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GARGA´NUS (τὸ Γάργανον, Strab.), a mountain and promontory on the E. coast of Italy, still called Monte Gargano, which constitutes one of the most remarkable features in the physical geography of the Italian peninsula, being the only projecting headland of any importance that breaks the monotonous line of coast along the Adriatic from Otranto to Ancona. It is formed by a compact mass of limestone mountains, attaining in their highest point an elevation of 5120 feet above the sea, and extending not less than 35 miles from W. to E. Though consisting of the same limestone with the Apennines, and therefore geologically connected with them, this mountain group is in fact wholly isolated and detached, being separated from the nearest slopes of the Apennines by a broad strip of level country, a portion of the great plain of Apulia, which extends without interruption from the banks of the Aufidus to those of the Frento. (Swinburne's Travels, vol. i, pp. 151, 152; Zannoni, Carta del Regno di Napoli.) Its configuration is noticed by many ancient writers. Strabo speaks of it as a promontory projecting out to sea from Sipontum towards the E. for the space of 300 stadia; a distance which is nearly correct, if measured along the coast to the extreme point near Viesti. (Strab. vi. p.284.) Lucan also well describes it as standing forth into the waves of the Adriatic, and exposed to the N. wind from Dalmatia, and the S. wind from Calabria. (Lucan 5.379.) In ancient times it was covered with dense forests of oak ( “Querceta Gargani,” Hor. Carm. 2.9.7; “Garganum nemus,” Id. Ep. 2.1. 202; Sil. Ital. 4.563), which have of late years almost entirely disappeared, though, according to Swinburne, some portions of them were still visible in his time (Travels, vol. i. p. 155; Giustiniani, Diz. Geogr. del Reyno di Napoli, pt. ii. vol. iii. pp. 92--98). Strabo mentions in this neighbourhood (but without directly connecting it with the Garganus) a hill called Drium, about 100 stadia distant from the sea, on which were two shrines of heroes (ἡρῷα), the one of Calchas, with an oracle which was consulted in the same manner as that of Faunus in Latium; the other of Podaleirius, from beneath which flowed a small stream gifted with extraordinary healing powers. The same circumstances are alluded to by Lycophron, from whom it would appear that the stream was named Althaena. (Strab. vi. p.284; Lycophr. Alex. 1047--1055.) The exact locality has been a subject of dispute; but as we find a similar mention of a stream of limpid water which healed all diseases, in the legend of the appearance of St. Michael that gave rise. to the foundation of the modern town of Monte S. Angelo,--on a lofty hill forming one of the offshoots of the Garganus, about 6 miles from Manfredonia,--it seems very probable that this was no other than the Drium of Strabo, and that the sanctuary of the archangel has succeeded, as is so often the case, to another object of local worship. The whole range of Mt. Garganus is now frequently called Monte S. Angelo, from the celebrity of this spot; and the name of Drium seems to have been sometimes used with the, same extension among the Greeks, as there is very little doubt that for Ἀρίον in Scylax we should read Δρίον, the promontory of which lie is there speaking being evidently the same as the Garganus. (Scyl. § 14; Gronov. ad loc.

On the southern slope of Mt. Garganus, about 4 miles E. of Monte St. Angelo, a straggling village still called Mattinata, with a tower and small port, has preserved the name of the MATINUS of Horace, which is correctly described by an old commentator as “mons et promontorium in Apulia.” The name appears to have properly belonged to this southern offshoot of the Garganus; but in one passage Horace would seem to apply the name of “Matina cacumina” to the loftiest summits of the range. All these hills are covered with aromatic herbs, and produce excellent honey, whence the well-known allusion of the same poet to the “apis Matina.” (Hor. Carm. 1.28. 3, 4.2. 27, Epod. 16. 28.) Lucan also speaks of the “calidi buxeta Matini” as adjoining and overlooking the plains of Apulia (9.182). There is no evidence of the existence of a town of this name, as supposed by one of the old scholiasts of Horace; and certainly no authority for the change suggested by some modern writers, that we should read in Pliny Matinates for “Merinates ex Gargano.” Holstenius and others have clearly shown that an ancient town called MERINUM stood near the NE. point of the promontory, about 5 miles from the modern Viesti. It continued to be a bishop's see until late in the middle ages, and the site is still marked by an ancient church called Sta. Maria di Merino. (Holsten. Not. in Cluver. p. 278; Romanelli, vol. ii. p. 214.)

The flanking ridges which extend down to the sea on both sides of the Garganus afford several coves or small harbours well adapted for sheltering small vessels. Of these the one now called Porto Greco, about 8. miles S. of Viesti, is generally supposed to be the AGASUS PORTUS of Pliny, which he appears to place S. of the promontory. The PORTUS GARNAE of the same author was situated between the promontory and the Lacus Pantanus (Lago di Lesina): it cannot be identified with certainty; but it seems probable that it was situated at the entrance of the lake now called Lago di Varano.


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