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TRACHIS or TRACHIN (Τραχίς, Herod., Thuc., et alii; Τραχίν, Strab.: Eth. Τραχίνιος).


A city of Malis, in the district called after, it Trachinia. It stood in a plain at the foot of Mt. Oeta, a little to the N. or rather W. of Thermopylae, and derived its name from the rocks which surrounded the plain. It commanded the approach to Thermopylae from Thessaly, and was, from its position, of great military importance. (Hdt. 7.176; Strab. ix. p.428; Steph. B. sub voce The entrance to the Trachinian plain was only half a plethrum in breadth, but the surface of the plain was 22,000 plethra, according to Herodotus. The same writer states that the city Trachis was 5 stadia from the river Melas, and that the river Asopus issued from a gorge in the mountains, to the S. of Trachis. (Hdt. 7.198.) According to Thucydides, Trachis was 40 stadia from Thermopylae and 20 from the sea (Thuc. 3.92.) Trachin is mentioned in Homer as one of the cities subject to Achilles (Il. 2.682), and is celebrated in the legends of Hercules as the scene of [p. 2.1218]this hero's death. (Soph. Trach. passim.) It became a place of historical importance in consequence of the colony founded here by the Lacedaemonians in the sixth year of the Peloponnesian War, B.C. 426. The Trachinians and the neighbouring Dorians, who suffered much from the predatory incursions of the Oetaean mountaineers, solicited aid from the Spartans, who eagerly availed themselves of this opportunity to plant a strong colony in this commanding situation. They issued an invitation to the other states of Greece to join in the colony; and as many as 10,000 colonists, under three Spartan oecists, built and fortified a new town, to which the name of HERACLEIA was given, from the great hero, whose name was so closely associated with the surrounding district. (Thuc. 3.92; Diod. 12.59.) It was usually called the Trachinian Heracleia, to distinguish it from other places of the same name, and by later writers Heracleia in Phthiotis, as this district was subsequently included in the Thessalian Phthiotis. (Ἡράκλεια ἐν Τραχινίᾳ, Xen. Hell. 1.2. 18: Diod. 12.77, 15.57; Ἡρακλεῶται οἱ ἐν Τραχῖνι, Thuc. 5.51; Ἡράκλεια Τραχὶν καλουμένη πρότερον, Strab. ix. p.428; Heraclea Trachin dicta, Plin. Nat. 4.7. s. 14; H. Φθιώτιδος, Ptol. 3.13.46.) The new colonists also built a port with docks near Thermopylae. It was generally expected that this city. under the protection of Sparta, would become a formidable power in Northern Greece, but it was attacked from the beginning by the Thessalians, who regarded its establishment as an invasion of their territory; and the Spartans, who rarely succeeded in the government of dependencies, displayed haughtiness and corruption in its administration. Hence the city rapidly dwindled down; and in B.C. 420 the Heracleots were defeated with great loss by the neighbouring Thessalian tribes, and Xenares, the Lacedaemonian governor, was slain in the battle. Sparta was unable at the time to send assistance to their colony; and in the following year the Boeotians, fearing lest the place should fall into the hands of the Athenians, took possession of it, and dismissed the Lacedaemonian governor, on the ground of misconduct. (Thuc. 5.51, 52.) The Lacedaemonians, however, regained possession of the place; and in the winter of B.C. 409--408, they experienced here another disaster, 700 of the Heracleots being slain in battle, together with the Lacedaemonian harmost. (Xen. Hell. 1.3. 18) But, after the Peloponnesian War, Heracleia again rose into importance, and became the head-quarters of the Spartan power in Northern Greece. In B.C. 399 Herippidas, the Lacedaemonian, was sent thither to repress some factious movements in Heracleia; and he not only put to death all the opponents of the Lacedaemonians in the town, but expelled the neighbouring Oetaeans and Trachinians. from their abodes. (Diod. 14.38; Polyaen. 2.21.) In B.C. 395 the Thebans, under the command of Ismenias, wrested this important place from the Spartans, killed the Lacedaemonian garrison, and gave the city to the old Trachinian and Oetaean inhabitants. (Diod. 14.82.) The walls of Heracleia were destroyed by Jason, lest any state should seize this place and prevent him from marching into Greece. (Xen. Hell. 6.4. 27) At a later time Heracleia came into the hands of the Aetolians, and was one of the main sources of their power in Northern Greece. After the defeat of Antiochus at Thermopylae, B.C. 191, Heracleia was besieged by the Roman consul Acilius Glabrio, who divided his army into four bodies, and directed his attacks upon four points at once; one body being stationed on the river Asopus, where was the gymnasium; the second near the citadel outside of the walls (extra muros), which was almost more thickly inhabited than the city itself; the third towards the Maliac gulf; and the fourth on the river Melas, opposite the temple of Diana. The country around was marshy, and abounded in lofty trees. After a siege of twenty-four days the Romans succeeded in taking the town, and the Aetolians retired to the citadel. On the following day the consul seized a rocky summit, equal to the citadel in height, and separated from it only by a chasm so narrow that the two summits were within reach, of a missile. Thereupon the Aetolians surrendered the citadel. (Liv. 36.24.) Leake remarks that it seems quite clear from this account of Livy that the city occupied the low ground between the rivers Karvunariá (Asopus) and Mavra-Néria (Melas), extending from the one to the other, as well as a considerable distance into the plain in a south-eastern direction. There are still some vestiges of the citadel upon a lofty rock above; and upon its perpendicular sides there are many catacombs excavated. “The distance of the citadel above the town justifies the words extra muros, which Livy applies to it, and may explain also the assertion of Strabo (l.c.), that Heracleia was six stadia distant from the ancient Trachis; for, although the town of Heracleia seems to have occupied the same position as the Trachis of Herodotus, the citadel, which, according to Livy, was better inhabited in the Aetolian War than the city, may very possibly have been the only inhabited part of Heracleia two centuries later.” (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. pp. 26--29.)


Surnamed PHOCICA ( Φωκική), a small city of Phocis, situated upon the confines of Boeotia, and on the road to Lebadeia. (Strab. ix. p.423; Paus. 10.3.2.)

hide References (18 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.77
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.38
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 12.59
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.82
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.57
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.176
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.198
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.682
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.3.2
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.92
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.52
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.51
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.2.18
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.3.18
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.4.27
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 36, 24
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.13
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