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Strabo - Getae, Macedonia, black Sea

Excerpt from Book VII. Chapter III. 8. Getae.

…But what occasion is there for me to speak of such as belonged to the times of old? for Alexander (the Great), the son of Philip, in his campaign against the Thracians beyond Mount Haemus,(1) is said to have penetrated as far as this in an incursion into the country of the Triballi, and observed that they occupied the territory as far as the Danube and the island Peuce,(2) which is in it, and that the Getae possessed the country beyond that river; however, he was unable to pass into the island for want of a sufficient number of ships, and because Syrmus, the king of the Triballi, who had taken refuge in that place, resisted the undertaking: but Alexander crossed over into the country of the Getae and took their city, after which he returned home in haste, carrying with him presents from those nations, and also from Syrmus. Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, relates that in this campaign the Kelts who dwell on the Adriatic(3) came to Alexander for the purpose of making a treaty of friendship and mutual hospitality, and that the king received them in a friendly way, and asked them, while drinking, what might be the chief object of their dread, supposing that they would say it was he; but that they replied, it was no man, only they felt some alarm lest the heavens should on some occasion or other fall on them, but that they valued the friendship of such a man as him above every thing. These examples sufficiently manifest the open sincerity of the barbarians, both of the one who would not suffer Alexander to land on the island, but nevertheless sent him presents and concluded a treaty of friendship with him, and also of those who asserted that they feared no man, but that they valued the friendship of great men above every price.

(1) The mountains in the north of Thrace still bear the name of Emineh-Dag, or Mount Emineh, at their eastern point; but he western portion is called the Balkan.
(2) Piczina, at the embouchure of the Danube, between Babadag and Ismail.
(3) A note in the French translation says these were the Carni and the Iapodes, who having followed Sigovesus, in the reign of the elder Tarquin, had taken up their abode in the neighbourhood of the Adriatic; and refers to the Examen Critique des Anciens Historiens d’Alexandre, by M. de Sainte Croix, page 855.

Excerpt from Book VII. Chapter VI. 2 Coast of the Black Sea.

Above Byzantium is the nation of the Asti, in whose territory is the city Calybe, which Philip the son of Amyntas made a settlement for criminals.

Excerpt from Book VII. Chapter VII. 8. Epirus.

The Amphilochians are Epirotae, as also are those nations who inhabit a rugged country situated above and close to the Illyrian mountains, the Molotti, Athamanes, Aethiceas, Tymphaei, Orestae Paroraei, and Atintanes, some of whom approach nearer to Macedonia, others to the Ionian Gulf. It is said that Orestes possessed the territory Orestias at the time of his flight, after the murder of his mother, and left the country bearing his name, where also he had built a city called Orestic Argos. With these people are intermixed Illyrian nations, some of whom are situated on the southern part of the mountainous district, and others above the Ionian Gulf. For above Epidamnus and Apollonia, as far as the Ceraunian mountains, live the Bulliones, Taulantii, Parthini, and Brygi.*

*These nations are mentioned by other authors; they were probably separated by the numerous mountain ridges to the west of Pindus.

Somewhere near are the silver mines of Damnstium. Here the Perisadyes had established their sway, and Enchelii, who are also called Sesarethii. Then come the Lyncestae, the territory Deuriopus, Pelagonia-Tripolitis, the Eordi, Elimia, and Eratyra. Formerly each of these nations was under its own prince. The chiefs of the Enchelii were descendants of Cadmus and Harmonia, and scenes of the fables respecting these persons are shown in the territory. This nation, therefore, was not governed by native princes. The Lyncestae were under Arrhabaeus, who was of the race of the Bacchiadae. Irra was his daughter, and his grand-daughter was Eurydice, the mother of Philip Amyntas.

