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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Epiknemidioi Locroi

Locris (Lokris: Eth. Lokroi; in Latin also Locri, but sometimes Locrenses). The Locri were an ancient people in Greece, and were said to have been descended from the Leleges. This was the opinion of Aristotle; and other writers supposed the name of the Locrians to be derived from Locrus, an ancient king of the Leleges. (Aristot.; Hes. ap. Strab. vii.; Scymnus Ch. 590; Dicaearch. 71; Plin. iv. 7. s. 12.) The Locrians, however, must at a very early period have become intermingled with the Hellenes. In the Homeric poems they always appear as Hellenes; and, according to some traditions even Deucalion, the founder of the Hellenic race, is said to have lived in the Locrian town of Opus or Cynus. (Pind. Ol. ix. 63, seq.; Strab. ix.) In historical times the Locrians were divided into two distinct tribes, differing from one another in customs, habits, and civilisation. Of these the eastern Locrians, called the Opuntii and Epicnemidii, dwelt upon the eastern coast of Greece, opposite the island of Euboea; while the western Locrians dwelt upon the Corinthian gulf, and were separated from the former by Mount Parnassus and the whole of Doris and Phocis. (Strab. ix.) The eastern Locrians are alone mentioned by Homer; they were the more ancient and the more civilised: the western Locrians, who are said to have been a colony of the former, are not mentioned in history till the time of the Peloponnesian War, and are even then represented as a semi-barbarous people. (Thuc. i. 5.) We may conjecture that the Locrians at one time extended from sea to sea, and were torn asunder by the immigration of the Phocians and Dorians.
1. Locri Epicnemidii and Opuntii (Epiknemidioi, Opountioi), inhabited a narrow slip upon the eastern coast of Greece, from the pass of Thermopylae to the mouth of the river Cephissus. Their northern frontier town was Alpeni, which bordered upon the Malians, and their southern frontier town was Larymna, which at a later time belonged to Boeotia. The Locrians, however, did not inhabit this coast continuously, but were separated by a narrow slip of Phocis, which extended to the Euboean sea, and contained the Phocian seaport town of Daphnus. The Locrians north of Daphnus were called Epicnemidii, from Mount Cnemis; and those south of this town were named Opuntii, from Opus, their principal city. On the west the Locrians were separated from Phocis and Boeotia by a range of mountains, extending from Mount Oeta and running parallel to the coast. The northern part of this range, called Mount Cnemis (Strab. ix.), now Talanda, rises to a considerable height, and separated the Epicnemidii Locri from the Phocians of the upper valley of the Cephissus; the southern portion, which bore no specific name, is not so lofty as Mount Cnemis, and separated the Opuntian Locrians from the north-eastern parts of Boeotia. Lateral branches extended from these mountains to the coast, of which one terminated in the promontory Cnemides, opposite the islands called Lichades; but there were several fruitful valleys, and the fertility of the whole of the Locrian coast is praised both by ancient and modern observers. (Strab. ix.; Forchhammer, Hellenika, pp. 11--12; Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 381.) In consequence of the proximity of the mountains to the coast there was no room for any considerable rivers. The largest, which, however, is only a mountain torrent, is the Boagrius (Boagrios), called also Manes by Strabo, rising in Mount Cnemis, and flowing into the sea between Scarpheia and Thronium. (Hom. Il.. ii. 533; Strab. ix; Ptol. iii. 15. § 11; Plin. iv. 7. s. 12; Leake, Northern. Greece, vol. ii. p. 67.) The only other river mentioned by name is the Platanius (Platanios, Paus. ix. 24. § 5), a small stream, which flows into the Opuntian gulf near the Boeotian frontier: it is the river which flows from the modern village of Prosklyna. (Leake, vol. ii. p. 174.) The Opuntian gulf (ho Opountios kolpos, Strab. ix.), at the head of which stood the town of Opus, is a considerable bay, shallow at its inner extremity. In this bay, close to the coast, is the small island of Atalanta.
