An ancient city in Aitolia
near the N coast of the gulf of Patras, at the entrance
to the gulf of Corinth, on the S ridges of Mt. Arakynthos.
It is mentioned in the Iliad
where it is the scene of the
struggle between Herakles and the river god Acheloos,
and of the hunt for the Kalydonian boar.
The city lay on a hill with two summits and in the
valley below. There are a few remains of the circuit
walls dating from the beginning of the 3d c. B.C.; the
perimeter was ca. 4 km and there were occasional towers.
The acropolis, to the NW, was well fortified and had a
double gate flanked by two towers; inside this was a
large inner courtyard. The road to Stratos, the ancient
capital of Akarnania, left the city through that gate.
The W gate was also handsome and well fortified; it was
on the axis of the Via Sacra, 400 m long, which led to
Laphrion, the sacred precinct situated on a narrow
plateau and probably dedicated in the 8th c. B.C. to the
worship of Artemis and Apollo.
Various periods of construction in Laphrion are distinguishable. Two Doric temples in antis date from the
end of the 7th c. B.C.; Temple A was dedicated to Apollo
(or Dionysos?) and Temple B to Artemis. Remains of
Temple B include terracotta decorations (sima, antefixes, akroteria, and metopes). Between the first decade
and the second half of the 6th c. these two temples were
refaced. To that period belongs a series of terracotta
metopes from Temple A, painted with mythological figures whose Corinthian origin is confirmed by letters in
the Corinthian alphabet incised before the metopes were
fired. From Temple B in the same period come antefixes
with anthemia, an akroteria with sphinxes, and metopes
that depict the Labors of Herakles. About 500 B.C.
Temple B was enclosed by a portico. Two other small
buildings belong to the 6th c.; one of them, an apsidal
structure, yielded numerous votive offerings to Artemis
At the beginning of the 4th c. B.C. the entire zone was
remodeled and buttressed by massive ramparts. A portico
was built to the SE, with six columns along the front,
and ca. 360 a peripteral Doric temple in poros, with
6 by 13 columns, arose on the site of the Temple of
Artemis. It had a marble roof, gutters with spouts representing dogs' heads, and sculptured metopes (only a
single undecipherable one remains). In the cella, which
probably had 20 channeled Ionic columns, stood the
chryselephantine statue of Artemis, the work of Menaechmos and Soidas of Naupaktos (460 B.C.) mentioned by
). This statue is believed to be represented on some coins of Patras. An altar, an exedra,
and an entrance propylon are of the same date as the
temple. In the Hellenistic period, N of the sacred precinct, a large square was built; it had a long stoa with
two aisles, probably further divided into different lanes
and decorated at the ends by two large semicircular
niches (3d-2d c. B.C.). To the W of the square stairs
led to the valley of the Kallirhoe river.
In the remaining area, limited to the N by the city
gate and to the S by a slope, the remains of a series
of small archaic thesauroi have yielded abundant terracotta objects and some Hellenistic tombs. The most important of these, in a valley to the SE, is the heroon, also
called the Leonteion after its owner, Leon of Kalydon.
It is a rectangular building (37.5 x 34.4 m) dating from
ca. 100 B.C., with rooms on three sides, and promenades,
around a square peristyle (16.78 m on a side). The
largest room, to the N, has at least 11 large medallions
on the walls, on which are carved the gods and heroes
of the legendary history of Kalydon. An arch on the N
side of the room leads to a small chamber below which
is the hypogeum, with a barrel vault and marble sarcophagi in the form of beds. A second heroon has been
discovered in the valley of the Kallirhoe.
The decline of Kalydon began in the Roman era during
the struggle between Caesar and Pompey, when the city
was occupied by Pompey's followers. In 30 B.C. the inhabitants of Kalydon were transferred to Nikopolis. The
major terracotta finds, marvelous documents of archaic
Corinthian painting, are in the National Museum at
Athens. The stone gate of the crypt of the heroon is
X (1919) 1763-66; W. M.
Leake, Travels in Northern Greece
III (1835) 534ff;
W. I. Woodhouse, Aetolia
(1897) 91ff; K. Rhomaios,
“Die Ausgrabungen in Thermos und Kalydon,” Bericht
über die Hundertjahrfeier
(1930) 254-58; id., Οἱ κεραμοι τῆς Καλυδῶνος
(1951); H. Payne, Necrocorinthia
E. Dyggve et al., Das Heroon von Kalydon
Das Laphrion, der Tempelbezirk von Kalydon
id., “A Second Heroon at Calydon,” Studies in Honor
of David M. Robinson
L. VLAD BORRELLI