or Gythion, Lakonia, Greece.
Town and port at the back of the Gulf of Lakonia. It is
to the W of the mouth of the Eurotas and some 45 km
from Sparta (Strab. 8.5.2
; Paus. 3.21.6
). Legend says it
was founded jointly by Herakles and Apollo, reconciled
after their quarrel over the Delphic tripod. It is on the
small island of Kranai, ca. 100 m from the shore and
to the S of the ancient city, that Paris is supposed to
have first united with Helen (Il
. 3.445). And in fact, it
is there that the most ancient archaeological remains
have been found (Mycenaean sherds, obsidian laminae).
Nothing is known of the town in the archaic period.
Protogeometric vases, doubtless from a necropolis, have
been found on the Mavrovouni mound 3 km to the SW.
A text of a religious prohibition was cut into the rock
in the 6th c. (IG
v.1, 1155). Gythion must have been
used by Sparta from a rather early time as both a port
and arsenal. It is mentioned as such in all the conflicts
in which Sparta was involved. It was ravaged in 456-455
by the Athenian admiral Tolmides (Thuc. 1108.5
; Paus. 1.27.5
), closely watched by Alkibiades in
408 (Xen. Hell. 1.4.11
), and having been taken in 369
by the Thebans of Epaminondas (ibid. 6.5.32) after a
three day siege, it was recaptured by the Spartans shortly
before 362 (Polyaen. 2.9). In 218, Philip V of Macedon
devastated the surrounding countryside but did not attack the city itself (Polyb. 5.19.6). In 195, Nabis concentrated his fleet there and made the town a point of
strategic support. But attacked by Flamininus, the garrison surrendered in exchange for permission to withdraw to Sparta (Livy 34.29
). In the treaty concluded
shortly afterwards the city was given autonomy, and the
title of “savior” was consequently conferred on Flamininus (IG
v.1, 1165), Nabis attacked the city again
in 193, and took it in 192. After his death it appears to
have been under Achaian control until 146 B.C. Then
it was a member of the Eleutheriolakonian League. In
72-71 M. Antonius Creticus taxed it heavily for his campaign against the pirates (IG
v.1, 1146). Under the
Empire it instituted a festival in which divine honors
were rendered to Augustus, Livia, Flamininus, and Tiberius, despite the fact that the latter at first refused
them. Gytheion struck bronze coinage under Septimius
Severus, Caracalla, and Geta, and appears to have been
prosperous up to the 4th c. A.D.
The only excavations—and these have been only very
summarily published—have been of the theater and its
surroundings, where a Kaisareion must have been located. The tiers of the theater are well preserved. The
modern town has covered the ancient one, and certain
monuments visible in the 19th c. are no longer so today,
as, for example, the great niche cut into the rock and
bearing an inscription mentioning Zeus Terastios (IG
1154). A few remains of Roman buildings are to be
seen on the hill to the N of the theater. Walls can be
made out under the sea at the point where the shore
turns to the NE. A small museum has been installed in
the local college, but several important pieces disappeared shortly before 1939, and others have been taken
to the museum at Sparta.
Reports of Travelers: Cyriacus of Ancona (ed. Sabbadini), Fontes Ambrosiani
) II 29-30; Voyage de Dimo et Nico
Stéphanopoli en Grèce
(1800) 225-46; J. Morritt (ed.
R. Walpole), Memoirs relating to Turkey
Bory de Saint-Vincent, Expedition de Morée: Relation
(1829) 440-46; W. M. Leake, Morea
(1830) I 234-48;
E. Puillon-Boblaye, Recherches
. . . (1835) 86-90; A.
Blouet, Expéd. Morée: Architecture
(1838) III 50-53;
Ph. Le Bas, Voyage archéologique
. . . (1847-68) pl.
; J. Frazer, Paus. Des. Gr
. (1897) III 376-80; E. S.
10 (1906-7) 218-37.
Studies and Excavations: G. Weber, De Gytheo
Heidelberg 1833); A. Skias, Praktika
(1891) 27-34; id.,
(1891) 113; id., ArchEph
(1892) 60-64, 185-204PI
; I. Patsourakos, Pragmateia peri tou archaiou
(1902); F. Versakis, ArchEph
; W. Kolbe, IG
v.1 (1913), no. 1143-1213; J. J.
24 (1921-22) 141-43; S. B. Kougeas,
1 (1928) 7-42, 152-57; H. Waterhouse & R.
Hope Simpson, BSA
56 (1961) 114-18; P. Giannacopoulos, To Gytheion
C. LE ROY