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

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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 trembled. [Note] [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 he says, she moved herself upon the throne, and shook vast Olympus: [Note]
Il. viii. 199.
this was effected by the motion of her whole body, but Olympus shakes when Jupiter only nods with his brows, the hair of his head partaking of the motion. It was elegantly said [of Homer] that he was the only person who had seen and had made visible the figures of the gods.] [Note]

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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] when Corcebus the Eleian was the victor in the race in the stadium, to the twenty-sixth, the Eleians presided over the temple, and at the games. But in the Trojan times, either there were no games where a crown was awarded, or they had not yet acquired any fame, neither these nor any of the games which are now so renowned. Homer does not speak of these games, but of others of a different kind, which were celebrated at funerals. Some persons however are of opinion that he does mention the Olympic games, when he says, that Augeas detained four victorious horses, which had been sent to contend for the prize. It is also said that the Pisatæ did not take any part in the Trojan war, being considered as consecrated to the service of Jupiter. But neither was the Pisatis, the tract of country in which Olympia is situated, subject at that time to Augeas, but Eleia only, nor were the Olympic games cele-

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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,
Namely, four victorious horses. [Note]
Il. xi. 677.
But it was not in these, but in the Olympic games, that the victor was crowned, for here they were to contend for a tripod.

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

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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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.3.29 Str. 8.3.31 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.3.33

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