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TANAGRA (Τάναγρα: Eth. Ταναγραῖος: the territory Ταναγραία, Paus. 9.22.1, and Ταναγραϊκή or Ταναγρική, Strab. ix. p.404: Adj. Ταναγρικός: Grimádha or Grimála), a town of Boeotia, situated upon the left bank of the Asopus, in a fertile plain, at the distance of 130 stadia from Oropus and 200 from Plataeae (Dicaearch. Stat. Gr. pp. 12, 14, ed. Hudson). Several ancient writers identified Tanagra with the Homeric Graea (Γραῖα. Hom. Il. 2.498; Lycophr. 644); but others supposed them to be distinct places, and Aristotle regarded Oropus as the ancient Graea. (Steph. B. sub voce Τάναγρα; Strab. ix. p.404; Paus. 9.20.2.) It is possible, as Leake has remarked, that Tanagra, sometimes written Tanagraea, may be connected with the ancient name Graea, Tana, being an Aeolic suffix, and that the modern name Grimádhla or Grimála may retain traces of the Homeric name. Tanagra was also called Poemandria, and its territory Poemandris, from the fertile meadows which surrounded the city. (Steph. B. sub voce Strab. ix. p.404.) The most ancient inhabitants of Tanagra are said to have been the Gephyraei, who came from Phoenicia with Cadmus, and from thence emigrated to Athens. (Hdt. 5.57; Strab. ix. p.404). From its vicinity to Attica the territory of Tanagra was the scene of more than one battle. In B.C. 457 the Lacedaemonians on their return from an expedition to Doris, took up a position at Tanagra, near the borders of Attica, with the view of assisting the oligarchical party at Athens to overthrow the democracy. The Athenians, with a thousand Argeians and some Thessalian horse, crossed Mount Parnes and advanced, against the Lacedaemonians. Both sides fought with great bravery; but the Lacedaemonians gained the victory, chiefly through the treacherous desertion of the Thessalians in the very heat of the engagement. (Thuc. 1.107, 108; Diod. 11.80.) At the begining of the following year (B.C. 456), and only sixty-two days after their defeat at Tanagra, the Athenians under Myronides again invaded Boeotia, and gained at Oenophyta, in the territory of Tanagra, a brilliant and decisive victory over the Boeotians, which made them masters of the whole country. The walls of Tanagra were now razed to the ground. (Thuc. 1.108; Diod. 11.81, 82.) In B.C. 426 the Athenians made an incursion into the territory of Tanagra, and [p. 2.1088]on their return defeated the Tanagraeans and Boeotians. (Tguc. 3.91.) Dicaearchus, who visited Tanagra in the time of Cassander, says that the city stands on a rugged and lofty height, and has a white chalky appearance. The houses are adorned with handsome porticoes and encaustic paintings. The surrounding country does not grow much. corn, but produces the best wine in Boeotia. Dicaearchus adds that the inhabitants are wealthy but frugal, being for the most part landholders, not manufacturers; and he praises them for their justice, good faith, and hospitality. (De Statu Graec. p. 12.) In the time of Augustus, Tanagra and Thespiae were the two most prosperous cities in Boeotia. (Strab. ix. p.403.) Tanagra is called by Pliny (4.7. s. 12) a free state; it is mentioned by Ptolemy (3.15.20); and it continued to flourish in the sixth century. (Hierocl. p. 645.) Its public buildings are described at some length by Pausanias (9.20.3, seq.). The principal temple was that of Dionysus, which contained a celebrated statue of Parian marble, by Calamis, and a remarkable Triton. Near it were temples of Themis, Aphrodite and Apollo, and two of Hermes, in one of which he was worshipped as Criophorus, and in the other as Promachus. Near the latter was the theatre, and probably at no great distance the gymnasium, which contained a picture of Corinna, who was a native of Tanagra. There was also a monument of this poetess in a conspicuous part of the city. Pausanias remarks as a peculiarity in Tanagra, that all their sacred buildings were placed by themselves, apart from the houses of the town (9.22.2.) He likewise notices (9.22.4) that Tanagra was famous for its breed of fighting-cocks, a circumstance which is mentioned by other writers. (Varr. de Re Rust. 3.9.6; Hesych. sub voce Κολοίφρυξ; Suidas, s. v. Ταναγραῖοι ἀλεκτορίσκοι.) Tanagra possessed a considerable territory; and Strabo (ix. p.405) mentions four villages belonging to it, Eleon or Heleon, Harma, Mycalessus, and Pharae. (Pherae, Plin. Nat. 4.7. s. 12).

The ruins of Tanagra are situated at an uninhabited spot, called Grimádha or Grimála, situated 3 miles south of the village of Skimátari. The site is a large bill nearly circular, rising from the north bank of the Asopus. The upper part of the site is rocky and abrupt, looking down upon the town beneath; and it was probably upon this upper height that the sacred edifices stood apart from the other buildings of the town. The walls of the city which embraced a circuit of about two miles, may still be traced, but they are a mere heap of ruins. About 100 yards below the height already described are the remains of the theatre, hollowed out of the slope. On the terrace below the theatre to the NE. are the foundations of a public building, formed of marble of a very dark colour with a green cast. The ground is thickly strewn in every direction with remains of earthenware, betokening the existence of a numerous population in former times. (Leake Northern


Greece, vol. ii. p. 454, seq.; Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, p. 14, seq.; comp. K. O. Müller, Orchomenos, p. 20.)

hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.81
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.82
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.80
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.57
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.20.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.22.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.20.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.108
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.498
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.7
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.107
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