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PATRAI Achaia, Greece.

The first mythical inhabitants of the area were known to the ancients as “the Autochthonous Ones” or “People on the Shore.” Triptolemos taught the art of cultivation to the Autochthonous king, Eumelos, and because of that the place was called Aroe. Eumelos' son was named Antheias, and a second city was called Antheia after him, while a third city was built between the first two and was called Mesatis.

The first Greeks who came were the Ionians from Attica. Later, the chief of the branch of Achaians from Lakonia who came into the area of Aroe was the Spartiate, Patreus. He brought together the inhabitants of both Antheia and Mesatis into Aroe. The new synoecism was then called Patras, which Strabo says was constituted from a synoecism of seven cities. The Achaians controlled the Ionic institution of the Dodecapolis. The kingship lasted from the Argive Tisamenos to Ogyges, but the latter's children were displeasing to the people, and the kingship ended. The democratic institutions of the Achaians which followed were famous, and served as a model for the Achaian settlements in Magna Graecia.

The Achaians took no part in the Persian Wars. On the other hand, they played an important part in the Peloponnesian Wars, when the strategic value of Patras' harbor was a matter of concern. The Athenians held Naupaktos chiefly as a point d'appui while the Corinthians tried vainly to control the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth by holding Patras. The Athenian fleet under Phormio fought the Corinthians at the entrance to the Gulf of Patras in the summer of A.D. 429. Ten years later Alkibiades persuaded the people of Patras to construct the Long Wall while he himself made plans to fortify Rhion.

In 314 B.C. Patras, which had been held by Alexander the son of Polyperchon, was taken by Aristodemos, the general of Antigonos. Between 307 and 303 B.C. it came into the territory of Demetrios Poliorketes. Patras, Dyme, Triteia, and Pharai were the founders of the second Achaian League. Men of Patras had a large part in the repulse of the Galatians in 279 B.C. Philip V as an ally twice landed at Patras when the Aitolians were ravaging Achaia. Shortly afterwards, in reaction against the Macedonians, the Achaians followed a policy of alliance with Rome. At the end of this period came the fearful destruction of Patras, following the taking of Corinth (146 B.C.). Thereafter it is mentioned only in connection with the careers of the Consul, Quintus Fabius Maximus, of Cicero, and of Cato. Nevertheless, the harbor of Patras was convenient for travel from Rome to Greece and the Near East. Therefore, Augustus, the victor of Actium (31 B.C.) and the founder of Nikopolis, made a synoecism of the Achaians at Patras. The city was declared free (civitas libera) and a colony under the name of Colonia Aroe Augusta Patrensis. After the time of Augustus, Nero, Hadrian, Antoninus, and Diocletian honored the city, where the Greek language and education continued through the Roman period. Plutarch set one of his dialogues in Patras. The “Lucius” or “Ass” is attributed to Lucian, and is for philological reasons supposed to be an epitome of the lost Metamorphoses of Lucius of Patras, who is placed in the 2d c. A.D.

Historical monuments of the city are known to some degree from Mycenaean times. Mycenaean tombs which have been discovered are attributed to Antheia and Mesatis, while the remains of Aroe are supposed to have been destroyed or covered over by the acropolis of Patras. Most of the finds in the region date to the later Mycenaean period. Pausanias (7.18-22) is the chief chronicler of the remains of Classical Patras. Of the buildings, temples, and statues that he mentions very little remains. The acropolis retains no apparent traces of the ancient wall, but there are numerous architectural fragments of ancient buildings as well as statuary built into the mediaeval wall. The line of the Lower City wall can only be guessed at. A certain amount of the odeion is preserved, and in part restored. Between the acropolis and the odeion may be placed, on the basis of Pausanias' description, the agora and the Temple of Zeus (near the Church of the Pantocrator). The seaside temple of Demeter has finally been located, and its oracular spring identified with the sacred spring near the Church of St. Andreas.

In recent years (1966-72) because of the increase in excavations for buildings, roads and squares, numerous parts of the Roman city of Patras have been discovered, the most noteworthy of which are the remains of the Roman roads, remains of buildings, baths, workshops, monumental graves along the ancient road to the NE, and poorer tile graves along the road leading SW out of the city.

Moveable finds are collected in the Museum of Patras. There is a great deal of Roman sculpture, including a copy of the chryselephantine statue of Athena Parthenos by Phidias. Mosaic pavements have been moved to the museum, and there are others in the area around the odeion and in the storehouse.


Παυσανίας, Ἑλλάδος Περιήγησις, Αχαϊκά, ὑπομνήματα: J. G. Fraser (1889) IV σελ. 115 κ..; Hitzig & Blumner (1904) II. 2 677 κ..; Ν. Δ. Παπαχατζῆ (1967) IV 94ffMPI; J. Herbillon, Les Cultes de Patras avec une Prosopographie Patréenne (1929)P; RE X. Patrai: Ernst Meyer, Ἀρχαιολογικά Ἀνάλεκτα ἐξ᾽ Ἀθηνῶν (1971) IV 112ff, 305ffPI; Δομή, Ἔγκυκλοπαίδεια, s.v. Πάτραι (1972)PI.


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