, App.), called by the Greeks PITHECU´SA (πιθηκοῦσσα
), or PITHECU´SAE (πιθηκοῦσσαι
), and by the Latin poets INA´RIME, now Ischia,
is an island of considerable size, which lies off the coast of Campania, nearly opposite to Cape Misenum, and forms, in conjunction with that headland, the northern boundary of the Bay of Naples.
It is about 15 miles in circumference, and is distant between five and six miles from the nearest point of the mainland, and 16 from Capri, which forms the southern boundary of the bay.
The small island of Prochyta (Procida
) lies between it and Cape Misenum.
The whole island is of volcanic origin, and though it contains no regular crater, or other vent of igneous action, was subject in ancient, as it has continued in later, times, to violent earthquakes and paroxysmal outbursts of volcanic agency.
It was first colonized by Greek settlers from Chalcis and Eretria, either simultaneously with, or even previous to, the foundation of Cumae on the neighbouring mainland; and the colony attained to great prosperity, but afterwards suffered severely from internal dissensions, and was ultimately compelled to abandon the island in consequence of violent earthquakes and volcanic outbreaks. (Liv. 8.22
; Strab. v. p.248
These are evidently the same described by Timaeus, who related that Mt. Epomeus, a hill in the centre of the island, vomited forth flames and a vast mass of ashes, and that a part of the island, between this mountain and the coast, was driven forcibly into the sea. (Timaeus ap. Strab. v. p.248
The same phenomena are related with some variation by Pliny (2.88
At a later period, a fresh colony was established there by Hieron, the tyrant of Syracuse (probably after his great naval victory over the Tyrrhenians in B.C. 474), but these were also compelled to quit the island for similar reasons. (Strab. l.c.;
Mommsen, Unter-Italischen Dialekte,
After their departure it was occupied by the Neapolitans, and Scylax ( § 10. p. 3) speaks of it as containing, in his time, a Greek city.
It probably continued from henceforth a dependency of Neapolis, and the period at which it fell into the hands of the Romans is unknown; but we find it in later times forming a part of the public property of the Roman state, until Augustus ceded it once more to the Neapolitans, in exchange for the island of Capreae. (Suet. Aug. 92
.) We have scarcely any further information concerning its condition; but it seems to have effectually recovered from its previous disasters, though still subject to earthquakes and occasional phenomena of a volcanic character.
It was indebted to the same causes for its warm springs, which were frequented for their medical properties. (Strab. v. pp. 248. 258; Plin. Nat. 31.5
; Stat. Silv. 3.5. 104
; Lucil. Aetna,
430; Jul. Obseq. 114.) Strabo notices the fertility of the soil, and speaks of gold mines having been worked by the first settlers; but it would seem never to have enjoyed any considerable degree of prosperity or importance under the Romans, as its name is rarely mentioned.
At the present day it is a fertile and flourishing island, with a population of 25,000 inhabitants, and contains two considerable towns, Ischia
The position of the ancient town is uncertain, no antiquities having been discovered, except a few inscriptions. The Monte di San Nicola,
which rises in the centre of the island to an elevation of 2500 feet, and bears unquestionable traces of volcanic action, is clearly the same with the EPOMEUS of Timaeus (l.c.
) which is called by Pliny MONS EPOPUS. (Concerning the present state of the island, and its volcanic phenomena, see Description Topogr. et Histor. des Iles d'Ischia, de Ponza, &c.,
Naples, 1822; Scrope, On the Volcanic District of Naples,
in the Trans. of the Geol. Soc.
2nd series, vol. ii.; Daubeny on Volcanoes,
p. 240, 2nd edit.)
The name of PITHECUSAE appears to have been sometimes applied by the Greeks to the two islands of Aenaria and Prochyta collectively, but the plural form as well as the singular is often used to designate the larger island alone. Strabo, [p. 1.50]
indeed, uses both indifferently. (See also Appian, App. BC 5.69
.) Livy, in one passage (8.22), speaks of “Aenaria et Pithecusas,” and Mela (2.7) also enumerates separately Pithecusa, Aenaria, and Prochyta.
But this is clearly a mere confusion arising from the double appellation. Pliny tells us (3.6. 12) that the Greek name was derived from the pottery (πίθοι
) manufactured there, not as commonly supposed from its abounding in apes (πίθηκοι
But the latter derivation was the popular one, and was connected, by some writers, with the mythological tale of the Cercopes. (Xenagoras ap. Harpocr. s. v. Κέρκωψ;
The name of INARIME
is peculiar to the Latin poets, and seems to have arisen from a confusion with the Ἄριμοι
of Homer and Hesiod, after the fable of Typhoeus had been transferred from Asia to the volcanic regions of Italy and Sicily. (Strab. v. p.248
, xiii. p. 626; Pherecyd. ap. School. ad Apoll. Rhod. 2.1210.)
The earthquakes and volcanic outbursts of this island were already ascribed by Pindar (Pind. P. 1.18
) to the struggles of the imprisoned giant, but the name of Inarime is first found in Virgil, from whom it is repeated by many later poets. Ovid erroneously distinguishes Inarime from Pithecusae. (Verg. A. 9.716
; Ovid. Met.
14.90; Sil. Ital. 8.542
; Lucan 5.100
; Stat. Silv. 2.2. 76
; and see Heyne, Exc.
ii. ad Virg. Aen.
ix.; Wernsdorf, Exc.
iii. ad Lucil. Aetnam.
) The idea, that both this and the neighbouring island of Prochyta had been at one time united to the mainland, and broken off from it by the violence of the same volcanic causes which were still in operation, is found both in Strabo and Pliny, and was a natural inference from the phenomena actually observed, but cannot be regarded as resting upon any historical tradition. (Strab. ii. p.60
, v. p. 258; Plin. Nat. 2.88