Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography/Iapygia

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IAPY′GIA (Ἰαπυγία), was the name given by the Greeks to the SE. portion of Italy, bordering on the Adriatic Sea, but the term was used with considerable vagueness, being sometimes restricted to the extreme SE. point or peninsula, called also Messapia, and by the Romans Calabria; at other times extended so as to include the whole of what the Romans termed Apulia. Thus Scylax describes the whole coast from Lucania to the promontory of Drion (Mt. Garganus) as comprised in Iapygia, and even includes under that appellation the cities of Metapontum and Heraclea on the gulf of Tarentum, which are usually assigned to Lucania. Hence he states that their coast-line extended for a space of six days and nights' voyage. (Scyl. § 14. p. 5.) Polybius at a later period used the name in an equally extended sense, so as to include the whole of Apulia (iii. 88), as well as the Messapian peninsula; but he elsewhere appears to use the name of Iapygians as equivalent to the Roman term Apulians, and distinguishes them from the Messapians (ii. 24). This is, however, certainly contrary to the usage of earlier Greek writers. Herodotus distinctly applies the term of Iapygia to the peninsula, and calls the Messapians an Iapygian tribe; though he evidently did not limit it to this portion of Italy, and must have extended it, at all events, to the land of the Peucetians, if not of the Daunians also. (Herod. iv. 99, vii. 170.) Aristotle also clearly identifies the Iapygians with the Messapians (Pol. v. 3), though the limits within which he applies the name of Iapygia (Ib. i. 10) cannot be defined. Indeed, the name of the Iapygian promontory (ἡ ἄκρα ἡ Ἰαπυγία), universally given to the headland which formed the extreme point of the peninsula, sufficiently proves that this was considered to belong to Iapygia. Strabo confines the term of Iapygia to the peninsula, and says that it was called by some Iapygia, by others Messapia or Calabria. (Strab. vi. pp. 281, 282.) Appian and Dionysius Periegetes, on the contrary, follow Polybius in applying the name of Iapygia to the Roman Apulia, and the latter expressly says that the Iapygian tribes extended as far as Hyrium on the N. side of Mt. Garganus. (Appian, Ann. 45; Dionys. Per. 379.) Ptolemy, as usual, follows the Roman writers, and adopts the names then in use for the divisions of this part of Italy: hence he ignores altogether the name of Iapygia, which is not found in any Roman writer as a geographical appellation; though the Latin poets, as usual, adopted it from the Greeks. (Virg. Aen. xi. 247; Ovid, Met. xv. 703.)

We have no clue to the origin or meaning of the name of Iapygians, which was undoubtedly given to the people (Iapyges, Ἰάπυγες) before it was applied to the country which they inhabited. Niebuhr (vol. i. p. 146) considers it as etymologically connected with the Latin Apulus, but this is very doubtful. The name appears to have been a general one, including several tribes or nations, among which were the Messapians, Sallentini, and Peucetians: hence Herodotus calls the Messapians, Iapygians (Ἰήπυγες Μεσσάπιοι, vii. 170); and the two names are frequently interchanged. The Greek mythographers, as usual, derived the name from a hero, Iapyx, whom they represented as a son of Lycaon, a descent probably intended to indicate the Pelasgic origin of the Iapygians. (Anton. Liberal. 31; Plin. iii. 11. s. 16.) For a further account of the national affinities of the diflcrent tribes in this part of Italy, as well as for a description of its physical geographv, see the articles Apulia and Calabria. [ E. H. B. ]