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OLYNTHUS (Ὄλυνθος, Scyl. p. 26; Strab. vii. p.330; Steph. B. sub voce Pomp. Mela, 2.2.9; Plin. Nat. 4.17: Eth. Ὀλύνθιος), a town which stood at the head of the Toronaic gulf, between the peninsulas of Pallene and Sithonia, and was surrounded by a fertile plain. Originally a Bottiaean town, at the time of the Persian invasion it had passed into the hands of the Chalcidic Greeks (Hdt. 7.122; Strab. x. p.447), to whom, under Critobulus of Torone, it was handed over, by the Persian Artabazus, after taking the town, and slaying all the inhabitants (Hdt. 8.127). Afterwards Perdiccas prevailed on many of the Chalcidian settlers to abandon the small towns on the sea-coast, and make Olynthus, which was several stadia from the sea, their central position (Thuc. 1.58). After this period the Bottiaei seem to have been the humble dependents of the Chalcidians, with whom they are found joined on two occasions (Thuc. 1.65, 2.79). The expedition of Brasidas secured the independence of the Olynthians, which was distinctly recognised by treaty (Thuc. 5.19.) The town, from its maritime situation, became a place of great importance, B.C. 392. Owing to the weakness of Amyntas, the Macedonian king, they were enabled to take into their alliance the smaller towns of maritime Macedonia, and gradually advanced so far as to include the larger cities in this region, including even Pella. The military force of the Olynthian confederacy had now become so powerful from the just and generous principles upon which it was framed, including full liberty of inter-marriage, of commercial dealings, and landed proprietorship, that Acanthus and Apollonia, jealous of Olynthian supremacy, and menaced in their independence, applied to Sparta, then in the height of its power, B.C. 383, to solicit intervention. The Spartan Eudamidas was at once sent against Olynthus, with such force as could be got ready, to check the new power. Teleutias, the brother of Agesilaus, was after-wards sent there with a force of 10,000 men, which the Spartan assembly had previously voted, and was joined by Derdas, prince of Elimeia, with 400 Macedonian horse. But the conquest of Olynthus was no easy enterprise its cavalry was excellent, and enabled them to keep the Spartan infantry at bay. Teleutias, at first successful, becoming over confident, sustained a terrible defeat under the walls of the city. But the Spartans, not disheartened, thought only of repairing their dishonour by fresh exertions. Agesipolis, their king, was placed in command, and ordered to prosecute the war with vigour; the young [p. 2.481]prince died of a fever, and was succeeded by Polybiades as general, who put an end to the war, B.C. 379. The Olynthians were reduced to such straits, that they were obliged to sue for peace, and, breaking up their own federation, enrolled themselves as sworn members of the Lacedaemonian confederacy under obligations of fealty to Sparta (Xen. Hell. 5.2. 12, 3.18; Diod. 15.21-23; Dem. de Fals. Leg. 100.75. p. 425). The subjugation of Olynthus was disastrous to Greece, by removing the strongest bulwark against Macedonian aggrandisement. Sparta was the first to crush the bright promise of the confederacy; but it was reserved for Athens to deal it the most deadly blow, by the seizure of Pydna, Methone, and Potidaea, with the region about the Thermaic gulf, between B.C. 368--363, at the expense of Olynthus. The Olynthians, though humbled, were not subdued; alarmed at Philip's conquest of Amphipolis, B.C. 358, they sent to negotiate with Athens, where, through the intrigues of the Macedonians, they were repulsed. Irritated at their advances being rejected, they closed with Philip, and received at his hands the district of Anthemus, as well as the important Athenian possession of Potidaea. (Dem. Philipp. ii. p. 71. s. 22). Philip was too near and dangerous a neighbour; and, by a change of policy, Olynthus concluded a peace with Athens B.C. 352. After some time, during which there was a feeling of reciprocal mistrust between the Olynthians and Philip, war broke out in the middle of B.C. 350. Overtures for an alliance had been previously made by Athens, with which the Olynthians felt it prudent to close. On the first recognition of Olynthus as an ally, Demosthenes delivered the earliest of his memorable harangues; two other Olynthiac speeches followed. For a period of 80 years Olynthus had been the enemy of Athens, but the eloquence and statesman-like sagacity of Demosthenes induced the people to send succours to their ancient foes: and yet lie was not able to persuade them to assist Olynthus with sufficient vigour. Still the fate of the city was delayed; and the Olynthians, had they been on their guard against treachery within, might perhaps have saved themselves.. The detail of the capture is unknown, but the struggling. city fell, in. B.C. 347, into the hands of Philip, “callidus emptor Olynthi” (Juv. 14.47), through the treachery of Lasthenes and Euthycrates; its doom was that of one taken by storm (Dem. Philipp. iii. pp. 125--128, Fals. Leg. p. 426; Diod. xvi..53). All that survived--men, women, and. children--were sold as slaves; the town itself was destroyed. The fall of Olynthus completed the conquest of the Greek cities. from the Thessalian frontier as far as Thrace--in all 30 Chalcidic cities. Demosthenes (Philipp. iii. p. 117; comp. Strab. ii. p.121; Just. 8.3), speaking of them about five years afterwards, says that they were so thoroughly destroyed, that it might be supposed that they had never been inhabited. The site of Olynthus at Aio Mamás is, however, known by its distance of 60 stadia front Potidaea, as well as by some vestiges of the city still existing, and by its lagoon, in which Artabazus slew the inhabitants. The name of this marsh was BOLYCA ( Βολυκὴ λίμνη, Hegisander, ap. Athen. p. 334). Two rivers, the AMITAS (Ἀμίτας) and OLYNTHIACUS (Ὀλυνθιακός), flowed into this lagoon from Apollonia (Athen. l.c.). MECYBERNA was its harbour; and there was a spot near it, called CANTHAROLETHRON (Κανθαρώλεθρον, Strab. vii. p.330; Plut. de An. Tranq. 475. 45; Arist. Mirab. Ausc. 120; Plin. Nat. 11.34), so called because black beetles could not live there. Eckhel (vol. ii. p. 73) speaks of only one extant coin of Olynthus--the “type” a head of Heracles, with the lion's skin; but Mr. Millingen has engraved one of those beautiful Chalcidian coins on which the “legend” ΟΛΥΝΘ surrounds the head of Apollo on the one side, and the word ΧΑΛΧΙΔΕΩΝ, his lyre, on the reverse. (Cousinery, Voyage, vol. ii. p. 161; Leake, North. Greece, vol. iii. pp. 154, 457--459; Voemel, de Olynthi Situ, civitate, potentia, et eversione, Francof. ad M. 1829; Winiewski, Comm. ad Dem. de Cor. pp. 66, seq.)


hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.21
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.23
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.122
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.127
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.58
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.65
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.79
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 5.2.12
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 5.3.18
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 11.34
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.17
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.19
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 8
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