User:Roger Pearse/Helice

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Sources for the earthquake at Helice


Strabo VIII, 384 and Lacus Curtius

Helice was overwhelmed by the waves two years before the battle of Leuctra. Eratosthenes says, that he himself saw the place, and the ferrymen told him that there formerly stood in the strait a brazen statue of Neptune, holding in his hand a hippocampus, an animal which is dangerous to fishermen.

According to Heracleides, the inundation took place in his time, and during the night. The city was at the distance of 12 stadia from the sea, which overwhelmed the whole intermediate country as well as the city. Two thousand men were sent by the Achaeans to collect the dead bodies, but in vain. The territory was divided among the bordering people. This calamity happened in consequence of the anger of Neptune, for the Ionians, who were driven from Helice, sent particularly to request the people of Helice to give them the image of Neptune, or if they were unwilling to give that, to furnish them with the model of the temple. On their refusal, the Ionians sent to the Achaean body, who decreed, that they should comply with the request, but they would not obey even this injunction. The disaster occurred in the following winter, and after this the Achaeans gave the Ionians the model of the temple.

Hesiod mentions another Helice in Thessaly.

Lacus Curtius, Strabo 3. 18.4:

"Then there are Bura and Helice; Bura disappeared in a chasm of the earth, and Helice was wiped out by a wave from the sea."

  • Aelian, De Natura Anim. b. ii. c. 19, and Pausanias, b. vii. c. 24, 25, give an account of this catastrophe, which was preceded by an earthquake, and was equally destructive to the city Bura. b. c. 373.

Diodorus Siculus

Diodorus XV 48,1

48 When Asteius was archon at Athens, the Romans elected six military tribunes with consular power, Marcus Furius, Lucius Furius, Aulus Postumius, Lucius Lucretius, Marcus Fabius, and Lucius p83Postumius. During their term of office great earthquakes occurred in the Peloponnese accompanied by tidal waves which engulfed the open country and cities in a manner past belief; for never in the earlier periods had such disasters befallen Greek cities, nor had entire cities along with their inhabitants disappeared as a result of some divine force wreaking destruction and ruin upon mankind. 2 The extent of the destruction was increased by the time of its occurrence; for the earthquake did not come in the daytime when it would have been possible for the sufferers to help themselves, but the blow came at night, so that when the houses crashed and crumbled under the force of the shock, the population, owing to the darkness and to the surprise and bewilderment occasioned by the event, had no power to struggle for life. 3 The majority were caught in the falling houses and annihilated, but as day returned some survivors dashed from the ruins and, when they thought they had escaped the danger, met with a greater and still more incredible danger. For the sea rose to a vast height, and a wave towering even higher washed away and drowned all the inhabitants and their native lands as well. Two cities in Achaïa bore the brunt of this disaster, Helicê and Bura,21 the former of which had, as it happened, before the earthquake held first place among the cities of Achaïa. 4 These disasters have been the subject of much discussion. Natural scientists make it their endeavour to attribute responsibility in such cases not to divine providence, but p85to certain natural circumstances determined by necessary causes, whereas those who are disposed to venerate the divine power assign certain plausible reasons for the occurrence, alleging that the disaster was occasioned by the anger of the gods at those who had committed sacrilege. This question I too shall endeavour to deal with in detail in a special chapter of my history.22


De Natura Animalium, book 11, 19 19 Domum ruituram, qui in ea sunt, mures et mustelae etiam praesentiunt, et mature excedunt. hoc et in Helice contigisse ajunt. Nam cum Helicenses in Iones advenas impii fsn, eosque ad aram mactassent, juxta Homericum illud, Prodigia iis dii ostenderunt; quinque enim diebus priusquam pessum iret Helice, omnes in ea mures, mustelae, serpentes, scolopendrae verticilli, et alia hujusmodi animalia, magnis copiis exibat per viam, quae ducit Coriam. Haec Helicenses cum fieri viderent, admirabantur; neque tamen de ei causa facere conjecturam poterant. Proxima autem ab illorum animalium egressu nocte terrae motu concussa civitas subsedit, et inundantibus aquis abolita est; et pariter cum urbe Lacedaemoniorum naves decem, quae tum forte ad portum appulerant, eadem maris exundatione perierunt. Est quando animalium etiam ad capiendam ab hominibus impiis p167ultionem ministerio justitia utitur: argumento est Pantedidas Lacedaemonius, qui cum artifices Dionysii proficiscentes Cythera per Spartam transire prohibuisset, postea in ephororum curia sedens a canibus laceratus est.


VII, 24, 5 40.

Herod. I. 145.

Polybius II 41, 7

Aelian, nat. an. XI, 19.

Arist. met. I 6 p. 343b, l. II 8 p.368b, 6.

Erastoth. in Tzetses on Lycophron 591. (Berger, Die geograph. Fragmente des Erat. 353)