previous next

Arcadia lies in the middle of the Peloponnesus; and most of the country which it includes is mountainous. The greatest mountain in it is Cyllene; at any rate some say that its perpendicular height is twenty stadia, though others say about fifteen. The Arcadian tribes—the Azanes, the Parrhasians, and other such peoples—are reputed to be the most ancient tribes of the Greeks. But on account of the complete devastation of the country it would be inappropriate to speak at length about these tribes; for the cities, which in earlier times had become famous, were wiped out by the continuous wars, and the tillers of the soil have been disappearing even since the times when most of the cities were united into what was called the "Great City."1 But now the Great City itself has suffered the fate described by the comic poet: “"The Great City is a great desert."
2But there are ample pastures for cattle, particularly for horses and asses that are used as stallions. And the Arcadian breed of horses, like the Argolic and the Epidaurian, is most excellent. And the deserted lands of the Aetolians and Acarnanians are also well adapted to horse-raising—no less so than Thessaly. [2]

Now Mantineia was made famous by Epameinondas, who conquered the Lacedaemonians in the second battle, in which he himself lost his life. But Mantineia itself, as also Orchomenus, Heraea, Cleitor, Pheneus, Stymphalus, Maenalus, Methydrium, Caphyeis, and Cynaetha, no longer exist; or else traces or signs of them are scarcely to be seen. But Tegea still endures fairly well, and so does the temple of the Alean Athene; and the temple of Zeus Lycaeus situated near Mt. Lycaeum is also honored to a slight extent. But three of the cities mentioned by the poet, “"Rhipe and Stratie, and windy Enispe,"
3are not only hard to find, but are of no use to any who find them, because they are deserted. [3]

Famous mountains, in addition to Cyllene, are Pholoe, Lycaeum, Maenalus, and the Parthenium, as it is called, which extends from the territory of Tegea down to the Argive country. [4]

I have already mentioned the marvellous circumstances pertaining to the Alpeius and the Eurotas,4 and also to the Erasinus, which now flows underground from the Stymphalian Lake,5 and issues forth into the Argive country, although in earlier times it had no outlet, since the "berethra,"6 which the Arcadians call "zerethra," were stopped up and did not admit of the waters being carried off so that the city of the Stymphalians7 is now fifty stadia8 distant from the lake, although then it was situated on the lake. But the contrary was the case with the Ladon, since its stream was once checked because of the blocking up of its sources; for the "berethra" near Pheneus, through which it flowed, fell in as the result of an earthquake and checked the stream as far down into the depths of the earth as the veins which supplied its source. Thus some writers tell it. But Eratosthenes says that near Pheneus the river Anias,9 as it is called, makes a lake of the region in front of the city and flows down into sink-holes, which are called "zerethra"; and when these are stopped up the water sometimes overflows into the plains, and when they are again opened up it rushes out of the plains all at once and empties into the Ladon and the Alpheius, so that even at Olympia the land around the temple was once inundated, while the lake was reduced; and the Erasinus, which flows past Stympllalus, sinks and flows beneath the mountain10 and reappears in the Argive land; and it was on this account, also, that Iphicrates, when he was besieging Stymphalus and accomplishing nothing, tried to block up the sink with a large quantity of sponges with which he had supplied himself, but desisted when Zeus sent an omen from the sky. And near Pheneus is also the water of the Styx, as it is called—a small stream of deadly water which is held to be sacred. So much may be said concerning Arcadia. [5]

Polybius11 states that the distance from Maleae towards the north as far as the Ister is about ten thousand stadia, but Artemidorus corrects the statement in an appropriate manner by saying that from Maleae to Aegium is a journey of fourteen hundred stadia, and thence to Cyrrha a voyage of two hundred, and thence through Heracleia to Thaumaci a journey of five hundred, and then to Larisa and the Peneius three hundred and forty, and then through Tempe to the outlets of the Peneius two hundred and forty, and then to Thessaloniceia six hundred and sixty, and thence through Eidomene and Stobi and Dardanii to the Ister three thousand two hundred. According to Artemidorus, therefore, the distance from the Ister to Maleae amounts to six thousand five hundred and forty stadia. The cause of this excess12 is that he does not give the measurement of the shortest route, but of the chance route which one of the generals took. And it is not out of place, perhaps, to add also the colonizers, mentioned by Ephorus, of the peoples who settled in the Peloponnesus after the return of the Heracleidae: Aletes, the colonizer of Corinth, Phalces of Sicyon, Tisamenus of Achaea, Oxylus of Elis, Cresphontes of Messene, Eurysthenes and Procles of Lacedaemon, Temenus and Cissus of Argos, and Agaeus and Deïphontes of the region about Acte.13

1 Megalopolis.

2 Source unknown.

3 Hom. Il. 2.606

4 6. 2. 9.

5 i.e., "through a subterranean channel."

6 "Pits."

7 Stymphalus.

8 It is incredible that Strabo wrote "fifty" here. Leake (Morea, III. 146, quoted approvingly by Tozer (Selections, 224, says that "five" must be right, which is "about the number of stades between the site of Stymphalus and the margin of the lake, on the average of the seasons." Palaeographically, however, it is far more likely that Strabo wrote "four" (see critical note).

9 The river formed by the confluence of the Aroanius and the Olbius, according to Frazer (note on Paus. 8.4.13).

10 Apparently Mt. Chaon (see Paus. 2.24).

11 Polybius 34 Fr. 12.

12 i.e., in the estimate of Polybius, apparently, rather than in that of Artemidorus.

13 The eastern coast of Argolis was called "Acte" ("Coast").

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 English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
load focus Greek (1877)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

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

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.606
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.24
    • Polybius, Histories, 34
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: