Trojans, Lelegians, and Kilikians: Homer and Strabo on legendary peoples and migrations in the Troad (early first century CE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Trojans, Lelegians, and Kilikians: Homer and Strabo on legendary peoples and migrations in the Troad (early first century CE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified May 30, 2023,

Ancient authors: Homer, Plato, and others as discussed in Strabo, Geography 13.1, 3 (link to Greek text and full English translation)

Comments: This section of Strabo’s Geography further illustrates how much authority he gives to the ninth century BCE Greek poet Homer. Throughout the Geography, Strabo draws what he considers accurate geographic and ethnographic information from the poet. In this case, Strabo uses Homer in order to outline what we would call legendary peoples and migrations in the Troad region at the northwestern tip of Turkey (but what Strabo takes as accurate descriptions of early peoples). After dealing with the situation at the time of the outbreak of the Trojan war, Strabo gradually works through different cities and regions around Troy or Ilion. This post is focussed on the legendary peoples in particular, including Trojans, Lelegians, and Kilikians (Homer’s Kilikians rather than the Cilicians at the opposite end of Turkey). In the process, Strabo deals with peoples that, he admits, are no longer to be found, even though traces of their civilizations are still evident, he claims.

Also included here is Strabo’s aside on Plato’s theory from Laws 677-679 (on which go to this link [coming soon]) on the development of civilizations, with Strabo doing some further theorizing himself.

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


[For Strabo’s preceding discussion on Mysians, Galatians, Pisidians, and others go to this link].

Book 13

[Legendary Trojan peoples before the war, including Lelegians, Dardanians, Lycians, according to Homer]

1 . . . (7) Now as for Homer‘s statements, those who have studied the subject more carefully​ conjecture from them that the whole of this coast became subject to the Trojans. Though divided into nine dynasties, the whole coast was under the sway of Priam at the time of the Trojan War and was called “Troy.” This is clear from Homer’s detailed statements. For instance, Achilles and his army, seeing at the outset that the inhabitants of Ilium (or: Ilion) were enclosed by walls, tried to carry on the war outside and to take away from them all the surrounding places by making raids all around: “Twelve cities of men I have destroyed with my ships, and eleven, I declare, by land throughout the fertile land of Troy.” For by “Troy” he means the part of the mainland that was sacked by him and, along with other places, Achilles also sacked the country opposite Lesbos in the neighbourhood of Thebe, Lyrnessos and Pedasos,​ which last belonged to the Lelegians, and also the country of Eurypylos the son of Telephos. “But what a man was that son of Telephos who was killed by him with the bronze,” there is, the hero Eurypylos, killed by Neoptolemos. Now the poet says that these places were sacked, including Lesbos itself: “when he himself took well-built Lesbos” and “he sacked Lyrnessos​ and Pedasos” and “when he destroyed Lyrnessos and the walls of Thebe.”​ It was at Lyrnessos that Briseis was taken captive, “whom he carried away from Lyrnessos” and it was at her capture, according to the poet, that Mynes and Epistrophos fell, as is shown by the lament of Briseis over Patroklos: “you would not even, not even, let me weep when swift Achilles killed my husband and sacked the city of divine Mynes.” For in calling Lyrnessos “the city of divine Mynes,” the poet indicates that Mynes was ruler over it and that he fell in battle there. But it was at Thebe that Chryseis was taken captive: “We went into Thebe, the sacred city of Eetion” and the poet says that Chryseis was part of the spoil brought from that place.​

Andromache came from there as well: “Andromache, daughter of great-hearted Eetion. Eetion who dwelled beneath wooded Plakos in Thebe Hypoplakia,​ and was lord over the men of Cilicia.”​ This is the second Trojan rulership after that of Mynes. Consistently with these facts writers think that the following statement of Andromache, “Hektor, woe is me! surely to one doom we were born, both of us — you in Troy in the house of Priam, but I at Thebai,”​ should not be interpreted strictly, I mean the words “you in Troy, but I at Thebai” (or Thebe), but as a case of a tranposition of words meaning “both of us in Troy — you in the house of Priam, but I at Thebai.”

The third rulership was that of the Lelegians, which was also Trojan: “Of Altes, who is lord over the war‑loving Lelegians,”​ by whose daughter Priam begot Lykaon and Polydoros. And indeed those who are placed under Hektor in the Catalogue are called Trojans: “The Trojans were led by great Hektor of the flashing helmet.”​ And then come those under Aineias: “The Dardanians in turn were commanded by the valiant son of Anchises” and these, too, were Trojans. At any rate, the poet says, “Aineias, counsellor of the Trojans.”

