Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.2.2 Str. 6.2.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.2.6

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. 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

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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

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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

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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

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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-

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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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.2.2 Str. 6.2.4 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.2.6

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