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 To the east of this island, and of Cephallenia, are situated the Echinades1 islands; among which is Dulichium, at present called Dolicha, and the islands called Oxeiæ, to which the poet gives the name of Thoæ.2 Dolicha is situated opposite to the Œniadæ, and the mouth of the Achelous: it is distant from Araxus,3 the promontory of Elis, 100 stadia. The rest of the Echinades are numerous, they are all barren and rocky, and lie in front of the mouth of the Achelous, the most remote of them at the distance of 15, the nearest at the distance of 5 stadia; they formerly were farther out at sea, but the accumulation of earth, which is brought down in great quantity by the Achelous, has already joined some, and will join others, to the continent. This accumulation of soil anciently formed the tract Paracheloitis, which the river overflows, a subject of contention, as it was continually confounding boundaries, which had been determined by the Acarnanians and the Ætolians. For want of arbitrators they decided their dispute by arms. The most powerful gained the victory. This gave occasion to a fable, how Hercules overcame the Achelous in fight, and received in marriage as the prize of his victory, Deianeira, daughter of Œneus. Sophocles introduces her, saying, “‘My suitor was a river, I mean the Achelous, who demanded me of my father under three forms; one while coming as a bull of perfect form, another time as a spotted writhing serpent, at another with the body of a man and the forehead of a bull.’4” Some writers add, that this was the horn of Amaltheia, which Hercules broke off from the Achelous, and presented to Œneus as a bridal gift. Others, conjecturing the truth included in this story, say, that Achelous is reported to have resembled a bull, like other rivers, in the roar of their waters, and the bendings of their streams, which they term horns; and a serpent from its length and oblique course; and bull-fronted because it was compared to a bull's head; and that Hercules, who, on other occasions, was disposed to perform acts of kindness for the public benefit, so particularly, when he was desirous of contracting an alliance with Œneus, performed for him these services; he prevented the river from overflowing its banks, by constructing mounds and by diverting its streams by canals, and by draining a large tract of the Paracheloitis, which had been injured by the river; and this is the horn of Amaltheia. Homer says, that in the time of the Trojan war the Echinades, and the Oxeiæ were subject to Meges, “‘son of the hero Phyleus, beloved of Jupiter, who formerly repaired to Dulichium on account of a quarrel with his father.’5” The father of Phyleus was Augeas, king of Elis, and of the Epeii. The Epeii then, who possessed these islands, were those who had migrated to Dulichium with Phyleus.
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