who says that the compass of the island by sea takes five days and nights. Posidonius attempts to determine the situation of the island by climata, [Note] and places Pelorias to the north, Lilybæum to the south, and Pachynus to the east. We however consider that of necessity all climata are set out in the manner of a parallelogram, but that districts portrayed as triangles, and especially such triangles as are scalene, [Note] and whereof no one side lies parallel to a side of the parallelogram, cannot in any way be assimilated to climata on account of their obliquity. However, we must allow, that in treating of Sicily, Pelorias, which lies to the south of Italy, may well be called the most northern of the three angles, so that we say that the line which joins it [Note] to Pachynus faces the east but looks towards the north. [Note] Now this line [of coast] will make the side next the Strait [of Messina], and it must have a slight inclination towards the winter sunrise; [Note] for thus the shore slightly changes its direction as you travel from Catana towards Syracuse and Pachynus. Now the transit from Pachynus to the mouth of the Alpheus [Note] is 4000 stadia. But when Artemidorus says that from Pachy-

-- 403 --

nus to Tænarum [Note] it is 4600, and from the Alpheus to the Pamisus is 1130 stadia, [Note] he appears to me to lie open to the objection of having given distances which do not accord with the 4000 stadia from Pachynus to the Alpheus. The line run from Pachynus to Lilybæum (which is much to the west of Pelorias) is considerably diverged from the south towards the west, having at the same time an aspect looking towards the east and towards the south. [Note] On one side it is washed by the sea of Sicily, and on the other by the Libyan Sea, extending from Carthage to the Syrtes. The shortest run is 1500 stadia from Lilybæum to the coast of Africa about Carthage; and, according to report, a certain very sharp-sighted person, [Note] placed on a watch-tower, announced to the Carthaginians besieged in Lilybæum the number of the ships which were leaving Carthage. And from Lilybæum to Pelorias the side must necessarily incline towards the east, and look in a direction towards the west and north, having Italy to the north, and the Tyrrhenian Sea with the islands of æolus to the west. [Note] 6.2.2

The cities situated on the side which forms the Strait are, first Messana, then Tauromenium, [Note] Catana, and Syracuse; between Catana and Syracuse were the ruined cities Naxos [Note] and Megara, [Note] situated where the rivers descending from ætna fall into the sea, and afford good accommodation for shipping. Here is also the promontory of Xiphonia. They say that Ephorus founded these first cities of the Greeks in Sicily in

-- 404 --

the tenth generation from the Trojan war. For those who preceded him were so terrified by the piratical customs of the Tyrrheni, and the ferocity of the savages of the neighbourhood, that they did not even venture to resort thither for the purposes of commerce. Theocles the Athenian, however, having been driven to Sicily by storms, observed both the weakness of the inhabitants and the excellence of the soil. On his return home, he was unable to persuade the Athenians to make any attempt, but he collected a numerous band of Chalcidians in Eubœa, with some Ionians and Dorians, whereof the most part were Megarenses, and sailed. The Chalcidians founded Naxos, and the Dorians Megara, which was at first called Hybla. These cities no longer exist, but the name of Hybla survives on account of the Hyblæan honey. 6.2.3

The first of the cities which at present remain on the aforesaid side is Messana, built at the head of the gulf of Pelorias, which is curved very considerably towards the east, and forms a bay. The passage across to Rhegium [Note] is 60 stadia, but the distance to the Columna Rheginorum is much less. It was from a colony of the Messenians of the Peloponnesus that it was named Messana, having been originally called Zanole, on account of the great inequality of the coast (for anything irregular was termed ξάγκλιον. [Note] It was originally founded by the people of Naxos near Catana. Afterwards the Mamertini, a tribe of Campanians, took possession of it. [Note] The Romans, in the war in Sicily against the Carthaginians, used it as an arsenal. [Note] Still more recently, [Note] Sextus Pompeius assembled his fleet in it, to contend against Augustus Cæsar; and when he relinquished the island, he took ship from thence. [Note] Charybdis [Note] is pointed out at a short distance from the city in the Strait, an immense gulf, into which the back currents of the Strait frequently impel ships, carrying them down with a whirl and the violence of the eddy. When they are swallowed down and shattered, the wrecks are cast by the stream on the shore of Tauromenia, [Note] which they call, on account of this kind of accumulation, the dunghill. [Note] So greatly have the Mamertini prevailed over the Messenians, that they have by degrees wrested the

