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Τρηχίς. On Heraclea Trachis cf. Thuc. iii. 92; Liv. xxxvi. 22-4; Strabo 428; Paus. x. 22; Leake, N. Greece, ii. 24-31. Apparently the lower town lay on the Thermopylae road (Grundy, p. 282), five stades from the Melas, west of the Asopus ravine. Thucydides (l. c.) makes it clear there was no real change of site, but apparently in Roman times (Strabo, Paus. l. c.) the name Heraclea was confined to the fortified hill (cf. Liv. l. c.) and the ruins of the lower town, six stades away (Munro, J. H. S. xxii. 313), were called Trachis.

We should expect a measure of length after εὐρύτατον, but if so the numeral is corrupt, as 22,000 plethra = 420 miles. Hence Leake, Stein, and others take it as a measure of the surface of the plain of Trachis (over 5,000 acres), in which the king pitched his camp (ch. 201).

πρὸς μεσαμβρίην: really east; cf. 176. 3 n. ‘The defile of the Asopus issues abruptly on to the Malian plain nearly four miles west of the Western Gate of Thermopylae. Its bottom is merely formed of the stony river bed, at first some fifty yards wide, but rapidly contracting, until a little farther up the chasm it is only twelve feet wide between absolutely sheer cliffs from 700 to 900 feet high. This winding rift in the mountains continues for some three and a half miles from the entrance and then suddenly broadens out into a wide upland valley’ (Grundy, p. 261). The Asopus (or Karvunaria) still flows through the plain at the foot of the hills (τὴν ὑπώρεαν) which bound it to the south, but now falls into the Spercheius, which has turned south through the alluvial deposit below Thermopylae.

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.22
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.92
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