previous next


AFTER having commenced with the nations about the Alps, and the Apennine mountains which are near to these, we proceeded from thence and passed through that portion of the hither country lying between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennine mountains, which incline towards the Adriatic, as far as the Samnites and the Campani. We will now return again, and describe the mountaineers, and those who dwell at the foot of the mountains; whether on the coast of the Adriatic, or in the interior. Thus, we must recommence from the boundaries of Keltica.1 [2]

After the cities of the Ombrici, which are comprised between Ariminum2 and Ancona, comes Picenum. The Picentini proceeded originally from the land of the Sabini. A woodpecker led the way for their chieftains, and from this bird they have taken their name, it being called in their language Picus, and is regarded as sacred to Mars. They inhabit the plains extending from the mountains to the sea; the length of their country considerably exceeds its breadth; the soil is every where good, but better fitted for the cultivation of fruits than grain. Its breadth, from the mountains to the sea varies in different parts. But its length; from the river Æsis3 to Castrum,4 sailing round the coast, is 800 stadia. Of its cities, Ancona is of Grecian origin, having been founded by the Syracusans who fled from the tyranny of Dionysius. It is situated upon a cape, which bending round towards the north forms a harbour; and it abounds in wine and wheat. Near to it is the city of Auxumon,5 at a little distance from the sea. After it are Septempeda,6 Pneuentia,7 Potentia,8 and Firmum Picenum,9 with its port of Castellum.10 Beyond, is the temple of Cupra,11 built and dedicated by the Tyrrheni to Juno, who is named by them Cupra; and after it the river Tronto,12 with a city of the same name.13 Beyond this is Castrum Novum,14 and the river Piomba,15 flowing from the city of Adria,16 and having [at its mouth] the naval station of Adria, which bears the same name as itself. In the interior is [the city of Adria] itself and Asculum Picenum,17 a very strong position, upon which is built a wall: the mountains which surround it are not accessible to armies.18 Above Picenum are the Vestini,19 the Marsi,20 the Peligni,21 the Marucini,22 and the Frentani,23 a Samnitic nation possessing the hill-country, and extending almost to the sea. All these nations are small, but extremely brave, and have frequently given the Romans proofs of their valour, first as enemies, afterwards as allies; and finally, having demanded the liberty and rights of citizens, and being denied, they revolted and kindled the Marsian war.24 They decreed that Corfinium,25 the metropolis of the Peligni, should be the capital for all the Italians instead of Rome: made it their place d'armes, and new-named it Italica. Then, having convoked deputies from all the people friendly to their design, they created consuls26 and pretors, and maintained the war for two27 years, until they had obtained the rights for which they struggled. The war was named the Marsian28 war, be- cause that nation commenced the insurrection, and particularly on account of Pompædius.29 These nations live generally in villages, nevertheless they are possessed of certain cities, some of which are at some little distance from the sea, as Corfinium, Sulmo,30 Maruvium,31 and Teatea32 the metropolis of the Marrucini. Others are on the coast, as Aternum33 on the Picentine boundary, so named from the river [Aternus], which separates the Vestini from the Marrucini. This river flows from the territory of Amiternum and through the Vestini, leaving on its right the Marrucini, who lie above the Peligni, [at the place where the river] is crossed by a bridge. The city, which bears the same name, (viz. Aternum,) belongs to the Vestini, but its port is used in common both by the Peligni and the Marrucini. The bridge I have mentioned is about 24 stadia from Corfinium. After Aternum is Orton,34 a naval arsenal of the Frentani, and Buca,35 which belongs to the same people, and is conterminous with the Apulian Teanum.36 † Ortonium37 is situated in the territory of the Frentani. It is rocky, and inhabited by banditti, who construct their dwellings of the wrecks of ships, and lead other- wise a savage life. † Between Orton and Aternum is the river Sagrus,38 which separates the Frentani from the Peligni. From Picenum to the Apuli, named by the Greeks the Daunii,39 sailing round the coast, is a distance of about 49040 stadia. [3]

Next in order after Latium is Campania, which extends along the [Tyrrhenian] Sea; above it is Samnium, in the interior, extending as far as the Frentani and Daunii; and beyond are the Daunii, and the other nations as far as the Strait of Sicily. We shall in the first place speak of Campania. From Sinuessa41 to Misenum42 the coast forms a vast gulf; beyond this is another gulf still larger, which they name the Crater.43 It is enclosed by the two promontories of Misenum and the Athenæum.44 It is along the shores of these [two gulfs] that the whole of Campania is situated. This plain is fertile above all others, and entirely surrounded by fruitful hills and the mountains of the Samnites and Osci. Antiochus says that this country was formerly inhabited by the Opici, and that these were called Ausones. Polybius appears to consider these as two people, for he says that the Opici and Ausones inhabit the country around the Crater.45 Others, however, state that it was originally inhabited by Opici and Ausones, but was afterwards seized on by a nation of the Osci, who were driven out by the Cumæi, and these again by the Tyrrheni. Thus the possession of the plain was much disputed on account of its great fertility. [They add that the Tyrrheni] built there twelve cities, and named the metropolis Capua. But luxury having made them effeminate, in the same way that they had formerly been driven from the banks of the Po, they were now forced to abandon this country to the Samnites; who in their turn fell before the Romans. One proof of the fertility of this country is, that it produces the finest corn. I allude to the grain from which a groat is made superior to all kinds of rice, and to almost all other farinacious food. They say that some of the plains are cropped all the year round; twice with rye, the third time with panic, and occasionally a fourth time with vegetables. It is likewise from hence that the Romans procure their finest wines, the Falernian, the Statanian, and the Calenian. That of Surrentum46 is now esteemed equal to these, it having been lately discovered that it can be kept to ripen. In addition to this, the whole country round Venafrum, bordering on the plains, is rich in olives. [4]

