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[6]

Next comes the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf. Although the mouth of this gulf is but slightly more than four stadia wide, the circumference is as much as three hundred stadia; and it has good harbors everywhere. That part of the country which is on the right as one sails in is inhabited by the Greek Acarnanians. Here too, near the mouth, is the sacred precinct of the Actian Apollo—a hill on which the temple stands; and at the foot of the hill is a plain which contains a sacred grove and a naval station, the naval station where Caesar dedicated as first fruits of his victory1 the squadron of ten ships—from vessel with single bank of oars to vessel with ten; however, not only the boats, it is said, but also the boat-houses have been wiped out by fire. On the left of the mouth are Nicopolis and the country of the Epeirote Cassopaeans, which extends as far as the recess of the gulf near Ambracia.2 Ambracia lies only a short distance above the recess; it was founded by Gorgus, the son of Cypselus. The River Aratthus3 flows past Ambracia; it is navigable inland for only a few stadia, from the sea to Ambracia, although it rises in Mount Tymphe and the Paroraea. Now this city enjoyed an exceptional prosperity in earlier times (at any rate the gulf was named after it), and it was adorned most of all by Pyrrhus, who made the place his royal residence. In later times, however, the Macedonians and the Romans, by their continuous wars, so completely reduced both this and the other Epeirote cities because of their disobedience that finally Augustus, seeing that the cities had utterly failed, settled what inhabitants were left in one city together the city on this gulf which was called by him Nicopolis;4 and he so named it after the victory which he won in the naval battle before the mouth of the gulf over Antonius and Cleopatra the queen of the Egyptians, who was also present at the fight. Nicopolis is populous, and its numbers are increasing daily, since it has not only a considerable territory and the adornment taken from the spoils of the battle, but also, in its suburbs, the thoroughly equipped sacred precinct—one part of it being in a sacred grove that contains a gymnasium and a stadium for the celebration of the quinquennial games,5 the other part being on the hill that is sacred to Apollo and lies above the grove. These games—the Actia, sacred to Actian Apollo—have been designated as Olympian,6 and they are superintended by the Lacedaemonians. The other settlements are dependencies of Nicopolis. In earlier times also the Actian Games were wont to be celebrated in honor of the god by the inhabitants of the surrounding country—games in which the prize was a wreath—but at the present time they have been set in greater honor by Caesar.

1 In the Battle of Actium, 31 B.C.

2 Now Arta.

3 Otherwise called Arachthus; now the Arta.

4 “Victory-city.”

5 the Ludi Quinquennales, celebrated every four years (see Dio Cassius 51.1).

6 So in the course of time games at numerous places (including Athens, Ephesus, Naples, Smyrna, Tarsus) came to be called “Olympian” in imitation of those at Olympia. The actual term used, for those at Tarsus at least, was Ἰσολύμπια, “equal to the Olympian” (C. I. 4472).

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load focus English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
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