Then come the Lycians under Pandaros, and these also he calls Trojans: “And those who dwelled in Zeleia beneath the lowest foot of mount Ida [mount Kaz], Aphneians,​ who drink the dark water of the Aisepos, Trojans. These in turn were commanded by Pandaros, the glorious son of Lykaon.”​ And this was the sixth rulership. In fact, those who lived between the Aisepos river and Abydos were Trojans, for not only were the parts round Abydos subject to Asios, “and those who lived around Perkote and Praktios​ and held Sestos and Abydos and goodly Arisbe​ — these in turn were commanded by Asios the son of Hyrtakos,”​ but a son of Priam lived at Abydos, pasturing mares, clearly his father’s: “But he struck Demokoon, the bastard son of Priam, for Priam had come from Abydos from his swift mares” while in Perkote a son of Hiketaon was pasturing herds, he likewise pasturing herds that belonged to no other:​ “And first he rebuked mighty Melanippos the son of Hiketaon, who until this time had been wont to feed the herds of shambling gait in Perkote.”‘

So this country would be a part of the Troad, as is the case with the next country after it as far as Adrasteia, for the leaders of the latter were “the two sons of Merops of Perkote.”​ Accordingly, the people from Abydos to Adrasteia were all Trojans, although they were divided into two groups, one under Asios and the other under the sons of Merops, just as Cilicia​ also was divided into two parts, the Theban Cilicia and the Lyrnessian​ but one might include in the Lyrnessian Cilicia the territory subject to Eurypylos, which lay next to the Lyrnessian Cilicia.

But that Priam was ruler of these countries, one and all, is clearly indicated by Achilles’ words to Priam: “And of you, old sir, we hear that formerly you were blessed, how of all that is enclosed by Lesbos, out at sea, city of Makar, and by Phrygia in the upland, and by the boundless Hellespont.”

[Migrations and new peoples: Phrygians, Thracians, Maionians / Lydians, Mysians, Aiolians, and others]

(8) Now those were the conditions at the time of the Trojan war, but all kinds of changes followed later. For the parts around Kyzikos as far as the Praktios were colonized by Phrygians, and those round Abydos by Thracians, and still before these two by Bebrykians and Dryopians.​ And the country that lies next to it was colonized by the Trerians, themselves also Thracians, and the plain of Thebe by Lydians, then called Maionians, and by the survivors of the Mysians who had formerly been subject to Telephos and Teuthras. So then, the poet combines Aiolis and Troy, with the Aiolians holding possession of all the country from the Hermos [Gediz] river to the seaboard at Kyzikos and founding their cities there. So I too might not be guilty of describing them wrongly if I combined Aiolis, now properly so called, extending from the Hermos river to Lekton [opposite the island of Lesbos], and the country next after it, extending to the Aisepos river. For in my detailed treatment of the two, I will distinguish them again, setting forth, along with the facts as they now are, the statements of Homer and of others.

(9) According to Homer, then, the Troad begins after the city of the Kyzikenes and the Aisepos river. And he speaks of it like this: “And those who dwelled in Zeleia beneath the lowest foot of mount Ida, Aphneians,​ who drink the dark water of the Aisepos, Trojans. These in turn were commanded by Pandaros the glorious son of Lykaon.”​ These he also calls Lycians. And they are thought to have been called “Aphneians” after lake “Aphnitis,” for lake Daskylitis [Manyas] is also called by that name. . . [omitted discussion of Greek city-states of the Troad including Zeleia, Kyzikos, Priapos, Parion, and Prokonessos].

[Relation between Thracians and Trojans]

. . . (21) Regarding the rivers, the Selleeis flows near Arisbe, as the poet says, if it is true that Asios came both from Arisbe and from the Selleeis river. The river Praktios is indeed in existence, but no city of that name is to be found, as some have wrongly thought. This river also flows between Abydos and Lampsakos. Accordingly, the words, “and dwelled near Praktios,” should be interpreted as applying to a river, as should also those other words, “and those who dwelled beside the goodly Kephisos river,” “those who had their famed estates about the Parthenios river.” There was also a city Arisba in Lesbos, whose territory is occupied by the Methymnaians. And there is an Arisbos river in Thrace, as I have said before, near which are situated the Thracian Kebrenians. There are many names common to the Thracians and the Trojans, for example, there are Thracians called Skaians, and a river Skaios, and a Skaian wall, and at Troy the Skaian gates. And there are Thracian Xanthians, and in the region of Troy a river Xanthos. And in the region of Troy there is a river Arisbos which empties into the Hebros, as also a city Arisbe. And there was a river Rhesos in the region of Troy and and there was a Rhesos who was the king of the Thracians. There is also another Asios by the same name in Homer, “who was maternal uncle to horse-taming Hektor, and own brother to Hekabe, but son of Dymas, who lived in Phrygia by the streams of the Sangarios.” . . . [omitted further discussion of Greek city-states of the Troad including Abydos].

