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GERONTHRAE or GERANTHRAE (Γερόνθραι, Paus. 3.21.7, 22.6; Γεράνθραι, Paus. 3.2.6; Steph. B. sub voce Γερένθραι, Hierocl. 392, 14: Eth. Γερονθρήτης), an ancient town of Laconia, situated in a commanding position upon the south-westrern face of the mountain above the plain of the Eurotas. It is represented by Gheráki, a ruined town of the middle ages, the name of which is a corruption of Geronthrae, while its distance from the site of Acriae upon the coast corresponds to the 120 stadia mentioned by Pausanias. We learn from the same writer that Geronthrae possessed a temple and grove of Ares, to whom a yearly festival was celebrated, from which women were excluded. Around the agora there were fountains of potable water. On the acropolis stood a temple of Apollo. (Paus. 3.22. § § 6, 7; στάλα πετρίνα ἐν τὧ ἱερὧ τὧ τοῦ Ἀτόλλωνος, Böckh, Inscr. no. 1334.) On the northern side of the summit of the citadel are the remains of a very ancient wall: the position of the agora is indicated by the fountains of water lower down the hill.

Geronthrae was one of the ancient Achaean cities which resisted for a long time the Dorian conquerors. It was at length taken and colonised by the Spartans, along with Amyclae and Pharis. In the time of the Roman empire it belonged to the Eleuthero-Lacones. (Paus. 3.2.6, 21.7, 22.6.) At the beginning of the fourth century of the Christian era it must have been a market-town of some importance, since a Greek translation of the edict of Diocletian, “De Pretiis Rerum Venalium,” has been discovered at Gheráki. In the middle ages it was the seat of a bishopric, and one of the most important places in the valley of the Eurotas. (Leake, Morea, vol. iii. p. 7, Peloponnesiaca, pp. 149, 362; Boblaye, Recherches, &c. p. 95; Curtius, Peloponneesos, vol. ii. p. 302.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.21.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.22
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.2.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.22.6
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