The Periplus of the Euxine Sea
|The Periplus of the Euxine Sea (2nd century)
by , translated by William Falconer
periplus or guidebook to the cities, harbors, and geographic features on the shores of the Black Sea taking the form of a letter in the Koine Greek language to the Roman Emperor Hadrian from Arrian of Nicomedia, an ethnically Greek historian and governor of the Roman province of Cappadocia in the 2nd century CE.
This translation was made by the British historian William Falconer in 1805 and despite its archaic language and typography was identified as the best translation of this work by Frank Seymour Smith in his 1968 The Classics in Translation: An Annotated Guide to the Best Translations of the Greek and Latin Classics Into English, ISBN 0833732951.
The name of this text is Periplus Ponti Euxini in Latin and Περίπλους του Ευξείνου Πόντου in Greek.
WE came in the course of our voyage to Trapezus, a Greek city in a maritime situation, a colony from Sinope, as we are informed by Xenophon, the celebrated Historian. We surveyed the Euxine sea with the greater pleasure, as we viewed it from the same spot, whence both Xenophon and Yourself had formerly observed it. Two altars of rough stone are still standing there; but, from the coarseness of the materials, the letters inscribed upon them are indistinctly engraven, and the Inscription itself is incorrectly written, as is common among barbarous people. I determined therefore to erect altars of marble, and to engrave the Inscription in well marked and distinct characters. Your Statue, which stands there, has merit in the idea of the figure, and of the design, as it represents You pointing towards the sea; but it bears no resemblance to the Original, and the execution is in other respects but indifferent. Send therefore a Statue worthy to be called Yours, and of a similar design to the one which is there at present, as the situation is well calculated for perpetuating, by these means, the memory of any illustrious person. A Fane or Temple is there constructed, built of squared stone, and is a respectable edifice; but the Image of Mercury, which it contains, is neither worthy the Temple, nor the situation in which it stands. Wherefore, if You mould think proper, send to me a Statue of Mercury of not more than five feet in height, as such a size seems well proportioned, and suitable to that of the building. I request also a Statue of Philesius of four feet in height; for it seems to me reasonable that the latter should have a temple and an altar in common with his Ancestor. Hence whilst some persons sacrifice to Mercury, and some to Philesius, and others to both, they will all do what is agreeable to both these Deities; to Mercury, as they honour his Descendant; to Philesius, as they honour his Ancestor. Wherefore I myself sacrificed an Ox there; not as Xenophon did in the port of Calpe, when he took an Ox from a waggon on account of the scarcity of victims; whereas here the Trapezuntines themselves furnished no contemptible sacrifice. We examined the entrails of the animals sacrificed, and performed our libations upon them. I need not mention to You in whose behalf we first offered our prayers, as You are well acquainted with our custom on such occasions, and as You must be conscious, that You deserve the prayers of all, and especially of those who are under less obligations of gratitude than myself. Having then sailed from Trapezus, we arrived the first day at the port of Hyssus, and exercised the foot-soldiers, whom we found there. This body of men, as You know, consists of foot, although they have besides belonging to them twenty horsemen, who are designed for private services only. It has however been found ne cessary for these men sometimes to act in the capacity of those who throw javelins. Thence we sailed, at first only with the breezes which blow early in the morning from the mouths of the rivers, using however oars at the same time. These breezes were indeed cool, as  Homer expresses himself, but not sufficiently strong for us, who wished for a quick voyage. A calm soon followed, when we were reduced to depend upon our oars only. Soon after a cloud suddenly arising burst nearly in an easterly direction from us, and brought on a violent storm of wind, which was entirely contrary to the course that we held, and from the fatal effects of which we had a narrow escape. For it almost instantly produced such a swell of the sea, as to make it appear hollow to the view, and caused a deluge of water to break not only over that part of the ship where the benches of the rowers were placed, but also over the part which is between them and the poop. Our situation was then truly tragical, since as fast as we pumped out the water, so fast did it burst in upon us. The swell of the sea did not however bear upon the side of our vessel; and from this circumstance we were enabled, although with great trouble and difficulty, to make use of our oars, and, after much distressful suffering, to arrive at Athenæ. For there is upon the Euxine sea a place so called, where there is a temple in the Grecian style, from which circumstance the place seems to have derived its name. There is a ruined castle at this place, and a port, which in the summer season cannot indeed contain many ships, but is sufficient to afford them a shelter from the South wind, and even from the South-East. Ships that put in there might indeed be safe from the North-East wind, but not from the North, nor from that wind, which is called in Pontus, Thrascias, but in Greece, Sciron. During the night there came on a violent storm of thunder and lightning; nor did the wind continue in the same quarter, but came about to the South, and soon after from the South to the South-West, which rendered the bay, or road, in which we lay, no longer a safe station. Therefore, before the sea had begun to rage violently, we drew up into the harbour of Athenæ as many of our ships as it would contain, excepting one trireme, which having found a convenient shelter under cover of a rock, rode there in safety. We thought proper also to send several of our veslels to the neighbouring shores to be drawn aground ; which succeeded so well, that they all escaped safe, excepting one, which entering the bay exposed its side improperly to the wind, and the swell of the sea drove it ashore, where it was wrecked. Every thing on board however was saved, not the sails only, and the nautical instruments, but the bolts also, and the men. We also scraped off the wax, which is as necessary an article in ship-building as any, timber excepted; of which last material there is, as You know, a great quantity in the countries that border upon this sea. The storm continued two days, and necessarily detained us during that time. It would indeed have indicated a want of respect to have passed by Athenaæ, even the one of that name on the Pontic sea, as if it were some deserted and nameless port.
Setting sail thence early in the morning, we attempted to make our way with the waves, or swell of the sea, bearing upon the side of our ship; but as the day advanced, the North-East wind blowing gently calmed the sea, and rendered it altogether smooth and tranquil. Before noon we reached Apsarus, having sailed more than five hundred stadia. At this place five cohorts are stationed, to whom we delivered their pay, and inspected their arms, the walls, and the ditch, their sick, and their present stock of provisions. My report concerning these subjects has been already written in the Latin language. Apsarus, it is said, formerly bore the name of Apsyrtus, from the person who was murdered by Medea, and whose sepulchre is still shewn there. Its present name was corrupted by the Barbarians from the ancient one, as has taken place in many other instances. Thus they say, that Tyana in Cappadocia was called, about the time alluded to, Thoana, from Thoas, King of the Tauri; who, it is reported, came thither in pursuit of Pylades and Orestes, and their companions, and died there of some disease.
The rivers, which we passed since our departure from Trapezus, are as follows.
The Hyssus, from which the port of that name is called, is distant from Trapezus an hundred and eighty stadia.
The Psychrus; distant from the Ophis about thirty stadia.
The Calus; distant from the Psychrus thirty ftadia.
The Rhizius lies also in the neighbourhood of the Psychrus, and is distant from the Calus an hundred and twenty stadia.
From the Rhizius to the Ascurus the distance is thirty stadia.
From the Ascurus to the Adienus sixty stadia.
From the Adienus to Athenæ an hundred and eighty stadia.
The river Zagatis lies at most only seven stadia from Athenæ.
In sailing from Athenæ; we passed by Prytanis, a palace of Anchialus, which is distant from Athenæ forty stadia.
The river Pyxites is distant from Prytanis ninety stadia.
The distance from Pyxites to Archabis is alfo ninety stadia.
From Archabis to Apsarus sixty stadia.
When we set sail from Apsarus, we passed by the river Acampsis in the night, at the distance of fifteen stadia from Apsarus. The river Bathys is seventy-five stadia distant from the Acampsis.
From the Bathys to the Acinasis ninety stadia.
From the Acinasis to the Isis ninety stadia. The Acampsis and the Isis are both of them navigable rivers, from whose mouths issue strong morning breezes.
Sailing from the mouth of the Isis, we passed by the Mogrus, which also is a navigable river, and at the distance of ninety stadia from the Isis. We then entered the Phasis, which is distant from the Mogrus ninety stadia. The water of this river is lighter in the balance, and more changeable in its colour, than any with which I am acquainted. Any person may satisfy himself of the superior lightness of this water by weighing it, or by observing that it floats on the surface of the sea without mingling with it. In the same manner Homer says, that the water of the river Titaresius floats upon the surface of the Peneus:
"Yet o'er the silver surface pure they flow,
"The silver stream unmix'd with streams below." Il. i. ver. 754.
