|Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].|
|<<Str. 8.2||Str. 8.3 (Greek English(2))||>>Str. 8.4|
AT present the whole sea-coast lying between the Achæi
and Messenii is called Eleia, it stretches into the inland parts
towards Arcadia at Pholoe, and the Azanes, and Parrhasii.
Anciently it was divided into several states; afterwards
into two, Elis of the Epeii, and Elis under Nestor, the son of
Neleus. As Homer says, who mentions Elis of the Epeii by
Sacred Elis, where the Epeii rule.
The other he calls Pylus subject to Nestor, through which, he
says, the Alpheius flows:
Alpheius, that flows in a straight line through the land of the Pylians. [Note]Il. v. 545.
They arrived at Pylus, the well-built city of Neleus. [Note]Od. iii. 4.
Elis, the present city, was not yet founded in the time of Homer, but the inhabitants of the country lived in villages. It was called Cœle [or Hollow] Elis, from the accident of its locality, for the largest and best part of it is situated in a hollow. It was at a late period, and after the Persian war, that the people collected together out of many demi, or [Note]
burghs, into one city. And, with the exception of a few, the other places in the Peloponnesus which the poet enumerates are not to be called cities, but districts. Each contained several assemblages of demi or burghs, out of which the famous cities were afterwards formed, as Mantineia in Arcadia, which was furnished with inhabitants from five burghs by Argives; Tegea from nine; Heræa from as many during the reign of Cleombrotus, or Cleonymus; ægium out of seven, or eight; Patræ out of seven; Dyme out of eight; thus Elis also was formed out of the surrounding burghs. The demus of the Agriades was one of those added to it. The Peneius [Note] flows through the city by the Gymnasium, which the Eleii constructed long after the countries which were subject to Nestor had passed into their possession.8.3.3
These were the Pisatis, of which Olympia is a part, and Triphylia, and the territory of the Caucones. The Triphylii had their name from the accident of the union of three tribes; of the Epeii, the original inhabitants; of the Minyæ, who afterwards settled there; and last of all of the Eleii, who made themselves masters of the country. Instead of the Minyæ some writers substitute Arcadians, who had frequently disputed the possession of the territory, whence Pylus had the epithet Arcadian as well as Triphylian. Homer calls all this tract as far as Messene by the name of Pylus, the name of the city. The names of the chiefs, and of their abodes in the Catalogue of the Ships, show that Cœle Elis, or the Hollow Elis, was distinct from the country subject to Nestor.
I say this on comparing the present places with Homer's description of them, for we must compare one with the other in consideration of the fame of the poet, and our being bred up in an acquaintance with his writings; and every one will conclude that our present inquiry is rightly conducted, if nothing is found repugnant to his accounts of places, which have been received with the fullest reliance on their credibility and his veracity.
We must describe these places as they exist at present, and as they are represented by the poet, comparing them together as far as is required by the design of this work.8.3.4
The Araxus is a promontory of Eleia situated on the north, 60 stadia from Dyme, an Achæan city. This promontory
we consider the commencement of the coast of Eleia. Proceeding thence towards the west is Cyllene, [Note] the naval arsenal
of the Eleii, from whence is an ascent of 120 stadia to the present city. This Cyllene Homer mentions in these words,
Cyllenian Otus, chief of the Epeii,
for he would not have given the title of chief of Epeii to one
who came from the Arcadian mountain of this name. It is a
village of moderate size, in which is preserved the æsculapius
of Colotes, a statue of ivory, of admirable workmanship.
Next to Cyllene is the promontory Chelonatas, [Note] the most
westerly point of the Peloponnesus. In front of it there is a
small island and shoals on the confines of Hollow Elis, and the
territory of the Pisatæ. From hence [Cyllene] to Cephallenia
is a voyage of not more than 80 stadia. Somewhere on the
above-mentioned confines is the river Elisson, or Elissa.
Between the Chelonatas and Cyllene the river Peneius
empties itself, and that also called by the poet Selleis, which
flows from the mountain Pholoe. On this river is situated
Ephyra, a city to be distinguished from the Thesprotian,
Thessalian, and Corinthian Ephyras; being a fourth city of
this name, situated on the road leading to the Lasion seacoast, and which may be either the same place as Bœonoa,
(for it is the custom to call Œnoe by this name,) or a city
near this, distant from Elis 120 stadia. This Ephyra seems
to be the reputed birth-place of Astyochea, the mother of Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules,
Whom Hercules brought from Ephyra, from the river Selleïs; [Note]Il. ii. 650.
Which Phyleus formerly brought from Ephyra, from the river Selleis; [Note]Il. xv. 531.
In search of a mortal poison wherewith to anoint his arrows: [Note]Od. i. 261.
Or he will go to the rich country of Ephyra to bring back poison de-
structive of our lives. [Note]
And Nestor introduces the daughter of Augeas, king of the
Epeii, in his account of the war with that people, as one who
I first slew a man, [Note] Mulius, a brave soldier. He was son-in-law of
Augeas; he had married his eldest daughter; she was acquainted with
all the poisons which the earth brings forth.
There is also near Sicyon a river, Selleis, and a village of the name of Ephyra near it; and a village Ephyra in the territory of Agræa in ætolia, the people of which are called Ephyri. There are also other Ephyri among the Perrhæbi near Macedonia, who are Crannonians, [Note] and the Thesprotic Ephyri of Cichyrus, which was formerly called Ephyra.8.3.6
Apollodorus, when he informs us in what manner the
poet usually distinguishes places with the same names, as
Orchomenus for instance, designating that in Arcadia by the
epithet, abounding with sheep; the Bœotian Orchomenus,
as Minyeius; by applying to Samos the term Thracian,
Between Samos and Imbros, [Note]Il. xxiv. 78.