The maritime cities [of Campania], after Sinuessa, are Liternum,47 where is the sepulchral monument of the first of the two Scipios, surnamed Africanus; it was here that he passed the last days of his life, having abandoned public affairs in disgust at the intrigues of certain opponents. A river of the same name48 flows by this city. In like manner the Vulturnus bears the same name as the city49 founded on it, which comes next in order: this river flows through Venafrum50 and the midst of Campania. After these [cities] comes Cumæ,51 the most ancient settlement52 of the Chalcidenses and Cumæans, for it is the oldest of all [the Greek cities] in Sicily or Italy. The leaders of the expedition, Hippocles the Cumæan and Megasthenes of Chalcis, having mutually agreed that one of the nations should have the management of the colony, and the other the honour of conferring upon it its own name. Hence at the present day it is named Cumæ, while at the same time it is said to have been founded by the Chalcidenses. At first this city was highly prosperous, as well as the Phlegræan53 plain, which mythology has made the scene of the adventures of the giants, for no other reason, as it appears, than because the fertility of the country had given rise to battles for its possession. Afterwards, however, the Campanians becoming masters54 of the city, inflicted much injustice on the inhabit- ants, and even violated their wives. Still, however, there remain numerous traces of the Grecian taste, their temples, and their laws. Some are of opinion that Cumæ was so called from τὰ κύματα, the waves, the sea-coast near it being rocky and exposed. These people have excellent fisheries. On the shores of this gulf there is a scrubby forest, extending over numerous acres of parched and sandy land. This they call the Gallinarian55 wood. It was there that the admirals of Sextus Pompeius assembled their gangs of pirates, at the time when he drew Sicily into revolt.56 [5]

Near to Cumæ is the promontory of Misenum,57 and between them is the Acherusian Lake,58 which is a muddy estuary of the sea. Having doubled Misenum, you come to a harbour at the very foot of the promontory. After this the shore runs inland, forming a deeply indented bay, on which are Baïæ and the hot springs, much used, both as a fashionable watering-place, and for the cure of diseases. Contiguous to Baïæ is the Lucrine Lake,59 and within this the Lake Avernus,60 which converts into a peninsula the land stretching from the maritime district, situated between it and Cumæ, as far as Cape Misenum, for there is only an isthmus of a few stadia, across which a subterraneous road is cut [from the head of the gulf of Avernus] to Cumæ and the sea [shore] on which it stands. Former writers, mingling fable with history, have applied to Avernus the expressions of Homer in his Invocation of Departed Spirits,61 and relate that here formerly was an oracle of the dead,62 and that it was to this place that Ulysses came. However, this gulf of Avernus is deep even near the shore, with an excellent entrance, and is both as to its size and nature a harbour; but it is not used, on account of the Lucrine Gulf which lies before it, and is both large and somewhat shallow. The Avernus is surrounded with steep hills which encompass the whole of it, with the excep- tion of the entrance. These hills, now so beautifully culti- vated were formerly covered with wild forests, gigantic and impenetrable, which overshadowed the gulf, imparting a feeling of superstitious awe. The inhabitants affirm that birds, flying over the lake, fall into the water,63 being stifled by the vapours rising from it, a phenomenon of all Plutonian64 localities. They believed, in fact, that this place was a Plutonium, around which the Kimmerians used to dwell, and those who sailed into the place made sacrifice and propitiatory offerings to the infernal deities, as they were instructed by the priests who ministered at the place. There is here a spring of water near to the sea fit for drinking, from which, however, every one abstained, as they supposed it to be water from the Styx: [they thought likewise] that the oracle of the dead was situated some where here; and the hot springs near to the Acherusian Lake indicated the proximity of Pyriphlegethon. Ephorus, peopling this place with Kimmerii, tells us that they dwell in under-ground habitations, named by them Argillæ, and that these communicate with one another by means of certain subterranean passages; and that they conduct strangers through them to the oracle, which is built far below the surface of the earth. They live on the mines together with the profits accruing from the oracle, and grants made to them by the king [of the country]. It was a traditional custom for the servants of the oracle never to behold the sun, and only to quit their caverns at night. It was on this account that the poet said,

“ On them the Sun
Deigns not to look with his beam-darting eye.65

Odys. xi. 15.
At last, however, these men were exterminated by one of the kings, the oracle having deceived him; but [adds Ephorus] the oracle is still in existence, though removed to another place. Such were the myths related by our ancestors. But now that the wood surrounding the Avernus has been cut down by Agrippa, the lands built upon, and a subterranean passage cut from Avernus to Cumæ, all these appear fables. Perhaps66 Cocceius, who made this subterranean passage,67 wished to follow the practice of the Kimmerians we have already described, or fancied that it was natural to this place that its roads should be made under-ground. [6]

