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GERE´NIA (Γερηνία, Paus., Steph. B. sub voce τὰ Γέρηνα, Strab.; Γέρηνος, Hes. Fragm. 22: Eth. Γερήνιος), a town of Messenia, where Nestor was said to have been brought up after the destruction of Pylos, and whence he derived the surname Gerenian, which occurs so frequently in Homer. There is, however, no town of this name in Homer, and many of the ancient critics identified the later Gerenia with the Homeric Enope. (Il. 1.150; Paus. 3.26.9; Strab. viii. p.360.) Under the Roman empire Gerenia was the most northerly of the Eleuthero-Laconian towns, and was situated on the eastern side of the Messenian gulf, upon the mountainous promontory now called Cape Kepháli. It possessed a celebrated sanctuary of Machaon, which bore the name of Rhodon. Pausanias says that in the district of Gerenia there was a mountain called Calathium, upon which there was a sanctuary of Claea, and close to the latter a cavern, of which the entrance was narrow, though within there were many things worthy to be seen. (Paus. 3.26.11.) This cavern is undoubtedly the one noticed by Leake, which is situated at the head of a little valley behind the beach of Kitriés, and immediately under a rocky gorge in the mountains: at present the entrance is not narrow, but it appears to have been widened to make it more convenient for a sheep-fold, for which purpose it is at present used. Leake observed two or three sepulchral niches in the side of the cliffs about the valley. Two very ancient inscriptions discovered at Gerenia are published by Böckh. (Corp. Inscr. no. 13, 42.)

Gerenia is placed by the French Commission at Zarnta, about three miles from the coast, where a castle built by the Franks rests upon very ancient foundations. But Leake observes that the words of Pausanias (3.26.11)--Ι ερηνίας δὲ ὡς ἐς ηεσόψαιαν ἄνω τριάκοντα ἀτέχει σταδίους Ἀλαψονία--leave little or no doubt that Gerenia was a maritime town, and that it is now represented by Kitriés on the coast. He further supposes that Zarnáta is the site of Alagonia. But since the most ancient towns in Greece were almost universally built at some distance from the coast, it is not improbable that the acropolis and the original town of Gerenia stood at Zarnáta, but that the town itself was afterwards removed to the coast. (Leake, Morea, vol. i. p. 323, Peloponnesiaca, p. 180; Boblaye, Recherches, &c. p. 93; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii. p. 286.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Homer, Iliad, 1.150
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.26.11
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.26.9
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