What he says also about Œchalia requires examination,
where he asserts that the city of Eurytus of Œchalia is the
only city, when there is more than one city of that name. It
is therefore evident that he means the Thessalian city mentioned by Homer:
And they who occupied Œchalia, the city of Eurytus, the Œchalian. [Note]Il. ii. 730.
the Thracian was met by the Muses, and deprived of the
power of song, for he says,
Coming from Œchalia, from the dwelling of Eurytus, the Œchalian. [Note]Il. ii. 591.
There existed between the mouths of the Peneius and
the Selleis near Scollis, a Pylus, not the city of Nestor, but
another of that name, having nothing in common with that
on the Alpheius, nor even with that on the Pamisus, or, if
we must so call it, the Amathus. Some writers, through their
solicitude for the fame and noble descent of Nestor, give a
forced meaning to these words. Since there are three places
in Peloponnesus of the name of Pylus, (whence the saying
There is a Pylus in front of Pylus, and still there is another Pylus,)
namely, this and the Lepreatic Pylus in Triphylia, and a
third, the Messeniac near Coryphasium, [Note] the advocates for
each place endeavour to show that the river in his own country is (Emathois) ήμαθόεις, or sandy, and declare that to be
the country of Nestor.
The greater number of other writers, both historians and poets, say, that Nestor was a Messenian, assigning as his birthplace the Pylus, which continued to exist to their times. Those, however, who adhere to Homer and follow his poem as their guide, say, that the Pylus of Nestor is where the territory is traversed by the Alpheius. Now this river passes through the Pisatis and Triphylia. The inhabitants of the Hollow Elis were emulous of the same honour respecting the Pylus in their own country, and point out distinctive marks, as a place called Gerenus, and a river Geron, and another river Geranius, and endeavour to confirm this opinion by pretending that Nestor had the epithet Gerenius from these places.
The Messenians argue in the very same manner, but ap-
parently with more probability on their side. For they say, that in their territory there is a place better known, called Gerena, and once well inhabited.
Such then is the present state of the Hollow Elis. [Note]8.3.8
The poet however, after having divided the country into
four parts, and mentioned the four chiefs, does not clearly
express himself, when he says:
those who inhabit Buprasium and the sacred Elis, all whom Hyrminë
and Myrsinus, situated at the extremity of the territory and the Olenian
rock, and Aleisium contain, these were led by four chiefs; ten swift vessels
accompanied each, and multitudes of Epeii were embarked in them. [Note]
For, by applying the name Epeii to both people, the Buprasians and the Eleii, and by never applying the name Eleii to
the Buprasians, he may seem to divide, not Eleia, but the
country of the Epeii, into four parts, which he had before
divided into two; nor would Buprasium then be a part of Elis,
but rather of the country of the Epeii. For that he terms
the Buprasians Epeii, is evident from these words:
As when the Epeii were burying King Amarynces at Buprasium. [Note]
Again, by enumerating together Buprasium and sacred
Elis, and then by making a fourfold division, he seems to
arrange these very four divisions in common under both Buprasium and Elis.
Buprasium, it is probable, was a considerable settlement in Eleia, which does not exist at present. But the territory only has this name, which lies on the road to Dyme from Elis the present city. It might be supposed that Buprasium had at that time some superiority over Elis, as the Epeii had over the Eleii, but afterwards they had the name of Eleii instead of Epeii.
Buprasium then was a part of Elis, and they say, that Homer, by a poetical figure, speaks of the whole and of the part together, as in these lines:
they eat the bread of the Cyprians and the wheat of the Amathusii;
for the Amathusii are Cyprians: and Alcman;
leaving the beloved Cyprus, and Paphos, washed on all sides by the sea:
possessing as your share by lot the whole of Cyprus and Paphos.
If Homer has not called the Buprasii by the name of Eleii, we shall reply, nor has he mentioned many other places and things which exist. For this is not a proof that they did not exist, but only that he has not mentioned them.8.3.9
But Hecatæus of Miletus says, that the Epeii are a different people from the Eleii; that the Epeii accompanied Hercules in his expedition against Augeas, and joined him in destroying Elis, and defeating Augeas. He also says, that Dyme was both an Epeian and an Achæan city.
The ancient historians, accustomed from childhood to falsehood through the tales of mythologists, speak of many things that never existed. Hence they do not even agree with one another, in their accounts of the same things. Not that it is improbable that the Epeii, although a different people and at variance with the Eleii, when they had gained the ascendency, united together, forming a com- mon state, and their power extended even as far as Dyme. The poet does not mention Dyme, but it is not improbable that at that time it was subject to the Epeii, and afterwards to the ones, or perhaps not even to this people, but to the Achsæi, who were in possession of the country of the Iones.
Of the four portions, which include Buprasium, Hyrminē and Myrsinus belong to the territory of Eleia. The rest, according to the opinion of some writers, are situated close on the borders of the Pisatis.8.3.10
Hyrminë was a small town, which exists no longer, but there is a mountainous promontory near Cyllene, called Hormina or Hyrmina.
Myrsinus is the present Myrtuntium, a settlement extending to the sea, and situated on the road from Dyme to Elis, at the distance of 70 stadia from the city of the Eleii.
It is conjectured that the Olenian rock is the present Scollis. For we might mention probable conjectures, since both places and names have undergone changes, and the poet himself does not explain his meaning clearly in many passages.
Scollis is a rocky mountain, common to the Dymæi, and Tritæenses, and Eleii, situated close to Lampeia, another mountain in Arcadia, which is distant from Elis 130 stadia, from Tritæa 100, and an equal number [from Dyme] Achæan cities.
Aleisium is the present Alesiæum, a place near Amphidolis,
where the neighbouring people hold a market every month.
It is situated upon the mountain road leading from Elis to
Olympia. Formerly, it was a city of the Pisatis, the boundaries of the country being different at different times on account of the change of masters. The poet also calls Aleisium,
the hill of Aleisius, when he says,
Till we brought our horses to Buprasium rich in grain, and to the
Olenian rock, and to the place which is called the hill of Aleisium, [Note]
for we must understand the words by the figure hyperbaton.
