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

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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, 1200 stadia.

So much then respecting the Eleian territory.

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MESSENIA is continuous with the Eleian territory, incline. ing for the most part towards the south, and the Libyan Sea. Being part of Laconia, it was subject in the Trojan times to Menelaus. The name of the country was Messene. But the present city called Messene, the acropolis of which was Ithome, was not then founded. After the death of Menelaus, when the power of those who succeeded to the possession of Laconia was altogether weakened, the Neleidæ governed Messenia. At the time of the return of the Heracleidæ, and according to the partition of the country at that time, Melanthus was king of the Messenians, who were a separate community, but formerly subject to Menelaus. As a proof of this, in the space from the Messenian Gulf and the continuous gulf, (called the Asinæan from the Messenian Asine,) were situated the seven cities which Agamemnon promised to Achilles; Cardamyle, Enope, the grassy Hira, the divine Pheræ, [Note] Antheia with rich meadows, the beautiful æpeia, and Pedasus abounding with vines. [Note] He certainly would not have promised what did not belong either to himself or to his brother. The poet mentions those, who accompanied Menelaus from Pheræ to the war, [Note] and speaks of (Œtylus) in the Laconian catalogue, a city situated on the Gulf of Messenia.

Messene follows next to Triphylia. The promontory, after which are the Coryphasium and Cyparissia, is common to both. At the distance of 7 stadia is a mountain, the ægaleum, situated above Coryphasium and the sea.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.3.32 Str. 8.4.1 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.4.4

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