For the sea was raised to a great height by an earthquake, and overwhelmed both Helice and the temple of the Heliconian Neptune, whom the Ionians still hold in great veneration, and offer sacrifices to his honour. They celebrate at that spot the Panionian festival.1 According to the conjecture of some persons, Homer refers to these sacrifices in these lines,
It is conjectured that the age3 of the poet is later than the migration of the Ionian colony, because he mentions the Panionian sacrifices, which the Ionians perform in honour of the Heliconian Neptune in the territory of Priene; for the Prienians themselves are said to have come from Helice; a young man also of Priene is appointed to preside as king at these sacrifices, and to superintend the celebration of the sacred rites. A still stronger proof is adduced from what is said by the poet respecting the bull, for the Ionians suppose, that sacrifice is performed with favourable omens, when the bull bellows at the instant that he is wounded at the altar. Others deny this, and transfer to Helice the proofs alleged of the bull and the sacrifice, asserting that these things were done there by established custom, and that the poet drew his comparison from the festival celebrated there. Helice4 was overwhelmed by the waves two years before the battle of Leuctra. Eratosthenes says, that he himself saw the place, and the ferrymen told him that there formerly stood in the strait a brazen statue of Neptune, holding in his hand a hippocampus,5 an animal which is dangerous to fishermen. According to Heracleides, the inundation took place in his time, and during the night. The city was at the distance of 12 stadia from the sea, which overwhelmed the whole intermediate country as well as the city. Two thousand men were sent by the Achæans to collect the dead bodies, but in vain. The territory was divided among the bordering people. This calamity happened in consequence of the anger of Neptune, for the Ionians, who were driven from Helice, sent particularly to request the people of Helice to give them the image of Neptune, or if they were unwilling to give that, to furnish them with the model of the temple. On their refusal, the Ionians sent to the Achæan body, who decreed, that they should comply with the request, but they would not obey even this injunction. The disaster occurred in the following winter, and after this the Achæans gave the Ionians the model of the temple. Hesiod mentions another Helice in Thessaly.
“ But he breathed out his soul, and bellowed, as a bull”
Bellows when he is dragged round the altar of the Heliconian king.2Il. xx. 403.