-- 405 --

city from them. The inhabitants generally are rather called Mamertini than Messenians. The district abounds in wine, which we do not call Messenian, but Mamertinian: it vies with the best produced in Italy. [Note] The city is well peopled, but Catana is more populous, which has been colonized by the Romans. [Note] Tauromenium is less populous than either. Catana was founded by people from Naxos, and Tauromenium by the Zanclæns of Hybla, [Note] but Catana was deprived of its original inhabitants when Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse, introduced others, and called it by the name of ætna instead of Catana. It is of this that Pindar says he was the founder, when he sings, Thou understandest what I say, O father, that bearest the same name with the splendid holy sacrifices, thou founder of ætna. [Note]

But on the death of Hiero, [Note] the Catanæans returned and expelled the new inhabitants, and demolished the mausoleum of the tyrant. The ætnæans, compelled to retire, [Note] established themselves on a hilly district of ætna, called Innesa, [Note] and called the place ætna. It is distant from Catana about 80 stadia. They still acknowledged Hiero as their founder.

ætna lies the highest of any part of Catana, and participates the most in the inconveniences occasioned by the mouths of the volcano, for the streams of lava flowing down in Catanæa [Note] pass through it first. It was here that Amphinomus

-- 406 --

and Anapias set the example of filial piety so greatly cele- brated, for they, seizing their parents, carried them on their shoulders [Note] to a place of safety from the impending ruin; for whenever, as Posidonius relates, there is an eruption of the mountain the fields of the Catanæans are buried to a great depth. However, after the burning ashes have occasioned a temporary damage, they fertilize the country for future seasons, and render the soil good for the vine and very strong for other produce, the neighbouring districts not being equally adapted to the produce of wine. They say that the roots which the districts covered with these ashes produce, are so good for fattening sheep, that they are sometimes suffocated, wherefore they bleed them in the ear every four or five days, [Note] in the same way as we have related a like practice at Erythia. When the stream of lava cools [Note] it covers the surface of the earth with stone to a considerable depth, so that those who wish to uncover the original surface are obliged to hew away the stone as in a quarry. For the stone is liquefied in the craters and then thrown up. That which is cast forth from the top is like a black moist clay and flows down the hill-sides, then congealing it becomes mill-stone, preserving the same colour it had while fluid. The ashes of the stones which are burnt are like what would be produced by wood, and as rue thrives on wood ashes, so there is probably some quality in the ashes of ætna which is appropriate to the vine. 6.2.4

Archaism, sailing from Corinth, founded Syracuse about the same period [Note] that Naxos and Megara were built. They say that Myscellus and Archias having repaired to Delphi at the same time to consult the oracle, the god demanded whether they would choose wealth or health, when Archias

-- 407 --

preferred wealth and Myscellus health, upon which the oracle assigned Syracuse to the former to found, and Crotona to the latter. And certainly, in like manner as it fell out that the Crotoniatæ should inhabit a state so notable for salubrity as we have described, [Note] so such great riches have accrued to the Syracusans that their name has been embodied in the proverb applied to those who have too great wealth, viz. that they have not yet attained to a tithe of the riches of the Syracusans. While Archias was on his voyage to Sicily, he left Chersicrates, a chief of the race of the Heracleidæ, [Note] with a part of the expedition to settle the island now called Corcyra, [Note] but anciently called Scheria, and he, having expelled the Liburni who possessed it, established his colony in the island. Archias, pursuing his route, met with certain Dorians at Zephyrium, [Note] come from Sicily, and who had quitted the company of those who had founded Megara; these he took with him, and in conjunction with them founded Syracuse. The city flourished on account of the fertility [Note]


