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[12]

The first city is Croton, within one hundred and fifty stadia from the Lacinium; and then comes the River Aesarus, and a harbor, and another river, the Neaethus. The Neaethus got its name, it is said, from what occurred there: Certain of the Achaeans who had strayed from the Trojan fleet put in there and disembarked for an inspection of the region, and when the Trojan women who were sailing with them learned that the boats were empty of men, they set fire to the boats, for they were weary of the voyage, so that the men remained there of necessity, although they at the same time noticed that the soil was very fertile. And immediately several other groups, on the strength of their racial kinship, came and imitated them, and thus arose many settlements, most of which took their names from the Trojans; and also a river, the Neaethus, took its appellation from the aforementioned occurrence.1 According to Antiochus, when the god told the Achaeans to found Croton, Myscellus departed to inspect the place, but when he saw that Sybaris was already founded—having the same name as the river near by—he judged that Sybaris was better; at all events, he questioned the god again when he returned whether it would be better to found this instead of Croton, and the god replied to him (Myscellus2 was a hunchback as it happened): "Myscellus, short of back, in searching else outside thy track, thou hunt'st for morsels only; 'tis right that what one giveth thee thou do approve;"3 and Myscellus came back and founded Croton, having as an associate Archias, the founder of Syracuse, who happened to sail up while on his way to found Syracuse.4 The Iapyges used to live at Croton in earlier times, as Ephorus says. And the city is reputed to have cultivated warfare and athletics; at any rate, in one Olympian festival the seven men who took the lead over all others in the stadium-race were all Crotoniates, and therefore the saying "The last of the Crotoniates was the first among all other Greeks" seems reasonable. And this, it is said, is what gave rise to the other proverb, "more healthful than Croton," the belief being that the place contains something that tends to health and bodily vigor, to judge by the multitude of its athletes. Accordingly, it had a very large number of Olympic victors, although it did not remain inhabited a long time, on account of the ruinous loss of its citizens who fell in such great numbers5 at the River Sagra. And its fame was increased by the large number of its Pythagorean philosophers, and by Milo, who was the most illustrious of athletes, and also a companion of Pythagoras, who spent a long time in the city. It is said that once, at the common mess of the philosophers, when a pillar began to give way, Milo slipped in under the burden and saved them all, and then drew himself from under it and escaped. And it is probably because he relied upon this same strength that he brought on himself the end of his life as reported by some writers; at any rate, the story is told that once, when he was travelling through a deep forest, he strayed rather far from the road, and then, on finding a large log cleft with wedges, thrust his hands and feet at the same time into the cleft and strained to split the log completely asunder; but he was only strong enough to make the wedges fall out, whereupon the two parts of the log instantly snapped together; and caught in such a trap as that, he became food for wild beasts.

1 The Greek "Neas aethein" means "to burn ships."

2 Ovid Met. 15.20 spells the name "Myscelus," and perhaps rightly; that is, "Mouse-leg" (?).

3 For a fuller account, see Diod. Sic. 8. 17 His version of the oracle is: "Myscellus, short of back, in searching other things apart from god, thou searchest only after tears; what gift god giveth thee, do thou approve."

4 The generally accepted dates for the founding of Croton and Syracuse are, respectively, 710 B.C. and 734 B.C. But Strabo's account here seems to mean that Syracuse was founded immediately after Croton (cp. 6. 2. 4). Cp. also Thucydides 6. 3. 2

5 Cp. 6. 1 10.

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