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GRAE´CIA the name given by the Romans to the country called HELLAS (Ἑλλάς: Eth. Ε῞λλην, pl. Ε῞λληνες; fem. Eth. Ἑλληνίς) by the inhabitants themselves. Adj. Ἑλληνικός. Eth. Graecus, Dim. Eth. Graeculus. It is proposed in the following article to give a brief outline of the physical peculiarities of the country, and to make a few general remarks upon the characteristic features of its geography. The following sketch must be filled up by referring to the names of the political divisions of Greece, under which the reader will find a detailed account of the geography of the country. The general political history of the country, and discussions respecting its early inhabitants, are purposely omitted, as these subjects more properly belong to a history of Greece, and could not be treated here at sufficient length to be of real value to the student.


The word Hellas was used originally to signify a small district of Phthiotis in Thessaly, containing a town of the same name. (Hom. Il. 2.683; Thuc. 1.3; Strab. ix. p.431; Dicaearch. p. 21, ed. Hudson; Steph. B. sub voce Ἑλλάς.) From this district the Hellenes gradually spread over the rest of Greece; but even in the time of Homer their name had not become common to the whole Greek nation. The poet usually calls the Greeks by the names of Danai, Achaei, or Argeii; and the only passage (Il. 2.530) in which the name of Pan-Hellenes occurs was rejected by Aristarchus and other ancient commentators, as spurious. But at the commencement of Grecian history we find all the members of the Hellenic race distinguished by this name, and glorying ill their descent from a common ancestor, Hellen. And not only so, but they gave to every district in which they were settled the name of Hellas, which was thus the land of the Hellenes, and did not indicate any particular country, bounded by certain geographical limits. In this general sense the most distant Hellenic colonies belonged to Hellas; and accordingly we read that the cities of Cyrene in Africa, of Syracuse in Sicily, and of Tarentum in Italy, formed as essential parts of Hellas as the cities of Athens, Sparta, and Corinth. (Comp. Hdt. 2.182, 3.136, 7.157; Thuc. 1.12.)

Besides this extensive use of the word, as the land of the Hellenes, Hellas was also employed in a more restricted sense to signify all the country south of the Ambracian gulf and the mouth of the river Peneius, as far as the isthmus of Corinth. In this signification it is called by Dicaearchus and Scylax Continuous Hellas ( Ἑλλὰς συνεχής), by modern writers Hellas Proper. The two former writers stated that Continuous Hellas commenced with the town and gulf of Ambracia on the Ionian sea, and extended as far as Mount Homole and the mouth of the Peneius, on the opposite side. Ephorus, in like manner, makes Hellas commence at Acarnania. (Scylax, p. 12, ed. Hudson; Dicaearch. 31, p. 3; Ephor. ap. Strab. viii. p.334.) According to these accounts, the northern frontier of Hellas was a line drawn from the Ambracian gulf upwards along Mt. Pindus, and then at right angles to the latter, along the Cambunian mountains, to the mouth of the Peneius. Epeirus consequently formed no part of Hellas; for, though there was a mixture of Hellenic blood among the Epeirot tribes, they differed too widely in their habits and general character from the great body of the Hellenes, to be entitled to a place among the latter. The same remark would apply, with even still greater force, to some of the mountaineers of Aetolia, who are described by Thucydides as eating raw meat and speaking a language which was unintelligible. (Thuc. 3.102.)

There seems to have been some discrepancy respecting the exact boundaries of Hellas Proper. When the Aetolians called upon the last Philip of Macedon to withdraw from Hellas, he retorted by asking them where they would fix its boundaries? and by reminding them that the greater part of their own body were not Hellenes, adding, “The tribes of the Agraeans, of the Apodoti, and of the Amphilochi, are not Hellas.” (Plb. 17.5; quoted by Thirlwall, vol. i. p. 4.)

Herodotus, in opposition to the preceding accounts, appears to have extended the boundaries of Hellas north of the Ambracian gulf, and to have regarded the Thesprotians as Hellenes. (Hdt. 2.56.) On the other hand, some ancient writers would even exclude Thessaly from Hellas, and would make as its northern boundary a line drawn from the Ambracian to the Malic gulf; but Dicaearchus justly argues that the country in which the original Hellas was situated ought surely to be included under this name (p. 21, seq.).

Peloponnesus, or the Island of Pelops, formed no part of Hellas Proper, although it was of course inhabited by Hellenes (Dicaearch. p. 20; Plin. Nat. 4.4. s. 5); but sometimes Peloponnesus and the Greek islands were included under the general name of Hellas, in opposition to the land of the barbarians. (Dem. Phil. iii. p. 118; Diod. 11.39; comp. Strab. viii. p.334.) At a later period, when the Macedonian monarchs had become masters of Hellas, and had extended the Hellenic language and civilisation over a great part of Asia. Macedonia and the southern part of Illyria were included in Hellas. Thus we find that Strabo (vii. p.332) calls Macedonia Hellas; but he immediately adds, νυνὶ μέντοι τῇ φύσει τῶν τόπων ἀκολουθοῦντες καὶ τῷ σχήματι χωρὶς ἔγνωμεν αὐτὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ἄλλης Ἑλλάδος τάξαι, &c. [p. 1.1011]

The reason why the Romans gave to Hellas the name of Graecia, and to the Hellenes the name of Graeci, cannot be ascertained; but it is a well-known fact that a people are frequently called by foreigners by a name different from the one in use among themselves. Thus, the people called Etruscans or Tuscans by the Romans, and Tyrrhenians or Tyrsenians by the Greeks, bore the name of Rasena among themselves; and the different names given to the Germans in their own country and among foreigners supplies a parallel instance in modern times. The word Graeci first occurs in Aristotle, who states that the most ancient Hellas lay about Dodona and the Achelous, and that this district was inhabited by the Selli, and by the people then called Graeci but now Hellenes. (Aristot. Meteor. 1.14.) The Selli are mentioned in the Iliad as the ministers of the Dodonaean Zeus. (Hom. Il. 16.234.) By Pindar they were called Helli; and Hesiod spoke of the country about Dodona under the name of Hellopia. (Strab. vii. p.328.) We do not know what authority Aristotle had for his statement; but it was in opposition to the general opinion of the Greeks, who supposed the original abode of the Achaeans to have been in the Achaean Phthiotis, between Mounts Othrys and Oeta. According to another authority, Graecus was a son of Thessalus. (Steph. B. sub voce Γραικός.) In consequence of the statement of Aristotle it has been inferred that the name of Graeci was at one period widely spread on the western coast, and hence became the one by which the inhabitants were first known to the Italians on the opposite side of the Ionian sea. (Thirlwall, vol. i. p. 82.) After the conquest of Greece by the Romans the country was reduced into the form of a province, under the name of Achaia, and did not bear the name of Graecia in official language. [ACHAIA p. 17.]