The water of the Phasis, if you take it from the surface, is fresh; but if any one lets down a jar deep into the stream, he finds the water brackish. It must however be observed, that the Pontic sea is much less salt than the sea without the Hellespont, on account of the rivers which discharge themselves into the former, the num ber and size of which are beyond computation. We may bring as a proof of its freshness, if any proof can be necessary respecting what is the object of our senses, that all the people who live on its borders lead out their cattle to drink of the water of the sea, which they willingly do; and experience has shewn that they thrive better with this than with fresh water. The colour of the water of the Phasis resembles that of water impregnated with lead or tin; but on standing and depositing a sediment, it becomes perfectly pure. It is even provided by the law, that those who fail into the Phasis should not import any foreign water into the country; but as soon as they enter the stream, it is signified to them, that they should pour out what water is left in the ship; which if they neglect to do, the common opinion is that their future voyages will not be prosperous. The water of the Phasis does not corrupt by keeping, but continues free from any taint of this kind for more than ten years. The only change that takes place is, that it becomes sweeter than it was originally. The Statue of the Goddess Phasiana is placed to the left of the entrance into the Phasis; which Deity we may reasonably conjecture, from her figure and appearance, to be the same with Rhea, as she holds in her hands a cymbal, has lions under her throne, and is seated in the same manner as the Statue by Phidias in the temple of Cybele at Athens. An anchor, said to be of the ship Argo, is shewn here; but as it is of iron, it does not seem to be ancient; it differs indeed both in size and shape from those at present in use, but nevertheless appears to me to be of later date than the Argonautic period. They also shew there some fragments of an ancient stone anchor, which are more likely than the other to be the remains of the anchor of the Argo. No other monument is now to be found there of the fabulous history of Jason. The castle, in which four hundred se lect men are stationed, seems to me very strong by situation, and conveniently situated for the protection of those that sail upon the river. It was surrounded with a ditch and a double wall, each of them very broad. The walls were formerly of earth, and the towers of wood; but at present both the wall and the towers are built of baked brick, the foundations of which are securely laid, and the whole furnished with warlike engines, and, in short, so fortified in every respect, as to afford no access to the Barbarians, nor to expose those who defend it to the danger of a siege. But as it is advisable that the port should be rendered safe for sea-faring people, and that other places should be secured which lie without the walls of the castle, and are inhabited by people who are now exempted from military service, or by persons engaged in commerce, I thought proper to carry from the double ditch, that sunrounds the wall, another ditch, as far as the river, which may include both the harbour, and the buildings, that lie beyond the walls of the fortifications.
Leaving the Phasis we passed by the Chariens, a navigable river, at the distance of ninety stadia from the Phasis. From the Chariens we sailed to the Chobus, which is ninety stadia distant from the Chariens. We here went into the harbour; but for what causes, and what business we transacted there, the Latin letters will explain. Proceeding from the Chobus we sailed by the Singamis, a navigable river, at the distance from the Chobus of two hundred and ten stadia at the utmoft. Next to the Singamis, and at the distance of one hundred and ninety stadia, lies the river Tarsuras. From the Tarsuras to the Hippus is one hundred and fifty stadia. From Hippus to Astelephus is thirty stadia. In our course from the Chobus we pafled by Astelephus, and got to Sebastopolis before noon; which last place is one hundred and twenty stadia from Astelephus. We spent the remainder of the day in distributing the pay to the soldiers, in reviewing the horses and the arms, and in observing the dextrous activity of the horsemen in leaping upon their horses; in viewing the sick, and in surveying the provision of corn, and the condition of the walls and of the ditch. The distance from the Chobus to Sebastopolis is six hundred and thirty stadia; but from Trapezus to Sebastopolis two thousand two hundred and sixty stadia. This place (Sebastopolis) was formerly called Dioscurias, and was a colony from Miletus. The nations which we sailed by on our voyage are as follows. The Colchians, who, as Xenophon observes, border on the Trapezuntines; as do the Drillæ, as he calls them, but who seem to me to be more properly called the Sanni; a people, whom he records to be of a warlike disposition, and very hostile to the Trapezuntines; both which characters they preserve to the present time. They dwell in strongly fortified places, and do not live under a monarchical government. They were formerly tributary to the Romans; but of late, being addicted to plunder, they do not pay the tribute regularly: however, now, by the Gods' assistance, we will either oblige them to be more punctual, or exterminate them. The Machelones and the Heniochi border on these people, the latter of whom have a King called Anchialus. Next to these lie the Sydretæ, subject to Pharasmanus ; and adjoining to the Sydretæ are the Lazi, a people subject to King Malassas, who holds his kingdom from You. Bordering on the Lazi are the Apsilæ, governed by King Julianus, who received his kingdom from your Father. The Abasci border on the Apsilæ, whose King, Rhesmagus, received his crown from You. The Sanigæ border on the Abasci. Sebastopolis is a city of the Sanigæ, who are subject to King Spadagas, who received his kingdom from You. As far as Apsarus our course lay Eastward, on the right side of the Euxine sea. Apsarus appears to me to terminate the Pontus, when we estimate its greatest length.
