Strab. viii. pp. 349, 359; Steph. B. sub voce Liv. 32.21
; Plin. Nat. 4.5
7; Κυπαρισσήεις, Hom. Il. 2.593
; Κυπαρισσιαί, Paus. 4.36.7
; Κυπάρισσαι, Ptol. 3.16.7
; Κυπάρισσος, Scylax, p. 16
; Mela, 2.3: Eth. Κυπαρισσιεύς, Strab. viii. p.345
; Paus. l.c.;
Stephanus alone has the form Κυπαρισσεύς
), a town on the western coast of Messenia, situated a little south of the river Cyparissus, upon the bay to which it gave the name of the Cyparissian gulf. (Plin. Mela, ll. cc.
) This gulf was 72 miles in circuit according to Pliny, and was bounded by the promontory of Ichthys on the north, and by that of Cyparissium on the south. Cyparissia was the only town of importance upon the western coast of Messenia between Pylus and Triphylia.
It is mentioned in the Homeric catalogue (Il. l.c.
), and appears to have been inhabited from the earliest to the latest times.
It was beautifully situated upon the sides of one of the offshoots of the range of mountains, which run along this part of the Messenian coast. Upon the narrow summit of the rocks now occupied by a castle built in the middle ages, stood the ancient acropolis.
There is no harbour upon the Messenian coast north of Pylos; but Leake remarks that the roadstead at Cyparissia seems to be the best on this part of the coast; and in ancient times the town probably possessed an artificial harbour, since traces of a mole may still be seen upon the sea-shore.
This was probably constructed on the restoration of Messene by Epaminondas; for it was necessary to provide the capital of the new state with a port, and no spot was so suitable for this object as Cyparissia. Hence we find “Messene and the harbour Cyparissia” mentioned together by Scylax (p. 16). Pausanias found in the town a temple of Apollo, and one of Athena Cyparissia.
The town continued to coin money down to the time of Severus.
In the middle ages it was called Arkadía,
a name which was transferred from the interior of the peninsula to this place upon the coast.
It continued to bear this name till its destruction by Ibrahim in 1825, and when rebuilt it resumed its ancient name Cyparissia, by which it is now called. Some remains of ancient walls may be traced around the modern castle; and below the castle on the slope of the hill, near the church of St. George, are some fragments of columns. On the south side of the town, close to the sea-shore, a fine stream rushes out of the rock and flows into the sea; and a little above is a basin with a spring of water, near which are some stones belonging to an ancient structure.
This is the ancient fountain sacred to Dionysus, which Pausanias perceived near the entrance of the city, on the road from Pylus.
Stephanus calls Cyparissia a city of Triphylia, and Strabo (viii. p.349
) also distinguishes between the Triphylian and Messenian Cyparissia, but on what authority we do not know. (Leake, Morea,
vol. i. p. 68, seq.; Boblaye, Recherches,
&c., p. 115; Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. ii. p. 184, seq.)
|COIN OF CYPARISSIA.|
In Laconia. [ASOPUS