ARGOS AMPHILO´CHICUM, Argivi
(Ἄργος τὸ Ἀμφιλοχικόν
: Ethx. Ἀργεῖος
), the chief town of Amphilochia, situated at the eastern extremity of the Ambraciot gulf, on the river Inachus. Its territory was called Argeia (Ἀργεία
). Its inhabitants laid claim to their city having been colonized from the celebrated Argos in Peloponnesus, though the legends of its foundation somewhat differed.
According to one tradition, Amphilochus, son of Amphiaraüs, being dissatisfied with the state of things in Argos on his return from Troy, emigrated from his native place, and founded a city of the same name on the Ambraciot gulf.
According to another tradition, it was founded by Alcmaeon, who called it after his brother Amphilochus. (Thuc. 2.68
; Strab. p. 326; comp. Apollod. 3.7.7
But whether the city owed its origin to an Argive colony or not, we know that the Amphilochi were regarded as barbarians, or a-non-Hellenic race, at the commencement of the Peloponnesian war, and that shortly before that time the inhabitants of Argos were the only portion of the Amphilochi, who had become Hellenized.
This they owed to some colonists from Ambracia, whom they admitted into the city to reside along with them. The Ambraciots, however, soon expelled the original inhabitants, and kept the town, with its territory, exclusively for themselves.
The expelled inhabitants placed themselves under the protection of the Acarnanians, and both people applied to Athens for assistance. The Athenians accordingly sent a force under Phormio, who took Argos, sold the Ambraciots as slaves, and restored the town to the Amphilochians and Acarnanians, both of whom now concluded an alliance with Athens.
This event probably happened in the year before the Peloponnesian war, B.C. 432. Two years afterwards (430) the Ambraciots, anxious to recover the lost town, marched against Argos, but were unable to take it, and retired, after laying waste its territory. (Thuc. 2.68
.) In B.C. 426 they made a still more vigorous effort to recover Argos; and as the history of this campaign illustrates the position of the places in the neighbourhood of Argos, it requires to be related a little in detail. The Ambraciots having received the promise of assistance from Eurylochus, the Spartan commander, who was then in Aetolia, marched with 3000 hoplites into the territory of Argos, and captured the fortified hill of Olpae (Ὄλπαι
), close upon the Ambracian gulf, 25 stadia (about 3 miles) from Argos itself. Thereupon the Acarnanians marched to the protection of Argos, and took up their position at a spot called Crenae (Κρῆναι
), or the Wells, at no great distance from Argos. Meantime Eurylochus, with the Peloponnesian forces, had marched through Acarnania, and had succeeded in joining the Ambraciots at Olpae, passing unperceived between Argos itself and the Acarnanian force at Crenae.
He then took post at Metropolis (Μητρόπολις
), a place probably NE. of Olpae. Shortly afterwards Demosthenes, who had been invited by the Acarnanians to take the command of their troops, arrived in the Ambraciot gulf with 20 Athenian ships, and anchored near Olpae. Having disembarked his men, and taken the command, he encamped near Olpae.
The two armies were separated only by a deep ravine: and as the ground was favourable for ambuscade, Demosthenes hid some men in a bushy dell, so that they might attack the rear of the enemy.
The stratagem was successful, Demosthenes gained a decisive victory, and Eurylochus was slain in the battle.
This victory was followed by another still more striking. The Ambraciots at Olpae had some days before sent to Ambracia, to beg for reinforcements; and a large Ambraciot force had entered the territory of Amphilochia about the time when the battle of Olpae was fought. Demosthenes being informed of their march on the day after the battle, formed a plan to surprise them in a narrow pass above Olpae.
At this pass there were two conspicuous peaks, called respectively the greater and the lesser Idomene (Ἰδομένη
The lesser Idomene seems to have been at the northern entrance of the pass, and the greater Idomene at the southern entrance.