of the country and the convenience of the harbours, the citizens became great rulers; while under tyrants themselves, they domineered over the other states [of Sicily], and when freed from despotism, they set at liberty such as had been enslaved by the barbarians: of these barbarians some were the aboriginal inhabitants of the island, while others had come across from the continent. The Greeks suffered none of the barbarians to approach the shore, although they were not able to expel them entirely from the interior, for the Siculi, Sicani, [Note] Morgetes, and some others, [Note] still inhabit the island to the present day, amongst whom also were the Iberians, who, as Ephorus relates, were

-- 408 --

the first of the barbarians that are considered to have been settlers in Sicily. It seems probable that Morgantium [Note] was founded by the Morgetes. Formerly it was a city, but now it is not. When the Carthaginians [Note] endeavoured to gain possession of the island they continually harassed both the Greeks and the barbarians, but the Syracusans withstood them; at a later period the Romans expelled the Carthaginians and took Syracuse after a long siege. [Note] And [Sextus] Pompeius, having destroyed Syracuse in the same way as he had done by the other cities, [Note] Augustus Cæsar in our own times sent thither a colony, and to a great extent restored it to its former importance, for anciently it consisted of five towns [Note]
enclosed by a wall of 180 [Note] stadia, but there being no great need that it should fill this extensive circle, he thought it expedient to fortify in a better way the thickly inhabited portion lying next the island of Ortygia, the circumference of which by itself equals that of an important city. Ortygia is connected to the mainland by a bridge, and [boasts of] the fountain Arethusa, which springs in such abundance as to form a river at once, and flows into the sea. They say that it is the river Alpheus [Note] which rises in the Peloponnesus, and that it flows through the land beneath the sea [Note]




to the place

-- 409 --

where the Arethusa rises and flows into the sea. Some such proofs as these are given in .upport of the fact. A certain chalice having fallen into the river at Olympia was cast up by the springs of Arethusa; the fountain too is troubled by the sacrifices of oxen at Olympia. And Pindar, following such reports, thus sings, Ortygia, revered place of reappearing [Note]





of the Alpheus,
The offset of renowned Syracuse. [Note]
Timæus [Note] the historian advances these accounts in like manner with Pindar. Undoubtedly if before reaching the sea the Alpheus were to fall into some chasm, [Note] there would be a probability that it continued its course from thence to Sicily, preserving its potable water unmixed with the sea; but since the mouth of the river manifestly falls into the sea, and there does not appear any opening in the bed of the sea there, which would be capable of imbibing the waters of the river, (although even if there were they could not remain perfectly fresh, still it might be possible to retain much of the character of fresh water, if they were presently to be swallowed down into a passage running below the earth which forms the bed of the sea,) it is altogether impossible; and this the water of Arethusa clearly proves, being perfectly fit for beverage; but

