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 Eratosthenes, though on no sufficient grounds for so doing, rejects both these opinions, endeavouring in his attack on the latter, to refute by lengthened arguments what is manifestly absurd and unworthy of consideration, and in regard to the former, maintaining a poet to be a mere gossip, to whose worth an acquaintance with science or geography could not add in the least degree: since the scenes of certain of Homer's fables are cast in actual localities, as Ilium,1 Pelion,2 and Ida;3 others in purely imaginary regions, such as those of the Gorgons and Geryon. ‘Of this latter class,’ he says, ‘are the places mentioned in the wanderings of Ulysses, and those who pretend that they are not mere fabrications of the poet, but have an actual existence, are proved to be mistaken by the differences of opinion existing among themselves: for some of them assert that the Sirenes of Homer are situated close to Pelorus,4 and others that they are more than two thousand stadia distant,5 near the Sirenussæ,6 a three-peaked rock which separates the Gulfs of Cummæa and Posidonium.’ Now, in the first place, this rock is not three-peaked, nor does it form a crest at the summit at all, but a long and narrow angle reaching from the territory of Surrentum7 to the Strait of Capria,8 having on one side of the mountain the temple of the Sirens, and on the other side, next the Gulf of Posidonius, three little rocky and uninhabited islands, named the Sirenes; upon the strait, is situated the Athenæum, from which the rocky angle itself takes its name.
1 A name of the city of Troy, from Ilus, son of Tros.
2 A mountain of Magnesia in Thessaly.
3 A mountain in the Troad.
4 Cape Faro in Sicily.
5 The stadia here mentioned are 700 to a degree; thus 2000 stadia amount to rather more than 57 marine leagues, which is the distance in a direct line from Cape Faro to the Capo della Minerva.
6 The Sirenussæ are the rocks which form the southern cape of the Gulf of Naples, and at the same time separate it from the Gulf of Salerno. This cape, which was also called the promontory of Minerva, from the Athenæum which stood there, preserves to this day the name of Capo della Minerva.
7 Now Surrento.
8 The island of Capri is opposite to the Capo della Minerva.
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