The Molotti also were Epirotae, and were subjects of Pyrrhus Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, and of his descendants who were Thessalians. The rest were governed by native princes. Some tribes were continually endeavouring to obtain the mastery over the others, but all were finally defeated by the Macedonians, except a few situated above the Ionian Gulf. They gave the name of Upper Macedonia to the country about Lyncestis, Pelagonia, Orestias, and Elimia. Later writers called it Macedonia the Free, and some extend the name of Macedonia to all the country as far as Corcyra, at the same time assigning as their reasons, the mode of cutting their hair, their language, the use of the chlamys, and similar things in which they resemble the Macedonians; some of them, however, speak two languages. On the dissolution of the Macedonia empire, they fell under the power of the Romans.

Fragments* Book VII. Macedonia. Mount Athos. Thrace. Hellespont.

*The fragments are collected from the Palatine (Epit.) and Vatican (E.) Epitomes; and, in the opinion of Kramer, much is not lost. By the diligence and research of Kramer, the former length of these Fragments is more than doubled; but for a more particular account of his labours, the reader is referred to his preface and notes.

Fragment 20. After Dium follow the mouths of the Haliacmon; then Pydna, Methone, Alorus, and the rivers Erigon and Ludias. The Ludias flows from the Triclari, through the Oresti and the Pellaean country (Pelagonia): leaving the city on the left it falls into the Axius. The Ludias is navigable up the stream to Pella 120 stadia. Methone is situated in the middle, about 40 stadia distant from Pydna, and 70 stadia from Alorus. Alorus is situated in the farthest recess of the Thermaean Gulf. It was called Thessalonica on account of the splendid (victory obtained over the Thessalians). Alorus is considered as belonging to Bottiaea and Pydna to Pieria. Pella is in Lower Macedonia, which was in possession of the Bottiaei. Here was formerly the Macedonian Treasury. Philip, who was brought up in this place, raised it from an inconsiderable city to some importance. It has a citadel situated on a lake called Ludias. From this lake issues the rive Ludias, which is filled by a branch of the Axius. The Axius discharges itself between Chalastra and Therma. Near this river is a fortified place, now called Abydos; Homer calls it Amydon, and says that the Paeonians came from hence to assist the Trojans during the siege of Troy.

“From afar, from Amydon, from Axius’ wide stream.”

It was razed by the Argeadae. (E.)

Fragment 21. The water of the Axius is turbid. Homer, however, says that the water is “most beautiful,” probably on account of a spring called Aea which runs into it, the water of which is of surpassing clearness. This is sufficient to prove that the present reading in the poem is erroneous. After the Axius is the Echedorus, 20 stadia distant. Then Thessalonica, founded by Cassander, 40 stadia farther on, and the Egnatian Way. He named the city after his wife Thessalonice, the daughter of Philip Amyntas, and pulled down nearly 26 cities in the district of Crucis, and on the Thermaean Gulf, collecting the inhabitants into one city. It is the metropolis of the present Macedonia. The cities transferred to Thessalonica were Apollonia, Chalastra, Therma, Garescus, Aenea, and Cissus. Cissus, it is probable, belonged to Cisseus, who is mentioned by the poet. “Cisseus educated him,” meaning Iphidamas. (E.)

Fragment 22. After the city Drium is the river Haliacmon, which discharges itself into the Thermaean Gulf. From hence to the river Axius the sea-coast on the north of the gulf bears the name of Pieria, on which is situated the city Pydna, now called Citrum. Then follow Methone and the river Alorus; then the rivers Erigon and Ludias. From Ludias to the city Pella the river is navigated upwards to the distance of 20 stadia. Methone is distant from Pydna 40 stadia, and 70 stadia from Alorus. Pydna is a Pierian, Alorus a Bottiaean city. In the plain of Pydna, the Romans defeated Perseus, and put an end to the Macedonian empire. In the plane of Methone, during the siege of the city, Philip Amyntas accidentally lost his right eye by an arrow discharged from a catapult. (EPIT.)

Fragment 23. Philip, who was brought up at Pella, formerly a small city, much improved it. In front of the city is a lake, out of which flows the river Ludias. The lake is supplied by a branch of the river Axius. Next follows the Axius, which separates the territory of Bottiaea and Amphaxitis, and after receiving the river Erigon, issues out between Chalestra and Therme. On the river Axius is a place which Homer calls Amydon, and says that the Paeones set out thence as auxiliaries to Troy.

