Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.34-44

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34 A few years after the Arcadians another, Greek expedition, came into Italy under the command of Hercules, who had just returned from the conquest of Spain and of all the region that extends to the setting of the sun. It was some of his followers who, begging Hercules to dismiss them from the expedition, remained in this region and built a town on a suitable hill, which they found at a distance of about three stades from Pallantium. This is now called the Capitoline hill, but by the men of that time the Saturnian hill, or, in Greek, the hill of Cronus. [2] The greater part of those who stayed behind were Peloponnesians — people of Pheneus and Epeans of Elis, who no longer had any desire to return home, since their country had been laid waste in the war against Hercules. There was also a small Trojan element mingled with these, consisting of prisoners taken from Ilium in the reign of Laomedon, at the time when Hercules conquered the city. And I am of the opinion that all the rest of the army, also, who were either wearied by their labours or irked by their wanderings, obtained their dismissal from the expedition and remained there. [3] As for the name of the hill, some think it was an ancient name, as I have said, and that consequently the Epeans were especially pleased with the hill through memory of the hill of Cronus in Elis. This is in the territory of Pisa, near the river Alpheus, and the Eleans, regarding it as sacred to Cronus, assemble together at stated times to honour it with sacrifices and other marks of reverence.[4] But Euxenus[1], an ancient poet, and some others of the Italian mythographers think that the name was given to the place by the men from Pisa themselves, from its likeness to their hill of Cronus, that the Epeans together with Hercules erected the altar to Saturn which remains to this day at the foot of the hill near the ascent that leads from the Forum to the Capitol, and that it was they who instituted the sacrifice which the Romans still performed even in my time, observing the Greek ritual. [5] But from the best conjectures I have been able to make, I find that even before the arrival of Hercules in Italy this place was sacred to Saturn and was called by the people of the country the Saturnian hill, and all the rest of the peninsula which is now called Italy was consecrated to this god, being called Saturnia[2] by the inhabitants, as may be found stated in some Sibylline prophecies and other oracles delivered by the gods. And in many parts of the country there are temples dedicated to this god; certain cities bear the same name by which the whole peninsula was known at that time, and many places are called by the name of the god, particularly headlands and eminences.

35 But in the course of time the land came to be called Italy, after a ruler named Italus. This man, according to Antiochus of Syracuse[3], was both a wise and good prince, and persuading some of his neighbors by arguments and subduing the rest by force, he made himself master of all the land which lies between the Napetine and Scylacian bays[4], which was the first land, he says, to be called Italy, after Italus. And when he had possessed himself of this district and had many subjects, he immediately coveted the neighboring peoples and brought many cities under his rule. He says further that Italus was an Oenotrian by birth. [2] But Hellanicus of Lesbos[5] says that when Hercules was driving Geryon's cattle to Argos and was come to Italy, a calf escaped from the herd and in its flight wandered the whole length of the coast and then, swimming across the intervening strait of the sea, came into Sicily. Hercules, following the calf, inquired of the inhabitants wherever he came if anyone had seen it anywhere, and when the people of the island, who understood but little Greek and used their own speech when indicating the animal, called it vitulus (the name by which it is still known), he, in memory of the calf, called all the country it had wandered over Vitulia.[6] [3] And it is no wonder that the name has been changed in the course of time to its present form, since many Greek names, too, have met with a similar fate. But whether, as Antiochus says, the country took this name from a ruler, which perhaps is more probable, or, as Hellanicus believes, from the bull, yet this at least is evident from both their accounts, that in Hercules' time, or a little earlier, it received this name. Before that it had been called Hesperia and Ausonia by the Greeks and Saturnia by the natives, as I have already stated.

36 There is another legend related by the inhabitants, to the effect that before the reign of Jupiter Saturn was lord in this land and that the celebrated manner of life[7] in his reign, abounding in the produce of every season, was enjoyed by none more than them. [2] And, indeed, if anyone, setting aside the fabulous part of this account, will examine the merit of any country from which mankind received the greatest enjoyments immediately after their birth, whether they sprang from the earth, according to the ancient tradition, or came into being in some other manner, he will find none more beneficent to them than this. For, to compare one country with another of the same extent, Italy is, in my opinion, the best country, not only of Europe, but even of all the rest of the world. [3] And yet I am not unaware that I shall not be believed by many when they reflect on Egypt, Libya, Babylonia and any other fertile countries there may be. But I, for my part, do not limit the wealth derived from the soil to one sort of produce, nor do I feel any eagerness to live where there are only rich arable lands and little or nothing else that is useful; but I account that country the best which is the most self-sufficient and generally stands least in need of imported commodities. And I am persuaded that Italy enjoys this universal fertility and diversity of advantages beyond any other land.

