Charles Anthon.

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

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riches are said to have been deposited in a building erected for that purpose by
Minyas, and which Pausanias describes as an astonishing work, and equally
worthy of admiration with the walls of Tiryns or the pyramids of Egypt.
Thebes was at that time inferior in power to the Minyan city, and in a war
with Erginus, king of the latter, was compelled to become its tributary. As
another proof of the wealth and civilization to which Orchomenus had attained,
it is mentioned that Eteocles, one of its early kings, was the first to erect a
temple to the Graces. Hence Orchomenus is called by Pindar the city of the
Graces, and the most prevalent worship here was that of these divinities.
Thirlwall says that the early legends about the Minyans may be considered as
indications of a native race, apparently Pelasgians, overpowered by ./Eolian in
vaders. It was in the sixtieth year after the Trojan war that the JEolian Boeo
tians, who had been expelled from Thessaly, drove out the Minyans from Or
chomenus, which was then, with its territory, added to Bceotia, and joined the
Boeotian confederacy. At and shortly before the time of the Peloponnesian
war, we find Orchomenus one of the most powerful states of the Boeotian league,
and having under it the towns of Chseronea and Tegyra. Its government was



538 ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY.

oligarchical : the ruling order was called " Knights." It was destroyed by the
Thebans in 368 B.C., but was rebuilt after the destruction of Thebes. Its ruins
are to be seen near the modern village of Scripu. Near Orchomenus flowed the
small river Melas, and in the marshes near the junction of this river with the
Cephisus grew the auletic or flute reed, so much esteemed by the ancient Greeks
for making flutes and other wind instruments. Pliny describes it as very long
and without knots. Leake says they are still produced here in abundance.

19. Larymna, on the coast, and belonging originally to the
territory of the Locri Opuntii. Near it the Lake Copais dis
charged its waters into the sea by subterranean passages. (Con
sult page 482, III., IV.) The precise spot where the stream
issued from under ground was named Anchoe, and near it was
a very deep lake. There were, strictly speaking, two places
named Larymna, an upper or northern, and a lower. Leaving
the sea in order to return to the Lake of Copais, we have to
cross the ridge of Mount Ptoiis, celebrated in antiquity as the
seat of an oracle and temple of Apollo. On its western slope,
and near the shore of the Copaic Lake, stood, 20. Acrcephia or
Acrcephium, which, according to Strabo, was looked upon by
some writers as the Arne of Homer. It had a temple of Bac
chus. Its remains are to be seen near the village of Karditza.
21. CopcBj a short distance to the north of the preceding, giving
name to the Lake Copais^ on which it stood, and situated near
the deepest part of it. It contained temples of Bacchus, Ceres,
and Serapis. The modern village of Topolia is on the ancient
site, which Dodwell describes as a low, insular tongue of land,
projecting from the foot of Mount Ptous. The Lake Copais
was chiefly formed by the River Cephisus, and is now called
the Lake of Topolia. Anciently, however, this lake received
various names from the different cities situated along its shores.
At Haliartus it was called Haliartius Lacus ; at Orchomenus,
Orchomenius. Homer and Pindar distinguish it by the name
of Cephlsis. That of Copais , however, finally prevailed, since
Copse, as already remarked, was situate near the deepest part
of it. This was by far the most considerable lake in Greece,
being not less than three hundred and eighty stadia in circuit.
It was famous for its eels, which grew to a large size, and were
esteemed highly by the epicures of antiquity. According to
Dodwell, they are still held in high repute. For an account
of the outlets of this lake, consult page 482. Tradition asserted
that near Copse there stood, in the time of Cecrops, two ancient



GR^ECIA. 539

cities, named Eleusis and Athene, and Stephanas reports that,
when Crates, by order of Alexander the Great, drained the
waters which had overspread the plains, the latter town became
visible.

22. Hyle, a small town, northeast of Thebes, mentioned more
than once by Homer, and giving name to the Lake Hylice, now
Livadhi or the Lake of Senzina. Hyle appears to have been
renowned for its manufacture of shields. The celebrated seven
fold shield of Ajax was made, according to Homer, by Tychius
of Hyle. 23. Harma, northeast of Thebes, in the direction of
Chalcis. It was said to have derived its name from the fate
of Amphiaraus, who disappeared on that spot, together with
his chariot (dpfta) and horses. 24. Mycalessus, an ancient city,
to the northeast of Harma, and known to Homer. Its inhabit
ants were all cruelly butchered, during the Peloponnesian war,
by some Thracian troops in the pay of Athens. 25. Aulis, to
the northeast of the preceding, a sea-port celebrated as the ren
dezvous of the Grecian fleet when about to sail for Troy.
Strabo remarks, that, as the harbor of Aulis could not contain
more than fifty ships, the Grecian fleet must have assembled in
the neighboring port of Bathys, which was much more exten
sive. Bathys is still called Vathz, and is described by Gell
as an excellent harbor. 26. Salganeus, above Aulis, and an
important post, as commanding the passage of the Euripus.
27. Anthedon, northwest of the preceding, and on the coast. It
was celebrated for its wine. Dicsearchus represents the inhab
itants in his time as nearly all fishermen, and claiming descent
from Glaucus, the sea-god. Near the sea was a spot called the
leap of Glaucus. The Cabiri, according to Pausanias, were
worshipped at Anthedon. 28. Tanagra, southeast of Thebes,
and near the left bank of the Asopus. Its earlier appellation
was Grcea. An obstinate battle was fought in its vicinity be
tween the Athenians and Spartans prior to the Peloponnesian
war, in which the former were worsted. Tanagra was famous
for its breed of fighting cocks. The modern village of Grimdda
or Grimala marks the ancient site.

29. Delium, to the northeast, close to the sea, and facing
Eretria in Euboea. It was celebrated for the battle which took
place in its vicinity between the Athenians and Boeotians, when
the former were totally routed. It was in this engagement



540 ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY.

that, according to some accounts, Socrates saved the life of Xen-
ophon, or, according to others, of Alcibiades. Some vestiges of
it still remain near the village of Dramisi. 30. Oropus, to the
east of the preceding, and on the right bank of the Asopus.
From its situation on the borders of Attica and Bceotia, this
place was a continual subject of dispute between the two people.
It is now called Oropo. 31. Delphinium, a port at the mouth
of the Asopus, sometimes called the Sacred Port



8. MEGARIS.
(A.) NAME, BOUNDARIES, &c.

I. Megaris, according to one tradition, derived its name from
Megarus, a Boeotian chief, and a son of Apollo or Neptune.
According to others, however, it had this name from the earli
est historical times.

II. It was bounded on the north by Bosotia ; on the west by
the Sinus Corinthiacus ; on the southwest by the territory of
Corinth / on the south and southeast by the Sinus Saronicus,
now the Gulf of Engia ; and on the east and northeast by
Attica.

III. Megaris is a rugged and mountainous country, and con
tains only one plain of small extent, in which the capital, Me-
gara, was situated. The rocks are chiefly, if not entirely, cal
careous. The country is very deficient in springs. The ex
treme breadth on the Corinthian Gulf is reckoned by Strabo at
one hundred and twenty stadia, and the area of the country is
calculated by Clinton at seven hundred and twenty square miles.

Megaris was separated from Bceotia by the range of Mount Citharon, and
from Attica by the high land which descends from the northwest boundary of
Attica, and terminates on the west side of the Bay of Eleusis in two summits,
anciently called Kerala (Kepara), or " the Horns," and now Kandili. It was di
vided from the Corinthian territory, on the southwest, by the Onean range of
mountains, through which there were only two roads from Corinth into Megaris.
One of these roads, called the Scironian Pass, was said to have been the haunt
of the robber Sciron, who plundered travellers, and then threw them from the
high rocks into the sea, until he was overcome and treated in the same way by
Theseus. This narrow pass was situated between Megara and Crommyon, a
small maritime town belonging to Corinth. The road followed the shore for
the space of several miles, and was shut in on the land side by a lofty mountain
range, while toward the sea it was lined by dangerous precipices. Pausanias
reports that it was afterward rendered more accessible by the Emperor Hadrian,
being made wide enough for two vehicles abreast. At present, however, it
admits, according to Thiersch, only a single vehicle, except in a few places.
Leake, on the other hand, says that it is only practicable by foot passengers.



GR^ECIA. 541

The other road, following the coast of the Corinthian Gulf, crossed the Gera-
nean Mountains, which belong to the Onean range, and led to Pagse, on the
Corinthian Gulf, and thence into Bceotia.

(B.) SKETCH OP THE HISTORY OF MEGARIS.

