Praesus or Prasus (Praisos; in the MSS. of Strabo Prasos, but in inscriptions
Praisos, Bockh, Inscr. vol. ii. p. 1102: Eth. Praisios, more rarely Praisieus,
Steph. B. s. v.), a town in Crete, belonging to the Eteocretes, and containing
the temple of the Dictaean Zeus, for Mt. Dicte was in the territory of Praesus.
(Strab. x. pp. 475, 478.) There is a difficulty in the passage of Strabo, describing
the position of this town. He first says (p. 478) that Praesus bordered upon the
territory of Leben, and was distant 70 stadia from the sea, and 180 from Gortyn;
and he next speaks of Praesus as lying between the promontories Samonium and Chersonesus,
at the distance of 60 stadia from the sea. It is evident that these are two different
places, as a town, whose territory was contiguous to that of Leben, must have
been situated in the southern part of the island; while the other town, between
the promontories of Samonium and Chersonesus, must have been at the eastern end.
The latter is the town of the Eteocretes, possessing the temple of the Dictaean
Zeus, and the Praesus usually known in history : the former is supposed by Mr.
Pashley (Crete, vol. i. p. 289, seq.) to be a false reading for Priansus, a town
mentioned in coins and inscriptions, which he accordingly places on the southern
coast between Bienna and Leben. In this he is followed by Kiepert. But Bockh thinks
(Inscr. vol. ii. p. 405) that Pransos, or Priansos was the primitive form of the
name, from which Praisos, or Priaisos (a form in Steph. B. s. v.), and subsequently
Prasos, were derived, just as in the Aeolic dialect pansa became paisa, and in
the Attic dialect pasa. Kramer (ad Strab. l. c.) adopts the opinion of Bockh.
Upon the whole we must leave uncertain what town was intended by Strabo in the
former of the above-mentioned passages.
The territory of Praesus extended across the island to either sea.
(Scylax, p. 18, Huds.) It is said to have been the only place in Crete, with the
exception of Polichna, that did not take part in the expedition against Camicus
in Sicily, in order to avenge the death of Minos (Herod. vii. 170). It was destroyed
by the inhabitants of Hierapytna. (Strab. x. p. 479.) Agathocles, the Babylonian,
related that the Praesii were accustomed to sacrifice swine before marriage. (Athen.
ix. p. 376.) The ruins of Praesus are still called Praesus. (Pashley, Crete, vol.
i. p. 290, seq.; Hock, Kreta, vol. i. p. 413, seq.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)