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LAS

LAS (Λάας, Hom.; Λᾶς, Scyl., Paus., Strab.; Λᾶ, Steph. B. sub voce: Eth. Λᾶος), one of the most ancient towns of Laconia, situated upon the western coast of the Laconian gulf. It is the only town on the coast mentioned by Scylax (p. 17) between Taenarus and Gythium. Scylax speaks of its port; but, according to Pausanias, the town itself was distant 10 stadia from the sea, and 40 stadia from Gythium. (Paus. 3.24.6.) In the time of Pausanias the town lay in a hollow between the three mountains, Asia, Ilium, and Cnacadium; but the old town stood on the summit of Mt. Asia. The name of Las signified the rock on which it originally stood. It is mentioned by Homer (Il. ii. [p. 2.130]585), and is said to have been destroyed by the Dioscuri, who hence derived the surname of Lapersae. (Strab. viii. p.364; Steph. B. sub voce Λα.) There was also a mountain in Laconia called Lapersa. (Steph. B. sub voce Λαπερσα.) In the later period it was a place of no importance. Livy speaks of it as “vicus maritimus” (38.30), and Pausanias mentions the ruins of the city on Mt. Asia. Before the walls he saw a statue of Hercules, and a trophy erected over the Macedonians who were a part of Philip's army when he invaded Laconia; and among the ruins he noticed a statue of Athena Asia. The modern town was near a fountain called Galaco (Ταλακώ), from the milky colour of its water, and near it was a gymnasium, in which stood an ancient statue of Hermes. Besides the ruins of the old town on Mt. Asia, there were also buildings on the two other mountains mentioned above: on Mt. Ilium stood a temple of Dionysus, and on the summit a temple of Asclepius; and on Mt. Cnacadium a temple of Apollo Carneius.

Las is spoken of by Polybius (5.19) and Strabo (viii. p.363) under the name of Asine; and hence it has been supposed that some of the fugitives from Asine in Argolis may have settled at Las, and given their name to the town. But, notwithstanding the statement of Polybius, from whom Strabo probably copied, we have given reasons elsewhere for believing that there was no Laconian town called Asine; and that the mistake probably arose from confounding “Asine” with “Asia,” on which Las originally stood. [ASINE No. 3.]

Las stood upon the hill of Passavá, which is now crowned by the ruins of a fortress of the middle ages, among which, however, Leake noticed, at the southern end of the eastern wall, a piece of Hellenic wall, about 50 paces in length, and two-thirds of the height of the modern wall. It is formed of polygonal blocks of stone, some four feet long and three broad. The fountain Galaco is the stream Turkóvrysa, which rises between the hill of Passavá and the village of Kárvela, the latter being one mile and a half west of Passavá. (Leake, Morea, vol. i. p. 254, seq., p. 276, seq.; Peloponnesiaca, p. 150; Boblaye, Réchlerches, &c. p. 87; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii. p. 273, seq.)

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