previous next


LEUCA (τὰ Λευκά, Strab.: Leuca), a small town of Calabria, situated close to the Iapygian promontory, on a small bay immediately to the W. of that celebrated headland. Its site is clearly marked by an ancient church still called Sta. Maria di Leuca, but known also as the Madonna di Finisterra, from its situation at the extreme point of Italy in this direction. The Iapygian promontory itself is now known as the Capo di Leuca. Strabo is the only author who mentions a town of this name (vi. p. 281), but Lucan also notices the “secreta littora Leucae” (5.375) as a port frequented by shipping; and its advantageous position, at a point where so many ships must necessarily touch, would soon create a town upon the spot. It was probably never a municipal town, but a large village or borgo, such as now exists upon the spot in consequence of the double attraction of the port and sanctuary. (Rampoldi, Corogr. dell' Italia, vol. ii. p. 442.)

Strabo tells us (l.c.) that the inhabitants of Leuca showed there a spring of fetid water, which they pretended to have arisen from the wounds of some of the giants which had been expelled by Hercules from the Phlegraean plains, and who had taken refuge here. These giants they called Leuternii, [p. 2.168]and hence gave the name of LEUTERNIA to all the surrounding district. The same story is told, with some variations, by the pseudo-Aristotle (de Mirab. 97); and the name of Leutarnia is found also in Lycophron (Alex. 978), whose expressions, however, would have led us to suppose that it was in the neighbourhood of Siris rather than of the Iapygian promontory. Tzetzes (ad loc.) calls it a city of Italy, which is evidently only an erroneous inference from the words of his author. The Laternii of Scylax, whom he mentions as one of the tribes that inhabited Iapygia, may probably be only another form of the same name, though we meet in no other writer with any allusion to their existence as a real people.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: