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 The first of the cities which at present remain on the aforesaid side is Messana, built at the head of the gulf of Pelorias, which is curved very considerably towards the east, and forms a bay. The passage across to Rhegium1 is 60 stadia, but the distance to the Columna Rheginorum is much less. It was from a colony of the Messenians of the Peloponnesus that it was named Messana, having been originally called Zanole, on account of the great inequality of the coast (for anything irregular was termed ξάγκλιον.2 It was originally founded by the people of Naxos near Catana. Afterwards the Mamertini, a tribe of Campanians, took possession of it.3 The Romans, in the war in Sicily against the Carthaginians, used it as an arsenal.4 Still more recently,5 Sextus Pompeius assembled his fleet in it, to contend against Augustus Cæsar; and when he relinquished the island, he took ship from thence.6 Charybdis7 is pointed out at a short distance from the city in the Strait, an immense gulf, into which the back currents of the Strait frequently impel ships, carrying them down with a whirl and the violence of the eddy. When they are swallowed down and shattered, the wrecks are cast by the stream on the shore of Tauromenia,8 which they call, on account of this kind of accumulation, the dunghill.9 So greatly have the Mamertini prevailed over the Messenians, that they have by degrees wrested the city from them. The inhabitants generally are rather called Mamertini than Messenians. The district abounds in wine, which we do not call Messenian, but Mamertinian: it vies with the best produced in Italy.10 The city is well peopled, but Catana is more populous, which has been colonized by the Romans.11 Tauromenium is less populous than either. Catana was founded by people from Naxos, and Tauromenium by the Zanclæns of Hybla,12 but Catana was deprived of its original inhabitants when Hiero, the tyrant of Syracuse, introduced others, and called it by the name of Ætna instead of Catana. It is of this that Pindar says he was the founder, when he sings, “‘Thou understandest what I say, O father, that bearest the same name with the splendid holy sacrifices, thou founder of Ætna.’13” But on the death of Hiero,14 the Catanæans returned and expelled the new inhabitants, and demolished the mausoleum of the tyrant. The Ætnæans, compelled to retire,15 established themselves on a hilly district of Ætna, called Innesa,16 and called the place Ætna. It is distant from Catana about 80 stadia. They still acknowledged Hiero as their founder. Ætna lies the highest of any part of Catana, and participates the most in the inconveniences occasioned by the mouths of the volcano, for the streams of lava flowing down in Catanæa17 pass through it first. It was here that Amphinomus and Anapias set the example of filial piety so greatly cele- brated, for they, seizing their parents, carried them on their shoulders18 to a place of safety from the impending ruin; for whenever, as Posidonius relates, there is an eruption of the mountain the fields of the Catanæans are buried to a great depth. However, after the burning ashes have occasioned a temporary damage, they fertilize the country for future seasons, and render the soil good for the vine and very strong for other produce, the neighbouring districts not being equally adapted to the produce of wine. They say that the roots which the districts covered with these ashes produce, are so good for fattening sheep, that they are sometimes suffocated, wherefore they bleed them in the ear every four or five days,19 in the same way as we have related a like practice at Erythia. When the stream of lava cools20 it covers the surface of the earth with stone to a considerable depth, so that those who wish to uncover the original surface are obliged to hew away the stone as in a quarry. For the stone is liquefied in the craters and then thrown up. That which is cast forth from the top is like a black moist clay and flows down the hill-sides, then congealing it becomes mill-stone, preserving the same colour it had while fluid. The ashes of the stones which are burnt are like what would be produced by wood, and as rue thrives on wood ashes, so there is probably some quality in the ashes of Ætna which is appropriate to the vine.
3 B. C. 289.
4 B. C. 264 to 243.
5 B. C. 44.
6 B. C. 36.
7 Now called Garafalo.
10 These wines, although grown in Sicily, were reckoned among the Italian wines. See Athen. Deipnos. lib. i, cap. 21, ed. Schweigh. tom. i. p. 102. And from the time of Julius Cæsar they were classed in the fourth division of the most esteemed wines. See Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. xiv. § 8, No. 4 and § 17.
11 At the same time as Syracuse.῾ιέοͅων and ὶεοͅῶν.
14 This occurred in the year 468.
15 About 461.
16 Cluvier considers that the monastery of Saint Nicolas de Arenis, about 12 modern miles from Catana, is situated about the place to which Strabo here alludes.
17 τὴν καταναίαν. The spelling of this name, like very many in the present work, was by no means uniform in classic authors. Strabo has generally called it Catana (κατάνη); Ptolemy, κατάυν κολώνια; Pliny, lib. iii. cap. 8, Colonia Catina; Pomponius Mela, lib. ii. cap. 7, Catina; Cicero, Catina; and on ancient coins we find καταναιων.
18 This feat was recorded by divers works of art set up in different places: it must have taken place in one of the eruptions, 477, 453, or 427, before the Christian era. The place where they lived was called Campus Piorum.
19 δι᾽ ἡμερῶν τεσσάοͅων ἤ πέντε, in Kramer's text; in his notes he particularizes the readings of the different manuscripts and editions, some reading forty or fifty. He also records his sorrow at having preferred the reading of fifty days to thirty, in the passage relating to the fat beasts of Erythia, book iii. cap. 5, § 4, (page 255).
20 Literally, changes into coagulation.
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