: Eth. Ναυπάκτιος
by the Greek peasants, Lepanto
by the Italians), an important town of the Locri Ozolae, and the best harbour on the northern coast of the Corinthian gulf, was situated just within the entrance of this gulf, a little east of the promontory Antirrhium.
It is said to have derived its name from the Heracleidae having here built the fleet with which they crossed over to Peloponnesus. (Strab. ix. p.426
; Paus. 10.38.10
; Apollod. 2.8.2
.) Though Naupactus was indebted for its historical importance to its harbour at the entrance of the Corinthian gulf, it was probably originally chosen as a site for a city on account of its strong hill, fertile plains, and copious supply of running water. (Leake, Northern Greece,
vol. ii. p. 608.)
After the Persian wars it fell into the power of the Athenians, who settled there the Messenians, who had been compelled to leave their country at the end of the [p. 2.403]
Third Messenian War, B.C. 455 ; and during the Peloponnesian War it was the head-quarters of the Athenians in all their operations in Western Greece. (Paus. 4.24.7
; Thuc. 1.103
After the battle of Aegospotami the Messenians were expelled from Naupactus, and the Locrians regained possession of the town. (Paus. 10.38.10
It afterwards passed into the hands of the Achaeans, from whom, however, it was wrested by Epaminondas. (Diod. 15.75
.) Philip gave it to the Aetolians (Strab. ix. p.427
; Dem. Phil.
iii. p. 120), and hence it is frequently called a town of Aetolia. (Scylax, p. 14
; Mela, 2.3 ; Plin. Nat. 4.2. s. 3
.) The Aetolians vigorously defended Naupactus against the Romans for two months in B.C. 191. (Liv. 36.30
, seq.; Plb. 5.103
.) Ptolemy (3.15.3
) calls it a town of the Locri Ozolae, to whom it must therefore have been assigned by the Romans after Pliny's time.
Pausanias saw at Naupactus a temple of Poseidon near the sea, a temple of Artemis, a cave sacred to Aphrodite, and the ruins of a temple of Asclepius (10.38. §§ 12, 13). Naupactus is mentioned by Hierocles (p. 643); but it was destroyed by an earth-quake in the reign of Justinian. (Procop. B. Goth.
The situation and present appearance of the town are thus described by Leake:--“The fortress and town occupy the south-eastern and southern sides of a hill, which is one of the roots of Mount Rigásni,
and reaches down to the sea.
The place is fortified in the manner which was common among the ancients in positions similar to that of Épakto,
--that is to say, it occupies a triangular slope with a citadel at the apex, and one or more cross walls on the slope, dividing it into subordinate enclosures. At Épakto
there are no less than five enclosures between the summit and the sea, with gates of communication from the one to the other, and a side gate on the west leading out of the fortress from the second enclosure on the descent.
It is not improbable that the modern walls follow exactly the ancient plan of the fortress, for in many parts they stand upon Hellenic foundations, and even retain large pieces of the ancient masonry amidst the modern work.
The present town occupies only the lowest enclosure; in the middle of which is the small harbour which made so great a figure in ancient history: it is now choked with rubbish, and is incapable of receiving even the larger sort of boats which navigate the gulf.” (Northern Greece,
vol. ii. p. 608.)