Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

The student's manual of ancient geography online

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Book IV,

tinctiiess. We have already had occasion to notice the series of
mountains which divide Greece from Macedonia. Laomon is the
connecting link between the Cambnnii Montea on the E., Pindns in
the S., Tymphe in the W., and the mountains of Macedonia in the
N. The Cambunii Montes form the northern limits of Thessaly, and
terminate in the far-famed heij^hts of Olympni, near the JE^xan Sea.


Map of Qreece, showing the direction of the Moontain Baiige».

1. LfinnaD.

ft. PaniAMua.

j 17. Pmrth«olm.

1 «S. Sinus PRgtiMnM.

8. Viadm.

10. llHicon.

18. Cythem.

80. SiniM MaliaciM.

8. Cnmbunli Mu

11. aUwPTon.

' 19. Kubcm.

«7. Sinw SnroDiciM.

4 Olympufc.

IS. Geranoua.

1 £0. Kivcr I'racus.

£B. Kinut Argolicut.

ft OtM.

18. Cyilcne.

SI. River CepliiMiu.

2». Sinua CypnrisMis.

e. P«lioa.

1 n. Riirw Achdou*.

80. Kinut Conntblarus

7. Otbrys.

li. TnjgFtu*.

tt. RiTrr Alpbcut.

81. S\w Ambmriwi.

a. (Eta.

le. Panoo.

' M. Biver EarotM.


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Tymphe is continued westward in the ranges which bound Epirus
on the N., and which terminate in the striking promontory of
Acro-ceraunia on the shores of the Ionian Sea. Pindiu may be
termeti the backbo7ie of Greece : it emanates from the northern
range just mid -way between the JSgjean and Ionian Seas in about
40' N. lat., and descends in an unbroken course towards the S.E.
for sixty miles, to about 39°, where it terminates in Tymphreitiis.
From this point the central chain divides into five branches, one of
which, named Othryi, takes a due E. direction, skirting the shores
of the Maliac Gulf ; a second, (Eta* goes off towards the S.E., in a
line parallel to the coast of the Eubcran Sea, assuming, in different
parts, the names of Cnemiii Ptoon, and TeumeMns; a third retains
the direction of the parent chain, and assumes the well-known names
of PamastiUt HeUoon, Cith8Bron« and ParnM ; a fourth strikes off
towards the S.W., under the name of Corax and TapbiaMus, and ter-
minates in the promontory of Antirrhium, on the shores of the
Corinthian Gulf; lastly, a fifth diverges more to the N., and under
the name of AgraBi Montetf penetrates to the shores of the Ambra-
cian Gulf. We have yet to notice in Northern Greece a chain
which forms the E. boundary of Thessaly, connecting Olympus and
Othrys, and which contains the well-kno^vn heights of Otta and
Pelion* and terminates in the promontory of Sepias. Southwards
the central range may be traced between the Corinthian and Saronic
Gulfs in the heights of OeranSa and Oneai which join Northern
Greece and Peloponnesus. The mountain system of Peloponnesus
presents some interesting points of contrast to that of Northern
Greece. Instead of having a backbone-ridge (like Pindus), Pelopon-
nesus consists of a central region of a quadrangular form, bounded
on all sides by lofty chains. The northern barrier of this rocky
heart is formed by the lofty mountains of Cyll&ne in the E.,
and ErymanthuB in the W., the Aroanii Montea filling up the inter-
val. Tlie eastern boundary is formed by Artemisium and Partheniiim.
The southern and western walls are not so distinctly marked, but
the angle at which they meet is marked by the lofty chain of
Lyoant. The eastern and western walls are continued towards the
S. in the ranges of Parnon and TajgStni* which may be traced down
to the promontories of Malea and Tsnarinm.

§ 4. The river system of Northern Greece is regulated by that of
the mountains. It may be observed that there are two well-defined
basins in Northern Greece, one of which, Thessaly, is enclosed
between the ranges of Pindus on the W., Olympus on the N., Ossa
and Pelion on the E., and Othrj's on the S. ; the other is the trian-
gular space enclosed between 'Gilta, Parnassus, and Helicon, and
containing the provinces of Doris, Phocis, and BoDotia. The northern
basin \a drained by the PenSuS) which escapes through the only


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outlet afforded through the mountain wall, viz. the Vale of Tempe :
in the southern basin no such outlet exists, and the waters of the
Cephiifui collect in the lake Gopais, whence they were carried off by
subterraneous channels, partly of natural, partly of artificial forma-
tion. The western district was drained by tiie AehelduBf which,
rising not far from the Peneus, in the northern extremity of Pindus,
flows southwards into the Ionian Sea, after a coiuise of 130 miles,
receiving numerous tributaries from either side. The other rivers of
Northern Greece will be noticed in the account of the provinces
through which they flow. Between the northern and southern basins
the 8pen)]i8ii8 receives the waters that collect between Othrys and
(Eta, and after a course of sixty miles through a beautiful and fertile
valley, falls into the Lamiac Gidf. The only rivers of importance
in Peloponnesus are— the A^Sui* which drains the central moun-
tain district in a westerly course ; and the Eurdtai, which drains the
broad valley lying between Pamon and Taygetus.
- § 5. The coaet-line of Greece is singularly extensive, compared
with the area of the country. While the latter is less than Portugaly
the length of its coast exceeds that of Spain and Portugal together.
This is, of course, owing to its extreme irregularity. CJommencing
our review in the N.E., we find the line regular and unbroken down
to the promontory of Sepias. Westward of that point the sea makes
an incursion into the Thessalian plain, finding a narrow entrance
between the ranges of Othrys and Pelion, and then opening into an
extensive sheet of water, known as the PaganBos Sinus. 0, of Voh.
From the entrance of this gulf it proceeds westward, in the opening
afforded by the divergence of Othrys and (Eta, and terminates in the
Xali&ens SixL> G^. of Zeitun, Thenceforward it resumes its original
direction, and with numerous sinuosities follows the line of (Eta and
ita continuation as far as Pames, from which point it takes a due
southerly direction to Sunium. The Saronloos Sin.« G. of Eyina^ in-
tervenes between the peninsulas of Attica and Argolis, and the
ArgoUens Sin.* G. of Napcii di Bomania, between Argolis and Laco-
nia. The southern coast is broken by the bold projections of Xalea
and Tmuurium, bounding the Laoonioui Sin.* G, of KolocytJiia, and
by the lesser promonotory of Aerltas* in the W., enclosing with
TBmarinm the Kesteniaeuf Sin. These bays give the resemblance to
the leaf of the plane-tree, or vine, which was noticed by the ancients.
The western coast of Peloponnesus is varied by a large but not deep
indenture, named Qyparistias Sin. The Oorinthiaeni Sin.* G» of
Lepanto, shortly after follows, at first broad, then narrowed by the
promontories of Shinm and Antirrhinm to a strait, and then expand-
ing to a landlocked sheet, which resembles a lake rather than an
arm of the sea : its N. coast is broken by the bays of Crissa and
Anticjhna ; the S. coast is more regular, until it approaches the £.


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extremity, where it is divided by the projections of the Geranean
range. The Corinthian Gulf on the W. coast of Greece is met by
the Saronic on the E., and the two are separated by a very narrow
isthmus of low land to the S. of the Geranean range. The W. coast
of Northern Greece is regular, the only interruption in the line of
coast being the Ambnudiu Sin.* G» of Arta, a landlocked sheet of
water, approached by a narrow passage guarded by the promontory
of Aetinm. The promontory of Aoro-eeraimiaf on the frontier of
lUyricum, completes our review of the coast.

§ 6. The original population of Greece belonged to a stock which
we have named Grseco-Latin, as being found equally in the penin-
sulas of Greece and Italy. In Greece this common element was de-
scribed under the name of Pelasgi— a name which had almost passed
away in the historical age, and which was supposed by the Greeks
themselves to indicate an aboriginal population of great antiquity.*
The later inhabitants of Greece were named HeUSnes, and some doubt
still exists as to the relation that existed between them and the
Pelasgi. Most probably they belonged to the same stock, though of
a superior character and standing. In this case we may regard the
names as indicating different eras of civilization. TTie foreign settle-
ments were unimportant: doubt exists as to the Egyptian colo-
nies said to have been planted in Greece under Cecrops in Attica and
under Danaus in Argolis, but there can be little question that the
Phoenicians settled at Thebes in Bceotia. ITie abodes of the Pelasgi
and HellSnes varied at different periods, and deserve special notice in
consequence of their importance in the political divisions of Greece.