From thence our course was Northerly to the river Chobus, and from thence to Singames. From Singames we turned to the left side of the Pontus as far as the river Hippus; and from thence to Astelephus and Dioscurias, where we had a view of Mount Caucasus, the height of which is much the same with that of the Celtic Alps. The highest point of the mountain called Strobilus is visible here, where Prometheus is fabled to have been suspended by Vulcan, according to the commands of Jupiter.
The distances of the places from one another, that lie between the Thracian Bosporus and Trapezus, are as follows. The temple of Jupiter Urius is distant from Byzantium an hundred and twenty stadia. The Thracian Bosporus is, as You know, the narrowest of the mouths of the Pontus, through which it discharges itself into the Propontis. The river Rhebas lies on the right hand of those who sail from the temple above mentioned, and is at the distance of ninety stadia from it. From the river Rhebas to Acra Melæna is one hundred and fifty stadia. From Acra Melæna to the river Artanes, where there is a harbour for small vessels near a temple of Venus, is one hundred and fifty stadia. From the river Artanes to Psilis, where small vessels may lie safely under the shelter of a projecting rock, not far from the mouths of the river, an hundred and fifty stadia. From Psilis to the port of Calpe two hundred and ten stadia. Xenophon the elder has described at large the port and situation of Calpe, and informed us, that there is there a cool and pure spring, and woods of timber fit for building ships, and wild animals.
From the port of Calpe to Rhoe, a harbour for small vessels, twenty stadia. From Rhoe to Apollonia, a small island at a little distance from the Continent, twenty stadia. In this small island there is a port. From hence to Chelæ twenty stadia. From Chelæ to the place where the river Sangarius flows into the Pontus an hundred and eighty stadia. From thence to the mouths of the Hyppius an hundred and eighty stadia. From Hyppius to the mart of Lillium an hundred stadia. From Lillium to Elæum sixty stadia. From Elæum to another mart called Cales an hundred and twenty stadia. From Cales to the river Lycus eighty stadia. From Lycus to Heraclea, a Dorian Greek city, a colony of the Megareans, twenty stadia. Here there is a harbour for ships. From Heraclea to a place called Metroum eighty stadia. From Metroum to Pofidæum forty stadia. From Pofidæum to the Tyndaridæ forty-five stadia. From the Tyndaridæ to Nymphæum fifteen stadia. From Nymphæum to the river Oxinas thirty stadia. From the river Oxinas to Sandaraca, a port for small vessels, ninety stadia. From Sandaraca to Crenides fixty stadia. From Crenides to the mart of Psylla thirty stadia. From Psylla to Tios, an Ionian Greek city, situated on the sea, and a colony of the Milesians, ninety stadia. From Tios to the river Billæus twenty stadia. From Billæus to the river Parthenius an hundred stadia. The country so far is inhabited by the Thracian Bithynians, of whom Xenophon has made mention in his Memoirs, as the most warlike of the Asiatics, and from whom the army of the Greeks susffered much, after the Arcadians had separated themselves from the other division of the army, commanded by Chiri sophus and Xenophon. Here commences the boundary of Paphlagonia. From the river Parthenius to Amastris, a Greek city, where there is a port for ships, ninety stadia . From thence to the Erythini sixty stadia. From the Erythini to Cromna sixty stadia. From Cromna to Cytorus, where there is a port, ninety stadia. From Cytorus to Ægialus sixty stadia. From Ægialus to Thymena ninety stadia. From Thymena to Carambis an hundred and twenty stadia. From Carambis to Zephyrium an hundred and sixty stadia. From Zephyrium to the fortress of Abonum, where there is a small city, one hundred and fifty stadia. The port here is not altogether safe; nevertheless, ships may lie here free from harm, if the tempest be not very violent. From the fortress of Abonum to Æginetis an hundred and fifty stadia. From Æginetis to the mart of Cinolis fixty stadia. In the summer season ships may lie here. From Cinolis