This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
”13we must interpret him as meaning the people now called Megarians as well, and assume that these also had a part in the expedition. And the following is proof: In early times Attica was called Ionia and Ias; and when the poet says, “"There the Boeotians and the Iaonians,"
”14he means the Athenians; and Megaris was a part of this Ionia.  Furthermore, since the Peloponnesians and Ionians were having frequent disputes about their boundaries, on which, among other places, Crommyonia was situated, they made an agreement and erected a pillar in the place agreed upon, near the Isthmus itself, with an inscription on the side facing the Peloponnesus reading: “"This is Peloponnesus, not Ionia,"
” and on the side facing Megara, “"This is not Peloponnesus, but Ionia."
” And though the writers of the histories of The Land of Atthis are at variance on many things, they all agree on this (at least all writers who are worth mentioning), that Pandion had four sons, Aegeus, Lycus, Pallas, and the fourth, Nisus, and that when Attica was divided into four parts, Nisus obtained Megaris as his portion and founded Nisaea. Now, according to Philochorus,15 his rule extended from the Isthmus to the Pythium,16 but according to Andron,17 only as far as Eleusis and the Thriasian Plain. Although different writers have stated the division into four parts in different ways, it suffices to take the following from Sophocles: Aegeus says that his father ordered him to depart to the shorelands, assigning to him as the eldest the best portion of this land; then to Lycus “"he assigns Euboea's garden that lies side by side therewith; and for Nisus he selects the neighboring land of Sceiron's shore; and the southerly part of the land fell to this rugged Pallas, breeder of giants."
”18These, then, are the proofs which writers use to show that Megaris was a part of Attica.  But after the return of the Heracleidae and the partitioning of the country, it came to pass that many of the former inhabitants were driven out of their homelands into Attica by the Heracleidae and the Dorians who came back with them. Among these was Melanthus, the king of Messene. And he reigned also over the Athenians, by their consent, after his victory in single combat over Xanthus, the king of the Boeotians. But since Attica was now populous on account of the exiles, the Heracleidae became frightened, and at the instigation chiefly of the people of Corinth and the people of Messene—of the former because of their proximity and of the latter because Codrus, the son of Melanthus, was at that time king of Attica—they made an expedition against Attica. But being defeated in battle they retired from the whole of the land except the Megarian territory; this they occupied and not only founded the city Megara19 but also made its population Dorians instead of Ionians. And they also destroyed the pillar which was the boundary between the Ionians and the Peloponnesians.  The city of the Megarians has experienced many changes, but nevertheless it has endured until the present time. It once even had schools of philosophers who were called the Megarian sect, these being the successors of Eucleides, the Socratic philosopher, a Megarian by birth, just as the Eleian sect, to which Pyrrhon belonged, were the successors of Phaedon the Eleian, who was also a Socratic philosopher, and just as the Eretrian sect were the successors of Menedemus the Eretrian. The country of the Megarians, like Attica, has rather poor soil, and the greater part of it is occupied by the Oneian Mountains, as they are called—a kind of ridge, which extends from the Sceironian Rocks to Boeotia and Cithaeron, and separates the sea at Nisaea from the Alcyonian Sea, as it is called, at Pagae.  On the voyage from Nisaea to Attica one comes to five small islands. Then to Salamis, which is about seventy stadia in length, though some say eighty. It contains a city of the same name; the ancient city, now deserted, faces towards Aegina and the south wind (just as Aeschylus has said, “"And Aegina here lies towards the blasts of the south wind"
”20), but the city of today is situated on a gulf, on a peninsula-like place which borders on Attica. In early times it was called by different names, for example, "Sciras" and "Cychreia," after certain heroes. It is from one21 of these heroes that Athena is called "Sciras," and that a place in Attica is called "Scira," and that a certain sacred rite is performed in honor of "Scirus,"22 and that one of the months is called "Scirophorion." And it is from the other hero that the serpent "Cychreides" took its name—the serpent which, according to Hesiod, was fostered by Cychreus and driven out by Eurylochus because it was damaging the island, and was welcomed to Eleusis by Demeter and made her attendant. And the island was also called Pityussa, from the tree.23 But the fame of the island is due to the Aiacidae, who ruled over it, and particularly to Aias, the son of Telamon, and also to the fact that near this island Xerxes was defeated by the Greeks in a naval battle and fled to his homeland. And the Aeginetans also shared in the glory of this struggle, since they were neighbors and furnished a considerable fleet. And there is in Salamis a river Bocarus, which is now called Bocalia.  At the present time the island is held by the Athenians, although in early times there was strife between them and the Megarians for its possession. Some say that it was Peisistratus, others Solon, who inserted in the Catalogue of Ships immediately after the verse, “"and Aias brought twelve ships from Salamis,"
”24the verse, “"and, bringing them, halted them where the battalions of the Athenians were stationed,"
”Hom. Il. 2.558 and then used the poet as a witness that the island had belonged to the Athenians from the beginning. But the critics do not accept this interpretation, because many of the verses bear witness to the contrary. For why is Aias found in the last place in the ship-camp, not with the Athenians, but with the Thessalians under Protesilaüs? “"Here were the ships of Aias and Protesilaüs."
