Charles Anthon.

A system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges online

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pears to answer to the modern Mount Chamouri. This lofty mountain was re
markable for the number of springs which burst from its sides. Holland, less
correctly, makes it coincide with the modern Tzumerka.


1. Acheron (6 A^epcjv), rising in the mountains to the west of the chain of
Pindus, and falling into the Ionian Sea near Glykys Limen (FAu/cuf AJ/^V). In
the early part of its course it forms the Palus Acherusia, and after emerging
from this sheet of water, disappears under ground, from which it again rises
and pursues its course toward the sea. D Anville, misled by Thucydides, places
the Palus Acherusia directly on the coast. Pausanias, more correctly, assigns
it a position in the interior of Thesprotis. The modern Parga lies a short dis
tance above the mouth of the Acheron, which is now known by the name of
the Souli. The gloomy scenery on the banks of this river, which is still noticed
by modern travellers, gave rise to the fable of its communicating with the realms
of Pluto, who, under the name of Aidoneus, was said to have once reigned on
its shores.

2. Celydnus, falling into what is now the Gulf of Valona, a little above Oricum.
Ptolemy says that it formed in his time the southern limit of Macedonia.

3. Thydmis, now the Calama, a large stream, which, according to Thucydi
des, anciently divided Thesprotia from a particular district called Cestrinc, con
tiguous to Ckaonia, and therefore lying along its right bank. The historian
Phylarchus, as Athenaeus reports, affirmed that the Egyptian bean was never
known to grow out of Egypt, except in a marsh close to this river, and then
only for a short period. It appears from Cicero that Atticus had an estate on
the banks of the Thyamis.

4. Arachthus or Arethon ("Apa^flof or Apeftjf ), called by Lycophron the Ar&thus
(*Apcu0of), rising in that part of the chain of Pindus which belonged to the an
cient Tymphai, and flowing by Ambracia into the Sinus Ambracius. It is now
the Arta, which is the modern name also of the town that marks the site of an
cient Ambracia.


I. EPIRUS, though in many respects wild and mountainous, was esteemed a
rich and fertile country. Its pastures produced the finest oxen, and horses
unrivalled for their speed. It was also famous for a large breed of dogs, thenoe
called Molossi, and modern travellers have noticed the size and ferocity of these
dogs at the present day.

II. The climate of Albania, in modern times, is colder than that of Greece ;
the spring does not set in before the middle of March ; the vintage begins in
September, and the heavy rains during December are succeeded in January by
some days of frosty weather. The inhabitants cultivate cotton and silk ; but
the olive, for want of proper care, does not yield an abundant harvest. The
horses of the country are still excellent ; but the oxen have degenerated, being
now small, stunted, and ill shaped.

E p i R u s. 415


I. The ancients, as already remarked, divided Epirus into three districts or
regions, namely, Chaonia, Thesprotia, and Molossis.

II. Chaonia comprehended that northwestern part of Epirus which bordered
on the territory of Oricum, Amantia, and still more to the east on the country
of the Atintdnes, while it extended along the coast of the Ionian Sea from the
Acroceraunian promontory to the harbor of Buthrdtum, opposite the island of

III. Thesprotia was mainly situated between the rivers Thyamis and Acheron,
now the Calama and Souli, while inland it extended beyond the source of the
former to the banks of the A ous.

IV. Molossis occupied the northeastern portion of Epirus ; that is, from the
head of the Adus, and the mountainous district which connected Macedonia,
Thessaly, and Epirus, to the Ambracian Gulf, a small portion of the shores of
which was considered to belong to it. Molossis, therefore, must have compre
hended the territory of Joanina, the present capital of Albania, together with
its lake and mountains, including the country of the Tymphai, which bordered
on that part of Thessaly lying near the sources of the Peneus.



1. On the Chaonian coast, south of the Acroceraunian promontory, is the little
harbor of Palaste, where Caesar landed his forces from Brundisium, in order to
carry on the war against Pompey in Illyricum. Some trace of the ancient name
is perceptible in that of the modern Paleassa, about twenty-five miles south of
the Acroceraunian Cape. 2. Chimera, to the south, now Chimara, and which
communicates its name to the Acroceraunian Mountains, at the foot of which
it stands. Hence, also, that of Chimariots given to the inhabitants. 3. Panor-
mus, a harbor lower down on the coast, now Panormo. 4. Onchesmus, opposite
the northeastern extremity of Corcyra. Cicero seems to refer to this port
when he speaks of the wind Onchesmites as having favored his navigation from
Epirus to Brundisium. Onchesmus appears to agree now with the town of
Agioi Saranta, or the forty saints. 5. Cassiope Portus, to the south, and so
called from its vicinity to a port and town of the same name in Corcyra.