Hellas is the southern portion of the most easterly of the three great peninsulas which extend from the south of Europe into the Mediterranean sea. These peninsulas are very different in form. Spain is an irregular quadrangle, possessing very little of the character of a peninsula, except in its northern part, where it is united by an isthmus to the rest of Europe. Italy does not commence with an isthmus, but projects from the continent in the shape of a long tongue of land, down which runs from north to south the back-bone of the Apennines, dividing it into two nearly equal parts. The most easterly of the three peninsulas commences with so large a breadth of country that one is hardly disposed to recognise at first its peninsular shape; but as it proceeds to the south it gradually assumes the form of a triangle. The base extends from the top of the Adriatic to the mouths of the Danube; and the two sides of the triangle are broken into a number of bays and gulfs, which form a series of peninsulas, the last and most perfect being the peninsula of Peloponnesus.

The great peninsula to which Hellas belongs is shut off from the rest of Europe by the lofty range of the Balkan Mountains, known in ancient times by the names of Haemus, Scomius, and the Illyrian Alps, which extend along the base of the triangle from the Euxine to the Adriatic. South of these mountains dwelt the various Thracian, Macedonian, and Illyrian tribes; but these formed no part of Hellas, though many modern geographers have designated their country by the name of Northern Greece, and have given to Hellas Proper the name of Middle or Central Greece. But Hellas Proper begins only at the 40th degree of latitude; and, including Epeirus under this name for the sake of convenience, is separated from Macedonia and Illyria by a well-defined boundary. At the 40th degree of latitude the peninsula is traversed from east to west by a chain of mountains, commencing at the gulf of Therma, in the Aegaean sea, and terminating at the Acroceraunian promontory, on the Adriatic. This chain was known in its eastern half by the names of Olympus and the Cambunian mountains, and in its western by that of Mount Lingon. On every other side Hellas was washed by the sea. At that period in the history of the world when the Mediterranean was the great highway of commerce and civilisation, no position could be more favourable than that of Hellas. It is separated from Asia by a sea, studded with islands within sight of one another, which even in the infancy of navigation seemed to allure the timid mariner from shore to shore, and rendered the intercourse easy between Hellas and the East. Towards the south it faces one of the most fertile portions of Africa; and on the west it is divided from Italy by a narrow channel, which in some parts does not exceed 40 geographical miles in breadth. An account of the seas which wash the Grecian coasts is given under their respective names. It is only necessary to mention here that the sea on the eastern side bore the general name of the Aegean, of which the southern portion was called the Cretan; that the sea at the southern end of the Peloponnesus was called the Libyan; and that the sea on the western side of Greece usually bore the name of the Ionian, of which the northern extremity was called the Adriatic gulf, while its southern end opposite Sicily was frequently named after that island. [AEGAEUM MARE; IONIUM MARE; ADRIATICUM MARE.]

Hellas, which commences at the fortieth degree of latitude, does not extend further than the thirty. sixth. It is well remarked by Thirlwall, that in one respect Greece stands in the same relation to the rest of Europe that Europe does to the other continents,--in the great range of its coast compared with the extent of its surface; so that, while its surface is considerably less than that of Portugal, its coast exceeds that of Spain and Portugal put together. Its greatest length, from Mount Olympus to Cape Taenarus, is not more than 250 English miles; its greatest breadth, from the western coast of Acarnania to Marathon in Attica, is about 180 miles; and the distance eastward from Ambracia across the Pindus to the mouth of the Peneius is about 120 miles. (Grote, vol. ii. p. 302.) Its area, as calculated by Clinton from Arrowsmith's map, exclusive of Epeirus, but including Euboea, is only 21,121 square English miles, of which Thessaly contains 5674 miles, the central provinces 6288 miles, Euboea 1410 miles, and Peloponnesus 7779 miles. (Clinton, F. H. vol. ii. p. 385.) The small extent of the surface of Greece will be more fully realised by recollecting the area of some of the smaller states of modern Europe,--Portugal containing 35,268 square English miles, the kingdom of Naples 31,350, and the kingdom of Sardinia 29,102. When it is further recollected that the small area of Hellas was subdivided among a number of independent states,--Attica, for example, containing only 720 miles,--the contrast is striking between the grandeur of the deeds of the people and the inconsiderable spot of earth on which they were performed. (Comp. A. P, Stanley, in Classical Museum, vol. i. p. 50.) [p. 1.1012]


The chain of Lingon and the Cambunian mountains is intersected at right angles, about midway between the Ionian and Aegaean seas, by the long and lofty range of Pindus, running from north to south, the back-bone of Greece, like the Apennines of the Italian peninsula. Mount Pindus forms the boundary between. Thessaly and Epeirus. At the thirty-ninth degree of latitude, at a point in the range of Pindus called Mount Tymphrestus (now Velukhi), various branches radiate, as from a centre. On the east the two chains of Othrys and Oeta branch off towards the sea, the former running nearly due east, and the latter more towards the south-east. To the west of Tymphrestus there is no chain of mountains extending towards the western sea and corresponding to the gigantic twins of Othrys and Oeta, but only a continuation of the Epeirot mountains running from north to south. Southward of Tymphrestus the chain of Pindus, which here divides into two branches, no longer bears the same name. One strikes south-westward, and passes across Aetolia, under the names of Corax and Taphiassus, to the promontory of Antirrhium at the entrance to the Corinthian gulf, opposite the corresponding promontory of Rhium in Peloponnesus. The other diverges to the south-east, passing through Phocis, Boeotia, and Attica, under the names of Parnassus, Helicon, Cithaeron, and Hymettus, down to Sunium, the southernmost point of Attica; but even here it does not end, for the islands of Ceos, Cythnos, Seriphos and Siphnos may be regarded as a continuance of this chain.

