Ancient literary sources TAINARON (Cape) ANATOLIKI MANI - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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Ancient literary sources (6)

Perseus Encyclopedia


Cape in Laconia, southern promontory of Laconia, Arion's arrival there on a dolphin, named after Taenarus, the mouth of Hades at, Corcyraean ships' delay there, sanctuary of Poseidon at.

Homeric Hymns


First they passed by Malea, and then along the Laconian coast they came to Taenarum, sea-garlanded town and country of Helios who gladdens men, where the thick-fleeced sheep of the lord Helios feed continually and occupy a gladsome country. There they wished to put their ship to shore, and land and comprehend the great marvel and see with their eyes whether the monster would remain upon the deck of the hollow ship, or spring back into the briny deep where fishes shoal. But the well-built ship would not obey the helm, but went on its way all along Peloponnesus: and the lord, far-working Apollo, guided it easily with the breath of the breeze.


  On the promontory is a temple like a cave, with a statue of Poseidon in front of it. Some of the Greek poets state that Heracles brought up the hound of Hades here, though there is no road that leads underground through the cave, and it is not easy to believe that the gods possess any underground dwelling where the souls collect. But Hecataeus of Miletus gave a plausible explanation, stating that a terrible serpent lived on Taenarum, and was called the hound of Hades, because any one bitten was bound to die of the poison at once, and it was this snake, he said, that was brought by Heracles to Eurystheus. But Homer, who was the first to call the creature brought by Heracles the hound of Hades, did not give it a name or describe it as of manifold form, as he did in the case of the Chimaera. Later poets gave the name Cerberus, and though in other respects they made him resemble a dog, they say that he had three heads. Homer, however, does not imply that he was a dog, the friend of man, any more than if he had called a real serpent the hound of Hades. Among other offerings on Taenarum is a bronze statue of Arion the harper on a dolphin. Herodotus has told the story of Arion and the dolphin, as he heard it, in his history of Lydia. I have seen the dolphin at Poroselene that rewards the boy for saving his life. It had been damaged by fishermen and he cured it.I saw this dolphin obeying his call and carrying him whenever he wanted to ride on it. There is a spring also on Taenarum but now it possesses nothing marvellous. Formerly, as they say, it showed harbors and ships to those who looked into the water. These sights in the water were brought to an end for good and all by a woman washing dirty clothes in it.

This extract is from: Pausanias. Description of Greece (ed. W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., & H.A. Ormerod, 1918). Cited Apr 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

Certain Lacedaemonians who had been condemned to death on some charge fled as suppliants to Taenarum but the board of ephors dragged them from the altar there and put them to death. As the Spartans paid no heed to their being suppliants, the wrath of Poseidon came upon them, and the god razed all their city to the ground. (Paus. 4,24,5)
The Lacedaemonians put to death men who had taken refuge in the sanctuary of Poseidon at Taenarum. Presently their city was shaken by an earthquake so continuous and violent that no house in Lacedaemon could resist it. (Paus. 7,25,3)

Diodorus Siculus

When Alexander did come back from India and put to death many of the satraps who had been charged with neglect of duty, Harpalus became alarmed at the punishment which might befall him. He packed up five thousand talents of silver, enrolled six thousand mercenaries, departed from Asia and sailed across to Attica. When no one there accepted him, he shipped his troops off to Taenarum in Laconia, and keeping some of the money with him threw himself on the mercy of the Athenians. Antipater and Olympias demanded his surrender, and although he had distributed large sums of money to those persons who spoke in his favour, he was compelled to slip away and repaired to Taenarum and his mercenaries.(Diod.,17.108.7)
During this period (324/3 B.C.) Greece was the scene of disturbances and revolutionary movements from which arose the war called Lamian. The reason was this. The king (Alexander the Great) had ordered all his satraps to dissolve their armies of mercenaries, and as they obeyed his instructions, all Asia was overrun with soldiers released from service and supporting themselves by plunder. Presently they began assembling from all directions at Taenarum in Laconia, whither came also such of the Persian satraps and generals as had survived, bringing their funds and their soldiers, so that they constituted a joint force. Ultimately they chose as supreme commander the Athenian Leosthenes, who was a man of unusually brilliant mind, and thoroughtly opposed to the cause of Alexander. He conferred secretly with the council at Athens and was granted fifty talents to pay the troops and a stock of weapons sufficient to meet pressing needs. He sent off an embassy to the Aetolians, who were unfriendly to the king, looking to the establishment of an alliance with them, and otherwise made every preparation for war. (Diod., 17.111.1)

This extract is from: Diodorus Siculus, Library (ed. C. H. Oldfather, 1989). Cited Apr 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


In the bend of the seaboard one comes, first, to a headland that projects into the sea, Taenarum, with its temple of Poseidon situated in a grove; and secondly, near by, to the cavern through which, according to the myth writers, Cerberus was brought up from Hades by Heracles. From here the passage towards the south across the sea to Phycus, a cape in Cyrenaea, is three thousand stadia; and the passage towards the west to Pachynus, the promontory of Sicily, is four thousand six hundred, though some say four thousand; and towards the east to Maleae, following the sinuosities of the gulfs, six hundred and seventy; and to Onugnathus, a low-lying peninsula somewhat this side of Maleae, five hundred and twenty; off Onugnathus and opposite it, at a distance of forty stadia, lies Cythera, an island with a good harbor, containing a city of the same name, which Eurycles, the ruler of the Lacedaemonians in our times, seized as his private property; and round it lie several small islands, some near it and others slightly farther away; and to Corycus, a cape in Crete, the shortest voyage is seven hundred stadia.(Strabo 8,5,1)
Laconia is subject to earthquakes, and in fact some writers record that certain peaks of Taygetus have been broken away. And there are quarries of very costly marble--the old quarries of Taenarian marble on Taenarum; and recently some men have opened a large quarry in Taygetus, being supported in their undertaking by the extravagance of the Romans. (Strabo 8,5,7)

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

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