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SCYROS

SCYROS or SCYRUS (Σκῦρος: Eth. Σκύριος: Skyro), an island in the Aegaean sea, and one of the northern Sporades, was so called from its ruggedness. It lay east of Euboea, and contained a town of the same name (Strab. ix. p.436; Scylax, p. 23; Ptol. 3.13.47), and a river called Cephissus. (Strab. ix. p.424.) Scyros is frequently mentioned in the stories of the mythical period. Here Thetis concealed her son Achilles in woman's attire among the daughters of Lycomedes, in order to save him from the fate which awaited him under the walls of Troy. (Apollod. 3.13.8; Paus. 1.22.6; Strab. ix. p.436.) It was here also that Pyrrhus, the son of Deidamia by Achilles, was brought up, and was fetched from thence by Ulysses to the Trojan War. (Hom. Il. 19.326, Od. 11.507; Soph. Phil. 239, seq.) According to another tradition [p. 2.936]Scyros was conquered by Achilles (Hom. Il. 1.668; Paus. 1.22.6); and this conquest was connected in the Attic legends with the death of Theseus. After Theseus had been driven out of Athens he retired to Scyros, where he was first hospitably received by Lycomedes, but was afterwards treacherously hurled into the sea from one of the rocks in the island. It was to revenge his death that Peleus sent Achilles to conquer the island. (Plut. Thes. 35; Paus. 1.22.6; Philostr. Heroic. 19.) Scyros is said to have been originally inhabited by Pelasgians, Carians, and Dolopians; and we know from Thucydides that the island was still inhabited by Dolopians, when it was conquered by Cimon after the Persian wars. (Nicolaus Damasc. ap. Steph. B. sub voce Scymn. Ch. 580, seq.; Thuc. 1.98; Diod. 11.60.) In B.C. 476 an oracle had directed the Athenians to bring home the bones of Theseus; but it was not till B.C. 469 that the island was conquered, and the bones conveyed to Athens, where they were preserved in the Theseium. Cimon expelled the Dolopians from the island, and peopled it with Athenian settlers. (Thuc. Diod. ll. cc.; Plut. Thes. 36, Cim. 8; on the date of the conquest of Scyros, which Clinton erroneously places in B.C. 476, see Grote, History of Greece, vol. v. p. 409.) From this time Scyros was subject to Athens, and was regarded even at a later period, along with Lemnos and Imbros, as a possession to which the Athenians had special claims. Thus the peace of Antalcidas, which declared the independence of all the Grecian states, nevertheless allowed the Athenians to retain possession of Scyros, Lemnos, and Imbros (Xen. Hell. 4.8. 15, 5.1.31); and though the Macedonians subsequently obtained possession of these islands, the Romans compelled Philip, in the peace concluded in B.C. 196, to restore them to the Athenians. (Liv. 33.30.) The soil of Scyros was unproductive (Dem. c. Callip. p. 1238; Eustath. ad Hom. Il. ii. p. 782; Suidas, s. v. ἀρχὴ Σκυρία); but it was celebrated for its breed of goats, and for its quarries of variegated marble. (Strab. ix. p.437; Athen. 1.28, xii. p. 540; Zenob. 2.18; Plin. Nat. 36.16. s. 26.)

Scyros is divided into two parts by a narrow isthmus, of which the southern half consists of high rugged mountains. The northern half is not so mountainous. The modern town of St. George, on the eastern side of the island, stands upon the site of the ancient town. It covers the northern and western sides of a high rocky peak, which to the eastward falls steeply to the sea; and hence Homer correctly describes the ancient city as the lofty Scyros (Σκῦρον αἰπεῖαν, Il. 1.664). The Hellenic walls are still traceable in many parts. The city was barely 2 miles in circumference. On the isthmus south of Scyros a deep bay still retains the name of Achílli (Ἀχίλλι), which is doubtless the site of the Achilleion, or sanctuary of Achilles, mentioned by Eustathius (ad Il. 9.662). Athena was the divinity chiefly worshipped at Scyros. Her temple stood upon the shore close to the town. (Stat. Achill. 1.285, 2.21.) Tournefort says that he saw some remains of columns and cornices of white marble, close by a forsaken chapel, on the left hand going into the fort of St. George; these are probably remains of the temple of Athena. (Tournefort, Voyage, vol. i. p. 334, trans.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iii. p. 106, seq.; Fiedler, Reise, vol. ii. p. 66; Ross, Wanderungen in Griechenland, vol. ii. p. 32, seq.)

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