The Lucrine gulf extends in breadth as far as Baïæ; it is separated from the sea by a bank eight stadia in length, and the breadth of a carriage-way; this they say was constructed by Hercules when he drove away the oxen of Geryon. But as the wave covered its surface in stormy weather, rendering it difficult to pass on foot, Agrippa has repaired it. Small vessels can put into it, but it is useless as a harbour.68 It contains abundant oyster-beds. Some take this to be the Acherusian Lake, while Artemidorus confounds it with Avernus. They say that Baïæ took its name from Baius one of the companions of Ulysses, and Misenum from Misenus. Beyond is the strand and city of Dicæarchia. Formerly it was nothing but a naval station of the Cumæi. It was built on an eminence. But at the time of the war with Hannibal, the Romans established a colony there, and changed its name into Puteoli,69 [an appellation derived] from its wells; or, according to others, from the stench of its waters, the whole district from hence to Baïæ and Cumæ being full of sulphur, fire, and hot-springs. Some too are of opinion that it was on this account [that the country about] Cumæ was named Phlegra, and that the fables of the giants struck down by thunderbolts owe their origin to these eruptions of fire and water. This city has become a place of extensive commerce, having artificially constructed harbours, which were much facilitated by the facile nature of the sand, which contains much gypsum, and will cement and consolidate thoroughly. For mixing this sand with chalk-stones they construct moles in the sea, thus forming bays along the open coast, in which the largest transport ships may safely ride. Immediately above the city lies the Forum-Vulcani,70 a plain surrounded with hills which seem to be on fire, having in many parts mouths emitting smoke, frequently accompanied by a terrible rumbling noise; the plain itself is full of drifted sulphur. [7]

After Dicæarchia is Neapolis,71 [founded72

1 Cisalpine Gaul.

2 Rimini.

3 The Fiumesino.

4 Giulia Nova.

5 Osimo.

6 S. Severino.

7 Probably for Pollentia, on the Chiento, opposite Urbisaglia.

8 Ruins, on the river Potenza, near to Porto di Recanati.

9 Fermo.

10 Porto di Fermo.

11 Near to the river Monecchia, not far from Marano.

12 Truentum.

13 The position of this city is still disputed, it has been identified with Porto d'Ascoli, Torre di Seguro, and other places.

14 Giulia Nova.

15 Matrinus.

16 Atri.

17 Ascoli.

18 The text is here defective.

19 The Vestini appear to have occupied the region where at present Aquila, Ofena, Civita Aquana, Civita di Penna, Civita di St. Angelo, and Pescara are situated.

20 They inhabited the canton in which are built Tagliacozzo, Scurcola, Albi, Celano, Pescina, and the environs of Lake Celano.

21 Inhabited the territories of Sulmona, Pentima, and Popolo.

22 Occupied the district of Tieti or Chieti.

23 Inhabited the right bank of the Sangro, the territory of Guasto, the banks of the Trigno and Biferno, the district of Larino, the left bank of the Fortore, and extended north-west towards Pescara.

24 91 B. C.

25 Pentima near Popoli.

26 The first consuls were Q. Pompædius Silo, and C. Aponius Mutilus; the prætors were Herius Asinius for the Marucini, C. Veltius Cato for the Marsi, M. Lamponius and T. Cleptius for the Leucani, Marius Egnatius Trebatius and Pontius Telesinus for the Samnites, C. Judacilius for the Apuli or Picentini, and A. Cluentius for the Peligni. Many other officers besides these distinguished themselves in the several campaigns of the Marsian war.

27 A note in the French translation would make the duration of the Marsian war twelve years.

28 Diodorus Siculus agrees with Strabo, in asserting that this war was called Marsian, because it had been commenced by the Marsi, ᾿ωνομᾶσθα δέ φησι μαοͅσικὸν [i. e. πόλεμον] ἐκ τῶν ἁοͅξάντων τῆς ἀποστάσεως. however, Velleius Paterculus asserts that the people of Asculum commenced the war, which was continued by the Marsi; and Livy (Epit. lib. lxxii.) makes the Picentini the first to raise the standard of revolt.

29 Quintus Pompædius Silo.

30 Now Sulmona, about seven miles south-east of Corfinium. It was the birth-place of Ovid. Sulmo mihi patria est gelidis uberrimus undis. Ovid. Trist. iv. El. 9.

31 “ Marruvium, veteris celebratum nomine Marri,
Urbibus est illis caput.

Sil. Ital. viii. 507.

We must place this city, with Holstenius, at San Benedetto, on the eastern shore of the lake, where inscriptions have been found which leave no doubt on the subject. The coins of Marruvium have MARUB on the reverse and a head of Pluto.

32 Now Chieti, on the right bank of the Pescara. The family of Asinius Pollio came originally from this place.

33 Pescara.

34 Ortona-a-Mare.

35 Romanelli, (tom. iii. p. 40,) founding his opinion on ancient ecclesiastical records and the reports of local antiquaries, informs us that the ruins of Buca exist at the present Penna.

36 According to Holstenius and Romanelli, Civitate; according to others, Ponte Rotto.

37 Kramer is of opinion that this passage, from ‘Ortonium’ to ‘life,’ is an interpolation posterior to the age of Strabo.

38 Romanelli affirms that the mountain from which the river Alaro flows is called Sagra, and Cramer considers that river to be the ancient Sagrus.

39 The Daunii formed only a portion of the Apuli.

40 We have followed Kramer's reading, τετοͅακοσίων ἐνενήκοντα.

41 The ruins of Monte Dragone.

42 Punta di Miseno.

43 The bay of Naples.

44 Punta della Campanella.

45 This passage is not found in the works of Polybius, as handed down to us.

46 Sorrento.

47 Torre di Patria.

48 Liternus.

49 Vulturnum.

50 Venafro.

51 κύμη. The Greeks gave a singular form to this name of the ancient seat of the Sibyl. Her chamber, which was hewn out of the solid rock, was destroyed when the fortress of Cumæ was besieged by Narses, who undermined it.

52 Eusebius states that it was founded 1050 B. C., a few years before the great migration of the Ionians into Asia Minor.

53 We may observe that Strabo seems not to have restricted the φλέγοͅαιον πέδιον to that which modern geographers term the Phlegræan plains, which are contained between Cumæ and the hills bordering the Lake Agnano, a little beyond Pozzuolo, but, like Pliny, to have extended it to the whole region, at present termed Terra di Lavoro.

54 A note in the French translation observes, that Diodonus Siculua (lib. xii. § 76) places this event in the fourth year of the 89th Olympiad, 421 B. C. Livy (lib. iv. § 44) seems to place it a year later.

55 It is now called Pineta di Castel Volturno.

56 Forty years B. C.

57 Punta di Miseno.

58 Lago di Fusaro.

59 Lago Lucrino. This lake has almost disappeared, owing to a subterraneous eruption, which in 1538 displaced the water and raised the hill called Monte Nuovo.

60 Lago d'Averno.

61 νηκυῖα, the title of the 11th book of the Odyssey.

62 νεκυομαντεῖον, another title of the same (11th) book.

63 Strabo is not the only one who mentions this: Virgil says,

“ Spelunca alta fuit, vastoque immanis hiatn,
Scrupea, tuta lacu nigro, nemorumque tenebris;
Quam super hand ullæ poterant impune volantes
Tendere iter pennis; talis esse halitus atris
Faucibus effundens supera ad convexa ferebat;
Unde locum Graii dixerunt nomine Avernum.

Æneid. vi. 237.

64 The Greeks applied the term Plutonian to places where disagreeable and pestilential exhalations arose.

65 Nor ever does the light-giving Sun shine upon them. Odys. xi. 15.

66 The text here appears to have been corrupted.

67 We agree with Kramer in considering as an interpolation the words, τε καὶ ἐπὶ νέαν πόλιν ἐκ δικαιαοͅχίας ἐπὶ ταῖς βαἷαις, and likewise another at Neapolis from Diœarchia to Baicœ. It is generally supposed that the Grotta di Pausilipo, or Crypta Neapolitana, is of much greater antiquity than the Augustan age, when Cocceius flourished. There is good reason to refer that great undertaking to the Cumæi, of whose skill in works of this nature we have so remarkable an instance in the temple of their sibyl.

68 Dion Cassius tells us, on the contrary, that owing to the exertions of Agrippa, the gulfs both of Avernus and Lucrinus became excellent ports, λιμένας ναυλοχωτάτους ἀπέδειξεν.

69 Pozzuoli.

70 La Solfa-terra.

71 Naples.

72 Innumerable accounts exist relative to the foundation of this city. The most prevalent fiction was that the siren Parthenope was cast upon its shores, and from her it derived the name, by which it was usually designated by the ancient poets.

“ Sirenum dedit una suum memorabile nomen
Parthenope muris Acheloïas: æquore cujus
Regnavere diu cantus, quum dulce per undas
Exitium miseris caneret non prospera nautis.

Sil. Ital. xii. 33.
Scymnus of Chios mentions both the Phocæi and Cumæi as its founders. Stephanus of Byzantium attributes its foundation to the Rhodians; their proximity is favourable to the claims of the Cumæi, and hence the con- nexion of Naples with Eubœa, alluded to by Statius, who was born there.

“ At te nascentem gremio mea prima recepit
Parthenope, dulcisque solo tu gloria nostro
Reptasti; nitidum consurgat ad æthera tellus
Eubois, et pulchra tumeat Sebethos alumna.

Silv. i. 2.
A Greek inscription mentions a hero named Eumelus as having had divine honours paid to him, possibly as founder of the city. [See Capaccio, Hist. Nap. p. 105. Martorelli de' Fenici primi abitatori di Napoli.] This may illustrate the following lines,—

“ Di patrii, quos auguriis super æquora magnis
Littus ad Ausonium devexit Abantia classis,
Tu ductor populi longe emigrantis Apollo,
Cujus adhuc volucrem leva cervice sedentem
Respiciens blande felix Eumelis adorat.

Silv. iv. 8, 45.
originally] by the Cumæi, but afterwards being peopled by Chalcidians, and certain Pithecussæans and Athenians,72 it was on this account denominated Naples.73 Here is pointed out the tomb of Par- thenope, one of the sirens, and a gymnastic sport is celebrated by command of an oracle. In course of time the inhabitants, having disagreed amongst themselves, admitted certain Campanians; thus being forced to regard in the light of friends those most inimical to them, since their friends were hostile. This is proved by the names of their demarchi, the earlier of which are Grecian, but the latter a mixture of Campanian with the Grecian names. Many traces of Grecian institution are still preserved, the gymnasia, the ephebeia,74 the fratriæ,75 and the Grecian names of people who are Roman citizens. At the present time they celebrate, every fifth year, public games for music and gymnastic exercises during many days, which rival the most famous games of Greece. There is here a subterranean passage, similar to that at Cumæ,76 extending for many stadia along the mountain,77 between Dicæarchia78 and Neapolis: it is sufficiently broad to let carriages pass each other, and light is admitted from the surface of the mountain, by means of numerous apertures cut through a great depth.79 Naples also has hot springs and baths not at all inferior in quality to those at Baïæ, but much less frequented, for another city has arisen there, not less than Dicæarchia, one palace after another having been built. Naples still preserves the Grecian mode of life, owing to those who retire hither from Rome for the sake of repose, after a life of labour from childhood, and to those whose age or weakness demands relaxation. Besides these, Romans who find attractions in this style of life, and observe the numbers of persons dwelling there, are attracted by the place, and make it their abode. [8] Following this is the fortress of Heraclæum,80 built upon a promontory which projects out into the sea, and which, on account of the prevalence of the south-west wind, is a very healthy spot. The Osci81 originally possessed both this and Pompeia,82 which is next to it, by which the river Sarno83 flows; afterwards the Tyrrheni and Pelasgi,84 and then the Samnites85 obtained possession of them, and the last86 in their turn were driven from these regions. Pompeia is the port for Nola,87 Nuceria,88 and Acerræ, which bears the same name as the city near to Cremona. It is built on the river Sarno, by which merchandise is received and exported. Above these places is Mount Vesuvius, which is covered with very beautiful fields, excepting its summit, a great part of which is level, but wholly sterile. It appears ash-coloured to the eye, cavernous hollows appear formed of blackened stones, looking as if they had been subjected to the action of fire. From this we may infer that the place was formerly in a burning state with live craters, which however became extinguished on the failing of the fuel. Perhaps this [volcano] may have been the cause of the fertility of the surrounding country, the same as occurs in Catana, where they say that that portion which has been covered with ashes thrown up by the fires of Ætna is most excellent for the vine. The land about Vesuvius contains fat, and a soil which has been subjected to fire, and is very strong and productive of fruit: when this fat superabounds, it is apt, like all sulphurous substances, to take fire, but being dried up by evaporation, extinguished, and pulverized, it becomes a productive earth. Adjoining Pompeia is Surrentum,89 [a city] of the Campanians, from whence the Athenæum,90 called by some the promontory of the Sirenuæ, projects [into the sea]; upon its summit is the temple of Minerva, founded by Ulysses. From hence to the island of Capreas the passage is short; after doubling the promontory you encounter various desert and rocky little islands, which are called the Sirenusæ.91 On the side towards Surrentum there is shown a temple with the ancient offerings of those who held this place in veneration. Here is the end of the bay named Crater,92 which is bounded by the two promontories of Misenum93 and the Athenæum, both looking towards the south. The whole is adorned by the cities we have described, by villas, and plantations, so close together that to the eye they appear but one city. [9]

In front of Misenum lies the island of Prochyta,94 which has been rent from the Pithecussæ.95 Pithecussæ was peopled by a colony of Eretrians and Chalcidians, which was very prosperous on account of the fertility of the soil and the productive gold-mines; however, they abandoned the island on account of civil dissensions, and were ultimately driven out by earthquakes, and eruptions of fire, sea, and hot waters. It was on account of these eruptions, to which the island is subject, that the colonists sent by Hiero,96 the king of Syracuse, abandoned the island, together with the town which they had built, when it was taken possession of by the Neapolitans. This explains the myth concerning Typhon, who, they say, lies beneath the island, and when he turns himself, causes flames and water to rush forth, and sometimes even small islands to rise in the sea, containing springs of hot water. Pindar throws more credibility into the myth, by making it conformable to the actual phenomena, for the whole strait from Cumæ to Sicily is subigneous, and below the sea has certain galleries which form a communication between [the volcanos97 of the islands98] and those of the main-land. He shows that Ætna is on this account of the nature described by all, and also the Lipari Islands, with the regions around Dicæarchia, Neapolis, Baïæ, and the Pithecussæ. And mindful hereof, [Pindar] says that Typhon lies under the whole of this space. “‘Now indeed the sea-girt shores beyond Cumæ, and Sicily, press on his shaggy breast.’99” Timæus,100 who remarks that many paradoxical accounts were related by the ancients concerning the Pithecussæ, states, nevertheless, that a little before his time, Mount Epomeus,101 in the middle of the island, being shaken by an earthquake, vomited forth fire; and that the land between it and the coast was driven out into the sea. That the powdered soil, after being whirled on high, was poured down again upon the island in a whirlwind. That the sea retired from it to a distance of three stadia, but after remaining so for a short time it returned, and inundated the island, thus extinguishing the fire. And that the inhabitants of the continent fled at the noise, from the sea-coast, into the interior of Campania. It seems that the hot-springs102 here are a remedy for those afflicted with gravel. Capreæ103 anciently possessed two small cities, afterwards but one. The Neapolitans possessed this island, but having lost Pithecussæ in war, they received it again from Cæsar Augustus, giving him in exchange Capreæ. This [island] having thus become the property of that prince, he has ornamented it with numerous edifices. Such then are the maritime cities of Campania, and the islands lying opposite to it. [10]

