Charles Anthon.

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

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was the largest, and its site corresponds to that of the modern Zea, which gives
name to the whole island. lulis was the birth-place of Simonides and his

II. Cythnus, now Thermia, lay to the southeast of Ceos. It had a town named
Cythnus, and now Tkermia, from the hot springs in its vicinity, and this mod
ern name has become that of the whole island. Cythnus was famed in ancient
times for these hot springs, and also for its cheese.

III. Seriphos to the south of Cythnos, is now Serpho. It was celebrated in.
mythology as the scene of some of the most remarkable adventures of Perseus,
who changed Polydectes, king of the island, and his subjects into stones, to
avenge the wrongs offered to his mother Danae. Strabo seems to account for
this fable from the rocky nature of the island. In Juvenal s time state prisoners
were sent thither.


I. Melos, now Milo, lay, according to Strabo, seven hundred stadia from the
Scyllaeum Promontorium, and nearly as many from the Dictynnseum Promon-
torium of Crete. It was first inhabited by the Phoenicians, and afterward col
onized by the Lacedaemonians. The chief town was also called Melos. This
island was taken by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian war, who put all
the males to death, enslaved the women and children, and sent five hundred
colonists into the island. Melos was a very rich and productive isle.

II. Siphnos, now Siphanto, lay to the southeast of Seriphus, and northeast of
Melos. It contained gold and silver mines. In the age of Polycrates, the rev
enues of the Siphnians surpassed those of all the other islands, and enabled them
to erect a treasury at Delphi equal to those of the most opulent cities, and their
own buildings were sumptuously decorated with Parian marble. They after
ward, however, sustained a heavy loss by a descent of the Samians, who levied
upon the island a contribution of one hundred talents. In Strabo s time, this
island was so poor and insignificant as to give rise to proverbs.


I. Cimolus, now Cimoli or Argentiera, lay to the northeast of Melos, and be
tween that island and Siphnos. It produced a kind of fuller s earth, which was
of great use in whitening cloth. Its figs also were much esteemed. The island
was of small size. The town of Cimolus was situate on its western side.

II. Prepesinthus, a small island between Cimolus and Olearos, and now, ac
cording to Cramer, Spotiko or Despotiko. Others, however, give the modern
name as Strongylo.

III. Olearos, now Antiparo, lay a short distance to the west of Paros. The
ancients made the intervening space eighteen stadia. It is famous in modern
times for its grotto.


I. Pdros, now Paro, to the northeast of Siphnos, was celebrated for its beau
tiful marble. Its early prosperity is evinced by the colonies it established at
Thasos, and on the shores of the Hellespont. During the time of the Persian
war it was the most flourishing and important of the Cyclades. After the battle


of Marathon it was besieged in vain by Miltiades for twenty-six days, and thus
proved the cause of his disgrace. The marble quarries were on Mount Mar-
pessa. Faros was the birth-place of the poet Archilochus.

II. Naxos, now Naxia, lay to the east of Paros, and was the longest of the
Cyclades. It was first peopled by the Carians, but afterward received a colony
of lonians from Athens. The failure of the expedition undertaken by the Per
sians against this island, at the suggestion of Aristagoras, led to the revolt of
the Ionian states. Not long after, however, it was conquered by the Persian
fleet under Datis and Artaphernes, who destroyed the city and temples, and en
slaved the inhabitants. It soon, however, recovered from this blow. Naxos
was celebrated for the worship of Bacchus, who, according to one legend, was
born here. The principal town was Naxos ; there were also two others, named
Nysa and Tragea.


I. SYROS, now Syra, lay between Cythnos and Rhenea, and was celebrated
for having given birth to Pherecydes the philosopher. At the present day, the
excellence of its harbor, and its central situation, have made it a considerable
commercial depot. It is the principal seat of the Protestant missionaries to the

II. Mycomts, a little to the east of Delos, was a poor and barren island, and
the inhabitants consequently were rapacious and fond of money. They are said
to have lost their hair at an early age, whence the name of Myconian was pro
verbially used to designate a bald person. It was also said that the giants whom
Hercules had conquered lay in a heap under this island ; a fable which gave rise
to another saying (fiia Mvovof), applied to those authors who confusedly mixed
together things which ought to have been treated of separately. The island had
two towns. Its modern name is Myconi.

