Lydians, Maionians, Arimians, and Solymians: Strabo on a variety of peoples in Lydia, Phrygia and Pisidia (early first century CE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Lydians, Maionians, Arimians, and Solymians: Strabo on a variety of peoples in Lydia, Phrygia and Pisidia (early first century CE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified February 7, 2023,

Ancient author: Strabo, Geography 13.4 (link).

Comments: Strabo continues his survey as he heads south from Pergamon into Phrygia and as far as Pisidia, outlining a variety of indigenous peoples, both historical and legendary, beyond Greek inhabitants of the cities (who are largely left out on this website). Strabo suggests that Lydians and Maionians (also spelled Meionians) are synonyms for the same people. He also discusses the possible relation between Arimians (here) and Aramaians / Arameans (in Syria, on which see Poseidonios’ alternative etymological speculations at this link).

Source of translation: H.L. Jones, Strabo, 8 volumes, LCL (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1917-28), public domain (passed away in 1932)


[For Strabo’s preceding discussion of Pelasgians, go to this link].

Book 13

[Mysians around Pergamon]

3 . . . (6) . . . Since I have traversed at the same time the Trojan and Aiolian coasts, it would be next in order to treat cursorily the interior as far as the Taurus mountain range, observing the same order of approach.

4 (1) A kind of hegemony is held over these places by Pergamon [Bergama], which is a famous city and, for a long time, prospered along with the Attalid kings. . . . [omitted discussion of various Attalid kings and related events]. (4) . . . The country to the north of Pergamon is held for the most part by the Mysians, I mean the country on the right of the Abaeitians, as they are called, on the borders of which is the newly acquired territory (Epictetus) as far as Bithynia.

[Lydians / Maionians around Sardis]

(5) Sardis (or: Sardeis) is a great city and, though of later date than the Trojan times, is nevertheless old and has a strong citadel. It was the royal city of the Lydians, whom the poet [Homer] calls Meionians, and later writers call them Maionians, some identifying them with the Lydians and others representing them as different. However, it is better to consider them the same people.

Above Sardis [near Salihlii, Turkey] mount Tmolos [Bozdağ], a blessed mountain, with a look‑out on its summit, an arcade of white marble, a work of the Persians. From here there is a view of the plains below all around, particularly the Kayster plain. Around it live Lydians, Mysians, and Macedonians. The Pactolos [Sart Çayı] river flows from mount Tmolos. In early times a large quantity of gold dust was brought down in it, from which, it is said, arose the fame of the riches of Croesus and his forefathers. But the gold dust has run out. The Pactolos runs down into the Hermos, into which also the Hyllos, now called the Phrygios, empties. These three, and other less significant rivers with them, meet and empty into the sea near Phokaia, as Herodotos [Inquiries 1.93] says.​ . . [omitted material].

[Arimians around Sardis, based on Homer]

(6) The verses of Homer are about as follows: “Mnesthles and Antiphos, the two sons of Talaimenes, whose mother was lake Gygaia, who led also the Meionians, who were born at the foot of Tmolos” [Homer, Iliad 2.864]. But some add the following fourth verse: “At the foot of snowy Tmolos, in the first land of Hyde.” But there is no Hyde to be found in the country of the Lydians.

Some also put Tychios there, of whom the poet says, “far the best of workers in hide, who lived in Hyde” [Homer, Iliad 7.221]  ​They add that the place is woody and subject to strokes of lightning and that the Arimians (Arimoi) live there, for after Homer’s verse, “in the land of the Arimians where men say is the couch of Typhon” [Homer, Iliad 2. 783],​ they insert the words, “in a wooded place, in the fertile land of Hyde.” However, others place the scene of this myth in Cilicia, some place it in Syria, and still others place it in the Pithekoussai islands [off the of Aiolian Kyme], who say that among the Tyrrhenians, “pithekoi“​ are called “arimoi.”

Some call Sardis Hyde, while others call its acropolis Hyde. But the Skepsian​ [i.e. Demetrios of Skepsos] thinks that those writers are most plausible who place the Arimians in the Katakekaumene (“Burned”) country in Mysia. But Pindar associates the Pithekoussai (which lie off Kymaian territory) as well as the territory in Sicily [also islands called Pithekoussai] with the territory in Cilicia. Pindar says that Typhon lies beneath Aitna: “Once he dwelt in a far‑famed Cilician cavern; now, however, his shaggy breast is over‑pressed by the sea‑wrapped shores above Cymae and by Sicily” [Pindar, Pythian Odes, 1.31] ​ And again, “around about him lies Aitna with her haughty fetters,” and again, “but it was father Zeus that once amongst the Arimians, by necessity, alone of the gods, slayed monstrous Typhon of the fifty heads” [Pindar, Pythian Odes, 1.93].

But some people understand that the Syrians are Arimians, who are now called the Arimeans, and that the Cilicians in Troy, forced to migrate, settled again in Syria and cut off for themselves from Syria, what is now called Cilicia. Kallisthenes says that the Arimians, after whom the neighbouring mountains are called Arima, are situated near mount Kalykadnos [in Rough Cilicia] and the promontory of Sarpedon near the Korykian cave itself.

(7) Near lake Koloe [Marmara] are the monuments of the kings. At Sardis is the great mound, on a lofty base, of Alyattes, built, as Herodotos​ says, by the common people of the city, most of the work on which was done by prostitutes, and he says that all women of that country prostituted themselves, and some call the tomb of Alyattes a monument of prostitution. Some report that lake Koloe is an artificial lake made to receive the overflows which take place when the rivers are full. Hypaipa is a city which one comes to on the descent from mount Tmolos to the Kayster plain.