37 For Italy does not, while possessing a great deal of good arable land, lack trees, as does a grain-bearing country; nor, on the other hand, while suitable for growing all manner of trees, does it, when sown to grain, produce scanty crops, as does a timbered country; nor yet, while yielding both grain and trees in abundance, is it unsuitable for the grazing of cattle; nor can anyone say that, while it bears rich produce of crops and timber and herds, it is nevertheless disagreeable for men to live in. Nay, on the contrary, it abounds in practically everything that affords either pleasure or profit. [2] To what grain-bearing country, indeed, watered, not with rivers, but with rains from heaven, do the plains of Campania yield, in which I have seen fields that produce even three crops in a year, summer's harvest following upon that of when and autumn's upon that of summer? To what olive orchards are those of the Messapians, the Daunians, the Sabines and many others inferior? To what vineyards those of Tyrrhenia and the Alban and the Falernian districts, where the soil is wonderfully kind to vines and with the least labour produces the finest grapes in the greatest abundance? [3] And besides the land that is cultivated one will find much that is left untilled as pasturage for sheep and goats, and still more extensive and more wonderful is the land suitable for grazing horses and cattle; for not only the marsh and meadow grass, which is very plentiful, but the dewy and well-watered grass of the glades, infinite in its abundance, furnish grazing for them in summer as well as in winter and keep them always in good condition. [4] But most wonderful of all are the forests growing upon the rocky heights, in the glens and on the uncultivated hills, from which the inhabitants are abundantly supplied with fine timber suitable for the building of ships as well as for all other purposes. Nor are any of these materials hard to come at or at a distance from human need, but they are easy to handle and readily available, owing to the multitude of rivers that flow through the whole peninsula and make the transportation and exchange of everything the land produces inexpensive. [5] Springs also of hot water have been discovered in many places, affording most pleasant baths and sovereign cures for chronic ailments. There are also mines of all sorts, plenty of wild beasts for hunting, and a great variety of sea fish, besides innumerable other things, some useful and others of a nature to excite wonder. But the finest thing of all is the climate, admirably tempered by the seasons, so that less than elsewhere is harm done by excessive cold or inordinate heat either to the growing fruits and grains or to the bodies of animals.

38 It is no wonder, therefore, that the ancients looked upon this country as sacred to Saturn, since they esteemed this god to be the giver and accomplisher of all happiness to mankind,— whether he ought to be called Cronus, as the Greeks deem fitting, or Saturn, as do the Romans, — and regarded him as embracing the whole universe, by whichever name he is called, and since they saw this country abounding in universal plenty and every charm mankind craves, and judged those places to be most agreeable both to divine and to human beings that are suited to them — for example, the mountains and woods to Pan, the meadows and verdant places to the nymphs, the shores and islands to the sea-gods, and all there places to the god or genius to whom each is appropriate. [2] It is said also that the ancients sacrificed human victims to Saturn, as was done at Carthage while that city stood and as is there is done to this day among the Gauls[8] and certain other western nations, and that Hercules, desiring to abolish the custom of this sacrifice, erected the altar upon the Saturnian hill and performed the initial rites of sacrifice with unblemished victims burning on a pure fire. And lest the people should feel any scruple at having neglected their traditional sacrifices, he taught them to appease the anger of the god by making effigies resembling the men they had been wont to bind hand and foot and throw into the stream of the Tiber, and dressing these in the same manner, to throw them into the river instead of the men, his purpose being that any superstitious dread remaining in the minds of all might be removed, since the semblance of the ancient rite would still be preserved. [3] This the Romans continued to do every year even down to my day a little after the vernal equinox, in the month of May, on what they call the Ides (the day they mean to be the middle of the month); on this day, after offering the preliminary sacrifices according to the laws, the pontifices, as the most important of the priests are called, and with them the virgins who guard the perpetual fire, the praetors, and such of the other citizens as may lawfully be present at the rites, throw from the sacred bridge into the stream of the Tiber thirty effigies made in the likeness of men, which they call Argei.[9] [4] But concerning the sacrifices and the other rites which the Roman people perform according to the manner both of the Greeks and of their own country I shall speak in another book.[10] At present, it seems requisite to give a more particular account of the arrival of Hercules in Italy and to omit nothing worthy of notice that he did there.

