1. Φέρε οὖν καὶ τὰ καλούμενα Τέμπη τὰ Θετταλικὰ διαγράψωμεν τῷ λόγῳ καὶ διαπλάσωμεν· ὡμολόγηται γὰρ καὶ ὁ λόγος, ἐὰν ἔχῃ δύναμιν φραστικήν, μηδὲν ἀσθενέστερον ὅσα βούλεται δεικνύναι τῶν ἀνδρῶν τῶν κατὰ χειρουργίαν δεινῶν.
Ἔστι δὴ χῶρος μεταξὺ κείμενος τοῦ τε Ὀλύμπου καὶ τῆς Ὄσσης. ὄρη δὲ ταῦτά ἐστιν ὑπερύψηλα καὶ οἷον ὑπό τινος θείας φροντίδος διεσχισμένα, κατὰ μέσον δ᾿ ἔχεται1 χωρίον, οὗ τὸ μὲν μῆκος ἐπὶ τετταράκοντα διήκει σταδίους, τό γε μὴν πλάτος τῇ μέν ἐστι πλέθρου, τῇ δὲ καὶ μεῖζον ὀλίγῳ. διαρρεῖ δὲ μέσου αὐτοῦ ὁ καλούμενος Πηνειός. εἰς τοῦτον δὲ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ ποταμοὶ συρρέουσι, καὶ ἀνακοινοῦνται τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτῷ καὶ ἐργάζονται τὸν Πηνειὸν ἐκεῖνοι μέγαν.
Διατριβὰς δ᾿ ἔχει ποικίλας καὶ παντοδαπὰς ὁ τόπος
1. Well now, let us give an account of the Thessalian region called Tempe and create a picture of it.1 For there is agreement that the spoken word, if it has descriptive power, is no less effective than the work of artists.
It is a district lying between Olympus and Ossa; these are two extremely high mountains, divided as it were by divine dispensation, and they have between them a space which in length stretches about forty stades, and as to the width, in some places it is one plethron, elsewhere a little more.2Through the middle of it runs the river called Peneus; the other rivers flow into it and share their water with it, and so they create the great Peneus.
This locality has a variety of different spots to linger
- 1This elegant description of a landscape in northern Greece is not the result of travel by Aelian in those parts; it is almost certainly an attempt to improve upon a similar description in Book 9 of Theopompus’ History, the opening words of which are cited in a handbook of rhetoric, Theon’s Progymnasmata (ed. L. Spengel, Rhetores graeci, Leipzig, 1853–6, vol. 2, p. 68 lines 12–16). This acute observation is due to E. L. De Stefani, Berliner philologische Wochenschrift 31 (1914): 92 (perhaps anticipated by Gronovius in his edition). Another elegant description of Tempe, by Dio Chrysostom, is mentioned by Synesius, Dio 3 C, but nothing is known of it. Tempe was so famous that the emperor Hadrian landscaped an area of his villa at Tivoli so as to resemble it, and Aelian was presumably acquainted with this.
- 2The stadem measured about 185 metres, the plethron about 30.