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EUBOEA (Εὔβοια: Eth.Εὐβοιεύς, Eth. Εὐβοεύς, fem. Εὐβοΐς: Adj. Εὐβοϊκός, Euboicus, Euboeus: Egripo or Negropont), the largest island in the Aegaean sea, lying along the coasts of Attica, Boeotia, Locris, and the southern part of Thessaly, from which countries it is separated by the Euboean sea, called the Euripus in its narrowest part. It is a long and narrow island. According to Strabo, its length from N. to S., from the promontory Cenaeum to the promontory Geraestus, is about 1200 stadia, and its greatest breadth 150 stadia. (Strab. x. p.444.) Pliny describes it as 150 miles in length, and 365 miles in circuit; as in one place more than 40 miles in breadth, and nowhere less than two. (Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 21.) But these measurements are far from accurate. The real length of the island from N. to S. is about 90 miles; its extreme breadth is 30 miles, but in one part it is not more than 4 miles across.

Throughout the whole length of Euboea there runs a range of mountains, forming as it were the back-bone of the island, which may be regarded as a continuance of the range of Ossa and Pelion, and of that of Othrys. In several parts of the island these mountains rise to a great height. Mt. Delphi, on the eastern coast, is 7266 feet above the sea. These mountains consist of grey limestone, with a considerable quantity of clay-slate.

The interior of Euboea has never been thoroughly explored by any modern traveller; and the best description of its physical features is given in the “Penny Cyclopaedia” by a writer well acquainted with the island, to whose account we are chiefly indebted for the following remarks. The northern end of the island, facing the coast of Thessaly and the Pagasaean gulf, is of considerable width. Its north-western extremity is a small peninsula, terminating in the promontory CENAEUM (Κήναιον: Lithádha), and containing a mountain called Lithádha, which rises to the height of 2837 feet above the sea. Immediately south of the isthmus, which connects this peninsula with the mass of the island, is Mount TELETHRIUS (Τελέθριος, Strab. x. p.445), 3100 feet high, on the west coast opposite Locris: at the foot of this mountain upon the coast are some warm springs, called Thermá, which were celebrated in antiquity. [AEDEPSUS] From Telethrius the mountains spread out across the island to the eastern coast, and contain several elevations above 2000 feet in height. Along the foot of these mountains, opposite Thessaly, is the fertile plain of Histiaea. Upon this northern coast was the promontory Artemisium, off which the Greeks gained their celebrated naval victory over the Persians, B.C. 480. [ARTEMISIUM] South of Telethrius there is high land along the western coast as far as C. Politiká; and one of the mountains between these limits, called Kandíli, is 4200 feet high. South of C. Politiká, and extending south of Chalcis, is a fertile and extensive plain, bounded on the north and north-east by the high mountains which extend to the eastern coast; this plain, which is the largest in the island, was called LELANTUM in antiquity, and was divided between the rival cities of Chalcis and Eretria. The centre of the mountain mass, which bounds this plain, is Delphi, already mentioned: it was called in ancient times DIRPHYS or DIRPHE (Διρφύς, Steph. B. sub voce Δίρφη, Eurip. Here. Fur. 185). South of Chalcis there is for some distance a track of low land along the western coast, backed however by lofty mountains. South of Eretria is the plain of Alivéri, after which there appear to be no longer plains of any size. The whole of the southern end of the island is filled by a. mass of mountains, presenting a dangerous coast to mariners: the highest elevation of these mountains, called OCHE (Ὄχη) in antiquity, now Mt. Elias, is 4748 feet above the level of the sea. On the summit of Mt. Oche are the ruins of a very ancient temple, of which a description and drawings are given by Mr. Hawkins in Walpole's Travels (p. 288, seq.). The southeastern extremity of the island was called CAPHAREUS or CAPHEREUS (Καφήρενς), now Kavo Doro or Xylofágo: the south-western extremity was named GERAESTUS (Γεραιδτός), now Mandíli. The dangerous part of the coast, called the Coela or “Hollow,” appears to have been a little north of the promontory Geraestus. [COELA]

The eastern side of Euboea is much more rocky than the western coast. On the eastern side the rocks rise almost precipitously from the water, and are rarely interrupted by any level spot, except towards the northern end. “Fragments of wreck are found at the height of 80 feet perpendicular, washed up by the heavy sea which a north-east wind throws into this bay. These winds, which always blow very strong, are called by the Greeks ‘meltem,’ probably a corruption of ‘mal tiempo.’ In addition to this, the Dardanelles current, preserving the course communicated to it by the direction of that strait, sets strong to the south-west into this bay (between the promontories Caphareus and Chersonesus), and renders it a most dangerous coast: no vessel once unbayed here can escape destruction. The current being deflected to the southward, sweeps round C. Doro (Caphareus), frequently at the rate of three miles an hour. Port Petries is the only refuge which this coast offers, and so little has hitherto been known of this shore that even this shelter has only recently been discovered. Along the whole extent of this coast, which is upwards of 100 miles, there are only five or six villages near the shore.”

It was believed by the ancient writers that Euboea was originally connected with the opposite coast of Greece, and. was separated from the latter by an earthquake. (Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 21; comp. Strab. i. p.58, x. p. 447.) The channel between the northern end of Euboea and the opposite coast of Thessaly, now called Tríkeri from the Thessalian town of this name, is an average width of about 4 miles, though in one part it contracts to not quite 1 1/2 mile. Upon rounding the promontory Cenaeum, off which lie the small rocky islands called Lichades, and turning to [p. 1.872]the southward, is the bay of Tálanda, so called from the Boeotian town of this name. “A remarkable feature in this part of the channel is the amazing depth of water under Mt. Telethrius, where, for about 12 or 15 miles, there is no bottom with 220 fathoms within half a mile of the shore; but from this point the water shoals gradually towards Egripo (Chalcis). Towards the north-west extremity of this shore there is a very safe and excellent harbour, now called Port Ghialtra (formerly Port Kalos).” At Chalcis the Euboean sea contracts into a narrow channel, called the Euripus, only 40 yards across. An account of this channel, and of the extraordinary tides which here prevail, is given elsewhere. [CHALCTS.] South of the Euripus are several islands along the Euboean shore, which afford good anchorage. Of these the most important are Glauconnesus, Aegiliae, and the islands Petaliae. (Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 21; Strab. x. p.444.)

Euboea is deficient in water. There is not a stream in the whole island into which the smallest boat can enter. Those streams of which the names are mentioned, are:--CALLAS (Καλλάς, Strab. x. p.445), on the north coast, flowing into the sea near Oreus;--CEREUS (Κηρεύς) and NELEUS (Νηλεύς), of uncertain position, of which it is recorded that the sheep drinking the water of the Cereus became white, while those drinking the water of the Neleus became black (Strab. x. p.449; Plin. Nat. 31.9. s. 2; Antig. Caryst. Hist. Mirab. 84);--LELANTUS, flowing through the plain of this name (Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 21);--and BUDORUS (Βούδωρος, Ptol. 3.12. s. 25), flowing into the sea on the east coast by Corinthus.

In the plains of Euboea a considerable quantity of corn was grown in antiquity; and there is excellent pasture for sheep in the summer, on the slopes of the mountains. These mountain-lands appear in ancient times to have belonged to the state, and were let out for pasture to such proprietors as had the means of supporting their flocks during the winter. The mountains are said to contain copper and iron, and the marble quarries of Carystus in the southern part of the island were among the most celebrated in Greece. At the present day a light red wine is made from the vines grown in the northern plains of the island; while the plains towards the south are generally cultivated with corn and olives.

Euboea, like many of the other Grecian islands, is said to have borne other names in the most ancient times. Thus, it was called Macris, from its great length in comparison with its breadth. (Strab. x. p.444.) It was also named Hellopia, properly a district near Histiaea in the northern part of the island, from Hellops, the son of Ion;--Oche, from the mountain of this name in the south of the island;--and Abantis, from the most ancient inhabitants of the island. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 4.12. s. 21.) It is observed by Strabo that Homer (Hom. Il. 2.536) calls the inhabitants of the island Abantes, though he gives to the island itself the name of Euboea. Hesiod related that the name of Abantis was changed into Euboea from the cow Io, who was even said to have given birth to Epaphus in the island. (Hes. ap. Steph. B. sub voce Ἀβαντίς;; Strab l.c.) It would be idle to inquire into the origin of these Abantes. According to Aristotle, they were Thracians who passed over to Euboea from the Thracian town of Abae; while others, in accordance with the common practice, derived their name from an eponymous hero. (Strab. l.c.) The southern part of the island was inhabited by Dryopes, who are expressly said to have founded Styra and Carystus (Hdt. 8.46; Thuc. 7.57); but in the historical period the Abantes had disappeared from Euboea. Herodotus relates that the Abantes assisted in colonising the Ionic cities of Asia Minor. (Hdt. 1.146.)

