Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.7.9 Str. 7.7.12 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.fragments.6


This oracle, according to Ephorus, was established by Pelasgi, who are said to be the most ancient people that were sovereigns in Greece. Thus the poet speaks, O great Pelasgic Dodonæan Jove; [Note]
Iliad, book xvi. 233.
and Hesiod, He went to Dodona, the dwelling of the Pelasgi, and to the beech tree.

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I have spoken of the Pelasgi in the account of Tyr- rhenia.

With respect to Dodona, Homer clearly intimates that the people who lived about the temple were barbarians, from their mode of life, describing them as persons who do not wash their feet, and who sleep on the ground. Whether we should read Helli, with Pindar, or Selli, as it is conjectured the word existed in Homer, the ambiguity of the writing does not permit us to affirm confidently. Philochorus says, that the country about Dodona was called, like Eubœa, Hellopia; for these are the words of Hesiod, There is a country Hellopia, rich in corn-fields and pastures; at its extremity is built Dodona. It is supposed, says Apollodorus, that it had this name from the hele, or marshes about the temple. He is of opinion that the poet did not call the people about the temple Helli, but Selli, adding, that Homer mentions a certain river (near) of the name of Selleis. He specifies the name in this line, At a distance far from Ephyra, from the river Selleis. [Demetrius of Skepsis contends that] Ephyra of Thesprotia is not here meant, but Ephyra of Elis. For the river Selleis is in Elis, and there is no river of this name either in Thesprotia or among the Molotti. The fable of the oak and the doves, and other similar things, like the stories connected with Delphi, although they are subjects more adapted to engage the attention of a poet, yet are appropriate to the description of the country with which we are now occupied.

Dodona was formerly subject to the Thesproti, as was the mountain Tomarus, or Tmarus, (both names are in use,) be low which the temple is situated. The tragic writers and Pindar give the epithet of Thesprotis to Dodona. It was said to be subject, in later times, to the Molotti. Those called by the poet Jove's interpreters, [Note] and described by him as men with unwashen feet, who slept on the ground, were, it is said called Tomuri [Note] from Mount Tomarus, and the passage in the

Odyssey containing the advice of Amphinomus to the suitors

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not to attack Telemachus before they had inquired of Jupiter is as follows, If the Tomuri of great Jove approve, I myself will kill him, and I will order all to join in the deed; but if the god forbid it, I command to withhold.Odys. xvi. 403. For it is better, it is asserted, to write Tomuri [Note] than The- Mistæ, [Note] because in no passage whatever are oracles called by the poet Themistæ, this term being applied to decrees, [Note] or statutes and rules of civil government; and the persons are called Tomuri, [Note] which is the contracted form of Tomaruri, [Note] or guardians of Tomarus.

In Homer, however, we must understand θέμιστες in a more simple sense, and, like βουλαί, by the figure Catachresis, as meaning commands and oracular injunctions as well as laws; for such is the import of this line: To listen to [Note] the will of Jove, which comes forth from the lofty and verdant oak. 7.7.12

The first prophets were men, and this the poet perhaps indicates, for he calls the persons interpreters, [Note] among whom the prophets [Note] might be classed. In after-times three old women were appointed to this office, after even Dione had a common temple with Jupiter.

Suidas, in order to court the favour of the Thessalians by fabulous stories, says, that the temple was transported from Scotussa of the Thessalian Pelasgiotis, accompanied by a great multitude, chiefly of women, whose descendants are the present prophetesses, and that hence Jupiter had the epithet Pelasgic. Cineas relates what is still more fabulous * * * * * * * * * * [With the exception of the following Fragments, the rest of this book is lost.]

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FRAGMENTS. [Note] 7.fragments.1

THE oracle was formerly at Scotussa, a city of Pelasgiotis, but was transferred to Dodona by the command of Apollo, after some persons had burnt down the tree. The oracular answers were not conveyed by words, but by certain signs, as at the oracle of Ammon in Libya. Probably the three doves made some peculiar flight, which, observed by the priestesses, suggested the oracular answer. Some say that, in the language of the Molotti and Thesprote, old women are called peliæ, and old men pelii, so that the celebrated doves were probably not birds, but three old women who passed an idle time about the temple. EPIT.

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