Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 8.8 Str. 9.1 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.2

CHAPTER I.

HAVING completed the description of Peloponnesus, which we said was the first and least of the peninsulas of which Greece consists, we must next proceed to those which are continuous with it. [Note] 9.1.1

9.1.2

9.1.3

9.1.4

9.1.5

We described the second to be that which joins Megaris to the Peloponnesus [so that Crommyon belongs to Megaris, and not to the Corinthians]; [Note] the third to be that which is situated near the former, comprising Attica and Bœotia, some part of Phocis, and of the Locri Epicnemidii. Of these we are now to speak.

Eudoxus says, that if we imagine a straight line to be drawn towards the east from the Ceraunian Mountains to Sunium, the promontory of Attica, it would leave, on the right hand, to the south, the whole of Peloponnesus, and on the left, to the north, the continuous coast from the Ceraunian

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Mountains to the Crisæan Gulf, and the whole of Megaris and Attica. He is of opinion that the shore which extends from Sunium to the Isthmus, would not have so great a curvature, nor have so great a bend, if, to this shore, were not added the parts continuous with the Isthmus and extending to the Hermionic Bay and Acté; that in the same manner the shore, from the Ceraunian Mountains to the Gulf of Corinth, has a similar bend, so as to make a curvature, forming within it a sort of gulf, where Rhium and Antirrhium contracting together give it this figure. The same is the case with the shore about Crissa and the recess, where the Crissæan Sea terminates. [Note] 9.1.2

As this is the description given by Eudoxus, a mathematician, skilled in the delineations of figures and the inclinations of places, acquainted also with the places themselves, we must consider the sides of Attica and Megaris, extending from Sunium as far as the Isthmus, to be curved, although slightly so. About the middle of the above-men- tioned line [Note] is the Piræus, the naval arsenal of the Athenians. It is distant from Schoenus, at the Isthmus, about 350 stadia; from Sunium 330. The distance from the Piræus to Pagæ [Note] and from the Piræus to Schœnus is nearly the same, yet the former is said to exceed the latter by 10 stadia. After having doubled Sunium, the navigation along the coast is to the north with a declination to the west. 9.1.3

Acte (Attica) is washed by two seas; it is at first narrow, then it widens towards the middle, yet it, nevertheless, takes a lunated bend towards Oropus in Bœotia, having the convex side towards the sea. This is the second, the eastern side of Attica.

The remaining side is that to the north, extending from the territory of Oropus towards the west, as far as Megaris, and consists of the mountainous tract of Attica, having a variety of names, and dividing Bœotia from Attica; so that, as I have before remarked, Bœotia, by being connected with

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two seas, becomes the Isthmus of the third peninsula, which we have mentioned before, and this Isthmus includes within it the Peloponnesus, Megaris, and Attica. For this reason therefore the present Attica was called by a play upon the words Acta and Actica, because the greatest part of it lies under the mountains, and borders on the sea; it is narrow, and stretches forwards a considerable length as far as Sunium. We shall therefore resume the description of these sides, beginning from the sea-coast, at the point where we left off. 9.1.4

After Crommyon, rising above Attica, are the rocks called Scironides, which afford no passage along the sea-side. Over them, however, is a road which leads to Megara and Attica from the Isthmus. The road approaches so near the rocks that in many places it runs along the edge of precipices, for the overhanging mountain is of great height, and impassable.

Here is laid the scene of the fable of Sciron, and the Pityocamptes, or the pine-breaker, one of those who infested with their robberies the above-mentioned mountainous tract. They were slain by Theseus.

The wind Argestes, [Note] which blows from the left with violence, from these summits is called by the Athenians Sciron.

After the rocks Scironides there projects the promontory Minoa, forming the harbour of Nisæa. Nisæa is the arsenal of Megara, and distant 18 stadia from the city; it is joined to it by walls on each side. [Note] This also had the name of Minoa. 9.1.5

In former times the Ionians occupied this country, and were also in possession of Attica, before the time of the building of Megara, wherefore the poet does not mention these places by any appropriate name, but when he calls all those dwelling in Attica, Athenians, he comprehends these also in the common appellation, regarding them as Athenians; so when, in the Catalogue of the Ships, he says, And they who occupied Athens, a well-built city, [Note]
Il. ii. 546.

