Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 9.4.8 Str. 9.4.17 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.5.5


These places are rendered difficult of access by a rocky country, and by bodies of water, forming ravines through which they pass. For besides the Spercheius, [Note] which flows past Anticyra, there is the Dyras, which, it is said, endeavoured to extinguish the funeral pile of Hercules, and another river, the Melas, distant about 5 stadia from Trachin. Herodotus says, [Note] that to the south of Trachin there is a deep fissure, through which the Asopus, (which has the same name as other rivers that we have mentioned,) empties itself into the sea without the Pylæ, having received the river Phoenix which flows from the south, and unites with it. The latter river bears the name of the hero, whose tomb is shown near it. From the Asopus (Phoenix?) to Thermopylæ are 15 stadia. 9.4.15

These places were of the greatest celebrity when they formed the keys of the straits. There were frequent contests for the ascendency between the inhabitants without and those within the straits. Philip used to call Chalcis and Corinth the fetters of Greece with reference to the opportunity which they afforded for invasions from Macedonia; and persons in

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later times called both these places and Demetrias the fetters, for Demetrias commanding Pelion and Ossa, commanded also the passes at Tempe. Afterwards, however, when the whole country was subject to one power, the passes were freely open to all. [Note] 9.4.16

It was at these straits that Leonidas and his companions, together with a small body of persons from the neighbourhood, resisted the numerous forces of the Persians, until the Barbarians, making a circuit of the mountains along narrow paths, surrounded and cut them to pieces. Their place of burial, the Polyandrium, is still to be seen there, and the celebrated inscription sculptured on the Lacedæmonian pillar; Stranger, go tell Lacedæmon that we lie here in obedience to her laws. 9.4.17

There is also a large harbour here and a temple of Ceres, in which the Amphictyons at the time of every Pylæan assembly offered sacrifice. From the harbour to the Heracleian Trachin are 40 stadia by land, but by sea to Cenæum [Note] it is 70 stadia. The Spercheius empties itself immediately without the Pylæ. To Pylæ from the Euripus are 530 stadia. And here Locris terminates. The parts without the Pylæ towards the east, and the Maliac Gulf, belong to the Thessalians; those towards the west, to the ætolians and Acarnanians. The Athamanes are extinct. 9.4.18

The Thessalians form the largest and most ancient community. One part of them has been mentioned by Homer, and the rest by many other writers. Homer constantly mentions the ætolians under one name; he places cities, and not nations dependent upon them, if we except the Curetes, whom we must place in the division of ætolians.

We must begin our account with the Thessalians, omitting very ancient and fabulous stories, and what is not generally admitted, (as we have done in other instances,) but propose to mention what appears suited to our purpose.

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CHAPTER V. 9.5.1

THE sea-coast, extending from Thermopylæ to the mouths of the Peneius, [Note] and the extremities of Pelion, looking towards the east, and the northern extremities of Eubœa, is that of Thessaly. The parts opposite Eubœa and Thermopylæ are occupied by Malienses, and by Achæan Phthiotæ; those towards Pelion by the Magnetes. This may be called the eastern and maritime side of Thessaly. From either side from Pelion, and the Peneius, towards the inland parts are Macedonians, who extend as far as Pæonia, (Pindus?) and the Epeirotic nations. From Thermopylæ, the ætæan and ætolian mountains, which approach close to the Dorians, and Parnassus, are parallel to the Macedonians. The side towards the Macedonians may be called the northern side; the other, the southern. There remains the western side, enclosed by ætolians and Acarnanians, by Amphilochians and Athamanes, who are Epirotæ; by the territory of the Molotti, formerly said to be that of the æthices, and, in short, by the country about Pindus. Thessaly, [Note] in the interior, is a plain country for the most part, and has no mountains, except Pelion and Ossa. These mountains rise to a considerable height, but do not encompass a large tract of country, but terminate in the plains. 9.5.2

These are the middle parts of Thessaly, a district of very fertile country, except that part of it which is overflowed by rivers. The Peneius flows through the middle of the country, and receiving many rivers, frequently overflows. Formerly, according to report, the plain was a lake; it is enclosed on all sides inland by mountains, and the sea-coast is more elevated than the plains. When a chasm was formed, at the place now called Tempe, by shocks of an earthquake, and Ossa was riven from Olympus, the Peneius flowed out through it to the sea, and drained this tract of country. Still there remained the large lake Nessonis, and the lake Bœbeis; which is of less extent than the Nessonis, and nearer to the sea-coast.

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3. Such then is Thessaly, which is divided into four parts, Phthiotis, Hestiæotis, Thessaliotis, and Pelasgiotis.

Phthiotis comprises the southern parts, extending along Œta from the Maliac and (or) Pylaïc Gulf [Note] as far as Dolopia and Pindus, increasing in breadth to Pharsalia and the Thessalian plains.

Hestiæotis comprises the western parts and those between Pindus and Upper Macedonia; the rest is occupied by the inhabitants of the plains below Hestiæotis, who are called Pelasgiotæ, and approach close to the Lower Macedonians; by the [Thessalians] also, who possess the country next in order, as far as the coast of Magnesia.

The names of many cities might here be enumerated, which are celebrated on other accounts, but particularly as being mentioned by Homer; few of them, however, but most of all Larisa, preserve their ancient importance.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 9.4.8 Str. 9.4.17 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.5.5

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