Some also point out a river Aleisius.
Since a tribe of Caucones is mentioned in Triphylia near Messenia, and as Dyme is called by some writers Cauconis, and since between Dyme and Tritæa in the Dymæan district there is also a river called Caucon, a question arises respecting the Caucones, whether there are two nations of this name, one situate about Triphylia, and another about Dyme, Elis, and Caucon. This river empties itself into another which is called Teutheas, in the masculine gender, and is the name of a small town that was one of those that composed Dyme; except that the town is of the feminine gender, and is pronounced Teuthea, without the s, and the last syllable is long.
There is a temple of Diana Nemydia (Nemeæma?). The
Teutheas discharges itself into the Achelous, which runs by
Dyme, and has the same name as that in Acarnania, and the
name also of Peirus. In the lines of Hesiod,
he lived near the Olenian rock on the banks of the broad Peirus,
some change the last word πείοιο to πώοιο but improperly.
At sun-rise I go to the magnanimous Caucones, where a debt neither of
a late date nor of small amount is owing to me. [Note] When Telemachus
comes to thy house send him with thy son, thy chariot, and thy horses;
a certain district in the territory of the Epeii appears to be
designated, which the Caucones, a different nation from that
in Triphylia, possessed, and who perhaps extended even as far
as the Dymean territory.] But it was not proper to omit,
whence Dyme had the name Cauconitis, nor why the river was
called Caucon, because the question is, who the Caucones [Note]
were, to whom Minerva says, she is going to recover a debt.
For if we understand the poet to mean those in Triphylia
about Lepreum, I know not how this is probable; whence
some persons even write the passage,
where a large debt is owing to me in the sacred Elis.
This will appear more clearly, when we describe the Pisatis,
and after it Triphylia as far as the confines of Messenia.
Next to the Chelonatas is the long tract of coast of the
Pisatæ; then follows a promontory, Pheia; there was also a
small town of this name;
by the walls of Pheia about the stream of the Jardanes,I. vii. 135.
Some writers say, that Pheia is the commencement of the Pisatis. In front of Pheia is a small island and a harbour; thence to Olympia by sea, which is the shortest way, is 120 stadia. Then immediately follows another promontory, [Icthys,] projecting very far towards the west, like the Chelonatas; from this promontory to Cephallenia are 120 stadia. Next the Alpheius discharges itself, at the distance from the Chelonatas of 280, and from the Araxus of 545, stadia. It flows from the same places as the Eurotas. There is a village of the name of Asea in the Megalopolitis, where the two sources, whence the above-mentioned rivers issue, are near to one another. After running under the earth the distance of many stadia, they then rise to the surface, when one takes its course to Laconia, the other to the Pisatis. The Eurotas reappears at the commencement of the district Bleminates, flowing close beside Sparta, and passing through a long valley near Helos, which the poet mentions, empties itself between Gythium, the naval arsenal of Sparta, and Acræa. But the Alpheius, after receiving the Celadon, (Ladon?) and Erymanthus, and other obscure streams, pursues its course through Phrixa, and the Pisatis, and Triphylia, close to Olympia,
and discharges itself into the Sicilian Sea between Pheia and Epitalium. At its mouth, and at the distance of 80 stadia from Olympia, is situated the grove of Artemis Alpheionia, or Alpheiusa, for both words are in use. At Olympia an annual festival, to which multitudes resort, is celebrated in honour of this goddess, as well as of Diana Elaplia and Diana Daphnia. The whole country is full of temples dedicated to Diana, and Aphrodite, and the Nymphs, which are situated amidst flowery groves, and generally where there is abundance of water. Hermeia, or images of Mercury, are frequently met with on the road, and on the sea-shore, temples dedicated to Neptune. In the temple of Diana Alpheionia are pictures by Cleanthes and Aregon, Corinthian painters; the former has depicted the taking of Troy, and the birth of Minerva; the latter, Diana borne upon a griffin; which are highly esteemed.8.3.13
Next is the mountain, which separates Macistia in Triphylia from the Pisatis; then follows another river Chalcis, and a spring called Cruni, and Chalcis a village, and next to these the Samicum, where is the temple of the Samian Neptune, which is held in the highest honour. There is also a grove full of wild olive trees. It was intrusted to the care of the Macistii, whose business it was to announce the Samian truce as it is called. All the Triphylii contribute to the temple.
[The temple of the Scilluntian Minerva at Scillus in the neighbourhood of Olympia, opposite the Phellon, is among the celebrated temples.] [Note]8.3.14
Near these temples, at the distance of 30 stadia, or a little more, above the sea-coast, is situated the Triphyliac, or Lepreatic, Pylus, which the poet calls Emathoeis, or Sandy, and transmits to us as the native country of Nestor, as may be collected from his poetry. It had the epithet Emathoeis either from the river, which flows by the city towards the north, and was formerly called Amathus, but now Mamaus, or Arcadicus; or because this river was called Pamisus, the same name as that of two rivers in Messenia, while with respect to the city, the epithet Emathoeis, or sandy, is of uncertain origin, since it is not the fact, it is said, that either the river or the country abounds with sand.