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we must understand the present Megarenses also, as having taken a part in the expedition. The proof of this is, that Attica was, in former times, called Ionia, and Ias, and when the poet says, There the Bœoti, and Iaones, [Note]
Il. xiii. 685.
he means the Athenians. But of this Ionia Megaris was a part. 9.1.6

Besides, the Peloponnesians and Ionians having had frequent disputes respecting their boundaries, on which Crommyonia also was situated, assembled and agreed upon a spot of the Isthmus itself, on which they erected a pillar having an inscription on the part towards Peloponnesus, THIS IS PELOPONNESUS, NOT IONIA;
and on the side towards Megara, THIS IS NOT PELOPONNESUS, BUT IONIA.
Although those, who wrote on the history of Attica [Note] differ in many respects, yet those of any note agree in this, that when there were four Pandionidæ, ægeus, Lycus, Pallas, and Nisus; and when Attica was divided into four portions, Nisus obtained, by lot, Megaris, and founded Nisæa. Philochorus says, that his government extended from the Isthmus to Pythium, [Note] but according to Andron, as far as Eleusis and the Thriasian plain.

Since, then, different writers give different accounts of the division of the country into four parts, it is enough to adduce these lines from Sophocles where ægeus says, My father determined that I should go away to Acte, having assigned to me, as the elder, the best part of the land; to Lycus, the opposite garden of Eubœa; for Nisus he selects the irregular tract of the shore of Sciron; and the rugged Pallas, breeder of giants, obtained by lot the part to the south. [Note] Such are the proofs which are adduced to show that Megaris was a part of Attica. 9.1.7

After the return of the Heraclidæ, and the partition of the country, many of the former possessors were banished from their own land by the Heraclidæ, and by the Dorians, who came with them, and migrated to Attica. Among these was Melanthus, the king of Messene. He was voluntarily ap-

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pointed king of the Athenians, after having overcome in single combat, Xanthus, the king of the Bœotians. When Attica became populous by the accession of fugitives, the Heraclidæ were alarmed, and invaded Attica, chiefly at the instigation of the Corinthians and Messenians; the former of whom were influenced by proximity of situation, the latter by the circumstance that Codrus, the son of Melanthus, was at that time king of Attica. They were, however, defeated in battle and relinquished the whole of the country, except the territory of Megara, of which they kept possession, and founded the city Megara, where they introduced as inhabitants Dorians in place of Ionians. They destroyed the pillar also which was the boundary of the country of the Ionians and the Peloponnesians. 9.1.8

The city of the Megarenses, after having experienced many changes, still subsists. It once had schools of philosophers, who had the name of the Megaric sect. They succeeded Euclides, the Socratic philosopher, who was by birth a Megarensian, in the same manner as the Eleiaci, among whom was Pyrrhon, who succeeded Phædon, the Eleian, who was also a Socratic philosopher, and as the Eretriaci succeeded Menedemus the Eretrean.

Megaris, like Attica, is very sterile, and the greater part of it is occupied by what are called the Oneii mountains, a kind of ridge, which, extending from the Scironides rocks to Bœotia and to Cithæron, separates the sea at Nisæa from that near Page, called the Alcyonian Sea. 9.1.9

In sailing from Nisæa to Attica there lie, in the course of the voyage, five small islands. Then succeeds Salamis, which is about 70, and according to others, 80, stadia in length. It has two cities of the same name. The ancient city, which looked towards ægina, and to the south, as æschylus has described it; ægina lies towards the blasts of the south:
it is uninhabited. The other is situated in a bay on a spot of a peninsular form contiguous to Attica. In former times it had other names, for it was called Sciras, and Cychreia, from certain heroes; from the former Minerva is called Sciras; hence also Scira, a place in Attica; Episcirosis, a religions rite; and Scirophorion, one of the months. From Cychreia

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the serpent Cychrides had its name, which Hesiod says Cychreus bred, and Eurylochus ejected, because it infested the island, but that Ceres admitted it into Eleusis, and it became her attendant. Salamis was called also Pityussa from pitys, the pine tree. The island obtained its renown from the æacidæ, who were masters of it, particularly from Ajax, the son of Telamon, and from the defeat of Xerxes by the Greeks in a battle on the coast, and by his flight to his own country. The æginetæ participated in the glory of that engagement, both as neighbours, and as having furnished a considerable naval force. [In Salamis is the river Bocarus, now called Bocalia.] [Note] 9.1.10

