18 Οκτωβρίου 2009
We also saw there huge cisterns carved our by an ancient hand and many noble sarcophagi adorned with sculpture and some remarkable rocks.
[local customs described]
And when on my journey I hand viewed witch pleasure a lovely valley green in every direction with close packed vineyards and trees and pleasant meadows, and utterly tranquil, the locals showed me a place bounded by natural stones where every year the youths who live in the immediate vicinity engage by ancient custom in a competition, for which their prince provides the prizes, which they also call the androdromon pentastadion; that is, they compete in a men’s footrace over a distance of five stadia, which they run barefoot, mind you, and dressed only in a linen undertunic; and whoever runs more swiftly and comes in first is given ten bronze drachmas, which they call hyperpera the second [is given] five; the third, three; and after that, all the others, in order of finishing , a little cash or a quantity of Hyrcanian meat, so that none of the athletes will have gone away unrewarded, except that the prince at once rewards the one who comes in last and makes him an object of popular ridicule with the gift of an onion.
And indeed we came to know that the people in these places observe an ancient practice in a variety of ways, for they all build their houses in the countryside with great polygonal stones put together according to an ancient technique; and, digging out cisterns by hand, each in a long line, they protect them with huge, sevenfoot rocks; and we discovered that they somehow preserve an ancient manner of speaking, for they say that their dead, no matter what their religion was, have gone off “Hades”, that is, to the lower world. Also, their meals consist of snapped beans seasoned generously with oil, and their loaves are made from barley; their drink, however, is water. Wine they drink rarely, except on joyful festival days and on celebratory occasions that call for eulogistic oratory.
Moving on from Amathea, we came to Karopolis, a village of the ancient city of Asine, where we found Solianos, son of George the stratopedarhes the administrator for the despot Constantine, who received me quite properly and led me the next day to the ruined city of Asine on the shore of the Laconic Gulf. There one sees few remnants with recording of such a great city, other than some huge brick remains of the baths and the place the populace calls, the “vaults” because of some surviving arches. Also along the shore, some marble columns and other fragments of ancient structures survive. But since we found no inscriptions, we departed from the site and left behind [ruins] not worthwhile enough to record.
Cyriec of Ancona: Later travels edited and translated by Edward W. Bodnar
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