I. ACCORDING to the traditions preserved by Pausanias, Car, the son of Pho-
roneus, originally reigned at Megara, and was succeeded, after the lapse of
twelve generations, by Lelex, who gave to the people the name ofLeleges. Le-
lex was succeeded by Cleson, and Cleson by Pylas. By the marriage of Pylas
with the daughter of Pandion, Megara became annexed to Attica ; and there can
be no doubt that Megaris also, in early times, belonged to Attica, since it is
represented on the best authority that Megaris formed one of the four ancient
divisions of Attica.

II. On the death of Pandion, Megaris fell to the lot of his son Nisus ; but it
was wrested from the Athenians during the reign of Codrus, when the Dorians
invaded Attica. A Corinthian colony was settled at Megara, and the country
was from this time regarded as a Doric state. It remained for some time sub
ject to Corinth ; but it afterward asserted its independence, although at what
time is uncertain. Its wealth and power rapidly increased, as is evident from
the numerous colonies which it planted, of which the most important were Se-
lymbria, Calchedon, and Byzantium, on the Bosporus and Propontis, and Hyb-
laean Megara in Sicily. The navy of Megara was once powerful enough to
cope with that of Athens ; and it was only after a long and obstinate struggle
that the Athenians were enabled to recover the island of Salamis, which had
been seized by the Megarians.

III. The government was originally in the hands of the great Dorian land
holders : but they were deprived of their power by Theagenes, who put himself
at the head of the popular party, and obtained the sovereignty about B.C. 620.
He adorned the city with several public buildings. He married his daughter
to Cylon, who was assisted by him in his attempt to usurp the government at
Athens. Theagenes was at length expelled from Megara ; and shortly after
ward a most violent struggle arose between the aristocratic and democratic
parties, of which a vivid picture is drawn in the poems of Theognis, a native
of Megara, who appears to have been born shortly before the death of Solon, and
to have lived down to the beginning of the Persian wars.

IV. For some time after the Persian wars, Megara appears to have been con
stantly engaged in war with Corinth ; and her enmity to Corinth was the occa
sion of her forming an alliance with Athens, about B.C. 461. Athenian garri
sons were placed in Megara and Pegae ; but six years afterward the Megarians
renounced their alliance with Athens, and put to death the Athenian garrison
at Megara. In the seventh year of the Peloponnesian war, the democratic party
formed a plan for surrendering the city to Athens, which was defeated by the
arrival of Brasidas with a Lacedaemonian force. We read little more of Megara
in Grecian history. In B.C. 357, democracy was again the established consti
tution. Megara was taken and almost destroyed by Demetrius ; it was also
taken by the Romans under Metellus. It suffered greatly in the invasion of
Alaric ; and its ruin was completed by the Venetians in 1687.

(C.) PLACES IN MEGARIS.

1. Megara) the capital of Megaris, situate at the foot of two
hills, on each of which a citadel was built. These hills were



542 ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY.

named Caria and Alcathous. It was connected with the port
of Niscea by two walls, the length of which was about eight
stadia, according to Thucydides. They were erected by the
Athenians at the time when the Megarians placed themselves
under their protection. The distance from Athens was two
hundred and ten stadia, as we learn from Procopius. Chry-
sostom calls it a day s journey. Modern travellers generally
reckon eight hours. Alaric, as already remarked, nearly ruined
this once flourishing place. According to Pausanias, it was
the only city of Greece which was not restored by Hadrian, in
consequence of its inhabitants having murdered Anthemocritus,
the Athenian herald. The site is occupied by the modern town
of Megara. 2. Niscea, the harbor of Megara, with a citadel
called also Nisaea. This citadel was a place of considerable
strength, as we learn from Thucydides, but might be cut off
from the city by effecting a breach in the long walls. The port
itself was sheltered by the small island of Minoa, which lay off
it. In the time of Strabo, Minoa had become connected with
the main land, and is called by him a promontory. 3. Pagce,
a port on the shore of the Mare Alcyonium, and the first place
after leaving the Boeotian frontier. It was occupied by the
Athenians before the Peloponnesian war, and was used by them
as a naval station. It is supposed to correspond to the modern
harbor of Psatho. 4. jEgosthence, placed by Cramer to the
southeast of Pagaa, but by Leake to the northeast of it. To
this place the Lacedaemonians retreated by a difficult road along
the coast, after their defeat at Leuctra. Its site is marked by
the modern village of Porto Ghermano. 5. Tripodiscus, at the
foot of the Geranean chain of mountains, a part of the Onean
range. It was the birth-place of Susarion, one of the earliest
comic poets of Greece.