At present the Athenians possess the island Salamis. In former times they disputed the possession of it with the Megarians. Some allege, that Pisistratus, others that Solon, inserted in the Catalogue of Ships immediately after this verse, Ajax conducted from Salamis twelve vessels, [Note]
Il. ii. 557.
the following words, And stationed them by the side of the Athenian forces;
and appealed to the poet as a witness, that the island originally belonged to the Athenians. But this is not admitted by the critics, because many other lines testify the contrary. For why does Ajax appear at the extremity of the line not with the Athenians, but with the Thessalians under the command of Protesilaus; There were the vessels of Ajax, and Protesilaus. [Note]
Il. xiii. 681.
And Agamemnon, in the Review [Note] of the troops, found the son of Peteus, Menestheus, the tamer of horses, standing, and around were the Athenians skilful in war: near stood the wily Ulysses, and around him and at his side, the ranks of the Cephalleni [Note] and again, respecting Ajax and the Salaminii; he came to the Ajaces, [Note] and near them, Idomeneus on the other side amidst the Cretans, [Note]
Il. iii. 230.
not Menestheus. The Athenians then seem to have alleged

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some such evidence as this from Homer as a pretext, and the Megarians to have replied in an opposite strain of this kind; Ajax conducted ships from Salamis, from Polichna, from ægirussa, from Nisæa, and from Tripodes, [Note] which are places in Megaris, of which Tripodes has the name of Tripodiscium, situated near the present forum of Megara. 9.1.11

Some say, that Salamis is unconnected with Attica, because the priestess of Minerva Polias, who may not eat the new cheese of Attica, but the produce only of a foreign land, yet uses the Salaminian cheese. But this is a mistake, for she uses that which is brought from other islands, that are confessedly near Attica, for the authors of this custom considered all produce as foreign which was brought over sea.

It seems as if anciently the present Salamis was a separate state, and that Megara was a part of Attica.

On the sea-coast, opposite to Salamis, the boundaries of Megara and Attica are two mountains called Cerata, or Horns. [Note] 9.1.12

Next is the city Eleusis, [Note] in which is the temple of the Eleusinian Ceres, and the Mystic Enclosure (Secos), [Note] which Ictinus built, [Note] capable of containing the crowd of a theatre. It was this person that built [Note] the Parthenon in the Acropolis, in honour of Minerva, when Pericles was the superintendent of the public works. The city is enumerated among the demi, or burghs. 9.1.13

Then follows the Thriasian plain, and the coast, a demus of the same name, [Note] then the promontory Amphiale, [Note] above which is a stone quarry; and then the passage across the sea to Salamis, of about 2 stadia, which Xerxes endeavoured to fill up with heaps of earth, but the sea-fight and the flight of the Persians occurred before he had ac- complished it.

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There also are the Pharmacussæ, [Note] two small islands, in the larger of which is shown the tomb of Circe. 9.1.14

Above this coast is a mountain called Corydallus, and the demus Corydalleis: then the harbour of Phoron, (Robbers,) and Psyttalia, a small rocky desert island, which, according to some writers, is the eye-sore of the Piræus.

Near it is Atalanta, of the same name as that between Eubœa and the Locri; and another small island similar to Psyttalia; then the Piræus, which is also reckoned among the demi, and the Munychia. 9.1.15

The Munychia is a hill in the shape of a peninsula, hollow, and a great part of it excavated both by nature and art, so as to serve for dwellings, with an entrance by a nar- row opening. Beneath it are three harbours. Formerly the Munychia was surrounded by a wall, and occupied by dwellings, nearly in the same manner as the city of the Rhodians, comprehending within the circuit of the walls the Piræus and the harbours full of materials for ship-building; here also was the armoury, the work of Philon. The naval station was capable of receiving the four hundred vessels; which was the smallest number the Athenians were in the habit of keeping in readiness for sea. With this wall were connected the legs, that stretched out from the Asty. These were the long walls, 40 stadia in length, joining the Asty [Note] to the Piræus. But in consequence of frequent wars, the wall and the fortification of the Munychia were demolished; the Piræus was contracted to a small town, extending round the harbours and the temple of Jupiter Soter. The small porticoes of the temple contain admirable paintings, the work of celebrated artists, and the hypæthrum, statues. The long walls also were destroyed, first demolished by the Lacedæmonians, and afterwards by the Romans, when Sylla took the Piræus and the Asty by siege. [Note] 9.1.16

What is properly the Asty is a rock, situated in a plain, with dwellings around it. Upon the rock is the temple

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of Minerva, and the ancient shrine of Minerva Polias, in which is the never-extinguished lamp; and the Parthenon, built by Ictinus, in which is the Minerva, in ivory, the work of Pheidias.