“From afar, from Amydon, from Axius’ wide stream.”

The Axius is a turbid river, but as a spring of clearest water rises in Amydon, and mingles with the Axius, some have altered the line

“Axius, whose fairest water o’erspreads Aea.”
“Axius, o’er whom spreads Aea’s fairest water.”

For it is not the “fairest water” of which is diffused over the spring, but the “fairest water” of the spring which is diffused over the Axius. (EPIT)

Fragment 24. After the river Axius is the city Thessalonica, formerly called Therma. It was founded by Cassander, who called it after the name of his wife, a daughter of Philip Amyntas. He transferred to it the small surrounding cities, Chalastra, Aenea, Cissus, and some others. Probably from this Cissus came Iphidamas, mentioned in Homer, “whose grandfather Cisseus educated him,” he says, “in Thrace,” which is now called Macedonia. (EPIT.)

Fragment 33. The city Acanthus, on the Singitic Gulf, is a maritime city near the Canal of Xerxes. There are five cities in Athos; Dium, Cleonae, Thyssos, Olophyxis, Acrothoi, which is situated near the summit of Athos. Mount Athos is pap-shaped, very pointed, and of a very great height. Those who live upon the summit see the sun rise three hours before it is visible on the sea-shore. The voyage round the peninsula, from the city Acanthus to the city Stagirus, the birth-place of Aristotle, is 400 stadia. It has a harbour called Caprus, and a small island of the same name. Then follow the mouths of the Strymon; then Phagres, Galepsus, and Apollonia, all them cities; then the mouth of the Nestus, which is the boundary of Macedonia and Thrace, as settled, in their own times, by Philip and Alexander his son. There are about the Strymonic Gulf other cities also, as Myrcinus, Argilus, Drabescus, and Datum, which has an excellent and most productive soil, dock-yards for shipbuilding, and gold mines; when the proverb, “A Datum of good things,” like to the proverb, “Piles of plenty.” (EPIT.)

Fragment 34. There are numerous gold mines among the Crenides, where the city of Philip now stands, near Mount Pangaeus. Pangaeus itself, and the country on the east of the Strymon, and on the west as far as Paeonia, contains gold and silver mines. Particles of gold, it is said, are found in Paeonia in ploughing the land. (EPIT.)

Fragment 35. Mount Athos is pap-shaped, and so lofty that the husbandmen on the summit are already weary of their labour, the sun having long since risen to them, when to the inhabitants of the shore it is the beginning of cockcrowing. Thamyris, the Thracian, was king of this court, and followed the same practices as Orpheus. Here also, at Acanthus, is seen the canal, which Xerxes is said to have made, and through which he is said to have brought the sea from the Strymonic Gulf, across the Isthmus. Demetrius of Skepsis is of the opinion that this canal was not navigable; for, says he, the ground is composed of deep earth, and admits of being dug for a distance of 10 stadia only: the canal is a plethrum in width; then follows a high, broad, and flat rock, nearly a stadium in length, which prevents evacuation throughout the whole distance to the sea. And even if the work could be carried on so far across, yet it could not be continued to a sufficient depth, so as to present a navigable passage. Here Alexarchus, the son of Antipater, built the city Uranopolis, 30 stadia in circumference.

This peninsula was inhabited by Palasgi from Lemnon; they were distributed into five small cities, Cleonae, Olophyxis, Acrothoi, Dium, Thyssos. After Athos comes the Strymonic Gulf, extending to the river Nestus, which forms the boundary of Macedonia, as settled by Philip and Alexander. Accurately speaking, there is a promontory forming a gulf with Athos, on which is the city Apollonia. First in the gulf, after the harbour of Aeanthus, is Stagira, now deserted: it was the one of the Chalcidic cities and the birth-place of Aristotle. Caprus was the harbour, and there is a small island of the same name. Then comes the Strymon, and Amphipolis, at the distance of 20 stadia up the river. In this part is situated an Athenian colony, called Ennea-Odoi (the Nine-Ways). Then Galepsus and Apollonia, which were destroyed by Philip. (E.)