As it was known that the Ambraciots would rest for the night at the lower of the two peaks, ready to march through the pass the next morning, Demosthenes sent forward a detachment to secure the higher peak, and then marched through the pass in the night. The Ambraciots had obtained no intelligence of the defeat of their comrades at Olpae, or of the approach of Demosthenes; they were surprised in their sleep, and put to the sword without any possibility of resistance. Thucydides considers the loss of the Ambraciots to have been the greatest that befell any Grecian city during the whole war prior to the peace of Nicias; and he says, that if Demosthenes and the Acarnanians had marched against Ambracia at once, the city must have surrendered without a blow. The Acarnanians, however, refused to undertake the enterprise, fearing that the Athenians might be more troublesome neighbours to them than the Ambraciots. On the contrary, they and the Amphilochians now concluded a peace with the Ambraciots [p. 1.208]
for 100 years. (Thuc. 3.105
; Grote, Hist. of Greece,
vol. vi. p. 408, &c.)
We know little more of the history of Argos. Some time after the death of Alexander the Great, it fell into the hands of the Aetolians, together with the rest of Ambracia: and it was here that the Roman general, M. Fulvius, took up his quarters, when he concluded the treaty between Rome and the Aetolians. (Liv. 38.10
; Pol. 22.13.) Upon the foundation of Nicopolis by Augustus, after the battle of Actium, the inhabitants of Argos were removed to the former city, and Argos was
|MAP OF THE COAST OF AMPHILOCHIA.
- 1. Argos Amphilochicum.
- 2. Limnaea.
- 3. Bay of Kervasara.
- 4. Crenae (Armyro).
- 5. Olpae (Arapi).
- 6. Metropolis.
The greater Idomene.
The lesser Idomene (Paleopyrgo).
henceforth deserted. (Anth. Gr. 9.553
It is, however, mentioned by later writers. (Plin. Nat. 4.1
; Mel. 2.3; Ptol. 3.14
The site of Argos has been a subject of dispute. Thucydides says (3.105), that it was situated on the sea. Polybius (22.13
) describes it as distant 180 stadia, and Livy (38.10
) 22 miles from Ambracia. Leake places it in the plain of Vlikha,
at the modern village of Neolhori,
where are the ruins of an ancient city, the walls of which were about a mile in circumference.
The chief objection to Neokhori
as the site of Argos is, that Neokhori
is situated at a short distance from the coast; whereas Thucydides, as we have already seen, describes Argos as a maritime city.
But it is very probable that the marsh or lagoon, which now separates Neokhori
from the inlet of Armyro,
may have been rendered shallower than it was formerly by alluvial depositions, and that it may once have afforded a commodious harbour to Argos.
The distance of Neokchori
from the ruins of Ambracia corresponds to the distance assigned by Polybius and Livy between Argos and Ambracia. Near Neokhori
also is the river of Ariadha,
corresponding to the Inachus, on whichArgos is said to have been situated.
The only other ruins in the neighbourhood, which could be regarded as the remains of Argos, are those further south, at the head of the bay of Kervasara,
which Lieutenant Wolfe, who visited the country in 1830, supposes to have been the site of Argos: but there are strong reasons for believing that this is the site of Limnaea [LIMNAEA
]. Fixing the site of Argos at Neokhori,
we are able to identify the other places mentioned in the history of the campaign of B.C. 426. Crenae probably corresponds to Armyro
on the coast, SW. of Argos; and Olpae to Arapi,
also on the coast, NW. of Argos, at both of which places there are Hellenic remains. At Arapi
at present there is a considerable lagoon, which was probably not so large in ancient times.
The ravine, which separated the army of Demosthenes from that of Eurylochus, seems to have been the torrent which enters the lagoon from the north, and Metropolis to have been a place on its right bank, at the southern extremity of the mountains called MaJcrinoro.
Thucydides expressly mentions Olpae and Metropolis as two different places; and there is no reason to suppose them only different names of one place, as some modern commentators have done.
The pass, where Demosthenes gained his second victory over the Ambraciots, is the pass of Makrinoro,
which is one of the most important in this part of Greece.
The southern extremity of the mountain corresponds to the greater Idomene, which Demosthenes occupied; while the northern extremity, where the Am. braciots were attacked, was the lesser Idomene. On the latter are remains of ancient fortifications,which bear the name of Paleopyryo.
This account will be rendered clearer by the plan on the opposite column.
The outline of the coast is taken from Wolfe's
|COIN OF ARGOS AMPHILOCHICUM|
survey; the names are inserted on Leake's authority, to whom we are indebted for most of the preceding remarks. (Leake, Northern Greece,
vol. iv. p. 238, seq.; Wolfe, Journal of Geographical Society,
vol. iii. p. 84, seq.)