There are but few towns to be pointed out in the interior of Chaonia, from
the country being so mountainous, and the population confined chiefly to vil
lages. Of these the most worthy of notice are, 1. Antigonca, so called from its
situation near a celebrated pass called Fauces Antigonea, in Greek ra iiapd TIJV
A.vTLy6veiav creva. It led from Illyria into Chaonia. The modern Argyr(,
Castro represents the ancient city. 2. Phanote, a fortress near Antigonea, but
separated from it by a chain of mountains. It corresponds to the modern Gar-
diki, a fortress of great strength, which once belonged to the Suliots, but which
was afterward taken and destroyed by Ali Pacha. 3. Phozriice, to the south of
the preceding, and nearer to the sea. Polybius describes it as surpassing all
the other cities of Epirus in opulence and importance, before it was, through the
treachery of some Gauls in the pay of the town, surprised and plundered by a
party of Illyrians. It still, however, continued to hold a distinguished rank
among the cities of Epirus, and it was here that peace was negotiated between
Philip of Macedon and the Romans in the second Punic war. It appears to
have escaped the destruction to which so many towns in Epirus wore doomed
by the decree of the senate. The ruins of this place are to be seen near Del-


vino. 4. Hadndnopolis, situate, according to the Antonine Itinerary, fifty-five
miles to the southeast of Amantia, and lying also to the northeast of Phcenice.
It was apparently built in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. According to Pro-
copius, it subsequently bore the name of Justinianopolis. A spot now called
Drinopolis appears to mark the ancient site.


Resuming our description of the coast from the harbor of Cas-swpe, the first
point in maritime Thesprotia is the promontory Posidmm, now Coperta. A little
beyond is a narrow channel leading into a bay of some extent, thus forming
with the sea a peninsula, on which was situated the ancient town of, 1. Buthro-
tum. The outer bay and channel was named Pelbdes portus, or the muddy haven.
Buthrotum is now Butrinto. It was fabled to have been founded by Helenus,
son of Priam, after the death of Pyrrhus. Buthrotum was occupied by Caesar
in the civil wars, and was afterward colonized by the Romans. The river al
luded to by Virgil under the name of Xanthus falls into the Pelodes portus, a
little to the south of Butrinto. It is now called Saronia.

To Cestrine in this quarter we have already alluded. From Hesychius and
the scholiast on Aristophanes we learn that this part of Epirus was celebrated
for its breed of oxen, hence called Cestrinici. The name Larini, by which
these animals were also known, is said to have been derived from Larina, a
village of Epirus. Beyond the mouth of the Thyamis we come to, 2. the har
bor called Sybota, and also the little island of the same name, close to the main
land, and nearly opposite the southernmost promontory of Corcyra. These
islands are mentioned by Thucydides in his narrative of the collision between
the Corcyreans and Corinthians, just before the commencement of the Pelo-
ponnesian war. Following still the coast, we come to, 3. Toronc, a haven near
the modern Parga. According to Plutarch, the fleet of Augustus was moored
here for a short time previous to the battle of Actium. 4. Ephyre, in this same
vicinity, and at some distance from the sea, a city spoken of by Thucydides and
other ancient writers. Among these we must rank Homer, who, in several
passages of the Iliad and Odyssey, alludes to one or more cities of that name.
It appears to have been the capital of the ancient kings of Thesprotia. This
place afterward took the name of Cichyrus. The ruins of Ephyre are now to
be seen at no great distance from the Acherusian Lake, near a deserted con
vent dedicated to St. John.

