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HELOS (τὸ Ἕλος), the name of several towns in Greece, so called from their vicinity to marshes.


A town of Laconia, situated east of the mouth of the Eurotas, close to the sea, in a plain which, though marshy near the coast, is described by Polybius as the most fertile part of Laconia. (Plb. 5.19.) In the earliest times it appears to have been the chief town on the coast, as Amyclae was in the interior; for these two places are mentioned together by Homer (Hom. Il. 2.584, Hymn. in Apoll. 410). Helos is said to have been founded by Heleius, the youngest son of Perseus. On its conquest by the Dorians its inhabitants were reduced to slavery; and, according to a common opinion in antiquity, their name became the general designation of the Spartan bondsmen, but the name of these slaves (εἵλωτες) probably signified captives, and was derived from the root of ἑλεῖν. (Paus. 3.20.6: the account differs a little in Strab. viii. p.365, and Athen. 6.265c.; but on the etymology of the word Helots, see Dict. of Ant. p. 591.) In the time of Strabo Helos was only a village; and when it was visited by Pausanias, it was in ruins. (Strab. viii. p.363; Paus. 3.22.3: Helos is also mentioned by Thuc. 4.54; Xen. Hell. 6.5.32; Steph. B. sub voce Leake conjectures that Helos may have stood at Príniko, since this place is distant from Trínisa, the ancient Trinasus, about 80 stadia, which, according to Pausanias, was the distance between these two places; but we learn from the French Commission that Príniko contains only ruins of the middle ages, and that there are some Hellenic remains a little more to the east near Bizani, which is therefore probably the site of Helos. The name of Helos is still given to the plain of the lower Eurotas. (Leake, Morea, vol. i. p. 230; Boblaye, Recherches, p. 94; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii. p. 289.)


A town belonging to Nestor, mentioned by Homer, was placed by some ancient critics on the Alpheius, and by others on the Alorian marsh, where was a sanctuary dedicated by the Arcadians to Artemis; but its position is quite uncertain. (Hom. Il. 2.594; Strab. viii. p.350; Plin. Nat. 4.5. s. 7.)


Near Megalopolis. [MEGALOPOLIS]

hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.584
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.594
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.20.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.22.3
    • Polybius, Histories, 5.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.5
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.54
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 6
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