This was, anciently, a peninsula belonging to the territory of the Acarnanians. The poet calls it the coast of Epirus, meaning by Epirus the country on the other side of Ithaca,1 and Cephallenia,2 which country is Acarnania; so that by the words of the poet, “ the coast of Epirus,
” we must understand the coast of Acarnania. To Leucas also belonged Neritus, which Lærtes said he took- “‘as when I was chief of the Cephallenians, and took Nericus, a well built city, on the coast of Epirus,’3” and the cities which he mentions in the Catalogue,
But the Corinthians who were despatched by Cypselus and Gorgus, obtained possession of this coast, and advanced as far as the Ambracian Gulf. Ambracia and Anactorium were both founded. They cut through the isthmus of the peninsula, converted Leucas into an island, transferred Neritus to the spot, which was once an isthmus, but is now a channel connected with the land by a bridge, and changed the name to Leucas from Leucatas, as I suppose, which is a white rock, projecting from Leucas into the sea towards Cephallenia, so that it might take its name from this circumstance. 9. It has upon it the temple of Apollo Leucatas, and the Leap, which, it was thought, was a termination of love. “‘Here Sappho first 'tis said,’ (according to Menander,) ‘in pursuit of the haughty Phaon, and urged on by maddening desire, threw herself5 from the aerial rock, imploring Thee, Lord, and King.’” Menander then says that Sappho was the first who took the leap, but persons better acquainted with ancient accounts assert that it was Cephalus, who was in love with Pterelas, the son of Deioneus.6 It was also a custom of the country among the Leucadians at the annual sacrifice performed in honour of Apollo, to precipitate from the rock one of the condemned criminals, with a view to avert evil. Various kinds of wings were attached to him, and even birds were suspended from his body, to lighten by their fluttering the fall of the leap. Below many persons were stationed around in small fishing boats to receive, and to preserve his life, if possible, and to carry him beyond the boundaries of the country. The author of the Alcmæonis says that Icarius, the father of Penelope, had two sons, Alyzeus, and Leucadius, who reigned after their father in Acarnania, whence Ephorus thinks that the cities were called after their names.
“ and they who inhabited Crocyleia, and the rugged Ægilips.4”Il. ii. 633.