Mount Helicon, upon which the town of Ascra was located

Ascra or Askre (Ancient Greek: Ἄσκρη, romanizedÁskrē) was a town in ancient Boeotia which is best known today as the home of the poet Hesiod.[1] It was located upon Mount Helicon, five miles west of Thespiae.[1] According to a lost poetic Atthis by one Hegesinous, a maiden by the name of Ascra lay with Poseidon and bore a son Oeoclus who, together with the Aloadae, founded the town named for his mother.[2] In the Works and Days, Hesiod says that his father was driven from Aeolian Cyme to Ascra by poverty, only to find himself situated in a most unpleasant town (lines 639–40):

He settled in a miserable village near Helicon,
Ascra, vile in winter, painful in summer, never good.

The 4th century BCE astronomer Eudoxus thought even less of Ascra's climate.[3] However, other writers speak of Ascra as abounding in corn,[4] and in wine.[5]

By the time Eudoxus wrote, the town had been all but destroyed (by Thespiae sometime between 700 and 650 BCE), a loss commemorated by a similarly lost Hellenistic poem, which opened: "Of Ascra there isn't even a trace anymore" (Ἄσκρης μὲν οὐκέτ' ἐστὶν οὐδ' ἴχνος).[6] This apparently was a hyperbole, for in the 2nd century CE, Pausanias could report that a single tower, though not much else, still stood at the site.[7]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b W. Hazlitt (1858) The Classical Gazetteer (London), p. 54, s.v. Ascra.
  2. ^ Pausanias 9.29.1.
  3. ^ Strabo, Geographica 9.2.35.
  4. ^ πολυλήιος, Pausanias. Description of Greece. 9.38.4.
  5. ^ Zenod. ap. Strabo. Geographica. p. 413. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  6. ^ West, M.L. (1979), "Four Hellenistic First Lines Restored", Classical Quarterly, 29: 324–6, doi:10.1017/s0009838800035953, JSTOR 638099.
  7. ^ Pausanias 9.29.2.

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Ascra". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.

Coordinates: 38°19′37″N 23°04′27″E / 38.327032°N 23.074249°E / 38.327032; 23.074249