, Dor. Ἆλις
, whence “Alis” in Plant. Capt
. Prol. 9, 26; acc. Ἤλιδα
of the country, Ἦλις
of the town generally, in Lat. “Elin” and “Elidem.” The word was originally written with the digamma ΦΑΛΙΣ
, perhaps connected with “vallis,” and signifying originally, a hollow.
The country was also called ἡ Ἠλεία
, Thuc. 2.25
, Plb. 5.102
; ἡ Ἠλείων χώρα
, Plb. 4.77
; Eliorum ager, Plin. Nat. 4.5. s. 6
and Adj. Ἠλεῖος
on coins, Elius, Eleus, Alius, Plaut. Capt
. Prol. 24.; Ἠλιάδης
, Steph. B. sub voce Ἠλειακός
I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION.
Elis, in its widest signification, was the country on the western coast of Peloponnesus between Achaia and Messenia, extending from the promontory Araxus and the river Larissus on the north to the river Neda on the south, and bounded on the east by the Arcadian mountains and on the west by the Ionian sea. (Strab. viii. p.336
It included three distinct districts, ELIS PROPER or HOLLOW ELIS, the northern portion, extending from the river Araxus to the promontory Ichthys; PISATIS
the middle portion, from the promontory Ichthys to the river Alpheius; and TRIPHYLIA
the southern portion, from the Alpheius to the Neda. Elis Proper was divided into two parts, the plain of the Peneius, and the mountainous country in the interior, called ACROREIA: the name of Hollow Elis (ἡ κοίλη Ἦλις Thuc. 2.25
) appears to have been originally given to the plain of the Peneius to distinguish it from the mountainous district of the Acroreia; but since Hollow Elis was the larger and more fertile part, this name came to be given to the whole of the northern territory, to distinguish it from the dependent districts of Pisatis and Triphylia.
Those of the ancient geographers, who represented Peloponnesus as consisting of only five divisions, made Elis and Arcadia only one district. (Paus. 5.1.1
In fact Elis may be looked upon as a kind of offshoot of Arcadia, since it embraces the lower slopes of the mountains of Erymanthus, Pholoë and Lycaeus, which sink down gradually towards the Ionian sea. Elis has no mountain system of its own, but only hills and plains.
It contains more fertile land than any other country of Peloponnesus; the rich meadows of the plain of the Peneius were celebrated from the earliest times; and even the sandy hills, which separate the plains, are covered with vegetation, since they are exposed to the moist westerly winds. Thus the land with its green hills and fertile plains forms a striking contrast to the bare and precipitous rocks on the eastern coast. Hence Oxylus is said to have conducted the invading Dorians by the more difficult way through Arcadia, lest they should see the fertile territory of Elis, which he had designed for himself. (Paus. 5.4.1
; Plb. 4.73
The coast of Elis is a long and almost unbroken sandy level, and would have been entirely destitute of natural harbours, if a few neighbouring rocks had not become united by alluvial deposits with the mainland.
In this way three promontories have been formed,--Araxus, Chelonatas, Ichthys,--which interrupt the uniformity of the coast, and afford some protection for vessels. Of these the central and the largest is Chelonatas, running a considerable way into the sea, and forming on either side one end of a gulf.
The northern gulf bears the name of Cyllene, and is bounded at its northern extremity by the promontory Araxus.
The southern gulf is called the Chelonatic, and is bounded at its southern extremity by the promontory Ichthys, which also forms the commencement of the great Cyparissian gulf.
The sandy nature of the coast interrupts the natural outlet of the numerous smaller rivers, and absorbs them before they reach the sea.
The sea also frequently breaks over the coast; and thus there is formed along the coast a series of lagoons, which are separated from the sea only by narrow sand-banks. Along the Cyllenian bay there are two such lagoons; and the whole Elean coast upon the Cyparissian bay is occupied by three almost continuous lagoons.
This collection of stagnant water renders the coast very unhealthy in the summer months; and the vast number of gnats and other insects, which are generated in these marshes, makes it almost impossible to live near the sea.
The modern harbour of Kunupéli
has derived its name from the gnats, which abound in the neighbourhood (Κουνουπέλι
); and even in antiquity the Eleans invoked Zeus and Hercules to protect them from this plague. (Ζεὺς ἀπόμυιος, Paus. 5.14.1
; comp. Aelian, H. An.
These lagoons, however, supply the inhabitants with a vast abundance of fish.
In the summer months, when the fish are very numerous on the coast, a small opening is made through the narrow sand-banks; and the lagoons thus become soon filled with fish, which are easily taken. They are dried and salted on the spot, and are exported in large quantities.
This fishery was probably carried on in ancient times also, since we find Apollo worshipped among the Eleans under the epithet of Opsophagos. (Polemon. p. 109. ed. Preller.)
The physical peculiarities of Elis are not favourable to its becoming an independent state.
In fact no country in Greece is so little protected against hostile attacks.
The broad valley of the Alpheius runs, like a highway, through the centre of Elis: the mountains, which form its eastern boundaries, are a very slight defence, since they are only the offshoots of still higher mountains; while the towns and villages on the flat coast lie entirely exposed to an enemy's fleet.
But these natural obstacles to its independence were more than compensated by the sacred character attaching to the whole land in consequence of its possessing the temple of the Olympian Zeus on the banks of the Alpheius. Its territory was regarded as inviolable by the common law of Greece; and though its sanctity was not always respected, and it was ravaged more than once by an invading force, as we shall presently see, it enjoyed for several centuries exemption from the devastations of war. Thus, instead of the fortified places seen in the rest of Greece, Elis abounded in unwalled. villages and country houses; and the valley of the Alpheius in particular was full of various sanctuaries, and consecrated spots, which gave the whole country a sacred appearance.
The prosperity of the country continued down to the time of Polybius, who notices its populousness and the fondness of its inhabitants for a country life. (Strab. viii. pp. 343, 358;. Plb. 4.73
The prosperity of Elis was also much indebted to the expenditure of the vast number. of strangers, who visited the country once in four: years at the festival of the Olympian Zeus. [p. 1.817]
HOLLOW ELIS is more extensive and more fertile than the two subject districts (αἱ περιοικίδες πόλεις
) of Pisatis and Triphylia.
It consists of a fertile plain, drained by the river PENEIUS
) and its tributary the Ladon (Λάδων
). The Peneius rises in Mount Erymanthus between two lofty summits, and flows at first between the ravine of Berbini,
and afterwards in a north-westerly direction till it reaches a more open valley. The Ladon, called Selleeis by Homer [see EPHYRA
No. 1.], rises a little more to the south; it also flows at first through a narrow ravine, and falls into the Peneius, just where it enters the broader valley.
The united stream continues its course through this valley, till at the town of Elis it emerges near its mouth into the extensive plain of Gastúni,
which is the name now generally given to the river throughout its whole course.
The river Gastúni
now flows into the sea to the south of the promontory of Chelonatas, but there is reason for believing that the main branch at least of the Peneius originally flowed into the sea north of the Chelonatas.
This appears from the order of the names in Ptolemy (3.16
. § § 5, 6), who enumerates the promontory Araxus, Cyllene, the mouths of the Peneius, and the promontory Chelonitis, as well as from the statement of Strabo (viii. p.338
) that the Peneius flows into the sea between Chelonatas and Cyllene. Moreover, the legend of Hercules cleansing the stables of Augeias by diverting the course of the Peneius would seem to show that even in ancient times the course of the stream had been changed either by artificial or by natural means; and there are still remains of some ancient channels near the southern end of the Cyllenian gulf.
The plain of Gastúni
is still celebrated for its fertility, and produces flax, wheat, and cotton.
In antiquity, as we learn from Pausanias (5.5.2
), Elis was the only part of Greece in which byssus (a species of fine flax) grew.
This byssus is described by Pausanias (l.c.
) as not inferior to that of the Hebrews in fineness, but not so yellow; and in another passage (6.26.6) he remarks that hemp and flax and byssus are sown by all the Eleians, whose lands are adapted for these crops.
The vine was also cultivated with success, as is evident from the especial honour paid to Dionysus in the city of Elis, and from the festival called Thyia, in which three empty jars spontaneously filled with wine. (Paus. 6.26.1
.) Elis still contains a large quantity of excellent timber; and the road to Achaia along the coast passes through noble forests of oaks.
