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1 Next in order is Metapontium,1 at a distance of 140 stadia from the sea-port of Heraclea. It is said to be a settlement of the Pylians at the time of their return from Ilium under Nestor; their success in agriculture was so great, that it is said they offered at Delphi a golden harvest:2 they adduce, as a proof of this foundation, the offerings of the dead sacrificed periodically to the Neleïdæ;3 but it was destroyed by the Samnites.4 Antiochus says that certain Achæans, who had been sent for by the Achæans of Sybaris, settled in this place when it had been desolated; he adds that these were sent for on account of the hatred of the Achæans to the Tarentini, who had originally migrated from Laconia, in order to prevent their seizing upon the place which lay adjacent to them. Of the two cities, viz. Metapontium which was situated the nearer, [and Siris the further,5] from Tarentum, the new comers preferred to occupy Metapontium. This choice was suggested by the Sybarites, because, if they should make good their settlement there, they would also possess Siris, but if they were to turn to Siris, Metapontium would be annexed to the territory of the Tarentines which was conterminous. But after being engaged in war with the Tarentini and the Œnotrians, who dwelt beyond them, they came to an agreement, securing to them a portion of land, which should constitute the boundary between Italy, as it then existed, and Iapygia. This, too, is the locality which tradition assigns to the adventures of Metapontus and the captive Melanippe, and her son Bœotus. But Antiochus is of opinion that the city Metapontium was originally called Metabum, and that its name was altered at a subsequent period; and that Melanippe was not entertained here but at Dius, and thinks that the heroum of Metabus as well as the testimony of the poet Asius, who says that “ The beautiful Melanippe, in the halls of Dius, bare Bœotus,
” afford sufficient proof that Melanippe was led to Dius and not to Metabum. Ephorus says that Daulius, the tyrant of Crissa6 near Delphi, was the founder of Metapontium. There is, however, another tradition, that Leucippus was sent by the Achæans to help to found the colony, and having asked permission of the Tarentini to have the place for a day and a night, would not give it up, replying by day to those who asked it of him, that he had asked and obtained it till the following night, and when asked by night, he said that he held it till the coming day. Next adjoining is Tarentum and lapygia, which we will describe when we shall have first gone through the islands which lie off Italy, according to our original purpose; for we have always given the adjacent islands with every nation we have hitherto described, and since we have gone through Œnotria, which only, the people of ancient times named Italy we feel justified in keeping to the same arrangement, and shall pass on to Sicily and the surrounding islands.
2 In the time of Pausanias, this city was a heap of ruins, and nothing remained standing but the walls and theatre. Considerable vestiges, situated near the station called Torre di Mare, indicate the site it an- ciently adorned.
3 θερος χρυσοῦν. Xylander and others have thought this was a statue representing Summer; others have reckoned that golden sheaves were intended. The coins of Metapontium, which are greatly admired as works of art, have a head of Ceres, and on the reverse an ear of corn. A large sum of these might be justly called a golden harvest.
4 Neleus had twelve sons, eleven of whom were slain by Hercules, while Nestor alone escaped; we must therefore infer from this passage, that rites were celebrated at Metapontium in honour of his brothers.
5 The Greek words might either mean that Metapontium was destroyed or that the sacrifices were abolished. From the succeeding sentence it would be most natural to suppose that Strabo meant to say the city was overthrown.
6 These words are not in the Greek text, but seem to have been accidentally omitted by the transcriber.
7 A city of Phocis, now Krisso.
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