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 Rhegium1 was founded by certain Chalcidenses, who, as they say, were decimated as an offering to Apollo in a time of scarcity, by order of an oracle, and afterwards removed hither from Delphi, taking with them certain others from home. As Antiochus says, the Zanclæans sent for the Chalcidenses, and appointed Antimnestus chief over them. Certain fugitives of the Messenians of Peloponnesus accompanied this colony, who had been compelled to fly by those who refused to give satisfaction to the Lacedæmonians for the violation2 of the virgins at Limnæ, whom they had abused when attending the religious festival, and had slain those who assisted them. However when the fugitives had removed to Macistus, they sent to the oracle complaining against Apollo and Diana for suffering these things to happen notwithstanding they so greatly honoured them, and inquiring how the devoted might be saved. Apollo commanded to send them with the Chalcidenses to Rhegium, and to be grateful, therefore, to his sister Diana for that they were not lost but saved, as they should not be destroyed with their country, which would be annihilated shortly after by the Spartans.3 They acted in accordance with the oracle, and thus it was that the rulers of the Rhegini were all of Messenian race until the time of Anaxilaus. Antiochus asserts that anciently the whole of this district was inhabited by Sicilians and Morgetes; and that they afterwards passed into Sicily when they were expelled by the Œnotri. Some say that Morgantium4 thus received its name from the Morgetes. But the city of the Rhegini became very powerful, and possessed many dependent settlements. It has always been a bulwark for us against the island [of Sicily], and, indeed, has recently served to that purpose when Sextus Pompeins alienated Sicily.5 It was called Rhegium either, as Æschylus says, because of the convulsion which had taken place in this region; for Sicily was broken from the continent by earthquakes, “ Whence it is called Rhegium.6
” Others,7 as well as he, have affirmed the same thing, and adduce as an evidence that which is observed about Ætna, and the appearances seen in other parts of Sicily, the Lipari and neighbouring islands, and even in the Pithecussæ, with the whole coast beyond them, which prove that it was not unlikely that this convulsion had taken place. But now these mouths being opened, through which the fire is drawn up, and the ardent masses and water poured out, they say that the land in the neighbourhood of the Strait of Sicily rarely suffers from the effects of earthquakes; but formerly all the passages to the surface being blocked up, the fire which was smouldering beneath the earth, together with the vapour, occasioned terrible earthquakes, and the regions, being disturbed by the force of the pent-up winds, sometimes gave way, and being rent received the sea, which flowed in from either side; and thus were formed both this strait and the sea which surrounds the other islands in the neighbourhood. For Prochyta8 and the Pithecussæ as well as Capreæ, Leucosia, the Sirenes, and the Œnotrides, are but so many detached fragments from the continent, but other islands have risen from the bottom of the sea, a circumstance which frequently occurs in many places; for it is more reasonable to think that the islands in the midst of the sea have been raised up from the bottom, and that those which lie off headlands and are separated merely by a strait were broken off from them. Still it is beside our purpose to investigate thoroughly whether the name were given to the city for these causes, or whether it were named by the Samnites from the Latin word regium, which signifies royal, on account of its importance,9 for their chieftains participated in the privileges of citizenship with the Romans, and generally used the Latin language. But Dionysius (the elder), having been treated with contempt by them, destroyed the illustrious city which had founded many towns and produced many distinguished characters, whether statesmen or men of letters,10 for when he sought a consort from their city, they offered him the hangman's daughter;11 but his son (Dionysius the younger) partly restored it,12 and called it Phœbia. During the war with Pyrrhus, a body of Campanians destroyed most of the citizens against the faith of treaties,13 and a little before the Marsic or social war, earthquakes destroyed most of the towns;14 but after Augustus Cæsar had driven Sextus Pompeius out of Sicily, when he saw that the city was deficient of inhabitants, he appointed certain of those who accompanied the expedition to reside there, and it is now tolerably well peopled.15
1 Now Reggio, one of the most celebrated and flourishing cities of Magna Grecia, founded about 696 years B. C. Cato affirms that it was once in the possession of the Aurunci. The connexion which subsisted between Rhegium and the Chalcidian colonies in Sicily, induced its inhabitants to take part with the Athenians in their first hostilities against the Syracusans and Locrians. In the great Sicilian expedition, the Rhegians observed a strict neutrality. While the Athenian fleet was moored in their roads, they refused to admit the army within their walls, which therefore encamped near the temple of Diana outside the town. Rhegium subsequently pursued a similar policy, and suffered severely under tyrants, but the Roman senate at length freed the unfortunate citizens.
2 Strabo here alludes to the crime which was perpetrated in the reign of Teleclus, about 811 years before the Christian era. The division of the Messenians into two parties, the one wishing and the other refusing to give satisfaction, lasted about 150 years. See book vi. cap. iii. § .3.
3 It Was taken by the Lacedæmonians about B. C. 668.
4 It seems probable that Strabo here refers to Morgantium in Sicily, which had disappeared in his days, and which he mentions in b. vi. c. ii. § 4.
5 Sextus Pompeius, having received from the senate the command of the fleet, B. C. 43, in a short time made himself master of Sicily, which he held till 36.
6 This is a quotation from one of the missing works of Æschylus.
7 Virgil speaks of this great catastrophe, Æn. iii. 414,
“ Hæc loca, vi quondam et vasta convulsa ruina”
(Tantum ævi longinqua valet mutare vetustas,)
Dissiluisse ferunt: cum protinus utraque tell us
Una foret, venit medio vi pontus, et undis
Hesperium Sicuto latus abscidit: arvaque et urbes
Litore diductas angusto interluit æstu.Æn. iii. 414
9 It appears from the more ancient coins of Rhegium, that the original name was RECION. In these the epigraph is REC. RECI. RECINOS, in characters partaking more of the Oscan than the Greek form; those of more recent date are decidedly Greek, PHT. PHTINQN, being inscribed on them. A note in the French translation shows that the inhabitants of Rhegium did not participate in the rights of Roman citizens till about 90 years before the Christian era.
10 Among these were many followers of Pythagoras, also Theagenes Hippys, Lycus surnamed Butera, and Glaucus, who were historians; Ibicus, Cleomenes, and Lycus the adoptive father of Lycophron, who were poets; Clearchus and Pythagoras, who were sculptors.
11 The Rhegians firmly opposed the designs of this tyrant; and when, under pretence of courting their alliance, he sought a consort from their city, they replied with independent feeling that he might have their hangman's daughter. (See Diodorus Siculus, xiv. 44.) Had the other states of Magna Grecia displayed the same energy, the ambitious views of this artful prince might have been frustrated; but after the defeat of their forces on the Elleporus, now Callipari, they succumbed, and Rhegium, after a gallant defence which lasted nearly a year, was compelled to yield, about the year 398 B. C. The insulting tyrant sentenced the heroic Phyton, who had commanded the town, to a cruel death, and removed the few inhabitants that remained to Sicily.
12 B. C. 360.
13 B. C. 280.
14 B.C. 91.
15 The defeat of Sextus Pompeins is referred to the year 36 B. C., but there is no precise date mentioned for the establishment of the veteran soldiers in Rhegium, which probably took place about the year 31 B. C.
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