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METHYMNA (Μήθυμνα, and on coins Μέθυμνα, Μάθυμνα: Eth. Μηθυμναῖος), a town in Lesbos, the most important next after MYTILENE It was situated on the northern shore of the island, where a channel of 60 stadia (Strab. xiii. p.618) intervened between it and the coast of the mainland near Assos.

One of the earliest notices of the Methymnaeans is the mention of their conquest of Arisba, another town of Lesbos, and their enslaving of its citizens. (Hdt. 1.151.) The territory of Methymna seems to have been contiguous to that of Mytilene, and this may have been one cause of the jealousy between the two cities. The power and fame of Mytilene was on the whole far greater; but in one period of the history of Lesbos, Methymna enjoyed greater prosperity. She did not join the revolt of the other Lesbians from Athens in the Peloponnesian War (Thuc. 3.2, 18), and she was therefore exempted from the severe punishment which fell on Mytilene. (Thuc. 3.50.) Hence she retained the old privilege of furnishing a naval contingent instead of a tribute in money. (Thuc. 6.85, 7.57.) Shortly before the battle of Arginusae, Methymna fell into the power of the Lacedaemonians, and it was on this occasion that the magnanimous conduct of Callicratidas presented so remarkable a contrast to that of the Athenians in reference to Mytilene. (Xen. Hell. 1.6.14.) After this time Methymna seems to have become less and less important. It comes into notice, however, in every subsequent period of history. It is mentioned in the treaty forced by the Romans (B.C. 154) between Attalus II. and Prusias II. (Plb. 33.11.) It is stated by Livy (45.31) and by Pliny (5.31) to have incorporated the inhabitants of ANTISSA with its own. Its coins, both autonomous and imperial, are numerous. It was honourably distinguished [see LESBOS] for its resistance to the Mahomedans, both in the 12th and 15th centuries; and it exists on the same spot at the present day, under the name of Molivo.

We have no information concerning the buildings and appearance of ancient Methymna. It evidently possessed a good harbour. Its chief fame was connected with the excellent wine produced in its neighbourhood. (Verg. G. 2.90; Ovid, Art. Am. 1.57; Hor. Sat. 2.8. 50.) Horace (>Od. 1.17. 21) calls Lesbian wine “innocens;” and Athenaeus (ii. p. 45) applies the epithet εὐστόμαχος to a sweet Lesbian wine. In another place (i. p. 32) he describes the medicinal effect of the wine of this island. (See also i. pp. 28, 29; and Aul. Gel. 13.5.) Pliny says (14.9) that it had a salt taste, and apparently mentions this as a merit. Pausanias, in his account of Delphi (10.19), tells a story of some fishermen of Methymna dragging in their nets out of the sea a rude image of Bacchus, which was afterwards worshipped.

Methymna was the birthplace of the poet and musician Arion. Myrsilus also, who is said to have written a history of Lesbos, is supposed to have been born here.



hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.151
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.18
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.2
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.50
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.85
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.6.14
    • Polybius, Histories, 33.11
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.90
    • Horace, Satires, 2.8.50
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.31
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 31
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.57
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 13.5
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