Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.1.1 Str. 8.2.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.3.2

8.1.3

According to Ephorus, Acarnania is the commencement of Greece on the west, for it is the first country which lies contiguous to the Epirotic nations. As this author follows the coast in his measurements, and begins from thence, considering the sea the most important guide of topographical description, (for otherwise he might have placed the beginning of Greece in Macedonia and Thessaly,) so ought I, observing

-- 4 --

the natural character of places, to keep in view the sea as a mark by which I should direct the course of my description.

The sea coming from Sicily spreads itself on one side towards the Corinthian Gulf, and on the other forms a large peninsula, the Peloponnesus, united to the main-land by a narrow isthmus.

The two largest bodies of country in Greece are that within the isthmus, and that without the isthmus, [extending to the mouths of the river Peneius]. That within the isthmas is however larger, and more celebrated. The Peloponnesus is, as it were, the acropolis or citadel of all Greece; and all Greece in a manner holds the chief or leading position in Europe. For independently of the fame and power of the nations which inhabited it, the position itself of the places in it suggests this superiority. One site succeeds another diversified with numerous most remarkable bays, and large peninsulas. The first of these peninsulas is the Peloponnesus, closed in by an isthmus of forty stadia in extent. The second comprehends the first, and has an isthmus reaching from Pagæ in Megaris to Nisæa, which is the naval arsenal of the Megareans; the passage across the isthmus from sea to sea is 120 stadia.

The third peninsula also comprises the latter. Its isthmus extends from the farthest recess of the Crissæan Gulf to Thermopylæ. The line supposed to be drawn between these is about 508 stadia in length, including within it the whole of Bœotia, and cutting Phocis and the country of the Epicnemidii obliquely. The fourth peninsula has the isthmus extending from the Ambracian Gulf through Mount Œta and Traclinia to the Maliac Gulf and Thermopylæ, about 800 stadia.

There is another isthmus of more than 1000 stadia reaching from the same Gulf of Ambracia, and passing through the country of the Thessalians and Macedonians to the recess of the Thermæan Gulf.

The succession of peninsulas furnishes a convenient order to be followed in describing the country.

We must begin from the smallest, as being also the most famous of these peninsulas. [Note]

-- 5 --

CHAPTER II. 8.2.1

THE Peloponnesus resembles in figure the leaf of a plane tree. [Note] Its length and breadth are nearly equal, each about 1400 stadia. The former is reckoned from west to east, that is, from the promontory Chelonatas through Olympia and the territory Megalopolitis to the isthmus; the latter from south to north, or from Maliæ though Arcadia to ægium.

The circumference, according to Polybius, exclusive of the circuit of the bays, is 4000 stadia. Artemidorus however adds to this 400 stadia, and if we include the measure of the bays, it exceeds 5600 stadia. We have already said that the isthmus at the road where they draw vessels over-land from one sea to the other is 40 stadia across. 8.2.2

Eleians and Messenians occupy the western side of this peninsula. Their territory is washed by the Sicilian Sea. They possess the coast also on each side. Elis bends towards the north and the commencement of the Corinthian Gulf as far as the promontory Araxus, [Note] opposite to which across the strait is Acarnania; the islands Zacynthus, [Note] Cephallenia, [Note] Ithaca, [Note] and the Echinades, to which belongs Dulichium, lie in front of it. The greater part of Messenia is open to the south and to the Libyan Sea as far as the islands Thyrides near Tænarum. [Note]

Next to Elis, is the nation of the Achæi looking towards the north, and stretching along the Corinthian Gulf they terminate at Sicyonia. Then follow Sicyon [Note] and Corinth, extending as far as the isthmus. Next after Messenia are

-- 6 --

Laconia and Argeia, which latter country also reaches as far as the isthmus.

The bays of the Peloponnesus are the Messeniac, [Note] the Laconian, [Note] a third the Argolic, [Note] and a fourth the Hermionic, [Note] or the Saronic, [Note] which some writers call the Salaminiac bay. Some of these bays are supplied by the Libyan, others by the Cretan and Myrtoan Seas. Some call even the Saronic Gulf a sea. In the middle of Peloponnesus is Arcadia, lying contiguous to all the other nations. 8.2.3

The Corinthian Gulf begins from the mouths of the Evenus, [Note] (some say from the mouths of the Achelous, [Note] which is the boundary between the Acarnanes and ætoli,) and from the promontory Araxus. For there the shores on both sides first begin to contract, and have a considerable inclination towards each other; as they advance farther onwards they nearly meet at Rhium [Note] and Antirrhium, [Note] leaving a channel of only about 5 stadia between them.

Rhium is a promontory of Achaia, it is low, and bends inwards like a sickle, (indeed it has the name of Drepanum, or the Sickle,) and lies between Patræ [Note] and ægium, [Note] on it there is a temple of Neptune. Antirrhium is situated on the confines of ætolia and Locris. It is called Rhium Molycrium. From this point the sea-shore again parts in a moderate degree on each side, and advancing into the Crissæan Gulf, terminates there, being shut in by the western boundaries of Bœotia and Megaris.

The Corinthian Gulf is 2230 stadia in circuit from the river Evenus to the promontory Araxus; and if we reckon from the Achelous, it would be increased by about 100 stadia.

The tract from the Achelous to the Evenus is occupied by Acarnanians; next are the ætoli, reaching to the Cape Antirrhium. The remainder of the country, as far as the isthmus, is occupied by Phocis, Bœotia, and by Megaris, it extends 1118 stadia.

The sea from Cape Antirrhium as far as the isthmus is [the Crissæan Gulf, but from the city Creusa it is called the Sea of] Alcyonis, and is a portion of the Crissæan Gulf. [Note]

-- 7 --

From the isthmus to the promontory Araxus is a distance of 1030 stadia.

Such in general then is the nature and extent of the Peloponnesus, and of the country on the other side of the strait up to the farther recess of the gulf. Such also is the nature of the gulf between both.

We shall next describe each country in particular, beginning with Elis.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.1.1 Str. 8.2.2 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.3.2

Powered by PhiloLogic