”25And in the Visitation of the troops, Agamemnon “"found Menestheus the charioteer, son of Peteos, standing still; and about him were the Athenians, masters of the battle-cry. And near by stood Odysseus of many wiles, and about him, at his side, the ranks of the Cephallenians."
”26And back again to Aias and the Salaminians, “"he came to the Aïantes,"
”27and near them, “"Idomeneus on the other side,"
”28not Menestheus. The Athenians, then, are reputed to have cited alleged testimony of this kind from Homer, and the Megarians to have replied with the following parody: "Aias brought ships from Salamis, from Polichne, from Aegeirussa, from Nisaea, and from Tripodes"; these four are Megarian places, and, of these, Tripodes is called Tripodiscium, near which the present marketplace of the Megarians is situated.  Some say that Salamis is foreign to Attica, citing the fact that the priestess of Athena Polias does not touch the fresh cheese made in Attica, but eats only that which is brought from a foreign country, yet uses, among others, that from Salamis. Wrongly, for she eats cheese brought from the other islands that are admittedly attached to Attica, since those who began this custom considered as "foreign" any cheese that was imported by sea. But it seems that in early times the present Salamis was a separate state, and that Megara was a part of Attica. And it is on the seaboard opposite Salamis that the boundaries between the Megarian country and Atthis29 are situated—two mountains which are called Cerata.30  Then one comes to the city Eleusis, in which is the temple of the Eleusinian Demeter, and the mystic chapel which was built by Ictinus, a chapel which is large enough to admit a crowd of spectators. This Ictinus also built the Parthenon on the Acropolis in honor of Athena, Pericles superintending the work. Eleusis is numbered among the demes.  Then one comes to the Thriasian Plain, and the shore and deme bearing the same name. Then to Cape Amphiale and the quarry that lies above it, and to the passage to Salamis, about two stadia wide, across which Xerxes attempted to build a mole,31 but was forestalled by the naval battle and the flight of the Persians. Here, too, are the Pharmacussae, two small islands, on the larger of which is to be seen the tomb of Circe.  Above this shore is the mountain called Corydallus, and also the deme Corydalleis. Then one comes to the harbor Phoron, and to Psyttalia,32 a small, deserted, rocky island, which some have called the eyesore of the Peiraeus. And near by, too, is Atalanta, which bears the same name as the island near Euboea and the Locrians, and another island similar to Psyttalia. Then one comes to the Peiraeus, which also is classed among the demes, and to Munychia.  Munychia is a hill which forms a peninsula; and it is hollowed out and undermined33 in many places, partly by nature and partly by the purpose of man, so that it admits of dwellings; and the entrance to it is by means of a narrow opening34 And beneath the hill lie three harbors. Now in early times Munychia was walled, and covered with habitations in a manner similar to the city of the Rhodians,35 including within the circuit of its walls both the Peiraeus and the harbors, which were full of ship-houses, among which was the arsenal, the work of Philon. And the naval station was sufficient for the four hundred ships, for no fewer than this the Athenians were wont to despatch on expeditions. With this wall were connected the "legs" that stretched down from the city; these were the long walls, forty stadia in length, which connected the city with the Peiraeus. But the numerous wars caused the ruin of the wall and of the fortress of Munychia, and reduced the Peiraeus to a small settlement, round the harbors and the temple of Zeus Soter. The small roofed colonnades of the temple have admirable paintings, the works of famous artists; and its open court has statues. The long walls, also, are torn down, having been destroyed at first by the Lacedaemonians, and later by the Romans, when Sulla took both the Peiraeus and the city by siege.36  The city itself is a rock situated in a plain and surrounded by dwellings. On the rock is the sacred precinct of Athena, comprising both the old temple of Athena Polias,37 in which is the lamp that is never quenched,38 and the Parthenon built by Ictinus, in which is the work in ivory by Pheidias, the Athena. However, if I once began to describe the multitude of things in this city that are lauded and proclaimed far and wide, I fear that I should go too far, and that my work would depart from the purpose I have in view. For the words of Hegesias39 occur to me: "I see the acropolis, and the mark of the huge trident40 there. I see Eleusis, and I have become an initiate into its sacred mysteries; yonder is the Leocorium, here is the Theseium; I am unable to point them all out one by one; for Attica is the possession of the gods, who seized it as a sanctuary for themselves, and of the ancestral heroes." So this writer mentioned only one of the significant things on the acropolis; but Polemon the Periegete41 wrote four books on the dedicatory offerings on the acropolis alone. Hegesias is proportionately brief in referring to the other parts of the city and to the country; and though he mentions Eleusis, one of the one hundred and seventy demes (or one hundred and seventy-four, as the number is given), he names none of the others.  