  There are three important passes across the Locrian mountains into Phocis. One leads from the territory of the Epicnemidii, between the summits of Mount Callidromus and Mount Cnemis, to Tithronum, in the upper valley of the Cephissus; a second across Mount Cnemis to the Phocian town of Elateia; and a third from Opus to Hyampolis, also a Phocian town, whence the road ran to Abae and Orchomenos.
  The eastern Locrians, as we have already said, are mentioned by Homer, who describes them as following Ajax, the son of Oileus, to the Trojan War in forty ships, and as inhabiting the towns of Cynus, Opus, Calliarus, Besa, Scarphe, Augeiae, Tarphe, and Thronium. (Il. ii. 527-535.) Neither Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, nor Polybius, make any distinction between the Opuntii and Epicnemidii; and, during the flourishing period of Grecian history, Opus was regarded as the chief town of the eastern Locrians. Even Strabo, from whom the distinction is chiefly derived, in one place describes Opus as the metropolis of the Epicnemidii; and the same is confirmed by Pliny (iv. 7. s. 12) and Stephanus (s. v. Opoeis; from Leake vol. ii. p. 181). In the Persian War the Opuntian Locrians fought with Leonidas at Thermopylae, and also sent seven ships to the Grecian fleet. (Herod. vii. 203, viii. 1.) The Locrians fought on the side of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. (Thuc. ii. 9.)
The following is a list of the Locrian towns:-
  Of the Epicnemidii: along the coast from N. to S., Alpenus; Nicaea; Scarphe or Scarpheia; Thronium; Cnemis or Cnemides; more inland, Tarphe afterwards Pharygae; Augeiae.
  Of the Opuntii: along the coast from N. to S., Alope; Cynus; Opus; Haleae; Larymna which at a later time belonged to Boeotia; more inland, Calliarus; Naryx; Corseia.
2. Locri Ozolae (Ozolai), inhabited a district upon the Corinthian gulf, bounded on the north by Doris and Aetolia, on the east by Phocis, and on the west by Aetolia. This district is mountainous, and for the most part unproductive. The declivities of Mount Parnassus from Phocis, and of Mount Corax from Aetolia, occupy the greater part of it. The only river, of which the name is mentioned, is the Hylaethus now the Morno, which runs in a south-westerly direction, and falls into the Corinthian gulf near Naupactus. The frontier of the Locri Ozolae on the west was close to the promontory Antirrhium, opposite the promontory Rhium on the coast of Achaia. Antirrhium, was in the territory of the Locri . The eastern frontier of Locris, on the coast, was close to the Phocian town of Crissa; and the Crissaean gulf washed on its western side the Locrian, and on its eastern the Phocian coast. The origin of the name of Ozolae is uncertain. Various etymologies were proposed by the ancients. (Paus. x. 38. § 1, seq.) Some derived it from the verb ozein, to smell, either from the stench arising from a spring at the foot of Mount Taphiassus, beneath which the centaur Nessus is said to have been buried, and which still retains this property (cf. Strab. ix.), or from the abundance of asphodel which scented the air. (Cf. Archytas, ap. Plut. Quaest. Graec. 15.) Others derived it from the undressed skins which were worn by the ancient inhabitants; and the Locrians themselves from the branches (ozoi) of a vine which was produced in their country in a marvellous manner. The Locri Ozolae are said to have been a colony from the Opuntian Locrians. They first appear in history in the time of the Peloponnesian War, as has been mentioned above, when they are mentioned by Thucydides as a semi-barbarous nation, along with the Aetolians and Acarnanians, whom they resembled in their armour and mode of fighting. (Thuc. i. 5, iii. 94.) In B.C. 426 the Locrians promised to assist Demosthenes, the Athenian commander, in his invasion of Aetolia; but, after the defeat of Demosthenes, most of the Locrian tribes submitted without opposition to the Spartan Eurylochus, who marched through their territory from Delphi to Naupactus. (Thuc. iii. 95, seq.) They belonged at a later period to the Aetolian League. (Polyb. xviii. 30.)
  The chief and only important town of the Ozolae was Amphissa, situated on the borders of Phocis. The other towns, in the direction of W. to E., were: Molycreia; Naupactus; Oeneon; Anticyra; Eupalium; Erythrae; Tolophon; Hessus; Oeantheia or Oeanthe; Ipnus; Chalaeum; more inland, Aegitium; Potidania; Crocyleium; Teichium; Olpae; Messapia; Hyle; Tritaea; Myonia.

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


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