(ρὰ Ἡραῖα ὄρη
), a group or range of mountains in Sicily, mentioned by Diodorus (4.84
), who describes in glowing colours the pleasant shaded valleys in which they abounded, the rich forests with which they were covered, and the abundance of wild fruits they produced.
He gives no clue to their position, and they are not mentioned by any of the geographers in their descriptions of the island: but Vibius Sequester tells us (p. 8) that the river Chrysas had its source in the Heraean mountains; and this shows that they must have formed part of the range which occupies the whole north of Sicily, from the neighbourhood of Messana to that of Panormus.
The natural beauties of this mountain tract accord well with the description of Diodorus, whence the name of Cale Acte, “the beautiful shore,” was given to the N. coast of Sicily, which extends along the foot of the range: and Fazello describes the fertility and pleasantness of their southern slopes in terms which fully justify the rhetorical praises of Diodorus (Fazell. 9.4. p. 385).
The great contrast presented by the whole of this range of mountains, to, the dry and bare calcareous hills of the centre and. south of Sicily, can indeed leave no doubt as to their being those intended by that author.
It is impossible, however, to fix the precise limits within which the term was applied.
The lofty mass of the Monte Madonia,
the Mons Nebrodes of the ancients, is in fact only a portion of the same, chain, while on the E. the continuation of the range,. towards Messana and the promontory of Pelorus, appears to have been designated as the Mons Neptunius.
The central portion of the range, between. Caronia
is still covered with an immense forest, now called the Bosco di Caronia:
the highest summit of this group, Monte Sori,
attains an elevation of nearly 3000 feet above the sea.
It is certainly erroneous to extend the name of the Heraei Montes, as has been done by Cluver and [p. 1.1052]
Parthey, not only to the mountains about Enna, but to the great calcareous hills which extend from thence to the S.E. and fill up the greater part of the Val di Noto.
The natural characters of that part of Sicily must always have been essentially different from those of the mountainous region of the north.