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 Cyme is the largest and best of the Æolian cities. This and Lesbos may be considered the capitals of the other cities, about 30 in number, of which not a few exist no longer. The inhabitants of Cyme are ridiculed for their stupidity, for, according to some writers, it is said of them that they only began to let the tolls of the harbour three hundred years after the foundation of their city, and that before this time the town had never received any revenue of the kind; hence the report that it was late before they perceived that they inhabited a city lying on the sea. There is another story, that, having borrowed money in the name of the state, they pledged their porticos as security for the payment of it. Afterwards, the money not having been repaid on the appointed day, they were prohibited from walking in them. The creditors, through shame, gave notice by the crier whenever it rained, that the inhabitants might take shelter under the porticos. As the crier called out, ‘Go under the porticos,’ a report prevailed that the Cymæans did not perceive that they were to go under the porticos when it rained unless they had notice from the public crier.1 Ephorus, a man indisputably of high repute, a disciple of Isocrates the orator, was a native of this city. He was an historian, and wrote the book on Inventions. Hesiod the poet, who long preceded Ephorus, was a native of this place, for he himself says, that his father Dius left Cyme in Æolis and migrated to the Bœotians; “‘he dwelt near Helicon in Ascra, a village wretched in winter, in summer oppressive, and not pleasant at any season.’” It is not generally admitted that Homer was from Cyme, for many dispute about him. The name of the city was derived from an Amazon, as that of Myrina was the name of an Amazon, buried under the Batieia in the plain of Troy; “‘men call this Batieia; but the immortals, the tomb of the bounding Myrina.’2” Ephorus is bantered, because, having no achievements of his countrymen to commemorate among the other exploits in his history, and yet being unwilling to pass them over unnoticed, he exclaims, “ at this time the Cymæans were at peace.
” After having described the Trojan and Æolian coasts, we ought next to notice cursorily the interior of the country as far as Mount Taurus, observing the same order.
1 In spite of the improbability of these anecdotes, there must have been something real in the dulness of the Cymæans; for Cymæan was employed by the Greeks as a word synonymous with stupid. Cæsar, among the Romans, (Plutarch, Cæsar,) adopted this name in the same sense. This stupidity gave occasion to a proverb, ὄνος εἰς κυμαίους, an ass among the Cymæans, which was founded on the following story. The first time an ass appeared among the Cymæans, the inhabitants, who were unacquainted with the beast, deserted the town with such precipitation that it might be said they were escaping from an earthquake.
2 Il. ii. 814.
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