(ἡ Μεγάλη πόλις
: Eth. Μεγαλοπολίτης
), the “Great City,” one of the most recent of the Grecian cities, and the later capital of Arcadia, was founded in B.C. 370, a few months after the battle of Leuctra, and was finished in the course of three years. (Paus. 8.27.1
; Diod. 15.52
.) Arcadia had been previously divided into a number of independent political communities; and it had always been the object of Sparta to maintain them in their isolated condition, that she might the more easily exercise supremacy over them.
But after the fatal blow, which the Spartans had received at the battle of Leuctra, several of the leading Arcadians, supported by Epaminondas, who was the soul of the undertaking, resolved to found a new city, which should become the capital of an Arcadian confederation. Ten oecists were appointed to carry this resolution into effect, of whom two were from Tegea, two from Mantineia. two from Cleitor, two from the district of Maenalus, and two from that of Parrhasia.
The site, which they chose, was an extensive plain upon the northwest frontier of Laconia; and the city was built upon the river Helisson, a tributary of the Alpheius. Forty distinct Arcadian townships were either persuaded or compelled to contribute their inhabitants to form the new state. (Paus. 8.27
; Diod. 15.94
The inhabitants were furnished from seven states: 10 from Maenalus, 8 from the Parrhasii, 3 from Orchomenus, 4 from Cynuria, 6 from Eutresis, 3 from Tripolis, and probably 6 (though Pausanias mentions the names of only 5) from Aegytis.
The city was 50 stadia (more than 5 miles and a half) in circumference (Plb. 9.21
); while the territory assigned to it was more extensive than that of any other Arcadian state, extending northwards about 23 English miles from the city, being bounded on the east by the territories of Tegea, Mantineia, Orchomenus. and Caphyae, and on the west by those of Messene, Phigalia, and Heraea. (On the foundation of Megalopolis, see Clinton, Fast. Hell.
vol. ii. p. 418; Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece,
vol. v. p. 85, seq.; Grote, Hist. of Greece
vol. x. p. 306, seq.)
Megalopolis was the place of meeting of the Arcadian confederation which was now formed.
The council of the confederation was called the Ten Thousand (οἱ Μύριοι
), and consisted of representatives of all the Arcadian states, except Orchomenus and Heraea.
The number must be regarded as an indefinite one; and it is probable that all the citizens of the separate states had the right of attending the meetings. (Xen. Hell. 6.5. 6
; Diod. 15.59
; Paus. 8.32.1
; Dem. de Fals. Leg.
A body of troops, called Epariti (Ἐπάριτοι
), was raised for the service of the confederation; their number was 5000 (Xen. Hell. 7.4. 34
; Diod. 11.62
The new confederation succeeded for a time in giving a certain degree of unity of sentiment and action to the Arcadians; but its influence gradually declined; and the city of Megalopolis never attained that importance which its founders had anticipated, and which had caused it to be laid out on a scale too large for the the population collected within its walls. (Polyb 2.55.)
Upon the decline of the Theban power, the Spartans directed their attacks against Megalopolis; but these were easily repelled; and upon the rise of the Macedonian power the Megalopolitans formed a close alliance with Philip, and subsequently with Alexander, as their best security against their formidable neighbour.
After the death of Alexander they continued faithful to the Macedonian alliance, and refused to join the other Greeks against Antipater.
In the contest between Polysperchon and Cassander, Megalopolis espoused the side of the latter; in consequence of which Polysperchon laid siege to the city in B.C. 318.
It was, however, bravely defended by its inhabitants, under an officer named Damis; and though Polysperchon succeeded in making a breach in its walls, he was finally repulsed with loss. (Diod. 18.70
.) We learn from Diodorus (l.c.
) that the territory of Megalopolis possessed at this time 15,000 men capable of bearing arms, which implies a population of about 65,000 souls.
After this time Megalopolis was governed by tyrants, of whom the first was Aristodemus, a Phigalian by birth, who, on account of his good qualities, was called Χρηστός.
