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'Eyyvdev 'ApiJ^i^. H xi. 721.

* The Triphylian Pylus was believed by Strabo to have been Nestor's capital,
his main reason being that the account of Nestor's expedition against the Epeans
{H. xi. 670, aef.) implies a spot nearer than the Messcnian Pylus, and that other
passages {Od. iii. 423 ; xv. 199, $eq.) are inconsistent with the idea of a seaport
town. These objections are partly answered by the fact that Pylus applied to
the kingdom as well as the city of Nestor. On the other hand, the account of the
journeys of Telemachus trook Sparta to Pylus thro-jjh Pha'ee {Od. iii. 4P.'» ; xt.
182) is decisive for the Messenian town.

' Kflu 9pvovt 'AA^toib ir6pw, ictu etfrriTOK Alwv.—It 11. 59?


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phylian towns and the Arcadians, and to a war between tlie latter and
the Eleans, which lasted from 366 to 362 without any very decisive
result. The Eleans joined the Greeks in the Lamian War, and subse-
quently became members of the ^tolian League. They are not men-
tioned after this.

IV. Messenia.

§ 12. Meuenia' lay in the S.W. of the Peloponnesus, bounded on
the N. by Elis and Arcadia, on theE. by Laconia," and on the S.
and W. by the sea, viz. by the Messenian Gulf in the former, and
the Ionian Sea in the latter direction. The configuration of the
country is simple : on the N. frontier there is a band of mountains,
anciently named Intt and now Tetrazt, forming the watershed of the
rivers Neda, Pamisus, and Alpheus ; from this, ranges emanate to-
wards the E. and W., the former named Vomii ][ts.» Makryplai, the
latter ElflBimii Kuvekt, whieh is continued in a series of ranges skirting
the W. coast, named Sgalenm, between Cyparissia and Pylus,
Bnphraa and Tomeos, near Pylus, and Temathia, Lykodimo, more to
the S., and terminates in the ]iromontory of Acrftas, C, Oallo. Re-
turning to the N., the range of Nomii effects a junction, towards the
E., with TaygStnfl) which forms the general boundary on the side
of Laconia in the N.E., but runs into the latter country towai*ds
the S. These moimtains enclose an extensive plain, or rather series
of plains, watered by a river named, in its lower course, Pamlsas*
Dhipotamo, and made up of the Bal^ra* the Amphltnst the Arii* and
other less important tributaries. The Pamisus falls into the Mes-
senian Gulf, and is navigable for small boats. The basin of the
Pamisus is divided into two distinct parts by a ridge of mountains
crossing it in the neighbourhood of Ithome. The upper plain, named
Stenycl&mf* is small, and of moderate fertility ; the lower one, which
opens to the Messenian Gulf, fs more extensive, and remarkably fer-
tile, whence it was sometimes named Maeariat '* the Blessed." ^ The

• The Homeric form of the name is Hesscne : —

Tw ^ iv Me<nnf»77 (vfifiXi^v dXAijAouK,
OIk^ ev 'OpirtMxoio. Od, xxi. IS.

^ The boandary on the side of Laconia varied at different tiroes, MesHenia
sometimes possessing and sometimes losing the border district, named Denthe-
li&tes Ager» ^hich lay on the western slope of Taygetus,. about Limnao. This
was the cause of the first Messenian war ; it remained a subject of dispute under
the Romans ; and even so late as a.d. 1835 it was transferred from tiie govern-
ment of Mistra (Sparta) to that of Kalamata,

* It is, doubtless, to this district that Euripides refers in the following lines :—

KaroppvT^y re fivpiouri vatuurif

Kcd /Sovcrl Koi mUfivoxariy nfioTwrdniv,

Ovr iv irvoauri x^^t*^'^^*^ iv<rxtii*^pov,

Ovr' a9 TtBpCmroit riXiov B«pfiiiy Syav,

EuRiF. ap. Strab. viil. p. 366.
The climate of Messenia contrasts favourably with that of other paris of Greece,
in consequence of the lower elevation of the hills.


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450 MESSENIA. Book IV.

coast ia tolerably regular, the most remarkable break being tbe deep
bay of Pylot, NavarinOf on the W. coast, which was 2J miles in
diameter, bounded on the N. by the promontory of Coryphatinm, and
closed in front by the island of Bphaoteriai Sphagia, More to the N.
are the promontories of PlatamOdeSt near Aia Kyriake, and Cyparii-
finm, which forms the southern Hmit of the Cyparisnui Sinvi.

