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ERYTHRAE (Ἐρυθραί: Eth. Ἐρυθραῖος), “a city of the Ionians” (Steph. B. sub voce on the authority of the Asia of Hecataeus; to which the compiler adds,--“and it was called Κνωπούπολις, from Cnopus.” Erythrae was one of the Ionian cities. (Hdt. 1.142.) According to the legend told by Pausanias (7.3.7), the place was originally settled by Erythrus, the son of Rhadamanthus, from Crete; and the city was occupied, together with Cretans, by Lycians, Carians, and Pamphylians. While all these people were living together in Erythrae, Cleopus the son of Codrus, having collected from all the cities of Ionia such as he could from each, introduced them into the place, to live with the Erythraei. Strabo (p. 633) has the tradition of Cnopus, an illegitimate son of Codrus, founding Erythrae. According to Casaubon, the MSS. of Strabo have the name “Cnopus,” which he would alter to “Cleopus;” but perhaps “Cleopus” in Pausanias should be corrected. Polyaenus (8.43) has the story of Cnopus, and how, by a stratagem, he got possession of Erythrae, after killing the inhabitants; a story which has the advantage over that of Pausanias in probability, for we can conceive a general massacre of the original inhabitants of Erythrae and the seizure of their town, better than the story of Cnopus and his men walking in to live together with the original people. Hippias of Erythrae, in the second book of his Histories of his native place, told a story of the murder of Cnopus and the usurpation of his power by Ortyges, and of the extravagant tyranny and violent death of Ortyges; which Athenaeus has preserved (vi. p. 259). The early history of Erythrae, like that of most of the Ionian towns in Asia, was unknown. Strabo, in another place (p. 404), calls it a settlement from Erythrae in Boeotia.

Strabo (p. 644) describes Erythrae as being in the peninsula which he calls the peninsula of the Teians and the Erythraeans. He places the Teians on the south of the isthmus, and the Clazomenii on the north side [CLAZOMENAE]; and the Erythraei dwell within it. The boundary between the Erythraea and Clazomenae was the Hypocremnus. On the south, Erae or Gerae [ERAE] belonged to the Teians. The peninsula lying west of a line drawn from Gerae to Hypocremnus must be supposed to be the Erythraean territory. As we proceed north and west from Gerae we come to Corycus [CORYCUS; CASYSTES], then another harbour named Erythras; and, after it, several others. After Corycus was a small island, Halonnesus, then Argennum, a promontory of the Erythraea, and the nearest point to Chios. [ARGENNUM] On the west side of the Erythraean peninsula is a capacious bay, in which Erythrae is situated, opposite to the island of Chios; and there were in front of Erythrae four small islands called Hippi. The rugged tract which lies north of a line drawn from Erythrae to the Hypocremnus was called Mimas, a lofty mountain region, covered with forests, And abounding in wild animals. It contained a village, Cybellia, and the north-western point was called Melaena, where there was a quarry for millstones. Pliny describes Mimas as running out “CCL M. P.,” which is a great blunder or error in his text, whatever way we take it: he adds that Mimas sinks down in the plains that join it to the mainland; and that this level of 7 1/2 Roman miles Alexander ordered to be cut through by joining the two bays, and so he intended to insulate Erythrae and Mimas. Pliny doubtless found the story somewhere; and possibly among other grand things that the Macedonian king talked of, this may have been one. The rugged insulated territory of the Erythraei produced good wheat and wine.

Herodotus (1.142) makes four varieties or dialects of language among the Ionians; and the dialect of Chios and Eythrae was the same. The geographical position of Erythrae, indeed, places it among the insular rather than the continental states of Ionia. The neighbourhood of Chios and Erythrae and the sameness of language did not make the people the best friends always, for there is a story of a war between them (Hdt. 1.18) at an early period. This may be the war to which Anticleides alluded in his Nosti (Athen. 9.384). The Erythraei furnished eight ships to the confederate Ionian fleet which was defeated in the battle before Miletus, B.C. 494 (Hdt. 6.8), but the Chians had 100 ships. Erythrae afterwards became a dependency of Athens, for a revolt of Erythrae is mentioned by Thucydides (8.23) B.C. 412, in the twentieth year of the Peloponnesian War.