to Stephanes, a safe port for ships, an hundred and eighty stadia. From Stephanes to Potamos an hundred and fifty stadia. From Potamos to Lepte Acra one hundred and twenty stadia. From Lepte Acra to Harmene sixty stadia. There is a port at Harmene. This place is mentioned by Xenophon. From Harmene to Sinope, a colony of the Milesians, forty stadia. From Sinope to Carufa, where there is an open road where ships lie, but no port, an hundred and fifty stadia. From Carusa to Zagora an hundred and fifty stadia. From Zagora to the river Halys three hundred stadia. This river was formerly the boundary between the kingdom of Crœfus and that of the Persians; but now it is in the Roman territory. Its course is not from the South, as Herodotus describes it, but from the East; and where it discharges itself into the Pontus, it forms the boundary between the Sinopians and the Amisenians. From the river Halys to Naustathmus, where there is a marsh, ninety stadia. From hence to Conopæum, where there is another marsh, fifty stadia. From Conopæm to Eufene an hundred and twenty stadia. From Eusene to Amisus an hundred and sixty stadia. Amisus lies upon the sea, is a Greek city, and an Athenian colony. From Amisus to the port of Ancon, where the river Iris empties itself into the sea, an hundred and twenty stadia. From the mouths of the Iris to the port of Heracleum three hundred and sixty stadia. From Heracleum to the river Thermodon forty stadia. This is the river Thermodon, on whose banks the Amazons are said to have dwelt. From the Thermodon to the river Beris ninety stadia. From the Beris to the river Thoaris sixty stadia. From Thoaris to Œnoe thirty stadia. From Œnoe to the river Phigamus forty stadia. From Phigamus to the fortress of Phadisana one hundred and fifty stadia. From Phadisana to the city of Polemonium ten stadia. From Polemonium to the promontory called the Jasonian an hundred and thirty stadia. From the Javonian promontory to the island of the Cilices fifteen stadia. From this island to Boona, where there is a port for ships, seventy-five stadia. From Boona to Cotyora ninety stadia. Xenophon mentions Cotyora as a city, and says, that it was a colony of the Sinopians: at present it is no more than a village, and that not a large one. From Cotyora to the river Melanthius is, at the utmost, sixty stadia. From the Melanthius to the Pharmatenus, another river, an hundred and fifty stadia. From the Pharmatenus to Pharnacea an hundred and twenty stadia. Pharnacea was formerly called Cerafus, and was a colony from Sinope. From Pharnacea to the island Arrhentias thirty stadia. From Arrhentias to Zephyrium one hundred and twenty stadia. There is here a port for ships. From Zephyrium to Tripolis ninety stadia. From Tripolis to Argyria twenty stadia. From Argyria to Philocalea ninety stadia. From Philocalea to Coralla an hundred stadia. From Coralla to the sacred mountain (ἱερὸν ὄρος) an hun dred and fifty stadia. From the sacred mountain to Cordyla forty stadia. Here there is a port for ships. From Cordyla to Hermonassa forty-five stadia. Here also is a port for ships. From Hermonassa to Trapezus sixty stadia. Here You are constructing a harbour, as there was formerly only a road or station, where ships might ride in safety during the summer season.
The distances between the places that lie between Trapezus and Dioscurias have been before let down, according to the intervals between the rivers. If these separate distances between Trapezus and Dioscurias, now called Sebastopolis, be collected, they will amount to two thousand two hundred and sixty stadia. This is the distance, if you sail on the right hand from Byzantium to Dioscurias, which place is the last in the Roman territory to those who keep to the right hand side in sailing into the Pontic sea. For as soon as I was informed of the death of Cotys, King of the Cimmerian Bosporus, I took care that You mould be made acquainted with the navigation of this sea as far as the Bosporus, that if You mould be inclined to interfere in the affairs of that country, You might execute your intentions with greater ease, by being acquainted with the navigation.
