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Melpomene   


Theraean narrative. Grinus (they say), the son of Aesanius, a
descendant of Theras, and king of the island of Thera, went to
Delphi to offer a hecatomb on behalf of his native city. He was
accompanied by a large number of the citizens, and among the rest by
Battus, the son of Polymnestus, who belonged to the Minyan family of
the Euphemidae. On Grinus consulting the oracle about sundry
matters, the Pythoness gave him for answer, "that he should found a
city in Libya." Grinus replied to this: "I, O king! am too far
advanced in years, and too inactive, for such a work. Bid one of these
youngsters undertake it." As he spoke, he pointed towards Battus;
and thus the matter rested for that time. When the embassy returned to
Thera, small account was taken of the oracle by the Theraeans, as they
were quite ignorant where Libya was, and were not so venturesome as to
send out a colony in the dark.
Seven years passed from the utterance of the oracle, and not a
drop of rain fell in Thera: all the trees in the island, except one,
were killed with the drought. The Theraeans upon this sent to
Delphi, and were reminded reproachfully that they had never
colonised Libya. So, as there was no help for it, they sent messengers
to Crete, to inquire whether any of the Cretans, or of the strangers
sojourning among them, had ever travelled as far as Libya: and these
messengers of theirs, in their wanderings about the island, among
other places visited Itanus, where they fell in with a man, whose name
was Corobius, a dealer in purple. In answer to their inquiries, he
told them that contrary winds had once carried him to Libya, where
he had gone ashore on a certain island which was named Platea. So they
hired this man's services, and took him back with them to Thera. A few
persons then sailed from Thera to reconnoitre. Guided by Corobius to
the island of Platea, they left him there with provisions for a
certain number of months, and returned home with all speed to give
their countrymen an account of the island.
During their absence, which was prolonged beyond the time that had
been agreed upon, Corobius provisions failed him. He was relieved,
however, after a while by a Samian vessel, under the command of a
man named Colaeus, which, on its way to Egypt, was forced to put in at
Platea. The crew, informed by Corobius of all the circumstances,
left him sufficient food for a year. They themselves quitted the
island; and, anxious to reach Egypt, made sail in that direction,
but were carried out of their course by a gale of wind from the
east. The storm not abating, they were driven past the Pillars of
Hercules, and at last, by some special guiding providence, reached
Tartessus. This trading town was in those days a virgin port,
unfrequented by the merchants. The Samians, in consequence, made by
the return voyage a profit greater than any Greeks before their day,
excepting Sostratus, son of Laodamas, an Eginetan, with whom no one
else can compare. From the tenth part of their gains, amounting to six
talents, the Samians made a brazen vessel, in shape like an Argive
wine-bowl, adorned with the heads of griffins standing out in high
relief. This bowl, supported by three kneeling colossal figures in
bronze, of the height of seven cubits, was placed as an offering in
the temple of Juno at Samos. The aid given to Corobius was the
original cause of that close friendship which afterwards united the
Cyrenaeans and Theraeans with the Samians.
The Theraeans who had left Corobius at Platea, when they reached
Thera, told their countrymen that they had colonised an island on
the coast of Libya. They of Thera, upon this, resolved that men should
be sent to join the colony from each of their seven districts, and
that the brothers in every family should draw lots to determine who
were to go. Battus was chosen to be king and leader of the colony.
So these men departed for Platea on board of two penteconters.
Such is the account which the Theraeans give. In the sequel of the
history their accounts tally with those of the people of Cyrene; but
in what they relate of Battus these two nations differ most widely.
The following is the Cyrenaic story. There was once a king named

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