During his reign the Spartans, under their king Acrotatus, the son of Areus, and grandson of Cleonymus II., attacked Megalopolis, but were defeated, and Acrotatus was slain. (Paus. 8.27.11
, who erroneously calls Acrotatus the son of Cleonymus.) Two generations later Lydiades, a native of Megalopolis, became tyrant of the city, but he voluntarily resigned his power in B.C. 232, and united Megalopolis to the Achaean League. (Paus. 8.27.12
, seq.; Plb. 2.44
.) In B.C. 222, Cleomenes III. surprised Megalopolis; the greater part of the inhabitants succeeded in making their escape to Messene; but, after plundering the city, he laid the greater part of it in ruins. (Paus. 8.27.15
, seq.; Plb. 2.55
; Plut. Phil. 5
25.) Soon after the defeat of Cleomenes at the battle of Sellasia (B.C. 221), the Megalopolitans began to rebuild their city; but a dispute arose among them respecting its size. One party wished the compass of the walls to be contracted, that they might be the more easily defended; and the other [p. 2.308]
insisted upon preserving the former dimensions of the city.
The former party, through the mediation of Aratus, appear to have prevailed, and the city was unfortunately rebuilt in its original magnitude. (Plb. 5.93
The fortifications were sufficiently strong to resist the attack of the tyrant Nabis (Plut. Phil. 13
); but they were again suffered to fall into decay; and even as soon as B.C. 175, we find that Antiochus IV. Epiphanes promised the Megalopolitans to surround their city with a wall, and gave them the greater part of the necessary money. (Liv. 41.20
.) Polybius remarks (9.21) that the population of Megalopolis in his time was only the half of that of Sparta, although it was two stadia greater in circumference. So much was it reduced, that a comic poet, quoted by Strabo, described “the Great City as a great desert” (ἐρημία μεγάλη 'στὶν ἡ Μεγάλη πόλις,
viii. p. 388). Accustomed as Pausanias was to the sight of fallen cities, the ruined condition of Megalopolis appears to have particularly impressed him, and gave rise to the reflections which he has inserted after his description of the city (8.33). Megalopolis was the birthplace of Philopoemen, and of the historian Polybius.
Megalopolis was situated in the middle of a plain, and, unlike the generality of Grecian cities, possessed no height, which might be converted into an acropolis. Mantineia, which was also rebuilt about the same time, was placed in a level situation, instead of its old position upon a hill.
A level situation appears to have been chosen as more convenient for a large population than the rocky heights upon which the old Greek cities were built; while the improvements which had been made in the art of fortifying cities enabled their inhabitants to dispense with natural defences.
The city lay upon either bank of the Helisson, which flowed through it from east to west, and divided it into nearly two equal parts.
|RUINS OF MEGALOPOLIS.
RUINS OF MEGALOPOLIS., A A. Orestia.
B B. The Helisson.
G. Temple of Athena Polias.
H. Temple of Hera Teleia.
I. The Bathyllus. |
The Helisson flows into the Alpheius about 2 1/2 English miles from the city.
The southern half of the city was called ORESTIA (Ὀρεστία
), from an ancient settlement of the Maenalians upon this spot. (Steph. B. sub voce Μεγάλη πόλις.
The ruins of Megalopolis are near the modern village of Sinánu
; but almost all trace of the walls has disappeared, because they were probably built, like those of Mantineia (Xen. Hell. 5.2. 5
; Paus. 8.8.5
), of unburnt bricks. Pausanias has given a particular description of the public buildings (8.30--32), the site of some of which may still be fixed by the existing remains.
The two most important buildings were the theatre, on the left or southern side of the river, and the Agora on the right.
The colossal remains of the theatre are conspicuous in the whole plain. Several of the seats remain, and a part of the wall of the cavea.
It is described by Pausanias (8.32.1
) as the greatest theatre in Greece, and was 480 feet in diameter. Pausanias says that in the theatre there was a perennial fountain, which Leake could not find, but which Ross noticed in the Orchestra; it is now covered with rubbish, so that it is not visible, but in dry seasons it makes the ground quite moist and slippery. On the eastern side of the theatre was the stadium, the position of which is indicated in the shape of the ground near the river. Here is a fountain of water, which Pausanias says was in the stadium, and was sacred to Dionysus. On the eastern side of the stadium was a temple of Dionysus; and below the stadium, towards the river, were a sanctuary of Aphrodite, and an altar of Ares. Ross supposes a circular foundation close to the bank of the river to be the altar of Ares, and a quadrangular foundation between this and the theatre to be the temple of Aphrodite. East of the temple of Dionysus there is another source of water, also mentioned by Pausanias, by which we can fix the position of the temple of Asclepius the Boy; above which, on a gently sloping hill, was a temple of Artemis Agrotera. West of the theatre was the Thersilium, named from the person who built it, in which the Ten Thousand were accustomed to meet; and near it was a house, built originally by the Megalopolitans for Alexander, the son of Philip.
In this same locality there were a few foundations of a temple sacred to Apollo, Hermes, and the Muses.
Opposite the western end of the theatre there are, on both sides of the river, but more especially on the northern bank, large masses of square stones.
These are probably the remains of the principal bridge over the Helisson, which led from the theatre to the Agora on the northern side of the river. The Agora was built on a magnificent scale, and extended along the river close to the western walls of the city; since Pausanias, who entered Megalopolis upon this side, immediately came upon the Agora. As Pausanias has given a fuller description of the Agora of Megalopolis than of any other in Greece, the following restoration of it (taken from Curtius) may be found useful in understanding the general form and arrangement of such buildings.
In the centre of the Agora was an inclosure sacred to Zeus Lycaeus, who was the tutelary deity of all Arcadia.
It had no entrance; but the objects it contained were exposed to public view; here were seen two altars of the god, two tables, two eagles, and a statue in stone of Pan.
Before the sacred inclosure of Zeus there was a statue of Apollo in brass, 12 feet high, which was brought from Bassae by the Phigalians, to adorn the new capital; it survived the destruction of the city, and is represented on coins of Septimius Severus.
This colossal statue probably stood on the west side of the sanctuary of Zeus. To the right of the colossal statue was the temple of the Mother of the Gods, of which [p. 2.309]
only the columns remained in the time of Pausanias.
|AGORA OF MEGALOPOLIS.
AGORA OF MEGALOPOLIS., A. Sanctuary of Zeus.
B. Statue of Apollo.
C. Temple of the Mother of the Gods.
D. Stoa of Philip.
E. Temple of Hermes.
F. Stoa of the Archives.
G. Stoa of Myropolis.
H. Statue of Polybius.
I. Stoa of Aristander.
L. Temple of Zeus Soter.
M. Sacred Inclosure of the Great Goddesses.
N. Gymnasium. |
On the northern side of the Agora lay the Stoa of Philip, the son of Amyntas, which was named in honour of this king, on account of the services he had rendered to Megalopolis. Near it were the remains of the temple of Hermes Acacesius. Alongside of the Stoa of Philip, was another smaller Stoa, containing the Archives (τὰ ἀρχεῖα
), and consisting of six compartments. Behind the Stoa of the Archives was a temple of Tyche (Fortune).
The Stoa called Myropolis, where the shops of the perfumers stood, was probably on the eastern side of the Agora.
It was built from the spoils of the Lacedaemonians under Acrotatus, when they were defeated by Aristodemus. Between it and the sanctuary of Zeus was the statue of Polybius. To the left of this statue was the Bouleuterium, or Senate House.
In the south of the Agora may be placed the Stoa of Aristander, named after its founder.
At the eastern end of this Stoa, was a Peripteral Temple of Zeus Soter, containing a statue of the god seated between the goddesses Megalopolis and Artemis Soteira.
At the other, or western end of the same Stoa, was the sacred inclosure of the Great Goddesses Demeter and Core (Persephone), containing several temples. The Gymnasium stood on the western side of the Agora.
To the north of the Agora, behind the Stoa of Philip, there were two small heights, on one of which stood the ruins of the temple of Athena Polias, and on the other those of Hera Teleia.
The foundations of these temples are still visible.
At the foot of the temple of Hera Teleia was the stream Bathyllus, flowing into the Helisson. Parallel to the Bathyllus is another stream; and the hill between these two streams is, perhaps, the Scoleitas mentioned by Pausanias (8.31.7
), who says that it lies within the walls, and that a stream descends from it to the Helisson.
Some excavations were made on the site of Megalopolis by Ross in 1834, but nothing of importance was found.
Pausanias also gives a minute account of the principal roads leading from Megalopolis. Of these he mentions eight, leading respectively to Messene, Carnasium, Sparta, Methydrium, Maenalus, Phigaleia, Tegea and Heraea.
The road to Messene passed, at the distance of 7 stadia from the city, a temple of the goddesses called Maniae, a name of the Eumenides, because Orestes here became insane on account of the murder of his mother.
A little further was a small heap of earth, called the Monument of the Finger, because Orestes, in his madness, here bit off one of his fingers; still further was a place called Acé, because Orestes was here healed of his disorder, containing another temple of the Eumenides; and lastly a sanctuary named Cureium, because Orestes here cut off his hair.
These stations lay between the villages Sináno
and St. Bei,
in the district where there are four tumuli. From the Maniae there was a distance of 15 stadia to the Alpheius, near the place where it receives the Gatheatas, joined by the Carnion.
This united stream is the Xeriló Potamó.
From the Alpheius the road led to CROMI
a distance of 40 stadia, and from Cromi to NYMPHAS
a distance of 20 stadia. Nymphas was a place abounding in water and trees, from which there were 30 stadia to the HERMAEUM, which marked the boundaries of Megalopolis and Messenia. (Paus. 8.34
The road to Carnasium, in Messenia, ran north of the former road, but parallel to it.
It crossed the Alpheius, where it is joined to the united waters of the MALŪS (Μαλοῦς
) and SCYRUS
). The Malus is probably the river of Neokhóri,
which, a little westward of Dedébey,
receives a small stream answering to the Scyrus.
After proceeding from thence 30 stadia on the right bank of the Malus, you crossed the river and ascended, by a steep path, to a village called PHAEDRIAS
), which appears to have stood on the height above Neokhóri.
Fifteen stadia further was the HERMAEUM, named Despoena, another boundary between the territories of Megalopolis and Messenia. (Paus. 8.35
. § § 1, 2.)
The road to Sparta was for the most part the same as the modern road from Leondari
At the distance of 30 stadia the road crossed the Alpheius, where it is joined by the THEIŪS (Θειοῦς
), now called Kutufarína.
From thence the road followed the left bank of the Theius for 40 stadia to PHALESIAE (Φαλαισίαι
), which was 20 stadia distant from the HERMAEUM towards Belemina. About 20 stadia beyond is the division of the waters flowing southward to the Eurotas, and northward to the Alpheius. (Paus. 8.35
The road to Methydrium was 170 stadia in length.
It ran northwards from Megalopolis through that portion of central Arcadia which was surrounded by the rivers Gortynius, Alpheius, and Helisson. Thirteen stadia from the city was a place called SCIAS
), with a temple of Artemis Sciatis, founded by the tyrant Aristodemus. Ten stadia further lay CHARISIAE (Χαρισιαί
), and from thence, at the distance of another 10 stadia, was TRICOLONI
These two cities were in ruins in the time of Pausanias. Tricoloni, which was founded by the sons of Lycaon, still possessed a temple of Poseidon, standing upon a hill in a grove of trees. We may place Tricoloni near the modern Karatúla,
on the edge of the plain of Megalopolis. At Methydrium two side roads branched off from the main road.
The road to the left went by Zoetia (10 stadia), Paroreia (10 stadia), and Thyraeum (15 stadia), to Hypsus. ZOETIA
Paus.; Ζοίτειον, Ζοίτεια, Steph. B. sub voce
) were founded by Tricolonus. They were in ruins [p. 2.310]
in the time of Pausanias, but in Zoetia there still remained a temple of Demeter and Artemis. Paroreia probably occupied the site of Paleomíri. THYRAEUM
) was founded by a son of Lycaon, and may be placed at Palamári,
at the foot of the mountain.
The other side road branched off from Methydrium to the right, ascending to the fountain CRUNI
), and from thence descending 30 stadia to the tomb of Callisto, a lofty mound of earth, upon which was a temple of Artemis Calliste. Here Pausanias turned to the left, and at the distance of 25 stadia from this tomb he reached ANEMOSA
), on the direct road from Megalopolis to Methydrium. As Anemosa was 100 stadia from Tricoloni and 57 from Methydrium, it may be placed at Zibovísi.
Beyond Anemosa the road passed over the mountain Phalanthum, upon which were the ruins of the town PHALANTHUS (Φάλανθος
). On the other side of this mountain was the plain of Polus, and near it SCHOENUS
), which was called from a Boeotian of this name: near Schoenus were the race-grounds of Atalanta. Methydrium was the next place. [METHYDRIUM
] (Paus. 8.35.5
The road to Maenalus, led along the Helisson to the foot of Mt. Maenalus.
In leaving the city it first ran through a marshy district, which was here called Helos; it then entered a narrow valley, in which was a place called PALISCIUS
), where a mountain torrent, named Elaphus, flowed into the Helisson on the left: this is the torrent which flows from Valtétzi.
Here a side road ran along the left bank of the Elaphus, for 20 stadia, to PERAETHEIS
), where was a temple of Pan; it must have stood near Rakhamýtes.
But the direct road crossed the Elaphus, and entered the Maenalian plain, at the distance of 15 stadia from the Elaphus.
This number, however, is much too small, as it is 5 geographical miles from the junction of the Elaphus with the Helisson into the Maenalian plain. (Leake, Peloponnesiaca,
p. 242; Paus. 8.36.5
The road to Phigaleia crossed the Alpheius at the distance of 20 stadia from Megalopolis. Two stadia from the Alpheius were the ruins of MACAREAE
7 stadia further those of DASEAE
and again 7 stadia the hill Acacesius, upon which stood the city ACACESIUM
At the distance of 4 stadia from Acacesium, was the temple of Despoena, one of the most celebrated sanctuaries in the Peloponnesus, and of which Pausanias has given a particular description. Adjoining, was the temple of Pan, above which stood the ancient city of LYCOSURA
Between Lycosura and the river Plataniston, which was 30 stadia from Phigaleia, Pausanias mentions no object, though the direct distance between Lycosura and this river is 9 geographical miles. (Paus. 8.36
. § § 9--39.)
The road to Pallantium and Tegea, passed first through LADOCEIA
a suburb of Megalopolis, next by the ruins of HAEMONIAE [see Vol. I. p. 192b.]; beyond which, to the right of the road, were the ruins of ORESTHASIUM; while upon the direct road were the villages of APHRODISIUM
and ATHENAEUM; and 20 stadia beyond the latter the ruins of ASEA
near which were the sources of the Alpheius and the Eurotas. From Asea there was an ascent to the mountain called Boreium, upon which was the Choma, marking the boundaries of Megalopolis, Pallantium, and Tegea. (Paus. 8.44
The road to Heraea was the one by which Pausanias travelled to Megalopolis, and consequently is described by him in an inverse direction to that of the others.
This was the great Roman road through the Peloponnesus, which occurs in the Peutinger Table.
After leaving Heraea, the first place was MELAENEAE
which in the time of Pausanias was deserted and covered with water. Forty stadia above Melaeneae was BUPHAGIUM
at the sources of the river Buphagus, near which were the boundaries of Heraea and Megalopolis. Next to Buphagium came the village MARATHA, and then GORTYS
Further on was the sepulchre of those slain in battle against Cleomenes, and called PARAEBASIUM
), because Cleomenes violated his covenant with them. On the right of the road were the ruins of BRENTHE, and on the other side of the Alpheius the ruins of TRAPEZUS
Descending from thence towards the Alpheius was a place called BATHOS
Ten stadia further was BASILIS; beyond which, after crossing the Alpheius, the traveller came to THOCNIA
a deserted city standing upon a height above the Aminius, a tributary of the Helisson. (Paus. 8.26.8
vol. ii. p. 29, seq. p. 288, seq., Peloponnesiaca, p.
231, seq.; Boblaye, Récherches, &c.
p. 167, seq.; Ross, Reisen im Peloponnes,
p. 74, seq.; Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. i. p. 281, seq.)
|COIN OF MEGALOPOLIS.|