But the wrath of Poseidon visited them (Helice and the Heliconian) without delay; an earthquake promptly struck their land and swallowed up, without leaving a trace for posterity to see, both the buildings and the very site on which the city stood.
Warnings, usually the same in all cases, are wont to be sent by the god before violent and far-reaching earthquakes. Either continuous storms of rain or else continuous droughts occur before earthquakes for an unusual length of time, and the weather is unseasonable. In winter it turns too hot, and in summer along with a tendency to haze the orb of the sun presents an unusual color, slightly inclining to red or else to black.
Springs of water generally dry up; blasts of wind sometimes swoop upon the land and overturn the trees; occasionally great flames dart across the sky; the shapes of stars too appear such as have never been witnessed before, producing consternation in those that witness them; furthermore there is a violent rumbling of winds beneath the earth – these and many other warnings is the god wont to send before violent earthquakes occur.
The shock itself is not of one fixed type, but the original inquirers into such matters and their pupils have been able to discover the following forms of earthquake. The mildest form – that is, if such a calamity admits of mitigation – is when there coincides with the original shock, which levels the buildings with the ground, a shock in the opposite direction, counteracting the first and raising up the buildings already knocked over.
In this form of’ earthquake pillars may be seen righting themselves which have been almost entirely uprooted, split walls coming together to their original position; beams, dislocated by the shock, go back to their places, and likewise channels, and such-like means of furthering the flow of water, have their cracks cemented better than they could be by human craftsmen. Now the second form of earthquake brings destruction to anything liable to it, and it throws over at once, as it were by a battering-ram, whatever meets the force of its impact.
The most destructive kind of earthquake the experts are wont to liken to the symptoms of a man suffering from a non-intermittent fever, the breathing of such a patient being rapid and laboured. There are symptoms of this to be found in many parts of the body, especially at each wrist. In the same way, they say, the earthquake dives directly under buildings and shakes up their foundations, just as molehills come up from the bowels of the earth. It is this sort of shock alone that leaves no trace on the ground that men ever dwelt there.
This was the type of earthquake, they say, that on the occasion referred to levelled Helice to the ground, and that it was accompanied by another disaster in the season of winter. The sea flooded a great part of the land, and covered up the whole of Helice all round. Moreover, the tide was so deep in the grove of Poseidon that only the tops of the trees remained visible. What with the sudden earthquake, and the invasion of the sea that accompanied it, the tidal wave swallowed up Helice and every man in it.
A similar fate, though different in type, came upon a city on Mount Sipylus, so that it vanished into a chasm. The mountain split, water welled up from the fissure, and the chasm became a lake called Saloe. The ruins of the city were to be seen in the lake, until the water of the torrent hid them from view. The ruins of Helice too are visible, but not so plainly now as they were once, because they are corroded by the salt water.
The disaster that befell Helice is but one of the many proofs that the wrath of the God of Suppliants is inexorable. The god at Dodona too manifestly advises us to respect suppliants. For about the time of Apheidas the Athenians received from Zeus of Dodona the following verses:–
Consider the Areopagus, and the smoking altars
Of the Eumenides, where the Lacedaemonians are to be thy suppliants,
When hard-pressed in war. Kill them not with the sword,
And wrong not suppliants. For suppliants are sacred and holy.
The Greeks were reminded of these words when Peloponnesians arrived at Athens at the time when the Athenian king was Codrus, the son of Melanthus. Now the rest of the Peloponnesian army, on learning of the death of Codrus and of the manner of it, departed from Attica, the oracle from Delphi making them despair of success in the future; but certain Lacedaemonians, who got unnoticed within the walls in the night, perceived at daybreak that their friends had gone, and when the Athenians gathered against them, they took refuge in the Areopagus at the altars of the goddesses called August.
On this occasion the Athenians allowed the suppliants to go away unharmed, but subsequently the magistrates themselves put to death the suppliants of Athena, when Cylon and his supporters had seized the Acropolis. So the slayers themselves and also their descendants were regarded as accursed to the goddess. The Lacedaemonians too put to death men who had taken refuge in the sanctuary of Poseidon at Taenarum. Presently their city was shaken by an earthquake so continuous and violent that no house in Lacedaemon could resist it.
The destruction of Helice occurred while Asteius was still archon at Athens, in the fourth year of the hundred and first Olympiad, whereat Damon of Thurii was victorious for the first time. As none of the people of Helice were left alive, the land is occupied by the people of Aegium.
When the god wiped off Helice from the face of the earth, Bura too suffered a severe earthquake, so that not even the ancient images were left in the sanctuaries.
The only Burians to survive were those who chanced to be absent at the time, either on active service or for some other reason, and these became the second founders of Bura.