In the historical times most of the cities of Euboea were inhabited by Ionic Greeks; and the Athenians are said to have taken the chief part in their colonisation. Euboea was divided between six or seven independent cities, of which CHALCIS and ERETRIA on the western coast in the centre of the island, were the most important. In the northern end of the island were situated HISTIAEA afterwards called Oreus, on the coast opposite Thessaly; DIUM, AEDEPSUS, ATHENAE DIADES, OROBIAE, and AEGAE on the west coast opposite Locris; and CERINTHUS on the east coast. In the southern end of the island were DYSTUS, STYRA, and CARYSTUS There were also a few smaller places dependent upon these cities, of which a list is given under the names of the cities to which they respectively belonged. All the above-mentioned cities occur in the Iliad, with the exception of Athenae Diades. Scylax mentions only four cities--Carystus, Eretria, Chalcis, and Hestiaea.

As Euboea never formed one political state, it is impossible to give a general history of the whole island without repeating what is mentioned under each city. It is therefore only necessary to mention here a few leading facts, referring for the details of the history to other articles. At a very early period Chalcis and Eretria were two of the most important cities in Greece. They possessed an extensive commerce, and founded colonies upon the coasts of Macedonia, Italy, and Sicily, and in the islands of the Aegaean. They continued in a flourishing condition down to the expulsion of the Peisistratidae from Athens, when the Chalcidians joined the Boeotians in making war upon the Athenians. But for this they paid dearly; for the Athenians crossed over to Euboea, defeated the Chalcidians, and divided their lands among 4000 Athenian colonists, B.C. 506. [CHALCIS] Eretria was destroyed by the Persians in B.C. 490, in consequence of the aid which the Eretrians had rendered to the Ionians, in their revolt from Persia two years previously: and although the city was subsequently rebuilt near its former site, it never recovered its former power. [ERETRIA] After the Persian wars the whole of Euboea became subject to the Athenians, who regarded it as the most valuable of all their foreign possessions. It supplied them with a considerable quantity of corn, with timber and fire-wood, and with pasture for their horses and flocks. In B.C. 445 the whole island revolted from Athens, but it was speedily reconquered by Pericles. In B.C. 411, shortly after the Athenian misfortunes in Sicily, Euboea again revolted from Athens, and its cities continued for a time independent. But when Athens recovered its maritime supremacy, the influence of the Athenians again became predominant in Euboea, in spite of the Thebans, who attempted to bring it under their sway. The Athenians however were no longer able to exercise the same sovereignty over the Euboean cities, as they had done during the flourishing period of their empire; and accordingly they did not interfere to put down the tyrants who had established themselves in most of the cities shortly before the time of Philip of Macedon. This monarch availed himself [p. 1.873]of the overtures of Callias, the tyrant of Chalcis, to establish his influence in the island; which virtually became subject to him after the battle of Chaeroneia. From this time Euboea formed a part of the Macedonian dominions, till the Romans wrested it from Philip V., and restored to its cities their independence, B.C. 194. (Liv. 34.51.) The Euboean cities remained faithful to the Roman alliance during the war with the Aetolians (Liv. 35.37, 39), but Chalcis fell into the hands of Antiochus when he crossed over into Greece (Liv. 35.50, 51). Under the Romans, Euboea was included in the province of Achaia.

In the middle ages Euboea was called Egripo, a corruption of Euripus, the name of the town built upon the ruins of Chalcis. The Venetians, who obtained possession of the island upon the dismemberment of the Byzantine empire by the Latins, called it Negropont, probably a corruption of Egripo, and ponte, a bridge. The island now forms part of the modern kingdom of Greece. (Comp. Fiedler, Reise dutch Griechenland, vol. i. p. 420, seq.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 252, seq.; Pflugk, Rerumn Euboicarum Spec., Gedani, 1829.)


hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.146
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.46
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.57
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.536
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 31.9
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 51
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 35, 37
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 35, 51
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 35, 39
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 35, 50
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.12
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