39 Of[11] the stories told concerning this god some are largely legend and some are nearer the truth. The legendary account of his arrival is as follows: Hercules, being commanded by Eurystheus, among other labours, to drive Geryon's cattle from Erytheia[12] to Argos, performed the task and having passed through many parts of Italy on his way home, came also to the neighbourhood of Pallantium in the country of the Aborigines; [2] and there, finding much excellent grass for his cattle, he let them graze, and being overcome with weariness, lay down and gave himself over to sleep. Thereupon a robber of that region, named Cacus, chanced to come upon the cattle feeding with none to guard them and longed to possess them. But seeing Hercules lying there asleep, he imagined he could not drive them all away without being discovered and at the same time he perceived that the task was no easy one, either. So he secreted a few of them in the cave hard by, in which he lived, dragging each of them thither by the tail backwards. This might have destroyed all evidence of his theft, as the direction in which the oxen had gone would be at variance with their tracks. [3] Hercules, then, arising from sleep soon afterwards, and having counted the cattle and found some were missing, was for some time at a loss to guess where they had gone, and supposing them to have strayed from their pasture, he sought them up and down the region; then, when he failed to find them, he came to the cave, and though he was deceived by the tracks, he felt, nevertheless, that he ought to search the place. But Cacus stood before the door, and when Hercules inquired after the cattle, denied that he had seen them, and when the other desired to search his cave, would not suffer him to do so, to be called upon his neighbours for assistance, complaining of the violence offered to him by the stranger. And while Hercules was puzzled to know how he should act in the matter, he hit upon the expedient of driving the rest of the cattle to the cave. And thus, when those inside heard the lowing and perceived the smell of their companions outside, they bellowed to them in turn and thus their lowing betrayed the theft. [4] Cacus, therefore, when his thievery was thus brought to light, put himself upon his defence and began to call out to his fellow herdsmen. But Hercules killed him by smiting him with his club and drove out the cattle; and when he saw that the place was well adapted to the harbouring of evil-doers, he demolished the cave, burying the robber under its ruins. Then, having purified himself in the river from the murder, he erected an altar near the place to Jupiter the Discoverer[13], which is now in Rome near the Porta Trigemina, and sacrificed a calf to the god as a thank-offering for the finding of his cattle. This sacrifice the city of Rome continued to celebrate even down to my day, observing in it all the ceremonies of the Greeks just as he instituted them.

40 When the Aborigines and the Arcadians who lived at Pallantium learned of the death of Cacus and saw Hercules, they thought themselves very fortunate in being rid of the former, whom they detested for his robberies, and were struck with awe at the appearance of the latter, in whom they seemed to see something divine. The poorer among them, plucking branches of laurel which grew there in great plenty, crowned both him and themselves with it; and their kings also came to invite Hercules to be their guest. But when they heard from him his name, his lineage and his achievements, they recommended both their country and themselves to his friendship. [2] And Evander, who had even before this heard Themis relate that it was ordained by fate that Hercules, the son of Jupiter and Alcmena, changing his mortal nature, should become immortal by reason of his virtue, as soon as he learned who the stranger was, resolved to forestall all mankind by being the first to propitiate Hercules with divine honours, and he hastily erected an improvised altar and sacrificed upon it a calf that had not known the yoke, having first communicated the oracle to Hercules and asked him to perform the initial rites. [3] And Hercules, admiring the hospitality of these men, entertained the common people with a feast, after sacrificing some of the cattle and setting apart the tithes of the rest of his booty; and to their kings he gave a large district belonging to the Ligurians and to some others of their neighbours, the rule of which they very much desired, after he had first expelled some lawless people from it. It is furthermore reported that he asked the inhabitants, since they were the first who had regarded him as a god, to perpetuate the honours they had paid him by offering up every year a calf that had not known the yoke and performing the sacrifice with Greek rites; and that he himself taught the sacrificial rites to two of the distinguished families, in order that their offerings might always be acceptable to him.[4] Those who were then instructed in the Greek ceremony, they say, were the Potitii and the Pinarii, whose descendants continued for a long time to have the superintendence of these sacrifices, in the manner he had appointed, the Potitii presiding at the sacrifice and taking the first part of the burnt-offerings, while the Pinarii were excluded from tasting the inwards and held second rank in those ceremonies which had to be performed by both of them together. It is said that this disgrace was fixed upon them for having been late in arriving; for though they had been ordered to be present early in the morning, they did not come till the entrails had been eaten. [5] To day, however, the superintendence of the sacrifices no longer devolves on these families, but slaves purchased with the public money perform them. For what reasons this custom was changed and how the god manifested himself concerning the change in his ministers, I shall relate when I come to that part of the history.[14] [6] The altar on which Hercules offered up the tithes is called by the Romans the Greatest Altar.[15] It stands near the place they call the Cattle Market[16] and no other is held in greater veneration by the inhabitants; for upon this altar oaths are taken and agreements made by those who wish to transact any business unalterably and the tithes of things are frequently offered there pursuant to vows. However, in its construction it is much inferior to its reputation. In many other places also in Italy precincts are dedicated to this god and altars erected to him, both in cities and along highways; and one could scarcely find any place in Italy in which the god is not honoured. Such, then, is the legendary account that has been handed down concerning him.

