Oestriminis

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In Latin poetry Oestreminis ("Extreme West") was a name given to the territory of what is today modern Portugal, comparable to Finis terrae, the "end of the earth" from a Mediterranean perspective. Its inhabitants were named Oestrimni from their location.

The fourth century CE Roman poet on geographical subjects, Rufus Avienus Festus, in Ora Maritima ("Seacoasts"), a poem inspired by a much earlier Greek mariners' periplus, records that Oestriminis was peopled by the Oestrimni, a people that had lived there for a long time, who had to run away from their native lands after an invasion of serpents. His fanciful account has no archeological or historical application, but the poetical name has sometimes been ambitiously applied to popularized accounts of the Paleolithic inhabitants of Atlantic Iberia.

The expulsion of the Oestrimni, from Ora Maritima:

Post illa rursum quae supra fati sumus,
magnus patescit aequoris fusi sinus
Ophiussam ad usque. rursum ab huius litore
internum ad aequor, qua mare insinuare se
dixi ante terris, quodque Sardum nuncupant,
septem dierum tenditur pediti via.
Ophiussa porro tanta panditur latus
quantam iacere Pelopis audis insulam
Graiorum in agro. haec dicta primo Oestrymnis est
locos et arva Oestrymnicis habitantibus,
post multa serpens effugavit incolas
vacuamque glaebam nominis fecit sui.
Back after the places we spoke of above,
there opens a great bay filled with water,
all the way to Ophiussa. Back from the shore of this place,
to the inland water, through which I said before that the sea insinuates itself
through the land, and which they call Sardum,
the journey extends for seven days on foot.
Ophiusa extends its side, being as large
as you hear the Island of Pelops
lying in the territory of the Greeks is. This land was originally called Oestrymnis
by those who inhabited the Oestrymnian countryside and region,
much later the serpent chased away the inhabitants
and gave the now empty land its name.[1]

The "serpent people" of the semi-mythical Ophiussa in the far west are noted in ancient Greek sources.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The point being that ὄφις (ophis) means "snake" in Greek.

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