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PSOPHIS

PSOPHIS (Ψωφίς: Eth. Ψωφίδιος), a city in the NW. extremity of Arcadia, bounded on the N. by Arcadia, and on the W. by Elis. It was a very ancient place. It is said to have been originally called Erymanthus, and its territory to have been ravaged by the Erymanthian boar. (Paus. 8.24.2; Hecat. ap. Steph. B. sub voce Ψωφίς; Apollod. 2.5.4.) It afterwards received the name of Phegia or Phegeia (Φηγία, Φήγεια), apparently from the oaks (φηγοί), which are still found upon the site of the town; though the ancients, as usual, derived the name from an eponymous founder, Phegeus. (Steph. B. sub voce s. vv. Φήγεια, Ψωφίς; Paus. l.c.) It was called Psophis by Echephron and Promachus, sons of Hercules, who are said to have come from Sicily and given to the town this name after their mother Psophis. (Paus. l.c.) Psophis, while still called Phegia, was celebrated as the residence of Alcmaeon, who fled thither from Argos, after slaying his mother, and married Alphesiboea, the daughter of Phegeus. (Paus. 8.24.8; Dict. of Biogr. s. v. ALCMAEON.) In consequence of their connection with Alcmaeon, the Psophidii took part in the second expedition against Thebes, and refused to join the other Greeks in the Trojan War. (Paus. 8.24.10.)

Psophis is rarely mentioned in history. In B.C. 219 it was in possession of the Eleians, and was taken by Philip, king of Macedonia, who was then in alliance with the Achaeans. In narrating this event Polybius gives an accurate description of the town. “Psophis,” he says, “is confessedly an ancient foundation of the Arcadians in the district Azanis. It is situated in the central parts of Peloponnesus, but in the western corner of Arcadia, and adjoining the Achaeans dwelling furthest towards the west. It also overhangs conveniently the country of the Eleians, with whom the city was then in close alliance. Philip marched thither in three days from Caphyae, and encamped upon the hills opposite to the city, where he could safely have a view of the whole city and the surrounding places. When the king observed the strength of the place, he was at a [p. 2.676]loss what to do. On the western side of the town there is a rapid torrent, impassable during the greater part of the winter, and which, rushing down from the mountains, makes the city exceedingly strong and inaccessible, in consequence of the size of the ravine which it has gradually formed. On the eastern side flows the Erymanthus, a large and impetuous river, concerning which there are so many stories. As the western torrent joins the Erymanthus on the southern side of the city, its three sides are surrounded by rivers, and rendered secure in the manner described. On the remaining side towards the north a strong hill hangs over, surrounded by a wall, and serving the purpose of a well-placed citadel. The town itself also is provided with walls, remarkable for their size and construction.” (Plb. 4.70.) From this description it is evident that the Erymanthus on the eastern side of the city is the river of Sopotó; and that the western torrent, which we learn from Pausanias (8.24.3) bore the name of Aroanius, is the river of Ghermotzána. About 300 feet below the junction of these rivers the united stream is joined by a third, smaller than the other two, called the river of Lópesi or Skupi, which rises on the frontiers of Cleitor, near Seirae. From these three rivers the place is now called Tripótamo. The banks of the Erymanthus and the Aroanius are precipitous, but not very high; and between them and the steep summit of the hill upon which the town stood there is a small space of level or gentlyrising ground. The summit is a sharp ridge, sending forth two roots, one of which descends nearly to the single of junction of the two streams, the other almost to the bank of the Erymanthus at the eastern extremity of the city. (Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 242.)

Philip, in his attack upon Psophis, crossed the bridge over the Erymanthus, which was probably in the same position as the modern bridge, and then drew up his men in the narrow space between the river and the walls. While the Macedonians were attempting to scale the walls in three separate parties, the Eleians made a sally from a gate in the upper part of the town. They were, however, driven back by the Cretans in Philip's army, who followed the fugitives into the town. Euripidas and the garrison then retreated into the citadel, and shortly afterwards surrendered to Philip. (Plb. 4.71, 72.)

Pausanias saw at Psophis a ruined temple of Aphrodite Erycina, heroa of Promachus and Echephron, the tomb of Alcmaeon, and near the Erymanthus a temple sacred to that stream. (Paus. 8.24.7.) Leake also noticed a part of a theatre, not mentioned by Pausanias, on the side of the hill towards the Aroanius. Nine hundred feet above the junction of the two rivers, and near the walls on the bank of the Erymanthus, Leake also found some remains of a public building, 96 feet in length, below which there is a source of water in the bank. He conjectures that they may be the remains of the temple of Erymanthus.

Psophis was about 2 miles in circumference. The town-walls followed the crest of the ridge to the northward and the bank above the two rivers on the opposite side; and they are traceable nearly throughout the entire circuit of the place. On the northeastern side of the town, which is the only part not protected by the two rivers or by the precipices at the back of the hill, there was a double inclosure. Leake could not trace the inclosure of the citadel.

At the distance of 30 stadia from Psophis was Seirae (Σειραί), which Pausanias describes as the boundary of the Psophidii and Cleitorii (8.23.9, 24.3). On the road from Psophis to Thelpusa lay Tropaea, upon the left bank of the Ladon, near which was the grove Aphrodisium, after which caine a column with an ancient inscription upon it, marking the boundaries of Psophis and Thelpusa. (Leake, More, vol. ii. p. 240, seq.; Boblaye, Rècherches, &c. p. 158; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. i. p. 384, seq.)

PLAN OF PSOPHIS. PLAN OF PSOPHIS. a a. Ancient walls.

b. Theatre.

c. Foundations of a large building.

d d. Churches.

e. Bridge over the Aroanius.

f. Bridge over the Erymanthus.

g g. Position of the army of Philip.

h. Khan of Tripótamo.

hide References (9 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (9):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.5.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.24.10
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.24.2
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.24.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.24.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.24.7
    • Polybius, Histories, 4.70
    • Polybius, Histories, 4.71
    • Polybius, Histories, 4.72
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