7. TENDS, ANDROS, & c.

I. Ten&s, now Tino, lay to the northwest of Myconos. It was also called
Hydrussa, from the abundance of its springs. Near the town of Tenos was a
temple of Neptune, held in great veneration, and much frequented by the in
habitants of the surrounding isles.

II. Andros, now Andre, lay to the northwest of the preceding. The island
was a poor one, and was fruitlessly sought to be reduced by Themistocles,
Eventually, however, it was rendered tributary.

III. Gyarus, the last of the Cyclades. So wretched and poor was this barren
rock, inhabited by only a few fishermen, that they deputed one of their number
to go to Augustus, then at Corinth after the battle of Actium, to petition that
their taxes, which amounted to one hundred and fifty drachmae, might be di
minished, as they were not able to raise more than one hundred. It became
subsequently notorious as the spot to which criminals or suspected persons were
banished by the Roman emperors. The modern name is Ghioura.


THE Greeks comprised under the name of Sporades the numerous islands
scattered around the Cyclades, with which, in fact, several of them are inter
mixed, and those also which lay toward Crete and the coast of Asia Minor
The following are the most worthy of notice :

1. Thera, now Santorin, about seven hundred stadia to the north of Crete, and
nearly two hundred in circumference. It appears to have been produced by the


action of submarine fire, as well as the island of Therasia contiguous to it.
This latter still retains its name. Thera was first occupied by the Phoenicians,
but was afterward colonized by the Lacedaemonians, who settled there the de
scendants of the Minyae, after they had been expelled from Lemnos by the Pe-
lasgi. Several generations afterward, a colony was led from this island under
Battus, a descendant of the Minyse, into Africa, and there founded the city of
Cyrene, about 630 B.C. 2. Anaphe, now Anphio, to the east of Thera. It was
so named, according to Apollonius, from the circumstance of Apollo s having
appeared (ava^aiveadai ) in this quarter to the Argonauts in a storm. A temple
was, in consequence, erected to him in this island, under the name of Mgletcs
(Pdyhfirris ), or " the radiant one."

3. los, north of Thera, and now Nio. Here, according to some accounts,
Homer was interred. It was also said that his mother was a native of this
island. 4. Sicinos, to the west of los, now Sikino, but originally called (Enoe,
from the quantity of wine which it produced. 5. Pholegandros, to the west of
Sicinos, now Policandro. It was so barren and rocky that Aratus called it the
iron isle. 6. Donysa, to the northeast of los, and now Raclia. 7. Amorgos, to
the east of Donysa, and now Amor go. It was of considerable size, and contained
three towns, namely, Arcesine, now Arkesini; JEgialus, now Porto S. Anna ; and
Minoa, now Porto Bathy. Amorgos gave its name to a peculiar kind of flax
(u^opyif) produced here, and remarkable for its fine quality. It was also the
birth-place of Simonides, the iambic poet. 8. Astypalea, to the southeast of
Amorgos, and now Stanpalia. It contained a town of the same name. It is
said that hares having been introduced into this island from Anaphe, it was so
overrun by them that the inhabitants were compelled to consult an oracle, which
advised their hunting them with dogs, and that in one year six thousand were
caught. 9. Telos, to the southeast of the preceding, and near the coast of Asia
Minor. It was noted for a particular ointment made there. The modern name
is Episcopia. 10. Nisyrus, to the northwest of Telos. According to the legend,
it was separated from Cos by Neptune, in order that he might hurl it against
the giant Polybotes. The modern name is Nisari. 11. Carpdlhus, between
Crete and Rhodes, and now Scarpanto. It contained four towns.



I. Greta, now Candia, is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea,
and lay to the south of all the Cyclades and Sporades. It was fabled to have
derived its name from the Curetes, who are said to have been its first inhabit

II. Its length from east to west is about one hundred and sixty miles ; its
breadth is very unequal. In some places, toward the middle of the island, it is
about thirty-five miles broad ; in others, about twenty miles. Between the Am-
phimallius Sinus and Phoznix Portus it is only ten miles ; and in the eastern part,
between the Didymi Sinus and Hierapytna, it is merely six miles across.

III. Crete has three principal capes : 1. Salmonium Promontorium, now Cape
Salmone, at the eastern extremity. 2. Corycum Promontorium, now Cape Kara-
busa, at the western end, looking toward the Peloponnesus. 3. Criu Metopon,
now Cape Crio, at the southwestern extremity. Its coast, especially toward the
north, is indented by deep gulfs. The southern coast is rugged and iron bound.
A continuous mass of highland runs through the whole length of the island,
about the middle of which, Mount Ida, now called Psilorati, rises far above the


rest, to the height of seven thousand six hundred and seventy-four feet. The
mountains in the western part were called Leuci Monies (Aev/ca "Opy). The
rivers are only a kind of torrents, very shallow in the dry season.

