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Aegina is the name of a place in Epidauria; and it is also the name of an island lying off this part of the mainland—the Aegina of which the poet means to speak in the verses just cited;1 and it is on this account that some write "the island Aegina" instead of "who held Aegina,"2 thus distinguishing between places of the same name. Now what need have I to say that the island is one of the most famous? for it is said that both Aeacus and his subjects were from there. And this is the island that was once actually mistress of the sea and disputed with the Athenians for the prize of valor in the sea fight at Salamis at the time of the Persian War. The island is said to be one hundred and eighty stadia in circuit; and it has a city of the same name that faces southwest; and it is surrounded by Attica, Megaris, and the Peloponnesus as far is Epidaurus, being distant about one hundred stadia from each; and its eastern and southern sides are washed by the Myrtoan and Cretan Seas; and around it lie small islands, many of them near the mainland, though Belbina extends to the high sea. The country of Aegina is fertile at a depth below the surface, but rocky on the surface, and particularly the level part; and therefore the whole country is bare, although it is fairly productive of barley. It is said that the Aeginetans were called Myrmidons,—not as the myth has it, because, when a great famine occurred, the ants3 became human beings in answer to a prayer of Aeacus, but because they excavated the earth after the manner of ants and spread the soil over the rocks, so as to have ground to till, and because they lived in the dugouts, refraining from the use of soil for bricks. Long ago Aegina was called Oenone, the same name as that of two demes4 in Attica, one near Eleutherae, “"to inhabit the plains that border on Oenone and Eleutherae;"”5 and another, one of the demes of the Marathonian Tetrapolis,6 to which is applied the proverb, "To Oenone —the torrent."7 Aegina was colonized successively by the Argives, the Cretans, the Epidaurians, and the Dorians; but later the Athenians divided it by lot among settlers of their own; and then the Lacedaemonians took the island away from the Athenians and gave it back to its ancient settlers. And colonists were sent forth by the Aeginetans both to Cydonia in Crete and to the country of the Ombrici.8 Ephorus says that silver was first coined in Aegina, by Pheidon; for the island, he adds, became a merchant center, since, on account of the poverty of the soil, the people employed themselves at sea as merchants, and hence, he adds, petty wares were called "Aeginetan merchandise."

1 Section 10.

2 Hom. Il. 2.562

3 The transliterated Greek word for "ants" is "myrmeces."

4 On the demes and their number see 9. 1. 16 ff.

5 The authorship of these words is unknown.

6 See footnote on 8. 6. 15.

7 The whole passage, "the same name . . . torrent," is believed to be spurious, for "Oenone" is well attested as a former name of Aegina, while the name of the two Attic demes was "Oenoe," not Oenone." Moreover, the proverb referred to "Oenoe," not "Oenone." The inhabitants of Oenoe diverted the torrent "Charadra" for the purpose of irrigation. Much damage was the result, and hence the proverb came to be applied to people who were the authors of their own misfortunes.

8 See 5. 2. 10.

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