The first port to be met with after quitting Dioscurias is Pityus, at the distance of three hundred and fifty stadia. From Pityus to Nitica is one hundred and fifty stadia. This was formerly inhabited by a Scythian nation, of whom Herodotus, who is apt to relate improbable stories, has made mention, and spoken of them as eaters of lice; and indeed the same opinion of them prevails in the present age. From Nitica to the river Abascus is ninety stadia. From Abascus to Borgys an hundred and twenty stadia. From Borgys to Nesis, which includes the Herculean promontory, sixty stadia. From Nesis to Masaïtica ninety stadia. From Masaïtica to the river Achæus, which separates the Zicchi from the Sanichæ, sixty stadia. is the King of the Zicchi, and received his kingdom from You. From Achæus to the Herculean promontory, where there is a station sheltered from the North-Westerly wind, called Thrascias, and from the North-Easterly wind called Boreas, an hundred and eighty stadia. From thence to a place called ancient Lazica an hundred and twenty stadia. From hence to ancient Achaia an hundred and fifty stadia. From thence to the port of Pagræ three hundred and fifty stadia. From the port of Pagræ to the port of Hierus (or the sacred port) an hundred and eighty stadia. From thence to Sindica three hundred stadia. From Sindica to the Bosporus, called Cimmerian, and to Panticapæum, a city of the Bosporus, five hundred and forty stadia. From Panticapæum to the river Tanais, which is said to divide Europe from Asia, sixty stadia. This river bursts forth from the Palus Mæotis, and empties itself into the Euxine sea. Æfchylus however, in the tragedy of Prometheus Delivered, makes the Phasis the boundary between Europe and Afia. He there introduces the Titans speaking thus to Prometheus: "Hither are we come to fee thy labours, O Prometheus ! and the sufferings which thou undergoest in consequence of thy bonds:" and in specifying how large a space of ground they had passed over in their journey, they speak of the Phasis "as the twin-born offspring of the earth, and the great boundary of Europe and Asia." The circuit of the Palus Mæotis is said to be about nine thoufand stadia. From Panticapæum to a village called Cazeca, situated upon the sea, four hundred and twenty stadia. From Cazeca to Theodosia, a deserted city, two hundred and eighty stadia. This was formerly an Ionian Greek city, a colony from Miletus, the memory of which is preserved in the works of many writers. From Theodosia to a port of the Tauro-Scythæ, now deserted, two hundred stadia. From thence to Halmitis Taurica six hundred stadia. From Lampas to Symboli Portus, which is also a Tauric port, five hundred and twenty stadia. From Symbolus to Chersonesus Taurica a hundred and eighty stadia. From Chersonesus Taurica to Cercinetis six hundred stadia. From Cercinetis to Calos, a Scythian port, seven hundred stadia. From the port of Calos to Tamyraca three hundred stadia. Within the limits of Tamyraca there is a small lake. From Tamyraca to the place where the lake discharges itself, three hundred stadia. From the mouth of the lake to Eona three hundred and eighty stadia. From Eona to the river Borysthenes a hundred and fifty stadia. When you sail up the river you meet with a Greek city of the name of Olbia. From the Borysthenes to a small, deserted, name-less island, sixty stadia. From the desert island to Odessus, where there is a port for ships, eighty stadia. The port of the Istrians is the next place in order from Odessus, and lies at the distance of two hundred and fifty stadia. Next in order is a port of the Isiaci, at the distance of fifty stadia. From the port of the Isiaci to the mouth of the river Ister, called Psilon, one thousand two hundred stadia. The intermediate places are desert and nameless. Exactly over against this mouth there lies an island, situated directly opposite to the course of those who sail with a North wind. Some call this the island of Achilles; others call it the chariot of Achilles; and others Leuce, from its colour. Thetis is said to have given up this island to her son Achilles, by whom it was inhabited. There are now existing a temple, and a wooden statue of Achilles, of ancient workmanship. It is destitute of inhabitants., and pastured only by a few goats, which those, who touch here, are said to of fer to the memory of Achilles. Many offerings are sufpended in this temple, as cups, rings, and the more valuable gems. All these are offerings to the memory of Achilles. Inscriptions are also suspended, written in the Greek and Latin language, in praise of Achilles, and composed in different kinds of metre. Some are in praise of Patroclus, whom those, who are disposed to honour Achilles, treat with equal respect. Many birds inhabit this island, as sea-gulls, divers, and coots innumerable. These birds frequent the temple of Achilles. Every day in the morning they take their flight, and having moistened their wings, fly back again to the temple, and sprinkle it with the moisture; which having performed, they brush and clean the pavement with their wings. This is the account given by some persons. Those, who come on purpose to the island, carry animals proper for sacrifice with them in their ships, some of which they