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The part of Arcadia that lies next to the Argive land is occupied by Tegeans and Mantineans, who with the rest of the Arcadians inhabit the interior of the Peloponnesus. The first people within the peninsula are the Corinthians, living on the Isthmus, and their neighbors on the side sea-wards are the Epidaurians. Along Epidaurus, Troezen, and Nermion, come the Argolic Gulf and the coast of Argolis; next to Argolis come the vassals of Lacedaemon, and these border on Messenia, which comes down to the sea at Mothone, Pylus and Cyparissiae.

[2] On the side of Lechaeum the Corinthians are bounded by the Sicyonians, who dwell in the extreme part of Argolis on this side. After Sicyon come the Achaeans who live along the coast at the other end of the Peloponnesus, opposite the Echinadian islands, dwell the Eleans. The land of Elis, on the side of Olympia and the mouth of the Alpheius, borders on Messenia; on the side of Achaia it borders on the land of Dyme.

[3] These that I have mentioned extend to the sea, but the Arcadians are shut off from the sea on every side and dwell in the interior. Hence, when they went to Troy, so Homer says, they did not sail in their own ships, but in vessels lent by Agamemnon.


The Arcadians say that Pelasgus was the first inhabitant of this land. It is natural to suppose that others accompanied Pelasgus, and that he was not by himself; for otherwise he would have been a king without any subjects to rule over. However, in stature and in prowess, in beauty and in wisdom, Pelasgus excelled his fellows, and for this reason, I think, he was chosen to be king by them. Asius the poet says of him:—“The godlike Pelasgus on the wooded mountains
Black earth gave up, that the race of mortals might exist.
Asius, unknown location.

[5] Pelasgus on becoming king invented huts that humans should not shiver, or be soaked by rain, or oppressed by heat. Moreover; he it was who first thought of coats of sheep-skins, such as poor folk still wear in Euboea and Phocis. He too it was who checked the habit of eating green leaves, grasses, and roots always inedible and sometimes poisonous.

[6] But he introduced as food the nuts of trees, not those of all trees but only the acorns of the edible oak. Some people have followed this diet so closely since the time of Pelasgus that even the Pythian priestess, when she forbade the Lacedaemonians to touch the land of the Arcadians, uttered the following verses:—“In Arcadia are many men who eat acorns,
Who will prevent you; though I do not grudge it you.
”It is said that it was in the reign of Pelasgus that the land was called Pelasgia.


Lycaon the son of Pelasgus devised the following plans, which were more clever than those of his father. He founded the city Lycosura on Mount Lycaeus, gave to Zeus the surname Lycaeus and founded the Lycaean games. I hold that the Panathenian festival was not founded before the Lycaean. The early name for the former festival was the Athenian, which was changed to the Panathenian in the time of Theseus, because it was then established by the whole Athenian people gathered together in a single city.

[2] The Olympic games I leave out of the present account, because they are traced back to a time earlier than the human race, the story being that Cronus and Zeus wrestled there, and that the Curetes were the first to race at Olympia. My view is that Lycaon was contemporary with Cecrops, the king of Athens, but that they were not equally wise in matters of religion.

[3] For Cecrops was the first to name Zeus the Supreme god, and refused to sacrifice anything that had life in it, but burnt instead on the altar the national cakes which the Athenians still call pelanoi. But Lycaon brought a human baby to the altar of Lycaean Zeus, and sacrificed it, pouring out its blood upon the altar, and according to the legend immediately after the sacrifice he was changed from a man to a wolf (Lycos).

[4] I for my part believe this story; it has been a legend among the Arcadians from of old, and it has the additional merit of probability. For the men of those days, because of their righteousness and piety, were guests of the gods, eating at the same board ;the good were openly honored by the gods, and sinners were openly visited with their wrath. Nay, in those days men were changed to gods, who down to the present day have honors paid to them—Aristaeus, Britomartis of Crete, Heracles the son of Alcmena, Amphiaraus the son of Oicles, and besides these Polydeuces and Castor.

[5] So one might believe that Lycaon was turned into a beast, and Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, into a stone. But at the present time, when sin has grown to such a height and has been spreading over every land and every city, no longer do men turn into gods, except in the flattering words addressed to despots, and the wrath of the gods is reserved until the sinners have departed to the next world.

[6] All through the ages, many events that have occurred in the past, and even some that occur to-day, have been generally discredited because of the lies built up on a foundation of fact. It is said, for instance, that ever since the time of Lycaon a man has changed into a wolf at the sacrifice to Lycaean Zeus, but that the change is not for life; if, when he is a wolf, he abstains from human flesh, after nine years he becomes a man again, but if he tastes human flesh he remains a beast for ever.

[7] Similarly too it is said that Niobe on Mount Sipylus sheds tears in the season of summer. I have also heard that the griffins have spots like the leopard, and that the Tritons speak with human voice, though others say that they blow through a shell that has been bored. Those who like to listen to the miraculous are themselves apt to add to the marvel, and so they ruin truth by mixing it with falsehood.


In the third generation after Pelasgus the land increased in the number both of its cities and of its population. For Nyctimus, who was the eldest son of Lycaon, possessed all the power, while the other sons founded cities on the sites they considered best. Thus Pallantium was founded by Pallas, Oresthasium by Orestheus and Phigalia by Phigalus.

[2] Pallantium is mentioned by Stesichorus of Himera in his Geryoneid. Phigalia and Oresthasium in course of time changed their names, Oresthasium to Oresteium after Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, Phigalia to Phialia after Phialus, the son of Bucolion. Cities were founded by Trapezeus also, and by Daseatas, Macareus, Helisson, Acacus and Thocnus. The last founded Thocnia, and Acacus Acacesium. It was after this Acacus, according to the Arcadian account, that Homer1 made a surname for Hermes.