In the interior is the metropolis, Capua, being, as the etymon of the name signifies, the head; for in regard to it all the other cities appear small, excepting Teanum-Sidicinum,104 which is a very considerable place. This city lies on the Via Appia, as also the others which lead from hence to Brundusium, [viz.] Callateria,105 Caudium,106 and Beneventum.107 On the side of Rome is Casilinum,108 situated on the river Vulturnus.109 Here 540 men of Præneste sustained against Hannibal in the height of his power so desperate a siege, that by reason of the famine, a rat110 was sold for two hundred drachmæ, the seller dying [of hunger], but the purchaser being saved. Hannibal observing some of them sowing turnip-seed near to the wall, admired, as well he might, the patient courage of these men, who hoped to hold out in the mean while, until these turnips should be ready for food. However, we are assured that they all survived, with the exception of a few who perished either by famine or in war. [11]

In addition to those just spoken of, there are these Campanian cities which we have already mentioned, viz. Cales,111 and Teanum-Sidicinum, the limits of which are respectively marked out by the two temples of Fortune situated on either side of the Via Latina. Besides these are Suessula,112 Atella,113 Nola,114 Nuceria,115 Acerrœ,116 Abella,117 with other smaller settlements, some of which are said to be Sam- nite.118 The Samnites, by making incursions into Latium as far as Ardea, and afterwards devastating Campania itself, greatly extended their power. The Campanians, being otherwise accustomed to a despotic government, yielded ready obedience to their commands. At the present day they have been almost entirely exterminated by the various Roman generals, and last of all by Sulla, who was absolute master of the republic. He, after having by numerous battles extinguished the Italian revolt, observing that the Samnites, almost without exception, remained in one body, and with one sole intention, so that they had even marched upon Rome itself, gave them battle under the walls, and as he had issued orders to make no prisoners, many of them were cut to pieces on the field, while the remainder, said to be about three or four thousand men, who threw down their arms, were led off to the Villa Publica in the Campus Martius, and there shut in; three days after soldiers were sent in who massacred the whole; and when [Sulla] drew up his conscription list, he did not rest satisfied until he had destroyed, or driven from Italy, every one who bore a Samnite name. To those who reproached him for this animosity, he replied that he had learned by experience that not a single Roman could rest in peace so long as any of the Samnites survived. Thus their cities have now dwindled into villages, some indeed being entirely deserted, as Boianum,119 Æsernia,120 Panna, Telesia121 adjoining Venafrum, and others similar, none of which can be looked upon as cities; but in a country so renowned and powerful as Italy, we thought proper to mention places even of second-rate importance. [We should add that] Beneventum122 and Venusia123 are still prosperous. [12]

The following is the tradition concerning the [origin of the] Samnites. The Sabines having been engaged for a long period in war with the Ombrici, made a vow, common with some of the Grecian nations, that they would consecrate to the gods the productions of the year.124 They were victorious, and accordingly of the productions,125 the one kind were sacrificed, the other consecrated. However, in a time of scarcity, some one remarked, that they ought likewise to have consecrated the children. This then they did, and the children born at that period were called the sons of Mars.126 When these had grown up to manhood, they were sent forth, a bull leading the way, to found a colony. The bull lay down to rest in a place belonging to the Opici; a people dwelling in villages. These they drove out, and established themselves in the place. The bull, according to the direction of the diviners, they sacrificed to Mars, who had given him to then as a leader. It seems to have been in allusion to this that their parents called them by the diminutive form of Sabelli.127 The name of Samnites, or, as the Greeks call them, Saunites, originated in another cause. It is also said that certain Lacedæmonians came to dwell amongst them, and that this is the reason of their affection for the Greeks, and that certain of them are called Pitanatæ.128 The whole of this, however, appears to be a mere fabrication of the Tarentini, interested in flattering and conciliating to themselves a neighbouring people, so powerful as to be able, on a time, to bring into the field a force of eighty thousand foot-soldiers, and eight thousand cavalry. There is said to be a law amongst the Samnites, excellent in itself, and calculated to excite to virtue. It is not lawful for fathers to give away their daughters to whomsoever they may please; but every year ten of the most virtuous young women, and ten of the most virtuous young men, are selected; of these the most excellent young man is married to the most excellent young woman, the second to the second, and so on in order. Should he who re- ceives this reward, afterwards change and become wicked, he is dishonoured, and the wife who had been given is taken away from him. Beyond are the Hirpini, who are also Samnites: their name they take from the wolf, which conducted their colony; a wolf being called by the Samnites hirpos: these people border on the Leucani in the interior. So much for the Samnites. [13]