Here terminates the description of maritime Thesprotia ; the remaining part
of the coast, as far as Ambracia, belonged to the Cassopcei, who are generally
considered to be a portion of the Molossi. As no towns of note seem to have
existed in the interior of Thesprotia, which was mountainous and rugged, there
is nothing else worthy of remark, with the exception of Dodona, the most an
cient oracle of Greece, and inferior in celebrity and importance to the Pythian
shrine alone. Many passages in the ancient writers ascribe this famed temple
to the Molossi, but it can not be doubted that it originally belonged to Thespro
tia. This is clearly stated, indeed, by Strabo, who observes that the tragic
poets, together with Pindar, bestow the epithet of Thesprotian on the temple,
and the god worshipped there. Subsequently, however, Dodona passed under
the dominion of the Molossians. It is somewhat remarkable, that, notwith
standing the frequent mention of this renowned oracle by the poets, geographers,
and historians of Greece, its site should, at the present day, have remained un
discovered. This is partly to be accounted for from the political change just
mentioned, and still moro from the imperfect knowledge which we have till


lately possessed of the present state of Epirus, and its comparative geography.
It is universally allowed that this celebrated temple owed its origin to the Pe-
iasgi at a period much anterior to the Trojan war, since many writers represent
it as existing in the time of Deucalion, and even of Inachus. Herodotus dis
tinctly states that it was the most ancient oracle of Greece, and represents the
Pelasgi as consulting it on various occasions. Hence the title of Pelasgic as
signed to Jupiter, to whom the temple was dedicated. Setting aside the fables
which Herodotus has transmitted to us respecting Dodona and its doves, and
to which he evidently attached no belief, it appears from this author that in his
time the service of the temple was performed by females. Strabo, however,
asserts, that these duties were originally allotted to men, from the circumstance
of Homer s mention of the Selli as attendant upon the god. The responses of
the oracle were originally delivered from a sacred oak or beech. Its reputation
was at first confined to the inhabitants of Epirus, Acarnania, JStolia, and the
western parts of Greece, but its fame was afterward extended over the whole
of that country, and even to Asia, since we know that on one occasion the ora
cle was consulted by Croesus. The Boeotians were the only people who received
the prophetic answers from the mouth of men ; to all other nations they were
always communicated by the priestesses of the temple. Dodona was the first
station in Greece to which the offerings of the Hyperboreans were dispatched,
according to Herodotus. They arrived there from the Hadriatic, and were
thence passed on to the Sinus Maliacus. Among the several offerings pre
sented to the temple by various nations, one dedicated by the Corcyreans is
particularly noted. It was a brazen figure, placed over a cauldron of the same
metal ; this statue held in its hand a whip, the lash of which consisted of three
chains, each having an astragalus fastened to the end of it ; these, when agi
tated by the wind, struck the cauldron, and produced a sound so continued that
four hundred vibrations could be counted before it ceased. Hence arose the
various proverbs of the Dodonean cauldron and the Corcyrean lash. At length,
during the Social War, Dodona was, according to Polybius, almost entirely de
stroyed in an irruption of the ^Etolians, under their prsetor Dorimachus, then at
war with Epirus. " They set fire," says the historian, " to the porches, de
stroyed many of the offerings, and pulled down the sacred edifice." It is prob
able that the temple of Dodona never recovered from this disaster, as, in Stra-
bo s time, there was scarcely any trace left of the oracle ; but the town must
still have existed, as it is mentioned by Hierocles among the cities of Epirus
in the seventh century; and we hear of a bishop of Dodona in the Council of
Ephesus. Dodona stood either on the declivity or at the foot of Mount Tomarus,
and hence the name of Tomuri, supposed to be a contraction for Tomaruri (To-
fiapovpot), or guardians of Tomarus, which was given to the priests of the temple.
According to the most probable opinion, Tomarus answers to the modern Cha-
mouri, and if so, the remains of Dodona ought, according to Cramer, to be sought
on the shores of a small lake on the northeastern side of the mountain. Leake,
however, places the ancient site at the southeastern extremity of the Lake of
Joanina, near the modern Kastritza. For a full examination of the question,
the student is referred to that author s Travels in Northern Greece (vol. iv., p.
168, scqq.}, with which he may compare the remarks of Cramer (Anc. Greece,
vol. i., p. 121, seqq.) and Wordsworth (Hist, of Greece, p. 247, seqq.).

There is another question connected with this subject. It was the general
belief of the ancient readers of Homer that there were two Dodonas, one ir*
Thessaly, the other in Epirus ; the former situated in Perrhaebia, near Mount
Olympus. Stephanus Byzantinus enters fully into the discussion, and is in favor



of the existence of two places of this name ; and the same view is taken by
Ritter in modern times (Vorhalle, &c., Berlin, 1820). Leake, however, has
proved the position to be an untenable one.