[Aside on Plato’s theory about three types of civilizations, and Strabo’s additions to the theory]

(25) Plato [Laws 677-679] conjectures, however, that after the time of the floods three kinds of civilization were formed: The first was that on the mountain-tops, which was simple and wild, when men were in fear of the waters which still deeply covered the plains. The second was that on the foot-hills, when men were now gradually taking courage because the plains were beginning to be relieved of the waters. The third was that in the plains. One might speak equally of a fourth and fifth, or even more, but last of all that on the sea‑coast and in the islands, when men had been finally released from all such fear.

For the greater or less courage they took in approaching the sea would indicate several different stages of civilization and manners, first as in the case of the qualities of goodness and wildness, which in some way further served as a foundation for the milder qualities in the second stage. But in the second stage also there is a difference to be noted: I mean between the rustic and semi-rustic and civilized qualities and, beginning with these last qualities, the gradual assumption of new names ended in the polite and highest culture. This was in accordance with the change of manners for the better along with the changes in places of abode and in modes of life.

Now these differences, according to Plato, are suggested by the poet, who sets forth as an example of the first stage of civilization the life of the Kyklopes, who lived on uncultivated fruits and occupied the mountain-tops, living in caves: “but all these things,” he says, “grow unsown and unploughed” for them” . . . “And they have no assemblies for council, nor appointed laws, but they dwell on the tops of high mountains in hollow caves, and each is lawgiver to his children and his wives.” As an example of the second stage, the life in the time of Dardanos, who “founded Dardania, for not yet had sacred Ilios been builded to be a city of mortal men, but they were living on the foot-hills of many-fountained Ida.” And of the third stage, the life in the plains in the time of Ilos, for he is the traditional founder of Ilion, and it was from him that the city took its name. And it is reasonable to suppose, also, that Dardanos was buried in the middle of the plain because he was the first to dare to settle in the plains: “And they sped past the tomb of ancient Ilos, son of Dardanos, through the middle of the plain past the wild fig tree.” Yet even Ilos did not have full courage, for he did not found the city at the place where it now is, but about thirty stadium-lengths higher up towards the east, and towards mount Ida and Dardania, at the place now called “Village of the Ilians.” . . . [omitted discussion of Greek city-states, including Ilion, Sigieion, Achaion, Chrysa].

[Lelegians in relation to Homeric Kilikians (to be distinguished from other Kilikians) and Carians]

(49) On doubling Lekton one comes next to the most notable cities of the Aiolians, and to the Gulf of Adramyttion, on which the poet obviously places the majority of the Lelegians, as also the Kilikians [Homeric Kilikians rather than Kilikians of south-eastern Turkey], who were twofold.​ Here too is the shore-land of the Mitylenaeans, with certain villages  belonging to the Mitylenaeans who live on the mainland. The same gulf is also called the Idaean Gulf, for the ridge which extends from Lectum to Mt. Ida lies above the first part of the gulf, where the poet represents the Lelegians as first settled.

(50) But I have already discussed these matters.​ I must now add that Homer speaks of a Pedasos, a city of the Lelegians, as subject to lord Altes: “Of Altes, who is lord over the war‑loving Lelegians, who hold steep Pedasos on the Satnioeis.”​ And the site of the place, now deserted, is still to be seen. Some write, though wrongly, “at the foot of Satnioeis,”​ as though the city lay at the foot of a mountain called Satnioeis, but there is no mountain here called Satnioeis, only a river of that name, on which the city is situated, but the city is now deserted. The poet names the river, for, according to him, “he wounded Satnios with a thrust of his spear, even the son of Oinops, whom a peerless Naiad nymph bore unto Oinops, as he tended his herds by the banks of the Satnioeis” and again: “And he dwelled by the backs of the fair-flowing Satnioeis in steep Pedasos.”​ And in later times it was called Satnioeis, though some called it Saphnioeis. It is only a large winter torrent, but the naming of it by the poet has made it worthy of mention. These places are continuous with Dardania and Skepsia, and are, as it were, a second Dardania, but it is lower-lying.

