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DEME´TRIAS (Δημητριάς: Eth. Δημητριεύς), a city of Magnesia in Thessaly, situated at the head of the Pagasaean gulf, was founded about. B.C. 290 by Demetrius Poliorcetes, who removed thither the inhabitants of Nelia, Pagasae, Ormenium, Rhizus, Sepias, Olizon, Boebe and lolcos, all of which were afterwards included in the territory of Demetrias. (Strab. ix. p.436.) It soon became an important place, and the favourite residence of the Macedonian kings. It was favourably situated for commanding the interior of Thessaly, as well as the neighbouring seas; and such was the importance of its position that it was called by the last Philip of Macedon one of the three fetters of Greece, the other two being Chalcis and Corinth. (Pol. 17.11; Liv. 32.37.) Leake remarks that it may have been recommended to the kings of Macedonia as a residence “not more for its convenience as a military and naval station in the centre of Greece, than for many natural advantages, in some of which it seems to have been very preferable to Pella. The surrounding seas and fertile districts of Thessaly supplied an abundance of the necessaries and luxuries of life: in summer the position is cool and salubrious, in winter mild, even when the interior of Thessaly is involved in snow or fog. The cape on which the town stood commands a beautiful view of the gulf, which appears like an extensive lake surrounded by rich and varied scenery; the neighbouring woods supply an abundance of delightful retreats, embellished by prospects of the Aegaean sea and its islands, while Mount Pelion might at once have afforded a park, an icehouse, and a preserve of game for the chase.”

After the battle of Cynoscephalae, B.C. 196, Demetrias was taken away from Philip, and garrisoned by the Romans. (Pol. 18.28; Liv. 33.31.) In B.C. 192, it was surprised by the Aetolians; and the news of its defection from the Romans determined Antiochus to defer no longer his departure to Greece. (Liv. 35.34, 43.) After the return of Antiochus to Asia in B.C. 191, Demetrias surrendered to Philip, who was allowed by the Romans to retain possession of the place. (Liv. 36.33.) It continued in the hands of Philip and his successor till the over-throw of the Macedonian monarchy at the battle of Pydna, B.C. 169. (Liv. 44.13.) Demetrias is mentioned by Hierocles in the sixth century (p. 642, ed. Wesseling).

The ancient town is described by Leake as occupying “the southern or maritime face of a height, now called Gorítza, which projects from the coast of Magnesia, between 2 and 3 miles to the southward of the middle of Volo. Though little more than foundations remains, the inclosure of the city, which was less than 2 miles in circumference, is traceable in almost every part. On three sides the walls followed the crest of a declivity which falls steeply to the east and west, as well as towards the sea. To the north the summit of the hill, together with an oblong space below it, formed a small citadel, of which the foundations still subsist. A level space in the middle elevation of the height was conveniently placed for the central part of the city. The acropolis contained a large cistern cut in the rock, which is now partly filled with earth . . . . Many of the ancient streets of the town are traceable in the level which lies midway to the sea, and even the foundations of private houses: the space between one street and the next parallel to it, is little more than 15 feet. About the centre of the town is a hollow, now called the lagúmi or mine, where a long rectangular excavation in the rock, 2 feet wide, 7 deep, and covered with flat stones, shows by marks of the action of water in the interior of the channel that it was part of an aqueduct, probably for the purpose of conducting some source in the height upon which stood the citadel, into the middle of the city.” (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 375, seq.)


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