The fertility of their country has been productive to the Campanians of as much evil as good. Their luxury ran to such a height, that they would invite to supper, in order to exhibit pairs of fighting gladiators, the exact number of pairs being regulated according to the distinction of the guests. When, on their voluntary submission to Hannibal, they received his soldiers into winter quarters,129 the pleasures [of the place] rendered the men so effeminate, that Hannibal said, although conqueror, that he was in danger of the enemy, since his soldiers were returned to him women, and no longer men. When the Romans obtained the mastery,130 they inflicted on them numerous ills, and ended by distributing their land by lot.131 At the present day they are living in prosperity, and on friendly terms with the [Roman] colonists, and preserve their ancient reputation, both in respect to the size of their city and the numbers of their population. Beyond Campania and the Samnites,132 and upon the Tyrrhenian Sea, dwells the nation of the Picentini. This is a small off-shoot from the Picentini who dwell near the Adriatic, and was transplanted by the Romans to the Posidoniate Gulf,133 now called the Gulf of Pæstum. The city of Posidonia, which is built about the middle of the gulf, is called Pæstum.134 The Sybarites [when they founded the city135] built the fortifications close upon the sea, but the inhabitants removed higher up. In after time136 the Leucani seized upon the city, but in their turn were deprived of it by the Romans.137 It is rendered unhealthy by a river138 which overflows the marshy districts in the neighbourhood. Between the Sirenusse and Posidonia139 is Marcina,140 a city founded by the Tyrrheni, but inhabited by the Samnites. [To go] from thence into Pompæa,141 through Nuceria,142 [you cross] an isthmus of not more than 120 stadia. The Picentes extend as far as the river Silaro,143 which separates their country on this side from ancient Leucania.144 The water of this river is reported to possess the singular property of petrifying any plant thrown into it, preserving at the same time both the colour and form.145 Picentia was formerly the capital of the Picentes; but they now dwell in villages, having been ejected by the Romans146 for taking part with Hannibal. Also, instead of doing military service, it has been decreed that they shall be the public daily couriers and letter-carriers; [a penalty] which for the same cause has been likewise inflicted on the Leucani and Bruttii. To keep them in check, the Romans fortified Salernum, which is a little above the sea. The distance from the Sirenusse to the Silaro is 260 stadia.

73 Probably those mentioned in a fragment of Timæus, quoted by Tzetzes, (ad Lycophr. v. 732–737,) as having migrated to Italy under the command of Diotimus, who also instituted the λαμπαδηφοοͅία, which was still observed at Naples in the time of Statius:

“ Tuque Actæa Ceres, cursu cui semper anhelo
Votivam taciti quassamus lampada mystæ.

Silv. iv. 8, 50.

74 Neapolis, or Naples, signifying the new city.

75 Places of exercise for youth.

76 Societies.

77 Grotta di Pausilipo.

78 Pausilypus mons was the name of the ridge of hills which separates the bay of Naples from that of Pozzuoli. This was probably given to it on account of its delightful situation and aspect, which rendered it the favourite residence of several noble and wealthy Romans.

79 Puteoli.

80 Seneca, in describing the Crypta Neapolitana, as it was then called, gives an exaggerated account of the sombre horrors of the place. Perhaps in his time the apertures had become obstructed, which was evidently not the case at the time when Strabo, or the authority whom he follows, visited the place.

81 Hercolano, or Herculaneum, by Cicero (to Atticus, vii. 3) called Herculanum. It is probable that the subversion of this town was not sudden, but progressive, since Seneca mentions a partial demolition which it sustained from an earthquake. (Nat. Quœst. vi. 1.) So many books have been written on the antiquities and works of art discovered in Herculaneum, that the subject need not be enlarged upon here.

82 Several inscriptions in Oscan, and Etruscan, characters have been discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum. Lanzi, (tom. iii.,)—Romanelli Viaggio a Pompei ed Ercolano.

83 Pompeii.

84 The ancient Sarnus.

85 These Pelasgi were established among the Tyrrhenians.

86 It is believed that the Samnites possessed both places, 310, B. C.

87 The Romans must have been masters of these cities 272, B. C. (Livy, Epit. xiv.)

88 Nola resisted, under the able direction of Marcellus, all the efforts of Hannibal after the battle of Cannæ. A remarkable inscription in Oscan characters relative to this town is explained by Lanzi, (tom. iii. 612,) its name is there written NUFLA. See Cramer's Ancient Italy, vol. ii. p. 211.

89 Nocera de' Pagani.

90 Sorrento.

91 Punta della Campanella.

92 The Sirenusæ were three small rocks detached from the land, and celebrated as the islands of the Sirens; they are now called Galli. See Holsten. Adnot. p. 248; Romanelli, torn. iii. p. 619. Virgil, Æn. v. 864, describes them as, “ Jamque adeo scopulos advecta subibat;
Difficiles quondam, multorumque ossibus albos.