Such is a brief sketch of the general direction of the mountain-ranges of Northern Greece; but it is now necessary to enter a little more into detail, referring the reader for a fuller account to the names of the political divisions of the country. Taking Mount Pindus again as our starting-point, we observe that from it two huge arms branch off towards the eastern sea, enclosing the plain of Thessaly, the richest and largest in all Greece. These two arms, which run parallel to one another at the distance of 60 miles, have been already mentioned under the. names of the Cambunian mountains and Mount Othrys. The Cambunian mountains terminate upon the coast in the lofty summit of Olympus, which is the highest mountain in all Greece, being 9700 feet above the level of the sea, and scarcely ever free from snow. Mount Othrys reaches the sea between the Pagasaean and Malian gulfs. South of Olympus a range of mountains, first called Ossa and afterwards Pelion, stretches along the coast of Thessaly, parallel to Mount Pindus; Ossa is a steep conical peak, rising high into the clouds, and, like Olympus, generally covered with snow, while Pelion exhibits a broad and less abrupt outline. Thus Thessaly is enclosed between four natural ramparts, and is only accessible on the north by the celebrated vale of Tempe, between Mounts Olympus and Ossa, through which the Peneius finds its way to the sea. Towards the south, however, Thessaly was open to the sea, which here forms the extensive gulf of Pagasae, the cradle of Greek navigation, from whose shores the Argo was launched. Epeirus, the country to the west of Pindus, is of an entirely different character from Thessaly. It contains no plain of any extent, but is almost entirely covered with mountains, whose general direction, as already observed, is from north to south.

The mountains of the island of Euboea, which lies opposite to the coasts of Boeotia and Attica, may be regarded as only a continuation of the chain of Ossa and Pelion and of that of Othrys. The mountain-system of Euboea is further prolonged by the islands of Andros, Tenos, Myconos, and Naxos, belonging to the Cyclades.

At the foot of Mt. Lacmon (now Zygo), the point where Mount Pindus bisects the northern barrier of Hellas, four considerable rivers take their rise. Of these rivers two, the Aous and the Haliacmon, do not belong to Hellas; the former flowing through Illyria, and the latter through Macedonia: but the other two, the Peneius and the Achelous, are the most important in Northern Greece. The Peneius flows with a slow and winding course through the plain of Thessaly, and finds its way into the sea through the pass of Tempe, as mentioned above; the Achelous, which is the larger of the two, flows towards the south through the rude and mountainous country of Epeirus, then forms the boundary between Acarnania and Aetolia, and after a course of 130 miles finally falls into the Ionian sea opposite the entrance of the Corinthian gulf.

A little south of Mt. Tymphrestus, at the thirty-ninth degree of latitude, Greece is contracted into a kind of isthmus by two opposite gulfs, the Ambracian on the west and the Malian on the east. This isthmus separates the peninsula of Middle Greece from the Thessalian and Epeirot mainland.

The peninsula of Middle Greece may again be divided into two unequal halves. The western half, which bears the names of Aetolia and Acarnania, is of the same character as Epeirus, with which it is connected by the Achelous. The branch of Mount Pindus which extends from Mount Tymphrestus in a south-westerly direction, here unites with the continuation of the Epeirot mountains, and forms rugged and inaccessible highlands, which have been at all times the haunt of robber tribes. There are, however, a few broad and fertile plains, through which the Achelous flows.

The eastern half of the peninsula of midland Greece is traversed by the branch of Mount Pindus which extends from Mount Tymphrestus in a south-easterly direction. It is shut in on the north by the rugged pile of Oeta, extending from Tymphrestus to the sea at Thermopylae, and forming the barrier of this portion of the midland peninsula. The only pass through it is the celebrated one of Thermopylae, between the mountain and a morass upon the coast, which in one part is so narrow as to leave room for only a single carriage.

North of Oeta, and between this mountain and the nearly parallel range of Othrys, is a fertile valley about 60 miles in length, stretching eastward to the Malic gulf, and drained by the Spercheius, which rises at the foot of Mount Tymphrestus at the head of the valley and falls into the Malic gulf. Although this valley is usually considered a part of Thessaly, it is entirely separated from the great Thessalian plain by the range of Othrys.

It has been already remarked that the south-easterly continuation of Mount Pindus passes through Phocis, Boeotia, and Attica, under the names of Parnassus, Helicon, Cithaeron, and Hymettus, till it reaches the sea at Sunium. There is, however, another range, which takes its departure from the easterly extremity of Oeta, and extends along the coast of the Euboean sea, through the Locrian tribes and Boeotia, under the various names [p. 1.1013]of Cnemis, Ptoon, and Teumessus, till it joins Parnes, which is a lateral branch of Cithaeron extending from west to east. By means of Pentelicus, with its celebrated marble quarries to the south of Parnes, the range is further connected with the chain running from Cithaeron to Sunium.

Between Parnassus and Oeta is a narrow plain called Doris, from which the Dorians are said to have descended to the conquest of Peloponnesus. Here rises the Cephissus, which flows through the plain of Phocis and Boeotia, and falls into the lake Copais. Phocis possesses some fertile plains on the Cephissus, lying between Parnassus and the Locrian mountains. Boeotia is a large hollow basin shut in on every side by mountains, and containing a considerable quantity of very fertile land. Attica is another peninsula, resembling in shape the great peninsula to which Greece itself belongs. It is in the form of a triangle, having two of its sides washed by the sea, and its base united to the land. As the Cambunian range forms the outer, and Mount Oeta the inner barrier of Greece, so the chain of Cithaeron and Parnes, extending along the base of Attica, is a natural rampart protecting this country.