1. Pandosia, not far removed from the Acheron and the Acherusian Lake, and
answering now, according to Leake, to Kastri. It was a colony of Elis, and
gave name to another Pandosia, in Italy, in the country of the Bruttii. Alex
ander, king of Epirus, was warned by the oracle of Dodona to avoid Pandosia
and the Acherusian water, and erroneously applied it to this his own Pandosia,
instead of that of Italy, where he received his fatal wound. 2. Buchcetiurn, Bu-
cheta, or Bucenta, close to the Acherusian Lake, and the remains of which are
now to be found at the harbor of St. John. 3. Nicopolis, situate on an isthmus,
on the coast, and answering now to Prevesa Vccchia. This place was founded
by Augustus in commemoration of the victory obtained by him at Actium, and
may be said to have arisen out of the ruins of all the surrounding cities in Epi
rus and Acarnania, and even as far as ^Etolia, which were compelled to con
tribute to its prosperity. So anxious, indeed, was Augustus to raise his new
colony to the highest rank among the cities of Greece, that he caused it to be
admitted among those states which sent deputies to the Amphictyonic assembly.
He also ordered games to be celebrated with great pomp every five years.
Having afterward fallen into decay, it was restored by the Emperor Julian.

The Molossi must have possessed several towns in the interior, since we are
told by Polybius that, out of the seventy Epirotic cities destroyed by Paulus
^Emilius, the greater number belonged to this people. Few of these, however,
are named in history. The most celebrated was Passdron, which may be con
sidered as their capital, since Plutarch, in the life of Pyrrhus, reports that the
kings of Epirus convened here the solemn assembly of the whole nation, when,
after having performed the customary sacrifices, they took an oath that they
would govern according to the established laws ; and the people, in return,
swore to maintain the constitution and defend the kingdom. Cramer seeks to
identify it with some ruins near Joanina, in a south-southwest direction, and
about four hours from that city. Leake leaves the site uncertain.

Modern travellers have expressed some surprise that no mention is made in
history of the Lake of Joanina, and have even been led to suppose that this
considerable expanse of water could not have existed in ancient times. But
the truth is, that the present Lake of Joanina is the ancient Palus Pambotis
(Ila^fiwrif At/w/v) mentioned by Eustathius. He describes it as a lake having
an island in the middle, containing a remarkable hill, which was fortified by Jus
tinian, and to which he removed the inhabitants of the adjacent city of Euroea,
which was in a defenceless state. The fortress of Joanina now occupies the
site of Justinian s castle, and the city of Joanina that of the ancient Eurcea, in
all probability.

We must now close this description of Epirus with some account of the city
and republic of Arnbrdcia This celebrated city was situate on the banks of the
Arachthus or Arethon, a short distance from the waters of the Sinus Ambracius,
to which it gave name. It is said to have been founded by some Corinthians
headed by Tolgus or Torgus, who was either the brother or the son of Cypselus,
chief of Corinth. It early acquired maritime celebrity by reason of its advan
tageous position, and was a powerful and independent city toward the com
mencement of the Peloponnesian war, in which it espoused the cause of Co
rinth and Sparta. At a later period we find its independence threatened by


Philip, who seems to have entertained the project of annexing it to the do
minions of his brother-in-law, Alexander, king of the Molossians. Whether it
actually fell into the power of that monarch is uncertain, but there can be no
doubt of its having been in the occupation of Philip, since the AmbraciotSj ac
cording to Diodorus Siculus, on the accession of Alexander the Great to the
throne, ejected the Macedonian garrison stationed in their city. Ambracia, how
ever, did not long enjoy the freedom which it thus regained, for, having fallen
into the hands of Pyrrhus, we are told that it was selected by that prince as his
usual place of residence. Many years after, being under the dominion of the
./Etolians, who were at that time involved in hostilities with the Romans, it sus
tained a siege against the latter, almost unequalled in the annals of ancient war
fare for the gallantry and perseverance displayed in the defence of the place.
Ambracia at last opened its gates to the foe, and was stripped of all the statues
and pictures with which it had been so richly adorned by Pyrrhus. From this
time it sank into a state of insignificance, and Augustus, by transferring its
inhabitants to Nicopolis, completed its desolation. It stood near the modern
Arta, which town also gives its modern name to the Ambracian Gulf.


I. THIS celebrated island, which, from its vicinity to the coast
of E pirns, seems naturally to belong to this part of our subject,
was called by the Greeks KepKvpa. It is now Corfu.