When, however, I consider the multitude of objects, so celebrated and far-famed, belonging to this city, I am reluctant to enlarge upon them, lest what I write should depart too far from the proposed design of this work. [Note] For the words of Hegesias [Note] occur to me; I behold the acropolis, there is the symbol of the great trident; [Note] I see Eleusis; I am initiated in the sacred mysteries; that is Leocorium; [Note] this the Theseium. [Note] To describe all is beyond my power, for Attica is the chosen residence of the gods; and the possession of heroes its progenitors. Yet this very writer mentions only one of the remarkable things to be seen in the Acropolis. Polemo Periegetes [Note] however composed four books on the subject of the sacred offerings which were there. Hegesias is similarly sparing of remarks on other parts of the city, and of the territory: after speaking of Eleusis, one of the hundred and seventy demi, to which as they say four are to be added, he mentions no other by name. 9.1.17

Many, if not all the demi, have various fabulous tales and histories connected with them: with Aphidna is connected the rape of Helen by Theseus, the sack of the place by the Dioscuri, and the recovery of their sister; with Mara-

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thon, the battle with the Persians; at Rhamnus was the statue of Nemesis, which, according to some writers, is the work of Diodotus, according to others, of Agoracritus, the Parian, so well executed, both as to size and beauty, as to rival the art of Pheidias. Deceleia was the rendezvous of the Peloponnesians in the Decelic war. From Phyle Thrasybu- lus brought back the people to the Piræus, and thence to the Asty. Thus also much might be told respecting many other places; the Leocorium, the Theseium, and the Lyceum have their own fables, and the Olympicum, called also the Olympium, which the king, who dedicated it, left, at his death, half finished; so also much might be said of the Academia. of the gardens of the philosophers, of the Odeium, [Note] of the Stoa Pœcile, [or painted Portico,] and of the temples in tile city, all of which contain the works of illustrious artists. 9.1.18

The account would be much longer if we were to in- quire who were the founders of the city from the time of Cecrops, for writers do not agree, as is evident from the names of persons and of places. For example, Attica, [Note] they say, was derived from Actæon; Atthis, and Attica, from Atthis, the daughter of Cranaus, from whom the inhabitants had the name Cranai; Mopsopia from Mopsopus; Ionia from Ion, the son of Xuthus; Poseidonia and Athenæ, from the deities of that name. We have said, that the nation of the Pelasgi seem to have come into this country in the course of their migrations, and were called from their wanderings, by the Attici, Pelargi, or storks. 9.1.19

In proportion as an earnest desire is excited to ascertain the truth about remarkable places and events, and in proportion as writers, on these subjects, are more numerous, so much the more is an author exposed to censure, who does not make himself master of what has been written. For example, in the Collection of the Rivers, Callimachus says, that he should laugh at the person, who would venture to describe the Athenian virgins as

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drinking of the pure waters of the Eridanus,
from which even the herds would turn away. There are indeed fountains of water, pure and fit for drinking, it is said, without the gate called Diochares, near the Lyceium; formerly also a fountain was erected near it, which afforded a large supply of excellent water; but if it is not so at present, is it at all strange, that a fountain supplying abundance of pure and potable water at one period of time, should afterwards have the property of its waters altered?

In subjects, however, which are so numerous, we cannot enter into detail; yet they are not so entirely to be passed over in silence as to abstain from giving a condensed account of some of them. 9.1.20

It will suffice then to add, that, according to Philochorus, when the country was devastated on the side of the sea by the Carians, and by land by the Bœotians, whom they called Aones, Cecrops first settled a large body of people in twelve cities, the names of which were Cecropia, Tetrapolis, Epacria, Deceleia, Eleusis, Aplhidnæ, (although some persons write it in the plural number, Aphidnæ,) Thoricus, Brauron, Cytherus, Sphettus, Cephisia [Phalerus]. Again, at a subsequent period, Theseus is said to have collected the inhabitants of the twelve cities into one, the present city.

Formerly, the Athenians were governed by kings; they afterwards changed the government to a democracy; then tyrants were their masters, as Pisistratus and his sons; afterwards there was an oligarchy both of the four hundred and of the thirty tyrants, whom the Lacedæmonii set over them; these were expelled by the Athenians, who retained the form of a democracy, till the Romans established their empire. For, although they were somewhat oppressed by the Macedonian kings, so as to be compelled to obey them, yet they preserved entire the same form of government. Some say, that the government was very well administered during a period of ten years, at the time that Casander was king of the Macedonians. For this person, although in other respects he was disposed to be tyrannical, yet, when lie was master of the city, treated the Athenians with kindness and generosity. He placed at the head of the citizens Demetrius the Phalerean, a disciple of Theophrastus the philosopher, who, far from dissolving, restored the democracy. This appears from his