9. ATTICA.
(A.) NAME AND BOUNDARIES.

I. Attica ( ArrLKrj) derived its name, according to some, from
Atthis, a daughter of Cranaus, one of the earliest kings of
the country. Others, however, deduced it from Acte (att-ri^
" shore"), in allusion to its maritime situation and great ex
tent of coast ; and, according to these, the country itself was
actually known by the appellation of Acte, even before the reign
of Cranaus.



GRJECIA. 543

II. It is more than probable, however, that the name Attica
contains the element Atth or Ath, which we observe in the
words Atth-is and Ath-ence.

III. Attica may be considered as forming a triangle, the base
of which is common also to Boeotia, while the two sides lie upon
the sea, and the vertex is formed by the Promontory of Sunium.
The prolongation of the western side, till it meets the base at
the extremity of Cithseron, served also as a common boundary
to Attica and Megaris. Hence Attica may be said to be bounded
on the north and northwest by Bceotia, and on a part of its
western side by Megaris, and the rest of the country to be
washed by the sea.

(B.) DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY.

I. A WILD and rugged, though not a lofty range of mountains, bearing the name
of Citharon on the west, and of Parnes toward the east, divides Attica from
Bceotia. A considerable part of the range of Parnes is covered with forests of
pine, oak, arbutus, and wild pear trees. Lower ridges, branching off to the
south, and sending out arms toward the east, mark the limits of the principal
districts which compose this little country, the least proportioned in extent of
any on the face of the earth to its fame and its importance in the history of
mankind.

II. The most extensive of the Attic plains, though it is by no means a uni
form level, but is broken by a number of hills, is the Athenian, or that in which
Athens itself lies, at the foot of a precipitous rock, and in which, according to
the Attic legend, the olive, still its most valuable production, first sprang up.
It is bounded on the east by Mount Pentelicus, and by the range which, under
the names of the greater and the lesser Hymettus, advances till it meets the sea
at the Promontory of Zoster.

III. The upper part of Pentelicus, which rises to a greater height than Hy-
mettus, was distinguished, under the name of Epacria or Diacria, as the Attic
Highlands. This range, which, after trending eastward, terminates at the Prom
ontory of Cynossema, forms with Mount Parnes and the sea the boundary of the
plain of Marathon.

IV. On the eastern side of Hymettus, a comparatively level tract, separated
from the coast by a lower range of hills, seems to have been that which was
called Mcsogaa, or the midland country, and is still termed Mesogia. The hills
which inclose it meet in the mountainous mine district ofLaurium, and end with
the Promontory of Sunium, the southernmost foreland of Attica.

V. The tract on the coast, between Sunium and Cape Zoster, a range of low
hills and undulating plains, was designated by the name of Paralia, or the sea-
coast district.

VI. On the western side, the plain of Athens is bounded by a chain of hills,
issuing from Parnes, and successively bearing the names of Icarius, Corydallus,
and JEgaleus, as it stretches toward the sea, which, at the Promontory of Am-
phiale, separates it by a channel, a quarter of a mile in width, from the island
of Salamis. It parts the Athenian from the Eleusinian plain, in which stood the
city of Eleusis.



544 ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY.

VII. The chief part of the Eleusinian plain was called the Thriasian by the
ancient writers, from the demus of Thria, and extended between the range of
^Egaleus and Eleusis, along the borders of the bay, and to the north of it. This
plain and the Rarian, which last also formed part of the Eleusinian, were re
markable for their fertility, and were celebrated in the Attic mythology as the
soil which had been first enriched by the gifts of Ceres, the goddess of harvests.

VIII. Attica is, on the whole, a meagre land, wanting the fatness of the Boeo
tian plains, and the freshness of the Boeotian streams. The waters of its prin
cipal river, the Cephisus, are expended in irrigating a part of the plain of Athens ;
and the Ilissus, though no less renowned, is a mere brook, which is sometimes
swollen into a torrent. It could scarcely boast of more than two or three fertile
tracts, and its principal riches lay in the hearts of its mountains, in the silver of
Laurium, and the marble of Pentelicus. It might also reckon among its pecu
liar advantages the purity of its air, the fragrance of its shrubs, and the fineness
of its fruits.

