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



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 9.1.11 Str. 9.1.18 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.1.22

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