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PALINU´RUS or PALINU´RI PROMONTO´RIUM (Παλίνουρος ἀκρωτήριον, Strab.: Capo Paliuro), a promontory on the coast of Lucania, on the Tyrrhenian sea, between Velia and Buxentum. It had a port of the same name immediately adjoining it, which still bears the name of the Porto di Palinuro. Both headland and port received their name from the well-known tradition, recorded by Virgil, and alluded to by many other Latin writers, that it was here that Palinurus, the pilot of Aeneas, was cast on shore and buried. (Verg. A. 5.833-871, 6.337--381; Dionys. A. R. 1.53; Lucan 9.42; Mel. 2.4.9; Solin. 2.13.) We learn from Servius that heroic honours were paid him by the Lucanians (probably by the citizens of Velia), and that he had a cenotaph and sacred grove not far from that city. (Serv. ad Aen. 6.278.) It does not appear that there was ever a town adjoining the headland; and the port, which is small, though secure and well sheltered, is mentioned only by Dionysius; but the promontory is noticed by all the geographers except Ptolemy, and is described by Pliny as forming the northern boundary of a great bay which might be considered as extending to the Colaumna Rhegina, or the headland on the Sicilian straits. It is in fact the most salient point of the projecting mass of mountains which separate the gulf of Posidonia from that of Laüs or Policastro, and form the chief natural feature of the coast of Lucania. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 10; Mel 2.4.9; Strab. vi. p.252; Oros. 4.9.) Some ruins of ancient buildings are still visible on the summit of the headland, which are popularly known as the tomb of Palinurus. The promontory still retains its ancient name, though vulgarly corrupted into that of Palonudo.

Like most mountain promontories, that of Palinurus [p. 2.535]was subject to sudden and violent storms, and became, in consequence, on two occasions the scene of great disasters to the Roman fleets.. The first was in B.C. 253, when a fleet under the consuls Servilius Caepio and Sempronius Blaesus, on its return from Africa, was shipwrecked on the coast about Cape Palinurus, and 150 vessels lost with all the booty on board. (Oros. 4.9.) The second was in B.C. 36, when a considerable part of the fleet of Augustus, on its way to Sicily, having been compelled by a tempest to seek refuge in the bay or roadstead of Velia, was lost on the rocky coast between that city and the adjoining headland of Palinurus. (D. C. 49.1; Appian, App. BC 5.98; Vell. 2.79.)


hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 5.11.98
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.871
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.337
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.833
    • Lucan, Civil War, 9.42
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
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