Towards the east is a mountain near Pylus, named after Minthe, who, according to the fable, was the mistress of Hades, and being deluded by Proserpine, was transformed into the garden mint, which some call hedyosmus, or the sweet-smelling mint. There is also near the mountain an enclosure, sacred to Hades, held in great veneration by the Macistii; and a grove dedicated to Ceres, situated above the Pyliac plain. This plain is fertile, and situated close to the sea-coast; it extends along the interval between the Samicum and the river Neda. The sea-shore is sandy and narrow, so that no one could be censured for asserting that Pylus was called sandy from this tract.8.3.15
Towards the north there were two small Triphyliac towns, Hypana and Typaneæ, bordering upon Pylus; the former of which was incorporated with Elis, the other remained separate. Two rivers flow near, the Dalion and the Acheron, and empty themselves into the Alpheius. The Acheron has its name from its relation to Hades. For at that place were held in extraordinary reverence the temples of Ceres, Proserpine, and Hades, perhaps on account of the contrariety of the properties of the country, which Demetrius of Scepsis mentions. For Triphylia is fertile, but the soil is subject to mildew, and produces rushes, [Note] whence in these places, instead of the product being large, there is frequently no crop whatever.8.3.16
Towards the south of Pylus is Lepreum. This also
was a city, situated 40 stadia above the sea-coast. Between
the Lepreum and the Annius (Anigrus? Alphæus?) is the
temple of the Samian Neptune. These places are distant 100
stadia from each other. This is the temple in which the poet
says that the Pylii were found by Telemachus engaged in
They came to Pylus, the well-built city of Neleus; the people were
sacrificing on the sea-shore bulls, entirely black, to Neptune, the god of
the dark locks, who shakes the earth. [Note]
For the poet was at liberty to feign things which did not
exist, but when it is possible to adapt poetry to reality, and
preserve the narrative . . . . it is better to abstain from fiction.
The Lepreatæ possessed a fertile country, on the confines of which were situated the Cyparissenses. But Caucones were masters of both these tracts, and even of the Macistus, which some call Platanistus. The town has the same name as the territory. It is said, that in the Lepreatis there is even a monument of a Caucon, who had the name of the nation, either because he was a chief, or for some other reason.8.3.17
There are many accounts respecting the Caucones. They are said to be an Arcadian tribe, like the Pelasgi, and also, like them, a wandering people. Thus the poet relates, that they came as auxiliaries to the Trojans, but from what country he does not mention, but it is supposed from Paphlagonia. For in that country there is a tribe of the name of Cauconiatæ, that border upon the Mariandyni, who are themselves Paphlagonians. We shall say more of them when we describe that country. [Note]
At present I must add some remarks concerning the Caucones in Triphylia. For some writers say, that the whole of the present Elis, from Messenia to Dyme, was called Cauconia. Antimachus calls them all Epeii and Caucones. But some writers say that they did not possess the whole country, but inhabited it when they were divided into two bodies, one of which settled in Triphylia towards Messenia, the other in the Buprasian district towards Dyme, and in the Hollow Elis. And there, and not in any other place, Aristotle considered them to be situated. The last opinion agrees better with the language of Homer, and the preceding question is resolved. For Nestor is supposed to have lived at the Triphyliac Pylus, the parts of which towards the south and the east (and these coincide towards Messenia and Laconia) was the country subject to Nestor, but the Caucones now occupy it, so that those who are going from Pylus to Lacedæmon must necessarily take the road through the Caucones. The temple of the Samian Neptune, and the naval station near it, where Telemachus landed, incline to the west and to the north. If then the Caucones lived there only, the account of the poet must be erroneous.
[For, according to Sotades, Minerva enjoins Nestor to send
his son with Telemachus in a chariot to Lacedæmon towards
the east, while she herself returns back to the west, to pass the
night in the vessel;
but at sun-rise she sets out to the magnanimous Caucones,
to obtain payment of the debt, in a forward direction. How
then are we to reconcile these opinions? for Nestor might
say, The Caucones are my subjects, and lie directly in the
road of persons who are going to Lacedæmon; why then
do you not accompany Telemachus and his friends on his
journey, but take a road in an opposite direction? Besides,
it was natural for one, who was going to recover payment of
a debt, and that a considerable sum, as she says, from a people
under the command of Nestor, to request some assistance from
him in case they should be so unjust, as usually happens, as to
refuse to discharge it. But she did not do this.
If therefore the Caucones are to be found in one situation only, these absurdities would follow. But if one division of this tribe occupied the places in Elis near Dymë, Minerva might be said to direct her journey thither, and even the return to the ship would not be absurd, nor the separation from the company of Telemachus, when her road was in an opposite direction.
The question respecting Pylus may perhaps be resolved in a similar manner, when we come, as we proceed, to the description of the Messenian Pylus. [Note]]8.3.18
There is also, it is said, a nation, the Paroreatæ, who occupy, in the hilly district of Triphylia, the mountains, which extend from about Lepreum and Macistum to the sea near the Samian grove sacred to Neptune.8.3.19
Below these people on the coast are two caves; one, of the nymphs Anigriades; the other, the scene of the adventures of the Atlantides, [Note] and of the birth of Dardanus. There also are the groves, both the Ionæum and Eurycydeium.
Samicum is a fortress. Formerly there was a city of the name of Samos, which perhaps had its designation from its
height, since they called heights Sami; perhaps also this was
the acropolis of Arēnē, which the poet mentions in the
Catalogue of the Ships;
who inhabited Pylus, and the pleasant Arene; [Note]Il. ii. 591.
There is a river Minyeius, which empties itself into the sea, near Arene. [Note]Il. ii. 721.
Since then the sluggishness of the Anigrus, and the recoil of the waters of the sea, produce a state of rest rather than a current, they say, that its former name was Minyeïus, but that some persons perverted the name and altered it to Minteïus. The etymology of the name may be derived from other sources; either from those who accompanied Chloris, the mother of Nestor, from the Minyeian Orchomenus; or,
frown the Minyæ descendants of the Argonauts, who were banished from Lemnos, and went to Lacedæmon, and thence to Triphylia, and settled about Arēnē, in the country now called Hypæsia, which however no longer contains places built by the Minyæ.
Some of these people, with Theras the son of Autesion, who was a descendant of Polynices, having set sail to the country between Cyrenæa and the island of Crete, formerly Calliste, but afterwards called Thera, according to Callimachus, founded Thera, the capital of Cyrene, and gave the same name to the city, and to the island.8.3.20
Between the Anigrus and the mountain from which the Jardanes rises, a meadow and a sepulchre are shown, and the Achææ, which are rocks broken off from the same mountain, above which was situated, as I have said, the city Samos. Samos is not mentioned by any of the authors of Peripli, or Circumnavigations; because perhaps it had been long since destroyed, and perhaps also on account of its position. For the Poseidium is a grove, as I have said, near the sea, a lofty eminence rises above it, situated in front of the present Samicum, where Samos once stood, so that it cannot be seen from the sea.
Here also is the plain called Samicus, from which we may further conjecture that there was once a city Samos.
According to the poem Rhadinē, of which Stesichorus
seems to have been the author, and which begins in this
Come, tuneful Muse, Erato, begin the melodious song, in praise of the
lovely Samian youths, sounding the strings of the delightful lyre:
these youths were natives of this Samos. For he says that
Rhadinē being given in marriage to the tyrant, set sail from
Samos to Corinth with a westerly wind, and therefore certainly not from the Ionian Samos. By the same wind her
brother, who was archi-theorus, arrived at Delphi. Her
cousin, who was in love with her, set out after her in a
chariot to Corinth. The tyrant put both of them to death,
and sent away the bodies in a chariot, but changing his mind,
he recalled the chariot, and buried them.
From this Pylus and the Lepreum to the Messenian Pylus [Note] and the Coryphasium, fortresses situated upon the sea,
and to the adjoining island Sphagia, is a distance of about
400 stadia, and from the Alpheius a distance of 750, and
from the promontory Chelonatas
Oh that I were young as when multitudes of Pylii, and of Arcades,
handling the spear, fought together at the swift-flowing Acidon near the
walls of Chaa, [Note]
not Celadon, nor Pheia, for this place is nearer the tomb of
Jardanus and the Arcades than the other.
On the Triphylian Sea are situated Cyparissia, and
Pyrgi, and the rivers Acidon and Neda. At present the
boundary of Triphylia towards Messenia is the impetuous
stream of the Neda descending from the Lycæus, a mountain
of Arcadia, and rising from a source which, according to the
fable, burst forth to furnish water in which Rhea was to wash
herself after the birth of Jupiter. It flows near Phigalia, and
empties itself into the sea where the Pyrgitæ, the extreme
tribe of the Triphylii, approach the Cyparissenses, the first of
tile Messenian nation. But, anciently, the country had other
boundaries, so that the dominions of Nestor included some
places on the other side of the Neda, as the Cyparisseïs, and
some others beyond that tract, in the same manner as the poet
extends the Pylian sea as far as the seven cities, which Agamemnon promised to Achilles,
All near the sea bordering upon the sandy Pylus, [Note]Il. ix. 153.
Next in order to the Cyparisseis in traversing the coast towards the Messenian Pylus and the Coryphasium, we meet with Erana, (Eranna,) which some writers incorrectly suppose was formerly called Arene, by the same name as the Pylian city, and the promontory Platamodes, from which to the Coryphasium, and to the place at present called Pylus, are
100 stadia. [Note] There is also a cenotaph and a small town in it both of the same name—Protē.
We ought not perhaps to carry our inquiries so far into antiquity, and it might be sufficient to describe the present state of each place, if certain reports about them had not been delivered down to us in childhood; but as different writers give different accounts, it is necessary to examine them. The most famous and the most ancient writers being the first in point of personal knowledge of the places, are, in general, persons of the most credit. Now as Homer surpasses all others in these respects, we must examine what he says, and compare his descriptions with the present state of places, as we have just said. We have already considered his description of the Hollow Elis and of Buprasium.8.3.24
He describes the dominions of Nestor in these words:
"And they who inhabited Pylus, and the beautiful Arene, and Thryum,
a passage across the Alpheius, and the well-built æpy, and Cyparisseis,
and Amphigeneia, and Pteleum, and Helos, and Dorium, where the
Muses having met with Thamyris the Thracian, deprived him of the
power of song, as he was coming from Œchalia, from the house of Eurytus
the Œchalian. [Note]
It is Pylus, therefore, to which the question relates, and we
shall soon treat of it. We have already spoken of Arene.
The places, which he here calls Thryum, in another passage
he calls Thryoessa,
There is a city Thryoessa, lofty, situated on a hill,
Il. xi. 710.
Far off, on the banks of the Alpheius. [Note]
With respect to εὔκτιτον αἶπυ, æpy the well-built," some writers ask which of these words is the epithet of the other, and what is the city, and whether it is the present Margalæ of Amphidolia, but this Margalæ is not a natural fortress, but another is meant, a natural strong-hold in Macistia. Writers who suppose this place to be meant, say, that æpy is the name of the city, and infer it from its natural properties, as in the example of Helos, [Note] ægialos, [Note] and many others:
those who suppose Margalæ to be meant here, will assert the contrary.
Thryum, or Thryoessa, they say, is Epitalium, because all the
country is θυώδης, or sedgy, and particularly the banks of the
rivers, but this appears more clearly at the fordable places of
the stream. Perhaps Thryum is meant by the ford, and by
the well-built æpy, Epitalium, which is naturally strong,
and in the other part of the passage he mentions a lofty hill;
The city Thryoessa, a lofty hill,
Il. xi. 710.
Far away by the Alpheus. [Note]
Cyparisseïs is near the old Macistia, which then extended even to the other side of the Neda, but it is not inhabited, as neither is Macistum. There is also another, the Messenian Cyparissia, not having quite the same name, but one like it. The city of Macistia is at present called Cyparissia, in the singular number, and feminine gender, but the name of the river is Cyparisseis.
Amphigeneia, also belonging to Macistia, is near Hypsoeis, where is the temple of Latona.
Pteleum was founded by the colony that came from Pteleum
in Thessaly, for it is mentioned in this line,
Antron on the sea-coast, and the grassy Pteleum. [Note]Il. ii. 697.
Some writers say, that Helos was some spot near the
Alpheius; others, that it was a city like that in Laconia,
and Helos, a small city on the sea; [Note]Il. ii. 584.