-- 410 --

that the flow of the river should remain compact through so long a course, not mixing with the sea until it should fall into the fancied channel, is entirely visionary; for we can scarcely credit it of the Rhone, the body of the waters of which remains compact during its passage through the lake, and preserves a visible course, but in that instance both the distance is short and the lake is not agitated by waves like the sea, but in this case of the Alpheus, [Note] where there are great storms and the waters are tossed with violence, the supposition is by no means worthy of attention. The fable of the chalice being carried over is likewise a mere fabrication, for it is not calculated for transfer, nor is it by any means probable it should be washed away so far, nor yet by such diffi- cult passages. Many rivers, however, and in many parts of the world, flow beneath the earth, but none for so great a distance.—Still, although there may be no impossibility in this circumstance, yet the above-mentioned accounts are altogether impossible, and almost as absurd as the fable related of the Inachus: this river, as Sophocles [Note] feigns, Flowing from the heights of Pindus and Lacmus, passes from the country of the Perrhœbi [Note] to that of the Amphilochi [Note] and the Acarnanians, and mingles its waters with the Achelous: [Note] and further on [he says], Thence to Argos, cutting through the waves, it comes to the territory of Lyrceius. Those who would have the river Inopus to be a branch of the Nile flowing to Delos, exaggerate this kind of marvel to the utmost. Zoïlus the rhetorician, in his Eulogium of the people of Tenedos, says that the river Alpheus flows from Tenedos: yet this is the man who blames Homer for fabulous writing. Ibycus also says that the Asopus, a river of Sicyon, [Note] flows from Phrygia. Hecatæus is more rational, who says that the Inachus of the Amphilochi, which flows from Mount Lacmus, from whence also the æas [Note] descends, was distinct from the river of like name in Argolis, and was so named after Amphilochus, from whom likewise the city of Argos was de-

-- 411 --

nominated Amphilochian. He says further, that this river falls into the Achelous, and that the æas flows to Apollonia [Note] towards the west. On each side of the island there is an extensive harbour; the extent of the larger one is 80 [Note] stadia. [Augustus] Cæsar has not only restored this city, but Catana, and likewise Centoripa, [Note] which had contributed much towards the overthrow of [Sextus] Pompey. Centoripa is situated above Catana and confines with the mountains of ætna and the river Giaretta, [Note] which flows into Catanvæa. 6.2.5

One of the remaining sides, that stretching from Pachynus to Lilybæum, is entirely deserted; still it preserves a few traces of the ancient inhabitants, one of whose cities was Camarina. [Note] Acragas, [Note] which was a colony of the Geloi, [Note] together with its port and Lilybæum, [Note] still exist. In fact, these regions, lying opposite to Carthage, have been wasted by the great and protracted wars which have been waged. The remaining and greatest side, although it is by no means densely peopled, is well occupied, for Alæsa, [Note] Tyndaris, [Note] the emporium [Note] of the ægestani and Cephalœdium, [Note] are respectable towns. Panormus has received a Roman colony: they say that ægesta [Note] was founded by the Greeks who passed over, as we have related when speaking of Italy, with Philoctetes to the Crotoniatis, and were by him sent to Sicily with ægestus [Note] the Trojan. 6.2.6

In the interior of the island a few inhabitants possess Enna, [Note] in which there is a temple of Ceres; [Note]


it is situated on

-- 412 --

a hill, and surrounded by spacious table-lands well adapted for tillage. The fugitive slaves, who placed themselves under the leading of Eunus, [Note] and sustained in this city a long siege, scarcely being reduced by the Romans, occasioned much damage to the city. The Catanæi, Tauromenitæ, and many others, suffered, much in like manner. † Eryx, [Note] a very lofty mountain, is also inhabited. It possesses a temple of Venus, which is very much esteemed; in former times it was well filled with women sacred to the goddess, whom the inhabitants of Sicily, and also many others, offered in accomplishment of their vows; but now, both is the neighbourhood much thinner of inhabitants, and the temple not near so well supplied with priestesses and female attendants. [Note] There is also an establishment of this goddess at Rome called the temple of Venus Erycina, just before the Colline Gate; in addition to the temple it has a portico well worthy of notice. † The other settlement and most of the interior have been left to the shepherds for pasturage; for we do not know that Himera is yet inhabited, [Note] or Gela, [Note] or Callipolis, or Selinus, or Eubœa, or many other places; of these the Zanclæi of Mylœ [Note] founded Himera, [Note] the people of Naxos, Callipolis, [Note] the Megaræans of Sicily, [Note] Selinus, [Note] and the Leontini [Note] Eubœa. [Note] Many too of the cities

