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PORTUS VENERIS

PORTUS VENERIS (Port Vendre), on the south coast of France near the borders of Spain. The passage about Portus Veneris in Mela (2.5) is thus (ed. Is. Vossius): “Tum inter Pyrenaei promuntoria Portus Veneris insignis fano.” The words “insignis fano” are a correction of Vossius without any authority, which he has substituted for the words of the best MS., “in sinu salso.” Port Vendre is in France, near Collioure, a few miles south of the mouth of the Tech.

Ptolemy (2.10.2) fixes the boundary of Narbonensis at the promontory on which stood the Aphrodisium or temple of Venus. Pliny (3.3) in his description of Hispania Citerior, after mentioning Emporiae (Ampurias), says: “Flumen Tichis. Ab eo Pyrenaea Venus in latere promontorii altero xl. M.” This river Tichis is the river which is near the site of Emporiae (Ampurias) in Spain. D'Anville concludes that the promontorium of Pliny is the Promontorium Pyrenaeum of the Table, the modern Cap Creux, which projects into the Mediterranean. This would be a fit place for the temple, for it was an ancient practice to build temples on bold headlands. But Pliny says “on the other,” that is on the Gallie side of the promontorium; and the distance of xl. M. P. from the river of Ampurias brings us to the position of Port Vendre. Accordingly D'Anville concludes that the temple of Venus was near the port of Venus; and this would seem likely enough. This temple is apparently mentioned by Stephanus (s. u. Ἀφροδισιάς); and certainly by Strabo (iv. p.178), who makes the coast of the Narbonensis extend from the Var to the temple of the Pyrenaean Venus, the boundary between Narbonensis and Iberia; but others, he adds, make the Tropaea Pompeii the boundary of Iberia and Celtica. The Tropaea Pompeii were in a pass of the Pyrenees not far from the coast. In this passage Strabo simply says that the temple of the Pyrenaean Venus was fixed as the boundary of Gallia and Hispania by some geographers, but this passage does not tell us where the temple is; and the distances which he gives in the same place (iv. p. 178) will not settle the question. But in another passage (iv. p. 181) he makes the Galaticus Sinus extend from a point 100 stadia from Massilia “to the Aphrodisium, the promontory of Pyrene.” It is plain that his promontory of Pyrene is Cap Creux, for this is a marked natural limit of the Gallic bay on the west; and he also places the temple there. Cap Creux is a natural boundary between Gallia and Hispania, and we may conclude that it was the ancient coast boundary. We know that Cervaria, which is south of Portus Veneris and [p. 2.662]north of Cap Creux, is in Gallia [CERVARIA]. It appears then that there is no authority for placing this temple of Venus at Portus Veneris except the passage of Pliny, which leads to this conclusion, if the distance xl. is right. The passage of Mela has been corrupted by Vossius. It is even doubtful if “inter Pyrenaei promuntoria” is the true reading. Some editions have “in Pyrenaei promuntorio,” but if that reading is right, the promuntorium of Mela is not Cap Creux.

[G.L]

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