IV. The modern name Candia comes from the Arabic Chandea, an appella
tion given by the Saracens to the town founded by them, and which still exists
as the capital of the island, signifying " an intrenchment."


I. HISTORIANS and poets tell us of a king called Minos, who lived before the
Trojan war, and resided at Cnosus. He ruled over the greater part of the island.
Minos was the legislator of the country, and his laws became celebrated among
the Greeks, who borrowed from them. Lycurgus, in particular, is said to have
taken many of the features of the Spartan constitution from the Cretan cpde.
Minos was also the first who had a navy. He cleared the Grecian seas of pi
rates, and expelled the Carians from the Cyclades. Idomeneus, a grandson of
Minos, was one of the chiefs who went with Agamemnon to the siege of Troy.
On his return, however, he was driven from his throne by a faction, and sailed
to lapygia in Lower Italy, where he founded Salentum. At this period the island
appears to have been inhabited by a mixed population of Greeks and barbarians.
The eastern parts of the island were colonized by the Dorians, under the com
mand of Althamenes of Argos, after the death of Codrus, and the foundation of

II. After the expulsion of Idomeneus, the principal cities of Crete formed
themselves into several republics, for the most part independent, while others
were connected by federal ties. These, though not exempted from the dissen
sions which so universally distracted the Greek republics, maintained for a long
time a considerable degree of prosperity, owing to the good system of laws and
education which had been so early instituted throughout the island by the laws
of Minos. The Cretan soldiers were held in high estimation as light troops and
archers. The character of the inhabitants, however, was decidedly bad, and
they were accused of habitual lying and deception, and of the grossest immo

III. Crete was conquered by the Romans, B.C. 67, under the command of the
proconsul Quintus Metellus. It became a Roman province, and a colony was
sent to Cnosus. It remained subject to the Roman emperors, and afterward to
the Byzantines, until A.D. 823, when it was conquered by the Saracens, who
built the town of Candia, which, besides giving name to, has ever since been
regarded as the capital of the island.


HOMER, in one passage, (II., 2, 649), ascribes to Crete one hundred cities, and
in another (Od., 20, 174) only ninety. This variation has been accounted for
by some on the supposition that ten of the Cretan cities were founded subse
quently to the siege of Troy. Others, however, affirmed that during the siege
of Troy the ten deficient cities had been destroyed by the enemies of Idomeneus.
In the present enumeration we will name merely a few of the most important

1. Phalasarna, to the south of Corycum Promontorium, and a port of some
consequence in this, the western part of the island. It was the nearest Cretan
harbor to the Peloponnesus. 2. Cydonia, to the east, on the northern coast, and
one of the most ancient and important towns of Crete. It was said to have
been founded by a party of Samians, exiled by Polycrates. The Malum Cydo-

ASIA. 601

nium, or " Quince," derived its name from this place. Its ruins are on the site
ofJerami. 3. Amphimalla, to the southeast, near the modern fortress ofArmiro.
4. Cnosus or Gnosus, some distance to the east, the ancient royal city of Crete,
and capital of Minos. Its earlier name was Cceratus, according to Strabo.
Near this place was the celebrated labyrinth, constructed by Daedalus, but of
which no traces remained in the time of Diodorus. Cnosus long preserved its
rank among the chief cities of Crete, and by its alliance with Gortys obtained
the dominion of nearly the whole island. The vestiges of this place are dis
cernible to the east of the modern town of Candia. The precise site of the ruins
is called Long Candia.

