Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.4.3 Str. 8.4.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.5.3


Near Corone, about the middle of the gulf, the river Pamisus [Note] discharges itself, having, on the right hand, this city, and the rest in succession, the last of which, towards the west, are Pylus and Cyparissia, and between these is Erana, which some writers erroneously suppose to be the ancient

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Arene; on the left hand it has Thyria and Pheræ. It is the largest (in width) of the rivers within the isthmus, although its course from its springs does not exceed 100 stadia in length; it has an abundant supply of water, and traverses the Messenian plain, and the district called Macaria. [Note] It is distant from the present city of the Messenians 50 stadia. [Note] There is also another Pamisus, a small torrent stream, running near Leuctrum of Laconia, which was a subject of dispute between the Messenians and Lacedæmonians in the time of Philip.

I have before said that some persons called the Pamisus, Amathus. [Note] 8.4.7

Ephorus relates that Cresphontes, after he had taken Messene, divided it into five cities, and chose Stenyclarus, situated in the middle of this district, to be the royal seat of his kingdom. To the other cities, Pylus, Rhium, (Mesola,) and Hyameitis, he appointed kings, and put all the Messenians on an equal footing with the Dorians as to rights and privileges. The Dorians, however, taking offence, he changed his intention, and determined that Stenyclarus alone should have the rank of a city, and here he assembled all the Dorians. 8.4.8

The city of the Messenians [Note] resembles Corinth, for above each city is a lofty and precipitous mountain, enclosed by a common wall in such a manner as to be used as an acropolis; the Messenian mountain is Ithome, [Note] that near Corinth is Acrocorinthus. Demetrius of Pharos seemed to have counselled Philip the son of Demetrius well, when he advised him to make himself master of both cities, if he desired to get possession of Peloponnesus; for, said he, when you have seized both horns, the cow will be your own; meaning, by the horns, Ithome and Acrocorinthus, and, by the cow, Peloponnesus. It was no doubt their convenient situation which made these cities subjects of contention. The Romans therefore razed Corinth, and again rebuilt it. The Lacedæmonians

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destroyed Messene, and the Thebans, and subsequently Philip, the son of Amyntas, restored it. The citadels however continued unoccupied. 8.4.9

The temple of Diana in Limnæ (in the Marshes), where the Messenians are supposed to have violated the virgins who came there to offer sacrifice, is on the confines of Laconia and Messenia, where the inhabitants of both countries usually celebrated a common festival, and performed sacrifices; but after the violation of the virgins, the Messenians did not make any reparation, and war, it is said, ensued. The Limnæan temple of Diana at Sparta is said to have its name from the Limnæ here. 8.4.10

There were frequent wars (between the Lacedæmonians and Messenians) on account of the revolts of the Messenians. Tyrtæus mentions, in his poems, that their first subjugation was in the time of their grandfathers; [Note] the second, when in conjunction with their allies the Eleians [Arcadians], Argives, and Pisatæ, they revolted; the leader of the Arcadians was Aristocrates, king of Orchomenus, and of the Pisatæ, Pantaleon, son of Omphalion. In this war, Tyrtæus says, he himself commanded the Lacedæmonian army, for in his elegiac poem, entitled Eunomia, he says he came from Erineum; for Jupiter himself, the son of Saturn, and husband of Juno with the beautiful crown, gave this city to the Heracleidæ, with whom we left the windy Erineum, and arrived at the spacious island of Pelops. Wherefore we must either invalidate the authority of the elegiac verses, or we must disbelieve Philochorus, and Callisthenes, and many other writers, who say that he came from Athens, or Aphidnæ, at the request of the Lacedæmonians, whom an oracle had enjoined to receive a commander from the Athenians.

The second war then occurred in the time of Tyrtæus. But they mention a third, and even a fourth war, in which the Messenians were destroyed. [Note]

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The whole voyage along the Messenian coast comprises about 800 stadia, including the measurement of the bays. 8.4.11

I have exceeded the limits of moderation in this description, by attending to the multitude of facts which are related of a country, the greatest part of which is deserted. Even Laconia itself is deficient in population, if we compare its present state with its ancient populousness. For, with the exception of Sparta, the remaining small cities are about thirty; but, anciently, Laconia had the name of Hecatompolis, and that for this reason hecatombs were annually sacrificed.

CHAPTER V. 8.5.1

NEXT after the Messenian is the Laconian Gulf, situated between Tænarum and Maleæ, declining a little from the south to the east. Thyrides, a precipitous rock, beaten by the waves, is in the Messenian Gulf, and distant from Tænarum 100 stadia. Above is Taÿgetum, a lofty and perpendicular mountain, at a short distance from the sea, approaching on the northern side close to the Arcadian mountains, so as to leave between them a valley, where Messenia is continuous with Laconia.

At the foot of Taÿgetum, in the inland parts, lie Sparta and Amyclæ, [Note] where is the temple of Apollo, and Pharis. The site of Sparta is in rather a hollow, although it comprises mountains within it; no part of it, however, is marshy, although, anciently, the suburbs were so, which were called Limnæ. The temple of Bacchus, also in Limnnæ, was in a wet, situation, but now stands on a dry ground.

In the bay on the coast is Tænarum, a promontory projecting into the sea. [Note] Upon it, in a grove, is the temple of Neptune, and near the temple a cave, through which, according to the fable, Cerberus was brought up by Hercules from

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Hades. Thence to the promontory Phycus in Cyrenaica, is a passage across towards the south of 3000 stadia; and to Pachynus, towards the west, the promontory of Sicily, 4600, or, according to some writers, 4000 stadia; to Maleæ, towards the east, including the measurement of the bays, 670 stadia; to Onugnathus, [Note] a low peninsula a little within Maleæ, 520 stadia. (In front of Onugnathus, at the distance of 40 stadia, lies Cythera, [Note] an island with a good harbour, and a city of the same name, which was the private property of Eurycles, the commander of the Lacedæmonians in our time. It is surrounded by several small islands, some near it, others lying somewhat farther off.) To Corycus, a promontory of Crete, the nearest passage by sea is 250 stadia. [Note]

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.4.3 Str. 8.4.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.5.3

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