The rich pastures of the Peneius were favourable to the rearing of horses and cattle. Even in the earliest legends Augeias, king of the Epeians in Elis, is represented as keeping innumerable herds of oxen; and the horses of Elis were celebrated in the Homeric poems (Od. 4.634
It was said that mules could not be engendered in Elis in consequence of a divine curse (Hdt. 4.30
; Paus. 5.5.2
); but this tale probably arose from the fact of the Eleian mares being sent into Arcadia, in order to be covered by the asses of the latter country, which were reckoned the best in all Greece. [ARCADIA
) is the lower valley of the Alpheius.
This river, after its long course through Arcadia, enters a fertile valley in the Pisatis, bounded on either side by green hills, and finally flows into the sea through the sandy plain on the coast between two large lagunes. North of the Alpheius. Mount PHOLOE
), which is an offshoot of Erymanthus, extends across the Pisatis from east to west, and separates the waters of the Peneius and the Ladon from those of the Alpheius. (Strab. viii. p.357
It terminates in the promontory, running southwards far into the sea, and opposite the island of Zacynthus.
This promontory was called in ancient times ICHTHYS
(Ἰχθύς, Strab. viii. p.343
) on account of its shape: it now bears the name of Katákolo.
It appears to be the natural boundary of the Pisatis; and accordingly we learn from Strabo that some persons placed the commencement of the Pisatis at Pheia, a town on the isthmus of Ichthys, though he himself extends the district as far as the promontory Chelonatas. (Strab. viii. p.343
.) Mount Pholoe rises abruptly on its northern side towards the Peneius, but on the southern side it opens into numerous valleys, down which torrents flow into the Alpheius.
) is the smallest of the three divisions of Elis, and contains only a very small portion of level land, as the Arcadian mountains here approach almost close to the sea. Along nearly the whole of the Triphylian coast there is a series of lagoons already mentioned.
At a later time the Alpheius was the northern boundary of Triphylia; but at an earlier period the territory of the Pisatis must have extended south of the Alpheius, though all its chief towns lay to the north of that river. The. mountain along the southern side of the Alpheius immediately opposite Olympia was called originally OSSA
(Strab. viii. p.356
), but appears to have been afterwards called PHSELLON (Strab. viii. p.344
, where Φέλλωνα
should probably be read instead of Φολόην
). Further south are two ranges of mountains, between which the river Anigrus flows into the sea [ANIGRUS
]: of these the more northerly, called in ancient times LAPITHAS
(Λαπίθας, Paus. 5.5.8
), and at present Smerna,
is 2533 feet high; while the more southerly, called in ancient times, MINTHE
(Μίνθη, Strab. viii. p.344
), and now A´lvena
rises to the height of 4009 feet. Minthe, which is the loftiest mountain in Elis, was one of the seats of the worship of Hades; and the herb, fromw hich it derived its name. was sacred to Persephone.
The river Neda divided Triphylia from Messenia.
The most ancient inhabitants of Elis appear to have been Pelasgians, and of the same stock as the Arcadians. They were called Caucones, and their name is said to have been originally given to the whole country; but at a later time they were found only on the northern frontier near Dyme and in the mountains of Triphylia. (Strab. viii. p.345
The accessibility of the country both by sea and land led other tribes to settle in it even at a very early period The Phoenicians probably had factories upon the coast; and there can be no doubt that to them the Eleians were indebted for the introduction of the byssus,
since the name is the same as the Hebrew butz.
We also find traces of Phoenician influence in the worship of Aphrodite Urania in the city of Elis.
It has even been supposed that Elishah,
whose productions reached Tyre (Ezek.
27.7), is the same word as the Greek Elis, though the name was used to indicate a large extent of country; but it is dangerous to draw any conclusion from a similarity of names, which may after all be only accidental.
The most ancient inhabitants of the country appear to have been Epeians (Eth. Ἐπειοί
), who were closely [p. 1.818]
connected with the Aetolians.
According to the common practice of the Greeks to derive all their tribes from eponymous ancestors, the two brothers Epeius and Aetolus, the sons of Endymion, lived in the country afterwards called Elis. Aetolus crossed over to Northern Greece, and became the ancestor of the Aetolians. (Paus. 5.1
; Scymn. Ch. 475
The name of Eleians, according to the tradition, was derived from Eleius, a son of Poseidon and Eurycyda, the daughter of Endymion. The Epeians were more widely spread than the Eleians. We find Epeians not only in Elis Proper, but also in Triphylia and in the islands of the Echinades at the mouth of the Achelous; while the Eleians were confined to Elis Proper. In Homer the name of Eleians does not occur; and though the country is called Elis, its inhabitants are always the Epeians.
Eleius was succeeded in the kingdom by his son Augeias, against whom Hercules made war, because he refused to give the hero the promised reward for cleansing his stables. [For details see Dict. of Biogr.
vol. ii. p. 395.] The kingdom of the Epeians afterwards became divided into four states. The Epeians sailed to the Trojan War in 40 ships, led by four chiefs, of whom Polyxenus, the grandson of Augeias, was one. (Hom. II.
2.615, seq.) The Epeians and the Pylians appear in Homer as the two powerful nations on the western coast of Peloponnesus, the former extending from the Corinthian gulf southwards, and the latter from the southern point of the peninsula northwards; but the boundaries which separated the two cannot be determined. [PYLOS.] They were frequently engaged in wars with one another, of which a vivid picture is given in a well-known passage of Homer (Hom. Il. 11.670
, seq.; Strab. viii. pp. 336, 351). Polyxenus was the only one of the four chiefs who returned from Troy.
In the time of his grandson the Dorians invaded Peloponnesus; and, according to the legend, Oxylus and his Aetolian followers obtained Elis as their share of the conquest. (Dict. of Biogr.
Great changes now followed.
In consequence of the affinity of the Epeians and Aetolians, they easily coalesced into one people, who henceforth appear under the name of Eleians, forming a powerful kingdom in the northern part of the country in the plain of the Peneius. Some modern writers suppose that an Aetolian colony was also settled at Pisa, which again comes into notice as an independent state. Pisa is represented in the earliest times as the residence of Oenomaus and Pelops, who left his name to the peninsula; but subsequently Pisa altogether disappears, and is not mentioned in the Homeric poems.
It was probably absorbed in the great Pylian monarchy, and upon the overthrow of the latter was again enabled to recover its independence; but whether it was peopled by Aetolian conquerors must remain undecided. From this time Pisa appears as the head of a confederacy of eight states. About the same time a change of population took place in Triphylia, which had hitherto formed part of the dominions, of the Pylian monarchy. The Minyae, who had been expelled from Laconia by the conquering Dorians, took possession of Triphylia, driving out the original inhabitants of the country, the Paroreatae and Caucones. (Hdt. 4.148
.) Here they founded a state, consisting of six cities, and were sufficiently strong to maintain their independence against the Messenian Dorians.
The name of Triphylia was sometimes derived from an eponymous Triphylus, an Arcadian chief (Plb. 4.77
; Paus. 10.9.5
); but the name points to the country being inhabited by three different tribes,--an explanation given by the ancients themselves.
These three tribes, according to Strabo, were the Epeians, the Minyae, and the Eleians. (Strab. viii. p.337
The territory of Elis was thus divided between the three independent states of Elis Proper, the Pisatis, and Triphylia. How long this state of things lasted we do not know; but even in the eighth century B.C. the Eleians had extended their dominions as tar as the Neda, bringing under their rule the cities of the Pisatis and Triphylia. During the historical period we read only of Eleians and their subjects the Perioeci: the Caucones, Pisatans, and Triphylians entirely disappear as independent races.
The celebration of the festival of Zeus at Olympia had originally belonged to the Pisatans, in the neighbourhood of whose city Olympia was situated. Upon the conquest of Pisa, the presidency of the festival passed over to their conquerors; but the Pisatans never forgot their ancient privilege, and made many attempts to recover it.
In the eighth Olympiad; B.C. 747, they succeeded in depriving the Eleians of the presidency by calling in the assistance of Pheidon, tyrant of Argos, in conjunction with whom they celebrated the festival.
But almost immediately afterwards the power of Pheidon was destroyed by the Spartans, who not only restored to the. Eleians the presidency, but are said even to have confirmed them in the possession of the Pisatis and Triphylia. (Paus. 6.22.2
; Strab. viii. p.354
, seq.; Hdt. 6.127
In the Second Messenian War the Pisatans and Triphylians revolted from Elis and assisted the Messenians, while the Eleians sided with the Spartans.
In this war the Pisatans were commanded by their king Pantaleon, who also succeeded in making himself master of Olympia by force, during the 34th Olympiad (B.C. 644), and in celebrating the games to the exclusion of the Eleians. (Paus. 6.21.1
; Strab. viii. p.362
; respecting the conflicting statements in the ancient authorities as to this period, see Grote, Hist. of Greece,
vol. ii. p. 574.)