41 But the story which comes nearer to the truth and which has been adopted by many who have narrated his deeds in the form of history is as follows: Hercules, who was the greatest commander of his age, marched at the head of a large force through all the country that lies on this side of the Ocean, destroying any despotisms that were grievous and oppressive to their subjects, or commonwealths that outraged and injured the neighbouring states, or organized bands of men who lived in the manner of savages and lawlessly put strangers to death, and in their room establishing lawful monarchies, well-ordered governments and humane and sociable modes of life. Furthermore, he mingled barbarians with Greeks, and inhabitants of the inland with dwellers on the sea coast, groups which hitherto had been distrustful and unsocial in their dealings with each other; he also built cities in desert places, turned the course of rivers that overflowed the fields, cut roads through inaccessible mountains, and contrived other means by which every land and sea might lie open to the use of all mankind. [2] And he came into Italy not alone nor yet bringing a herd of cattle (for neither does this country lies on the road of those returning from Spain to Argos nor would he have been deemed worthy of so great an honour merely for passing through it), but at the head of a great army, after he had already conquered Spain, in order to subjugate and rule the people in this region; and he was obliged to tarry there a considerable time both because of the absence of his fleet, due to stormy weather that detained it, and because not all the nations of Italy willingly submitted to him. [3] For, besides the other barbarians, the Ligurians, a numerous and warlike people seated in the passes of the Alps, endeavoured to prevent his entrance into Italy by force of arms, and in that place so great a battle was fought by the Greeks that all their missiles gave out in the course of the fighting. This war is mentioned by Aeschylus, among the ancient poets, in his Prometheus Unbound; for there Prometheus is represented as foretelling to Hercules in detail how everything else was to befall him on his expedition against Geryon and in particular recounting to him the difficult struggle he was to have in the war with the Ligurians. The verses are these:

"And thou shalt come to Liguria's dauntless host, Where no fault shalt thou find, bold though thou art, With the fray: 'tis fated thy missiles all shall fail."[17]

42 After Hercules had defeated this people and gained the passes, some delivered up their cities to him of their own accord, particularly those who were any other Greek extraction or who had no considerable forces; but the greatest part of them were reduced by war and siege. [2] Among those who were conquered in battle, they say, was Cacus, who is celebrated in the Roman legend, an exceedingly barbarous chieftain reigning over a savage people, who had set himself to oppose Hercules; he was established in the fastnesses and on that account p139was a pest to his neighbours. He, when he heard that Hercules lay encamped in the plain hard by, equipped his followers like brigands and making a sudden raid while the army lay sleeping, he surrounded and drove off as much of their booty as he found unguarded. [3] Afterwards, being besieged by the Greeks, he not only saw his forts taken by storm, but was himself slain amid his fastnesses. And when his forts had been demolished, those who had accompanied Hercules on the expedition (these were some Arcadians with Evander, and Faunus, king of the Aborigines) took over the districts round about, each group for itself. And it may be conjectured that those of the Greeks who remained there, that is, the Epeans and the Arcadians from Pheneus, as well as the Trojans, were left to guard the country. [4] For among the various measures of Hercules that bespoke the true general none was more worthy of admiration than his practice of carrying along with him for a time on his expeditions the prisoners taken from the captured cities, and then, after they had cheerfully assisted him in his wars, settling them in the conquered regions and bestowing on them the riches he had gained from others. It was because of these deeds that Hercules gained the greatest name and renown in Italy, and not because of his passage through it, which was attended by nothing worthy of veneration.

