Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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.

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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 offering sacrifice: 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

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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.

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[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]]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.3.11 Str. 8.3.15 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.3.19

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