1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tempe, Vale of

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TEMPE, VALE OF the ancient name (i.e. “ cleft,” from Gr. τέμνειν, to cut) of a narrow valley in N. Thessaly, through which the river Peneus (mod. Salambria) reaches the sea. The valley, which the Greeks were accustomed to associate with rural delights, is a chasm, cloven in the rocks, the fable tells us, by the trident of Poseidon, between Olympus and Ossa; but though it possesses every element of the sublime, yet its features are soft and beautiful, from the broad winding river, the luxuriant vegetation, and the glades that at intervals open out at the foot of the clifis. It is about four miles and a half long, and towards the middle of the pass, where the rocks are highest, the precipices in the direction of Olympus fall so steeply as to bar the passage on that side; but those which descend from Ossa are the loftiest, for they rise in many places not less than 1500 ft. from the valley. Owing to the length and narrowness of the ravine, it was a position easily defended, but still it offered a practicable entrance to an invading force; a number of castles (of which the ruins still exist) were built at different times at the strongest points. Tempe was sacred to Apollo, to whom a temple was erected on the right bank. Every ninth year a sacred mission proceeded to the valley to pluck the laurel for the chaplets for the Pythian games. Owing to its widespread fame, the name Tempe was given also to the valley of the Velinus near Reate (Italy) and that of the Helorus in Sicily.