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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Sipylus

  Sipylus (Sipulos), a mountain of Lydia between the river Hermus and the town of Smyrna; it is a branch of Mount Tmolus, running in a northwestern direction along the Hermus. It is a rugged, much torn mountain, which seems to owe its present form to violent convulsions of the earth. The mountain is mentioned even in the Iliad, and was rich in metal. (Hom. Il. xxiv. 615; Strab. i. p. 58, xii. p. 579, xiv. p. 680.) On the eastern slope of the mountain, there once existed, according to tradition, an ancient city, called Tantalis, afterwards Sipylus, the capital of the Maeonians, which was believed to have been swallowed up by an earthquake, and plunged into a crater, afterwards filled by a lake, which bore the name of Sale or Saloe (Strab. i. p. 58, xii. p. 579; Steph. B. s. v.; Plin. v. 31; Paus. vii. 24. § 7). Pliny relates that the spot once occupied by Sipylus was successively occupied by other towns, which he calls Archaeopolis, Colpe and Lebade. Pausanias (v. 13. § 4) calls the lake the marsh of Tantalus, and adds that his tomb was conspicuous near it, and that the throne of Pelops was shown on the summit of the mountain above the temple of (Cybele) Plastene. The tops of the houses of Sipylus were believed to have been seen under the water for some time after (Paus. vii. 24. § 7); and some modern travellers, mistaking the ruins of old Smyrna for those of Sipylus, imagine that they have discovered both the remains of Sipylus and the tomb of Tantalus. Chandler (Travels in Asia Minor, p. 331) thought that a small lake of limpid water at the north-eastern foot of Mount Sipylus, not far from a sepulchre cut in the rock, might be the lake Sale; but Hamilton (Researches, i. p. 49, foll.) has shown that the lake must be sought for in the marshy district of Manissa.
  In speaking of Mount Sipylus, we cannot pass over the story of Niobe, alluded to by the poets, who is said to have been metamorphosed into stone on that mountain in her grief at the loss of her children. (Hom. Il. xxiv. 614; Soph. Antig. 822; Ov. Met. vi. 310; Apollod. iii. 5; Paus. viii. 2. § 3.) Pausanias (i. 21. § 5) relates that he himself went to Mount Sipylus and saw the figure of Niobe formed out of the natural rock; when viewed close he saw only the rock and precipices, but nothing resembling a woman either weeping or in any other posture; but standing at a distance you fancied you saw a woman in tears and in an attitude of grief. This phantom of Niobe, says Chandler (p. 331), whose observation has been confirmed by subsequent travellers, may be defined as an effect of a certain portion of light and shade on a part of Sipylus, perceivable at a particular point of view. Mount Sipylus now bears the name of Saboundji Dagh or Sipuli Dagh.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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