Dorium is said by some authors to be a mountain, by others a plain, but nothing is now to be seen; yet it is alleged, that tile present Oluris, or Olura, situated in the Aulon, as it is called, of Messenia, is Dorium. Somewhere there also is Œchalia of Eurytus, the present Andania, a small Arcadian town of the same name as those in Thessaly and Eubœa, whence the poet says, Thamyris, the Thracian, came to Dorium, and was deprived by the Muses of the power of song.8.3.26
Hence it is evident that the country under the command of Nestor is on each side of the Alpheius, all of which tract
he calls the country of the Pylians, but nowhere does the Alpheius touch Messenia, nor the Hollow Elis. [Note]
It is in this district that we have the native country of
Nestor, which we call the Triphylian, the Arcadian, and the
Lepreatic Pylus. For we know that other places of the name
of Pylus are pointed out, situated upon the sea, but this is
distant more than 30 stadia from it, as appears from the
poem. A messenger is sent to the vessel, to the companions
of Telemachus,—to invite them to a hospitable entertainment.
Telemachus, upon his return from Sparta, does not permit
Peisistratus to go to the city, but diverts him from it, and
prevails upon him to hasten to the ship, whence it appears
that the same road did not lead both to the city and to the
haven. The departure of Telemachus may in this manner
be aptly understood:
they went past Cruni, and the beautiful streams of Chalcis; the sun
set, and all the villages were in shade and darkness; but the ship, exulting in the gales of Jove, arrived at Pheæ. She passed also the divine
Elis, where the Epeii rule; [Note]
for to this place the direction of the vessel was towards the
north, and thence it turns to the east. The vessel leaves its
first and straight course in the direction of Ithaca, because the
suitors had placed an ambush there,
"In the strait between Ithaca and Samos,
And from thence he directed the vessel to the sharp-pointed islands, νήσοισι θοηαὶ; [Note] the sharp-pointed (ὀξείαι) he calls θοαὶ. They belong to the Echinades, and are near the commencement of the Corinthian Gulf and the mouths of the Achelous. After having sailed past Ithaca so as to leave the island behind him, he turns to the proper course between Acarnania and Ithaca, and disembarks on the other side of the island, not at the strait of Cephallenia, where the suitors were on the watch.8.3.27
If any one therefore should suppose that the Eleian Pylus is the Pylus of Nestor, the ship would not properly be said, after setting off thence, to take its course along Cruni and Chalcis, as far as the west, then to arrive by night at Pheæ, and afterwards to sail along the territory of Eleia, for
these places are to the south of Eleia, first Pheæ, then Chalcis, then Cruni, then the Triphylian Pylus, and the Samicum. In sailing then to the south from the Eleian Pylus this would be the course. In sailing to the north, where Ithaca lies, all these places are left behind, but they must sail along Eleia itself, and before, although he says after, sun-set. Again, on the other side, if any one should suppose the Messenian Pylus and the Coryphasium to be the commencement of the voyage after leaving the country of Nestor, the distance would be great, and would occupy more time. For the distance only to the Triphylian Pylus and the Samian Poseidium is 400 stadia, and the voyage would not be along Cruni, and Chalcis, and Pheæ, the names of obscure places and rivers, or rather of streams, but first along the Neda, then Acidon, next Alpheius, and the places and countries lying between these rivers, and lastly, if we must mention them, along the former, because the voyage was along the former places and rivers also.8.3.28
Besides, Nestor's account of the war between the
Pylians and Eleians, which he relates to Patroclus, agrees
with our arguments, if any one examines the lines. For he
says there, that Hercules laid waste Pylus, and that all the
youth were exterminated; that out of twelve sons of Neleus,
lie himself alone survived, and was a very young man, and
that the Epeii, despising Neleus on account of his old age
and destitute state, treated the Pylians with haughtiness and
insult. Nestor therefore, in order to avenge this wrong, collected
as large a body of his people as he was able, made an inroad
into Eleia, and carried away a large quantity of booty;
Fifty herds of oxen, as many flocks of sheep,
Il xi. 677.
As many herds of swine, [Note]
We drove away to Pylus, belonging to Neleus,
Il. xi. 681.
By night towards the city; [Note]
city. When they were engaged in dividing the booty, and in
sacrificing, the Epeii, having assembled in multitudes, on the
third day marched against them with an army of horse and
foot, and encamped about Thryum, which is situated on the
Alpheius. The Pylians were no sooner informed of this than
they immediately set out to the relief of this place, and having
passed the night on the river Minyeius near Arene, thence
arrive at the Alpheius at noon. After sacrificing to the gods,
and passing the night on the banks of the river, they immediately, in the morning, engaged in battle. The rout of the
enemy was complete, and they did not desist from the pursuit
and slaughter, till they came to Buprasium,
and the Olenian rock, where is a tumulus of Alesius, whence again
Minerva repulsed the multitudes; [Note]
and adds below,
but the Achæi
Turned back their swift horses from Buprasium to Pylus.
From these verses how can it be supposed that Eleian
or Messenian Pylus is meant. I say the Eleian, because when
this was destroyed by Hercules, the country of the Epeii also
was ravaged at the same time, that is, Eleia. How then could
those, who were of the same tribe, and who had been plundered at that time, show such pride and insult to persons, who
were suffering under the same injuries? How could they
overrun and ravage their own country? How could Augeas
and Neleus be kings of the same people, and yet be mutual
enemies; for to Neleus
a great debt was owing at the divine Elis; four horses, which had won
the prize; they came with their chariots to contend for prizes; they were
about to run in the race for a tripod; and Augeas, king of men, detained
them there, but dismissed the charioteer. [Note]
If Neleus lived there, there Nestor also lived. How then
four chiefs of Eleians and Buprasians, with ten swift ships accompanying each, and with many Epeii embarked in them?
