Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.2.1 Str. 6.2.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.2.5

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

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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-

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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-

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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

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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

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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

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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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.2.1 Str. 6.2.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.2.5

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