Greek Travel Pages

Location information

Listed 3 sub titles with search on: Ancient literary sources for destination: "GORTYS Ancient city HERAKLIO".

Ancient literary sources (3)

Perseus Encyclopedia


City of Crete, Gortynians helped by Philopoemen.



  After Cnossus, the city of the Gortynians seems to have ranked second in power; for when these two cooperated they held in subjection all the rest of the inhabitants, and when they had a quarrel there was dissension throughout the island. But Cydonia was the greatest addition to whichever side it attached itself. The city of the Gortynians also lies in a plain; and in ancient times, perhaps, it was walled, as Homer states, "and well-walled Gortyn", but later it lost its walls from their very foundations, and has remained unwalled ever since; for although Ptolemy Philopator began to build a wall, he proceeded with it only about eighty stadia ("Eighty" seems to be an error for "eight") ; at any rate, it is worth mentioning that the settlement once filled out a circuit of about fifty stadia. It is ninety stadia distant from the Libyan Sea at Leben, which is its trading center; it also has another seaport, Matalum, from which it is a hundred and thirty stadia distant. The Lethaeus River flows through the whole of its territory.

This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo (ed. H. L. Jones, 1924), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Nov 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


...Our ancestors, when about to build a town or an army post, sacrificed some of the cattle that were wont to feed on the site proposed and examined their livers. If the livers of the first victims were dark-coloured or abnormal, they sacrificed others, to see whether the fault was due to disease or their food. They never began to build defensive works in a place until after they had made many such trials and satisfied themselves that good water and food had made the liver sound and firm. If they continued to find it abnormal, they argued from this that the food and water supply found in such a place would be just as unhealthy for man, and so they moved away and changed to another neighbourhood, healthfulness being their chief object.
  That pasturage and food may indicate the healthful qualities of a site is a fact which can be observed and investigated in the case of certain pastures in Crete, on each side of the river Pothereus, which separates the two Cretan states of Gnosus and Gortyna. There are cattle at pasture on the right and left banks of that river, but while the cattle that feed near Gnosus have the usual spleen, those on the other side near Gortyna have no perceptible spleen. On investigating the subject, physicians discovered on this side a kind of herb which the cattle chew and thus make their spleen small. The herb is therefore gathered and used as a medicine for the cure of splenetic people. The Cretans call it asplenon. From food and water, then, we may learn whether sites are naturally unhealthy or healthy.

You are able to search for more information in greater and/or surrounding areas by choosing one of the titles below and clicking on "more".

Ferry Departures

Copyright 1999-2019 International Publications Ltd.