The country also was divided into four parts, none of which
was subject to Nestor, but those tribes were under his com-
who lived at Pylns, and the pleasant Arēnē,
and at the places that follow next as far as Messene
How came the Epeii, when marching against the Pylians, to set out towards the Alpheius and Thryum, and after being defeated there in battle, to fly to Buprasium? But on the other side, if Hercules laid waste the Messenian Pylus, how could they, who were at such a distance, treat the Pylians with insult, or have so much intercourse and traffic with them, and defraud them by refusing to discharge a debt, so that war should ensue on that account? How too could Nestor, after having got, in his marauding adventure, so large a quantity of booty, a prey of swine and sheep, none of which are swift-footed, nor able to go a long journey, accomplish a march of more than 1000 stadia to Pylus near Coryphasium? Yet all the Epeii arrive at Thryoessa and the river Alpheius on the third day, ready to lay siege to the strong-hold. How also did these districts belong to the chiefs of Messenia, when the Caucones, and Triphylii, and Pisatæ occupied them? But the territory Gerena, or Gerenia, for it is written both ways, might have a name which some persons applied designedly, or which might have originated even in accident.
Since, however, Messenia was entirely under the dominion of Menelaus, to whom Laconia also was subject, as will be evident from what will be said hereafter, and since the rivers, the Pamisus and the Nedon, flow through this country, and not the Alpheius at all, which runs in a straight line through the country of the Pylians, of which Nestor was ruler, can that account be credible, by which it appears that one man takes possession by force of the dominion of another, and deprives him of the cities, which are said to be his property in the Catalogue of the Ships, and makes others subject to the usurper.8.3.30
It remains that we speak of Olympia, and of the manner in which everything fell into the power of the Eleii.
The temple is in the district Pisatis, at the distance of less than 300 stadia from Elis. In front of it is a grove of wild olive trees, where is the stadium. The Alpheius flows beside it, taking its course out of Arcadia to the Triphylian Sea between the west and the south. The fame of the temple was originally owing to the oracle of the Olympian Jove; yet after that had ceased, the renown of the temple continued, and increased, as we know, to a high degree of celebrity, both on account of the assembly of the people of Greece,
which was held there, and of the Olympic games, in which the victor was crowned. These games were esteemed sacred, and ranked above all others. The temple was decorated with abundance of offerings, the contributions of all Greece. Among these offerings was a Jupiter of beaten gold, presented by Cypselus, the tyrant of Corinth. The largest was a statue of Jupiter in ivory, the workmanship of Phidias of Athens, the son of Charmides. Its height was so great, that although the temple is very large, the artist seems to have mistaken its proportions, and although he made the figure sitting, yet the head nearly touches the roof, and presents the appearance that, if it should rise, and stand upright, it would unroof the temple. Some writers have given the measurement of the statue, and Callimachus has expressed it in some iambic verses. Panænus, the painter, his nephew, and joint labourer, afforded great assistance in the completion of the statue with respect to the colours with which it was ornamented, and particularly the drapery.
There are exhibited also many and admirable pictures
around the temple, the work of this painter. It is recorded
of Phidias, that to Panænus, who was inquiring after what
model he intended to form the figure of Jupiter, he replied,
that it would be from that of Homer delineated in these words;
He spoke, and gave the nod with his sable brows, the ambrosial hair
shook on the immortal head of the king of gods, and vast Olympus
[This is well expressed, and the poet, as from other circumstances, so particularly from the brows, suggests the thought
that he is depicting some grand conception, and great power
worthy of Jupiter. So also in his description of Juno, in
both he preserves the peculiar decorum of each character, for
she moved herself upon the throne, and shook vast Olympus: [Note]Il. viii. 199.
To the Eleii above all other people is to be ascribed the
magnificence of the temple at Olympia, and the reverence in
which it was held. For about the Trojan times, and even
before that period, they were not in a flourishing state, having
been reduced to a low condition by war with the Pylii, and
afterwards by Hercules, when Augeas their king was overthrown. The proof is this. The Eleii sent forty ships to
Troy, but the Pylians and Nestor ninety; then after the
return of the Heracleidm the contrary happened. For the
ætoli returning with the Heracleidœ under the command of
Oxylus, became joint settlers with the Epeii, on the ground of
ancient affinity. They extended the bounds of Hollow Elis,
got possession of a large portion of the Pisatis, and subjected
Olympia to their power. It was these people who invented
the Olympic games, [Note] and instituted the first Olympiad. For
we must reject the ancient stories both respecting the foundation of the temple, and the establishment of the games, some
alleging that Hercules, one of the Idæan Dactyli, was the
founder; others, that the son of Alcmene and Jupiter founded
them, who also was the first combatant and victor. For such
things are variously reported, and not entitled to much credit.
It is more probable, that from the first Olympiad, [Note]
brated even once in the Eleian district, but always at Olympia.
But the games, of which Homer speaks, seem to have taken
place in Elis, where the debt was owing,
For a great debt was owing in the divine Elis,
Il. xi. 677.
Namely, four victorious horses. [Note]
After the twenty-sixth Olympiad, the Pisatæ, having recovered their territory, instituted games themselves, when they perceived that these games were obtaining celebrity. But in after-times, when the territory of the Pisatis reverted to the Eleii, the presidency and celebration of the games reverted to them also. The Lacedæmonians too, after the last defeat of the Messenians, co-operated with the Eleii as allies, contrary to the conduct of the descendants of Nestor and of the Arcadians, who were allies of the Messenians. And they assisted them so effectually that all the country as far as Messene was called Eleia, and the name continues even to the present time. But of the Pisatæ, and Triphylii, and Caucones, not even the names remain. They united also Pylus Emathoeis itself with Lepreum in order to gratify the Lepreatæ, who had taken no part in the war. They razed many other towns, and imposed a tribute upon as many as were inclined to maintain their independence.8.3.31
The Pisatis obtained the highest celebrity from the great power of its sovereigns, Œnomaus and his successor Pelops, and the number of their children. Salmoneus is said to have reigned there, and one of the eight cities, into which the Pisatis is divided, has the name of Salmone. For these reasons, and on account of the temple at Olympia, the fame of the country spread everywhere.
