, Paus. et alii; Στύμφηλον
, Schol. ad Pind. Ol
. 6.129; Stymphalum, Plin. Nat. 4.6. s. 10
; Stymphala, Lucret. 5.31: Eth.Στυμφάλιος
, Eth. Στυμφήλιος
), the name of a town, district, mountain, and river in the NE. of Arcadia.
The territory of Stymphalus is a plain, about six miles in length, bounded by Achaia on the N., Sicyonia and Phliasia on the E., the territory of Mantineia on the S., and that of Orchomenus and Pheneus on the W.
This plain is shut in on all sides by mountains. On the N. rises the gigantic mass of Cyllene, from which a projecting spur, called Mt. Stymphalus, descends into the plain. (Στυμφαλος ὄρος, Ptol. 3.16.14
; Hesych. sub voce
nivalis Stymphalus, Stat. Silv. 4.6. 100
The mountain at the southern end of the plain, opposite Cyllene, was called Apelaurum (τὸ Ἀπέλαυρον, Plb. 4.69
, and at its foot is the katavóthra or subterraneous outlet of the lake of Stymphalus (ἡ Στυμφαλὶς λίμνη, Strab. viii. p.371
; ἡ Στυμφηλίη λίμνη, Hdt. 6.76
This lake is formed partly by the rain-water descending from Cyllene and Apelaurum, and partly by three streams which flow into it from different parts of the plain. From the west descends a small stream, which rises in Mount Geronteium in the neighbourhood of Kastanía;
and from the east comes another stream, which rises near Dusa.
But the most important of the three streams is the one which rises on the northern side of the plain, from a copious kefalóvrysi.
In summer it flows about two miles through the plain into the katavóthra of Apelaurum; but in winter it becomes almost immediately a part of the waters of the lake, though its course may be traced through the shallower water to the katavóthra.
This stream was called Stymphalus by the ancients; it was regarded by them as the principal source of the lake, and was universally believed to make its reappearance, after a subterranean course of 200 stadia, as the river Erasinus in Argolis. (Hdt. 6.76
; Paus. 2.3.5
; Strab. viii. p.371
Vol. I. p. 201a.) The Stymphalii worshipped the Erasinus and Metope (Μετώπη,
Aelian, Ael. VH 2.33
), whence it has been concluded that Metope is only another name of the river Stymphalus. Metope is also mentioned by Callimachus (Call. Jov. 26
), with the epithet pebbly (πολύστειος
), which, as Leake observes, seems not very appropriate to a stream issuing in a body from the earth, and flowing through a marsh. (Peloponnesiaca,
The water, which formed the source of the Stymphalus, was conducted to Corinth by the emperor Hadrian, by means of an aqueduct, of which considerable remains may still be traced.
The statement of Pausanias, that in summer there is no lake, is not correct, though it is confined at that time to a small circuit round the katavóthra.
As there is no outlet for the waters of the lake except the katavóthra, a stoppage of this subterraneous channel by stones, sand, or any other substance occasions an inundation.
In the time of Pausanias there occurred such an inundation, which was ascribed to the anger of Artemis.
The water was said to have covered the plain to the extent of 400 stadia; but this number is evidently corrupt, and we ought probably to read τεσσαράκοντα
instead of τετρακοσίους.
.) Strabo relates that Iphicrates, when besieging Stymphalus without success, attempted to obstruct the katavóthra, but was diverted from his purpose by a sign from heaven (viii. p. 389). Strabo also states that originally there was no subterraneous outlet for the waters of the lake, so that the city of the Stymphalii, which was in his time 50 stadia from the lake, was originally situated upon its margin.
But this is clearly an error, even if his statement refers to old Stymphalus, for the breadth of the whole lake is less than 20 stadia.
The city derived its name from Stymphalus, a son of Elatus and grandson of Areas; but the ancient city, in which Temenus, the son of Pelasgus, dwelt, had entirely disappeared in the time of Pausanias, [p. 2.1040]
and all that he could learn respecting it was, that Hera was formerly worshipped there in three different sanctuaries, as virgin, wife, and widow The modern city lay upon the southern edge of the lake, about a mile and a half from the katavóthra, and upon a rocky promontory connected with the mountains behind. Stymphalus is mentioned by Homer (Hom. Il. 2.608
), and also by Pindar (Pind. O. 6.169
), who calls it the mother of Arcadia. Its name does not often occur in history, and it owes its chief importance to its being situated upon one of the most frequented routes leading to the westward from Argolis and Corinth.
It was taken by Apollonides, a general of Cassander (Diod. 19.63
), and subsequently belonged to the Achaean League (Plb. 2.55
In the time of Pausanias it was included in Argolis (8.22.1).
The only building of the city, mentioned by Pausanias, was a temple of Artemis Stymphalia, under the roof of which were figures of the birds Stymphalides; while behind the temple stood statues of white marble, representing young women with the legs and thighs of birds.
These birds, so celebrated in mythology, the destruction of which was one of the labours of Heracles (Dict. of Biogr.
Vol. II. p. 396), are said by Pausanias to be as large as cranes. but resembling in form the ibis, only that they have stronger beaks, and not crooked like those of the ibis (8.22.5). On some of the coins of Stymphalus, they are represented exactly in accordance with the description of Pausanias.
The territory of Stymphalus is now called the vale of Zaraká,
from a village of this name, about a mile from the eastern extremity of the lake.
The remains of the city upon the projecting cape already mentioned are more important than the cursory notice of Pausanias would lead one to expect. They cover the promontory, and extend as far as the fountain, which was included in the city. On the steepest part, which appears from below like a separate hill, are the ruins of the polygonal walls of a small quadrangular citadel.
The circuit of the city walls, with their round towers, may be traced. To the east, beneath the acropolis, are the foundations of a temple in antis; but the most important ruins are those on the southern side of the hill, where are numerous remains of buildings cut out of the rock. About ten minutes N. of Stymphalus, are the ruins of the medieval town of Krónia
vol. iii. p. 108, seq.; Peloponnesiaca,
p. 384; Boblaye, Recherches, &c.,
p. 384; Ross, Reisen im Peloponnes,
p. 54; Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. i. p. 201, seq.).