[Kimmerians and Asionians / Esionians / Asians around Sardis]

(8) Kallisthenes says that Sardis was captured first by the Kimmerians and then by the Trerians and the Lycians, as is set forth by Kallinos the elegiac poet, and lastly in the time of Cyrus and Croesus. But when Kallinos says that the incursion of the Kimmerians was against the Esionians (Esioneis), at the time of which Sardis was captured, the Skepsian​ [Demetrios of Skepsos] and his followers surmise that the Asionians (Asioneis) were by Kallinos called the Esionians, in the Ionic dialect. For perhaps Meionia, he says, was called “Asia.” Accordingly, he likewise says, “on the Asian mead about the streams of the Kayster.” The city of Sardis was later restored in a notable way because of the fertility of its territory and was inferior to none of its neighbours. However, recently it has lost many of its buildings due to earthquakes. However, the forethought of Tiberius, our present ruler, has, by his beneficence, restored not only this city but many others. I mean all the cities that shared in the same misfortune at about the same time. . . [omitted list of notable authors from Sardis].

(10) After the Lydians come the Mysians, and the city Philadelphia, always subject to earthquakes. . . . [omitted sections on Philadelphia and the “Burned” district of Maionia].

[Peoples south of Philadelphia and Maionia: Phrygians, Carians, Lydians, Mysians]

(12) The parts situated next to this region towards the south as far as the Taurus mountains are so overlapping with one another that the Phrygian, Carian, and Lydian parts, as well as those of the Mysians since they merge into one another, are hard to distinguish. To this confusion, no little has been contributed by the fact that the Romans did not divide them according to tribes (phylai). Rather, they organized their jurisdictions in another way, within which they hold their popular assemblies and their courts.

Mount Tmolos is a quite contracted mass of mountain and has only a moderate circumference, its limits lying within the territory of the Lydians themselves. But the Mesogis [Kestaneh] mountain extends in the opposite direction as far as Mykale, beginning at Kelainai [Dinar, Turkey], according to Theopompos. And therefore, some parts of it are occupied by the Phrygians. I mean the parts near Kelenai and Apameia, and other parts by Mysians and Lydians, and other parts by Carians and Ionians. So also, the rivers, particularly the Maiander, form the boundary between some of the peoples (ethnē), but in cases where they flow through the middle of countries, they make accurate distinction difficult. And the same is to be said of the plains that are situated on either side of the mountainous territory and of the river-land. Neither should I, perhaps, attend to such matters as closely as a surveyor must but sketch them only so far as they have been transmitted by my predecessors.

(13) Contiguous on the east to the Kayster plain, which lies between the Mesogis and the Tmolos, is the Kilbian (or: Cilbian) plain. It is extensive and well-settled and has a fertile soil. Then comes the Hyrkanian plain, a name given by the Persians, who brought Hyrkanian colonists there (the plain of Cyrus, likewise, was given its name by the Persians). Then come the Peltine plain (we are now in Phrygian territory) and the Killanian and the Tabene plains, which have towns with a mixed population of Phrygians, these towns also containing a Pisidian element, and it is after these that the plains themselves were named.

[Legendary Solymians]

(14) When one crosses over the Mesogis, between the Carians and the territory of Nysa, which latter is a country on the far side of the Maiander extending to Kibyratis and Kabalis, one comes to certain cities. . . . [omitted discussion of Hierapolis, Laodikeia, and Antiocheia on the Maiander]. (16) The Kabalians [inhabitants of Kabalis] are said to be the Solymians (Solymoi). At any rate, the hill that lies above the fortress of the Termessians is called Solymos, and the Termessians themselves are called Solymians. Nearby is the Palisade of Bellerophon and also the tomb of his son Peisander, who fell in the battle against the Solymians. This account agrees also with the words of the poet, for he says of Bellerophon, “next he fought with the glorious Solymians” [Homer, Iliad 6.184],  and of his son, “and Peisander his son was slain by Ares, insatiate of war when he was fighting with the Solymians” [Iliad 6.203]. Termessos is a Pisidian city which lies directly above Kibyra and very near it.

[Kibyratians’ use of four languages]

(17) It is said that the Kibyratians are descendants of the Lydians who took possession of Kabalis and later of the neighbouring Pisidians, who settled there and transferred the city to another site, a site very strongly fortified and about one hundred stadium-lengths around. It grew strong through its good laws, and its villages extended alongside it from Pisidia and the neighbouring Milyas as far as Lycia and the Peraia of the Rhodians. Three bordering cities were added to it, Boubon, Balboura, and Oinoanda, and the union was called Tetrapolis, each of the three having one vote but Kibyra two. For Kibyra could send forth thirty thousand foot-soldiers and two thousand horses. It was always ruled by tyrants, but they nonetheless ruled it with moderation. However, the tyranny ended in the time of Moagetes, when Murena overthrew it and included Balboura and Boubon within the territory of the Lycians. But nonetheless, the jurisdiction of Kibyra is rated among the greatest in Asia. The Kibyratians used four languages, the Pisidian, that of the Solymians, Greek, and that of the Lydians, but there is not even a trace of the language of the Lydians in Lydia. The easy embossing of iron is a peculiar thing at Kibyra. Milya is the mountain range extending from the narrows at Termessos and from the pass that leads over through them to the region inside the Taurus range towards Isinda, as far as Sagalassos and the country of the Apameians.

[For Strabo’s subsequent discussion of ???, go to this link].


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