We must however receive ancient histories, as not entirely agreeing with one another, for modern writers, entertaining different opinions, are accustomed to contradict them frequently; as for example, according to some writers, Augeas was king of the Pisatis, and Œnomaus and Salmoneus kings of Eleia, while others consider the two nations as one. Still we ought to follow in general what is received as true, since writers are not agreed even upon the derivation of the word Pisatis. Some derive it from Pisa, (πῖσα,) a city of the same
name as the fountain, and say that the fountain had that name,
as much as to say Pistra, (πίστρα,) which means Potistra,
(ποτίστα) or potable. The city of Pisa is shown, situated
on an eminence between two mountains, which have the same
names as those in Thessaly, Ossa and Olympus. Some say,
that there was no such city as Pisa, for it would have been
one of the eight, but a fountain only, which is now called
Bisa, near Cicysium, the largest of the eight cities. But
Stesichorus calls the tract of country named Pisa, a city, as
the poet calls Lesbos, a city of Macar; and Euripides in the
play of Ion says
Eubœa is a neighbour city to Athens,
and so in the play of Rhadamanthus,
they who occupy the land of Eubœa, an adjoining state;
thus Sophocles also in the play of the Mysi,
O stranger, all this country is called Asia,
But the state of the Mysi is called Mysia.
Salmonē is near the fountain of the same name, the
source of the Enipeus. It discharges itself into the Alpheius,
[and at present it is called Barnichius. [Note]] Tyro, it is said,
was enamoured of this river;
who was enamoured of the river, the divine Enipeus. [Note]Od. ii. 238.
Near Olympia is Arpina, which also is one of the eight cities. The river Parthenius runs through it in the direction of the road to Pheræa. Pheræa belongs to Arcadia. [It is situated above Dymæa, Buprasium, and Elis, which lie to the north of the Pisatis. [Note]] There also is Cicysium, one of the eight cities; and Dyspontium, on the road from Elis to Olympia, situated in a plain. But it was razed, and the
greatest part of the inhabitants removed to Epidamnus and Apollonia.
Above and so very near Olympia, is Pholoe, an Arcadian mountain, that the country at its foot belongs to the Pisatis. Indeed the whole of the Pisatis and a great part of Triphylia border upon Arcadia. For this reason, most of the places, which have the name of Pylian in the Catalogue of the Ships, seem to be Arcadian. Persons, however, who are well informed, say, that the river Erymanthus, one of those that empty themselves into the Alpheius, is the boundary of Arcadia, and that the places called Pylian are beyond the Erymanthus.8.3.33
According to Ephorus, "ætolus, being banished by Salmoneus, king of the Epeii, and the Pisatæ, from Eleia to ætolia, called the country after his own name, and settled the cities there. His descendant Oxylus was the friend of Temenus, and the Heracleidæ his companions, and was their guide on their journey to Peloponnesus; he divided among them the hostile territory, and suggested instructions relative to the acquisition of the country. In return for these services he was to be requited by the restoration of Elis, which had belonged to his ancestors. He returned with an army collected out of ætolia, for the purpose of attacking the Epeii, who occupied Elis. On the approach of the Epeii in arms, when the forces were drawn up in array against each other, there advanced in front, and engaged in single combat according to an ancient custom of the Greeks, Pyrechmes, an ætolian, and Degmenus, an Epeian: the latter was lightly armed with a bow, and thought to vanquish easily from a distance a heavy- armed soldier; the former, when he perceived the stratagem of his adversary, provided himself with a sling, and a scrip filled with stones. The kind of sling also happened to have been lately invented by the ætolians. As a sling reaches its object at a greater distance than a bow, Degmenus fell; the ætolians took possession of the country, and ejected the Epeii. They assumed also the superintendence of the temple at Olympia, which the Epeii exercised; and on account of the friendship which subsisted between Oxylus and the Heracleidæ, it was generally agreed upon, and confirmed by an oath, that the Eleian territory was sacred to Jupiter, and that any one who invaded that country with an army, was a sacrilegious person: he also was to be accounted sacrilegious, who did not
defend it against the invader to the utmost of his power. It was for this reason, that the later founders of the city left it without walls, and those who are passing through the country with an army, deliver up their arms and receive them again upon quitting the borders. Iphitus instituted there the Olympic games, because the Eleians were a sacred people. Hence it was that they increased in numbers, for while other nations were continually engaged in war with each other, they alone enjoyed profound peace, and not themselves only, but strangers also, so that on this account they were a more populous state than all the others.
Pheidon the Argive was the tenth in descent from Temenus, and the most powerful prince of his age; he was the inventor of the weights and measures called Pheidonian, and stamped money, silver in particular. He recovered the whole inheritance of Temenus, which had been severed into many portions. He attacked also the cities which Hercules had formerly taken, and claimed the privilege of celebrating the games which Hercules had established, and among these the Olympian games. He entered their country by force and celebrated the games, for the Eleians had no army to prevent it, as they were in a state of peace, and the rest were oppressed by his power. The Eleians however did not solemnly inscribe in their records this celebration of the games, but on this occasion procured arms, and began to defend themselves. The Lacedæmonians also afforded assistance, either because they were jealous of the prosperity, which was the effect of the peaceful state of the Eleians, or because they supposed that they should have the aid of the Eleians in destroying the power of Pheidon, who had deprived them of the sovereignty (ἠγεμονίαν) of Peloponnesus, which they before possessed. They succeeded in their joint attempt to overthrow Pheidon, and the Eleians with this assistance obtained possession of Pisatis and Triphylia.
The whole of the coasting voyage along the present Eleian
territory comprises, with the exception of the bays,
So much then respecting the Eleian territory.
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