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In Ionia nine cities1 were in the habit of holding a common assemblage of all the Ionians and of offering sacrifices of great antiquity on a large scale to Poseidon in a lonely region near the place called Mycale. Later, however, as a result of the outbreak of wars in this neighbourhood, since they were unable to hold the Panionia there, they shifted the festival gathering to a safe place near Ephesus. Having sent an embassy to Delphi, they received an oracle telling them to take copies of the ancient ancestral altars at Helice, which was situated in what was then known as Ionia,2 but is known now as Achaia. [2] So the Ionians in obedience to the oracle sent men to Achaia to make the copies, and they spoke before the council of the Achaeans and persuaded them to give them what they asked. The inhabitants of Helice, however, who had an ancient saying that they would suffer danger when Ionians should sacrifice at the altar of Poseidon, taking account of the oracle, opposed the Ionians in the matter of the copies, saying that the sanctuary was not the common property of the Achaeans, but their own particular possession. The inhabitants of Bura also took part with them in this. [3] But since the Achaeans by common decree had concurred, the Ionians sacrificed at the altar of Poseidon as the oracle directed, but the people of Helice scattered the sacred possessions of the Ionians and seized the persons of their representatives,3 thus committing sacrilege. It was because of these acts, they say, that Poseidon in his anger brought ruin upon the offending cities through the earthquake and the flood. [4] That it was Poseidon's wrath that was wreaked upon these cities they allege that clear proofs are at hand: first, it is distinctly conceived that authority over earthquakes and floods belongs to this god,4 and also it is the ancient belief that the Peloponnese was an habitation of Poseidon; and this country is regarded as sacred in a way to Poseidon, and, speaking generally, all the cities in the Peloponnese pay honour to this god more than to any other of the immortals. [5] Furthermore, the Peloponnese has beneath its surface huge caverns and great underground accumulations of flowing water. Indeed there are two rivers in it which clearly have underground courses; one of them, in fact, near Pheneus, plunges into the ground, and in former times completely disappeared, swallowed up by underground caves, and the other, near Stymphalus,5 plunges into a chasm and flows for two hundred stades concealed underground, then pours forth by the city of the Argives. [6] In addition to these statements the pious say further that except for those who committed the sacrilege no one perished in the disaster.6 Concerning the earthquakes and floods which occurred we shall rest content with what has been said.

1 Herodotus (Hdt. 1.145) has twelve Ionian cities and makes the connection between Achaia and Ionia. Helice and Bura are specially mentioned there as two places of refuge of the Ionians from the Achaeans. Cp. Strabo 14.1.20 for the festival celebrated near Mycale.

2 See chap. 48.3 for earthquake and tidal wave. On the connection of Helice and Bura with the Ionians see Strabo 8.7.2 and 4: "after Bura, Helice, whither the Ionians fled for refuge after they were conquered in battle by the Achaeans, and whence at last they were expelled."

3 See particularly Paus. 7.24.3-7. Frazer (4.165) gives other references for this story. (For Bura, ibid. 168).

4 When the generation to which Zeus belonged overthrew the older gods the universe was apportioned to Zeus, sky and dry land, to Poseidon, the water, to Dis, the underworld. With his trident Poseidon controlled the waters and by smiting the earth with it produced earthquakes ("Poseidon the earth-shaker").

5 The first is the river Ladon, a tributary of the Alpheus, flowing past Pheneus, and the second is the Stymphalus. In Frazer's Pausanias (8.20, 22) on pp. 262 and 268 (vol. 4) are found descriptions of these rivers. See also Strabo 8.8.4. Both towns were in Arcadia, the first being represented by Virgil (Vergil Aeneid 8.165) as the home of Evander.

6 One might ask about the guilt of the crews of the ten Spartan ships which chanced to be anchored off Helice and were destroyed by the tidal wave (cp. Aelian De Nat. Animal. 11.19 and Wesseling's note on this passage of Diodorus). For the fate of similar arguments see Voltaire, Candide 5.

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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • Harper's, Panionia
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PANIO´NIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ARGOS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PHE´NEUS
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (7):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.145
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.24.3
    • Strabo, Geography, 14.1.20
    • Strabo, Geography, 8.7.2
    • Strabo, Geography, 8.8.4
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 8.165
    • Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 11.19
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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