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ORO´PUS ( Ὠρωπός, rarely Ὠρωπός, Paus. 7.11.4; comp. Steph. B. sub voce: Eth. Ὠρώπιος, and according to Steph B. Ὠρωπεύς), a town on the borders of Attica and Boeotia, and the capital of a district, called after it OROPIA ( Ὠρωπία.) This district is a maritime plain, through which the Asopus flows into the sea, and extends for 5 miles along the shore. It is separated from the inland plain of Tanagra by some hills, which are a continuation of the principal chain of the Diacrian mountains. Oropus was originally a town of Boeotia; and, from its position in the maritime plain of the Asopus, it naturally belonged to that country. (Paus. 1.34.1.) It was, however, a frequent subject of dispute between the Athenians and Boeotians; and the former people obtained possession of it long before the Peloponnesian War. It continued in their hands till B.C. 412, when the Boeotians recovered possession of it. (Thuc. 8.60.) A few years afterwards (B.C. 402) the Boeotians, in consequence of a sedition of the Oropii, removed the town 7 stadia from the sea. (Diod. 14.17.) During the next 60 years the town was alternately in the hands of the Athenians and Boeotians (comp. Xen. Hell. 7.4. 1, &c.), till at length Philip after the battle of Chaeroneia gave it to the Athenians. (Paus. 1.34.1.) In B.C. 318 the Oropians recovered their liberty. (Diod. 18.56.) In B.C. 312 Cassander obtained possession of the city; but Polemon, the general of Antigonus, soon afterwards expelled the Macedonian garrison, and handed over the city to the Boeotians (Diod. 19.77.) It has been concluded from a passage of Dicaearchus (p. 11, ed. Hudson) that Oropus continued to belong to Thebes in the next century; but the expression οἰκία Θηβῶν is corrupt, and no safe conclusion can therefore be drawn from the passage. Leake proposes to read ἀποικία Θηβῶν, Wordsworth (σκία Θηβῶν, but C. Müller, the latest editor of Dicaearchus, reads συνοικία θητῶν. Dicaearchus calls the inhabitants Athenian Boeotians, an epithet which he also applies to the inhabitants of Plataeae. Strabo also describes Oropus as a Boeotian town (ix. p. 404); but Livy (45.27), Pausanias (l.c.), and Pliny (4.7. s. 11) place it in Attica. How long the Oropii inhabited the inland city is uncertain. Pausanias expressly says that Oropus was upon the sea (ἐπὶ θαλάσσης, 1.34.1); and the inhabitants had probably returned to their old town long before his time.

Although Oropus was so frequently in the hands of the Athenians, its name is never found among the Athenian demi. Its territory, however, if not the town itself, appears to have been made an Attic demus under the name of Graea ( Γραῖα). In Homer Oropus does not occur, but Graea is mentioned among the Boeotian towns (Il. 2.498); and this ancient name appears to have been revived by the Athenians as the official title of Oropus. Aristotle said that Oropus was called Graea in his time (ap. Steph. B. sub voce Ὠρωπός); and accordingly we find in an inscription, belonging to this period, the Γραῆς (Γραεῖς) mentioned as a demus of the tribe Pandionis (Ross & Meier, Die Demen von Attika, p. 6, seq.) In the passage of Thucydides (2.23) παρίοντες δὲ Ὠρωπὸν τήν γὴν Πειραϊκὴν καλουμένην, ἢν νεμονται Ὠρώπιοι Ἀθηναίων ὑπήκοοι, ἐδἥωσαν, all the existing MSS. have Πειραϊκήν, but Stephanus, who quotes the passage, reads Γραϊκήν, which Poppo [p. 2.496]and other modern editors have received into the text. It is, however, right to observe that the district of Oropus was frequently designated as the border country or country over the border (τῆς πέραν γῆς, Thuc. 3.91).

According to Dicaearchus (l.c.) the Oropians were notorious for their grasping exactions, levied upon all imports into their country, and were for this reason satirised by Xenon, a comic poet:-- “Πάντες τελῶναι, πάντες εἰσὶν ἅρπαγες.
Κακὸν τέλος γένοιτο τοῖς ᾿Ωρωπίοις.

The position of Oropus is thus defined by Strabo. “The beginning [of Boeotia] is Oropus, and the sacred harbour, which they call Delphinium, opposite to which is old Eretria in Euboea, distant 60 stadia. After Delphinium is Oropus at the distance of 20 stadia, opposite to which is the present Eretria, distant 40 stadia. Then comes Delium.” (Strab. ix. p.403.) The modern village of Oropó stands at the distance of nearly two miles from the sea, on the right bank of the Vouriéni, anciently the Asopus: it contains some fragments of ancient buildings and sepulchral stones. There are also Hellenic remains at the Σκάλα or wharf upon the bay, from which persons usually embark for Euboea: this place is also called ἐς τοὺς ἁγίους ἀτοστόλους, from a ruined church dedicated to the “Holy Apostles.” Leake originally placed Oropus at Oropó and Delphinium at Skála; but in the second edition of his Demi he leaves the position of Oropus doubtful. It seems, however, most probable that Oropus originally stood upon the coast, and was removed inland only for a short time. In the Peloponnesian War Thucydides speaks of sailing to and anchoring at Oropus (3.91, 8.95); and Pausanias, as we have already seen, expressly states that Oropus was upon the coast. Hence there can be little doubt that Skála is the site of Oropus, and that Oropó is the inland site which the Oropians occupied only for a time. It is true that the distance of Oropó from the sea is more than double the 7 stadia assigned by Diodorus, but it is possible that he may have originally written 17 stadia. If Oropus stood at Skála, Delphinium must have been more to the eastward nearer the confines of Attica.

In the territory of Oropus was the celebrated temple of the hero Amphiaraus. According to Pausanias (1.34. § I) it was 12 stadia distant from Oropus. Strabo places it in the district of Psophis, which stood between Rhamnus and Oropus, and which was subsequently an Attic demus (ix. p. 399). Livy calls it the temple of Amphilochus (45.27), who, we know from Pausanias, was worshipped conjointly with Amphiaraus. Livy further describes it as a place rendered agreeable by fountains and rivers; which leads one to look for it at one of two torrents which join the sea between Skála and Kálamo, which is probably the ancient Psophis. The mouth of one of these torrents is distant about a mile and a half from Skála ; at half a mile from the mouth are some remains of antiquity. The other torrent is about three miles further to the eastward; on which, at a mile above the plain, are remains of ancient walls. This place, which is near Kálamo, is called Mavro-Dhílissi, the epithet Mavro (black) distinguishing it from Dhílissi, the site of Delium. The distance of the Hellenic remains on the first-mentioned torrent agree with the 12 stadia of Pausanias; but, on the other hand, inscriptions have been found at Mavro-Dhílissi and Kálamo, in which the name of Amphiaraus occurs. Dicaearchus (l.c.) describes the road from Athens to Oropus as leading through bay-trees (διὰ δαφνίδων) and the temple of Amphiaraus. Wordsworth very ingeniously conjectures δι᾽ Ἀφιδνῶν instead of διὰ δαφνίδων, observing that it is not probable that a topographer would have described a route of about 30 miles, which is the distance from Athens to Oropus, by telling his readers that it passed through “bay-trees and a temple.” Although this reading has been rejected by Leake, it is admitted into the text of Dicaearchus by C. Müller. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 444, seq., Demi of Attica, p. 112, seq.; Finlay, Remarks on the Topography of Oropia and Diacria, in Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, 1839, p. 396, seq.; Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, p. 22, seq.)

hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.17
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.11.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.34
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.34.1
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.91
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.23
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 7.4.1
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.498
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 27
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.60
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 18.56
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 19.77
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