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MINERVAE PROMONTO´RIUM

MINERVAE PROMONTO´RIUM (τὸ Ἀθηναῖον ἀκρωτήριον, Strab.: Punta della Campanella), a promontory on the coast of Campania, opposite to the island of Capreae, forming the southern boundary of the celebrated Crater or Bay of Naples. It is a bold and rocky headland, constituting the extremity of a mountain ridge, which branches off from the main mass of the Apennines near Nuceria, and forms a great mountain promontory, about 25 miles in length, which separates the Bay of Naples from that of Paestum or Salerno. The actual headland derived its name from a temple of Minerva, situated on its summit, which was said to have been founded by Ulysses (Strab. v. p.247): it was separated by a channel of only 3 miles in width from the island of Capreae (Capri). On the S. side of the promontory, but about 5 miles from the extreme headland, are some small rocky islets now called Li Galli, very bold and picturesque in appearance, which were selected by tradition as the abode of the Sirens, and hence named the SIRENUSAE INSULAE (Σειρηνοῦσσαι νῆσοι, Ptol. 3.1.79; Strab. v. p.247; Pseud. Arist. Mirab. 110). From the proximity of these, according to Strabo, the headland itself was sometimes called the Promontory of the Sirens (Σειρηνουσσῶν ἀκρωτήριον), but all other writers give it the more usual appellation of Promontory of Minerva, though Pliny adds that it had once been the abode of the Sirens; and there was an ancient temple on the side towards Surrentum in honour of those mythical beings, which had at one time been an object of great veneration to the surrounding population. (Strab. v. pp. 242, 247; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Pseud. Arist. l.c.; Ovid. Met. 15.709; Mel. 2.4.9; Liv. 42.20.) Tacitus in one passage calls the headland Surrentinum Promontorium, from its proximity to the town of Surrentum, from which it was only 5 miles distant; and Statius also speaks of the temple of Minerva as situated “in vertice Surrentino.” (Tac. Ann. 4.67; Stat. Silv. 5.3. 165.)

The Promontory of Minerva is a point of considerable importance in the coast-line of Italy: hence we find it selected in B.C. 181 as the point of demarcation for the two squadrons which were appointed to clear the sea of pirates; the one protecting the coasts from thence to Massilia, the other those on the S. as far as the entrance of the Adriatic. (Liv. 40.18.) In B.C. 36 a part of the fleet of Augustus, under Appius Claudius, on its voyage from Misenum to Sicily, encountered a tempest in passing this cape, from which it suffered heavy loss. (Appian, App. BC 5.98.) It is mentioned also by Lucilius as a point of importance in his voyage along the coast of Italy. (Lucil. Sat. iii. Fr. 10.)

[E.H.B]

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 5.11.98
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.67
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 18
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 42, 20
    • Statius, Silvae, 5.3
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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