CHAPTER II.SINCE Lesbos, a very remarkable island, lies along and opposite to the sea-coast, extending from Lectum to Canæ, and since it is surrounded by small islands, some of which lie beyond it, others in the space between Lesbos and the continent, it is now proper to describe them, because they are Æolian places, and Lesbos is, as it were, the capital of the Æolian cities. We shall begin where we set out to describe the coast opposite to the island.  In sailing from Lectum to Assos the Lesbian district begins opposite to Sigrium,1 its northern promontory. Somewhere there is Methymna,2 a city of the Lesbians, 60 stadia from the coast, between Polymedium and Assos. The whole island is 1100 stadia in circumference. The particulars are these. From Methymna to Malia,3 the most southern promontory to those who have the island on their right hand, and to which Canæ4 lies directly opposite, are 340 stadia. Thence to Sigrium, which is the length of the island, 560 stadia, thence to Methymna 210 stadia.5 Mitylene, the largest city, lies between Methymna and Malia, at the distance from Malia of 70 stadia, and from Canæ of 120, and as many from the Arginussæ islands,6 which are three small islands near the continent, and situated near Canæ. In the interval between Mitylene and Methymna, at a village called Ægeirus in the Methymnæan territory, is the narrowest part of the island, having a passage of 20 stadia to the Pyrrhæan Euripus.7 Pyrrha8 is situated on the western side of Lesbos, at the distance of 100 stadia from Malia. Mitylene has two harbours; of which the southern is a close harbour and capable of holding 50 triremes. The northern harbour is large, and deep, and protected by a mole. In front of both lies a small island, which contains a part of the city. Mitylene is well provided with everything.  It formerly produced celebrated men, as Pittacus, one of the Seven Wise Men; Alcæus the poet, and his brother Antimenidas, who, according to Alcæus, when fighting on the side of the Babylonians, achieved a great exploit, and extricated them from their danger by killing “ a valiant warrior, the king's wrestler, who was four cubits in height.
” Contemporary with these persons flourished Sappho, an extraordinary woman; for at no period within memory has any woman been known at all to be compared to her in poetry. At this period Mitylene was ruled by many tyrants, in consequence of the dissensions among the citizens. These dissensions are the subject of the poems of Alcæus called Stasiotica (the Seditions). One of these tyrants was Pittacus: Alcæus inveighed against him as well as against Myrsilus, Melanchrus the Cleanactidæ, and some others; nor was he himself clear from the imputation of favouring these political changes. Pittacus himself employed monarchical power to dissolve the despotism of the many, but, having done this, he restored the independence of the city. At a late period afterwards appeared Diophanes the rhetorician; in our times Potamo, Lesbocles, Crinagoras, and Theophanes the historian.9 The latter was versed in political affairs, and became the friend of Pompey the Great, chiefly on account of his accomplishments and assistance he afforded in directing to a successful issue all his enterprises. Hence, partly by means of Pompey, partly by his own exertions, he became an ornament to his country, and rendered himself the most illustrious of all the Grecians. He left a son, Mark (Macer?) Pompey, whom Augustus Cæsar appointed prefect of Asia, and who is now reckoned among the number of the chief friends of Tiberius. The Athenians were in danger of incurring irremediable disgrace by passing a decree that all the Mitylenæans who had attained the age of puberty should be put to death. They, however, recalled their resolution, and the counter-decree reached their generals only one day before the former order was to be executed.  Pyrrha is in ruins. But the suburb is inhabited, and has a port, whence to Mitylene is a passage of 80 stadia. Next after Pyrrha is Eressus.10 It is situated upon a hill, and extends to the sea. Thence to Sigrium 28 stadia. Eressus was the birth-place of Theophrastus, and of Phanias, Peripatetic philosophers, disciples of Aristotle. Theophrastus was called Tyrtamus before his name was changed by Aristotle to Theophrastus, thus getting rid of the cacophony of the former name, and at the same time expressing the beauty of his elocution, for Aristotle made all his disciples eloquent, but Theophrastus the most eloquent of them all. Antissa11 is next to Sigrium. It is a city with a harbour. Then follows Methymna, of which place Arion was a native, who, as Herodotus relates the story, after having been thrown into the sea by pirates, escaped safe to Tænarum on the back of a dolphin. He played on the cithara and sang to it. Terpander, who practised the same kind of music, was a native of this island. He was the first person that used the lyre with seven instead of four strings, as is mentioned in the verses attributed to him: “‘we have relinquished the song adapted to four strings, and shall cause new hymns to resound on a seven-stringed cithara.’” The historian Hellanicus, and Callias, who has commented on Sappho and Alcæus, were Lesbians.  Near the strait situated between Asia and Lesbos there are about twenty small islands, or, according to Timosthenes, forty. They are called Hecatonnesoi,12 a compound name like Peloponnesus, the letter N being repeated by custom in such words as Myonnesus, Proconnesus, Halonnesus, so that Hecatonnesoi is of the same import as Apollonnesoi, since Apollo is called Hecatus;13 for along the whole of this coast, as far as Tenedos, Apollo is held in the highest veneration, and worshipped under the names of Smintheus, Cillæus, Gryneus, or other appellations. Near these islands is Pordoselene, which contains a city of the same name, and in front of this city is another island14 larger than this, and a city of the same name, uninhabited, in which there is a temple of Apollo.  Some persons, in order to avoid the indecorum couched in these names,15 say that we ought to read in that place Poroselene, and to call Aspordenum, the rocky and barren mountain near Pergamum, Asporenum, and the temple there of the Mother of the gods, the temple of the Asporene Mother of the gods; what then are we to say to the names Pordalis, Saper- des, Perdiccas, and to this word in the verse of Simonides, ‘with clothes dripping with wet,’ (ποοͅσάκοισιν for διαβόχοις,） and in the old comedy somewhere, ‘the country is ποοͅδακόν, for λιμνάζον, or ' marshy.'’ Lesbos is at the same distance, rather less than 500 stadia, from Tenedos, Lemnos, and Chios.