(1.) The Pelasgi. — The Pelasgi were an agrioultilKl race, and selected
the fertile plains for their original abodes. On these they erected
walled towns for their protection. They left indications of their
presence in the names Argos (= "plain ") and Larissa (= "a fortified
town"), and in the massive masomy with which they surrounded
their towns. Hence we may assume that the Pelasgians lived in the
following districts: — Thessaly, which Homer calls "Pelasffic Aigos;"'
the district of Argolis, which he calls "Achaean Argos, or simply
" Argos;"' and in Peloponnesus generally, which he calls ** Mid- Argos, "^
meaning ihe whole breadth of Argos — particulnrly the western part,
which he terms "lasian Argos." ^ In the Homeric age branches
of the Pelasgian race were known by special names, much as the
Arcadians in central Peloponnesus, the Cauooues in Elis, the Dolopians

* Tov ytfytvovt y^ ctfi' iyi» UakaXjfioyot

*lvvs 1U\turyov, Tn<r5e y^f apxyrY*^^4 JEecn. Suppl. 250.

' Nvv ^ ad Tovf, Sotrot th UtXeuryiKW ^Apyof ivautv. It. II. 681.
s 'Hfur^pff M oticy, iv *Afrfi, n^o^t irdrpnf. II. i 30.

* *Av6pii, TOV xA^of evpv koB* 'EAAo^ koX iU<ro¥ ^Kprfm. — Od. L 344.
^ Ei inCrrcf <n lioitv ov' ^latrw 'Apyof 'Axatoi. Od. xvlli. 246.


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on the southern borders of Thessaly and Epirus, and the Perrhsebi in
northern Thessaly.

(2.) The HeUenes, — ^The Hellenes are noticed by Homer as the Selli,*
who took care of the oracle of Dodona, as Hellenes^ in conjunction
with the Myrmidones and Achsans, and as Panhellenes ^ in conjunc-
tion with Aohseans — the latter implying that there were several tribes
of Hellenes. Hellas, the residence of the Hellenes, is variously
applied by Homer to a district of some size adjacent to Phthia, in a
wider sense as including the whole district . south of Thessaly to the
Corinthian Gulf, and in a wider sense still as descriptive of the whole
of Northern Greece in opposition to Mid-Argos or "Peloponnesus.*
The Hellenic race was divided by the Greeks into four large clans —
the Dorians, uEolians, lonians, and Achsans. These migrated from
their original seat in the S. of Thessaly, and were dispersed in the
following manner in the Heroic or Homeric age : — the Achaeans in the
original Hellas and in the S. and E. parts of Peloponnesus; the lonians
along the S. shore of the Corinthian Gulf and in Attica; the Dorians
in a small mountain district between Thessaly and Phocis ; and the
.^olians in the centre of Thessaly, in Locris, in i£tolia, and on
the W. side of the Peloponnesus, where they were named Epeans.
The Minyans were a powerful race, scattered over the peninsula, whose
origin is tmcertain. By some they are regarded as a branch of the
iEolians : their settlements were about the head of the Pagasseau
Gulf in Thessaly, in the centre of BoDotia, and about Pylos in western

(3.) The first change that took place in this disposition of the
Hellenic race occurred in northern Greece through the irruption of
the Tbessalians, who, crossing over from Epirus into the rich plain of
the Peneus, dispossessed the ^tolian Boeotians. These, retiring
southwards, settled in the fertile province named after them, where
they in turn* dispossessed the Minyans and other occupants. The
date assigned to these occurrences by the Greeks was B.c. 1124.