§ 13. The earliest inhabitants of Messenia are said to have been
Leleges. To these JColians were added at an early period, whose
chief settlement was at Pylus, the capital of Neleus. The Dorians
conquered it, and remained the dominant race. It was divided by
Cresphontes, the first Dorian king, into five parts, of which Steny-
cl6rus, Pylus, Rhium, Hyamia, and Mesola, were the centres. The
position of the two first is well known ; Rhium was about the
southern promontory, and MesOla between Taygetus and the
Pamisus ; the position of Hyamia is unknown. I'he towns of Mes-
senia were comparatively few. The earliest capitals were in the
upper plain, Andania being that of the Messenian kings before the
Dorians, and Stenyclerus that of the Dorians themselves. Pylus, on
the W. coast, was the seat of an independent kingdom, which ex-
tended along the coast as far N. as the Alpheus. These towns fell
into decay during the period when Messenia was subject to Sparta.
The later capital, Messgne, was founded by Epaminondas, B.C. 369,
and was advantageously placed between the two plains : it became
one of the most important cities in Greece. Messenia possessed the
harbpurs of Pylus and Methone on the W. coast, AsJne and Corone
on the E. : these do not appear, however, to have carried on an ex-
tensive trade. We shall describe the towns in order, commencing
with those on the coast.

Pylvi was the most important spot on tbe W. coast: tbe original
town, Nestor's capital, was probably nituated a little inland, with a port
at Prom. Coryphasium : the later town, which was the scene of tbe
operations in the Peloponuesian War, was on tbe coast itself, tbe inha-
bitants having at some early period moved thither from the old town.
In the accompanying map, A marks the island of Sphacteria, B tbe town
of Pylus on Prom. Corypha«ium, c tbe modem NavarinOf and d d the
Bay of Pylus. Considerable changes have taken place in this locality
since Thucydides wrote bis account of it : the N. passage between the
island and tbe mainland, which was formerly deep, and so narrow as to
admit only two triremes abreast, is now 150 yanls wide, and shallow,
while tbe S. passage, which admitted only eight or nine triremes^ is now
1400 yards wide. There is now a lagoon^ at the back of tbe site of
Pylus: in this direction CorypbaBium is precipitous; but on tbe W.
side it slopes down gently to the sea. It b covered with tbe founda-
tions of Hellenic buildings, erected at tbe restoration of tbe town by

* This lagoon was probably a sandy plain In old times ; hence the epithet
^hioh Homer applies to it : —

Ilcurai ^ hrf^ aAb$, vdarax IIi^Aov iffuiMcvrof. J1. ix. 153.


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Chap. XXII.



Epaminondas. XeUiSiia, Modon, the Homeric Ped&ius, was aituated
at the extreme point of a rocky ridge, which runs into the sea N. of
the (Enuasse Islands : it
possessed an excellent har-
bour. It was held by the
Messenians in the second
war, and was afterwards
given by the Spartans to
the Nauplians. In 431 the
Athenians vainly at-
tempted to seize it. Tho
Romans made it a free
city. AflXne, on the coast
of the Messenian Gulf,
was founded by the Dry-
opes, and was a place of
considerable importance
till the 6th century a.d. :
its site is now occupied
by Koronif whence it ap-
pears to have received the
population of GorGne, wliich
stood more to the N. at
Petalidhi, where traces of
the ancient mole and of
the acropolis still exist.
Phane was situated upon
a hill, near the river Ne-
don, about a mile from the
Messenian Gulf, occupying
the site of Kalamatay the
modern capital of Mes-
senia. It is frequently
noticed by Homer,* and
appears in his time to have been the chief town m the southern plain.
It was annexed to Laconia by Augustus, but restored to Messenia by
Tiberius. It possessed a roadstead, which was available only in the
summer months. Iliiiiia, on the river Aris, became one of the chief
towns of the Lacedsemonian Periceci after the subjugation of Messenia :
it was identified with the Homeric Anthte. The old town occupied the
summit of a hill, now named Pdleokatiro ; the later one was in the
subjacent plain at PcHea Luira: remtiins of both exist. Metfine, the
later capital of Messenia, built by Epaminondas in B.C. 369, was situ-
ated upon a rugged mountain which rises between the two Messenian
plains, and which culminates in the heights of Ithome and Eva, on the
former of which the acropolis was posted, while the town lay in a
hollow just W. of the ridge connecting the two summits. Ithome is
2631 feet high, with precipitous sides, and was connected by walls
with the town. The circumference of the walls is about six miles, and
the foundations still exist, together with the norlheru gate, called the
Gate of Megalopolis, which has the appearance of a circular fortress.

