previous next

Concerning the nature of the regions, both Laconia and Messenia, one should accept what Euripides says in the following passages: He says that Laconia has “"much arable land but is not easy to cultivate, for it is hollow,1 surrounded by mountains, rugged, and difficult for enemies to invade;" and that Messenia is "a land of fair fruitage and watered by innumerable streams, abounding in pasturage for cattle and sheep, being neither very wintry in the blasts of winter nor yet made too hot by the chariot of Helios;"
2and a little below, in speaking of the lots which the Heracleidae cast for the country, he says that the first lot conferred “"lordships over the land of Laconia, a poor country,"
3 and the second over Messenia, “"whose fertility is greater than words can express;"
4 and Tyrtaeus speaks of it in the same manner. But one should not admit that the boundary between Laconia and Messenia is formed, as Euripides says, “"by the Pamisus, which rushes into the sea,"
5 for it flows through the middle of Messenia, nowhere touching the present Laconia. Neither is he right when he says that to mariners Messenia is far away, for Messenia like Laconia lies on the sea; and he does not give the right boundary of Elis either, “"and far away, after one crosses the river, lies Elis, the neighbor of Zeus;"
6for if, on the one hand, he means the present Eleian country, which borders on Messenia, the Pamisus does not touch this country, any more than it does Laconia, for, as I have said, it flows through the middle of Messenia; or if, on the other hand, he means the old Coele Elis,7 he deviates much further from the truth; for after one crosses the Pamisus there is still a large part of Messenia to traverse, and then the whole of the territories of the Lepreatae and the Macistii, which they used to call Triphylia; and then come Pisatis and Olympia, and then, three hundred stadia farther on, Elis.

1 I.e., "low-lying." Cp. Homer's "Hollow Lacedaemon" (Hom. Il. 2.581).

2 Eur. Fr. 1083 (Nauck)

3 Eur. Fr. 1083 (Nauck)

4 Eur. Fr. 1083 (Nauck)

5 Eur. Fr. 1083 (Nauck)

6 Eur. Fr. 1083 (Nauck)

7 See 8. 3. 2.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1877)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: