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NAU´PLIA

NAU´PLIA ( Ναυπλία: Eth. Ναυπλιεύς), the port of Argos, was situated upon a rocky peninsula, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus. It was a very ancient place, and is said to have derived its name from Nauplius, the son of Poseidon and Amymone, and the father of Palamedes, though it more probably owed its name, as Strabo has observed, to its harbour (ἀπὸ τοῦ ταῖς ναυσὶ προσπλεῖσθαι, Strab. viii. p.368; Paus. 2.38.2.) Pausanias tells us that the Nauplians were Egyptians belonging to the colony which Danaus brought to Argos (4.35.2); and from the position of their city upon a promontory running out into the sea, which is quite different from the site of the earlier Grecian cities, it is not improbable that it was originally a settlement made by strangers from the East. Nauplia was at first independent of Argos, and a member of the maritime confederacy which held its meetings in the island of Calaureia. (Strab. viii. p.374.) About the time of the Second Messenian War, it was conquered by the Argives; and the Lacedaemonians gave to its expelled citizens the town of Methone in Messenia, where they continued to reside even after the restoration of the Messenian state by Epaminondas. (Paus. 4.24.4, 4.27.8, 4.35.2.) Argos now took the place of Nauplia in the Calaureian confederacy; and from this time Nauplia appears in history only as the seaport of Argos ( Ναύπλιος λίμην, Eur. Orest. 767; λιμένες Ναύπλιοι, Electr. 451). As such it is mentioned by Strabo (l.c.), but in the time of Pausanias the place was deserted. Pausanias noticed the ruins of the walls of a temple of Poseidon, certain forts, and a fountain named Canathus, by washing in which Hera was said to have renewed her virginity every year. (Paus. 2.38.2.)

In the middle ages Nauplia was called τὸ Ναύπλιον, τὸ Ἀνάπλιον, or τὰ Ἀνάπλια, but has now resumed its ancient name. It became a place of considerable importance in the middle ages, and has continued so down to the present day. In the time of the Crusades it first emerges from obscurity. In 1205 it was taken by the Franks, and became the capital of a small duchy, which commanded the plain of Argos. Towards the end of the 14th century it came into the hands of the Venetians, who regarded it as one of their most important places in the Levant, and who successfully defended it both against Mahomet II. and Soliman. They ceded it to the Turks in 1540, but wrested it from them again in 1686, when they constructed the strong fortifications on Mt. Palamídhi. This fortress, although reckoned impregnable, was stormed by the Turks in 1715, in whose hands it remained till the outbreak of the war of Grecian independence. It then became the seat of the Greek government, and continued such, till the king of Greece removed his residence to Athens in 1834.

The modern town is described by a recent observer as having more the air of a real town than any place now existing in Greece under that title; having continuous lines of houses and streets, and offering, upon the whole, much the appearance of a second-rate Italian seaport. It is built on the peninsula; and some remains of the Hellenic fortifications may be seen in the site of the walls of Fort Itslalé, which is the lower citadel of the town, and occupies the site of the ancient Acropolis. The upper citadel, called Palamídhi (Ραλαμήδιον), is situated upon a steep and lofty mountain, and is one of the strongest fortresses in Europe. Although its name is not mentioned by any ancient writer, there can be little doubt, from the connection of Palamedes with the ancient town, that this was the appellation of the hill in ancient times. (Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 356, Peloponnesiaca, p. 252; Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. ii. p. 187 ; Boblaye, Récherches, &c. p. 50; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii, p. 389.)

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