After the close of the war with Antiochus, the Romans rewarded the Chians, Smyrnaeans, and Erythraeans, with some territory in return for their services on the Roman side. (Liv. 38.39; Plb. 22.27.) Parium on the Propontis was a colony from Erythrae (Paus. 9.27.1); but Strabo makes it a joint settlement of the Erythraeans, Milesians, and the island of Paros (p. 588.)

Erythrae was famed in ancient times for a wise woman, Sibylla, as Strabo calls her; aid in the [p. 1.852]time of Alexander there was another who had like prophetic gifts, and her name was Athenais. (Comp. Paus. 10.12.7; Tac. Ann. 6.12.) Contemporary with Strabo was Heracleides of Erythrae, a physician of the school of Herophilus. Though Erythrae never was a town of great note, it existed for a long time, and there are coins of Erythrae to a late period of the Roman empire. The coins anterior to the Roman period are said to be very scarce.

The exact position of Erythrae is well ascertained. It is now called Ritri, and it stands on the south side of a small peninsula, which projects into the bay of Erythrae. Pliny (5.29) mentions a stream called Aleos, which he seems to place near Erythrae (31.2). But the name of the river on the coins of Erythrae is Axus. Erythrae contained a very ancient temple of Hercules, whom the Erythraei worshipped under the name of the Hercules of the Idaei Dactyli; and also the Tyrians, as Pausanias discovered (7.5.5; 9.27.8). Strabo (p. 613) says, that Hercules Ipoctonos “was worshipped by the Erythraeans who dwell about Melius, for the ‘ips’ is an insect that damages the vines; and this was the only country that was free from this plague.” The name Melius in this passage has been, perhaps, correctly altered to Mimas. There was also a temple of Athena Polias at Erythrae: the goddess was a large wooden figure seated. The remains of Erythrae are described by Chandler (Asia Minor, cc. 25, 26.); and lately by Hamilton (Researches, &c., vol. ii. p. 6). “It is situated in a small alluvial plain at the mouth of the river Aleus, some of the sources of which are in the town itself. The city faces the west, and the whole extent of the Hellenic walls may be distinctly traced, from the commencement near the harbour, at the southern extremity of the town, to the northern point, where they terminate on a lofty rock of trachyte.” (Hamilton.) “The walls are well built in the isodomous style, except a small part of that which traverses the plains, and they consist either of blue marble or red trachyte.” There are remains of several gateways, and outside of them also remains of ancient tombs in various styles. Near the chief source of the Aleus there are “many remains of aqueducts, walls, terraces, and foundations of buildings with temples.” (Hamilton.) One of these remains is a wall supporting a terrace 38 feet in length, “the lower part of which consisted of a beautiful specimen of cyclopian architecture, the angles of the different blocks being cut very sharp, while upon it was reared a superstructure in the isodomous style, built with great regularity.” (Hamilton.) He conjectures that the site may have been that of the temple of Hercules, and that three large Ionic capitals of red trachyte, which were lying in the water-course, may have belonged to it.

The acropolis of Erythrae is within 200 yards of the shore; it is a mass of red trachyte, and stands quite detached in the centre of the plain. The remains of a large theatre are still visible, on the north side of it, excavated in the solid rock. Near the mouth of the Aleus there are some remains of the port, and traces of an aqueduct. The inscriptions copied by Hamilton at Ritri are printed in his Appendix, vol. ii. One of the inscriptions that he dug out was the architrave of a door, “on which was a dedication to Minerva or the sibyl Athenais, by a person whose name appears to be Artaxerxes.” This is not quite a correct explanation, for the inscription clearly contains a dedication to Athenaea Poliuchus.

Thucydides (8.24) mentions Pteleon and Sidussa as two forts or walled places within the territory of Erythrae; and Pliny mentions Pteleon, Helos, and Dorium as near Erythrae. There was also a place called Embatum [EMBATUM] in the Erythraean territory.

Mela (1.17) names a place Coryna in the Erythraean peninsula; but it is doubtful what he means. The promontory Mesate of Pausanias (7.5.6) appears to be the double point which extends from the southern part of the Erythraean peninsula northward, separating what we may call the bay of Erythrae from the strait of Chios.



hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.142
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.18
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.12.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.5.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.27.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.3.7
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.23
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.12
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 39
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.24
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 9
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