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
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.
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.ἑ.
& Blumner (1904) II. 2 677 κ.ἑ.
; Ν. Δ. Παπαχατζῆ
(1967) IV 94ffMPI
; J. Herbillon, Les Cultes de Patras
avec une Prosopographie Patréenne
X. Patrai: Ernst Meyer, Ἀρχαιολογικά Ἀνάλεκτα ἐξ᾽ Ἀθηνῶν
(1971) IV 112ff, 305ffPI
; Δομή, Ἔγκυκλοπαίδεια