-- 413 --

of the aboriginal inhabitants [Note] have been destroyed, as Camici, the kingdom of Cocalus, at whose house Minos is reported to have been treacherously cut off. The Romans therefore, considering the deserted condition of the country, and having got possession both of the hills and the most part of the plains, have given them over to horse-breeders, herdsmen, and shepherds, by whom the island has frequently been brought into great perils. First of all the shepherds, taking to pillage here and there in different places, and afterwards assembling in numbers and forcibly taking settlements; for instance, as those under the command of Eunus [Note] seized upon Enna. [Note] And quite recently, during the time that we were at Rome, a certain Selurus, called the son of ætna, was sent up to that city. He had been the captain of a band of robbers, and had for a long time infested the country round ætna, committing frequent depredations. We saw him torn to pieces by wild beasts in the forum after a contest of gladiators: he had been set upon a platform fashioned to represent Mount ætna, which being suddenly unfastened and falling, he was precipitated amongst certain cages of wild beasts, which had also been slightly constructed under the platform for the occasion. 6.2.7

The fertility of the country is so generally extolled by every one, as nothing inferior to Italy, that there is a question as to what we should say of it. Indeed, for wheat, honey, saffron, and some other commodities, it even surpasses that country. In addition to this, its proximity renders the island like a part of Italy itself, so that it supplies the Roman market with produce both commodiously and without trouble. Indeed they call it the granary of Rome, for all the produce of the island is carried thither, except a few things required for home consumption. It consists not only of the fruits of the earth, but of cattle, skins, wool, and the like. Posidonius says that Syracuse and Eryx are situated on the sea like two citadels, and that Enna in the midst, between Syracuse and Eryx, commands the surrounding plains. † The [Note] whole terri-

-- 414 --

tory of the Leontini, which was possessed by the people of Naxos settled in Sicily, suffered much, for they always shared in the misfortunes of Syracuse, but not always in its prosperity. † 6.2.8

Near to Centoripa is the town we have a little before mentioned, ætna, which serves as a place for travellers about to ascend Mount ætna, to halt and refresh themselves for the expedition. For here commences the region in which is situated the summit of the mountain. The districts above are barren and covered with ashes, which are surmounted by the snows in winter: all below it however is filled with woods and plantations of all kinds. It seems that the summits of the mountain take many changes by the ravages of the fire, which sometimes is brought together into one crater, and at another is divided; at one time again it heaves forth streams of lava, and at another flames and thick smoke: at other times again ejecting red-hot masses of fire-stone. In such violent commotions as these the subterraneous passages must necessarily undergo a corresponding change, and at times the orifices on the surface around be considerably increased. Some who have very recently ascended the mountain, reported [Note] to us, that they found at the top an even plain of about 20 stadia in circumference, enclosed by an overhanging ridge of ashes about the height of a wall, so that those who are desirous of proceeding further are obliged to leap down into the plain. They noticed in the midst of it a mound; it was ash-coloured, as was likewise the plain in appearance. Above the mound a column of cloud reared itself in a perpendicular line to the height of 200 stadia, and remained motionless (there being no air stirring at the time); it resembled smoke. Two of the party resolutely attempted to proceed further across this plain, but, finding the sand very hot and sinking very deep in it, they turned back, without however being able to make any more particular observations, as to what we have described, than those who beheld from a greater distance. They were, however, of opinion, from the observations they were able to make, that much exaggeration pervades the accounts we have of the volcano, and especially the tale about Empedocles, that he leaped into the