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memoirs, which he composed concerning this mode of government. But so much hatred and dislike prevailed against anything connected with oligarchy, that, after the death of Casander, he was obliged to fly into Egypt. [Note] The insurgents pulled down more than three hundred of his statues, which were melted down, and according to some were cast into chamber-pots. The Romans, after their conquest, finding them governed by a democracy, [Note] maintained their independence and liberty. During the Mithridatic war, the king set over them such tyrants as he pleased. Aristio, who was the most powerful of these persons, oppressed the city; he was taken by Sylla, the Roman general, after a siege, [Note] and put to death. The citizens were pardoned, and, to this time, the city enjoys liberty, and is respected by the Romans. 9.1.21

Next to the Piræus is the demus Phalereis, on the succeeding line of coast, then Halimusii, æxoneis, Alæeis, the æxonici, Anagyrasii; then Theoris, Lampesis; ægilieis, Anaphlystii, Azenieis; these extend as far as the promontory Sunium. Between the above-mentioned demi is a long promontory, Zoster, [Note] the first after the æxoneis; then another promontory after Thoreis, Astypalæa; in the front of the former of these is an island, Phabra, [Note] and of the latter an island, Eleüssa, [Note] opposite the æxoneis is Hydrussa. About Anaphlystum is the Paneum, and the temple of Venus Colias. Here, they say, were thrown up by the waves the last portions of the wrecks of the vessels after the naval engagement with the Persians near Salamis, of which remains Apollo predicted, The women of Colias shall shudder at the sight of oars.
In front of these places lies off, at no great distance, the island Belbina; and the rampart of Patroclus; but most of these islands are uninhabited. 9.1.22

On doubling the promontory at Sunium, we meet with Sunium, a considerable demus; then Thoricus, next a demus called Potamus, from which the inhabitants are called Potamii; next Prasia, [Note] Steiria, Brauron, where is the temple of

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Diana Brauronia, Halæ Araphenides, where is the temple of Diana Tauropola; then Myrrhinus, Probalinthus, Marathon, where Miltiades entirely destroyed the army of Datis the Persian, without waiting for the Lacedæmonians, who deferred setting out till the full moon. There is laid the scene of the fable of the Marathonian bull, which Theseus killed.

Next to Marathon is Tricorynthus, then Rhamnus, where is the temple of Nemesis; then Psaphis, a city of the Oropii. Somewhere about this spot is the Amphiaræum, an oracle once in repute, to which Amphiareus fled, as Sophocles says, The dusty Theban soil opened and received him with his armour, and the four-horse chariot.

Oropus has frequently been a subject of contention, for it is situated on the confines of Attica and Bœotia.

In front of this coast, before Thoricum and Sunium, is the island Helena; it is rocky and uninhabited, extending in length about 60 stadia, which, they say, the poet mentions in the words, in which Alexander addresses Helen, Not when first I carried thee away from the pleasant Lacedæmon, across the deep, and in the island Cranaë embraced thee. [Note] For Cranaë, from the kind of intercourse which took place there, is now called Helena. Next to Helena, [Note] Eulbœa [Note] lies in front of the following tract of coast. It is long and narrow, and stretching along the continent like Helena. From Sunium to the southern point of Eubœa, which is called Leuce Acte, [Note] [or, the white coast,] is a voyage of 300 stadia, but we shall speak hereafter of Eubœa.

It would be tedious to recite the names of the Demi of Attica in the inland parts, on account of their number. [Note] 9.1.23

Among the mountains which are most celebrated, are the Hymettus, Brilessus, Ly$cabettus, Parnes, and Corydallus. [Note] Near the city are excellent quarries of Hymettian and Pentelic marble. The Hymettus produces also the finest honey. The silver mines in Attica were at first of importance, but are now exhausted. The workmen, when the mines yielded

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a bad return to their labour, committed to the furnace the old refuse and scoria, and hence obtained very pure silver, for the former workmen had carried on the process in the furnace unskilfully.

Although the Attic is the best of all the kinds of honey, yet by far the best of the Attic honey is that found in the country of the silver mines, [Note] which they call acapniston, or unsmoked, from the mode of its preparation. 9.1.24

Among the rivers is the Cephissus, having its source from the Trinemeis, it flows through the plain (where are the Gephyra, and the Gephyrismi) between the legs or walls extending from the Asty to the Piræus, and empties itself into the Plalericum. Its character is chiefly that of a winter torrent, for in the summer time it fails altogether. Such also, for the most part, is the Ilissus, which flows from the other side of the Asty to the same coast, from the parts above Agra, and the Lyceium, and the fountain celebrated by Plato in the Phædrus. So much then respecting Attica.



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