5. Minoa, some distance to the southeast, and on the Didymi Sinus, now Gulf
of Mirabello. Here is the narrowest part of the island, the distance across to
Hierapytna being merely six miles. To the southeast is Mons Dicte, celebrated
as the birth-place of Jupiter, and now Lassiti or Lasthi. Here was the Dictsean
cave, in which the infant Jove was fed by bees. 6. Hierapytna, on the southern
coast, and directly across from Minoa. It was a town of great antiquity, and
was fabled to have been founded by the Corybantes. It was successively called
Cyrba, Pytna, Camirus, and Hierapytna. The site corresponds to that of the
modern Girapietra. 7. Lyctus, to the northwest, and an important town in the
days of Homer and Hesiod. According to the latter poet, Jupiter was brought
up on Mount ^Egaeus in its vicinity. Lyctus subsequently received a Lace
daemonian colony. It was destroyed, however, by the Cnosians. The inhabit
ants ranked high in regard to moral character among the other Cretans. 8. Pra-
sus, to the southwest, and one of the most ancient cities of the island. It was
destroyed by the people of Hierapytna. The ruins are near Castel Belvedere.
9. Gortys or Gortyna, to the west, and next to Cnosus in splendor and import
ance. It was situate on the River Lethaeus, ninety stadia from the Libyan Sea,
and had two harbors, Lebena and Metalla. To the northwest was the Cretan
Mount Ida, now Psiloriti. 10. Phoenix Portus, farther to the west, and now
probably Castel Franco, a little to the east of Sphakia. The ship which con
veyed St. Paul to Rome endeavored to put in here before it was overtaken by
the tempest. In the westernmost part of the island were the Leuci Monies, now
Aspro Vouna.

The Grecian islands that remain to be described will be noticed under the
head of Asia.


1. NAME.

I. HOMER applies the name of Asia to a small district of
Maeonia or Lydia, situated near the River Cayster.

II. It would appear that the Ionian Greeks, on their first ar
rival on the banks of the Cayster, found the name of Asia at
tached to this part of the continent, and communicated it to
their European countrymen, who, in process of time, applied
it to all the countries situate to the east of Greece.

OBS. 1. It would be wrong, however, to suppose that the name Asia belonged
merely to that part of the continent with which the Ionian colonists first became
acquainted. It would rather seem to have been given at an early period to va-


rious spots connected with the worship of the Asi, and all pointing to some re
gion of the remote east, where the name most probably originated.

2. The term Asi is a general appellation given in the mythology of northern
Europe to the deities that came in with Odin from the east. Asia, therefore,
will mean the land of the Asi, or the " Holy Land," and will indicate the region
where religion arose, and whence it spread to the countries of the west. Com
pare Anthonys Class. Diet., s. v. Asi.


I. THE ancients were unacquainted with the extreme north
ern and eastern portions of Asia. They seem to have been
aware, however (at least after the expedition of Alexander the
Great), that this quarter of the globe was washed by three
different oceans, and on the western side by an inland sea, the
most considerable in the world.

II. The boundaries of ancient Asia, therefore, may be given
as follows : on the north, the great Northern Ocean ; on the
east, the great Eastern Ocean ; on the south, the Oceanus In-
dicus, or Indian Ocean; on the southwest, the Sinus Arabians,
or Red Sea, which separated it from Egypt. The western
boundary was formed by the Mediterranean and JEgean Seas,
and a line drawn through the Hellespontus, or Dardanelles,
the Propontis, or Sea of Marmara, the Pontus Euxinus, or
Black Sea, the Palus Mceotis, or Sea of Azof, and then by
the River Tanais, or Don.

OBS. Herodotus mentions the Phdsis as separating Asia from Europe, but
later and better authorities name the Tana is. The older geographers consid
ered Egypt sometimes partially, sometimes entirely as belonging to Asia.


I. FROM the earliest records of European history, the Homeric poems, we
learn that an intercourse existed, before the war of Troy, between the inhabit
ants of Europe and Asia. But, as far as we can infer from our authorities, it
was more of a hostile than a pacific nature. Commercial exchange seems to
have been nearly confined to a few Phoenician vessels, which visited the islands
of the Archipelago and some ports of Greece. The establishment of Greek
colonies in Ionia, and the Greek navigation of the Black Sea, gradually led to
a knowledge of western Asia.

II. About 550 B.C., a large number of separate states were incorporated into
the extensive Persian empire, which comprehended nearly all the countries be
tween the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and the Belur Dagh on the east, the
Caspian on the north, and the mountains which border the valley of the Indus
on the south ; and as many of the Greek colonists were placed in close com
munication with this empire, geographical knowledge of the interior rapidly ex

III. Before the time when Herodotus wrote, the Persian empire had become

ASIA. 603

stationary. Accordingly, we find that the geographical knowledge of the Greeks,
for more than a century, did not advance beyond the ancient boundaries of that
empire. But as the intercourse, both hostile and pacific, between the Greeks
and Persians, had during that period considerably increased, their knowledge of
the different provinces composing the Persian empire was also enlarged. By
the subsequent conquests of Alexander, the remoter provinces of the Persian
monarchy were at once opened to the Greeks.