It has been already seen that the range of Cithaeron is continued towards the east under the name of Parnes. In like manner it is prolonged towards the south-west, skirting the shores of the Corinthian gulf and forming the mountainous country of Megaris. Here it rises into a new chain, between four and five thousand feet in height, under the name of the Geraneian mountains, which stretch across Megaris from west to east parallel to Cithaeron. It is highest on the western side, and gradually sinks down towards the Saronic gulf. The island of Salamis and its surrounding rocks are only a continuation of this chain. Southwards the Geraneian mountains sink down still more towards the isthmus which separates Hellas Proper from Peloponnesus. Here the Corinthian gulf on the west and the Saronic gulf on the east penetrate so far inland as to leave but a narrow neck of land between them, only four miles across at its narrowest part. The isthmus is comparatively level, being in its highest point not more than 246 feet above the level of the sea, but immediately to the south rise the lofty range of the Oneian hills, parallel to the Geraneian, with which they have often been confounded. Here stood the city of Corinth, with its impregnable fortress the Acrocorinthus, and here the isthmus opened out into the Peloponnesus.

Before proceeding to the description of Peloponnesus, it deserves remark that Strabo divides Greece into five peninsulas. The first is the Peloponnesus, separated by an isthmus of 40 stadia. The second is the one of which the isthmus extends from the Megarian Pagae to Nisaea, the harbour of Megara, being 120 stadia from sea to sea. The third is the one of which the isthmus extends from the recess of the Crissaean gulf to Thermopylae, an imaginary straight line, 508 stadia in length, being drawn, which includes within it the whole of Boeotia, and cuts across Phocis and the Locri Epienemidii. The fourth has an isthmus of about 800 stadia, extending from the Ambracian gulf to the Malian gulf. The fifth isthmus is more than 1000 stadia, extending from the same Ambracian gulf through Thessaly and Macedonia to the Thermaic gulf. (Strab. viii. p.334.)

The mountain-system of Peloponnesus has no connection with the rest of Greece. The mountains in Hellas Proper form an uninterrupted series of chains, running out from the mountains in the countries to the north of Greece. The mountains of Peloponnesus on the contrary, have their roots in Arcadia, the central district of the country, where they rise to a great height. Hence Arcadia has been aptly called the Switzerland of Peloponnesus, to which it stands in the same relation as Switzerland does to the rest of Europe. Upon closer inspection it will be seen that this Alpine district is encircled by an irregular ring of mountains, forming a kind of natural wall, from which lateral branches extend in all directions towards the sea.

The mountains forming the northern boundary of Arcadia are the loftiest and most massive. They extend from west to east, terminating in the magnificent height of Mount Cyllene (Zýria), 7788 feet above the level of the sea, the first of the Peloponnesian mountains seen by a person coming over the isthmus from Northern Greece. The most westerly point of this northern barrier is Erymanthus (O´lonos), 7297 feet high; and between it and Cyllene are the Aroanian mountains (Khelmós), 7726 feet in height; The eastern boundary is also formed by a continuous series of mountains, stretching from Mount Cyllene towards the south. Those bearing a special name in this range are Artemisium (Turníki), 5814 feet in height; and Parthenium (Róino),3993 feet in height, south of the former. The range terminates in Parnon. On the southern frontier of Arcadia there is no clearly defined chain of mountains,but only a series of heights forming the water-shed between the tributaries of the Alpheius and those of the Eurotas. It is not till reaching the south-west frontier that the highlands again rise into a lofty and continuous chain, under the name of Lycaeus (Dhiofórti), 4659 feet high. From Lycaeus a range of mountains, running south till it joins Erymanthus, constitutes the western boundary of Arcadia; but it bears no special name, except in its northern half, where it is called Pholoë. The northern, eastern, and southern barriers of Arcadia are unbroken; but the western wall is divided by the Alpheius, which finds its way through an opening on this side, and thence descends to the western sea.

The other chief divisions of Peloponnesus are Laconia and Messenia, on the south Argolis, on the east; Elis, on the west; and Achaia, on the north. From the southern frontier of Arcadia a lofty chain of mountains, under the name of Taygetus, runs from north to south, forming the boundary between Messenia and Laconia, and terminating in the promontory of Taenarum, the southernmost point of Greece and Europe. The chain of Taygetus is the longest and highest in all Peloponnesus, being in one part 7902 feet above the level of the sea, or more than 100 feet above Cyllene. From Mount Parnon, at the south-eastern corner of Arcadia, another range of mountains extends from north to south along the coast, parallel to the range of Taenarus, and terminating in the promontory of Malea. Between this range, which may be called by the general name of Parnon, and that of Taygetus, was the valley of the Eurotas, in which Sparta lay, and which to the south of Sparta opened out into a plain of considerable extent. Messenia, in like manner, was drained by the Pamisus, whose plain was still more extensive than that of the Eurotas; for Messenia contained no continuous chain of mountains to the west of the Pamisus, answering to the range of Parnon in Laconia. Both the Pamisus and the Eurotas flow into gulfs [p. 1.1014]running a considerable distance into the land, and separated from one another by the range of Taygetus.

The river Neda separated Messenia from Elis. This country is covered, to a greater or a less extent, with the offshoots of the Arcadian mountains; but contains many plains of considerable size and fertility. Of these the two most important are the one in the centre of the country drained by the Alpheius, in which Pisa stood, and the one in the north through which the Peneius flows.

Achaia was the name of the narrow slip of country between the great northern barrier of Arcadia and the Corinthian gulf. From the Arcadian mountains there project several spurs, either running out into the sea in the form of bold promontories, or separated from it by narrow levels. The plains on the coast at the foot of these mountains, and the valleys between them, are for the most part very fertile.