-- 415 --

crater, and left as a vestige of his folly one of the brazen sandals which he wore, it being found outside at a short distance from the lip of the crater, with the appearance of having been cast up by the violence of the flame; for neither is the place approachable nor even visible, nor yet was it likely that any thing could be cast in thither, on account of the contrary current of the vapours and other matters cast up from the lower parts of the mountain, and also on account of the overpowering excess of heat, which would most likely meet any one long before approaching the mouth of the crater; and if eventually any thing should be cast down, it would be totally decomposed before it were cast up again, what manner of form so ever it might have had at first. And again, although it is not unreasonable to suppose that the force of the vapour and fire is occasionally slackened for want of a continual supply of fuel, still we are not to conclude that it is ever possible for a man to approach it in the presence of so great an opposing power. ætna more especially commands the shore along the Strait and Catana, but it also overlooks the sea that washes Tyrrhenia and the Lipari Islands. By night a glowing light appears on its summit, but in the day-time it is enveloped with smoke and thick darkness. 6.2.9

The Nebrodes mountains [Note] take their rise opposite [Note] to ætna; they are not so lofty as ætna, but extend over a much greater surface. The whole island is hollow under ground, and full of rivers and fire like the bed of the Tyrrhenian Sea, [Note] as far as Cumæa, as we before described [Note] For there are hot springs in many places in the island, some of which are saline, as those named Selinuntia [Note] and the springs at Himera, while those at ægesta [Note] are fresh. Near to Acragas [Note] there are certain lakes, [Note] the waters of which taste like the sea, but their

-- 416 --

properties are very different, for if those who do not know how to swim plunge into them, they are not covered over by them, but float on the surface like pieces of wood.

The Palici [Note] possess craters which cast up water in a jet, having the appearance of a dome, and then receive it back again into the same place it rose from. The cavern near Mataurum [Note] has within it a considerable channel, with a river flowing through it under ground for a long distance, and afterwards emerging to the surface as does the El-Asi [Note] in Syria, which, after descending into the chasm between Apameia and Antioch, which they call Charybdis, rises again to the surface at the distance of about 40 stadia. Much the same circumstances are remarked of the Tigris [Note] in Mesopotamia, and the Nile in Africa, [Note] a little before [Note] its most notorious springs. The water in the neighbourhood of the city of Stymphalus, having passed under ground about 200 stadia, gives rise to the river Erasinus [Note] in Argia; [Note] and again, the waters which are ingulfed with a low roaring sound near Asea [Note] in Arcadia, after a long course, spring forth with such

-- 417 --

copiousness as to form the Eurotas and the Alpheus, [Note] whence has arisen a fable extensively credited, that if a certain charm is uttered over each of two crowns on their being cast into the stream where the two rivers flow in a common channel, each crown will make its appearance in its respective river according to the charm. As for what we might add with reference to the Timao, [Note] it has already been particularized. 6.2.10

Phenomena, similar to these, and such as take place throughout Sicily, [Note] are witnessed in the Lipari Islands, and especially in Lipari itself.—These islands are seven in number, the chief of which is Lipari, a colony of the Cnidians. [Note] It is nearest to Sicily after Thermessa. [Note] It was originally named Meligunis. It was possessed of a fleet, and for a considerable time repelled the incursions of the Tyrrheni. [Note] The islands now called Liparæan were subject to it, some call them the islands of æolus. The citizens were so successful as to make frequent offerings of the spoils taken in war to the temple of Apollo at Delphi. [Note] It possesses a fertile soil, [Note]