IX. But in its most flourishing period the produce of Attica was never suffi
cient to supply the wants of its inhabitants, and their industry was constantly
urged to improve their ground to the utmost. Traces are still visible of the
laborious cultivation which was carried, by means of artificial terraces, up the
sides of their barest mountains. After all, they were compelled to look even
to the sea for subsistence. Attica would have been little but for the position
which it occupied as the southeast foreland of Greece, with valleys opening on
the coast, and ports inviting the commerce of Asia. From the top of its hills
the eye surveys the whole circle of its islands, which form its maritime suburbs,
and seem to point out its historical destination.

X. As to the ancient population of Attica, it is difficult to come to any satis
factory conclusion. Clinton considers that, about B.C. 317, it may have been
five hundred and twenty-seven thousand six hundred and sixty, a large popula
tion for such a territory (being above seven hundred to the square mile), even
if we take into account that it contained a populous city. At the present day,
Attica is one of the eparchies of the actual kingdom of Greece. It contains one
city, Athens, and above one hundred villages. The population is not known.

(C.) SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF ATTICA.

I. IF we want any proof as to the remote antiquity of political communities
in Attica, and its occupation at some time by a people not of the same Greek
stock as those of the age of Pericles, we may find it in the names of mountains,
streams, and places. The names of mountains and rivers are in all countries
the most permanent memorials of a nation s existence. Many Attic names can
be explained from the Greek language as known to us, and others can be traced
to personal names which belong to the circle of the Greek mythi. But there
still remain many which we can only explain by a comparison of Greek words
with those of kindred languages, or which we can not explain at all : such are
Ceph-isus, Il-issus, Hym-ettus, Bril-essus or Bril-cttus, Garg-ettus, Parn-es (com
pare Parn-assus), Braur-on, Marath-on, Sun-ium, &c.

II. Another proof of the remote antiquity of settlements in Attica is found in
the numerous political divisions, of which traces remained in the historical pe
riod. The oldest political division of Attica known by tradition was that by
Cecrops into twelve parts, the names of which, with a few exceptions, belong
to that class of words which the Greek language can not explain. Another di
vision into four parts, among the four sons of Pandion, has a distinct reference
to the physical divisions of the Attic peninsula, including in this term Megaris,



GR^ECIA. 545

which afterward fell into the hands of the Dorians. That there is an historical
fact contained in the division of the peninsula among the four sons of Pandion
appears from there being three great natural divisions of Attica after the sepa
ration of Megaris, which three divisions formed the ground- work of the three
political parties in the time of Pisistratus. These parties were the Diacrii or
Hyperacrii, the inhabitants of the mountainous northeast region and the range
of Parnes ; the Men of the Plain (under which name the plain of Athens, and
probably the Eleusinian also, are included), and the Parali, or inhabitants of
the Paralia (sea-coast), to which we have already referred.

III. A division into four tribes (<p/la/), and also a division into four castes, is
attributed to Ion. This division into four tribes remained until the time of Clis-
thenes, who increased the number to ten. These ten were called Hippothoontis,
Antiochis, Cecropis, Erechtheis, Pandionis, Leontis, Mgeis, Acamantis, (Eneis, and
Mantis. The ten tribes were subdivided into one hundred and seventy-four
demi (drj^ot} or townships, each demos apparently containing a town or small
village. Under Macedonian influence two tribes were added, Antigoma and
Demetrias, but these were afterward changed to Ptolemais and Attalis. A new
tribe was added in honor of Hadrian.

IV. The first period of Athenian history, ending with the war of Troy, is of
a mythical character. Actseus was the first king of Attica. Cecrops, accord
ing to one fable, was a native of Attica, who married the daughter of Actaeus,
and succeeded to the monarchy ; according to another fable, he was an Egyp
tian, who brought from Egypt the arts of social life, and laid the foundation of
the religious and political system of the Athenians. Of the successors of Ce
crops, Erechtheus the first, otherwise called Erichthonius, was of divine or un
known descent. A second Erechtheus fought with the Eumolpidae of Eleusis,
and lost his life. ^Egeus, the son of the second Pandion, in the course of time
came to the throne ; and his son Theseus, as he was the last, so he was the
greatest of the Athenian heroes. As the reputed founder of the Athenian polity,
who united into one confederation the twelve hitherto independent states or
cities of Attica, established by Cecrops, he appears to be invested with the char
acter of an historical personage.

V. If we endeavor to trace the history of the Athenian people, we find the
obscurity of their origin expressed by the statement that they were Autochtho
nes, sprung from the earth, or a people coeval with the land which they inhab
ited. Herodotus says that the Athenians were originally Pelasgi, and that they
became changed into Hellenes, or Greeks. Such a change implies the conquest



Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 59 of 89)