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 The remainder of the country of the Iapygii is very fair, notwithstanding unfavourable appearances; for although, for the most part, it appears rugged, yet when it is broken up the soil is found to be deep; and although it lacks water, yet it appears well-suited for pasture, and is furnished with trees. At one time it was thickly inhabited throughout its whole extent, and possessed thirteen cities, but now it is so depopulated that, with the exception of Tarentum and Brentesium,1 they only deserve the name of hamlets. They say that the Salentini are a colony of Cretans. Here is the temple of Minerva,2 which formerly was rich, and the rock called Acra Iapygia,3 which juts out far into the sea towards the rising of the sun in winter,4 and turning, as it were, towards Cape Lacinium, which lies opposite to it on the west, it closes the entrance of the Gulf of Tarentum, as on the other side, the Ceraunian Mountains, together with the said Cape, close the entrance of the Ionian Gulf, the run across is about 700 stadia from that,5 both to the Ceraunian Mountains and to Cape Lacinium.6 In coasting along the shore from Tarentum to Brentesium there are 600 stadia as far as the little city of Baris, which is at the present time called Veretum,7 and is situated on the extremities of the Salentine territory; the approach to it from Tarentum is much easier on foot8 than by sea. Thence to Leuca are 80 stadia; this too is but a small village, in which there is shown a well of fetid water, and the legend runs, that when Hercules drove out the last of the giants from Phlegra in Campania, who were called Leuternians, some fled and were buried here, and that from their blood a spring issues to supply the well; on this account likewise the coast is called the Leuternian coast.9 From Leuca to Hydrus,10 a small town, 150 stadia. From thence to Brentesium 400, and the like distance also [from Hydrus] to the island Saso,11 which is situated almost in the midst of the course from Epirus to Brentesium; and therefore when vessels are unable to obtain a direct passage they run to the left from Saso to Hydrus, and thence watching for a favourable wind they steer towards the haven of Brentesium, or the passengers disembarking proceed on foot by a shorter way through Rudiæ, a Grecian city, where the poet Ennius was born.12 The district which we have followed by sea from Tarentum to Brentesium is like a peninsula. The road by land from Brentesium to Tarentum is but a day's journey for a light person on foot, it constitutes the isthmus of the said peninsula, which people in general call Messapia, lapygia, Calabria, or Salentinum, without being at all particular; but some, as we have said before, do make a distinction. Thus have we described the towns on the sea-coast.
1 Brundusium, now Brindisi.
2 Castro. This temple is now changed into the church of Sancta Maria in finibus terra. See Capmart. de Chaupy, tom. iii. page 529.
3 Capo di Leuca. Pliny, lib. iii. cap. 11, says, Inde promontorium quod Acran Iapygian vocant, quo longissime in maria procurrit Italia. The Promontorium Iapygium, or Sallentinum, presented a conspicuous landmark to mariners sailing from Greece to Sicily. The fleets of Athens, after passing the Peloponnesus, are represented on this passage as usually making for Corcyra, from whence they steered straight across to the promontory, and then coasted along the south of Italy for the remainder of the voyage.
4 The south-east.
5 The Acra Iapygia.
6 See notes to page 393 of this translation.
7 Cramer remarks that Veretum is still represented by the old church of S. Maria di Vereto.
8 That is, on land.
9 Scylax, Peripl. p. 5, speaks of the Leuterni as a really existing people.
10 Now Otranto. Lucan, book v. verse 374, speaking of the little river Idro which runs close to Otranto, says,
And Cicero, writing of the town to Tyro, book xvi. epistle 9, says of his voyage from Cassiope, Inde Austro lenissimo, cœlo sereno, nocte illa et die postero in Italiam ad Hydruntem ludibundi pervenimus. This place was called Hydruntum by Pliny and other authors.
“ Et cunctas revocare rates, quas avius Hydrûs,”
Antiquusque Taras, secretaque litora Leucæ.
Quas recipit Salapina palus, et subdita Sipus
11 Now Saseno, distant 35 minutes from Otranto.
12 B. C. 239.
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