Strabo‎ > ‎

Strabo - Greece

Book VIII. Chapter IV. 8. Messenia.

The city of the Messenians resembles Corinth, for above each city is a lofty and precipitous mountain, enclosed by a common wall in such a manner as to be used as an acropolis; the Messenian mountain is Ithome, that near Corinth is Acrocorinthus. Demetrius of Pharos seemed to have counseled Philip the son of Demetrius well, when he advised him to make himself master of both cities, if he desired to get possession of the Peloponnesus; “for,” said he, “when you have seized both horns, the cow will be your own;” meaning, by the horns, Ithome and Acrocorinthus, and, by the cow, Peloponnesus. It was no doubt their convenient situation which made these cities subjects of contention. The Romans therefore razed Corinth, and again rebuilt it. The Lacedaemonians destroyed Messene, and the Thebans, and subsequently Philip, the son of Amyntas, restored it. The citadels however continued unoccupied.


Excerpt from Book VIII. Chapter VI. 14. Argolis.

Troezen is sacred to Neptune, from whom it was formerly called Poseidonia. It is situated 15 stadia from the sea. Nor is this an obscure city. In front of its harbour, called Pogon, lies Calauria, a small island, of about 30 stadia in compass. Here was a temple of Neptune, which served as an asylum for fugitives. It is said that this god exchanged Delos of Calauria with Latona, and Taenarum for Pytho with Apollo. Ephorus mentions the oracle respecting it:

“It is the same thing to possess Delos, or Calauria,
The divine Pytho, or the windy Taenarum.”

There was a sort of Amphictyonic body to whom the concerns of this temple belonged, consisting of seven cities, which performed sacrifices in common. These were Hermon, Epidaurus, Aegina, Athenae, Prasiae, Nauplia, and Orchommenus Minyeius. The Argives contributed in behalf of Nauplia, and the Lacedaemonians in behalf of Prasiae. The veneration for this god prevailed so strongly among the Greeks, that the Macedonians, even when masters of the country, nevertheless preserved even to the present time the privilege of the asylum, and were restrained by shame from dragging away the suppliants who took refuge at Calauria. Archias even, with a body of soldiers, did not dare to use force to Demosthenes, although he had received orders from Antipater to bring him alive, and all other orators he could find, who were accused of the same crimes. He attempted persuasion, but in vain, for Demosthenes deprived himself of life by taking poison in the temple.


Excerpt from Book VIII. Chapter VI. 15. Argolis.

Between Troezen and Epidaurus, there was a fortress Methana, and a peninsula of the same name. In some copies of Thucydides Methone is the common reading, a place of the same name with the Macedonian city, at the siege of which Philip lost an eye. Hence Demetrius of Scepsis is of opinion that some persons were led into error by the name, and supposed that it was Methone near Troezen. It was against this town, it is said, that the persons sent by Agamemnon to levy sailors, uttered the imprecation that

“they might never cease to build walls.”

but it was not these people; but the Macedonians, according to Theopompus who refused the levy of men; besides, it is not probable that those, who were in the neighborhood of Agamemnon, would disobey his orders.


Excerpt from Book IX. Chapter I. 20. Attica.

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 Lacedaemonii 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 Cassander was king of the Macedonians. For this person, although in other respects he was disposed to be tyrannical, yet, when he 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 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 Cassander, he was obliged to fly into Egypt.* The insurgents pulled down more than three hundred of his statues, which were melted down, and according to some were cast into chamber-pots…

*Demetrius Phalerus was driven from Athens, 307 B.C., whence he retired to Thebes. The death of Cassander took place 298 B.C.


Book IX. Chapter II. 5. Boeotia.

After this they assisted Penthilus in sending out the Aeolian colony, and dispatched a large body of their own people with him, so that it was called the Boeotian colony.

A long time afterwards the country was devastated during the war with the Persians at Plataeae. They afterwards so far recovered their power, that the Thebans, having vanquished the Lacedaemonians in two battles,(1) disputed the sovereignty of Greece. Epaminondas, however, was killed, and they were disappointed in their hope of obtaining this supremacy. They, nevertheless, fought in defense of the Greeks against the Phocaeans, who had plundered their common temple. Reduced by this war, and by the Macedonians, at the time that they invaded Greece, they lost their city, which was afterwards restored to them, and rebuilt by the Macedonians themselves, who had razed it.(2) From that period to our own times their affairs have continued to decline, nor do they retain the appearance even of a considerable village. Other cities (of Boeotia) have experienced a similar fate, with the exception of Tanagra and Thespiae, which in comparison with Thebes are in a tolerable condition.

(1) Leuctra and Mantineia.
(2) The Thebans, who were formerly the allies of the Macedonians, were opposed to Philip of Macedon at the battle of Chaeroneia. On the accession to the throne of Alexander, the city was destroyed, B.C. 335; 6000 of the inhabitants were killed, and 30,000 sold as slaves. The city was rebuilt, B.C. 316, by Cassander. Pausanias, ix. 7. The ravages committed by Sylla in the war against Mithridates, which completed the final ruin of Thebes, must have been fresh in the memory of Strabo.


