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1 [12]

The first is Crotona, 150 stadia from Lacinium and the river Esaro;1 there is also a haven2 there, and another river Nieto.3 the name whereof is said to be derived from the following circumstance—they say that certain of the Greeks who had wandered from the fleet which had besieged Troy, having arrived in this place, disembarked to take a survey of the country, and that the Trojan women who accompanied them in the fleet, having observed the absence of the men, and being wearied with a toilsome voyage, set fire to the fleet, so that they were compelled to abide, when they saw, in addition [to the loss of their ships], that the soil was very fertile. Many others arriving soon after, and being desirous to live near their fellow-countrymen, founded several settlements. Most of them derived their names from the Trojans, and the river Nieto received its appellation from the destruction4 [of the ships]. But Antiochus relates that an oracle having commanded the Greeks to found Crotona, Myscellus went forth to view the place, and having seen Sybaris already built on a neighbouring river of the same name, thought it better, and returned to the god to ask if he might be permitted to settle in that, instead of the other; but that the oracle answered, applying to him an epithet noticing his defective stature, (for Myscellus was somewhat crook-backed,) “‘O short-backed Myscellus, whilst seeking somewhat else of thyself, Thou pursuest only misfortune: it is right to accept that which is proffered to thee:

5” and that he returned and built Crotena, wherein he was assisted by Archias,6 the founder of Syracuse, who happened to touch at Crotona by chance, as he was proceeding to the colony of the Syracusans. The Iapyges possessed Crotona before this time,7 as Ephorus relates. The city cultivated martial discipline and athletic exercises to a great extent, and in one of the Olympic games all the seven wrestlers, who obtained the palm in the stadium, were Crotoniatæ; whence, it seems, the saying arose that the last wrestler of Crotona was the first of the other Greeks, and hence they say also is the origin of the expression, ‘more salubrious than Crotona,’ as instancing a place which had something to show, in the number of wrestlers which it produced, as a proof of its salubrity and the robust frame of body which it was capable of rearing. Thus it had many victors in the Olympic games, although it cannot be reckoned to have been long inhabited on account of the vast destruction of its citizens, who fell at the battle of the Sagras. Its celebrity too was not a little spread by the number of Pythagoreans who resided there, and Milo,8 who was the most renowned of wrestlers, and lived in terms of intimacy with Pythagoras, who abode long in this city. They relate that at a banquet of the philosophers, when one of the pillars in the hall gave way, Milo sustained the ceiling while they all escaped, and afterwards saved himself. It is likely that, trusting to the same strength, he met his fate as related by some, for whilst making his way through a thick wood, he strayed considerably out of the path, when finding a great log with wedges in it, he thrust both his hands and feet into the fissure, intending to split it completely, but was only able to force it enough to let the wedges fall out, when the gaping log presently closed on him, and he, being taken as in a snare, was devoured by wild beasts.

2 The ancient Æsar.

3 Groskurd observes, Im Texte καὶ λιμὴν. Besser also, liest man mit Cluv. λιμνη, and translates it ‘a salt-marsh;’ but Cramer, in his description of ancient Italy, observes that the mouth of the river Esaro formed a haven, which, however incommodious compared with those of Tarentum and Brundusium, was long a source of great wealth to Crotona, as we are assured by Polybius, Frag. x. 1.

4 Neæthus. This river was said to derive its name from the circumstance of the captive Trojan women having there set fire to the Grecian fleet.

5 νέαιθος, from νῆας and αἰθεῖν, ‘to burn the ships.’

6 There is much obscurity in this oracular response. The various manuscripts offer many readings.

7 A note in the French translation observes that the establishment of Myscellus at Crotona took place about 709 or 703 years B. C., and that Syracuse was founded as early as 735 years B. C.

8 According to some traditions, Crotona was very ancient, and derived its name from the hero Cro'o. Thus Ovid:

“ Vixque pererratis quæ spectant littora terris,
Invenit Æsarei fatalia fluminis ora:
Nec procul hinc tumulum, sub quo sacrata Crotonis
Ossa tegebat humus. Jussaque ibi mœnia terra
Condidit; et nomen tumulati traxit in urbem.

Ovid. Metam. xv. 53.

9 Milo is said to have carried off the prize for wrestling from the 62nd Olympiad, B. C. 532, and also to have commanded the 100,000 Crotoniatæ who engaged the hostile armies of Sybaris and destroyed their city, about B. C. 509. Diod. Sic. xii. 9, &c.

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