Map of the Bay of Pylu«.

It was one of the 7 towns oflfered by Agamemnon to Achilles :—
4htpaf TC ia04ai, -ffi' *\vOtia¥ Paj9v\*ttioy» /<. ix. 161.


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452 MESSENIA. Book IV.

The chief buildiugi in Measene were the Agora, near the village of

Mauromaii^ containing a
fountain in it named Ariuioe,
And numerous temples; the
stadium, some portions of
which are still preserved;
and the theatre, to the N. of
it, of which there are also
remains. The summit of
Ithome is a small flat sur-
face, extending from S.E. to
CoinofMe-enU. jj.W., and contained a

temple of Zeus Ithomatas.
Mesaene was in vain attacked by Demetrius or Pharus, and by Nabis,
the tyrant of Laceda^mon: it was, however, taken by Lycortas, the
AchoAn, in 182.

Of the less important places we may notice- CypTiwia, on the W.
coast, possessing the best roadstead N. of Pylus, and well situated on
an elevation ; Abia, the Homeric Ira, on the sea-coast near the border
of Laconia; TJiwuaa^ more to the N., possessing a temple of Artemis,
which was used jointly by the Messenians and Laced oemonians, the
ruins of which are at B6limno$ ; ^^^fiWn, in the plain of Stenyclarus,
identified sometimes with Andania, the capital of the Leleges, and the
birth-place of Aristomenes— and sometimes with Oanaaiiim, which stood
a little to the N.E. of Andania, and possessed, in Pausanias's time, a
sacred grove of cypresses, with statues of Apollo, Hermes, and Perse-
phone; Stemyelftnif, the capital of the Dorian conquerors, built by
Cresphontes, in the plain which afterwards bore its name ; and Ira, a
fortress on the hill of the same name.

Bittory, — The most important events in the early history of Me«-
senia were the two wars with Sparta, the assigned dates of which are
from BC. 743 to 723, and from 685 to 068 : after the second the
whole of Messenia was incorporated with Sparta, the very name being
superseded bv that of Lcconia. In 404 the Messenians rose against the
Spartans, and the third war ensued, which terminated with the with-
drawal of the Messenians to Naupactus in 455. The nationality was
restored by Epaminondas in 369, when the Messenians returned from
all directions, and rebuilt their old towns. After the fall of Thebes,
the Messenians sided with Philip, and received in return Limnce and
other districts. They joined the Achtean League, but afterwards
quarrelled with it, and were conse<^uently engag^ in war, which re-
sulted in the secession of Abia, Thuna, and Pharcp, from the supremacy
of Mensene. Mummius restored these cities to it on the settlement of
the affairs of Greece.

Islands. — Off the coast of Messenia are the following islands : — The
Stroph&dM, so named because the Boreadae here turned^ from the pur-
suit of the harpies: they ore now named Sirofadta and Slrivali ; Prote,
which still retains its name, N. of Pylus ; Sphaoteria, Sphagia^ oppo-
site Pylus; the (EnOfMB, a group; of which the two largest are now
named Cabrera and Sapienza ; and Theganmia, Venttiho, off the pro-
montory of Acritos.

s Senrstum ex undU Strophadam me litora primum
Acdplunt. Strophades Graio stant noroinc dictte
Insula) lonio in magno. Vino. Mn. iil. 200.


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Gate of the Lions at Myoeiue.


PELOPONNESUS — contimted, laconia, abqolib, arcadia.

