Populonia

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 1.20
Dionysios the tyrant sailed to Tyrrhenia and stole all the property of Apollon and Leukothea, instructing his men to drink a toast to the Benevolent Deity as they removed a silver table that stood next to the statue of Apollon.

Homeric Hymn 7 To Dionysos
I will tell of Dionysos, the son of glorious Semele,
how he appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea,
seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood:
his rich, dark hair was waving about him,
and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe.

Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea
Tyrsenian pirates on a well-decked ship —
a miserable doom led them on.
When they saw him they made signs to one another
and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway,
put him on board their ship exultingly;
for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings.

They sought to bind him with rude bonds,
but the bonds would not hold him,
and the withes fell far away from his hands and feet:
and he sat with a smile in his dark eyes.
Then the helmsman understood all
and cried out at once to his fellows and said:

‘Madmen! What god is this whom you have taken and bind, strong that he is? Not even the well-built ship can carry him. Surely this is either Zeus or Apollo who has the silver bow, or Poseidon, for he looks not like mortal men but like the gods who dwell on Olympus. Come, then, let us set him free upon the dark shore at once: do not lay hands on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous winds and heavy squalls.’

So said he: but the master chid him with taunting words:

‘Madman, mark the wind and help hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets. As for this fellow we men will see to him: I reckon he is bound for Egypt or for Cyprus or to the Hyperboreans or further still. But in the end he will speak out and tell us his friends and all his wealth and his brothers, now that providence has thrown him in our way.’

When he had said this,
he had mast and sail hoisted on the ship,
and the wind filled the sail
and the crew hauled taut the sheets on either side.
But soon strange things were seen among them.

First of all sweet, fragrant wine ran streaming
throughout all the black ship and a heavenly smell arose,
so that all the seamen were seized with amazement when they saw it.
And all at once a vine spread out
both ways along the top of the sail
with many clusters hanging down from it,
and a dark ivy-plant twined about the mast,
blossoming with flowers,
and with rich berries growing on it;
and all the thole-pins were covered with garlands.

When the pirates saw all this,
then at last they bade the helmsman to put the ship to land.

But the god changed into a dreadful lion there on the ship,
in the bows, and roared loudly:
amidships also he showed his wonders
and created a shaggy bear which stood up ravening,
while on the forepeak was the lion
glaring fiercely with scowling brows.

And so the sailors fled into the stern
and crowded bemused about the right-minded helmsman,
until suddenly the lion sprang upon the master and seized him;
and when the sailors saw it they leapt out overboard
one and all into the bright sea,
escaping from a miserable fate,
and were changed into dolphins.

But on the helmsman Dionysos had mercy
and held him back and made him altogether happy,
saying to him,
‘Take courage, good… you have found favour with my heart.
I am loud-crying Dionysos whom Kadmos’ daughter Semele bare of union with Zeus.’

Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you can in no wise order sweet song.

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.19
There are a few families in the Faliscan territory, not far from the city of Rome, named the Hirpi, which at the yearly sacrifice to Apollo performed on Mount Soracte walk over a charred pile of logs without being scorched, and who consequently enjoy exemption under a perpetual decree of the senate from military service and all other burdens.

Strabo, Geography 5.4.8
Next after Neapolis comes the Heracleian Fortress, with a promontory which runs out into the sea and so admirably catches the breezes of the southwest wind that it makes the settlement a healthful place to live in. Both this settlement and the one next after it, Pompaia (past which flows the River Sarnus), were once held by the Osci; then, by the Tyrrheni and the Pelasgi; and after that, by the Samnitae; but they, too, were ejected from the places. Pompaia, on the River Sarnus — a river which both takes the cargoes inland and sends them out to sea — is the port-town of Nola, Nuceria, and Acherrae (a place with name like that of the settlement Cremona). Above these places lies Mt. Vesuvius, which, save for its summit, has dwellings all round, on farm-lands that are absolutely beautiful. As for the summit, a considerable part of it is flat, but all of it is unfruitful, and looks ash-coloured, and it shows pore-like cavities in masses of rock that are soot-coloured on the surface, these masses of rock looking as though they had been eaten out by fire; and hence one might infer that in earlier times this district was on fire and had craters of fire, and then, because the fuel gave out, was quenched. Perhaps, too, this is the cause of the fruitfulness of the country all round the mountain; just as at Catana, it is said, that part of the country which had been covered with ash-dust from the hot ashes carried up into the air by the fire of Aetna made the land suited to the vine; for it contains the substance that fattens both the soil which is burnt out and that which produces the fruits; so then, when it acquired plenty of fat, it was suited to burning out, as is the case with all sulphur-like substances, and then when it had been evaporated and quenched and reduced to ash-dust, it passed into a state of fruitfulness. Next after Pompaia comes Surrentum, a city of the Campani, whence the Athenaeum juts forth into the sea, which some call the Cape of the Sirenussae. There is a sanctuary of Athene, built by Odysseus, on the tip of the Cape. It is only a short voyage from here across to the island of Capreae; and after doubling the cape you come to desert, rocky isles, which are called the Sirens. On the side of the Cape toward Surrentum people show you a kind of temple, and offerings dedicated there long ago, because the people in the neighbourhood hold the place in honour. Here, then, the gulf that is called the “Crater” comes to an end, being marked off by two capes that face the south, namely, Misenum and Athenaeum. And the whole of the gulf is garnished, in part by the cities which I have just mentioned, and in part by the residences and plantations, which, since they intervene in unbroken succession, present the appearance of a single city.

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