” It had been decreed that the Sirens should live only till some one hearing their song should pass on unmoved, and Orpheus, who accompanied the Argonauts, having surpassed the Sirens, and led on the ship, they cast themselves into the sea, and were metamorphosed into these rocks.

93 The bay of Naples.

94 Punta di Miseno.

95 Procida.

96 Ischia.

97 It appears that Hiero the First is here alluded to; he ascended the throne 478 years before the Christian era.

98 The volcanos of Sicily, Lipari, Pithecussæ, or Ischia, and Mount Vesuvius. See Humboldt (Cosmos i. 238, note).

99 We, in common with the French translators and Siebenkees, have adopted the νήσους found in the MS. of Peter Bembo, and some others cited by Casaubon.

100 Pindar Pyth. Od i. 32; Conf. Pindar. Olymp. Od. iv. 2.

101 This writer flourished about 264 years before the Christian era.

102 Epopeus mons, now sometimes called Epomeo, but more commonly Monte San Nicolo.

103 The waters at the source Olmitello, in the southern part of the island, are the most efficacious for this disease.

104 Capri.

105 Teano.

106 Galazze. We have not hesitated to read Callateria, with all MSS. Kramer has printed καλατία in text. Numismatic writers ascribe to this, and not the Samnite Calatia, the coins with the head of Jupiter on the obverse, and the legend, KALAT, and KALATI, in retrograde Oscan characters on the reverse. Mionnet. Med. Ant. Suppl. vol. i. p. 232; Sestini, Monet. Vet. p. 13.

107 S. Maria di Goti, near to Forchia Caudina.

108 Benevento.

109 Nova Capua.

110 Volturno.

111 The text has μεδίμνου; but we have adopted μυὸς, the word proposed by most of the Greek editors; Valerius Maximus, Pliny, and Frontinus all agreeing in the statement, that it was a rat which fetched this enormous price.

112 Calvi.

113 Castel di Sessola, near Maddaloni.

114 Holstenius says that the ruins of Atella are still to be seen near S. Arpino, or S. Elpidio, about two miles beyond Aversa.

115 Now Nola. It was one of the most ancient and important cities of Campania; though situated in an open plain, it resisted all the efforts of Hannibal after the battle of Cannæ. Here Augustus expired, in the same room in which his father Octavius had breathed his last.

116 Nocera.

117 Acerra near the source of the Agno, the ancient Clanius.

118 Avella Vecchia.

119 Such was Nola, which our author in his sixth book evidently places in the territory of the Samnites.

120 Bojano.

121 Isernia.

122 The ruins of Telesia are to be seen about a mile from the modern Telese. Allifæ was between Telesia and Venafrum.

123 Benevento.

124 Venosa. The coins of Venusia have on the reverse the inscription VE., and an eagle resting on a thunderbolt. On the obverse, a head of Jupiter, and sometimes of Bacchus. Sestini, Monet. Vet. p. 15. The Antiquitates Venusinæ and the Iter Venusinum were published at Naples in the last century.

125 Casaubon conjectures that in place of the τῷ ἔτει τούτῳ, we should read τῷ ἔαρι τούτω, or, the productions of the spring: and it certainly would seem that Strabo is here describing what the Latins called a ver sacrum. An ancient historian, speaking of the occurrence mentioned by Strabo, says, ‘Quondam Sabini fernntur vovisse, si res communis melioribus locis constitisset, se ver sacrum facturos.’ Sisenn. Hist. lib. iv. ap. Non. Marcell. De doctor. indag. ed. 1683, fol. 2531. Festus, Sext. P. Fest. De verb. sign. F. ed. 1699, p. 478, seems to have mentioned the same thing.

126 The animals and fruits are intended.

127 Devoted to Mars.

128 Or little Sabines.

129 From Pitane, a place in Laconia.

130 B. C. 216.

131 211 B. C.

132 B. C. 59.

133 We concur with Kramer in considering that the words μέχρι φρεντανῶν, which occur immediately after σαυνῖτιν, have been interpolated.

134 The Gulf of Salerno.

135 Pesti.

136 This city must have been founded nearly 540 years B. C., for Herodotus says that the Phocæans were chiefly induced to settle on the shores of Ænotria by the advice of a citizen of Posidonia, and they founded Velia in the reign of Cyrus. B. i. 164.

137 442 B. C.

138 B. C. 274.

139 Apparently the Fiume Salso.

140 Pesti.

141 Vietri.

142 Pompeii.

143 Nocera.

144 The ancient Silaris.

145 We are inclined to read Leucania with Du Theil. The Paris manuscript, No. 1393, reads κανίαν.

146 Pliny, in his Natural History, (lib. ii. § 106,) has confirmed Strabo's account. It appears from Cluvier that the people who inhabit the banks of the Silaro are not acquainted with any circumstances which might corroborate the statement. (Cluvier, Ital. Ant. lib. iv. c, 14.)

147 About B. C. 201.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1877)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1699 AD (1)
1683 AD (1)
1538 AD (1)
1393 AD (1)
91 BC (1)
59 BC (1)
442 BC (1)
421 BC (1)
274 BC (1)
216 BC (1)
211 BC (1)
201 BC (1)
1050 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: