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GALAESUS or GALESUS (Γαλαῖσος, Pol.), a small river of Calabria, flowing into the gulf of Tarentum, at the distance of a few miles from that city. It was famed in ancient times for the pastures on its banks, on which were fed the sheep that produced, the celebrated Tarentine wool: hence its praises are sung by several of the Roman poets. (Hor. Carm. 2.6.10; Verg. G. 4.126; Propert. 2.34. 67; Stat. Silv. 3.3; Claudian. Prob. et Ol. Cons. 260; Sidon. Apoll. Carm. 24. 59.) Polybius tells us it was often called the Eurotas, from the river of that name in Laconia (Pol. 8.35); but the Galaesus, which was probably its indigenous name, is the only one by which it is mentioned in any other author. Both Livy and Polybius notice it on the occasion of the siege of Tarentum by Hannibal (B.C. 212), who encamped on its banks with his main army to watch and protect the blockade of the citadel. (Pol. l.c.; Liv. 25.11.) Though its name was so celebrated, the Galaesus was a very trifling stream, and there is considerable difficulty in identifying it. The name is generally given by local antiquarians, and apparently by a kind of local tradition, to a small stream of limpid water which flows into the great port of Tarentum or Mare Piccolo, on its N. side, now known as Le Citrezze; and, according to Zannoni's map, there still exists in its neighbourhood a church called Sta. Maria di Galeso. Both Polybius and Livy, however, give the distance of the Galaesus from Tarentum at 5 miles or 40 stadia, a statement wholly irreconcilable with the popular view; and the stream in question is moreover so small that it is impossible for an army to have encamped on its banks, its whole course being only a few hundred yards in length. Swinburne's supposition that the Cervaro--a much more considerable stream, flowing into the Mare Piccolo at its head or E. extremity--is the true Galaesus, would certainly accord better with the statement of Polybius and Livy, and at least as well with the poetical epithets of the stream, on which, however, too much stress must not be laid. (Romanelli, vol. i. p. 292; D'Aquino, Delizie Tarentine, with the notes of Carducci, p. 49; Swinburne, Travels, vol. i. pp. 227, 232; Craven, Travels, p. 181.)


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Vergil, Georgics, 4.126
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 11
    • Statius, Silvae, 3.3
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