(51) To the Assians and the Gargarians now belong all the parts as far as the sea off Lesbos that are surrounded by the territory of Antandros and that of the Kebrenians and Neandrians and Hamaxitans. For the Antandrians are situated above Hamaxitos, like it being situated inside Lekton, though farther inland and nearer to Ilion, for they are one hundred and thirty stadium-lengths distant from Ilion. Higher up than these are the Kebrenians, and still higher up than the latter are the Dardanians, who extend as far as Palaeskepsis and Skepsis itself. Antandros is called by Alkaios “city of the Lelegians”: “First, Antandros, city of the Lelegians,” but it is placed by the Skepsian among the cities adjacent to their territory,​ so that it would fall within the territory of the Kilikians. For the territory of the Kilikians is continuous with that of the Lelegians, the former, rather than the latter, marking off the southern flank of mount Ida. But still the territory of the Kilikians also lies low and, rather than that of the Lelegians, joins the part of the coast that is near Adramyttion.​ . . . [omitted initial discussion of the Greek city-state Assos].

(58) Myrsilos​ says that Assos was founded by the Methymnaians and Hellanikos too calls it an Aiolian city, just as also Gargara and Lamponia belonged to the Aiolians. For Gargara​ was founded by the Assians, but it was not well peopled. The kings brought into it colonists from Miletopolis when they devastated that city, so that instead of Aiolians, according to Demetrios of Skepsis, the inhabitants of Gargara became semi-barbarians (hemibarbaroi). According to Homer, however, all these places belonged to the Lelegians, who by some are represented to be Carians, although by Homer they are mentioned apart: “Towards the sea are the Carians and the Paionians of the curved bow and the Lelegians and the Kaukonians.”​ They were therefore a different people from the Carians and they lived between the people subject to Aineias and the people whom the poet called “Kilikians,” but when they were pillaged by Achilles they migrated to Caria and took possession of the district around the present Halikarnassos [Bodrum, Turkey].

(59) However, the city Pedasos, now abandoned by Lelegians, is no longer in existence but in the inland territory of the Halikarnassians there used to be a city Pedasa, so named by them and the present territory is called Pedasia [Konacik, Turkey]. It is said that as many as eight cities were settled in this territory by the Lelegians, who in earlier times were so numerous that they not only took possession of that part of Caria which extends to Myndos and Bargylia, but also cut off for themselves a large portion of Pisidia. But later, when they went out on expeditions with the Carians, they became distributed throughout the whole of Greece, and the people disappeared.

Of the eight cities, Mausolos​ united six into one city, Halikarnassos, as Kallisthenes tells us, but kept Syangela and Myndos as they were. These are the Pedasians of whom Herodotos​ says that when any misfortune was about to come upon them and their neighbours, the priestess of Athena would grow a beard and that this happened to them three times. And there is also a small town called Pedason in the present territory of Stratonikeia. And throughout the whole of Caria and in Miletos are to be seen tombs, fortifications, and traces of settlements of the Lelegians.

[Homeric Kilikians in northwestern Asia Minor]

(60) After the Lelegians, on the next stretch of coast, lived the Kilikians, according to Homer. I mean the stretch of coast now held by the Adramyttenians, Atarneitians, and Pitanaians, as far as the outlet of the Kaikos [Bakırçay] river. The Kilikians, as I have said,​ were divided into two dynasties,​ one subject to Eetion and one to Mynes.

(61) Now Homer calls Thebe the city of Eetion: “We went into Thebe, the sacred city of Eetion.” And he clearly indicates that also Chrysa, which had the temple of Sminthian Apollo, belonged to Eetion, if it is true that Chryseis was taken captive at Thebe, for he says, “We went into Thebe, and destroyed it and brought here all the spoil. And this they rightly divided among themselves, but they chose out Chryseis for the son of Atreus.” He also says that Lyrnessos belonged to Mynes, since Achilles “destroyed Lyrnessos and the walls of Thebe”​ and killed both Mynes and Epistrophos. So that when Briseis says, “you would not even let me,​ when swift Achilles killed my husband and sacked the city of divine Mynes,”​ Homer cannot mean Thebe (for this belonged to Eetion), but Lyrnessos. Both were situated in what was afterwards called the “plain of Thebe,” which, on account of its fertility, is said to have been an object of contention between the Mysians and Lydians in earlier times, and later between the Greeks who colonized it from Aiolis and Lesbos. But the greater part of it is now held by the Adramyttenians, for here lie both Thebe and Lyrnessos, the latter a natural stronghold, but both places are deserted. From Adramyttion the former is distant sixty stadium-lengths and the latter eighty-eight, in opposite directions.