(4.) The second and more important change was supposed to have
occurred B.C. 1104, Uut appears really to have happened much later.
We refer to the immigration of the Doric race into Peloponnesus
under the Heracleids. They crossed the mouth of the Corinthian
Gulf in conjunction with the ^tolians, and ejected the Achseans from
the southern and eaatem districts of Ai:*golis, Laconia, and Messenia.
The Achccans retired to the shore of the Corinthian Gulf and perma-
nently occupied the province named after them; the lonians were
obliged to withdraw from this district to Attica ; while the uEtolians
seized the territory of the Epeans, and occupied it under the name of
Elis. Corinth is said to have held out for about thirty years against
the Dorian arms. The .^lolians were then expelled from it, and took
refuge among their emigrant compatriots.

Sol vouovo-' vtro^^TOi, di^iimiiro^, xof^^ucvvcu. II. xvL 234.

^ 'ByxtCji 6* in^Keum UayiXXiivas koX 'Ax<uov«. //. li. 630.

8 ♦evyw wtr' iwavtvO* 3i' 'EAAodos cvpvx<ipoco,

^Criv S" i^iKOfuiv ip^fi^kaxa.. ll. Ix. 474

» See above, note ♦.


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§ 7. The pditical divisions of Greece were r^ulated almost en-
tirely by the natural features of the country. The northern basin
was named Thessaly, which included also the vale of the Spercheus
and the mountainous region to the E. of the basin. Epirus was the
corresponding district on the other side of Pindus, extending south-
wards to the Ambracian Gulf. 'I'he southern basin included Boeotia,
the greater part of Phocis, and the little state of Doris, which lay at
the head of the valley of the Cephissus. Between (Eta and the
Euboean Sea Uved the Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii. Locris occu-
pied the triangular district between Parnassus and Corax and the
Corinthian Gulf. Then followed iEtolia and Acamania, divided from
each other by the Achelous. Attica was the triangular peninsula S.
of Boeotia, and Meg&ris occupied the isthmus. In Peloponnesus the
central mountain district was named Arcadia ; N. of this was Achaia
and the adjacent territories of Sicyonia, Phhasia, and Corinthia ; S. of
it Laconia and Messenia, divided from each other by Taygetus ; W.
of it Elis ; and E. of it Argolis, occupying the eastern peninsula.

I. — ^Thessalia.

§ 8. The boundaries of Thessaliat in its widest extent, were — the
Cambunii Montes and Olympus on the N., Pindus on the \V., the
iEgaean on the E., and the Malian Gulf and (Eta on the S. Within
these hmits were included Thessaly Proper (t. e. the plain enclosed
between the mountain ranges of Pindus, Olympus, and Otlirys) and
the outlying districts of Magnesia in the E., Malis in the S.E., and
IX)lopia and (Etasa in the S.W. The most striking feature in the
general aspect of Thessaly is the great central plain which spreads
out between the lofty mountain barriers surrounding it, justifying by
its appearance the opinion of the ancients that it had once been a vast
lake, whose waters at length forced for themselves an outlet by the
narrow vale of Tempe. This plain is divided into two parts by a
range of inferior heights running parallel to the left bank of the
Enipeus ; these were named the " Upper " and ** Lower " plains, the
first being the one nearest Pindus. The rich alluvial soil of this plain
produced a large quantity of corn and cattle, which suppHed wealth
to a powerftd and luxurious aristocracy. The horses were reputed
the finest in Greece,* and hence the cavalry of Thessaly was very

§ 9. The mountains of Thessaly rank among the most famous, not
only of Greece but of the whole ancient world. Olympus towers to
the height of nearly 10,(XX) feet in the N.E. angle of the province,
and presents a magnificent appearance from all sides. Its lower sides

1 Hence the hone is the usual device on the coins of Thessaly.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


are well wooded, but the summit is a mass of bare light-coloured
rock, and is covered with snow for the greater part of the year. Below
its summit is a belt of broken ridges and precipices. Olympus was
the reputed abode of Zeus and the other gods.' A road crossed its
southern slopes between Heracleum and Gonnus, by means of
which the narrow pass of Tempe might be avoided. Xerxes fol-
lowed this mountain road, as also did the Romans under App. Claudius
in B.C. 191. The Gambnnii Mt8.« which form the barrier between
Macedonia and Greece, were surmoimted by a route following the
course of the Titaresius from the S. This route bifurcated before
crossing the mountain, and led either by the Volustana Pass to
Phylaoe, or by a more easterly route to Petra and the sea-coast. To
the S. of Olympus, and separated from it by the narrow vale of
Tempe* rises Ossa, with a conical peak about 5000 feet high. The
ancients supposed that Ossa and Olympus were once united, but were
severed either by an earthquake or by the arm of Hercules.' This
mountain figures, along with Olympus and Pelion, in the description
of the war of the gianta against the gods.^ Pelion is a long ridge ex-
tending from Ossa southwards to the promontory of Sepias. On its
eastern side it rises almost precipitously from the sea, and allows no
harbours along this part of the coast.* It is still covered with exten-