IV. The successors of Alexander, being almost continually engaged in wars
among themselves, did not add largely to the then existing knowledge of Asia.
At a later date, when the Romans extended the boundary of their empire to the
Tigris and the Euphrates, their military expeditions being carried on in coun
tries previously known, could add very little to the store of information. We
ought, however, to make an exception with respect to the Caucasus. In their
wars with Mithradates, king of Pontus, the armies of the Romans passed the
boundaries of the then known world, and arrived at Mount Caucasus, with whose
extent and situation they became acquainted, though they did not enter the
valleys which lie in its bosom. In proceeding farther to the shores of the Cas
pian Sea, they got information of a commercial road through Bactria, by which
the countries on the south of the Caspian Sea carried on an active commerce
with India ; and soon after another route was discovered, which led over the
high table land of Upper Asia to the Seres or Chinese.

OBS. 1. The knowledge which the ancients acquired concerning the geography of Asia is em
bodied in the systematic works of Strabo, Pliny, and Ptolemy, the last of whom raised geogra
phy to a science by basing it on astronomical principles. From these writers, it is evident that
only those countries into which the Macedonian conqueror had carried his arms were known
with some degree of correctness as to their general features, and that beyond them their knowl
edge was limited to a few places traversed by commercial roads, and to the harbors.

2. Besides the works just mentioned, the " Periplus" of Nearchus, and another probably written
in the second century, and attributed to Arrian, give a more particular description of the coast of
eastern Africa and Asia. Another " Periplus" likewise, which certainly is the work of Arrian, con
tains a brief description of the Pontus Euxinus. As to the geography of northern Asia, few ad
ditions seem to have been made after the time of Herodotus and Alexander. In some respect*
there seems to have been a retrograde movement, as Herodotus knew the Caspian to be a lake,
which Strabo believed to communicate with the Northern Ocean. Ptolemy, in his map, restored
the Caspian to its true character of an inland sea, but he placed its length from east to west, in
stead of from north to south as Herodotus had done.


IN enumerating these, we will include some which have been
already mentioned, but which may be said to belong in com
mon to both Asia and Europe :

1. Mare Scythlcum Frozen Sea (p. 9).

2. Oceanus Edus Eastern Ocean.

3. Oceanus Indicus Indian Ocean.

4. Mare Erythrceum .... (Erythrcean Sea).

5. Mare Mediterraneum . . . Mediterranean (p. 8).

6. Mare JEgeum Mgean Sea (p. 489.)

7. Propontis Sea of Marmara (p. 425)

8. Pontus Euxinus Black Sea (p. 236).

9. Palus Mceotis Sea of Azof (p. 237).


10. Mare Caspium Caspian Sea.

11. Paludes recipientes Araxem . Sea of Aral.

OBS. 1. The name Mare Erythr&um was first applied by the Greeks to the
whole ocean, extending from the coast of Ethiopia to the island of Taprobana,
when their knowledge of India was as yet in its infancy. It would mean at that
time the whole Indian Ocean. Afterward, however, when the Greeks learned
the existence of an Indian Ocean in a special sense, the term Erythrean Sea
was applied merely to the sea below Arabia, or, more strictly speaking, between
the peninsulas of Arabia and India.

2. The Caspian Sea was known to the Greeks and Romans. Herodotus, the
first who mentions it (L, 203), calls it by this name, and the appellation would
seem to have been derived either from the Caspii, who inhabited its southern
coast, or from casp, " a mountain," in allusion to its vicinity to Caucasus. Later
writers, however, limited the term Caspian to the western portion, calling the
eastern Mare Hyrcanium, or the Hyrcanian Sea. At one time it became a gen
eral belief among the ancients that the Caspian was connected with the Arctic
Sea by a strait, an opinion which seems to have arisen from some slight infor
mation obtained respecting the mouth of the Wolga. Ptolemy, however, who
knew the Wolga, which is named by him Rha, does not mention the existence
of this strait.

3. The ancients were not acquainted with the Sea of Aral, but confounded it
with the Caspian. The language of the text is mainly based upon the account
of Herodotus, who speaks of a large river named Araxes, coming in from the
east, and losing itself amid marshes, with the exception of one of its mouths,

Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 66 of 89)