The conquest of the Messenians by the Spartans must also have been attended by the submission of the Pisatans to their former masters.
In the 48th Olympiad (B.C. 588) the Eleians, suspecting the fidelity of Damophon, the son of Pantaleon, invaded the Pisatis, but were persuaded by Damophon to return home without committing any further acts of hostility.
But in the 52nd Olympiad (B.C. 572), Pyrrhus, who had succeeded his brother Damophon in the sovereignty of Pisa, invaded Elis, assisted by the Dyspontii in the Pisatis, and by the Macistii and Scilluntii in Triphylia.
This attempt ended in the ruin of these towns, which were razed to the ground by the Eleians. (Paus. 6.22.3
, seq.) From this time Pisa disappears from history; and so complete was its destruction that the fact of its ever having existed was disputed in later times. (Strab. viii. p.356
After the destruction of these cities we read of no further attempt at revolt till the time of the Peloponnesian War. The Eleians now enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity.
The Eleians remained faithful allies of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War down to the peace of Nicias, B.C. 421; but in this year a serious quarrel arose between them.
It was a settled policy of the Spartans to prevent the growth of any power in Peloponnesus, which might prove formidable to themselves; and accordingly they were always ready to support the independence of the smaller states in the peninsula [p. 1.819]
against the-greater. Accordingly, when Lepreum in Triphylia revolted from the Eleians and craved the assistance of the Spartans, the latter not only recognised its independence, but sent an armed force to protect it. The Eleians in consequence renounced the alliance of Sparta, and formed a new league with Argos, Corinth, and Mantineia. (Thuc. 5.31
The following year (B.C. 420) was the period for the celebration of the Olympic festival; and the Eleians, under the pretext that the Spartans had sent some additional troops to Lepreum after the proclamation of the Sacred Truce, fined the Spartans 2000 minae, and, upon their refusing to pay the fine, excluded them from the festival. (Thuc. 5.49
.) The Eleians fought with the other allies against the Spartans at the battle of Mantineia (B.C. 418); and though the victory of the Spartans broke up this league, the ill-feeling between Elis and Sparta still continued. Accordingly, when the fall of Athens gave the Spartans the undisputed supremacy of Greece, they resolved to take vengeance upon the Eleians. They required them to renounce their authority over their dependent towns, and to pay up the arrears due from them as Spartan allies for carrying on the war against Athens. Upon their refusal to comply with these demands, king Agis invaded their territory (B.C. 402).
The war lasted nearly three years; and the Eleians were at length compelled to purchase peace by relinquishing their authority not only over the Triphylian towns, but also over Lasion, which was claimed by the Arcadians, and over the other towns of the hilly district of Acroreia (B.C. 400). They also had to surrender their harbour of Cyllene with their ships of war. (Xen. Hell. 3.2. 21
; Diod. 14.34
; Paus. 3.8.3
By this treaty the Eleians were in reality stripped of all their political power; and the Pisatans availed themselves of their weakness to beg the Lacedaemonians to grant to them the management of the Olympic festival; but as they were now only villagers, and would probably have been unable to conduct the festival with becoming splendour, the Spartans refused their request, and left the presidency in the hands of the Eleians. (Xen. Hell. 3.2. 30
Soon after the battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371), by which the Spartan power had been destroyed, the Eleians attempted to regain their supremacy over the Triphylian towns; but the latter, pleading their Arcadian origin, sought to be admitted into the Arcadian confederacy, which had been recently organised by Epaminondas. The Arcadians complied with their request (B.C. 368), much to the displeasure of the Eleians, who became in consequence bitter enemies of the Arcadians. (Xen. Hell. 6.5. 2
In order to recover their lost dominions the Eleians entered into alliance with the Spartans, who were equally anxious to gain possession of Messenia. In B.C. 366 hostilities commenced between the Eleians and Arcadians. The Eleians seized by force Lasion and the other towns in the Acroreia, which also formed part of the Arcadian confederacy, and of which they themselves had been deprived by the Spartans in B.C. 400, as already related.
But the Arcadians not only recovered these towns almost immediately afterwards, but established a garrison on the hill of Cronion at Olympia, and advancing against the town of Elis, which was unfortified, nearly made themselves masters of the place.
The democratical party in the city rose against the ruling oligarchy, and seized the acropolis: but they were overcome, and fled from the city. Thereupon, assisted by the Arcadians, they seized Pylus, a place on the Peneius, at the distance of about 9 miles from Elis, and there established themselves with a view of carrying, on hostilities against the ruling party in the city. (Xen. Hell. 7.4. 13
; Diod. 15.77
In the following year (B.C. 365) the Arcadians again invaded Elis, and being attacked by the Eleians between their city and Cyllene, gained a victory over them. The Eleians, in distress, applied to the Spartans, who created a diversion in their favour by invading the south-western part of Arcadia. The Arcadians in Elis now returned home in order to defend their own country; whereupon the Eleians recovered Pylus, and put to death all of the democratical party whom they found there. (Xen. Hell. 6.4. 19
In the next year (B.C. 364) the 104th celebration of the Olympic festival occurred. The Arcadians, who had now expelled the Spartans from their country, and who had meantime retained their garrison at Olympia, resolved to restore the presidency of the festival to the Pisatans, and to celebrate it in conjunction with the latter. The Eleians, however, did not tamely submit to this exclusion, and, while the games were going on, marched with an armed force into the consecrated ground. Here a battle was fought; and though the Eleians showed great bravery, they were finally driven back by the Arcadians. The Eleians subsequently took revenge by striking out of the register this Olympiad, as well as the 8th and 34th, as not entitled to be regarded as Olympiads. (Xen. Hell. 7.4. 28
; Diod. 15.78
.) The Arcadians now seized the treasures in the temples at Olympia; but this act of sacrilege was received with so much reprobation by several of the Arcadian towns, and especially by Mantineia, that the Arcadian assembly not only denounced the crime, but even concluded a peace with the Eleians, and restored to them Olympia and the presidency of the festival (B.C. 362). (Xen. Hell. 7.4. 33
Pausanias relates that when Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, obtained the supremacy in Greece, the Eleians, who had suffered much from civil dissensions, joined the Macedonian alliance, but at the same time would not fight against the Athenians and Thebans at the battle of Chaeroneia.
After the death of Alexander the Great, they renounced the Macedonian alliance, and fought along with the other Greeks against Antipater, in the Lamian War. (Paus. 5.4.9
.) In B.C. 312 Telesphorus, one of the generals of Antigonus, seized Elis and fortified the citadel, with the view of establishing an independent principality in the Peloponnesus; but the town was shortly afterwards recovered by Ptolemaeus, the principal general of Antigonus in Greece, who razed the new fortifications. (Diod. 19.87
The Eleians subsequently formed a close alliance with their kinsmen the Aetolians, and became members of the Aetolic League, of which they were the firmest supporters in the Peloponnesus. They always steadily refused to renounce this alliance and join the Achaeans, and their country was in consequence frequently ravaged by the latter. (Plb. 4.5
, seq.) The Triphylians, who exhibit throughout their entire history a rooted repugnance to the Eleian supremacy, joined the Achaeans as a matter of course. (Comp. Liv. 33.34
.) The Eleians are not mentioned in the final war between the Romans and the Achaean League; but after the capture of Corinth, their country, together with the rest of Peloponnesus, [p. 1.820]
became subject to Rome. The Olympic games, however, still secured to the Eleians a measure of prosperity; and, in consequence of them, the emperor Julian exempted the whole country from the payment of taxes. (Julian, Ep.
35.) In A.D. 394 the festival was abolished by Theodosius, and two years afterwards the country was laid waste with fire and sword by Alaric.
In the middle ages, Elis again became a country of some importance. The French knights at Patras
invaded the valley of the Peneius, where they established themselves with hardly any resistance. Like Oxylus and his Aetolian followers, William of Champlitte took up his residence at Andrabida,
in a fertile district on the right bank of the Peneius. Gottfried of Villehardouin built Glarenza,
which became the most important sea-port upon the western coast of Greece; under his successors Castro Tornese
was built as the citadel of Glarenza. Gastúni
were also founded about the same period. Elis afterwards passed into the hands of the Venetians, under whom it continued to flourish, and who gave to the western province of the Morea
the name of Belvedere,
from the citadel of Elis.
It was owing to the fertility of the plain of the Peneius that the Venetians called the province of Belvedere
the milk-cow of the Morea.
