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Description of Iassus

The town of Iassus is situated in Asia on the gulf
Legends of Iassus and Bargylia.
between the temple of Poseidmen, the territory of Miletus, and the city of Myndus, called the gulf [of Iassus by some]. but by most the gulf of Bargylia from the names of the cities built upon its inner coast. The Iassians boast of being originally colonists from Argos, and more recently from Miletus, their ancestors having invited to their town the son of Neleus, the founder of Miletus, owing to their losses in the war with the Carians. The size of the town is ten stades. Among the people of Bargylia it is a common report widely believed that the statue of the Kindyan Artemis, though in the open air, is never touched by snow or rain; and the same belief is held among the Iassians as to the Artemis Astias.1 All these stories have been repeated by certain historians. But, for my part, I have in the whole course of my work set myself against such statements of our historiographers and have had no toleration for them. For it appears to me that such tales are only fit to amuse children, when they transgress not only the limits of probability but even those of possibility. For instance, to say that certain bodies when placed in full light cast no shadow argues a state of quite deplorable folly. But Theopompus has done this; for he says that those who enter the holy precinct of Zeus in Arcadia cast no shadow, which is on a par with the statements to which I have just referred. Now, in so far as such tales tend to preserve the reverence of the vulgar for religion, a certain allowance may be made for some historians when they record these miraculous legends. But they must not be allowed to go too far. Perhaps it is difficult to assign a limit in such a matter; still it is not impossible. Therefore, in my judgment, such displays of ignorance and delusion should be pardoned if they do not go very far, but anything like extravagance in them should be rejected.

1 An inscription found at Iassus [C. I. G. 2683] has confirmed this name which is found in one MS. instead of Hestias. Whether the meaning of the title is Artemis of the City, or some local designation, is uncertain.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 32.33
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