, or Κορίνθιος κόλπος Gulf of Lepanto
), the gulf between Northern Greece or Hellas Proper, and the Peloponnesus.
It commenced, according to Strabo (viii. p.335
, seq.), at the mouth of the Evenus in Aetolia (some said at the mouth of the Achelous) and the promontory Araxus in Achaia, and extended to the Isthmus of Corinth.
It consisted of two distant portions, an outer and an inner sea, separated from one another by the narrow strait, between the promontories Rhium and Antirrhium.
The inner sea, west of these promontories, was called originally the Crissaean gulf (ὁ Κρισσαῖος
or Κρισαῖος κόλπος
), a name which occurs as early as in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (Κρίσης κόλπος ἀπείρων,
431), and was used even by Thucydides (1.107
But soon after the time of the latter historian, the Corinthian gulf became the more general designation (Xen. Hell. 4.2. 9
; Plb. 5.3
; Liv. 26.26
.) Still the more ancient name never went entirely out of use. While Strabo calls the whole sea, from the promontory of Araxus to the Isthmus of Corinth, by the general name of the Corinthian gulf, he gives to the sea within the promontories of Rhium and Antirrhium the specific [p. 1.674]
designation of the Crissaean gulf. (Strab. l.c.
) It appears from Scylax that the latter sea was also called the Delphian gulf (ὁ Δελφικὸς κόλπος
). Pliny, on the contrary, confines the term Corinthiacus Sinus to the inner sea, and gives the name of the Crissaean gulf to the bay near the town of Oeanthe, the modern Gulf of Salona.
(Plin. Nat. 4.2. s. 3
. s. 4.)
At the eastern extremity of the inner sea there were two bays, separated from one another by the rocky promontory north of the Isthmus, the more northerly being called the Alcyonian sea (ἡ Ἀλκυονὶς θάλασσα
), and the more southerly the bay of Lechaeum. [See CORINTHUS
] In one passage of Strabo (viii. p.336
) we read “the sea from Antirrhium to the Isthmus is called Alcyonis, being a portion of the Crisaean gulf;” but the text is evidently faulty, and is not in accordance with other passages of Strabo, in which the name of Alcyonis is given to the bay at the eastern extremity of the gulf, beginning at Creusa in Boeotia and the promontory Olmiae in the Corinthia. (Comp. Strab. ix. pp. 393, 400.) Hence in the passage first quoted it has been proposed with great probability to read, “the sea from Antirrhium to the Isthmus is the Crissaean gulf; but from the city Creusa it is called Alcyonis.” (Groskurd, German Translation of Strabo,
vol. ii. p. 11.)
Strabo says (viii. p. 336) that the circuit of the Corinthian gulf from the Evenus to the Araxus is 2230 stadia. Pliny (4.4. s. 5
) makes the length 85 miles, Agathemerus (1.4) 720 stadia. Respecting the breadth of the strait between Rhium and Antirrhium, see ACHAIA
The Corinthian gulf resembles a large inland lake.
It is surrounded by mountains, and the heights towards the west shut out, the view of the open sea.
In beauty of scenery it surpasses even the most picturesque lakes of Switzerland and Northern Italy. “Its coasts, broken into an infinite variety of outline by the ever-changing mixture of bold promontory, gentle slope, and cultivated level, are crowned on every side by lofty mountains of the most majestic forms.” (Leake.) Sailing from Corinth one sees in the distance, on the left the top of Erymanthus, rising like a colossal pyramid, and on the right the lofty heights of Helicon and Parnassus. (Leake, Morea,
vol. iii. p. 397; Ulrichs, Reisen in Griechenland,
p. 3; Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. i. pp. 7, 404, 422.)