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The expulsion of the Oestrimni
The 4th century Roman poet on geographical subjects, Rufus Avienus Festus, in Ora Maritima ("Seacoasts"), a rather unreliable document inspired by a mariners' Periplus, records "Oestriminis" (or the extreme west) peopled by the Oestrimni, a people that lived there from a long time, who had to run away from their lands after an invasion of serpents. This could be a relation to, the Saephe or Ophis ("people of the serpents") and the Dragani ("people of the dragons") that came to that lands and formed what was known by the Greeks as Ophiussa. Some authors relate the Ophi people to druids and proto-Celts or to ancient Egypt. In a Egyptian tradition, refeers that the Egyptian "serpents" from Carnac or Luxor had emigrated to Europe.
The expulsion of the Oestrimni, from Ora Maritima:
- 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.
Land of the Ophi
The Ophi people lived mainly in the interior mountains in Northern Portugal (including Galicia). This people worshiped the serpents, hence Land of Serpents. There have been some ancient archeological findings that could be related to this people or culture. Some believe that the dragon, symbol of the city of Oporto is related to this people, or to the Celts who later invaded the area who also could have been influenciated by the Ophi cult.
There is a legend that on the Summer Solstice a maiden-serpent, a Chthonic goddess, revels the occult treasures to the forest explorers. The city of Oporto was where this maiden would live. Festivities related to this goddess occurred during the Solstice, while for the rest of the year this maiden transformes into a serpent living under and between the rocks, where shepherds would take some milk from their sheep to give to her.
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