AEGAEUM MAREAEGAEUM MARE (τὸ Αἰγαῖον πέλαγος, Hdt. 4.85; Aesch. Agam. 659; Strab. passim; or simply τὸ Αἰγαῖον, Hdt. 7.55 ; ὁ Αἰγαῖος πέλαγος, Hdt. 2.97), the part of the Mediterranean now called the Archipelago, and by the Turks the White Sea, to distinguish it from the Black Sea. It was bounded on the N. by Macedonia and Thrace, on the W. by Greece and on the E. by Asia Minor. At its NE. corner it was connected with the Pro-pontis by the Hellespont. [HELLESPONTUS] Its extent was differently estimated by the ancient writers; but the name was generally applied to the whole sea as far S. as the islands of Crete and Rhodes. Its name was variously derived by the ancient grammarians, either from the town of Aegae in Euboea; or from Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who threw himself into it; or from Aegaea, the queen of the Amazons, who perished there; or from Aegaeon, who was represented as a marine god living in the sea; or, lastly, from αἰγίς, a squall, on account of its storms. Its real etymology is uncertain. Its navigation was dangerous to ancient navigators on account of its numerous islands and rocks, which occasion eddies of wind and a confused sea, and also on account of the Etesian or northerly winds, which blow with great fury, especially about the equinoxes. To the storms of the Aegaean the poets frequently allude. Thus Horace (Hor. Carm. 2.16): Otium dives rogat in patenti prensus Aegaeo; and Virgil (Aen. 12.365): Ac velut Edoni Boreae cum spirits alto insonat Aegaeo. The Aegaean contained numerous islands. Of these the most numerous were in the southern part of the sea; they were divided into two principal groups, the Cyclades, lying off the coasts of Attica and Peloponnesus, and the Sporades, lying along the coasts of Caria aud Ionia. [CYCLADES; SPORADES.] In the northern part of the sea were the larger islands of Euboea, Thasos and Samothrace, and off the coast of Asia those of Samos, Chios and Lesbos. The Aegaean sea was divided into:
- 1. MARE THRACIUM (ὁ Θρηΐκιος πόντος, Hom. Il. 23.230; τὸ Θρηΐκιον πέλαγος, Hdt. 7.176; comp. Soph. Oed. R. 197), the northern part of the Aegaean, washing the shores of Thrace and Macedonia, and extending as far S. as the northern coast of the island of Euboea.
- 2. MARE MYRTOUM (Hor. Carm. 1.1.14; τὸ Μυρτῶον πέλαγος), the part of the Aegaean S. of Euboea, Attica and Argolis, which derived its name from the small island Myrtus, though others suppose it to come from Myrtilus, whom Pelops threw into this sea, or from the maiden Myrto. Pliny (4.11. s. 18) makes the Myrtoan sea a part of the Aegaean; but Strabo (pp. 124, 323) distinguishes between the two, representing the Aegaean as terminating at the promontory Sunium in Attica.
- 3. MARE ICARIUM (Hor. Carm. 1.1.15; Ἰκάρλος πόντος, Hom. Il. 2.145; Ἰκάρλον πέλαγος, Hdt. 6.95), the SE. part of the Aegaean along the coasts of Caria and Ionia, which derived its name from the island of Icaria, though according to tradition it was so called from Icarus, the son of Daedalus, having fallen into it.
- 4. MARE CRETICUM (τὸ Κρητικὸν πέλαγος, Thuc.4.53), the most southerly part of the Aegaean, N. of the island of Crete. Strabo (l.c.), however, makes this sea, as well as the Myrtoan and Icarian, distinct from the Aegaean.