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Mount Helicon, upon which the town of Ascra was located

Ascra (Ancient Greek: Ἄσκρη, Áskrē) was an ancient town in 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):

νάσσατο δ' ἄγχ' Ἑλικῶνος ὀιζυρῆι ἐνὶ κώμηι
Ἄσκρηι, χεῖμα κακῆι, θέρει ἀργαλέηι, οὐδέ ποτ' ἐσθλῆι.

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] and by the time he wrote the town had been all but destroyed, 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).[4] This was apparently hyperbole, for in the 2nd century CE Pausanias' could report that a single tower, though not much else, still stood at the site.[5]


  1. ^ a b W. Hazlitt (1858) The Classical Gazeteer (London), p. 54, s.v. Ascra.
  2. ^ Pausanias 9.29.1.
  3. ^ Strabo, Geographica 9.2.35.
  4. ^ West, M.L. (1979), Four Hellenistic First Lines Restored, Classical Quarterly 29: 324–6, doi:10.1017/s0009838800035953, JSTOR 638099 .
  5. ^ Pausanias 9.29.2.