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PACHY´NUS (Πάχυνος: Capo Passaro), a celebrated promontory of Sicily, forming the extreme SE. point of the whole island, and one of the three promontories which were supposed to have given to it the name of Trinacria. (Ovid, Ov. Fast. 4.479, Met. 13.725; Dionys. Per. 467--472; Scyl. p. 4.13; Pol. 1.42; Strab. vi. pp. 265, 272, &c.; Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.8; Mela, 2.7.15.)

All the ancient geographers correctly describe it as extending out towards the S. and E. so as to be the point of Sicily that was the most nearly opposite to Crete and the Peloponnese. It is at the same time the southernmost point of the whole inland. The headland itself is not lofty, but formed by bold projecting rocks (projecta saxa Puchyni, Verg. A. 3.699), and immediately off it lies a small rocky island of considerable elevation, which appears to have been generally regarded as forming the actual promontory. This explains the expression of Nonnus, who speaks of “the island rock of the seagirt Pachynus.” (Dionys. 13.322.) Lycophron also has a similar phrase. (Alex. 1181.)

We learn from Cicero (Cic. Ver. 5.34) that there was a port in the immediate neighbourhood of the promontory to which he gives the name of Portus Pachyni: it was here that the fleet of Verres was stationed under his officer Cleomenes, when the news that a squadron of pirates was in the neighbouring Port of Ulysses (Portus Odysseae) caused that commander to take to flight with precipitation. The Port of Ulysses is otherwise unknown; but Ptolemy gives the name of Promontory of Ulysses (Ὀδυσσεία ἄκρα, Ptol. 3.4.7) to a point on the S. coast of the island, a little to the W. of Cape Pachynus. It is therefore probable that the Portus Pachyni was the one now called Porto di Palo, immediately adjoining the promontory, while the Portus Odysseae may be identified with the small bay or harbour of La Marza about 6 miles distant. There are, however, several rocky coves to which the name of ports may be applied, and the determination must therefore be in great measure conjectural. (Smyth's Sicily, pp. 181,185,186.) The convenience of this port at the extreme SE. point of the island caused it to be a frequent place of rendezvous and station for fleets approaching Sicily; and on one occasion, during the Second Punic War the Carthaginian commander Bomilcar appears to have taken up his post in the port to the W. of the promontory, while the Roman fleet lay immediately to the N. of it. (Liv. 24.27, 25.27, 36.2.)


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 3.699
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 27
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 27
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 36, 2
    • Ovid, Fasti, 4
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.4
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