Argolis, taking the name in its most extended sense, was used to signify the whole peninsula between the Saronic and Argolic gulfs; but during the times of Grecian independence it contained several independent states. The Argolic peninsula was united to the mainland by a broad base, at one extremity of which stood the cities of Corinth and Sicyon, and at the other the city of Argos. Corinth and Sicyon possessed a level track of country along the coast, and Argos was situated in a plain, 10 or 12 miles in length and from 4 to 5 in breadth; but the peninsula itself was nearly covered with a lofty range of hills.

The shape of Peloponnesus was compared by the ancients to the leaf of the plane tree or the vine. (Strab. viii. p.335; Dionys. Per. 403; Agathem. i. p. 15; Plin. Nat. 4.4. s. 5.) This isthmus is so small in comparison with the outspread form of the peninsula, that it was regarded by the ancients as an island, and was accordingly called the island of Pelops, from the mythical hero of this name. It has all the advantages of an insular situation without its disadvantages. It was sufficiently protected by the mountains at the foot of the isthmus to secure the inhabitants from all attacks from the mainland, and to allow them to develop their own character and institutions without any disturbing influences from without. At the same time, it was so closely connected with the mainland by the isthmus as to possess at all times an uninterrupted communication with the rest of Greece. From its position, approachable only by a narrow access easily guarded, the Peloponnesus was called by the ancients the acropolis of Greece. (Eustath. ad Dionys. Per. 403.)


Most of the Grecian rivers are entirely dependent upon the atmosphere for their supply of water. During five months of the year, in the autumn and winter, rain falls in large quantities, which fills the crevices in the limestone of the hills, and is carried off by torrents. In summer hardly any rain falls; and these torrents, so full of water in the winter, are then perfectly dry. Even many of the rivers, which are partly supplied by springs, dwindle in the summer into very insignificant streams. Most of the Grecian rivers, which give to the country upon the map the appearance of a well-watered district, are nothing but winter torrents, to which the Greeks gave the expressive name of χειμαρροῦς. None of the rivers of Greece are navigable. The most considerable in Northern Greece are the Peneius and the Achelous, already spoken of. To these may be added the Evenus, which flows through Aetolia, parallel to the Achelous; the Spercheius, which drains the valley between Oeta and Othrys; the Cephisus and Asopus in Boeotia; and the Cephisus and Ilissus in Attica, the last of which is dry in summer, and only deserves mention on account of its poetical celebrity. The chief river of Peloponnesus, is the Alpheius in Arcadia and Elis; next come the Eurotas in Laconia, the Pamisus in Messenia, and the Peneius in Northern Elis.

Though there are few perennial rivers in Greece, the nature of the country is favourable to the formation of marshes and lakes. Many of the plains and valleys are so entirely encircled by mountains that the heavy rains which descend in the autumnal and winter months find no outlet, and remain as lakes in the winter and as marshes in the summer. In Thessaly are the lakes Nessonis and Boebeis; in Aetolia, Trichonis; in Boeotia, Copais; and in Arcadia, Stymphalis and others. The waters of some of these lakes find their way through natural cavities in the limestone mountains, called katavóthra by the modern Greeks, and after flowing under ground rise again after a greater or less interval. This is the case with the waters of the Copais [BOEOTIA], and of several of the lakes of Arcadia, in which country this phaenomenon is very frequent [ARCADIA].


The two most striking features in Grecian topography are the mountainous character of the country and the great extent of its sea-coast. Next to Switzerland, Greece is the most mountainous country of Europe; but this general description conveys no correct idea of its peculiar nature. In the preceding account we have attempted to give a sketch of the direction of the mountain-ranges or chains, but from these project in all directions innumerable branches, having very few valleys or plains of any extent. These plains, whether large or small, are for the most part either entirely surrounded by mountains or open on one side to the sea. At all times mountains have proved the greatest barriers to intercourse between neighbouring tribes. Each of the Grecian cities, situated in a plain, and separated from its neighhours by lofty mountains, always difficult, and often impossible to surmount, grew up in perfect isolation. They had the less temptation to try to scale the lofty barriers which surrounded them, since the sea afforded them an easy communication with the rest of the world. Almost all the Grecian states had ready and easy access to the sea; and Arcadia was the only political division which did not possess some territory on the coast.

The mountainous nature of the country exercised an important influence upon the political destinies of the people. The chain of Lingon and the Cambunian mountains defended hellas from foreign invasion; and the mountains in the country itself rendered it difficult for one section of the race to attack another. The pass of Thermopylae, the passes over Cithaeron, and those over the Geraneian and Oneian mountains at the isthmus, could easily be defended by a handful of resolute men against vastly superior numbers. The same causes produced a large number of independent states, politically distinct from each other, and always disinclined to form any kind of federal union even for the purpose of resisting foreign invasion. This political separation led to disputes and hostilities; and their [p. 1.1015]intestine wars eventually proved their ruin by opening their country to Philip of Macedonia. (Comp. Grote, History of Greece, vol. ii. p. 300, seq.)


The most fertile districts in Greece, according to Thucydides (1.2), were Thessaly, Boeotia, and a great part of Peloponnesus: the least fertile were Arcadia and Attica., Wheat, barley, flax, wine, and oil, were the chief productions; but more careful attention seems to have been bestowed upon the culture of the vine and of the olive than upon the cereal crops. Bread seems to have been more generally made of barley than of wheat. We are told that by one of Solon's laws barley-cakes were provided on ordinary days, and wheaten loaves on festivals, for those who dined in the Prytaneium. (Ath. 4.137.) The hills afforded excellent pasture for cattle, and in antiquity supplied plenty of timber, though they are at present nearly destitute of woods. The disappearance of these forests has been one of the causes of the diminished fertility of Greece as compared with ancient times. By losing the shade which they afforded, the springs have been burnt up; and, in consequence of less moisture, vegetation has become poorer.

