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AKTION later AKARNANIAN (Akri) Greece.

A peninsula of Akarnania, which with the Epirote peninsula of Preveza, forms the mouth of the Ambrakian gulf. Aktion was under the control of Anaktorion (Thuc. 1.29.3), 40 stades away from the temple (Strab. 10.2.7), a Corinthian colony perhaps of the time of Kypselos. It was famous for the Temple of Apollo and the games (Aktia) celebrated there biennially. During the Peloponnesian War, Aktion became Akarnanian, after the latter's sack of Anaktorion (Thuc. 4.49). According to an inscription of ca. 200 B.C., found at Olympia, the Anaktorians were unable to finance the games after the Social War, and so the temple became a federal shrine of the Akarnanians.

After the battle of Aktion, the games were moved to Augustus' new city of Nikopolis, musical and naval contests were added to the original gymnastic and cavalry games, the contests became quadrennial, and the Spartans were placed in charge (Strab. 7.7.6; Dio Cass. 51.1.1-3). Augustus also enlarged the Aktion sanctuary and one of his great victory votives, a dedication of ten ships, was near the temple. Strabo says, however, that by his time the dedication and the docks were burned (7.7.6).

Strabo's description of the site as on a hill with a grove down below is difficult to reconcile with the present flat, sandy appearance of the peninsula. But the sanctuary must be near the mouth of the Ambrakian gulf (Thuc. 1.29.3; Polyb. 4.63.4; Dio Cass. 50.12.7). The earliest probable evidence for a sanctuary are the two fragmentary kouroi now in the Louvre, found in 1867. Leake saw Roman ruins, possibly from Augustan rebuilding (opus reticulatum), Hammond noted blocks under water, suggesting a rise in sea level, and there is Byzantine and especially Turkish building on the peninsula. But no full-scale excavation has as yet been undertaken to determine the exact location of the sanctuary. See also Nikopolis.


W. M. Leake, Nor. Gr. (1835; repr. 1967) I, ch. 4 & IV, ch. 34; M. Collignon, “Torsoes Archaïques en Marbre Provenant d'Actium,” Gazette Archéologique (1886) 235-43; E. Oberhummer, Akarnanien (1887); Hirschfeld, RE i (1894) 1214-15; J. Gagé, “Actiaca,” Mélanges d'Archéologie 53 (1936) 37-100; C. Habicht, “Eine Urkunde des Akarnanischen Bundes,” Hermes 85 (1957) 86-122; A. Philippson & E. Kirsten, Die Griechischen Landschaften II.2 (1958) 380-81; N. Hammond, Epirus (1967) 62-63; C. Edmonson, “Augustus, Actium and Nikopolis,” AJA 73 (1969) 235. For the battle see W. Tarn, “Actium,” JRS 28 (1938) 165-68 with previous bibliography.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Strabo, Geography, 10.2.7
    • Strabo, Geography, 7.7.6
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.29.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.49
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