Most of the demes, if not all, have numerous stories of a character both mythical and historical connected with them; Aphidna, for example, has the rape of Helen by Theseus, the sacking of the place by the Dioscuri and their recovery of their sister; Marathon has the Persian battle; Rhamnus has the statue of Nemesis, which by some is called the work of Diodotus and by others of Agoracritus the Parian, a work which both in grandeur and in beauty is a great success and rivals the works of Pheidias; and so with Deceleia, the base of operations of the Peloponnesians in the Deceleian War; and Phyle, whence Thrasybulus brought the popular party back to the Peiraeus and then to the city. And so, also, in the case of several other demes there are many historical incidents to tell; and, further, the Leocorium and the Theseium have myths connected with them, and so has the Lyceium, and the Olympicum (the Olympium is the same thing), which the king42 who dedicated it left half finished at his death. And in like manner also the Academia, and the gardens of the philosophers, and the Odeium, and the colonnade called "Poecile,"43 and the temples in the city containing very many marvellous works of different artists.  The account would be much longer if one should pass in review the early founders of the settlement, beginning with Cecrops; for all writers do not agree about them, as is shown even by the names. For instance, Actice, they say, was derived from Actaeon; and Atthis and Attica from Atthis, the son of Cranaüs, after whom the inhabitants were also called Cranaï; and Mopsopia from Mopsopus; and Ionia from Ion, the son of Xuthus; and Poseidonia and Athens from the gods after whom they were named. And, as has already been said,44 the race of the Pelasgi clearly sojourned here too, and on account of their wanderings were called "Pelargi."45  The greater men's fondness for learning about things that are famous and the greater the number of men who have talked about them, the greater the censure, if one is not master of the historical facts. For example, in his Collection of the Rivers, Callimachus says that it makes him laugh if anyone makes bold to write that the Athenian virgins "draw pure liquid from the Eridanus,"46 from which even cattle would hold aloof. Its sources are indeed existent now, with pure and potable water, as they say, outside the Gates of Diochares, as they are called, near the Lyceium;47 but in earlier times there was also a fountain near by which was constructed by man, with abundant and excellent water; and even if the water is not so now, why should it be a thing to wonder at, if in early times the water was abundant and pure, and therefore also potable, but in later times underwent a change? However, it is not permitted me to linger over details, since they are so numerous, nor yet, on the other hand, to pass by them all in silence without even mentioning one or another of them in a summary way.  It suffices, then, to add thus much: According to Philochorus, when the country was being devastated, both from the sea by the Carians, and from the land by the Boeotians, who were called Aonians, Cecrops first settled the multitude in twelve cities, the names of which were Cecropia, Tetrapolis, Epacria, Deceleia, Eleusis, Aphidna (also called Aphidnae, in the plural), Thoricus, Brauron, Cytherus, Sphettus, Cephisia.48 And at a later time Theseus is said to have united the twelve into one city, that of today. Now in earlier times the Athenians were ruled by kings; and then they changed to a democracy; but tyrants assailed them, Peisistratus and his sons; and later an oligarchy arose, not only that of the four hundred, but also that of the thirty tyrants, who were set over them by the Lacedaemonians; of these they easily rid themselves, and preserved the democracy until the Roman conquest. For even though they were molested for a short time by the Macedonian kings, and were even forced to obey them, they at least kept the general type of their government the same. And some say that they were actually best governed at that time, during the ten years when Cassander reigned over the Macedonians. For although this man is reputed to have been rather tyrannical in his dealings with all others, yet he was kindly disposed towards the Athenians, once he had reduced the city to subjection; for he placed over the citizens Demetrius of Phalerum, one of the disciples of Theophrastus the philosopher, who not only did not destroy the democracy but even improved it, as is made clear in the Memoirs which Demetrius wrote concerning this government. But the envy and hatred felt for oligarchy was so strong that, after the death of Cassander, Demetrius was forced to flee to Egypt; and the statues of him, more than three hundred, were pulled down by the insurgents and melted, and some writers go on to say that they were made into chamber pots. Be that as it may, the Romans, seeing that the Athenians had a democratic government when they took them over, preserved their autonomy and liberty. But when the Mithridatic War came on, tyrants were placed over them, whomever the king wished. The most powerful of these, Aristion, who violently oppressed the city, was punished by Sulla the Roman commander when he took this city by siege, though he pardoned the city itself; and to this day it is free and held in honor among the Romans.  