Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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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. 9.5.4

The poet having divided the whole of the country, which we call Thessaly, into ten [Note] parts and dynasties, and having taken in addition some portion of the Œtæan and Locrian territory, and of that also which is now assigned to the Macedonians, shows (what commonly happened to every country) the changes which, entirely or in part, they undergo according to the power possessed by their respective governors. 9.5.5

The poet first enumerates the Thessalians subject to Achilles, who occupied the southern side, and adjoined Œta, and the Locri Epicnemidii; All who dwelt in Pelasgic Argos; they who occupied Alus, Alope, and Trachin; they who possessed Phthia, and Hellas, abounding with beautiful women, were called Myrmidones, Hellenes, and Achæi. [Note] He joins together with these the people under the command of Phoenix, and makes them compose one common expedition. The poet nowhere mentions the Dolopian forces in the battles near Ilium, neither does he introduce their leader Phoenix, as undertaking, like Nestor, dangerous enterprises. But Phoenix is mentioned by others, as by Pindar,

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Who led a brave band of Dolopian slingers,
Who were to aid the javelins of the Danai, tamers of horses.
The words of the poet are to be understood according to the figure of the grammarians, by which something is suppressed, for it would be ridiculous for the king to engage in the expe- dition, (I live at the extremity of Phthia, chief of the Dolopians, [Note])
Il. ix. 480.
and his subjects not to accompany him. For [thus] he would not appear to be a comrade of Achilles in the expedition, but only as the commander of a small body of men, and a speaker, and if so, a counsellor. The verses seem to imply this meaning, for they are to this effect, To be an eloquent speaker, and to achieve great deeds. [Note]

From this it appears that Homer considered the forces under Achilles and Phœnix as constituting one body; but the places mentioned as being under the authority of Achilles, are subjects of controversy.

Some have understood Pelasgic Argos to be a Thessalian city, formerly situated near Larisa, but now no longer in existence. Others do not understand a city to be meant by this name, but the Thessalian plain, and to have been so called by Abas, who established a colony there from Argos. 9.5.6

With respect to Phthia, some suppose it to be the same as Hellas and Achaia, and that these countries form the southern portion in the division of Thessaly into two parts. But others distinguish Phthia and Hellas. The poet seems to distinguish them in these verses; they who occupied Phthia and Hellas, [Note]
Il. ii. 683.
as if they were two countries. And, again, Then far away through wide Greece I fled and came to Phthia, [Note]
Il. ix. 498.
and, There are many Achæan women in Hellas and Phthia. [Note]
Il. ix. 395.
The poet then makes these places to be two, but whether cities or countries he does not expressly say. Some of the later writers, who affirm that it is a country, suppose it to have extended from Palæpharsalus to Thebæ Phthiotides. In this country also is Thetidium, near both the ancient and the modern Pharsalus; and it is conjectured from Theti-

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dium that the country, in which it is situated, was a part of that under the command of Achilles. Others, who regard it as a city, allege that the Pharsalii show at the distance of 60 stadia from their own city, a city in ruins, which they believe to be Hellas, and two springs near it, Messeis and Hypereia. But the Melitæenses say, that at the distance of about 10 stadia from their city, was situated Hellas on the other side of the Enipeus, [Note] when their own city had the name of Pyrrha, and that the Hellenes migrated from Hellas, which was built in a low situation, to theirs. They adduce in proof of this the tomb of Hellen, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, which is in their market-place. For according to historians, Deucalion was king of Phthiotis and of all Thessaly. The Enipeus flows from Othrys [Note] beside Pharsalus, [Note] and empties itself into the Apidanus, [Note] and the latter into the Peneius.

Thus much, then, respecting the Hellenes.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 9.4.14 Str. 9.5.5 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 9.5.8

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