43 Some say that he also left sons by two women in the region now inhabited by the Romans. One of these sons was Pallas, whom he had by the daughter of Evander, whose name, they say, was Lavinia; the other, Latinus, whose mother was a certain Hyperborean girl whom he brought with him as a hostage given to him by her father and preserved for some time untouched; but while he was on his voyage to Italy, he fell in love with her and got her with child. And when he was preparing to leave for Argos, he married her to Faunus, king of the Aborigines; for which reason Latinus is generally looked upon as the son of Faunus, not of Hercules. [2] Pallas, they say, died before he arrived at puberty; but Latinus, upon reaching man's estate, succeeded to the kingdom of the Aborigines, and when he was killed in the battle against the neighbouring Rutulians, without leaving any male issue, the kingdom devolved on Aeneas, the son of Anchises, his son-in law. But these things happened at other times.

44 After Hercules had settled everything in Italy according to his desire and his naval force had arrived in safety from Spain, he sacrificed to the gods the tithes of his booty and built a small town named after himself[18] in the place where his fleet lay at anchor (it is now occupied by the Romans, and lying as it does between Neapolis and Pompeii, has at all times Etruria havens); and having gained fame and glory and received divine honours from all the inhabitants of Italy, he set sail for Sicily. [2] Those who were left behind by him as a garrison to dwell in Italy and were settled around the Saturnian hill lived for some time under an independent government; but not long afterwards they adapted their manner of life, their laws and their religious ceremonies to those of the Aborigines, even as the Arcadians and, still earlier, the Pelasgians had done, and they shared in the same government with them, so that in time they came to be looked upon as of the same nation with them. But let this suffice concerning the expedition of Hercules and concerning the Peloponnesians who remained behind in Italy. [3] In the second generation after the departure of Hercules, and about the fifty-fifth year, according to the Romans' own account, the king of the Aborigines was Latinus, who passed for the son of Faunus, but was actually the son of Hercules; he was now in the thirty-fifth year of his reign.


כל ההערות לקוחות ה-Lacus Curtius:

  1. No poet of this name is known, and Sylburg was perhaps right in proposing to read Ennius. Strictly speaking, Ennius was an Italian rather than a Roman, though it may be questioned whether Dionysius would have made the distinction. In the extant fragments of Ennius there is no reference to Hercules' visit, to say nothing of the Epeans.
  2. Compare Virgil's use of Saturnia tellus (Georg. II.173, Aen. VIII.329) and Saturnia arva (Aen. I.569) for Italy.
  3. For Antiochus see p39, n2 . This quotation is frg. 4 in Müller, F. H. G. I pp181 f.
  4. In other words, nearly all the "toe" of Italy south of the latitude of the Lacinian promontory.
  5. For Hellanicus see p71, n1 . The quotation that follows is frg. 97 in Müller, F. H. G. I p58.
  6. Hesychius cites the Greek word ἰταλός (originally ϝιταλός) for "bull," and Timaeus, Varro and Festus state that Italia came from this root.
  7. In Greek ὁ ἐπὶ Κρόνου βίος was proverbial for the Golden Age; compare the Latin Saturnia regna.
  8. Dionysius regularly uses the word Celts for Gauls; but it seems preferable to follow the English usage in the translation.
  9. According to Varro the number of these effigies, made of bulrushes, was twenty-seven, equal to the number of the chapels, also called Argei, situated in various parts of the city. The number thirty given by Dionysius would (p125)mean one for each curia; but this does not seem so probable. The sacred bridge was the pons sublicius. For a full discussion of the Argei see Sir James Frazer's note on Ovid, Fasti V.621 (vol. IV pp74 ff., condensed in his L. C. L. edition, pp425 ff.).
  10. In VII.72.14‑18.
  11. For chaps. 39‑40 cf. Liv. I.7.4‑14.
  12. Erytheia ("Red" Island) was perhaps originally the fabulous land of the sunset glow. Later it was usually placed somewhere near the Pillars of Hercules.
  13. Jupiter Inventor.
  14. In a portion of the work now lost.
  15. Ara maxima.
  16. Forum boarium.
  17. Nauck, T. G. F.2, p66, frg. 199.
  18. Herculaneum.

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