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NEON (Νεών: Eth. Νεώνιος), an ancient town of Phocis, said to have been built after the Trojan war (Strab. ix. p.439), was situated at the foot of Mt. Tithorea, one of the peaks of Mt. Parnassus. Herodotus relates that, when the Persian army invaded Phocis, many of the Phocians took refuge in Tithorea near Neon (8.32), and that the latter city was destroyed by the Persians (8.33). It was, however, afterwards rebuilt; but was again destroyed, with the other Phocian towns, at the end of the Sacred War. (Paus. 10.3.2.) In its neighbourhood, Philomelus, the Phocian general, was defeated, and perished in the flight by throwing himself down from a lofty rock. (Paus. 10.2.4.) Neon now disappears from history, and in its place we read of a town TITHOREA, which is described by Pausanias (10.32.8, seq.). This writer regards Tithorea as situated on the same site as Neon ; and relates that Tithorea was the name anciently applied to the whole district, and that when the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages were collected in the city, the name of Tithorea was substituted for that of Neon. This, however, is not in accordance with the statement of Plutarch, according to whom Tithorea, in the time of the Mithridatic war, was a fortress surrounded by precipitous rocks, where the Phocians took refuge from Xerxes. He further states that it was not such a city as the one existing in his day. (Plat. Sull. 15.) If the view of Plutarch is correct, that the fortress, the site of which was afterwards occupied by the city Tithorea, was the place where the Phocians took refuge from Xerxes, we may conclude that Tithorea and Neon were two different places.

The city, which existed in the time of Plutarch and Pausanias, was a place of some importance, though it had begun to decline for a generation before the time of Pausanias. The latter writer mentions, however, a theatre, the enclosure of an ancient agora, a temple of Athena, and the tomb of Antiope and Phocus. A river flowed by Tithorea, called Cachales (Καχάλης), to which the inhabitants had to descend in order to obtain water. In the territory of Tithorea, but at the distance of 70 stadia from the city, was a temple of Asclepius, and also, at the distance of 40 stadia, a shrine of Isis. (Paus. 10.32. §§ 8--13.) The name is written Τιθορέα in Herodotus and Pausanias, Τιθοραία in Stephanus B., Τιθόρα in Plutarch, but Τιθόρρα in inscriptions. The Ethnic name in Pausanias is Τιθορεεύς, in Stephanus Τιθοραιεύς, but in inscriptions Τιθορεύς.

The ruins of Tithorea are situated at Velítza, a village at the NE. foot of Mt. Parnassus. The site is fixed by an inscription found at Velítza, in which the name of Tithorea occurs. Two-thirds of the modern village stand within the ruined walls of the ancient city. A considerable portion of the walls, and many of the towers, still remain. The town was carefully fortified towards the W. and NW., and was sufficiently protected towards the NE. and E. by the precipitous banks of the Cachales, and towards the S. by the steep sides of Mt. Parnassus. The walls are almost 9 feet broad. The Cachales, which now bears the name of Kakóreuma, or the evil torrent, flows in a ravine below the village, and thus illustrates the statement of Pausanias, that the inhabitants descended to it in order to obtain water. Behind Velítza, ascending the Cachales, there is a cavern on the steep side of the rock, which, during the last war of independence, received a great number of fugitives. It is very spacious, is supplied with excellent water, and is quite impregnable. This is probably the place where the inhabitants of Neon and the surrounding places took refuge in the Persian invasion, as the Delphians did in the Corycian cave [see Vol. I. p. 768], more especially as the height immediately above Velítza is not adapted for such a purpose. A difficult mule path leads at present through the ravine of the Cachales across the heights of Parnassus to Delphi. In the time of Pausanias there were two roads from Tithorea across the mountain to Delphi, one direct, the other longer, but practicable for carriages. Pausanias assigns 80 stadia as the length of the shorter road; but this number cannot be correct, as Leake observes, since the direct distance is hardly less than 12 geographical miles.

Most modern writers have followed Pausanias in identifying Tithorea and Neon; but Ulrichs, for the reasons which have been already stated, supposes them to have been different cities, and places Neon at the Hellenic ruins on the Cephissus, called Paleá Fiva, distant 1 1/2 hour, or 3 1/2 English miles, from Velítza. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 77, seq.; Ulrichs, in Rheinisches Museum, 1843, p. 544, seq.)

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.2.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.32
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.32.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.3.2
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