Text #1864Geography. Series: Geography. Vol. 2 .
[Strab. 5.4.9. Translated by Horace Leonard Jones and John Robert Sitlington. William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1967. (8 Vols.) pp. 455--459]
The island of Prochyta (Procida) lies off Cape Misenum, and it is a fragment broken off of Pithecussae. Pithecussae was once settled by Eretrians and also Chalcidians, who, although they had prospered there on account of the fruitfulness of the soil and on account of the gold mines, forsook the island as the result of a quarrel; later on they were also driven out of the island by earthquakes, and by eruptions of fire, sea, and hot waters; for the island has “fistulas” of this sort, and it was these that caused also the people sent thither by Hiero,1 the tyrant of Syracuse to forsake the island and the fortress they had erected there; and then the Neapolitans came over and took possession.
Hence, also, the myth according to which Typhon lies beneath this island, and when he turns his body the flames and the waters, and sometimes even small islands containing boiling water, spout forth. But what Pindar says is more plausible, since he starts with the actual phenomena; for this whole channel, beginning at the Cumaean country and extending as far as Sicily, is full of fire, and has caverns deep down in the earth that form a single whole, connecting not only with one another but also with the mainland; and therefore, not only Aetna clearly has such a character as it is reported by all to have, but also the Lipari Islands, and the districts round about Dicaearchia, Neapolis, and Baiae, and the island of Pithecussae. This, I say, is Pindar’s thought when he says that Typhon lies beneath the whole region: “Now, however, both Sicily and the sea-fenced cliffs beyond Cumae press hard upon his shaggy breast.”
And Timaeus says, concerning Pithecusae, that many marvelous stories are told by the ancients, and that a little before his own time the crest of Epopeus, in the centre of the island, on being shaken by earthquakes, cast forth fire and shoved the part between it and the sea back to the open sea; and the part of the land that had been burned to ashes, on being lifted high in the air, crashed down again upon the island like a whirlwind; and the sea retreated for three stadia, but not long after retreating turned back and with its reverse current deluged the island; and, consequently, the fire in the island was quenched, but the noise was such that the people on the mainland fled from the coast into Campania.
It appears that Hiero I of Syracuse (478-467 BC) is here alluded to. ↩