II. It is said to have been first known by the name of jDre-
pane, perhaps from its resemblance in shape to a scythe (<5pe-
rrdvT)). To this name succeeded that of Scheria, always used
by Homer, and by which it was probably known in his time.
From the Odyssey we learn that this island was then inhabit
ed by Phseacians, a people who, even at that early period, had
acquired considerable skill in nautical affairs, and possessed ex
tensive commercial relations, since they traded with the Phoe
nicians, and also with Euboea and other countries.


I. HOMER S account leads us to suppose that the Phaeacians came from another
country, which he calls Hyperia, whence they had been expelled by their more
powerful neighbors the Cyclopes. But it is very difficult to determine to what
country he alludes. The commentators on the poet imagine that Sicily is meant,
from the circumstance of Camarlna, a city of that island, having once been called
Hyperia ; and also from the Cyclopes, according to Homer himself, having once
had their abode in Sicily. But it seems very improbable that the Phaeacians
would have removed to such a distance, and it may be doubted, also, whether
the Cyclopes were ever a real people.

II. It is more probable that the Phaeacians came from the continent of Illyria
or Epirus. Mannert thinks they were Liburnian Illyrians, and this is not un
likely, as we have seen that there was an island named Corcyra on their coast,
and they were certainly a seafaring people. But what is still more conclusive
is the fact mentioned by Strabo, that the Corinthians, when they colonized the
island, found it already occupied by the Liburni. Apollonius states that Cor-


cyra had received a colony of Colchians before the arrival of the Corinthians.
Plutarch speaks also of an Eretrian colony ; but it is to Corinth that the im
portance of this settlement unquestionably belongs.

III. Strabo informs us that Archias, the founder of Syracuse, touched at Cor-
cyra, on his way from Corinth to Sicily, for the purpose of landing Chersicrates,
a descendant of the Heraclidse, with a force sufficient to expel the Liburni then
in possession of the island. The date of this event #iay be placed about 758 B.C.
So rapid was the increase and prosperity of this new colony, that we find it able
to cope with its opulent mother state not many years after its establishment,
when it defied the power of Periander, who then had the sovereign direction of
its affairs.

IV. At a later period we find Corcyra engaged in a quarrel with Corinth, on
the subject of Epidamnus. A war followed between the states, which was a
prelude to the great Peloponnesian war. Corcyra had at first the advantage,
and defeated the Corinthian fleet off Actium ; but the Corinthians being joined
by other states of the Peloponnesus, the Corcyreans had recourse to Athens,
which made a defensive alliance with them. The Corcyrean fleet of one hund
red and ten triremes, besides ten auxiliary Athenian ships, engaged with the
Corinthian fleet at the south entrance of the channel, near the coast of Thes-
protia. The fight ended in favor of the Corinthians, but the appearance of a
fresh Athenian squadron of twenty triremes induced them to return home.
After this, Corcyra was distracted by civil commotions between the aristocratic
and democratic factions, the former being favorable to the Peloponnesian or
Spartan alliance, and the latter to the Athenian. Atrocities were committed by
both, which ended in a general massacre of the aristocratic party, connived at
by the Athenian commander. This tragedy occurred B.C. 425. The island re
mained in alliance with the Athenians until the end of the war.

V. The name of Corcyra does not again appear in history until the time of
Cassander, when it was surprised and occupied for some time by Cleonymus,
king of Sparta, who infested the seas of Greece and Italy with a piratical fleet.
After his departure it was besieged by Cassander himself, at the head of a con
siderable squadron ; but Agathocles, tyrant of Syracuse, having come to the
assistance of the islanders, attacked the Macedonians, burned several of their
ships, and dispersed the remainder. Corcyra was afterward attacked by Pyrrhus,
when driven from the throne of Epirus by Ptolemy, king of Egypt. On the death
of that prince it regained its independence for a short time, but it soon fell into
the power of the Illyrians, from whom it subsequently passed to the Romans.


Corcyra, the principal city of the island, was situate precisely where the mod
ern town of Corfu stands. Scylax speaks of three harbors, one of which was
remarkable for its beauty, and is probably that to which Thucydides gives the
name of Hyllaicus. Near it was the citadel, and the more elevated part of the
city. In the Middle Ages, the citadel obtained the name of Kopv(j>u, from its
two conical hills or crests, which appellation was in process of time applied to

Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 45 of 89)