previous next

SA´MICUM

SA´MICUM (Σαμικόν: Eth. Σαμικεύς), a town of Triphylia in Elis, situated near the coast about half-way between the mouths of the Alpheius and the Neda, and a little north of the Anigrus. It stood upon a projecting spur of a lofty mountain, which here approaches so near the coast as to leave only a narrow pass. From its situation commanding this pass, it is probable that a city existed here from the earliest times; and it was therefore identified with the Arene of Homer (Hom. Il. 2.591, 11.723), which the poet places near the mouth of the Minyeius, a river supposed to be the same as the Anigrus [ARENE.] According to Strabo the city was originally called SAMOS (Σάμος), from its being situated upon a hill, because this word formerly signified “heights,” Samicum was at first the name of the fortress, and the same name was also given to the surrounding plain. (Strab. viii. pp. 346, 347; Paus. 5.5.3.) Pausanias speaks (5.6.1) of a city SAMIA (Σαμία), which he apparently distinguishes from Samicum; but Samicum is the only place mentioned in history. [See some remarks under MACISTUS] Samicum was occupied by the Aetolian Polysperchon against the Arcadians, and was taken by Philip, B.C. 219. (Paus. 5.6.1; Plb. 4.77, 80.) The ruins of Samicurn are found at Khaiáffa (written Χαϊάππα), which is only the name of the guarded pass. The ruined walls are 6 feet thick, and about 1 1/2 mile in circumference. They are of the second order of Hellenic masonry, and are evidently of great antiquity. The towers towards the sea belong to a later age.

Near Samicumn upon the coast was a celebrated temple of the Samian Poseidon, surrounded by a grove of wild olives. It was the centre of the religious worship of the six Triphylian cities, all of whom contributed to its support. It was under the superintendence of Macistus, the most powerful of the Triphylian cities. (Strab. viii. pp. 344, 346, 347.) In a corrupt passage of Strabo (p. 344) this temple is said to be 100 stadia equidistant from Lepreum and the Annius (τοῦ Ἀννίου); for the latter name we ought to read Alpheius and not Anigrus, as some editors have done.

In the neighbourhood of Samicum there were celebrated medicinal springs, which were said to cure cutaneous diseases. Of the two lagoons which now stretch along the coast, the larger, which extends as far as the mouth of the Alpheius, begins at the northern foot of the hill upon which Samicum stands; the southern extends along the precipitous sides of the hill, which were called in antiquity the Achaean rocks. (Strab viii. p. 347.) The river Anigrus flows into the latter of these lagoons, and from thence flows out into the sea. The lagoon is deep, being fed with subterraneous sources; in summer it is said to be very fetid, and the air extremely unwholesome. Strabo relates that the waters of the lake were fetid, and its fish not eatable, which he attributes to the Centaurs washing their wounds in the Anigrus. Pausanias mentions the same circumstances; and both writers describe the efficacy of the water in curing cutaneous diseases. There were two caves, one sacred to the Nymphs Anigrides (Ἀνιγρίδες, Paus.; Ἀνιγριάδες, Strab.), and the other to the Atlantides; the former was the more important, and is alone mentioned by Pausanias. It was in the cave of the Anigrides that the persons who were going to use the waters first offered up their prayers to the Nymphs. (Strab. viii. p.346, seq.; Paus. 5.5. § § 7--11.) These two caves are still visible in the rocks; but they are now accessible only by a boat, as they are immediately above the surface of the lake. General Gordon, who visited these caverns in 1835, found in one of them water distilling from the rock, and bringing with it a pure yellow sulphur. (Leake, Morea, vol. i. p. 54, seq., Peloponnesiaca, p. 108; Boblaye, Recherches, &c., p. 133, seq.; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii. p. 78, seq,)

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: