Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.2.7 Str. 6.2.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.2.11


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

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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

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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

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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.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 6.2.7 Str. 6.2.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 6.2.11

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