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An ancient city in Aitolia near the N coast of the gulf of Patras, at the entrance to the gulf of Corinth, on the S ridges of Mt. Arakynthos. It is mentioned in the Iliad where it is the scene of the struggle between Herakles and the river god Acheloos, and of the hunt for the Kalydonian boar.

The city lay on a hill with two summits and in the valley below. There are a few remains of the circuit walls dating from the beginning of the 3d c. B.C.; the perimeter was ca. 4 km and there were occasional towers. The acropolis, to the NW, was well fortified and had a double gate flanked by two towers; inside this was a large inner courtyard. The road to Stratos, the ancient capital of Akarnania, left the city through that gate. The W gate was also handsome and well fortified; it was on the axis of the Via Sacra, 400 m long, which led to Laphrion, the sacred precinct situated on a narrow plateau and probably dedicated in the 8th c. B.C. to the worship of Artemis and Apollo.

Various periods of construction in Laphrion are distinguishable. Two Doric temples in antis date from the end of the 7th c. B.C.; Temple A was dedicated to Apollo (or Dionysos?) and Temple B to Artemis. Remains of Temple B include terracotta decorations (sima, antefixes, akroteria, and metopes). Between the first decade and the second half of the 6th c. these two temples were refaced. To that period belongs a series of terracotta metopes from Temple A, painted with mythological figures whose Corinthian origin is confirmed by letters in the Corinthian alphabet incised before the metopes were fired. From Temple B in the same period come antefixes with anthemia, an akroteria with sphinxes, and metopes that depict the Labors of Herakles. About 500 B.C. Temple B was enclosed by a portico. Two other small buildings belong to the 6th c.; one of them, an apsidal structure, yielded numerous votive offerings to Artemis and Dionysos.

At the beginning of the 4th c. B.C. the entire zone was remodeled and buttressed by massive ramparts. A portico was built to the SE, with six columns along the front, and ca. 360 a peripteral Doric temple in poros, with 6 by 13 columns, arose on the site of the Temple of Artemis. It had a marble roof, gutters with spouts representing dogs' heads, and sculptured metopes (only a single undecipherable one remains). In the cella, which probably had 20 channeled Ionic columns, stood the chryselephantine statue of Artemis, the work of Menaechmos and Soidas of Naupaktos (460 B.C.) mentioned by Pausanias (7.18.10). This statue is believed to be represented on some coins of Patras. An altar, an exedra, and an entrance propylon are of the same date as the temple. In the Hellenistic period, N of the sacred precinct, a large square was built; it had a long stoa with two aisles, probably further divided into different lanes and decorated at the ends by two large semicircular niches (3d-2d c. B.C.). To the W of the square stairs led to the valley of the Kallirhoe river.

In the remaining area, limited to the N by the city gate and to the S by a slope, the remains of a series of small archaic thesauroi have yielded abundant terracotta objects and some Hellenistic tombs. The most important of these, in a valley to the SE, is the heroon, also called the Leonteion after its owner, Leon of Kalydon. It is a rectangular building (37.5 x 34.4 m) dating from ca. 100 B.C., with rooms on three sides, and promenades, around a square peristyle (16.78 m on a side). The largest room, to the N, has at least 11 large medallions on the walls, on which are carved the gods and heroes of the legendary history of Kalydon. An arch on the N side of the room leads to a small chamber below which is the hypogeum, with a barrel vault and marble sarcophagi in the form of beds. A second heroon has been discovered in the valley of the Kallirhoe.

The decline of Kalydon began in the Roman era during the struggle between Caesar and Pompey, when the city was occupied by Pompey's followers. In 30 B.C. the inhabitants of Kalydon were transferred to Nikopolis. The major terracotta finds, marvelous documents of archaic Corinthian painting, are in the National Museum at Athens. The stone gate of the crypt of the heroon is also there.


Geisau, RE X (1919) 1763-66; W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece III (1835) 534ff; W. I. Woodhouse, Aetolia (1897) 91ff; K. Rhomaios, “Die Ausgrabungen in Thermos und Kalydon,” Bericht über die Hundertjahrfeier (1930) 254-58; id., Οἱ κεραμοι τῆς Καλυδῶνος (1951); H. Payne, Necrocorinthia (1931); E. Dyggve et al., Das Heroon von Kalydon (1934)PI; id., Das Laphrion, der Tempelbezirk von Kalydon (1948)PI; id., “A Second Heroon at Calydon,” Studies in Honor of David M. Robinson (1951) 360-64.


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    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.18.10
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