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PRAESUS or PRASUS (Πραῖσος; in the MSS. of Strabo Πρᾶσος, but in inscriptions Πραῖσος, Böckh, Inscr. vol. ii. p. 1102: Eth. Πραίσιος, more rarely Πραισιεύς, Steph. B. sub voce a town in Crete, belonging to the Eteocretes, and containing the temple of the Dictaean Zeus, for Mt. Dicte was in the territory of Praesus. (Strab. x. pp. 475, 478.) There is a difficulty in the passage of Strabo, describing the position of this town. He first says (p. 478) that Praesus bordered upon the territory of Leben, and was distant 70 stadia from the sea, and 180 from Gortyn; and he next speaks of Praesus as lying between the promontories Samonium and Chersonesus, at the distance of 60 stadia from the sea. It is evident that these are two different places, as a town, whose territory was contiguous to that of Leben, must have been situated in the southern part of the island; while the other town, between the promontories of Samonium and Chersonesus, must have been at the eastern end. The latter is the town of the Eteocretes, possessing the temple of the Dictaean Zeus, and the Praesus usually known in history : the former is supposed by Mr. Pashley (Crete, vol. i. p. 289, seq.) to be a false reading for Priansus, a town mentioned in coins and inscriptions, which he accordingly places on the southern coast between Bienna and Leben. In this he is followed by Kiepert. But Böckh thinks (Inscr. vol. ii. p. 405) that Πράνσος, or Πρίανσος was the primitive form of the name, from which Πραῖσος, or Πρίαισος (a form in Steph. B. sub voce and subsequently Πρᾶσος, were derived, just as in the Aeolic dialect πάνσα became παῖσα, and in the Attic dialect πᾶσα. Kramer (ad Strab. l.c.) adopts the opinion of Böckh. Upon the whole we must leave uncertain what town was intended by Strabo in the former of the above-mentioned passages.

The territory of Praesus extended across the island to either sea. (Scylax, p. 18, Huds.) It is said to have been the only place in Crete, with the exception of Polichna, that did not take part in the [p. 2.667]expedition against Camicus in Sicily, in order to avenge the death of Minos (Hdt. 7.170). It was destroyed by the inhabitants of Hierapytna. (Strab. x. p.479.) Agathocles, the Babylonian, related that the Praesii were accustomed to sacrifice swine before marriage. (Athen. 9.376.) The ruins of Praesus are still called Praesús. (Pashley, Crete, vol. i. p. 290, seq.; Höck, Kreta, vol. i. p. 413, seq.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.170
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 9
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