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LEROS (Λέρος: Eth. Λέριος: Leros), a small island of the Aegean, and belonging to the scattered islands called Sporades. It is situated opposite the Sinus Iassius, on the north of Calymna, and on the south of Lepsia, at a distance of 320 stadia from Cos and 350 from Myndus. (Stadiasm. Mar. Magni, § § 246, 250, 252.) According to a statement of Anaximenes of Lampsacus, Leros was,like Icaros, colonised by Milesians. (Strab. xiv. p.635.) This was probably done in consequence of a suggestion of Hecataeus; for on the breaking out of the revolt of the Ionians against Persia, he advised his countrymen to erect a fortress in the island, and make it the centre of their operations, if they should be driven from Miletus. (Hdt. 5.125; comp. Thuc. 8.27.) Before its occupation by the Milesians, it was probably inhabited by Dorians. The inhabitants of Leros were notorious in antiquity for their ill nature, whence Phocylides sang of them:-- “Λέριοι κακοί, οὐχ μὲν, ὓς δ᾽οὔ,
Πάντες, πλὴν Προκλέους: καὶ Προκλέης Λέριος.

Strab. x. p.487, &c.) The town of Leros was situated on the west of the modern town, on the south side of the bay, and on the slope of a hill; in this locality, at least, distinct traces of a town have been discovered by Ross. (Reisen auf d. Griech. Inseln, ii. p. 119.) The plan of Hecataeus to fortify Leros does not seem to have been carried into effect. Leros never was an independent community, but was governed by Miletus, as we must infer from inscriptions, which also show that Milesians continued to inhabit the island as late as the time of the Romans. Leros contained a sanctuary of Artemis Parthenos, in which, according to mythology, the sisters of Meleager were transformed into guinea fowls (μελεαγρίδες; Ant. Lib. 2; comp. Ov. Met. 8.533, &c.), whence these birds were always kept in the sanctuary of the goddess. (Athen. 14.655.) In a valley, about ten minutes' walk from the sea, a small convent still bears the name of Partheni, and at a little distance from it there are the ruins of an ancient Christian church, evidently built upon some ancient foundation, which seems to have been that of the temple of Artemis Parthenos. “This small island,” says Ross, “though envied on account of its fertility, its smiling valleys, and its excellent harbours, is nevertheless scorned by its neighbours, who charge its inhabitants with niggardliness” (l.c. p. 122; comp. Böckh, Corp. Inscript. n. 2263; Ross, Inscript. ined. ii 188.)


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