Abydus was founded by Milesians, being founded by permission of Gyges, king of the Lydians; for this district and the whole of the Troad were under his sway; and there is a promontory named Gygas near Dardanus. Abydus lies at the mouth of the Propontis and the Hellespont; and it is equidistant from Lampsacus and Ilium, about one hundred and seventy stadia.1
Here, separating Europe and Asia, is the Heptastadium,2
which was bridged by Xerxes. The European promontory that forms the narrows at the place of the bridge is called the Chersonesus3
because of its shape. And the place of the bridge lies opposite Abydus. Sestus4
is the best of the cities in the Chersonesus; and, on account of its proximity to Abydus, it was assigned to the same governor as Abydus in the times when governorships had not yet been delimited by continents. Now although Abydus and Sestus are about thirty stadia distant from one another from harbor to harbor, yet the line of the bridge across the strait is short, being drawn at an angle to that between the two cities, that is, from a point nearer than Abydus to the Propontis on the Abydus side to a point farther away from the Propontis on the Sestus side. Near Sestus is a place named Apobathra,5
where the pontoon-bridge was attached to the shore. Sestus lies farther in towards the Propontis, farther up the stream that flows out of the Propontis. It is therefore easier to cross over from Sestus, first coasting a short distance to the Tower of Hero and then letting the ships make the passage across by the help of the current. But those who cross over from Abydus must first follow the coast in the opposite direction about eight stadia to a tower opposite Sestus, and then sail across obliquely and thus not have to meet the full force of the current. After the Trojan War Abydus was the home of Thracians, and then of Milesians. But when the cities were burned by Dareius, father of Xerxes, I mean the cities on the Propontis, Abydus shared in the same misfortune. He burned them because he had learned after his return from his attack upon the Scythians that the nomads were making preparations to cross the strait and attack him to avenge their sufferings, and was afraid that the cities would provide means for the passage of their army. And this too, in addition to the other changes and to the lapse of time, is a cause of the confusion into which the topography of the country has fallen. As for Sestus and the Chersonesus in general, I have already spoken of them in my description of the region of Thrace.6
Theopompus says that Sestus is small but well fortified, and that it is connected with its harbor by a double wall of two plethra,7
and that for this reason, as also on account of the current, it is mistress of the passage.