After the Peiraeus comes the deme Phalereis, on the seaboard next to it; then Halimusii, Aexoneis, Alaeeis, Aexonici, and Anagyrasii. Then Thoreis, Lamptreis, Aegilieis, Anaphlystii, Ateneis. These are the demes as far as the cape of Sunium. Between the aforesaid demes is a long cape, the first cape after Aexoneis, Zoster; then another after Thoreis, I mean Astypalaea; off the former of these lies the island Phabra and off the latter the island Eleussa; and also opposite Aexonieis is Hydrussa. And in the neighborhood of Anaphlystus is also the shrine of Pan, and the temple of Aphrodite Colias, at which place, they say, were cast forth by the waves the last wreckage of the ships after the Persian naval battle near Salamis, the wreckage concerning which Apollo predicted "the women of Colias will cook food with the oars." Off these places, too, is the island Belbina, at no great distance, and also the palisade of Patroclus. But most of these islands are uninhabited.  On doubling the cape of Sunium one comes to Sunium, a noteworthy deme; then to Thoricus; then to a deme called Potamus, whose inhabitants are called Potamii; then to Prasia, to Steiria, to Brauron, where is the temple of the Artemis Brauronia, to Halae Araphenides, where is the temple of Artemis Tauropolus, to Myrrinus, to Probalinthus, and to Marathon, where Miltiades utterly destroyed the forces under Datis the Persian, without waiting for the Lacedaemonians, who came too late because they wanted the full moon. Here, too, is the scene of the myth of the Marathonian bull, which was slain by Theseus. After Marathon one comes to Tricorynthus; then to Rhamnus, the sanctuary of Nemesis; then to Psaphis, the land of the Oropians. In the neighborhood of Psaphis is the Amphiaraeium, an oracle once held in honor, where in his flight Amphiaraüs, as Sophocles says, "with four-horse chariot, armour and all, was received by a cleft that was made49 in the Theban dust."50 Oropus has often been disputed territory; for it is situated on the common boundary of Attica and Boeotia. Off this coast are islands: off Thoricus and Sunium lies the island Helene; it is rugged and deserted, and in its length of about sixty stadia extends parallel to the coast. This island, they say, is mentioned by the poet where Alexander51 says to Helen: "Not even when first I snatched thee from lovely Lacedaemon and sailed with thee on the seafaring ships, and in the island Cranaë joined with thee in love and couch";52 for he calls Cranaë53 the island now called Helene from the fact that the intercourse took place there. And after Helene comes Euboea, which lies off the next stretch of coast; it likewise is narrow and long and in length lies parallel to the mainland, like Helene. The voyage from Sunium to the southerly promontory of Euboea, which is called Leuce Acte, is three hundred stadia. However, I shall discuss Euboea later ;54 but as for the demes in the interior of Attica, it would be tedious to recount them because of their great number.  Of the mountains, those which are most famous are Hymettus, Brilessus, and Lycabettus; and also Parnes and Corydallus. Near the city are most excellent quarries of marble, the Hymettian and Pentelic. Hymettus also produces the best honey. The silver mines in Attica were originally valuable, but now they have failed. Moreover, those who worked them, when the mining yielded only meager returns, melted again the old refuse, or dross, and were still able to extract from it pure silver, since the workmen of earlier times had been unskillful in heating the ore in furnaces. But though the Attic honey is the best in the world, that in the country of the silver mines is said to be much the best of all, the kind which is called acapniston,55 from the mode of its preparation.  The rivers of Attica are the Cephissus, which has its source in the deme Trinemeis; it flows through the plain (hence the allusions to the "bridge" and the "bridge-railleries "56) and then through the legs of the walls which extend from the city to the Peiraeus; it empties into the Phaleric Gulf, being a torrential stream most of the time, although in summer it decreases and entirely gives out. And such is still more the case with the Ilissus, which flows from the other part of the city into the same coast, from the region above Agra57 and the Lyceium, and from the fountain which is lauded by Plato in the Phaedrus.58 So much for Attica.
