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PE´LIUM (Πήλιον), a lofty mountain in Thessaly, extending along the coast of Magnesia. It rises to the south of Ossa, and the last falls of the two mountains are connected by a low ridge. (Hdt. 7.129.) It forms a chain of some extent, stretching from Mt. Ossa to the extremity of Magnesia, where it terminates in the promontories of Sepias and Aeantium. It attains its greatest height above Iolcos. According to Ovid it is lower than Ossa (Fast. 3.441), which Dodwell describes as about 5000 feet high. In form it has a broad and extended outline, and is well contrasted with the steeply conical shape of Ossa. On its eastern side Mt. Pelium rises almost precipitously from the sea; and its rocky and inhospitable shore (ἀκτὰ ἀλίμενος Πηλίου, Eur. Alc. 595) proved fatal to the fleet of Xerxes. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 384.) Mt. Pelium is still covered with venerable forests, to which frequent allusion is made in the ancient poets. Homer constantly gives it the epithet of εἰνοσίφυλλον (Il. 2.744, &c.). Its northern summit is clothed with oaks, and its eastern side abounds with chestnuts; besides which there are forests of beeches, elms, and pines. (Dicaearch. Descript. Mont. Pel. in Geogr. Graec. Min. p. 106, ed. Paris, 1855; Ov. Fast. 5.381; Valer. Flacc. 2.6.)

Mt. Pelium is celebrated in mythology. It plays an important part in the war of the giants and the gods: since the giants are said to have piled Ossa upon Pelium, in order to scale Olympus. It has been observed that this part of the fable is well explained by the respective forms of Ossa and Pelium. As Pelium is viewed from the south, two summits are seen at a considerable distance from each other,--a concavity between them, but so slight as almost to give the effect of a table-mountain, upon which fiction might readily suppose that another hill of the conical form of Ossa should recline. (Holland, Travels, vol. ii. p. 96.) Mt. Pelium was said to be the residence of the Centaurs, and more especially of Cheiron, the instructor of Achilles, a legend to which the number of medicinal plants found on the mountain perhaps gave rise. (Dicaearch. l.c.; Hom. Il. 2.743, 16.143; Pind. P. 2.83, 3.7; Verg. G. 3.92.)

According to Dicaearchus (l.c.), the cave of Cheiron and a temple of Zeus Actaeus occupied the summit of the mountain. The same writer relates that it was the custom of the sons of the principal citizens of Demetrias, selected by the priest, to ascend every year to this temple, clothed with thick skins, on account of the cold. Between the two summits of Mt. Pelium there is a fine cavern, now commonly known by the name of the cave of Achilles, and which accords with the position of the cave of Cheiron, mentioned by Dicaearchus. The same writer likewise speaks of two rivers of Mt. Pelium, called Crausindon and Brychon. One of them is now named Zervókhia, and falls into the gulf between Nekhóri and St. George. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 384, seq.) Lastly, Pelium was connected with the tale of the Argonauts, since the timber of which their ship was built was cut down in the forests of this mountain. The north-western summit of Mt. Pelium is now named Plessídhi but the mountain is frequently called Zagorá, from the; town of this name immediately below the summit on the eastern side. (Leake, l.c. Mézières, Mémoire sur Ie Pélion et l'Ossa, Paris, 1853.)

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Euripides, Alcestis, 595
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.129
    • Homer, Iliad, 16.143
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.743
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.744
    • Vergil, Georgics, 3.92
    • Ovid, Fasti, 5
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