V. Laconia. § 1. Boundaries; Name. § 2. Mountains; Rivers.
§ 3. Inhabitants. § 4. Towns ; History ; Islands. VI. Argolis,
with Cynuria. § 5. Boundaries ; Name. § 6. Moimtains ; Rivers.
§ 7. Inhabitants ; Towns ; History. § 8. Cynuria. VII. Arcadia.
§ 9. Boundaries. § 10. Mountains. § 11. Rivers. § 12. Inha-
bitants ; Towns; History. § 13. Sporades. § 14. Crbta. Moun-
tains ; Rivers. § 15, Inhabitants ; Towns ; History ; St. Paul's

V. Laconia.

§ 1. Laoonia occupied the S.E. portion of Peloponnesus, and was
bounded by Messenia on the W., Argolis and Arcadia on the N., and
in other directions by the sea. Its natural features are strongly
marked: it consists of a long valley,' surrounded on three sides
by mountains, and opening out towards the sea on the south
through the entire length of which the river Eurotas flows. The
approaches to it are difiQcult :' on the N. there are but two natural

> Hence the Homeric epithet " hollow *» Lacednmon : —

Ot V tXxw KoLktiv AaK96aiii«iya tainitovray, Ik ii. 681.

The shape of the Laconian valley has been compared to that of an ancient
« This feature'is forcibly described by Enripides : —

noAi>i' flip Sporxwt iieirovtlv i' ov p^Stow*

KolXri yip, 5pc<ri wtpiipofUK, rpax«ta tc

AvcrcMT^oAiif TC iroAe^uMc. 4l>- Strab. vlil. P. 366.


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454 LACONIA. Book IV.

passes by which the plftin of Si»rta can be entered ; on the W. the
lofty masses of Taj'getus present an almost insurmountable barrier ;
while on the E. the rocky character of the coast protects it from
invasion by sea. The plain of Sparta is blessed with a fine climate
and beautiful scenery,* but the soil is thin and poor, and adapted to
the production of the olive rather than of grain crops.

Name. — The ancient name, as given by Homer, was Lacediemon,
which was occasionally used even in later tim«8 (e. g, Herod, vi. 58).
The origin of the name was referred to a mythical hero, Laco, or Lace-
dsmon. Modem etymologists connect it with Xdieost 2a^v<i lacuna, in
reference to its being deeply Bunk in the mountains.

§ 2. The chief mountain range of Laconia is Ta^gStus* which
extends from the border of Arcadia in an almost unbroken line* for
70 miles to the promontory of TeBxi&mm, C. Matapdn, the extreme
S. point both of Greece and of Europe. Taygetus attains its greatest
elevation (7902 feet) near Sparta, in a hill named TaUtam, St, Elias:
there are several other summits near Sparta, whence its modem
name of Pentedactylum, ** five fingers." Parallel to the central
ridge is a lower one of less height bounding the plain of Sparta,
which consists of huge projecting masses of precipitous rocks.*
More to the S., it sends forth a lateral ridge, which forms the
southern boundary of the Spartan plain. The sides of Taygetus are
clothed with pine forests, which were in ancient times 611ed with game
And wild beasts.* The southern part abounded in iron, marble,' and
green porphyry ; it also product valuable whetstones. The range
ofParnim* Malevo, which forms the boundary on the side of Argolis,
consists of various detached mountains, the highest of which, attain-

* This portion of Laconim tuWy Justifies the Homeric epithet " lorely :** —

Ov6* OTC <re irp6Ttpov A4UCtia(fAOt'Ot l( iparttvrfi. — 11. iil. 443.
The climate is fAvonrable to the complexion, and the present appearance of the
Spartan women, as compared -with the other Greeks, illustrates the other Homeric
expression, Aoiecia^AOMi Ko^XiyvnuKa,

* The unbroken length of this range is well described by the epithet vept*
fvHicmy {nee below, note •).

* The sides of Taygetus were much shattered by earthquakes, whence Laconia
U described as ** ftiU of hoUows :"—

Ot f *lxpy Koikiiy AaK^aitMva irfniaravar . II ii. 581.

* Hence it was one of the favourite haunts of Artemis : —

On} 6' *AfT«fuv «I<n jcar* oSpcoc tox^cupa,
*H Kori. TifdycTov vcpifii^Kerof, ^ 'Efnifiar^m^,
Tcpiroftivi) leiwpoun koI mmccu^ iXJu^^oiax. Od, vi. 102.