Among the domestic animals we find horses, asses, mules, oxen, swine, sheep, goats, and dogs. Horses were not numerous in Greece, since the country is too mountainous to rear any number. Hence the Greek cavalry was always insignificant. Mules were extensively used in Peloponnesus, where they were found more useful than horses in traversing the mountains. Swine were very numerous, and pork was a favourite article of food, especially among the Arcadians. The milk of sheep and goats was preferred to that of cows. (Aristot. Hist. An. 3.15.5, seq.)

Among the wild animals we find mention of bears, wolves, and boars. Bears seem to have been common in the forests of the Arcadian mountains. Herodotus relates that lions were found between the Nestus in Thrace and the Achelous in Aetolia (Hdt. 7.126); and the existence of lions in Greece, at least at an early period, is rendered probable by the legend of the Nemean lion.

The mountains of Greece consist for the most part of hard limestone, of which were built those massive Cyclopian walls and fortifications the remains of which still exist upon the summits of the hills. In almost every part of Greece there were rich and varied veins of marble, affording abundant and beautiful materials to the architect and the sculptor. The best marble-quarries were at Carystus in Euboea, at Pentelicus and Hymettus in Attica, and in the island of Paros.

In the precious metals Greece was poor. Gold and silver were found in the island of Siphnos; but the most productive silver-mines were at Laurium, in the south of Attica. Both copper and iron were found near Chalcis in Euboea; and there were also iron-mines in the mountains of Taygetus in Laconia.


The climate of Greece was probably more healthy in ancient than in modern times. The malaria, which now poisons the atmosphere during the summer months, probably did not exist to the same extent when the land was more thickly populated and better cultivated. Herodotus remarks that of all countries in the world Greece possessed the most happily tempered seasons (Hdt. 3.106); and Hippocrates and Aristotle considered the climate as highly favourable to the intellectual energy of the inhabitants, since it was equally removed from the extremities of heat and cold. (Hippocrat. de Aëre, 12, 13; Aristot. Pol. 7.6.1.) But owing to the inequalities of its surface, to its lofty mountains and depressed valleys, the climate varies greatly in different districts. In the highlands in the interior the winter is often long and rigorous, the snow lying upon the ground till late in the spring; while il the lowlands open to the sea there is hardly ever any severe weather, and snow is almost entirely unknown. Modern travellers who have suffered from excessive cold and snow-storms passing through Boeotia in the middle of February, have found upon arriving in Attica warm and genial weather. In like manner, in the month of March, travellers find midwinter on the highlands of Mantineia and Tegea in Arcadia. spring in Argos and Laconia, and almost the heat of summer in the plain of Kalamáta, at the head of the Messenian gulf. To a native of the northern latitudes of Europe one of the most striking phaenomena of the Grecian climate is the transparent purity of the atmosphere and the brilliant colouring of the sky: though even in this point there was a great difference between the various parts of Greece; and the Athenian writers frequently contrast the thick and damp air of Boeotia with the light and dry atmosphere of Athens.


Traces of volcanic agency are visible in many parts of Greece, although no volcanoes, either in activity or extinct, are found in the country. There were hot-springs at Thermopylae, Aedepsus in Euboea, and other places; but the peninsula of Methana in the Peloponnesus, opposite Aegina, and the island of Thera in the Aegaean are the two spots which exhibit the clearest traces of volcanic agency. The greater part of Methana consists of trachyte; and here in historical times a volcanic eruption took place, of which the particulars are recorded both by Strabo and Ovid. (Strab. i. p.59; Ov. Met. 15.296, seq.) In this peninsula there are still two hot sulphureous springs, near one of which exist vestiges of volcanic eruption. The island of Thera is covered with pumice-stone; and it is related by Strabo (l.c.) that on one occasion flames burst out from the sea between Thera and the neighbouring island of Therasia, and that an island was thrown up four stadia in circumference. In modern times there have been eruptions of the same kind at Thera and its neighbourhood: of one of the most terrible, which occurred in 1650, we possess a circumstantial account by an eye-witness. (Ross, Reisen auf den Griech. Inseln, vol. i. p. 194.)

Earthquakes have in all ages been of frequent occurrence in Greece, especially in Peloponnesus. Laconia was called a land “easily shaken” (εὔσειστος Λακωνική, Strab. viii. p.367); and in the terrible earthquake which happened in B.C. 464, not more than five houses are said to have been left standing at Sparta; more than 20,000 persons were believed to have perished, and huge masses of rock were rolled down from the highest peaks of Taygetus. (Thuc. 3.89; Diod. 11.63; Plut. Cim. 16.) On the Peloponnesian shores of the Corinthian gulf the earth-quakes have been still more destructive. In consequence of the waves having no outlet into a widespread and open sea, they have in these convulsions [p. 1.1016]rushed upon the land and swallowed up whole cities. This was the fate of Helice and Bura, which in one day (B.C. 373) disappeared from Achaia. [HELICE] Similar disasters have occurred in the same neighbourhood in subsequent times. In the reign of Tiberius the inhabitants were relieved from taxation in consequence of their suffering from an earthquake (Tac. Ann. 4.13); and in 1817 the town of Vostitza (the ancient Aegium) narrowly escaped the fate of Helice and Bura, since the sea rushed inland with great force and inundated all the level immediately below the town (Leake, Morea, vol. iii. p. 402).


Greece was, down to the middle of the 16th century, almost an unknown country to the western nations of Europe. In 1573, soon after Greek had begun to be studied in Germany, Martin Kraus, or CRUSIUS, professor at Tübingen, contrived to open a correspondence with some learned Greeks in Constantinople; and, in one of his letters addressed to Theodore Zygomalas, he states that it was the general opinion in Germany that Athens was totally destroyed, and wishes to know from his correspondent whether this is the truth. Zygomalas answers that he had frequently visited Athens; but in his attempt to describe the antiquities of Athens he commits many blunders, among other things, calling the Pantheon the Parthenon. The information, thus obtained, Crusius published in his Turco-Graecia, of which the first book contained the political history, the second the ecclesiastical, and the remaining six his correspondence with the learned Greeks. DESHAYES, who was French ambassador to the Porte in 1621, visited Athens in 1621, and wrote some Observations, which, though of little value, are interesting as the first account of any part of Greece from the personal observation of a native of Western Europe. Deshayes supposed the Parthenon to be the Church of the Unknown God. Some years afterwards, PALMERIUS (Paulmier de Grentemesnil), a French nobleman of Normandy and a scholar, who died at Caen in 1670, undertook a voyage into Greece for the purpose of illus rating its ancient geography. His work, entitled Graeciae Descriptio, of which a second edition was published in 1678, Lugd. Batav., was the first of any value upon Grecian geography, but it gave an account of only Illyricum, Macedonia, Epirus, and Acarnania. In 1674, NOINTEL, who was sent as French ambassador to the Porte, carried with him a young artist, named CARREY, who for about five weeks was employed in making drawings, which are now in the National Library of Paris, and are of great interest, as among them are the architectural decorations of the Parthenon, which was then almost entire.