immolate, and others they set at liberty in honour of Achilles. Even those, who are compelled by stress of weather to land upon the island, must consult the God himself, whether it would be right and proper for them to select for sacrifice any of the animals, which they should find feeding there; offering, at the fame time, such a recompense, as to them seems adequate to the value of the animal so selected. But if this should be rejected by the Oracle, for there is an Oracle in this temple, they muVt then add to their valuation; and if the increased valuation be still rejected, they must increase it again, till they find, from the assent of the Oracle, that the price they offer is deemed sufficient. When this is the case, the beast to be sacrificed stands still of its own accord, and makes no effort to escape. A confiderable treasure is laid up in this temple as the price of these victims. It is said that Achilles has appeared in time of sleep both to those who have approached the coast of this island, and also to such as have been sailing a short distance from it, and instructed them where the island was most lately accessible, and where the ships might best lie at anchor. They even say further, that Achilles has appeared to them not in time of sleep, or a dream, but in a visible form on the mast, or at the extremity of the yards, in the same manner as the Dioscuri have appeared. This distinction however must be made between the appearance of Achilles, and that of the Dioscuri, that the latter appear evidently and clearly to persons, who navigate the sea at large, and when so seen foretell a prosperous voyage; whereas the figure of Achilles is seen only by such as approach this island. Some also say, that Patroclus has appeared to them during their sleep. I have thus put down what I have heard concerning this island of Achilles, either from persons who had touched there themselves, or from others that had made the same enquiries; and indeed these accounts seem to me to be not unworthy of belief. I am myself persuaded, that Achilles was a hero, if ever man was, being illustrious by his noble birth, by the beauty of his person, by the strength of his mind and understanding, by his untimely death in the flower of youth, by his being the subject of Homer's poetry, and, lastly, by the force of his love, and constancy of his friendship, insomuch that he would even die for his friends.
From the mouth of the Ister called Psilon to the second mouth is sixty stadia. Thence to the mouth called Calon forty stadia. From Calon to Naracum, which last is the name of the fourth mouth of the Ister, sixty stadia. Hence to the fifth mouth a hundred and twenty stadia. Hence to the city of Istria five hundred stadia. From Istria to the city of Tomea three hundred stadia. From Tomea to the city of Callantra, where there is a port, three hundred stadia. From Callantra to the port of the Carians a hundred and eighty stadia. The district surrounding this port is called Caria. From the port of the Carians to Tetrisias a hundred and twenty stadia. Thence to Bizus, a deserted place, sixty stadia. From Bizus to Dionysopolis eighty stadia. From Dionysopolis to Odessus, where there is a road for ships, two hundred stadia. From Odessus to the borders of Mount Hæmus, which range of mountains is extended even into Pontus, three hundred and sixty stadia. From Hæmus to the city of Mesembria ninety stadia. Here there is a road for ships. From Mesembria to the city of Anchialus seventy stadia. From Anchialus to Apollonia a hundred and eighty stadia. These are all of them Greek cities, which lie on the left hand of thole who sail into the Euxine sea. From Apollonia to Cherronesus sixty stadia. Here there is a road for ships. From Cherronefus to the fortress of Aulæon two hundred and fifty stadia. From Aulæon to Thynias a hundred and twenty stadia. From Thynias to Salmydessus two hundred stadia. Mention is made of this place by the elder Xenophon, who says, that the Grecian army, which he commanded himself, came so far in their march, when at the conclusion of the expedition he engaged his army in the service of Seuthes the Thracian. The same writer has described at length the dangers that accrue to ships at this place, from want of a good harbour; that ships forced hither by stress of weather are apt to be lost; and that the Thracians who live in the neighbourhood quarrel about the plunder of the wreck. From Salmydessus to Phrygia three hundred and thirty stadia. From Phrygia to the Cyanean islands three hundred and twenty stadia. These are the Cyanean islands, which the Poets have described as having been formerly moveable, and liable to change their situation. Between these the Argo, the first ship on record, and which carried Jason to Colchis, passed. From the Cyanean islands to the temple of Jupiter Urius, which stands at the mouth of the Euxine sea, is forty stadia. Thence to the port of Daphne, which is denominated the Insane, forty stadia. From Daphne to Byzantium eighty stadia.
Such are the observations which have occurred in the passage from the Cimmerian to the Thracian Bosporus, and to the city of Byzantium.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
- αὔρη δ' ἐκ ποταμοῦ ψυχρὴ πνέει ἠῶθι πρό. Odyss. ε. ver. 469.