1 8. 1. 3.
2 And therefore comprises both. The first peninsula includes the Isthmus, Crommyon being the first place beyond it, in Megaris.
3 Eudoxus of Cnidus (fl. 350 B.C.).
4 Including the shore of the Isthmus.
5 That is, the Corinthian Gulf, which Eudoxus and Strabo consider a part of the sea that extends eastward from the Sicilian Sea (cf. 8. 1. 3). Others, however, understand that Strabo refers to the recess of the Crisaean Gulf in the restricted sense, that is, the Gulf of Salona.
6 For the meaning of "climata" see vol. i, p. 22, footnote 2.
7 That is, Attica; not to be confused with the Acte in Argolis, mentioned in 9. l. 1.
8 i.e., the interior plain of Attica.
9 9. 1. 1, 8. 1. 3.
10 i.e., Shoreland.
12 That is, to one travelling from the Isthmus to Megaris and Attica.
15 Philochorus the Athenian (fl. about 300 B.C.) wrote a work entitled Atthis, in seventeen books. Only fragments remain.
16 To what Pythium Philochorus refers is uncertain, but he seems to mean the temple of Pythian Apollo in the deme of Oenoe, about twelve miles northwest of Eleusis; or possibly the temple of Apollo which was situated between Eleusis and Athens on the site of the present monastery of Daphne.
17 See footnote on 10. 4. 6.
18 Soph. Fr. 872 (Nauck)
19 Cf. 8. 1. 2.
20 Aesch. Fr. 404
22 Scirus founded the ancient sanctuary of Athena Sciras at Phalerum. After his death the Eleusinians buried him between Athens and Eleusis at a place which in his honor they called "Scira," or, according to Paus. 1.36.4 and others, "Scirum."
23 "Pitys," "pine-tree."
30 "Horns." Two horn-shaped peaks of a south-western spur of Cithaeron, and still called Kerata-Pyrgos or Keratopiko (Forbiger, Handbuch der alten Geographie, iii. 631, note 97).
31 So Ctesias Persica 26, but in the account of Hdt. 8.97 it was after the naval battle that "he attempted to build a mole." In either case it is very improbable that he made a serious attempt to do so. See Smith and Laird, Herodotus, Books vii and viii, p.381 (American Book Co.), note on χῶμα.
33 "Probably in part the result of quarrying, for numerous traces of quarries are visible on these hills at the present day" (Tozer, Selections, p. 228).
34 i.e., the entrance by way of the narrow isthmus.
35 "With broad straight streets, the houses of which rose one above another like the seats of a theater. Under the auspices of Pericles, Peiraeus was laid out by the famous architect, Hippodamus of Miletus who afterwards built the city of Rhodes" (Tozer, l.c.).
36 86 B.C.
37 The Erechtheium (see D'Ooge, Acropolis of Athens, Appendix iii).
39 Hegesias of Magnesia (fl. about 250 B.C.) wrote a History of Alexander the Great. Only fragments remain.
40 In the rock of the well in the Erechtheium.
41 A "Periegete" was a "Describer" of geographical and topographical details.
43 "Varicolored." The painting was done by Polygnotus, about the middle of the fifth century B.C.
44 5. 2. 4.
45 i.e., "Storks" (see 5. 2. 4).
46 Authorship unknown (see Callimachus Fr. 100e (Schneider)
48 Thus only eleven names are given in the most important MSS., though "Phalerus" appears after "Cephisia" in some (see critical note on opposite page). But it seems best to assume that Strabo either actually included Athens in his list or left us to infer that he meant Athens as one of the twelve.
49 By a thunderbolt of Zeus, to save the pious prophet from being slain.
50 Soph. Fr. 873 (Nauck)
54 10. 1.
55 "Unsmoked," i.e., the honey was taken from the hive without the use of smoke.
56 Literally, the "gephyra" ("bridge") and "gephyrismi" ("bridge-isms"). It appears that on this bridge the Initiated, on their procession to Eleusis, engaged in mutual raillery of a wanton character (but see Pauly-Wissowa, s.v. Γεφυρισμοί).
57 A suburb in the deme of Agryle.
58 229 A.D.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.