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PATRAE (Πάτραι; in Hdt. 1.145, Πατρέες, properly the name of the inhabitants: Eth. Πατρεύς, Thuc.; Πατραιεύς, Pol. 4.6; Patrensis: Patrasso, Patras, Patra), a town of Achaia, and one of the twelve Achaean cities, was situated on the coast, W. of the promontory Rhium, near the opening of the Corinthian gulf. (Hdt. 1.145; Pol. 2.41; Strab. viii. p.386.) It stood on one of the outlying spurs of Mount Panachaïcus (Voidhiá), which rises immediately behind it to the height of 6322 feet. It is said to have been formed by an union of three small places, named Aroë (Ἀρόη), Antheia (Ἄνθεια), and Mesatis (Μεσάτις), which had been founded by the Ionians, when they were in the occupation of the country. After the expulsion of the Ionians, the Achaean hero Patreus withdrew the inhabitants from Antheia and Mesatis to Aroë, which he enlarged and called Patrae after himself. The acropolis of the city probably continued to bear the name of Aroë, which was often used as synonymous with Patrac. Strabo says that Patrae was formed by a coalescence of seven demi; but this statement perhaps refers to the restoration of the town mentioned below. (Paus. 7.18.2, seq.; Strab. viii. p.337.) In the Peloponnesian War Patrae was the only one of the Achaean cities which espoused the Athenian cause; and in B.C. 419, the inhabitants were persuaded by Alcibiades to connect their city by means of long walls with its port. (Thuc. 5.52; Plut. Alc. 15.) After the death of Alexander the city fell into the hands of Cassander, but his troops were driven out of it by Aristodemus, the general of Antigonus, B.C. 314. (Diod. 19.66.) In B.C. 280 Patrae and Dyme were the first two Achaean cities which expelled the Macedonians, and their example being shortly afterwards followed by Tritaea and Pharae, the Achaean League was renewed by these four towns. [See Vol. I. p. 15.] In the following year (B.C. 279) Patrae was the only one of the Achaean cities which sent assistance to the Aetolians, when their country was invaded by the Gauls. In the Social War Patrae is frequently mentioned as the port at which Philip landed in his expedition into Peloponnesus. In the war between the Achaeans and the Romans Patrae suffered so severely, that the greater part of the inhabitants abandoned the city and took up their abodes in the surrounding villages of Mesatis, Antheia, [p. 2.558]Bolina, Argyra, and Arba. (Pol. 5.2, 3, 28, &c.; Paus. 7.18.6.; PoL 40.3.) Of these places we know only the position of Bolina and Argyra. Bolina was a little S. of the promontory Drepanumn, and gave its name to the river Bolinaeus. (Paus. 7.24.4.) Argyra was a little S. of the promontory Rhium. (Paus. 7.23.1.) Patrae continued an insignificant town down to the time of Augustus, although it is frequently mentioned as the place at which persons landed going from Italy to Greece. (Cic. Fam. 7.2. 8, 16.1, 5, 6, ad Att. 5.9, 7.2.) After the battle of Pharsalia (B.C. 48) Patrae was taken possession of by Cato, but shortly afterwards surrendered to Calenus, Caesar's lieutenant. It was here also that Antony passed the winter (32--31) when preparing for the war against Augustus; and it was taken by Agrippa shortly before the battle of Actium. (D. C. 42.13, 14, 1. 9, 13.) It owed its restoration to Augustus, who resolved after the battle of Actium to establish two Roman colonies on the western coast of Greece, and for this purpose made choice of Nicopolis and Patrae. Augustus colonised at Patrae a considerable body of his soldiers, again collected its inhabitants from the surrounding villages, and added to them those of Rhypes. (Paus. 7.18.7; Plin. Nat. 4.5.) He not only gave Patrae dominion over the neighbouring towns, such as Pharae (Paus. 7.22.1), Dyme (Paus. 7.17.5), Tritaea (Paus. 7.23.6), but even over Locris. (Paus. 10.38.9.) On coins it appears as a Roman colony with the name of Colonia Augusta Aroë Patrensis. Strabo describes it in his time as a populous place with a good anchorage, and Pausanias has devoted four chapters to an account of its public buildings. (Strab. viii. p.387; Paus. 7.18-21.) Of these the most important appear to have been a temple of Artemis Laphria, on the acropolis, with an ancient statue of this goddess, removed from Calydon to Patrae by order of Augustus, and in whose honour an annual festival was celebrated; the Odeum, which was the most magnificent building of the kind in Greece, after the Odeum of Herodes at Athens; the theatre; and on the seaside a temple of Demeter, which was remarkable on account of a well in front of it, which was supposed to foretell the fate of sick persons; a mirror was suspended on the water, and on this mirror there were certain appearances indicating whether the person would live or die. In the time of Pausanias Patrae was noted for its manufacture of byssus or flax, which was grown in Elis, and was woven at Patrae into head-dresses (κεκρν́φαλοι) and garments. Women were employed in this manufacture, and so large was their number that the female population was double that of the male; and as a natural consequence there was great immorality in the town. (Paus. 7.21.14.)

Patrae has continued down to the present day to be one of the most important towns in the Morea, being admirably situated for communicating with Italy and the Adriatic, and with eastern Greece by means of the gulf of Corinth. It is frequently mentioned in the Byzantine writers. In A.D. 347 there was an archbishop of Patrae at the council of Sardica. In the sixth century it was destroyed by an earthquake. (Piocop. Goth. 4.25.) It is subsequently mentioned as a dukedom of the Byzantine empire; it was sold to the Venetians in 1408; was taken by the Turks in 1446; was recovered by the Venetians in 1533; but was shortly afterwards taken again by the Turks, and remained in their hands till the Greek revolution.

The country around Patras is a fine and fertile plain, and produces at present a large quantity of currants, which form an article of export. The modern town occupies the same site as the ancient city. It stands upon a ridge about a mile long, the summit of which formed the acropolis, and is now occupied by the ruins of the Turkish citadel. From the town there is a beautiful sea-view. “The outline of the land on the opposite side of the gulf, extends from the snowy tops of Parnassus in the east, to the more distant mountains of Acarnania in the same direction, while full in front, in the centre of the prospect, are the colossal pyramids of Kakíscala (the ancient Taphiassus) and Varásova (the ancient Chalcis), rising in huge perpendicular masses from the brink of the water.” (Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. ii. p. 300.) There are very few remains of antiquity at Patras. The modern citadel contains some pieces of the walls of the ancient acropolis, and there are ruins of the Roman aqueduct of brick. The well mentioned by Pausanias is still to be seen about three quarters of a mile from the town under a vault belonging to the remains of a church of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Patras. Before the Greek revolution, in which Patras suffered greatly, its population was about 10,000; but its present population is probably somewhat less. (Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 123, seq.)


hide References (18 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.16.1
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.145
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.38.9
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.17.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.18.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.21
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.18
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.18.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.18.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.21.14
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.22.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.23.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.23.6
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.24.4
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.52
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.5
    • Plutarch, Alcibiades, 15
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 19.66
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