-- 418 --

and mines [Note] of alum easy to be wrought, hot springs, [Note] and craters. [Thermessa] is, as it were, situated between this and Sicily; it is now designated as Hiera, or sacred to Vulcan; it is entirely rocky, and desert, and volcanic. In it are three craters, and the flames which issue from the largest are accompanied with burning masses of lava, which have already obstructed a considerable portion of the strait [between Thermessa and the island Lipari]; repeated observations have led to the belief that the flames of the volcanos, both in this island and at Mount ætna, are stimulated by the winds [Note] as they rise; and when the winds are lulled, the flames also subside; nor is this without reason, for if the winds are both originally produced and kept up by the vapours arising from the sea, those who witness these phenomena will not be surprised, if the fire should be excited in some such way, by the like aliment and circumstances. Polybius tells us that one of the three craters of the island has partly fallen down, while the larger of the two that remain has a lip, the circumference of which is five stadia, and the diameter nearly 50 feet, [Note] and its elevation about a stadium from the level of the sea, which may be seen at the base in calm weather; but if we are to credit this, we may as well attend to what has been reported concerning Empedocles. [Polybius] also says, that when the south wind is to blow, a thick cloud lies stretched round the island, so that one cannot see even as far as Sicily in the distance; but when there is to be a north wind, the clear flames ascend to a great height above the said crater, and great rumblings are heard; while for the west wind effects are produced about half way between these two. The other craters are similarly affected, but their exhalations are not so violent. Indeed, it is possible to foretell what wind will blow three days beforehand, from the degree of intensity of the rumbling, and also from the part whence the exhalations, flames, and smoky blazes issue. It is said indeed that some of the inhabitants of the Lipari Islands, at times when there has been so great a calm that no ship could sail out of port, have pre-

-- 419 --

dieted what wind would blow, and have not been mistaken. From hence indeed that which seems to be the most fabulous invention of the poet, appears not to have been written without some foundation, and he appears to have merely used an allegorical style, while guided by the truth, when he says that æolus is the steward of the winds; [Note] however, we have formerly said enough as to this. [Note] We will now return to the point whence we digressed. 6.2.11

We have noticed the islands of Lipari and Thermessa. As for Strongyle, [Note] it takes its name from its form. [Note] Like the other two, it is subigneous, but is deficient in the force of the flames which are emitted, while their brightness is greater. It is here they say that æolus resided. [Note] The fourth is Didyma; this island also is named from its form. [Note] Of the others, [the fifth and sixth] are Ericus-

-- 420 --

sa [Note] and phœnicussa; [Note] they are called from the plants which they produce, and are given up to pasture. The seventh [island] is called Euonymus; [Note] it is the farthest in the sea and barren. It is called Euonymus because it lies the most to the left when you sail from the island of Lipari to Sicily, [Note] and many times flames of fire have been seen to rise to the surface, and play upon the sea round the islands: these flames rush with violence from the cavities at the bottom of the sea, [Note] and force for themselves a passage to the open air. Posidonius says, that at a time so recent as to be almost within his recollection, about the summer solstice and at break of day, between Hiera and Euonymus, the sea was observed to be suddenly raised aloft, and to abide some time raised in a compact mass and then to subside. Some ventured to approach that part in their ships; they observed the fish dead and driven by the current, but being distressed by the heat and foul smell, were compelled to turn back. One of the boats which had approached nearest lost some of her crew, and was scarcely able to reach Lipari with the rest, and they had fits like an epileptic person, at one time fainting and giddy, and at another returning to their senses; and many days afterwards a mud or clay was observed rising in the sea, and in many parts the flames

-- 421 --

issued, and smoke and smoky blazes; afterwards it congealed and became a rock like mill-stones. Titus Flaminius, [Note] who then commanded in Sicily, despatched to the senate [of Rome] a fill account of the phenomenon; the senate sent and offered sacrifices to the infernal and marine divinities both in the little island [which had thus been formed] and the Lipari Islands. Now the chorographer reckons that from Ericodes to Phœnicodes are 10 miles, from thence to Didyma 30, from thence to the northernmost point [Note] of Lipari 29, and from thence to Sicily 19, while from Strongyle are 16. [Note] Melita [Note] lies before [Note] Pachynus; from thence come the little dogs called Maltese; [Note] so does also Gaudus, [Note] both of them are situated about 88 miles distant from that promontory. Cossura [Note] is situated before Cape Lilybæsum, and opposite the Carthaginian city Aspis, which they call [in Latin] Clypea, it is situated in the midst of the space which lies between those

-- 422 --

two places, and is distant from each the number of miles last given. [Note] ægimurus also and other little islands lie off Sicily and Africa. So much for the islands.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.1 Str. 6.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.3

Powered by PhiloLogic