* The epithets which Homer applies to thi« monntain refer to Its height {cumii,
and more commonly /Mucp<k), its size (/t^yof), its many ridge* (iroAv8cipa«}, its de-
prefnoru (iroXvirTvxof), its snowy top (aydwi^ and I'l^it), and its brilliancy,
as the abode of the gods {aiy^tn). The passages in which the name occars are
too numerous for quotation. The wooded sides of the mountain are referred to
by Virgil, in the epithet frondotum (see below, note *), and by Euripides in the
following passage, where he speaks of the *♦ leafy retreats " in which Orpheus
played : —

Tdxa V iv toIj irokuHviftt^'

oxv 'OKvfiwov tfoAofUKC, tv

$a. iroT* *0p^«^ KtffapC^ttv

Xvvayw SMpta Movcraif , «

SvKoyev 0^pais iypiaTat.^Baoch. 560.

' Postquam di^oessit Olympo

Herculea graris Ossa manu, subite&que ruinam
Sensit aqueo Nereus. Luc. vi. 847.

Dissiluit gelido vertex Osssus Olympo ;
Carceribus laxantur aqu», fractoque mcntu
Redduntur fluviusque uiari, tellusque colonis.

Clavd. Rapt, Proaerp. ii. 183.

* 01 pa KoX i$a.vdToi<nv AirciA^nyv iw 'OAv^vy
^\oir(^a or^miv iroAviueof mXiiiovo'
'Oovor iw* Oi/Xvfiwtf fL^ftMray tf^^cv, ovrdip iw' *Ovoji
IIijAtov *i¥0o%^v\Xw, Ir' ovpavbc atifiarht clij.— Od. xi, 312.

Ter sunt conati Imponere Pelio Ossam

Scilicet, atque Ossce frondosum involvere Olympum. — Geory. L 281.

* oitrd iJiituvot ni)A^.->EUBiP. Ale. 69ft.


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sive forests!' Othiyit in the S^ is agaiu a lofty and well-wooded
range, but not invested with so many interesting associations as the
mountains already described.^ Two routes led across it to Lamia ;
the most westerly starting from Thaumaci and Pharsalus, the other
from Thebae on the Pagastean Gulf. Pindus. in the W., is an exten-
sive range," forming the watershed between the basins of the Penens
and the Achelous. The southern part of the range was named
Oeroetiimi. It was crossed at two points — ^by a northern road which
followed up the valley of the Peneus, and descended on the W. side
by that of the Arachthus to Dodona and Passaron ; and by a southern
road which led from Gromphi in Thessaly to Argithea, and thence to
Ambracia ; this pass, now called Fortes, is of a very diflBcult cha-
racter : Philip suffered severely there in b.c. 189, and it was probaHy
the route followed by Q. Marcius Philippus in b.c. 169. ITie most
southerly range of Thessaly, named (Eta** divides it from Locris,

* Hence Homer gives it the epithet ctvooi^AAof (see above, note *).

Pelion HflDmonie mons est obveraus in Aostros :
Sumnut virent pinu : cfetera qnercns habet. — Ov. Ftut, v. S81.
Pelion wms the original residence of the Centaurs, and more especially of
Chiron, the instructor of Achilles ; they were expelled thence by the Lapith» :
^HfAOTt np ore ^pof iriffaro Xaxn}«rra«*
Tovs ^ it: Uiiklov i>9t ffot Aitfuccovi wi\cLffvtr,- lU IL 743.
Talis et ipse Jubam cervice elfUdit equina
Conjugis adventu pemix Satumus, et altum
Pelion hinnitu fUgiens implerit aouto. — Oeorg. iii. 9S.
Quorum post abitum princeps e vertice Pelii
Advenit Chiron, portans sUvestria dona. — Catvix. Iziv. S79.
The number of medicinal plants growing on the mountain made it a fitting
abode for Chiron.