For the same reason its dogs were celebrated : —

Yocat ingenti damore Cithieron,
Taygetique canes, d(»nitrixque Epidaurus equ>iit>^ .
£t vox adsensu nemorum ingeminata remugit. — Georg.'Ui. 48.
Velooes Spartse catulos. Id, 405.

" Illic Taygeti virent roetalla
Et certant vario deoore saxa. Maet. ri. 42.


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iDg an elevation of 6355 feet, lies between the Eurotas and the sea.
On the W. Pamon sinks rapidly towards the valley of the Eurotas,
and breaks up into several hills, such as Olympni and Erai, near
Sellasia ; Thomaz* near the confluence of the Eurotas and (Enus ; and
IffynAVTnm, near Theraijna?. The range continues towards the S. at
a less elevation, but again rises to a height of 3500 feet in Mount
Zaraz* on the E. coast, and terminates in Prom. Malea. The ranges
of Pamon and Taygetus are connected in the N. by a rugged moun-
tain district on the borders of Arcadia, named Scirltif. The coast
is varied by the promontories of TBBn&nun** C Matajxin^ and Malaa,'
C. Media, on the S., and Onognathns on the W. coast. The only impor-
tant river is the Enrdtas,^ Basili-potamo, which rises on the borders
of Arcadia, and flows towards the S.E. into the Ivaconian Gulf,

* TfDnamm is more properly described as a circular peninsula, about 7 miles
in circumference, and. connected with the range of Taygetus by an isthmus about
half a mile wide. The peninsula was originally held to be sacred to the Sun : —

'Ifoi', Kol x*'P<>*' Ttp^tfAfiftirov 'HcAibiO,
TavMtpof , Ma t< fi^Aa fictBvrfnx^ /S^icrrot cucl
'HcAibiO ofcucros, c^*^ ^ iwiTfpmda ^Mpoi^.

Hoic. Hymiu in ApoU. 411.
I^ was afterwards, howerer, sacred to Poseidon, who had a famous temple and
asylum there ; reference is made to this in the line : —

*Icpd( r' aBftaawroi Ta^vdpov fUvtt, Atfii^v.— EustP. Cyd. 292.
Near it was a cave, by which Hercules dragged Cerberus fh>m the lower regions,
and which was hence regarded as one of the entrances to Hades : —

wip xMnov
'AtSa arifuiy Ta6wpov «t« tcpdv. PiVD. Pytk, iv. Y7.

Tflenarias etiam fauces, alta ostia Ditis,
Et callgantem nigra formidine lucum

Ingressus, Manesque adiit, rcgcmque tremendum. — Oeorg. ir. 467.
The marble quarries of Tnnarus were much valued : —
Quidve domus prodest PhrygiLs innixa oolomnis,
Tsenare, sive tuis, sive, Caryste, tuis ! — ^Tibvll. iii. 8, 18.
Quod non Tienariis domus est mihi fulta colnranis.
Nee camera auratas inter ebuma trabes. — Pbopert. Hi. 3, 9.

* Malea was regarded with dread by ancient navigators : —

*h\ki iiM KVfiOf p6o9 TV, wtpiyvifJLWToma IfaAccav,
Kol fiofi^ttit dur^wtrt, wap^irkay^rv 6i KvO^v. Od, ix. 80.

Nunc illas promite vires.
Nunc animos ; quibus in Qa>tulis Syrtibus usi,
lonioque mari, Maleeque sequacibus undis. — ^Viko. ASn. v. 191.
Nee timeam vestros, curra Malea, sinus. — Or. Am, ii. 16, 24.
1 The banks of the Eurotas were in some parts overgrown with a proftudon
of reeds: —

"SfltiLfirniv r' Evp««ra 3oMucorp<S^ov ayXahv ofrrv.—Tkeogn. 783.
Its groves were fovourite haunts of the gods : —
Quails in Eorote ripis aut per juga CyntL
Exercet Diana choros. Viao. jEh, L 498.

Omnia que, Phoebo qnandam meditante, beatns
Audiit Eurotas, Jussitque ediscere lauros. — Eel. vi. 83.


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456 LACONIA. Book IV.

receiving as tributaries, the (Enns on its left bank from the borders
of Argolis, and several lesser streams, of which the only ones that
received specific names were the TUsat below Sparta, and the
PhelUas, which flows by Amyclae, The mid-valley of the Eurotas,
below the junction of the QBnus, expands into a considerable plain.
More to the S. the river flows through a narrow gorge formed by
the advancing ranges of Taygetus : thence it emerg«8 into the mari-
time plain of Helos, and flows through marshes and sandbanks into
the sea.

§ 3. Laconia is said to have been originally occupied by Leleges ;
then by Achaeans ; and finally, by a mixed population, consisting
of (i.) the Spartans, or ruling caste of the Dorians ; (ii.) the Perioeci,
" dwellers about the cities,*' who appear to have been- partly Achseans
and partly Dorians of an inferior grade ; and (iii.) the Helots, or
serfs, Achaeans who had been taken captive in war. The number
of the Spartans at the time of the Persian wars was about 8000, and
of the Perioeci probably 16,000 : the number of the Spartans dimi-
nished, and in b.c. 369 did not exceed 2000, and in 244 not more
than 700. The Helots were very numerous : at the battle of
Plataea there were 35,000 present. The towns were numerous, and
were situated partly in the valley of the Eurotas, and still more
numerously on the shores of the Laconian Gulf. In tlie Homeric
age Amyclae was the chief town of the interior, and Helos the chief
maritime town : Phare, Sparta, and Bryseae are also noticed as im-
portant cities of the vale ; Las, (Stylus, Messa, and Augiae, or
iEgiae, of the maritime district. Subsequently to the Dorian con-
quest, Sparta became the capital, with Oythium for its port- town.
With the exception of Sparta, the history of the Laconian towns is
comparatively uninteresting : they took little part in the general
affairs of Greece, and were rarely visited: indeed, without the
valuable woik of Pausanias, we should have been devoid of any
description of them in their original condition.

§ 4. 8parta, or Lacedasmon, stood at the upper end of the mid-
valley of the Eurotas,* on the right bank of the river, and about two
miles E. of the modem Mistra, Like Home, it was built partly on
some low hills, and partly on the adjacent plain. The names and
probable poeititms of the hills were as follows : Jssorium, in the N. ;
Acropolis, more to the S., and divided firom Issorium by a hollow
way communicating with a plain ; Colona, on the E., running

« The position of Sperto presents a striking contrast to that of Athens : the
former heing inland, inacoeseihle by sea and land, remote fhxn any great highway,
and poeseseing in her own territories all the necessaries of life— the latter, mari-
time, accessible, central, and dependent on other countries for her supplies. The
effect of geographical position nuy be traced in the history, policy, and institu-
tions of each.


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Chap. XXIII. SPARTA. 457

parallel to the Eurotas; and another to the S., on which New
Sparta is built. The town was made up of four villages — Pit&ne, in

Sparta and its Environs.

A. Acropolis. i i. Tbwtre. a a a. Grcuit ot Walk.

B. Mount iMorium | s. Agora.

C. Hill Coloua. s. Amphtthflitn; or Odiiun.

D. New Sparta. 4. Bridga acroM the Eurotas.

I 8. Thcrapne.

b b. ranals.

ee. TheTian.

• «. The Hyadnthian Road.

the N., the residence of the wealthy; Lininae, on the low marshy
ground near the Eurotas ; Mesoa, in the S.E. ; and Cynosura, in
the S.W. The town was not enclosed with walls until the Mace-
donian period : not a trace of them now remains. The general
appearance of the streets was poor, the houses being rude and
unadorned : thete were, however, many fine public buildings, which
we shall notice in detail.

On the Acropolis stood the temple of Athena Chalcioecus, t. e. ''of
the brazen house," so named from the bronze plates with which it was
adorned; the temples of Athena Ergane, of the Muses, and of Ares



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458 LACONIA. Book iV.

AreU. Below the acropolis was the Agora, surrounded with colon-
nades, of which the most beautiful was the Persian stoa, so named as
having been built out of the spoils of the Persian War, and repre-
senting the figures of Persians, particularly Mardonius and Artemisia.
The agora contained the senate-house, the temple of Ophthalmitis,
erected by Lycurgus on the spot where one of his eyes was struck out,
and the Chorus, where the Spartan youths danced in honour of Apollo.
W. of the Acropolis was the theatre, the centre being excavated out of
the hill, and the wings being built up with enormous quadrangular
stones, a large number of which still remain. S.E. of the agora was
the Scias, a building used for public assemblies, though the name also

Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 52 of 82)