But the country has now lost all its former prosperity. Pyrgos
is the only place of any importance; and in consequence of the malaria, the coast is becoming almost uninhabited. (Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. ii. p. 16, seq.)
III. THE CITY OF ELIS.
The position of the city of Elis was the best that could have been chosen for the capital of the country. Just before the Peneius emerges from the hills into the plain, the valley of the river is contracted on the south by a projecting hill of a peaked form, and nearly 500 feet in height.
This hill was the acropolis of Elis, and commanded as well the narrow valley of the Peneius as the open plain beyond.
It is now called Kaloskopí,
which the Venetians translated into Belvedere.
The ancient city lay at the foot of the hill, and extended across the river, as Strabo says that the Peneius flowed through the city (viii. p. 337); but since no remains are now found on the right or northern bank, it is probable that all the public buildings were on the left bank of the river, more especially as Pausanias does not make any allusion to the river in his description of the city. On the site of the ancient city there are two or three small villages, which bear the common name of Paleópoli.
Elis is mentioned as a town of the Epeii by Homer (Hom. Il. 2.615
); but in the earliest times the two chief towns in the country appear to have been Ephyra the residence of Augeias, in the interior, and Buprasium on the coast. Some writers suppose that Ephyra was the more ancient name of Elis, but it appears to have been a different place, situated upon the Ladon. [BUPRASIUM; EPHYRA.] Elis first became a place of importance upon the invasion of Peloponnesus by the Dorians. Oxylus and his Aetolian followers appear to have settled on the height of Kaloskopí
as the spot best adapted for ruling the country. From this time it was the residence of the kings, and of the aristocratical families who governed the country after the abolition of royalty. Elis was the only fortified town in the country; the rest of the inhabitants dwelt in unwalled villages, paying obedience to the ruling class at Elis.
Soon after the Persian wars the exclusive privileges of the aristocratical families in Elis were abolished, and a democratical government established. Along with this revolution a great change took place in the city of Elis.
The city appears to have been originally confined to the acropolis; but the inhabitants of many separate townships, eight according to Strabo, now removed to the capital, and built round the acropolis a new city, which they left undefended by walls, relying upon the sanctity of their country. (Diod. 11.54
; Strab. viii. p.336
; Xen. Hell. 3.2. 27
) At the same time the Eleians were divided into a certain number of local tribes; or if the latter existed before, they now acquired for the first time political rights. The Hellanodicae, or presidents of the Olympic games, who had formerly been taken from the aristocratical families, were now appointed, by lot, one from each of the local tribes; and the fluctuating number of the Hellanodicae shows the increase and decrease from time to time of the Eleian territory.
It is probable that each of the three districts into which Elis was divided,--Hollow Elis, Pisatis, and Triphylia,--contained four tribes.
This is in accordance with the fourfold ancient division of Hollow Elis, and with the twice four townships in the Pisatis. Pausanias in his account of the number of the Hellanodicae says that there were 12 Hellanodicae in Ol. 103, which was immediately after the battle of Leuctra, when the Eleians recovered for a short time their ancient dominions, but that being shortly afterwards deprived of Triphylia by the Arcadians, the number of their tribes was reduced to eight. (Paus. 5.9
. § § 5, 6; for details see K. O. Müller, Die Phylen von Elis und Pisa,
in Rheinisches Museum,
for 1834, p. 167, seq.)
When Pausanias visited Elis, it was one of the most populous and splendid cities of Greece.
At present nothing of it remains except some masses of tile and mortar, several wrought blocks of stone and fragments of sculpture, and a square building about 20 feet on the outside, which within is in the form of an octagon with niches.
With such scanty remains it would be impossible to attempt any reconstruction of the city, and to assign to particular sites the buildings mentioned by Pausanias (6.23
Strabo says (viii. p. 337) that the gymnasium stood on the side of the river Peneius; and it is probable that the gymnasium and agora occupied the greater part of the space between the river and the citadel.
The gymnasium was a vast inclosure surrounded by a wall.
It was by far the largest gymnasium in Greece, which is accounted for by the fact that all the athletae in the Olympic games were obliged to undergo a month's previous training in the gymnasium at Elis.
The inclosure bore the general name of Xystus, and within it there were special places destined for the runners, and separated from one another by plane-trees.
The gymnasium contained three subdivisions, called respectively Plethrium, Tetragonum, and Malco: the first so called from its dimensions, the second from its shape, and the third from the softness of the soil.
