Pliny the Elder, Natural History (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plin. Nat.].
<<Plin. Nat. 4.17 Plin. Nat. 4.18 (Latin) >>Plin. Nat. 4.19

4.18 CHAP. 18. (11.)—THRACE; THE ÆGEAN SEA.

Thrace now follows, divided into fifty strategies [Note], and to be reckoned among the most powerful nations of Europe. Among its peoples whom we ought not to omit to name are the Denseletæ and the Medi, dwelling upon the right bank of the Strymon, and joining up to the Bisaltæ above [Note] mentioned; on the left there are the Digerri and a number of tribes of the Bessi [Note], with various names, as far as the river Mestus [Note], which winds around the foot of Mount Pan-

-- 1303 --

gæum [Note], passing among the Elethi, the Diobessi [Note], the Carbilesi; and then the Brysæ, the Sapæi, and the Odomanti. The territory of the Odrysæ [Note] gives birth to the Hebrus [Note], its banks being inhabited by the Cabyleti, the Pyrogeri, the Drugeri, the Cænici, the Hypsalti, the Beni, the Corpili, the Bottiæi, and the Edoni [Note]. In the same district are also the Selletæ, the Priantæ, the Doloncæ, the Thyni, and the Greater Cœletæ, below Mount Hæmus, the Lesser at the foot of Rhodope. Between these tribes runs the river Hebrus. We then come to a town at the foot of Rhodope, first called Poneropolis [Note], afterwards Philippopolis [Note] from the name of its founder, and now, from the peculiarity of its situation, Trimontium [Note]. To reach the summit of Hæmus you have to travel six [Note] miles. The sides of it that look in the opposite direction and slope towards the Ister are inhabited by the Mœsi [Note], the Getæ, the Aorsi, the Gaudæ, and the Clariæ; below them, are the Arræi Sarmatæ [Note], also called Arreatæ, the Scythians, and, about the shores of the Euxine, the Moriseni and the Sithonii, the forefathers of the poet Orpheus [Note], dwell.

-- 1304 --

Thus is Thrace bounded by the Ister on the north, by the Euxine, and the Propontis [Note] on the east, and by the Ægean Sea on the south; on the coast of which, after leaving the Strymon, we come in turn to Apollonia [Note], Œsyma [Note], Neapolis [Note] and Datos. In the interior is the colony of Philippi [Note], distant from Dyrrhachium 325 miles; also Scotussa [Note], the city of Topiris, the mouth of the river Mestus [Note], Mount Pangæus, Heraclea [Note], Olynthos [Note], Abdera [Note], a free city, the people of the Bistones [Note] and their Lake. Here was formerly the city of Tirida, which struck such terror with its stables of the horses [Note] of Diomedes. At the present day we find here Dicæa [Note], Ismaron [Note], the place where Parthenion stood, Phalesina, and Maronea [Note], formerly called Orthagorea. We

-- 1305 --

then come to Mount Serrium [Note] and Zone [Note], and then the place called Doriscus [Note], capable of containing ten thousand men, for it was in bodies of ten thousand that Xerxes here numbered his army. We then come to the mouth of the Hebrus [Note], the Port of Stentor, and the free town of Ænos [Note], with the tomb there of Polydorus [Note], the region formerly of the Cicones.

From Doriscus there is a winding coast as far as Macron Tichos [Note], or the "Long Wall," a distance of 122 miles; round Doriscus flows the river Melas, from which the Gulf of Melas [Note] receives its name. The towns are, Cypsela [Note], Bisanthe [Note], and Macron Tichos, already mentioned, so called because a wall extends from that spot between the two seas,—that is to say, from the Propontis to the Gulf of Melas, thus excluding the Chersonesus [Note], which projects beyond it.

The other side of Thrace now begins, on the coast [Note] of the Euxine, where the river Ister discharges itself; and it is in this quarter perhaps that Thrace possesses the finest cities, Histropolis [Note], namely, founded by the Milesians,

-- 1306 --

Tomi [Note], and Callatis [Note], formerly called Acervetis. It also had the cities of Heraclea and Bizone, which latter was swallowed up by an earthquake; it now has Dionysopolis [Note], formerly called Cruni, which is washed by the river Zyras. All this country was formerly possessed by the Scythians, surnamed Aroteres; their towns were, Aphrodisias, Libistos, Zygere, Rocobe, Eumenia, Parthenopolis, and Gerania [Note], where a nation of Pigmies is said to have dwelt; the barbarians used to call them Cattuzi, and entertain a belief that they were put to flight by cranes. Upon the coast, proceeding from Dionysopolis, is Odessus [Note], a city of the Milesians, the river Panysus [Note], and the town of Tetranaulo- chus. Mount Hæmus, which, with its vast chain, overhangs the Euxine, had in former times upon its summit the town of Aristæum [Note]. At the present day there are upon the coast Mesembria [Note], and Anchialum [Note], where Messa formerly stood. The region of Astice formerly had a town called Anthium; at the present day Apollonia [Note] occupies its site. The rivers here are the Panisos, the Riras, the Tearus, and the Orosines; there are also the towns of Thynias [Note], Halmydessos [Note], Develton [Note], with its lake, now known as Deultum, a colony of veterans, and Phinopolis, near which last is the Bosporus [Note]. From the mouth of the Ister to the entrance of the Euxine, some writers have made to be

-- 1307 --

a distance of 555 miles; Agrippa, however, increases the length by sixty miles. The distance thence to Macron Tichos, or the Long Wall, previously mentioned, is 150 miles; and, from it to the extremity of the Chersonesus, 125.

On leaving the Bosporus we come to the Gulf of Casthenes [Note], and two harbours, the one called the Old Men's Haven, and the other the Women's Haven. Next comes the promontory of Chrysoceras [Note], upon which is the town of Byzantium [Note], a free state, formerly called Lygos, distant from Dyrrhachium 711 miles,—so great being the space of land that intervenes between the Adriatic Sea and the Propontis. We next come to the rivers Bathynias and Pydaras [Note], or Athyras, and the towns of Selymbria [Note] and Perinthus [Note], which join the mainland by a neck only 200 feet in width. In the interior are Bizya [Note], a citadel of the kings of Thrace, and hated by the swallows, in consequence of the sacrilegious crime of Tereus [Note]; the district called Cænica [Note], and the colony of Flaviopolis, where formerly stood a town called Cæla. Then, at a distance of fifty miles from Bizya, we come to the colony of Apros, distant from Philippi 180 miles. Upon the coast is the river Erginus [Note]; here formerly stood the town of Ganos [Note]; and Lysimachia [Note] in the Chersonesus is being now gradually deserted.

At this spot there is another isthmus [Note], similar in name to the other [Note], and of about equal width; and, in a manner

-- 1308 --

by no means dissimilar, two cities formerly stood on the shore, one on either side, Pactye on the side of the Propontis, and Cardia [Note] on that of the Gulf of Melas, the latter deriving its name from the shape [Note] which the land assumes. These, however, were afterwards united with Lysimachia [Note], which stands at a distance of five miles from Macron Tichos. The Chersonesus formerly had, on the side of the Propontis, the towns of Tiristasis, Crithotes, and Cissa [Note], on the banks of the river Ægos [Note]; it now has, at a distance of twenty-two [Note] miles from the colony of Apros, Resistos, which stands opposite to the colony of Parium. The Hellespont also, which separates, as we have already [Note] stated, Europe from Asia, by a channel seven stadia in width, has four cities facing each other, Callipolis [Note] and Sestos [Note] in Europe, and Lampsacus [Note] and Abydos [Note] in Asia. On the Chersonesus, there is the promontory of Mastusia [Note], lying opposite to Sigeum [Note]; upon one side of it stands the Cynossema [Note] (for so the tomb of Hecuba is called), the naval station [Note] of the Achæans, and a tower; and near it the shrine [Note] of Protesilaüs. On the ex-

-- 1309 --

treme front of the Chersonesus, which is called Æolium, there is the city of Elæs. Advancing thence towards the Gulf of Melas, we have the port of Cœlos [Note], Panormus, and then Cardia, previously mentioned.

In this manner is the third great Gulf of Europe bounded. The mountains of Thrace, besides those already mentioned, are Edonus, Gigemoros, Meritus, and Melamphyllos; the rivers are the Bargus and the Syrmus, which fall into the Hebrus. The length of Macedonia, Thrace, and the Hellespont has been already [Note] mentioned; some writers, however, make it 720 miles, the breadth being 384.

What may be called a rock rather than an island, lying between Tenos and Chios, has given its name to the Ægean Sea; it has the name of Æx [Note] from its strong resemblance to a goat, which is so called in Greek, and shoots precipitately from out of the middle of the sea. Those who are sailing towards the isle of Andros from Achaia, see this rock on the left, boding no good, and warning them of its dangers. Part of the Ægean Sea bears the name of Myrtoan [Note], being so called from the small island [of Myrtos] which is seen as you sail towards Macedonia from Geræstus, not far from Carystus [Note] in Eubœa. The Romans include all these seas under two names,—the Macedonian, in those parts where it touches the coasts of Macedonia or Thrace, and the Grecian where it washes the shores of Greece The Greeks, however, divide the Ionian Sea into the Sicilian and the Cretan Seas, after the name of those islands; and they give the name of Icarian to that part which lies between Samos and Myconos. The gulfs which we have already mentioned, have given to these seas the rest of their names. Such,

-- 1310 --

then, are the seas and the various nations which are comprehended in the third great Gulf of Europe.

Pliny the Elder, Natural History (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plin. Nat.].
<<Plin. Nat. 4.17 Plin. Nat. 4.18 (Latin) >>Plin. Nat. 4.19

Powered by PhiloLogic