Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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8.6.19

We shall next speak of those places which are said, in the Catalogue of the Ships, to be under the government of Mycenæ and Agamemnon: the lines are these: Those who inhabited Mycenæ, a well-built city,
and the wealthy Corinth, and Cleonæ well built,
and Orneiæ, and the lovely Aræthyrea,
and Sicyon, where Adrastus first reigned,
and they who inhabited Hyperesia, and the lofty Gonoessa and Pellene, and ægium,
and the whole range of the coast, and those who lived near the spacious Helice. [Note]

Mycenæ exists no longer. It was founded by Perseus. Sthenelus succeeded Perseus; and Eurystheus, Sthenelus. These same persons were kings of Argos also. It is said that Eurystheus, having engaged, with the assistance of the Athenians, in an expedition to Marathon against the descendants of Hercules and Iolaus, fell in battle, and that the remainder of his body was buried at Gargettus, but his head apart from it at Tricorythus [Note] (Corinth?), Iolaus having severed it from the body near the fountain Macaria, close to the chariot-road. The spot itself has the name of Eurystheus'-head.

Mycenæ then passed into the possession of the Pelopidæ who had left the Pisatis, then into that of the Heracleidaæ,

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who were also masters of Argos. But after the sea-fight at Salamis, the Argives, together with the Cleonæi, and the Tegetæ, invaded Mycenæ, and razed it, and divided the territory among themselves. The tragic writers, on account of the proximity of the two cities, speak of them as one, and use the name of one for the other. Euripides in the same play calls the same city in one place Mycenæ, and in another Argos, as in the Iphigeneia, [Note] and in the Orestes. [Note]

Cleonæ is a town situated upon the road leading from Argos to Corinth, on an eminence, which is surrounded on all sides by dwellings, and well fortified, whence, in my opinion, Cleonæ was properly described as well built. There also, between Cleonæ and Phlius, is Nemea, and the grove where it was the custom of the Argives to celebrate the Nemean games: here is the scene of the fable of the Nemean Lion, and here also the village Bembina. Cleonæ is distant from Argos 120 stadia, and 80 from Corinth. And we have ourselves beheld the city from the Acrocorinthus. 8.6.20

Corinth is said to be opulent from its mart. It is situated upon the isthmus. It commands two harbours, one near Asia, the other near Italy, and facilitates, by reason of so short a distance between them, an exchange of commodities on each side.

As the Sicilian strait, so formerly these seas were of difficult navigation, and particularly the sea above Maleæ, on account of the prevalence of contrary winds; whence the common proverb, When you double Maleæ forget your home.
It was a desirable thing for the merchants coming from Asia, and from Italy, to discharge their lading at Corinth without being obliged to double Cape Maleæ. For goods exported from Peloponnesus, or imported by land, a toll was paid to those who had the keys of the country. This continued after- terwards for ever. In after-times they enjoyed even additional advantages, for the Isthmian games, which were celebrated there, brought thither great multitudes of people. The Bacchiadæ, a rich and numerous family, and of illustrious descent, were their rulers, governed the state for nearly two hundred years, and peaceably enjoyed the profits of the mart. Their power was destroyed by Cypselus, who became king himself,

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and his descendants continued to exist for three generations. A proof of the wealth of this family is the offering which Cypselus dedicated at Olympia, a statue of Jupiter of beaten gold.

Demaratus, one of those who had been tyrant at Corinth, flying from the seditions which prevailed there, carried with him from his home to Tyrrhenia so much wealth, that he became sovereign of the city which had received him, and his son became even king of the Romans.

The temple of Venus at Corinth was so rich, that it had more than a thousand women consecrated to the service of the goddess, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedi- cated as offerings to the goddess. The city was frequented and enriched by the multitudes who resorted thither on ac- count of these women. Masters of ships freely squandered all their money, and hence the proverb, It is not in every man's power to go to Corinth. [Note]
The answer is related of a courtesan to a woman who was reproaching her with disliking work, and not employing herself in spinning; Although I am what you see, yet, in this short time, I have already finished three distaffs. [Note] 8.6.21

The position of the city as it is described by Hieronymus, and Eudoxus, and others, and from our own observation, since its restoration by the Romans, is as follows.

That which is called the Acrocorinthus is a lofty mountain, perpendicular, and about three stadia and a half in height. There is an ascent of 30 stadia, and it terminates in a sharp point. The steepest part is towards the north. Below it lies the city in a plain of the form of a trapezium, at the very foot of the Acrocorinthus. The compass of the city itself was 40 stadia, and all that part which was not protected by the mountain was fortified by a wall. Even the mountain itself, the Acrocorinthus, was comprehended within this wall, wherever it would admit of fortification. As I ascended it, the ruins of the circuit of the foundation were apparent, which gave a circumference of about 85 stadia. The other sides of the mountain are less steep; hence, however, it stretches on-

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wards, and is visible everywhere. The summit has upon it a small temple of Venus, and below it is the fountain Peirene, which has no efflux, but is continually full of water, which is transparent, and fit for drinking. They say, that from the compression of this, and of some other small under-ground veins, originates that spring at the foot of the mountain, which runs into the city, and furnishes the inhabitants with a sufficient supply of water. There is a large number of wells in the city, and it is said in the Acrocorinthus also, but this I did not see. When Euripides says, I come from the Acrocorinthus, well-watered on all sides, the sacred hill and habitation of Venus, the epithet well-watered on all sides, must be understood to refer to depth; pure springs and under-ground rills are dispersed through the mountain; or we must suppose, that, anciently, the Peirene overflowed, and irrigated the mountain. There, it is said, Pegasus was taken by Bellerophon, while drinking; this was a winged horse, which sprung from the neck of Medusa when the head of the Gorgon was severed from the body. This was the horse, it is said, which caused the Hippocrene, or Horse's Fountain, to spring up in Helicon by striking the rock with its hoof.

Below Peirene is the Sisypheium, which preserves a large portion of the ruins of a temple, or palace, built of white marble. From the summit towards the north are seen Parnassus and Helicon, lofty mountains covered with snow; then the Crissæan Gulf, [Note] lying below both, and surrounded by Phocis, Bœotia, Megaris, by the Corinthian district opposite to Phocis, and by Sicyonia on the west. * * * *

Above all these are situated the Oneia [Note] mountains, as they are called, extending as far as Bœotia and Cithæron, from the Sceironides rocks, where the road leads along them to Attica.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.6.17 Str. 8.6.20 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 8.6.23

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