previous next


The islands thus far are considered as belonging to the Cyclades; the rest that follow are the Sporades1. These are, Helene2, Phacussa, Nicasia, Schinussa, Pholegandros, and, at a distance of thirty-eight miles from Naxos, Icaros3, which has given its name to the surrounding sea, and is the same number of miles in length4, with two cities, and a third now no longer in existence: this island used formerly to be called Doliche, Macris, and Ichthyoëssa5. It is situate fifty miles to the north-east of Delos, and thirty-five from the island of Samos. Between Eubœa and Andros, there is an arm of the sea ten miles in width, and from Icaros to Geræstus is a distance of 112 1/2 miles.

After we pass these, no regular order can be well observed; the rest must therefore be mentioned indiscriminately. There is the island of Scyros6, and that of los7, eighteen miles distant from Naxos, and deserving of all veneration for the tomb there of Homer; it is twenty-five miles in length, and was formerly known by the name of Phœnice; also Odia, Oletandros, and Gyara8, with a city of the same name, the island being twelve miles in circumference, and distant from Andros sixty-two. At a distance of eighty miles from Gyara is Syrnos, then Cynæthus, Telos9, noted for its unguents, and by Callimachus called Agathussa, Donusa10, Patmos11, thirty miles in circumference, the Corassiæ12, Le- binthus13, Leros14, Cinara15; Sicinus16, formerly called Œnoe17; Hieracia, also called Onus; Casos18, likewise called Astrabe; Cimolus19, or Echinussa; and Melos20, with a city of that name, which island Aristides calls Memblis, Aristotle Zephyria, Callimachus Mimallis, Heraclides Siphis and Acytos. This last is the most circular21 in form of all these islands. After this comes Machia, then Hypere, formerly Patage, or, as others have it, Platage, but now called Amorgos22, Polyægos23, Phyle, and Thera24, known as Calliste when it first sprang from the waves. From this, at a later period, the island of Therasia25 was torn away, and between the two afterwards arose Automate, also called Hiera, and Thia, which in our own times came into existence in the vicinity of these islands. Ios is distant from Thera twenty-five miles.

Next to these follow Lea, Ascania26, Anaphe27, Hippuris, and Astypalæa28, a free state. This island is eighty-eight miles in circumference, and 125 miles distant from Cadistus, in Crete. From Astypalæa, Platea is distant sixty miles, and Caminia thirty-eight from this last. We then come to the islands of Azibintha, Lanise, Tragæa, Pharmacussa, Techedia, Chalcia29, Calymna30, in which is the town of Coös, Calymna, at a distance of twenty-five miles from which is Carpathum31, which has given its name to the Carpathian Sea. The distance thence to Rhodes32, in the direction of the south-west wind, is fifty miles. From Carpathum to Casus is seven miles, and from Casus to Sammonium, the promontory of Crete, thirty33. In the Euripus of Eubœa, almost at the very mouth of it, are the four islands called Petaliæ34; and, at its outlet, Atalante35. The Cyclades and the Sporades are bounded on the east by the Asiatic shores of the Icarian Sea, on the west by the Attic shores of the Myrtoan Sea, on the north by the Ægean, and on the south by the Cretan and Carpathian seas, extending 700 miles in length, and 200 in breadth.

The Gulf of Pagasa36 has in front of it Euthia37, Cicynethus38, Scyros, previously mentioned39, and the very furthermost of the Cyclades and Sporades, Gerontia and Scandila40; the Gulf of Thermæ41, Iræsia, Solimnia, Eudemia, and Nea, which last is sacred to Minerva. Athos has before it four islands; Peparethus42, formerly called Evœnus, with a city of that name, at a distance from Athos of nine miles; Sciathus43, at a distance of fifteen, and Imbros44, with a city of the same name, at a distance of eighty-eight, miles. This last island is distant from Mastusia, in the Chersonesus, twenty-five miles; it is sixty-two45 miles in circumference, and is washed by the river Ilisus. At a distance of twenty-two miles from it is Lemnos46, being distant from Mount Athos eighty- seven; it is 112 miles in circumference, and has the cities of Hephæstia and Myrina47; into the market-place of which last city Athos throws its shadow at the summer solstice. The island of Thasos48, constituting a free state, is six miles distant from Lemnos; it formerly had the name of Aëria, or Æthria. Abdera49, on the mainland, is distant from Thasos twenty-two miles, Athos sixty-two50. The island of Samothrace51, a free state, facing the river Hebrus, is the same distance from Thasos, being also thirty-two52 miles from Imbros, twenty-two from Lemnos, and thirty-eight53 from the coast of Thrace; it is thirty-two miles in circumference, and in it rises Mount Saoce54, ten miles in height. This island is the most inaccessible of them all. Callimachus mentions it by its ancient name of Dardania.