' The allusions in the following passages refer to its woodSf whence " the tawny
troop of lions " issued at the sound of Apollo's lyre ; and to its snoioy $ummU :
*E^a a Ktwowr" 'Oepv

oc vdwcof ktSvntv
& ia^HHvitt lAa.— £uiaP. AleetL 596.
At medioe ignes coeli, rapidiqne Leonis
Solstitiale caput nmtorotui submovet Othrys.— Luc. vi. S87.
Ceu, duo nubigens cum vertice montis ab alto
Descendunt Centauri, Homolen Othrymque nwalem
Linquentes cursu rapido. ^E», viL 674.

" The poetical allusions to Pindus are of a general character, as oae of the
most important mountains of Greece : —

Nam neque Pamassi vobis Juga, nam neque Pindi

Ulla moram fccere, neque Aonie Aganippe. — Yiiui. Sel. x. 11.

Caucasus ardet,
Ossaque cum Pindo, miOorque ambobus Olympus.— -Ov. Met. U. 2S4.

* (Eta is associated with the death of Hercules, which took place on its sum-
mit, the hero being there burnt on a ftmeral pile :

Vixdum Clara dies summa luttrmbat in (Eta

Heroulei manumenta rogi. Sil. Ital. vi. 452. Hence


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IX)ri8, and ^Etolia. The only practicable route by which this range
could be surmounted led through the iamous pass of Thermopj^lflBi and
after following the sea-coast for a certain distance, crossed Cnemis
into Bojotia. Tliermopylre was thus, in the S. of Thessaly, very
much what the vale of Tempe was in the N. — an almost impregnable
post against an invading army.

Map of rbcnnopi'Iae arid the surrounding Country.

The " Gatea " or pass of ThermopylsB were formed by a spur of (Eta,
which protruded to the immediate vicinity of the coast (c e), the interval
between the two being for the most part occupied by a morass. Great
changes have taken place in this locality : the sea-coast is now removed
to a considerable distance (a a' by the alluvial deposits (A A) brought
down by the Spercheus, and a broad swampy plain spreads away from
the foot of (Eta, removing all appearance of a pass. The Spercheus,
which formerly fell into the Maliac Bay near Anticyra, now deviates
to the S. {hb) by Therm opylse; while the Asopus, which crossed the
plain immediately W. of the pass, now falls into the Spercheus by a
course (c c) considerably removed from it. The Dyras has been altered

Hence (Etseus became a favourite epithet of Hercules, e.g, : —

Troja, bis CEtiei numinc capta del. Pbopebt. lii. 1, 32.

Quails ubl implicitum Tirynthius ossibns ignem
Sensit et (Etceas membris accedcre Testes. — Stat. Th^. zi. 2S4.
The allusion in the following line appears to be borrowed from some Greek
writer who lived in the vicinity of GEta, and saw the evening star rise over its
brow : —

Sparge, marlte, nuces ; tibi deserit Hesperus (Etam.

Vnto. JEel. viii. 80.


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in the opposite direction (d d). The springs, .whence the first part of
the name '' Hot Gates '* * is derived, remain : some are at the W. entrance
(o) of the pass, others at its E. entrance {h) : the latter mark the true
site of Thermopylse. At each of these points (Eta throws out a pro*
jection, and between the two was a small plain, about half a mile broad
and more than a mile long, across which the Phodans built a wall (i)
for the defence of the pass. As Tempe could be avoided by a cir-
ctdtous route over the lower limbs of Olympus, so could Thermopvlse
by a mountain-track called Anopsca (//;, which siumounted CdhdrS-
mus at the back of the pass. Thermopylra was the scene of many
struggles famous in the history of Greece. In B.C. 480 Eeonidas held
it with a small band of Spartans against the hosts of Xerxes until his
position was turned by the path Anopsea; in 279 the Greeks held it
against B^nnus with a similar result ; in 207 the iEtolians attempted

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