A new era in the knowledge of Grecian geography commenced with SPON, a French physician at Lyons, and Sir George WHELER, an Englishman, who travelled together through Attica, Boeotia, Phocis, and Locris, in 1675 and 1676. Spon published his account of their travels under the title of Voyage d'Italie, de Delmatie, de Grèce, et du Lévant, fait en 1676 par Jacob Spon, D. M., et George Wheler, Gentilhomme Anglois, Lyon, 1678. Wheler, who was a more careful observer than Spon, gave his account of their travels four years later, under the title of Journey into Greece in company of Doctor Spon, London, 1682. The learned Greek, MELETIOS, wrote at Naupactus, in 1682, a work upon general geography, in which he gives some valuable information upon many places in Greece, which he had visited in person, and in which he has also preserved many inscriptions that have been subsequently lost. This work was first published at Venice, in 1728, under the title of Γεωγραφία παλαιὰ καὶ νέα συλλεχθεῖσα ἐκ διαφόρων Συγγραφέων παλαιῶν τε καὶ νέων, and of which a second edition appeared at the same place in 1807. The next work of importance was by the French botanist, TOURNEFORNT, who travelled through the islands of the Levant, and other countries on the coasts of the Levant, in 1700--1703. Though his journey was undertaken chiefly with a scientific object, he gives us an interesting account of the antiquities of the countries which he visited. His work was published after his death, in 1717, 2 vols. 4to., under the title of Relation d'un Voyage du Lévant fait par ordre du Roi: it was translated into English, and published in London, 1718, 2 vols. 4to. FOURMONT, who travelled in Greece in 1729, by order of Louis XV., copied a large number of inscriptions, which he deposited in the Royal Library of Paris. He boasted of having defaced the inscriptions which he copied, and also of having destroyed the remains of several Grecian cities; but he greatly exaggerated his barbarous proceedings, and his chief object in making the boast was that he might palm upon the world a number of forged inscriptions: for, though Raoul-Rochette defended the genuineness of these inscriptions (Lettre sur l'Authenticité des Inscriptions de Fourmont, Paris, 1819), it is now admitted that many of them are forgeries.

In 1751 STUART. an English artist at Rome, accompanied by REVETT, another artist, travelled to Greece, and spent the greater part of three years at Athens. The result of their labours was the celebrated Antiquities of Athens, of which the first volume appeared in London in 1762. The second volume was published after Stuart's death, edited by Newton, in 1790; the third, by Reveley, in 1794; and the fourth, by Woods, in 1816. Revett had no connection with this work after the publication of the first volume; and in the same year in which it appeared the Society of Dilettanti engaged him, together with Mr. Pars and Dr. Chandler, to undertake an antiquarian journey to Greece. CHANDLER published the results of their researches in Greece and Asia Minor, of which the volume relating to Greece appeared at Oxford in 1776. Chandler was a man of learning, and did much to illustrate the geography of Greece; but he has been justly censured by Leake for having omitted to cite the ancient authorities when he had recourse to them. in consequence of which it is often difficult to test the accuracy of his conclusions. CHOISEUL-GOUFFIER published, in 1782, his Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, vol. i. fol., which is a handsome book, but of no critical value. In 1784 he was sent, as French ambassador, to Constantinople; and in 1809 he published the first part of the second volume of his Voyage pittoresque, which is much more carefully executed than the first volume. The second part of the second volume appeared in 1820, after the author's death.

SIBTHORP and HAWKINS visited Greece together in 1786; and Sibthorp undertook another journey to the country in 1794. His object was to form a complete Flora of Greece; and on his death, in 1796, he bequeathed, by his will, to the University of Oxford, an estate of 200l. a-year for the purpose of publishing [p. 1.1017]a Flora Graeca in 10 folio volumes, with 100 plates in each, and a Prodromus of, the work, without plates. These works afterwards appeared; and extracts from the Journal of his Travels were given by Walpole in Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey, Lond. 1817, 4to., and in Travels to various Countries of the East, Lond. 1820, 4to. In both of these works there are also some valuable papers by Hawkins.