Book IX. Chapter II. 37. Boetia.

Chaeroneia(1) is near Orchomenus,(2) where Philip, the son of Amyntas, after having overcome, in a great battle,(3) the Athenians, Boeotians, and Corinthians, became the master of Greece. There are seen the sepulchers erected at the public charge of the persons who fell in that battle.

(1) Kapurna.
(2) Scripu.
(3) On the 7th of August, B.C. 338. Of the details of this battle we have no account. The site of the monument is marked by a tumulus about a mile or a little more from the Khan of Kapurna, on the right side of the road towards Orchomenus. A few years ago (according to Mure) the mound of earth was excavated and a colossal lion discovered, deeply imbedded in its interior.


Excerpt from Book IX. Chapter IV. 15. Locris.

These places were of the greatest celebrity when they formed the keys of the straits. There were frequent contests for the ascendancy 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 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.*

*Translated according to Kramer’s proposed emendation. Demetrias according to Leake, occupies the southern or maritime face of a height called Goritza, which projects from the coast of Magnesia between 2 and 3 miles to the southward of the middle of Volo. Pausanias, b. vii. c. 7, says that Philip called Chalcia, Corinth, and Magnesia in Thessaly, the “Keys of Greece.” Livy, b. xxxii. c. 37


Excerpt from Book IX. Chapter V. 8. Thessaly.

…At Phylace too, which was under the command of the Protesilaus, so Halus also belongs to Phthiotis, which adjoins to the Malienses. Halus is distant from Thebes about 100 stadia, and lies in the middle between Pharsalus and Thebes Phthiotides. Philip, however, took it from the latter, and assigned it to the Pharsalii. Thus it happens, as we have said before, that boundaries and the distribution of nations and places are in a state of continual change.


Excerpt from Book IX. Chapter V. 10. Thessaly.

They reckon in the Phthiotic district, which was subject to Achilles, beginning from the Malienses, a considerable number of towns, and among them Thebae Phthiotides, Echinus, Lamia, near which the war was carried on between the Macedonians and Antipater, against the Athenians. In this war Leosthenes, the Athenian general was killed, (and Leonnatus,) one of the companions of Alexander the king.


Excerpt from Book IX. Chapter V. 16. Thessaly.

In front of the Magnetes lies clusters of islands; the most celebrated are Sciathus,(1) Peparethus,(2) Icus,(3) Halonnesus, and Scyrus,(4) which contain cities of the same name. Scyrus however is the most famous of any for the friendship which subsisted between Lycomedes and Achilles, and for the birth and education of Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. In after times, when Philip became powerful, perceiving that the Athenians were masters of the sea, and sovereigns both of these and other islands, he made those islands which lay near his own country more celebrated than any of the rest. For as his object in waging war was the sovereignty of Greece, he attacked those places first which were near him; and as he attached to Macedonia many parts of Magnesia itself, of Thrace, and of the rest of the surrounding country, so also he seized upon the islands in front of Magnesia, and made the possession of islands which were before entirely unknown, a subject of warlike contention, and brought them into notice.

(1) Sciathos. (2) Scopelo (3) Selidromi? (4) Scyros.


Excerpt from Book IX. Chapter V. 19. Thessaly.

The Perrhaebi, oppressed by the Lapithae, retreated in great numbers to the mountainous country about Pindus, and to the Athamanes and Dolopes; but the Larisaei became masters of the country and of the Perrhaebi who remained there. The Larisaei lived near the Peneius, but in the neighborhood of the Perrhaebi. They occupied the most fertile portion of the plains, except some of the very deep valleys near the lake Nessonis, into which the river when it overflowed, usually carried away a portion of the arable ground belonging to the Larisaei, who afterwards remedied this by making embankments.

These people were in possession of Perrhaebia, and levied imposts until Philip became master of the country.


Excerpt from Book X. Chapter I. 8. Negropont.

These cities, Eretria and Chalcis, when their population was greatly augmented, sent out considerable colonies to Macedonia, for Eretria founded cities about Pallene and Mount Athos; Chalcis founded some near Olynthus, which Philip destroyed. There are also many settlements in Italy and Sicily, founded by Chalcidians. These colonies were sent out, according to Aristotle, when the government of the Hippobatae, (or Knights,) as it is called, was established; it was an aristocratical government, the heads of which held their office by virtue of the amount of their property. At the time that Alexander passed over into Asia, they enlarged the compass of the walls of their city, including within them Canethus, and the Euripus, and erected towers upon the bridge, a wall, and gates.


Excerpt from Book X. Chapter III. 20. The Curetes.

…Pytna is a peak of Ida, (and a mountain in Crete,) whence the city Hierapytna has its name. There is Hippocorona in the territory of Adramyttium, and Hippocoronium in Crete. Samonium also is the eastern promontory of the island, and a plain in the Neandris,* and in the territory of the Alexandrians (Alexandria Troas).

*In the plain of Troy.

Comments