Ephorus says that, if one begins with the western parts, Acarnania is the beginning of Greece; for, he adds, Acarnania is the first to border on the tribes of the Epeirotes. But just as Ephorus, using the seacoast as his measuring-line, begins with Acarnania (for he decides in favor of the sea as a kind of guide in his description of places, because otherwise he might have represented parts that border on the land of the Macedonians and the Thessalians as the beginning), so it is proper that I too, following the natural character of the regions, should make the sea my counsellor. Now this sea, issuing forth out of the Sicilian Sea, on one side stretches to the Corinthian Gulf, and on the other forms a large peninsula, the Peloponnesus, which is closed by a narrow isthmus. Thus Greece consists of two very large bodies of land, the part inside the Isthmus, and the part outside, which extends through Pylae1
as far as the outlet of the Peneius (this latter is the Thessalian part of Greece);2
but the part inside the Isthmus is both larger and more famous. I might almost say that the Peloponnesus is the acropolis of Greece as a whole;3
for, apart from the splendor and power of the tribes that have lived in it, the very topography of Greece, diversified as it is by gulfs, many capes, and, what are the most significant, large peninsulas that follow one another in succession, suggests such hegemony for it. The first of the peninsulas is the Peloponnesus which is closed by an isthmus forty stadia in width. The second includes the first; and its isthmus extends in width from Pagae in Megaris to Nisaea, the naval station of the Megarians, the distance across being one hundred and twenty stadia from sea to sea. The third likewise includes the second; and its isthmus extends in width from the recess of the Crisaean Gulf as far as Thermopylae—the imaginary straight line, about five hundred and eight stadia in length, enclosing within the peninsula the whole of Boeotia and cutting obliquely Phocis and the country of the Epicnemidians.4
The fourth is the peninsula whose isthmus extends from the Ambracian Gulf through Oeta5
and Trachinia to the Maliac Gulf and Thermopylae—the isthmus being about eight hundred stadia in width. But there is another isthmus, more than one thousand stadia in width, extending from the same Ambracian Gulf through the countries of the Thessalians and the Macedonians to the recess of the Thermaean Gulf. So then, the succession of the peninsulas suggests a kind of order, and not a bad one, for me to follow in my description; and I should begin with the smallest, but most famous, of them.