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CHAERONEIA

CHAERONEIA (Χαιρώνεια: Eth. Χαιρωνεύς, fem. Χαιρωνίς: Adj. Χαιρωνικός: Kápurna), a town of Boeotia, situated near the Cephissus, upon the borders of Phocis. The town itself does not appear to have been of much importance; but it has obtained great celebrity in consequence of the battles which were fought in its neighbourhood. Its position naturally rendered it the scene of military operations, since it stood in a small plain, which commanded the entrance from Phocis into Boeotia, and which accordingly would be occupied by an army desirous of protecting Boeotia from an invading force. Chaeroneia was situated at the head of the plain, shut in by a high projecting rock, which formed, in ancient times, the citadel of the town, and was called Petrachus or Petrochus (Πέτραχος, Paus. 9.41.6 ; Πέτρωχος, Plut. Sull. 17). The town lay at the foot of the hill, and is said to have derived its name from Chaeron, who, according to the statement of Plutarch, built it towards the east, whereas it had previously faced the west. (Paus. 9.40.5; Steph. B. sub voce Plut. de Curiosit. 1.)

Chaeroneia is not mentioned by Homer; but by some of the ancient writers it was supposed to be the same town as the Boeotian Arne. (Hom. Il. 2.507.) [ARNE No. 2.] In the historical period it was dependent upon Orchomenus (Thuc. 4.67). It is first mentioned in B.C. 447, when an important battle was fought near the town, in consequence of which the Athenians lost the supremacy which they had exercised for a short period in Boeotia. Chaeroneia had previously been in the hands of the party favourable to the Athenians; but having been seized by the opposite party, Tolmides, at the head of a small Athenian force, marched against it. He succeeded in taking the town, but was shortly afterwards defeated by the Boeotians in the neighbourhood, and fell in the battle. (Thuc. 1.113; Diod. 12.6.) In B.C. 424 a plot was formed to betray the town to the Athenians, but the project was betrayed, and the place was occupied by a strong Boeotian force. (Thuc. 4.76, 89.) In the Phocian war Chaeroneia was unsuccessfully besieged by Onomarchus, the Phocian leader, but it was afterwards taken by his son Phalaecus. (Diod. 16.33, 39.)

Another and much more celebrated battle was fought at Chaeroneia on the 7th of August, B.C. 338, in which Philip, by defeating the united forces of the Athenians and Boeotians, crushed the liberties of Greece. Of the details of this battle we have no account, but an interesting memorial of it still remains. We learn from Pausanias (9.40.10) and Strabo (ix. p.414) that the sepulchre of the Thebans who fell in the battle, was near Chaeroneia; and the former writer states that this sepulchre was surmounted by a lion, as an emblem of the spirit of the Thebans. The site of the monument is marked by a tumulus about a mile, or a little more, from the khan of Kápurna, on the right side of the road towards Orchomenus; but when the spot was visited by Leake, Dodwell and Gell, the lion had completely disappeared. A few years ago, however, the mound of earth was excavated, and a colossal lion discovered, deeply imbedded in its interior. “This noble piece of sculpture, though now strewed in detached masses about the sides and interior of the excavation, may still be said to exist nearly in its original integrity. It is evident, from the appearance of the fragments, that it was composed from the first of more than one block, although not certainly of so many as its remains now exhibit. . . . . This lion may, upon the whole, be pronounced the most interesting sepulchral monument in Greece. It is the only one dating from the better days of Hellas--with the exception perhaps of the tumulus of Marathon--the identity of which is beyond dispute.” (Mure.)

The third great battle fought at Chaeroneia was the one in which Sulla defeated the generals of Mithridates in B.C. 86. Of this engagement a long account is given by Plutarch, probably taken almost verbatim from the commentaries of Sulla. (Plut. Sull. 17, seq,) The narrative of Plutarch is illustrated by Col. Leake with his usual accuracy and sagacity. Mount Thurium, called in the time of Plutarch, Orthophagium, the summit of which was seized by Sulla, is supposed by Leake to be the highest point of the hills behind Chaeroneia; and the torrent Morius, below Mount Thurium, is probably the rivulet which joins the left bank of the Cephissus, and which separates Mt. Hedylium from Mt. Acontium.

Chaeroneia continued to exist under the Roman empire, and is memorable at that period as the birthplace of Plutarch, who spent the later years of his life in his native town. In the time of Pausanias Chaeroneia was noted for the manufacture of perfumed oils, extracted from flowers, which were used as a remedy against pain. (Paus. 9.41.6.)

Chaeroneia stood upon the site of the modern village of Kápurna. There are not many remains of the ancient city upon the plain; but there are some ruins of the citadel upon the projecting rock already described; and on the face of this rock, fronting the plain, are traces of the ancient theatre. In the church of the Panaghía, in the village, are several remains of ancient art, and inscriptions. From the latter we learn that Serapis was worshipped in the [p. 1.596]town. Pausanias does not mention the temple of this deity; but he states that the principal object of veneration in his time was the sceptre of Zeus, once borne by Agamemnon, and which was considered to be the undoubted work of the god Hephaestus. At the foot of the theatre there rises a small torrent, which flows into the Cephissus. It was called in ancient times Haemon or Thermodon, and its water was dyed by the blood of the Thebans and Boeotians in their memorable defeat by Philip. (Plut. Dem. 19 ; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. pp. 112, seq., 192, seq.; Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. i. p. 212, seq.; Ulrichs, Reisen in Griechenland, p. 158, seq.)

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