(αἱ Ἐχῖναι νῆσοι
, Hom.; αἱ Ἐχινάδες νῆσοι
, Herod., Thuc., Strab.), a group of numerous islands off the coast of Acarnania, several of which have become united to the mainland by the alluvial deposits of the river. Herodotus says that half of the islands had been already united to the mainland in his time (2.10); and Thucydides expected that this would be the case with all of them before long, since they lay so close together as to be easily connected by the alluvium brought down by the river (2.102.).
This expectation, however, has not been fulfilled,. which Pausanias attributed (8.24.11). to the Achelous bringing down less alluvium in consequence of the uncultivated condition of Aetolia; but there can be little doubt that it is owing to the increasing depth of the sea, which prevents any perceptible progress being made.
The Echinades are mentioned by Homer, who says that Meges, son of Phyleus, led 40 ships to Troy from “Dulichium and the sacred islands Echinae, which are situated beyond the sea, opposite Elis.” (Hom. II.
2.625.) Phyleus was the son of Augeas, king of the Epeians in Elis, who emigrated to Dulichium because he had incurred his father's anger.
In the Odyssey Dulichium is frequently mentioned along with Same, Zacynthus, and Ithaca as one of the islands subject to Ulysses, and is celebrated brated for its fertility. (Hom. Od. 1.245
; Hymn. in Apoll.
429; Πολύπυρον, Od. 14.335
The site of Dulichium gave rise to much dispute in antiquity. Hellanicus supposed that it was the ancient name of Cephallenia; and Andron, that it [p. 1.804]
was one of the cities of this island, which Pherecydes supposed to be Pale, an opinion supported by Pausanias. (Strab. x. p.456
; Paus. 6.15.7
.) But Strabo maintains that Dulichium was one of the Echinades, and identifies it with DOLICHA (ἡ Δολίχα
), an island which he describes as situated opposite Oeniadae and the mouth of the Achelous, and distant 100 stadia from the promontory of Araxus in Elis (x. p. 458). Dolicha.appears to be the same which now bears the synonymous appellation of Makri,
derived from its long narrow form. (Leake, Northern Greece,
vol. iii. p. 574.)
Most modern writers have followed Strabo in connecting Dulichium with the Echinades, though it seems impossible to identify it with any particular island.
It is observed by Leake that Petalá,
being the largest of the Echinades, and possessing the advantage of two well-sheltered harbours, seems to have the best claim to be considered the ancient Dulichium.
It is, indeed, a mere rock, but being separated only by a strait of a few hundred yards from the fertile plains at the mouth of the Achelous and river of Oenia, its natural deficiencies may have been there supplied, and the epithets of “grassy” and “abounding in wheat,” which Homer applies to Dulichium (Od. 16.396
),-- Δουλιχίου πολυπύρου, ποιήεντος,
may be referred to that part of its territory. But Leake adds, with justice, that there is no proof in the Iliad or Odyssey that Dulichium, although at the head of an insular confederacy, was itself an island: it may very possibly, therefore, have been a city on the coast of Acarnania, opposite to the Echinades, perhaps at Tragamésti,
or more probably at the harbour named Pandeléimona
which is separated only by a channel of a mile or two from the Echinades.
Homer, as we have already seen, describes the Echinades as inhabited; but both Thucydides and Scylax represent them as deserted.. (Thuc. 2.102 Scylax, p. 14
.) Strabo simply says that they were barren and rugged (x. p. 458). Stephanus B. names a town Apollonia situated in one of the islands (s. v. Ἀπολλωνία
). Pliny gives us the names of nine of these islands,--Aegialia, Cotonis, Thyatira, Geoaris, Dionysia, Cyrnus, Chalcis, Pinara, Mystus (4.12. s. 19). Another of the Echinades was Artemita (Ἀρτεμίτα
), which became united to the the mainland. (Strab. i. p.59
; Plin. Nat. 4.1. s. 2
.) Artemidorus spoke of Artemita as a peninsula near the mouth of the Achelous, and Rhianus connected it with the Oxeiae. (Steph. B. sub voce Ἀπτεμίτα.
) The Oxeiae (αἱ Ὀξεῖαι
) are sometimes spoken of as a separate group of islands to the west of the Echinades (comp. Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 19
), but are included by Strabo under the general name of Echinades (x. p. 458). The Oxeiae, according to Strabo, are mentioned by Homer under the synonymous name of Thoae (Θοαί, Od. 15.299
The Echinades derived their name from the echinus or the “sea-urchin,” in consequence of their sharp and prickly outlines. For the same reason they were called Oxeiae, or the “Sharp Islands,” a name which some of them still retain under the slightly altered form of Oxiés.
Leake remarks that “the Echinades are divided into two clusters, besides Petalá,
which, being, quite barren and close to the mainland, is not claimed, or at least is not occupied by the Ithacans, though anciently it was undoubtedly one of the Echinades.
The northern cluster is commonly called the Dhragonares,
the principal island; and the southern, the Oxiés
By the Venetians they were known as the islands of Kurtzolári,
which name belongs properly to,a peninsula to the left of the mouth of the Achelous, near Oxiá.
Seventeen of the islands have names.besides the four Modhia,
two of which are mere rocks, and nine of them are cultivated.
These are, beginning from the southward:--Oxiá, Makrí, Vrómona, Pondikónisi, Karlónísi, Prováti, Lambrinó, Sofiá, Dhragonára. Oxiá
alone is lofty. Makrí
are the two islands next in importance.” (Kruse, Hellas,
vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 455, seq.; Leake, Northern Greece,
vol. iii. pp. 30, seq., 50, seq.; Mure, Tour in Greece,
vol. i. p. 104.)