[3] Helisson has given a name to both the town and the river so called, and similarly Macaria, Dasea, and Trapezus were named after the sons of Lycaon. Orchomenus became founder of both the town called Methydrium and of Orchomenus, styled by Homer2 “rich in sheep.” Hypsus and ... 3 founded Melaeneae and Hypsus, and also Thyraeum and Haemoniae. The Arcadians are of opinion that both the Thyrea in Argolis and also the Thyrean gulf were named after this Thyraeus.

[4] Maenalus founded Maenalus, which was in ancient times the most famous of the cities of Arcadia, Tegeates founded Tegea and Mantineus Mantineia. Cromi was named after Cromus, Charisia after Charisius, its founder, Tricoloni after Tricolonus, Peraethenses after Peraethus, Asea after Aseatas, Lycoa after ... 4 and Sumatia after Sumateus. Alipherus also and Heraeus both gave their names to cities.

[5] But Oenotrus, the youngest of the sons of Lycaon, asked his brother Nyctimus for money and men and crossed by sea to Italy; the land of Oenotria received its name from Oenotrus who was its king. This was the first expedition despatched from Greece to found a colony, and if a man makes the most careful calculation possible he will discover that no foreigners either emigrated to another land before Oenotrus.


In addition to all this male issue, Lycaon had a daughter Callisto. This Callisto (I repeat the current Greek legend) was loved by Zeus and mated with him. When Hera detected the intrigue she turned Callisto into a bear, and Artemis to please Hera shot the bear. Zeus sent Hermes with orders to save the child that Callisto bore in her womb,

[7] and Callisto herself he turned into the constellation known as the Great Bear, which is mentioned by Homer in the return voyage of Odysseus from Calypso:—“Gazing at the Pleiades and late-setting Bootes,
And the Bear, which they also call the Wain.
Hom. Od. 5.272But it may be that the constellation is merely named in honor of Callisto, since her grave is pointed out by the Arcadians.


After the death of Nyctimus, Arcas the son of Callisto came to the throne. He introduced the cultivation of crops, which he learned from Triptolemus, and taught men to make bread, to weave clothes, and other things besides, having learned the art of spinning from Adristas. After this king the land was called Arcadia instead of Pelasgia and its inhabitants Arcadians instead of Pelasgians.

[2] His wife, according to the legend, was no mortal woman but a Dryad nymph. For they used to call some nymphs Dryads, others Epimeliads, and others Naiads, and Homer in his poetry talks mostly of Naiad nymphs. This nymph they call Erato, and by her they say that Arcas had Azan, Apheidas and Elatus. Previously he had had Autolaus, an illegitimate son.

[3] When his sons grew up, Arcas divided the land between them into three parts, and one district was named Azania after Azan; from Azania, it is said, settled the colonists who dwell about the cave in Phrygia called Steunos and the river Pencalas. To Apheidas fell Tegea and the land adjoining, and for this reason poets too call Tegea “the lot of Apheidas.”

[4] Elatus got Mount Cyllene, which down to that time had received no name. Afterwards Elatus migrated to what is now called Phocis, helped the Phocians when hard pressed in war by the Phlegyans, and became the founder of the city Elateia. It is said that Azan had a son Cleitor, Apheidas a son Aleus, and that Elatus had five sons, Aepytus, Pereus, Cyllen, Ischys, and Stymphalus.

[5] On the death of Axan, the son of Arcas, athletic contests were held for the first time; horse-races were certainly held, but I cannot speak positively about other contests. Now Cleitor the son of Azan dwelt in Lycosura, and was the most powerful of the kings, founding Cleitor, which he named after himself; Aleus held his father's portion.

[6] Of the sons of Elatus, Cyllen gave his name to Mount Cyllene, and Stymphalus gave his to the spring and to the city Stymphalus near the spring. The story of the death of Ischys, the son of Elatus, I have already told in my history of Argolis.5 Pereus, they say, had no male child, but only a daughter, Neaera. She married Autolycus, who lived on Mount Parnassus, and was said to be a son of Hermes, although his real father was Baedalion.


Cleitor, the son of Azan, had no children, and the sovereignty of the Arcadians devolved upon Aepytus, the son of Elatus. While out hunting, Aepytus was killed, not by any of the more powerful beasts, but by a seps that he failed to notice. This species of snake I have myself seen. It is like the smallest kind of adder, of the color of ash, with spots dotted here and there. It has a broad head and a narrow neck, a large belly and a short tail. This snake, like another called cerastes (“the horned snake”), walks with a sidelong motion, as do crabs.

[8] After Aepytus Aleus came to the throne. For Agamedes and Gortys, the sons of Stymphalus, were three generations removed from Arcas, and Aleus, the son of Apheidas, two generations. Aleus built the old sanctuary in Tegea of Athena Alea, and made Tegea the capital of his kingdom. Gortys the son of Stymphalus founded the city Gortys on a river which is also called after him. The sons of Aleus were Lycurgus, Amphidamas and Cepheus; he also had a daughter Auge.

[9] Hecataeus says that this Auge used to have intercourse with Heracles when he came to Tegea. At last it was discovered that she had borne a child to Heracles, and Aleus, putting her with her infant son in a chest, sent them out to sea. She came to Teuthras, lord of the plain of the Caicus, who fell in love with her and married her. The tomb of Auge still exists at Pergamus above the Calcus; it is a mound of earth surrounded by a basement of stone and surmounted by a figure of a naked woman in bronze.


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