Descriptio Moldaviae (Description Of Moldavia)

CHAPTER 4 – ON THE REGIONS AND TOWNS OF MOLDAVIA excerpt 3. THE CHILIA REGION. Its most important fortress is Chilia[1], once named Lycostomon, situated at the western mouth of the Danube, to which the Greek seamen gave this name namely because the waves seemed to roll just like coming out of a wolf's throat. The fortress is not very large, but the trade port is very famous, since all sorts of ships come here, not only from the neighboring maritime fortresses, but also from farther ports: Venetian, Egyptian, Ragusan, which usually take wax and raw ox skins from here. It is inhabited not only by Turks, but also by Jews, Christians, Armenians and other nations, all being under the rule of a Turkish commander, "supervisor", as they would say it in common language. The fortress was burned down by the Moldavians during the rule of Suleiman, and has never reached the same magnificence again.
[1] Called Chili by the Moldavians and Turks, Lycostomon by the newer Greek (misspelled by some, I think, as Lytrostomon and Lythostroton), see Leuncl. (Pandect. 146). Bonifinius, together with others, think the fortress is Achillea. Stanislaus Sarnicius claims, not in all certainty, though, that it is Tomis, the fortress which achieved fame due to the exile of Ovidius Naso. But I cannot judge the truth among the different opinions of so many authors. Yet, I will tell you what I believe, as one who has some knowledge of those places. If there is only one Tomis, that which became famous through the exile of the poet Ovidius, it certainly cannot be the one which, on the map of the old Mysii, is situated in the middle of the region, on the river Naxos, as the historians mentioning that town can easily prove you wrong; and first of all Ovid himself says that he lived in exile on Sarmatian land: Ne mea Sarmaticum contegat ossa solum (my bones not to be covered by the Sarmatian earth). Therefore, the town of Tomis was part of Sarmatia. The same poet describes the rivers of Sarmatia, namely the Dniester and the Dnieper Rivers which anyone can see how far they are from Naxos. The same thing is confirmed by the poet's epitaph chiseled in stone, and discovered by Stanislaus Sarnicius; indeed, it tells how a Polish nobleman found and read a stone bearing the following inscription in the village of Isac (misspelled: Asac): Hic situs est vates, quem diri Caesaris ira Augusti patria cedere iussit humo. Saepe miser voluit patriis occumbere terries, Sed frustra; hunc illi fata dedere locum. The same poet tells us what an awful thing it is to live among the Bessi and the Getae. We can clearly see that he was exiled in Sarmatia, either nearby Dniester, or Dnieper, where that town called Tomis was situated. But let us do some more research among the old historians. Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica, Book 6, Chapter 20, writing about the settlement of the Scythes, says: this people has indeed many towns, villages and defense posts, but the leading part among them is played by Tomis, which is a large and rich city placed by the sea, where whenever someone comes sailing on the Black Sea, there's an old habit, maintained until today, for a single bishop to be the leader of the church of that entire people. Therefore, at the time we are referring in history (namely, the time of Valentinian and Valens), Britannio administered those towns when emperor Valens came to visit Tomis; and after heading for the church, the bishop, not wanting to meet him, as he was profaned by the Arian heresy, the emperor being left alone, he retreated together with the rest of the people in a different church. The furious emperor exiled Britannio, but not long after that he allowed for him to be called back because, as I see it, seeing that the Scythians were not too happy about the bishop's exile, he was quite afraid they might revolt against him, being both courageous and necessary to the Roman Empire, given the position of those places, since they rejected the attacks coming from the barbarians living in that part of the land. Therefore the emperor's anger was defeated by Britannio, a valuable man in many ways and so famous due to the holy life he led, that even the Scythians praised him. This is what the same author says.

by Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723)