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8.6.8

The Inachus [Note] is one of the rivers, which flows through the Argive territory; there is also another in Argia, the

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Erasīnus. It has its source in Stymphalus in Arcadia, and in the lake there called Stymphalis, where the scene is laid of the fable of the birds called Stymphalides, which Hercules drove away by wounding them with arrows, and by the noise of drums. It is said that this river passes under-ground, and issues forth in the Argian territory, and waters the plain. The Erasīnus is also called Arsinus.

Another river of the same name flows out of Arcadia to the coast near Buras. There is another Erasinus also in Eretria, and one in Attica near Brauron.

Near Lerna a fountain is shown, called Amymone. The lake Lerna, the haunt of the Hydra, according to the fable, belongs to the Argive and Messenian districts. The expiatory purifications performed at this place by persons guilty of crimes gave rise to the proverb, A Lerna of evils.

It is allowed that, although the city itself lies in a spot where there are no running streams of water, there is an abundance of wells, which are attributed to the Danaides as their inven- tion; hence the line, the Danaïdes made waterless Argos, Argos the watered.
Four of the wells are esteemed sacred, and held in peculiar veneration. Hence they occasioned a want of water, while they supplied it abundantly. 8.6.9

Danaus is said to have built the citadel of the Argives. He seems to have possessed so much more power than the former rulers of the country, that, according to Euripides, he made a law that those who were formerly called Pelasgiotæ, should be called Danai throughout Greece. His tomb, called Palinthus, is in the middle of the marketplace of the Argives. I suppose that the celebrity of this city was the reason of all the Greeks having the name of Pelasgiotæ, and Danai, as well as Argives.

Modern writers speak of Iasidæ, and Argos Iasum, and Apia, and Apidones. Homer does not mention Apidones, and uses the word apia only to express distance. That he means Peloponnesus by Argos we may conclude from these lines, Argive Helen; [Note]
Il. vi. 623.
and, in the farthest part of Argos is a city Ephyra; [Note]
Il. vi. 152.

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and, the middle of Argos; [Note]
Od. i. 344.
and, to rule over many islands, and the whole of Argos. [Note]
Il. ii. 108.
Argos, among modern writers, denotes a plain, but not once in Homer. It seems rather a Macedonian and Thessalian use of the word. 8.6.10

After the descendants of Danaus had succeeded to the sovereignty at Argos, and the Amythaonidæ, who came from Pisatis and Triphylia, were intermixed with them by marriages, it is not surprising that, being allied to one another, they at first divided the country into two kingdoms, in such a manner that the two cities, the intended capitals, Argos and Mycenæ, were not distant from each other more than 50 stadia, and that the Heræum at Mycenæ should be a temple common to both. In this temple were the statues the workmanship of Polycletus. In display of art they surpassed all others, but in magnitude and cost they were inferior to those of Pheidias.

At first Argos was the most powerful of the two cities. Afterwards Mycenæ received a great increase of inhabitants in consequence of the migration thither of the Pelopidæ. For when everything had fallen under the power of the sons of Atreus, Agamemnon, the elder, assumed the sovereign authority, and by good fortune and valour annexed to his possessions a large tract of country. He also added the Laconian to the Mycenæan district. [Note] Menelaus had Laconia, and Agamemnon Mycenæ, and the country as far as Corinth, and Sicyon, and the territory which was then said to be the country of Iones and ægialians, and afterwards of Achæi.

After the Trojan war, when the dominion of Agamemnon was at an end, the declension of Mycenæ ensued, and particularly after the return of the Heracleidæ. [Note] For when these people got possession of Peloponnesus, they expelled its former masters, so that they who had Argos possessed Mycenæ likewise, as composing one body. In subsequent times Mycenæ was razed by the Argives, so that at present not even a trace is to be discovered of the city of the Mycenæans. [Note]

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If Mycenæ experienced this fate, it is not surprising that some of the cities mentioned in the Catalogue of the Ships, and said to be subject to Argos, have disappeared. These are the words of the Catalogue: They who occupied Argos, and Tiryns, with strong walls, and Hermione, and Asine situated on a deep bay, and Eïones, and Epidaurus with its vines, and the valiant Achæan youths who occupied ægina, and Mases. [Note] Among these we have already spoken of Argos; we must now speak of the rest.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.6.6 Str. 8.6.10 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.6.13

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