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LIBETHRA

LIBETHRA, LIBETHRUM (Λιβήθρα: Eth. Λιβήθριος), a town of Macedonia in the neighbourhood of Dium. It is mentioned by Livy (44.5), who, after describing the perilous march of the Roman army under Q. Marcius through a pass in the chain of Olympus,--CALLIPEUCE (the lower part of the ravine of Platamóna),--says, that after four days of extreme labour, they reached the plain between Libethrum and Heracleia. Pausanias (9.30.9) reports a tradition that the town was once destroyed. “Libethra,” he says, “was situated on Mount Olympus, on the side of Macedonia. At no great distance from it stood the tomb of Orpheus, respecting which an oracle had declared that when the sun beheld the bones of the poet the city should be destroyed by a boar (ὕπο συός). The inhabitants of Libethra ridiculed the thing as impossible; but the column of Orpheus's monument having been accidentally broken, a gap was made by which light broke in upon the tomb, when the same night the torrentnamed Sus, being prodigiously swollen, rushed down with violence from Mt. Olympus upon Libethra, overthrowing the walls and all the public and private buildings, and destroying every living creature in its furious course. After this calamity the remains of Orpheus were removed to Dium, 20 stadia distant from their city towards Olympus, where they erected a monument to him, consisting of an urn of stone upon a column.” In the time of Alexander the Great there was a statue of Orpheus made of cypress, at Libethra. (Plut. Alex. 14.)

The only two torrents which could have effected such havoc as that described by Pausanias are the rivers of Platamóna and Litókhoro. As the former was near Heracleia, it may be concluded that the Sus, was the same river as the Enipeus, and that Libethra was situated not far from its junction with the sea, as the upper parts of the slope towards Litókhoro, are secured from the ravages of the torrent by their elevation above its bank.

It might be supposed, from the resemblance, that the modern Malathría [DIUM] is a corruption of the ancient Libethra: the similarity is to be attributed, perhaps, to the two names having a common origin in some word of the ancient language of Macedonia. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iii. pp. 413, 422.)

Strabo (ix. p.409, x. p. 471) alludes to this place when speaking of Helicon, and remarks that several places around that mountain, attested the former existence of the Pierian Thracians in the Boeotian districts. Along with the worship of the Muses the names of mountains, caves, and springs, Were transferred from Mt. Olympus to Helicon; hence they were surnamed Libethrides as well as Pierides ( “Nymphae, noster amor, Libethrides,” Virg. Eel. 7.21).

[E.B.J]

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.30.9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 5
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 14
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