Of the numerous books of travels in Greece which have appeared in the present century, the following require mention:--POUQUEVILLE, Voyage en Morée à Constantinople, en Albanie, et dans plusieurs autres Parties de l'Empire Othoman, pendant les années 1798 et 1801: but this well-known work is full of great inaccuracies; and the author, probably, did not visit many of the places which he describes. In 1805 he was appointed French consul at Janina, where he resided several years, and from whence he visited the adjoining countries, Thessaly, Epirus, &c. The results of these travels appeared in a new work--Voyage dans la Grèce, Paris, 1820--1821, 5 vols. 8vo. This work is of more value than the former one, but still must be used with caution. HOBHOUSE, Journey through Albania, and other Provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia, to Constantinople, during the years 1809 and 1810, London, 1813. H. HOLLAND, Travels in the Ionian Islands, Albania, Thessaly, Macedonia, &c., during the years 1812 and 1813, London, 1815; and, 2nd ed., 2 vols. 8vo. 1819. DODWELL, A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece, during the years 1801, 1805, & 1806, London, 1819,2 vols. 4to.,--the most valuable work on Grecian geography that had hitherto appeared, and one which may still be consulted with advantage. SIR W. GELL travelled in Greece at the same time as Dodwell, and partly in company with him; and his works are of still more value than the Travels of the latter. They are:--1. Itinerary of the Morea, Lond. 1817; 2nd ed. 1827: 2. Itinerary of Greece, with a Commentary of Pausanias and Strabo, Lond. 1818 (containing only Argolis): 3. Itinerary of Greece, Lond. 1819: 4. Narrative of a Journey in the Morea, Lond. 1823. But it is to COLONEL LEAKE that we are indebted for the most valuable information which we yet possess respecting many parts of Greece. A first-rate, observer, a good scholar, and a main of sound judgment and great sagacity, he combined qualities rarely found in the same individual, and may safely be pronounced the first geographer of the age. He travelled in Greece for several years at the commencement of the present century; but it was long before he published detailed accounts of these travels. His works are:--The Topography of Athens, with some Remarks on its Antiquities, Lond. 1821, 8vo.; of this work, a second edition appeared in 1841, accompanied by a second volume; on The Demi of Attica, which had originally appeared in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature: Travels in the More, with a Map and Plans, Lond. 1830,3 vols. 8vo.: Travels in Northern Greece, Lond. 1835, 4 vols. 8vo.: Peloponnesiaca; a Supplement to Travels in the Morea, Lond. 1846, 8vo. This last work was written in consequence of the researches of the French Commission in the Morea, spoken of below, and is accompanied by a large map of the Peloponnesus, reduced from the French map, on a scale of something more than a third, but not without some variations. We may close our notice of the works of English travellers in Greece with COLONEL MURE´S valuable, though unpretending, volumes, entitled, Journal of a Tour in Greece and the Ionian Islands, Edinburgh, 1842, 2 vols., whch we have frequently consulted, in the course of this work, with great advantage.

Of the modern French and German works, we must mention first the publications of the FRENCH COMMISSION of Geography, Natural History, and Archaeology, which was sent to the Peloponnesus in 1829, and remained there two years. These publications are:--Expédition Scientifique de Morée, ordonnée par le Gouvernement Français, par Abel Blouet, Amable Ravoisié, Achille Poirot, Félix Trézel, et Fréd. de Gournay, Paris, 1831--1838, 3 vols. fo.: Travaux de la Section des Sciences Physiques, sous la direction de M. Bory de St. Vincent, Paris, 1831, fo. Recherches Géographiques sur les Ruines de la Morée, par M. E. Pouillon Boblaye, Paris, 1836, 4to.: also, Bory de St. Vincent, Relation du Voyage de la Commission Scientifique de Morée, Paris et Strassb., 1837, 2 vols. 8vo. This Commission also constructed a map of the Peloponnesus, on a scale of the two hundred-thousandth part of a degree of latitude, or twenty-one English inches and three-fifths.

Ross, who resided several years at Athens, where he held the post of professor in the university, and who travelled through various parts of Greece, has published several valuable works:--Reisen und Reiserouten durch Griechenland, Berlin, 1841; vol. i., containing travels in Peloponnesus, is all that has appeared of this work: Reisen auf den Griechischen Inseln des Aegäischen Meeres, Stuttgart & Tübingen, 1840, 2 vols. 8vo.; the third volume appeared in 1845, and the fourth at. Halle in 1852: Wanderungen in Griechenland, Halle, 2 vols. 8vo. 1851. One of the most important of all the modern German works is by CURTIUS, Peloponnesos, eine historisch-geographische Beschreibung der Halbinsel, Goth. 2 vols. 8vo. 1851--1852. Besides these, the following works all deserve mention, of which the two first are particularly valuable. FORCHHAMMER, Hellenika Griechenland im Neuen das Alte, Berlin, 1837. ULRICHS, Reisen Und Forschungen in Griechenland. Erster Theil, Reise über Delphi durch Phocis und Boeotien bis Theben, Biemen, 1840. BUCHON, La Gréce continentale et la Morée; Voyage, Séjour, et Etudes Historiques en 1840--41, Paris, 1843. FIEDLER, Reise durch alle Theile des Königreiches Griechenland, Leipzig, 2 vols. 8vo. 1840--41. ALDENHOVEN, Itinéraire descriptif de l'Attique et du Péloponnese, avec cartes et plans topographiques, Athens, 1841, taken almost entirely from the publications of the French Commission. BRANDIS, Mittheilungen über Griechenland, 3 vols. 1842. STEPHANI, Reise durch einige Gegenden des nördlichen Griechenlandes, Leipz. 1843.

The following are the chief systematic works on the geography of Greece:--MANNERT, Geographie, of which the volume containing Thessaly and Epirus appeared in 1812, and the one containing Northern Greece, Peloponnesus, and the islands of the Archipelago in 1822; but neither is of much value. KRUSE, Hellas, oder geographisch-antiquarische Darstellung des alten Griechenlandes, Leipz. 3 vols. 8vo. 1825--1827, which, besides the general introduction, contains only an account of Attica, Megaris, Boeotia, Phocis, Doris, Locris, Aetolia, and Acarnania. CRAMER, A Geographical and Historical Description of Ancient Greece, with a Map and a Plan of Athens, 3 vols. 8vo. Oxf. 1828. HOFFMANN, Griechenland und die Griechen im Alterthum, Leipzig, [p. 1.1018]1841, 2 vols. 8vo.; FORBIGER, Handbuch der alten Geographie, 3 vols. 8vo. Leip. 1842--48: but the part relating to Greece contains little more than mere references to ancient authors and modern works. The numerous monographs on separate countries and islands are given under their respective names. A good general account is given by K. O. MÜLLER, in his work on the Dorians; by THIRLWALL and GROTE, in their Histories of Greece; and by WORDSWORTH. in his Greece, Pictorial, Descriptive, and Historical. The best collection of Maps of Greece is by KIEPERT, Topographisch-Historischer Atlas von Hellas und den Hellenischen Colonien in 24 Blättern, Berlin, 1846.

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