In their Malco was the senate-house of the Eleians, called Lalichium from the name of its founders: it was also used for literary exhibitions.
The gymnasium had two principal entrances, one leading by the street called Siope or Silence to the baths, and the other above the cenotaph of Achilles to the agora and the Hellanodicaeum.
The agora was also called the hippodrome, because it was used for the exercise of horses.
It was built in the ancient [p. 1.821]
style, and, instead of being surrounded by an. unin terrupted, series of stoae or colonnades, its stoae were separated, from one another by streets.
The southern stoa, which consisted of a triple row of Doric columns, was the usual resort of the Hellanodicae during the day. Towards one end of this stoa to the left was the Hellanodicaeon, a building divided from. the agora by a street, which was the official residence of the Hellanodicae, who received here instruction in their duties for ten months preceding the.festival.
There was another stoa in the agora called the Corcyraean stoa, because it had been built out of the tenth of some spoils taken from the Cor. cyraeans.
It consisted of two rows of Doric columns, with a partition wall running between them: one side was open to the agora, and the other to a temple of Aphrodite Urania, in which was a statue of the goddess in gold and ivory by Pheidias.
In the open part of the agora Pausanias mentions the temple of Apollo Acacesius, which was the principal temple in Elis, statues of Helios and Selene (Sun and Moon), a temple of the Graces, a temple of Silenus, and the tomb of Oxylus. On the way to the theatre was the temple of Hades, which was opened only once in the year.
The theatre must have been on the slope of the acropolis: it is described by Pausanias as lying between the agora and the Menius, which, if the name is not corrupt, must be the brook flowing down from the heights behind Paleópoli.
Near the theatre was a temple of Dionysus, containing a statue of this god by Praxiteles.
On the acropolis was a temple of Athena, containing a statue of the goddess in gold and ivory by Pheidias. On the summit of the acropolis are the remains of a castle, in the walls of which Curtius noticed some fragments of Doric columns which probably belonged to the temple of Athena.
In the immediate neighbourhood of Elis was Petra, where the tomb of the philosopher Pyrrhon was shown. (Paus. 6.24.5
IV. TOWNS IN ELIS.
1. In Hollow Elis.
Upon the coast, proceeding southwards from the promontory of Araxus, HYRMINE, CYLLENE. From the town of ELIS
a road led northward to Dyme in Achaia passing by MYRTUNTIUM
(or Myrsinus) and BUPRASIUM
East of Elis and commanding the entrance to the Acroreia or highlands of Elis was PYLOS, at the junction of the Peneius and Ladon. South of Pylos on the Ladon was the Homeric EPHYRA
afterwards called Oenoë. North of Pylos in the mountainous country on the borders of Achaia was THALAMAE
East of Pylos and Ephyra, in the Acroreia, were LASION, OPUS, THRAUSTUS (or Thraestus), ALIUM. EUPAGIUM,: OPUS.
2. In Pisatis.
Upon the Sacred Way leading from Elis to Olympia, LETRINI
Upon the coast, the town and harbour of PHEIA
On. the road across the mountains from Elis to Olympia, ALESIAEUM, SALMONE, and HERACLEIA; and in the same. neighbourhood, MARGANA
(or Margalae) and AMPHIDOLI. OLYMPIA lay on the right bank of the Alpheius, nearly in the centre of the country: it was properly not a town, but only a collection of sacred buildings.
A little to the east of Olympia was PISA
and further east HARPINNA.
3. In Triphylia.
Upon the road along the coast, EPITALIUM
(the Homeric Thryon), SAMICUM, PYRGI. A road, led from Olympia to Lepreum, on which were PYLOS and MACISTUS. LEPREUM in the southern part of Triphylia was the chief town of the district. Between these two roads was SCILLUS
where Xenophon resided. On the Alpheius to the east of Olympia was PHRIXA
and southwards in the interior were AEPY
(afterwards called Epeium), HYPANA, TYPANEAE. The position of BOLAX
and STYLLAGIUM is uncertain.
(Respecting the topography of Elis, see Leake, Morea,
vol. i. p. 1, seq., vol. ii. p. 165, seq., Peloponnesiaca,
passim; Boblaye, Recherches,
&c. p. 117, seq.; and especially Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. ii. p. 1, seq., from whom a considerable part of the preceding account is taken.)
|COINS OF ELIS.|