(62) In the territory of Adramyttion lie also Chrysa and Killa. At any rate there is still to‑day a place near Thebe called Killa, where is a temple of the Killaian Apollo and the Killaios river, which runs from mount Ida, flows past it. These places lie near the territory of Antandros. The Killaion in Lesbos is named after this Killa and there is also a mount Killaiom between Gargara and Antandros. Daes of Kolonai says that the temple of Killaean Apollo was first founded in Kolonai by the Aiolians who sailed from Greece. It is also said that a temple of Killaian Apollo was established at Chrysa, though it is not clear whether he is the same as the Sminthian Apollo or distinct from him.

(63) Chrysa was a small town on the sea, with a harbour and near by, above it, lies Thebe. Here too was the temple of the Sminthian Apollo and here lived Chryseis. But the place is now utterly deserted and the temple was transferred to the present Chrysa near Hamaxituos when the Kilikians were driven out, partly to Pamphylia​ and partly to Hamaxitis. Those who are less acquainted with ancient history say that it was at this Chrysa that Chryses and Chryseis lived, and that Homer mentions this place but, in the first place, there is no harbour here, and yet Homer says, “And when they had now arrived inside the deep harbour”​ and, secondly, the temple is not on the sea, though Homer makes it on the sea, “and out from the seafaring ship stepped Chryseis. Her then did Odysseus of many wiles lead to the altar, and place in the arms of her dear father,” neither is it near Thebe, though Homer makes it near. At any rate, he speaks of Chryseis as having been taken captive there. Again, neither is there any place called Killa to be seen in the territory of the Alexandreians, nor any temple of Killaian Apollo, but the poet couples the two, “who does stand over Chrysa and sacred Killa.”​ But it is to be seen near by in the plain of Thebe. And the voyage from the Cilician Chrysa to the “naval station” is about seven hundred stadium-lengths, approximately a day’s voyage, such a distance, obviously, as that sailed by Odysseus for immediately upon disembarking he offered the sacrifice to the god, and since evening overtook him he remained on the spot and sailed away the next morning. But the distance from Hamaxitos is scarcely a third of that above mentioned, so that Odysseus could have completed the sacrifice and sailed back to the “naval station” on the same day. There is also a tomb of Killos in the neighbourhood of the temple of the Killaian Apollo, a great barrow. He is said to have been the charioteer of Pelops and to have ruled over this region and perhaps it was after him that Cilicia was named, or vice versa. . . [omitted discussion of Teukrians and the origins of Sminthian Apollo and discussion of Adramytteion, Assos, and Lesbos].

3 (1) Since the Lelegians and the Kilikians were so closely related to the Trojans, people inquire into why they are not included with the Trojans in the Catalogue [Homer’s “Catalogue of Ships” in Iliad 2.494–759]. But it is reasonable to suppose that because of the loss of their leaders and the sacking of their cities, the few Kilikians that were left were placed under the command of Hektor, for both Eetion and his sons are said to have been killed before the Catalogue:​ “Verily my father was killed by the goodly Achilles, who utterly sacked the city of Kilikians, Thebe of the lofty gates. And the seven brothers of mine in our halls, all these on the same day went inside the home of Hades, for all were killed by swift-footed, goodly Achilles” [Homer, Iliad 6. 414].  And so, in the same way, those subject to Mynes lost both their leaders and their city: “And he laid low Mynes and Epistrophos, and sacked the city of godlike Mynes.”​ But he makes the Lelegians present at the battles when he says as follows: “Towards the sea are situated the Carians and the Paionians, with curved bows, and the Lelegians and Kaukonians.” And again, “he pierced with his spear Satnios, son of Oinops, whom a noble Naiad nymph bore to Oinops, as he tended his herds beside the banks of the Satnioeis.” For they had not so completely disappeared that they did not have a separate organization of their own, since their king still survived, “of Altes, who is lord over the war‑loving Lelegians,” and since their city had not been utterly wiped out, for the poet adds, “who holds steep Pedasos on the Satnioeis.” However, the poet has omitted them in the Catalogue, not considering their organization sufficient to have a place in it, or else including them under the command of Hektor because they were so closely related. For Lykaon, who was a brother of Hektor, says, “to a short span of life my mother, daughter of the old man Altes, bore me — Altes who is lord over the war‑loving Lelegians.” Such, then, are the probabilities in this matter.

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

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