Between the Chersonesus and Samothrace, at a distance of about fifteen miles from them both, is the island of Halonnesos55, and beyond it Gethone, Lamponia, and Alopeconnesus56, not far from Cœlos, a port57 of the Chersonesus, besides some others of no importance. The following names may be also mentioned, as those of uninhabited islands in this gulf, of which we have been enabled to discover the names:—Desticos, Sarnos, Cyssiros, Charbrusa, Calathusa, Scylla, Draconon, Arconnesus, Diethusa, Scapos, Capheris, Mesate, Æantion, Pateronnesos, Pateria, Calate, Neriphus, and Polendos58.

1 So called from lying scattered at random as it were, σπορὰς "scattered."

2 Helene is supposed to be the modern Pira; Phacussa, Fecussa; Nicasia, Rachia; Schinussa, Schinusa; and Pholegandros, Policandro.

3 Now Nikaria, to the west of Samos. According to tradition, it derived its name from Icarus, the son of Dædalus, who was believed to have fallen into the sea in its vicinity.

4 Its length is not so great as is here mentioned by Pliny. Its towns were Drepanum, or Dracanum, Œnoë, and Isti.

5 The first two names are from the Greek, in allusion to its long, narrow shape, and the last bears reference to the fact of its shores abounding in fish.

6 Now Scyro, east of Eubœa, and one of the Sporades. Here Achilles was said to have been concealed by his mother Thetis, in woman's attire.

7 Now Nio, one of the Sporades, inaccurately called by Stephanus one of the Cyclades. The modern town is built on the site of the ancient one, of which there are some remains. It was said that Homer died here, on his voyage from Smyrna to Athens, and that his mother, Clymene, was a native of this island. In 1773, Van Krienen, a Dutch nobleman, asserted that he had discovered the tomb of Homer here, with certain inscriptions relative to him; but they have been generally regarded by the learned as forgeries. Odia and Oletandros seem not to have been identified.

8 Now called Gioura, or Jura. It was little better than a barren rock, though inhabited; but so notorious for its poverty, that its mice were said to be able to gnaw through iron. It was used as a place of banishment under the Roman emperors, whence the line of Juvenal, i. 73—
"Aude aliquid brevibus Gyaris et carcere dignum."
"Dare some deed deserving of the little Gyara and the gaol." It is now uninhabited, except by a few shepherds in the summer.

9 Now Telos, or Piskopi, a small island in the Carpathian Sea, and one of the Sporades. It lies off the coast of Caria. Syrnos appears not to have been identified.

10 Near Naxos. Virgil calls it 'viridis,' or 'green,' which Servius explains by the colour of its marble. Like Gyara, it was used as a place of banishment under the Roman Empire. In C. 22, Pliny has mentioned Cynæthus as one of the names of Delos.

11 Now Patmo, one of the Sporades, and west of the Promontory of Posidium, in Caria. To this place St. John was banished, and here he wrote the Apocalypse.

12 A group between Icaria and Samos. They are now called Phurni and Krusi.

13 One of the Sporades, now Lebitha.

14 Now Lero. Its inhabitants were of Milesian origin, and of indifferent character. In its temple of Artemis, the sisters of Meleager were said to have been changed into guinea-fowls. It was opposite the coast of Caria.

15 Now Zinari, N.E. of Amorgos. The artichoke (called κίναρα in Greek) is said to have given name to it.

16 Now Sikino; between Pholegandros and Ios.

17 So called, according to Stephanus, from its cultivation of the vine and produce of wine, οί̂νος. It was situate between Pholegandros and Ios. It was said to have had the name of Sicinus from a son of Thoas and Œnoë. Hieracia seems to be unknown.

18 Still known by that name, and lying between Carpathus and Crete. The ruins of the ancient town of Casos are still to be seen at the village of Polin. It is mentioned by Homer.

19 Now Kimoli, one of the Cyclades, between Siphnos and Melos. It took its name of Echinussa from the 'Echinus,' or Sea-urchin, of which various fossil specimens are still found on the coast; but nowhere else in these islands, except the opposite coast of Melos. There are considerable ruins of its ancient town.

20 Now Milo, the most westerly of the Cyclades. It is remarkable for its extreme fertility. Its town, which, according to most authorities, was called Byblis, was situate on the north of the island.

21 Ansart remarks, that our author is mistaken in this assertion, for not only are many others of these islands more circular in form, but even that of Kimolo, which stands next to it.

22 Now Amorgo, S.E. of Naxos. It was the birth-place of the Iambic poet Simonides. It is noted for its fertility. Under the Roman emperors, it was used as a place of banishment.

23 Now Polybos, or Antimelos, an uninhabited island near Melos. Phyle seems not to have been identified.

24 Now Santorin, south of the island of Ios. The tradition was, that it was formed from a clod of earth, thrown from the ship Argo. It is evidently of volcanic origin, and is covered with pumice-stone. It was colonized by Lacedæmonians and Minyans of Lemnos, under the Spartan Theras, who gave his name to the island.

25 A small island to the west of Thera, still known by the same name.

26 In Lapie's map, Ascania is set down as the present Christiana.

27 Now Anaphe, Namfi, or Namphio, one of the Sporades. It was celebrated for the temple of Apollo Ægletes, the foundation of which was ascribed to the Argonauts, and of which considerable remains still exist. It abounds in partridges, as it did also in ancient times.

28 Now Astropalea, or Stamphalia. By Strabo it is called one of the Sporades, by Stephanus one of the Cyclades. It probably was favoured by the Romans for the excellence and importance of its harbours. From Hegesander we learn that it was famous for its hares, and Pliny tells us, in B. viii. c. 59, that its mussels were (as they still are) very celebrated.

29 None of these islands can be now identified, except perhaps Chalcia, also mentioned by Strabo, and now known as Karki.

30 Now Kalymno, the principal island of the group, by Homer called Calydne. According to most of the editions, Pliny mentions here Calydna and Calymna, making this island, which had those two names, into two islands. Although Pliny here mentions only the town of Coös, still, in B. v. c. 36, he speaks of three others, Notium, Nisyrus, and Mendeterus. There are still some remains of antiquity to be seen here.

31 Or Carpathus, now Skarpanto. It gave name to the sea between Crete and Rhodes.

32 It still preserves its ancient name, and presents some interesting remains of antiquity.

33 Brotier says that the distance is really fifty-two miles.

34 So called from the town of Petalia, on the mainland. Ansart says that their present name is Spili.

35 Now Talanti, giving name to the Channel of Talanti.

36 The present Gulf of Volo, mentioned in C. 15 of the present Book.

37 Ansart suggests that this may possibly be the small island now called Agios Nicolaos.

38 Now Trikeri.

39 In the present Chapter.

40 Now Seangero, or Skantzoura, according to Ansart.

41 Now the Gulf of Saloniki, mentioned in C. 17. The islands here mentioned have apparently not been identified.

42 Off the coast of Thessaly, now Piperi.

43 Now Skiathos. It was famous for its wine.

44 Now called Embro, or Imru. Both the island and city of Imbros are mentioned by Homer.

45 This is double the actual circumference of the island.

46 Now called Stalimene.

47 Its site is now called Palæo Kastro. Hephæstia, or Vulcan's Town, stood near the modern Rapanidi. That god was said to have fallen into this island when thrown from heaven by Jupiter.

48 Now Thaso, or Tasso. Its gold mines were in early periods very valuable.

49 Mentioned in C. 17 of this Book.

50 Ansart says that "forty-two" would be the correct reading here, that being also the distance between Samothrace and Thasos.

51 Its modern name is Samothraki. It was the chief seat of the mysterious worship of the Cabiri.

52 Only twelve, according to Ansart.

53 Barely eighteen, according to Brotier.

54 Now Monte Nettuno. Of course the height here mentioned by Pliny is erroneous; but Homer says that from this mountain Troy could be seen.

55 Now called Skopelo, if it is the same island which is mentioned by Ptolemy under the name of Scopelus. It exports wine in large quantities.

56 Or the Fox Island, so called from its first settlers having been directed by an oracle to establish a colony where they should first meet a fox with its cub. Like many others of the islands here mentioned, it appears not to have been identified.

57 See C. 18 of this Book.

58 None of these islands appear to have been identified by modern geographers.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1773 AD (1)
hide References (14 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: