, Dor. Σπάρτα
: Eth. Σπαρτιάτης
, Eth. Spartiates
, Spartanus), the capital of Laconia, and the chief city of Peloponnesus.
It was also called LACEDAEMON
: Eth. Λακεδαιμόνιος,
Lacedaemonius), which was the original name of the country. [See Vol. II. p. 103a.] Sparta stood at the upper end of the middle vale of the Eurotas, and upon the right bank of the river.
The position of this valley, shut in by the mountain ranges of Taÿgetus and Parnon, its inaccessibility to invaders, and its extraordinary beauty and great fertility, have been described in a previous article [LACONIA
The city was built upon a range of low hills and upon an adjoining plain stretching SE. to the river.
These hills are offshoots of Mt. Taÿgetus, and rise almost immediately above the river. Ten stadia S. of the point where the Oenus flows into the Eurotas, the latter river is divided into two arms by a small island overgrown with the oleander, where the foundations of an ancient bridge are visible.
This is the most important point in the topography of the site of Sparta. Opposite to this bridge the range of hills rises upon which the ancient city stood; while a hollow way (Map, ff.
) leads through them into the plain to Magúla,
a village situated about half-way be>tween Mistrá
and the island of the Eurotas. Upon emerging from this hollow into the plain, there rises on the left hand a hill, the south-western side of which is occupied by the theatre (Map, A.).
The centre of the building was excavated out of the hill; but the two wings of the cavea were entirely artificial, being built of enormous masses of quadrangular stones.
A great part of this masonry still remains; but the seats have almost entirely disappeared, because they have for many ages been used as a quarry by the inhabitants of Mistrá.
The extremities of the two wings are about 430 feet from one another, and the diameter or length of the orchestra is about 170 feet; so that this theatre was probably the largest in Greece, with the exception of those of Athens and Megalopolis.
There are traces of a wall around this hill, which also embraces a considerable part of the adjoining plain to the east. Within the [p. 2.1025]
space enclosed by this wall there are two terraces, upon one of which, amidst the ruins of a church, the French Commission discovered traces of an ancient temple.
In this space there are also some ancient doors, formed of three stones, two upright with the architrave, buried in the ground; but no conjecture can be formed of the building to which they belonged without excavations.
The hill we have been describing is the largest of all the Spartan heights, and is distinguished by the wall which surrounds it, and by containing traces of foundations of some ancient buildings. From it two smaller hills project towards the Eurotas, parallel to one another, and which may be regarded as portions of the larger hill. Upon the more southerly of the two there are considerable remains of a circular brick building, which Leake calls a circus, but Curtius an amphitheatre or odeum (Map, 3). Its walls are 16 feet thick, and its diameter only about 100 feet; but as it belongs to the Roman period, it was probably sufficient for the diminished population of the city at that time. Its entrance was on the side towards the river. West of this building is a valley in the form of a horse-shoe, enclosed by walls of earth, and apparently a stadium, to which its length nearly corresponds.
To the north of the hollow way leading from the bridge of the Eurotas to Magúla
there is a small insulated hill, with a flat summit, but higher and more precipitous than the larger hill to the south of this way.
It contains but few traces of ancient buildings (Map, B.).
At its southern edge there are the remains of an aqueduct of later times.
The two hills above mentioned, north and south of this hollow way, formed the northern half of Sparta.
The other portion of the city occupied the plain between the southern hill and the rivulet falling into the Eurotas, sometimes called the River of Magúla,
because it flows past that village, but more usually Trypiótiko,
a village in the mountains (Map, cc
). Two canals, beginning at Magúla,
run across this plain: upon the southern one (Map, bb
), just above its junction with the Trypiótiko,
stands the small village of Psychikó
(Map, 6). Between this canal and the Trypiótiko
are some heights upon which the town of New Sparta is now built (Map, D.) Here are several ancient ruins, among which are some remains of walls at the southern extremity, which look like city-walls.
The plain between the heights of New Sparta and the hill of the theatre is covered with corn-fields and gardens, among which are seen fragments of wrought stones, and other ancient remains, cropping out of the ground.
The only remains which make any appearance above the ground are those of a quadrangular building, called by the present inhabitants the tomb of Leonidas.
It is 22 feet broad and 44 feet long, and is built of ponderous square blocks of stone.
It was probably an heroum, but cannot have been the tomb of Leonidas, which we know, from Pausanias (3.14.1
), was near the theatre, whereas this building is close to the new town.
This plain is separated from the Eurotas by a range of hills which extend from the Roman amphitheatre or circus to the village of Psychikó.
Between the hills and the river is a level tract, which is not much more than 50 yards wide below the Roman amphitheatre, but above and below the latter it swells into a plain of a quarter of a mile in breadth. Beyond the river Trypiótiko
there are a few traces of the foundations of ancient buildings near the little village of Kalagoiá
(Map, 7). Leake mentions an ancient bridge over the Trypiótiko,
about a quarter of a mile NE. of the village of Kalagoniá.
This bridge, which was still in use when Leake visited the district, is described by him as having a rise of about one-third of the span, and constructed of large single blocks of stone, reaching from side to side.
The same traveller noticed a part of the ancient causeway remaining at either end of the bridge, of the same solid construction.
But as this bridge is not noticed by the French Commission, it probably no longer exists, having been destroyed for its materials. (Leake, Morea,
vol. i. p. 157, Peloponnesiaca,
Such is the site of Sparta, and such is all that now remains of this famous city.
There cannot be any doubt, however, that many interesting discoveries might be made by excavations; and that at any rate the foundations of several ancient buildings might be found, especially since the city was never destroyed in ancient times. Its present appearance corresponds wonderfully to the anticipation of Thucydides, who remarks (1.10) that “if the city of the Lacedaemonians were deserted, and nothing remained but its temples and the foundations of its buildings, men of a distant age would find a difficulty in believing in the existence of its former power, or that it possessed two of the five divisions of Peloponnesus, or that it commanded the whole country, as well as many allies beyond the peninsula,--so inferior was the appearance of the city to its fame, being neither adorned with splendid temples and edifices, nor built in contiguity, but in separate quarters, in the ancient method. Whereas, if Athens were reduced to a similar state, it would be supposed, from the appearance of the city, that the power had been twice as great as the reality.” Compared with the Acropolis of Athens, which rises proudly from the plain, still crowned with the columns of its glorious temples, the low hills on the Eurotas, and the shapeless heap of ruins, appear perfectly insignificant, and present nothing to remind the spectator of the city that once ruled the Peloponnesus and the greater part of Greece.
The site of Sparta differs from that of almost all Grecian cities. Protected by the lofty ramparts of mountains, with which nature had surrounded their fertile valley, the Spartans were not obliged, like the other Greeks, to live within the walls of a city pent up in narrow streets, but continued to dwell in the midst of their plantations and gardens, in their original village trim.
It was this rural freedom and comfort which formed the chief charm and beauty of Sparta.
It must not, however, be supposed that Sparta was destitute of handsome public buildings. Notwithstanding the simplicity of the Spartan habits, their city became, after the Messenian wars, one of the chief seats of poetry and art.
The private houses of the Spartans always continued rude and unadorned, in accordance with a law of Lycurgus, that the doors of every house were to be fashioned only with the saw, and the ceiling with the axe (Plut. Lyc. 13
); but this regulation was not intended to discourage architecture, but to prevent it from ministering to private luxury, and to restrain it to its proper objects, the buildings for the gods and the state.
The palace of the kings remained so simple, that its doors in the time of Agesilaus were said to be those of the original building erected by Aristodemus, the founder of the Spartan monarchy (Xen. Ages. 8.7
); but the temples of the gods were built with [p. 2.1026]
great magnificence, and the spoils of the Persian wars were employed in the erection of a beautiful stoa in the Agora, with figures of Persians in white marble upon the columns, among which Pausanias admired the statues of Mardonius and Artemisia (3.11.3).
After the Persian wars Athens became more and more the centre of Greek art; but Sparta continued to possess, even in the time of Pausanias, a larger number of monuments than most other Grecian cities.
Sparta continued unfortified during the whole period of autonomous Grecian history; and it was first surrounded with walls in the Macedonian period. We learn from Polybius (9.21
) that its walls were 48 stadia in circumference, and that it was much larger than Megalopolis, which was 50 stadia in circuit. Its superiority to Megalopolis in size must have been owing to its form, which was circular. (Plb. 5.22
.) Leake remarks that, “as the side towards the Eurotas measured about two miles with the windings of the outline, the computation of Polybius sufficiently agrees with actual appearances, though the form of the city seems rather to have been semicircular than circular.” (Morea,
vol. i. p. 180.) Its limits to the eastward, at the time of the invasion of Philip (B.C. 218), are defined by Polybius, who says (5.22) that there was a distance of a stadium and a half between the foot of the cliffs of Mt. Menelaium and the nearest part of the city. Livy also describes the Eurotas as flowing close to the walls (34.28, 35.29). When Demetrius Poliorcetes made an attempt upon Sparta in B.C. 296, some temporary fortifications were thrown up; and the same was done when Pyrrhus attacked the city in B.C. 272. (Paus. 1.13.6
.) But Sparta was first regularly fortified by a wall and ditch by the tyrant Nabis in B.C. 195 (Liv. 34.27
; Paus. 7.8.5
); though even this wall did not surround the whole city, but only the level parts, which were more exposed to an enemy's attack. (Liv. 34.38
.) Livy, in his account of the attack of Sparta by Philopoemen in B.C. 192, alludes to two of the gates, one leading to Pharae, and the other to Mount Barbosthenes. (Liv. 35.30
After the capture of the city by Philopoemen, the walls were destroyed by the Achaean League (Paus. 7.8.5
); but they were shortly afterwards restored by order of the Romans, when the latter took the Spartans under their protection in opposition to the Achaeans. (Paus. 7.9.5
.) Its walls and gates were still standing when Pausanias visited Sparta in the second century of the Christian era, but not a trace of them now remains. When Alaric took Sparta in A.D. 396, it was no longer fortified, nor protected by arms or men (Zosim. 5.6); but it continued to be inhabited in the thirteenth century, as we learn from the “Chronicle of the Morea.” It was then always called Lacedaemon, and was confined to the heights around the theatre.
The walls which surrounded it at that time may still be traced, and have been mentioned above.
It is to the medieval Lacedaemon that the ruins of the churches belong, of which no less than six are noticed by the French Commission.
After the conquest of Peloponnesus by the Franks in the thirteenth century, William de Villehardouin built a strong fortress upon the hill of Misithrá,
usually pronounced Mistrá,
a little more than two miles west of Sparta, at the foot of Mt. Taÿgetus.
The inhabitants of the medieval Lacedaemon soon abandoned their town and took refuge within the fortress of Mistrá,
which long continued to be the chief place in the valley of the Eurotas.
The site of Sparta was occupied only by the small villages of Magúla
till the present Greek government resolved to remove the capital of the district to its ancient seat.
The position of New Sparta upon the southern part of the ancient site has been already described.
It has been observed that Sparta resembled Rome in its site, comprehending a number of contiguous hills of little height or boldness of character. (Mure, Tour in Greece,
vol. ii. p. 236.)
It also resembled Rome in being formed out of several earlier settlements, which existed before the Dorian conquest, and gradually coalesced with the later city, which was founded in their midst.
These earlier places, which are the hamlets or κῶμαι
mentioned by Thucydides (1.10
), were four in number, Pitane, Limnae or Limnaeum, Mesoa, and Cynosura, which were united by a common sacrifice to Artemis. (Paus. 3.16.9
.) They are frequently called φυλαί,
or tribes, by the grammarians (Müller, Dorians,
3.3.7), and were regarded as divisions of the Spartans; but it is clear from ancient writers that they are names of places.1
We are best informed about Pitane, which is called a πόλις
by Euripides (Eur. Tro. 1112
), and which is also mentioned as a place by Pindar (πρὸς Πιτάναν δὲ παρ᾽ Εν̓ρώτα πόρον, Ol.
6.46). Herodotus, who had been there, calls it a dh=mos (3.55).
He also mentions a λόχος Πιτανάτης
(9.53); and though Thucydides (1.20
) denies its existence, Caracalla, in imitation of antiquity, composed a λόχος Πιτανάτης
of Spartans. (Herodian. 4.8.)
It appears from the passage of Pindar quoted above, that Pitane was at the ford of the Eurotas, and consequently in the northern part of the city.
It was the favourite and fashionable place of residence at Sparta, like Collytus at Athens and Craneion at Corinth. (Plut. de Exsil.
6. p. 601.) We are also told that Pitane was near the temple and stronghold of Issorium, of which we shall speak presently. (Polyaen. 2.1.14
; Plut. Ages. 32
.) Limnae was situated upon the Eurotas, having derived its name from the marshy ground which once, existed there (Strab. viii. p.363
); and as the Dromus occupied a great part of the lower level towards the southern extremity, it is probable that Limnae occupied the northern. (Leake, Morea,
vol. i. p. 177.)
It is probable that Mesoa was in the SE. part of the city [see below, p. 1028b.], and Cynosura in the SW.
In the midst of these separate quarters stood the Acropolis and the Agora, where the Dorian invaders first planted themselves. Pausanias remarks that the Lacedaemonians had no acropolis, towering above other parts of the city, like the Cadmeia at Thebes and Larissa at Argos, but that they gave this name to the loftiest eminence of the group (3.17.2).
This is rather a doubtful description, as the great hill, upon which the theatre stands, and the hill at the northern extremity of the site, present nearly the same elevation to the eye. Leake places the Acropolis upon the northern hill, which, he observes, was [p. 2.1027]
better adapted for a citadel than any other, as being separated from the rest, and at one angle of the site; but Curtius supposes it to have stood upon the hill of the theatre, as being the only one with a sufficiently large surface on the summit to contain the numerous buildings which stood upon the Acropolis.
The latter opinion appears the more probable; and the larger hill, cleared from its surrounding rubbish, surrounded with a wall, and crowned with buildings, would have presented a much more striking appearance than it does at present.
The chief building on the Acropolis was the temple of Athena Chalcioecus, the tutelary goddess of the city.
It was said to have been begun by Tyndareus, but was long afterwards completed by Gitiadas, who was celebrated as an architect, statuary, and poet.
He caused the whole building to be covered with plates of bronze or brass, whence the temple was called the Brazen House, and the goddess received the surname of Chalcioecus. On the bronze plates there were represented in relief the labours of Hercules, the exploits of the Dioscuri, Hephaestus releasing his mother from her chains, the Nymphs arming Perseus for his expedition against Medusa, the birth of Athena, and Amphitrite and Poseidon. Gitiadas also made a brazen statue of the goddess. (Paus. 3.17
. § § 2, 3.) The Brazen House stood in a sacred enclosure of considerable extent, surrounded by a stoa or colonnade, and containing several sanctuaries.
There was a separate temple of Athena Ergane. Near the southern stoa was a temple of Zeus Cosmetas, and before it the tomb of Tyndareus; the western stoa contained two eagles, bearing two victories, dedicated by Lysander in commemoration of his victories over the Athenians. To the left of the Brazen House was a temple of the Muses; behind it a temple of Ares Areia, with very ancient wooden statues; and to its right a very ancient statue of Zeus Hypatus, by Learchus of Rhegium, parts of which were fastened together with nails. Here also was the σκήνωμα,
a booth or tent, which Curtius conjectures to have been the οἴκημα οὐ μέγα, ὃ ἦν τοῦ ἱεροῦ
), where Pausanias took refuge as a suppliant. Near the altar of the Brazen House stood two statues of Pausanias, and also statues of Aphrodite Ambologēra (delaying old age), and of the brothers Sleep and Death.
The statues of Pausanias were set up by order of the Delphian Apollo to expiate his being starved to death within the sacred precincts. (Paus. 3.17.2
The Agora was a spacious place, surrounded, like other Greek market-places, with colonnades, from which the streets issued to the different quarters of the city. Here were the public buildings of the magistrates,--the council-house of the Gerusia and senate, and the offices of the Ephori, Nomophylaces, and Bidiaei.
The most splendid building was the Persian stoa, which had been frequently repaired and enlarged, and was still perfect when Pausanias visited the city. The Agora contained statues of Julius Caesar and Augustus: in the latter was a brazen statue of the prophet Agias.
There was a place called Chorus, marked off from the rest of the Agora, because the Spartan youths here danced in honour of Apollo at the festival of the Gymnopaedia.
This place was adorned with statues of the Pythian deities, Apollo, Artemis, and Leto; and near it were temples of Earth, of Zeus Agoraeus, of Athena Agoraea, of Apollo, of Poseidon Asphaleius, and of Hera.
In the Agora was a colossal statue representing the people of Sparta, and a temple of the Moerae or Fates, near which was the tomb of Orestes, whose bones had been brought from Tegea to Sparta in accordance with the well-known tale in Herodotus. Near the tomb of Orestes was the statue of king Polydorus, whose effigy was used as the seal of the state. Here, also, was a Hermes Agoraeus bearing Dionysus as a child, and the old Ephoreia, where the Ephors originally administered justice, in which were the tombs of Epimenides the Cretan and of Aphareus the Aeolian king. (Paus. 3.11
. § § 2--11.)
The Agora was near the Acropolis. Lycurgus, it is said, when attacked by his opponents, fled for refuge from the Agora to the Acropolis; but was overtaken by a fiery youth, who struck out one of his eyes.
At the spot where he was wounded, Lycurgus founded a temple of Optiletis2
or Ophthalmitis, which must have stood immediately above the Agora. Plutarch says that it lay within the temrnenos
of the Brazen House; and Pausanias mentions it, in descending from the Acropolis, on the way to the so-called Alpium, beyond which was a temple of Ammon, and probably also a temple of Artemis Cnagia. (Plut. Lye.
11; Apophth. Lac.
p. 227b.; Paus. 3.18.2
.) The Agora may be placed in the great hollow east of the Acropolis (Map, 2). Its position is most clearly marked by Pausanias, who, going westwards from the Agora, arrived immediately at the theatre, after passing only the tomb of Brasidas (3.14.1).
The site of the theatre, which he describes as a magnificent building of white marble, has been already described.
The principal street, leading out of the Agora, was named Aphetais (Ἀφεταΐς
), the Corso of Sparta (Map, dd
It ran towards the southern wall, through the most level, part of the city, and was bordered by a succession of remarkable monuments. First came the house of king Polydorus, named Booneta (Βοώνητα
, because the state purchased it from his widow for some oxen. Next came the office of the Bidiaei, who originally had the inspection of the race-course; and opposite was the temple of Athena Celeutheia, with a statue of the goddess dedicated by Ulysses, who erected three statues of Celeutheia in different places. Lower down the Aphetais occurred the heroa of lops, Amphiaraus, and Lelex,--the sanctuary of Poseidon Taenarius,--a statue of Athena, dedicated by the Tarentini,--the place called Hellenium, so called because the Greeks are said to have held counsel there either before the Persian or the Trojan wars,--the tomb of Talthybius,--an altar of Apollo Acreitas,--a place sacred to the earth named Gaseptum,--a statue of Apollo Maleates,--and close to the city walls the temple of Dictynna, and the royal sepulchres of the Eurypontidae. Pausanias then returns to the Hellenium, probably to the other side of the Aphetais, where he mentions a sanctuary of Arsinoe, the sister of the wives of Castor and Pollux; then a temple of Artemis near the so-called Phruria (Φρούρια
), which were perhaps the temporary fortifications thrown up before the completion of the city walls; next the tombs of the Iamidae, the Eleian prophets,--sanctuaries of Maro and Alpheius, who fell at Thermopylae,--the temple of Zeus Tropaeus, built by the Dorians after conquering the Achaean inhabitants of Laconia, and especially the Amyclaei,--the temple [p. 2.1028]
of the mother of the gods,--and the heroa of Hippolytus and Aulon. The Aphetais upon quitting the city joined the great Hyacinthian road which led to the Amyclaeum. (Paus. 3.12.1
The next most important street leading from the Agora ran in a south-easterly direction.
It is usually called Scias, though Pausanias gives this name only to a building at the beginning of the street, erected by Theodorus of Samos, and which was used even in the time of Pausanias as a place for the assemblies of the people. Near the Scias was a round structure, said to have been built by Epimenides, containing statues of the Olympian Zeus and Aphrodite; next came the tombs of Cynortas, Castor, Idas, and Lynceus, and a temple of Core Soteira.
The other buildings along this street or in this direction, if there was no street, were the temple of Apollo Carneius, who was worshipped here before the Dorian invasion,--a statue of Apollo Aphetaeus,--a quadrangular place surrounded with colonnades, where small-wares (ῥῶπος
) were anciently sold,--an altar sacred to Zeus, Athena, and the Dioscuri, all surnamed Ambulii. Opposite was the place called Colona and the temple of Dionysus Colonatas. Near the Colona was the temple of Zeus Euanemus. On a neighbouring hill was the temple of the Argive Hera, and the temple of Hera Hypercheiria, containing an ancient wooden statue of Aphrodite Hera. To the right of this hill was a statue of Hetoemocles, who had gained the victory in the Olympic games. (Paus. 3.12.10
.) Although Pausanias does not say that the Colona was a hill, yet there can be no doubt of the fact, as κολώνα
is the Doric for κολώνη,
This height and the one upon which the temple of Hera stood are evidently the heights NW. of the village of Psychikó
between the Eurotas and the plain to the S. of the theatre (Map, C.).
After describing the streets leading from the Agora to the S. and SE. Pausanias next mentions a third street, running westward from the Agora.
It led past the theatre to the royal sepulchres of the Agiadae.
In front of the theatre were the tombs of Pausanias and Leonidas (3.14.1).
From the theatre Pausanias probably went by the hollow way to the Eurotas, for he says that near the Sepulchres of the Agiadae was the Lesche of the Crotani, and that the Crotani were a portion of the Pitanatae.
It would appear from a passage in Athenaeus (i. p. 31) that Pitane was in the neighbourhood of the Oenus; and its proximity to the Eurotas has been already shown. [See above, p. 1026a.] It is not improbable, as Curtius observes, that Pitane lay partly within and partly without the city, like the Cerameicus at Athens.
After proceeding to the tomb of Taenarus, and the sanctuaries of Poseidon Hippocurius and the Aeginetan Artemis, Pausanias returns to the Lesche, near which was the temple of Artemis Issoria, also called Limnaea. Issorium, which is known as a stronghold in the neighbourhood of Pitane (Polyaen. 2.1.14
; Plut. Ages. 32
), is supposed by Curtius to be the hill to the north of the Acropolis (Map, C.). Leake, as we have already seen, regards this hill as the Acropolis itself, and identifies the Issorium with the height above the ruined amphitheatre or circus. Pausanias next mentions the temples of Thetis, of Demeter Chthonia, of Sarapis, and of the Olympian Zeus.
He then reached the Dromus, which was used in his day as a place for running.
It extended along the stream southwards, and contained gymnasia, one of which was dedicated by a certain Eurycles. The Roman amphitheatre and the stadium, of which the remains have been already described, were included in the Dromus.
In the Dromus was a statue of Hercules, near which, but outside the Dromus, was the house of Menelaus. The Dromus must have formed part of Pitane, as Menelaus is called a Pitanatan. (Hesych. sub voce
) Proceeding from the Dromus occurred the temples of the Dioscuri, of the Graces, of Eileithyia, of Apollo Carneius, and of Artemis Hegemone; on the right of the Dromus was a statue of Asclepius Agnitas; at the beginning of the Dromus there were statues of the Dioscuri Aphetarii; and a little further the heroum of Alcon and the temple of Poseidon Domatites. (Paus. 3.14
. § § 2--7.)
South of the Dromus was a broader level, which was called Platanistas, from the plane-trees with which it was thickly planted.
It is described as a round island, formed by streams of running water, and was entered by two bridges, on each of which there was a statue of Hercules at one end and of Lycurgus at the other. Two divisions of the Spartan Ephebi were accustomed to cross these bridges and fight with one another in the Plataniston; and, though they had no arms, they frequently inflicted severe wounds upon one another. (Paus. 3.15.8
, seq.; Lucian, Anachars.
38; Cic. Tusc. Quaest. 5.2. 7
) The running streams surrounding the Plataniston were the canals of the Trypiótiko,
which were fed by several springs in the neighbourhood, and flowed into the Eurotas. Outside the city was the district called Phoebaeum, where each division of the Ephebi sacrificed the night before the contest. The Phoebaeum occupied the narrow corner south of the Plataniston formed by the Trypiótiko
and the Eurotas. Pausanias describes it as near Therapne, which was situated upon the Menelaium, or group of hills upon the other side of the Eurotas, mentioned below.
The proximity of the Phoebaeum to Therapne is mentioned in another passage of Pausanias (3.19.20
), and by Herodotus (6.61
The heroum of Cynisca, the first female who conquered in the chariotrace in the Olympic games, stood close to the Plataniston, which was bordered upon one side by a colonnade. Behind this colonnade there were several heroic monuments, among which were those of Alcimus, Enaraephorus, of Dorceus, with the fountain Dorceia, and of Sebrus. Near the latter was the sepulchre of the poet Alcman; this was followed by the sanctuary of Helena and that of Hercules, with the monument of Oeonus, whose death he here avenged by slaying the sons of Hippocoon.
The temple of Hercules was close to the city walls. (Paus. 3.14.8
Since the poet Alcman, whose tomb was in this district, is described as a citizen of Mesoa [Dict. of Biogr.,
art. ALCMAN], it is probable that this was the position of Mesoa, the name of which might indicate a tract lying betweentworivers. (Comp. Μεσηνή—ὑπὸ δύο ποτάμων—μεσαζομένη, Steph. B. sub voce Μεσσήνη
After reaching the SE. extremity of the city, Pausanias returns to the Dromus. Here he mentions two ways: the one to the right leading to a temple of Athena Axiopoenus, and the other to the left to another temple of Athena, founded by Theras, near which was a temple of Hipposthenes, and an ancient wooden statue of Enyalius in fetters.
He then describes, but without giving any indication of its position, the painted Lesche, with its surrounding heron of Cadmus, Oeolycus, Aegeus, and Amphilochus, [p. 2.1029]
and the temple of Hera Aegophagus.
He afterwards returns to the theatre, and mentions the different monuments in its neighbourhood; among which were a temple of Poseidon Genethlius, heroa of Cleodacus and Oebalus, a temple of Asclepius, near the Booneta, the most celebrated of all the temples of this god in Sparta, with the heroum of Teleclus on its left; on a height not far distant, an ancient temple of Aphrodite armed, upon an upper story of which was a second temple of Aphrodite Morpho; in its neighbourhood was a temple of Hilaeira and Phoebe, containing their statues, and an egg suspended from the roof said to have been that of Leda. Pausanias next mentions a house, named Chiton, in which was woven the robe for the Amyclaean Apollo; and on the way towards the city gates the heroa of Cheilon and Athenaeus. Near the Chiton was the house of Phormion, who hospitably entertained the Dioscuri when they entered the city as strangers (Paus. 3.15.6
.) From these indications we may suppose that the Amyclaean road issued from this gate, and it may therefore be placed in the southern part of the city.
In that case the double temple of Aphrodite probably stood upon one of the heights of New Sparta.
Pausanias next mentions a temple of Lycurgus; behind it the tomb of his son Eucosmus, and an altar of Lathria and Alexandra: opposite the temple were monuments of Theopompus and Eurybiades, and the heroum of Astrabacus.
In the place called Limnaeum stood the temples of Artemis Orthia and Leto.
This temple of Artemis Orthia was, as we have already remarked, the common place of meeting for the four villages of Pitane, Mesoa, Cynosura, and Limnae. (Paus. 3.16.6
, seq.) Limnae was partly in the city and partly in the suburbs. Its position to the N. of the Dromus has been mentioned above; and, if an emendation in a passage of Strabo be correct, it also included a district on the left bank of the Eurotas, in the direction of Mt. Thornax (τὸ Λιμναῖον κατὰ τὸν
Meineke's emendation instead of [Θρᾷ]κα, Strab. viii. p.364
The most ancient topographical information respecting Sparta is contained in the answer of the Delphic oracle to Lycurgus.
The oracle is reported to have directed the lawgiver to erect temples to Zeus and Athena, and to fix the seat of the senate and kings between the Babyca and Cnacion. (Plut. Lyc. 6
These names were obsolete in the time of Plutarch.
He says that the Cnacion was the Oenus, now the Kelefína;
and he also appears to have considered the Babyca a river, though the text is not clear; in that case the Babyca must be the Trypiótiko,
which forms the southern boundary of the city.
It appears, however, from the same passage of Plutarch, that Aristotle regarded the Babyca as a bridge, and only the Cnacion as a river; whence he would seem to have given the name of Cnacion to the Trypiótiko,
and that of Babyca to the bridge over the Eurotas.
The left, or eastern bank of the Eurotas, was not occupied by any part of Sparta. When Epaminondas invaded Laconia in B.C. 370 he marched down the left bank of the Eurotas till he reached the foot of the bridge which led through the hollow way into the city.
But he did not attempt to force the passage across the bridge; and he saw on the other side a body of armed men drawn up in the temple of Athena Alea.
He therefore continued his march along the left bank of the river till he arrived opposite to Amyclae, where he crossed the river. (Xen. Hell. 6.5. 27
) The account of Xenophon illustrates a passage of Pausanias.
The latter writer, in describing (3.19.7) the road to Therapne, mentions a statue of Athena Alea as standing between the city and a temple of Zeus Plusius, above the right bank of the Eurotas, at the point where the river was crossed; and as only one bridge across the Eurotas is mentioned by ancient writers, there can be no doubt that the road to Therapne crossed the bridge which Xenophon speaks of, and the remains of which are still extant. Therapne stood upon the Menelaium or Mount Menelaius, which rose abruptly from the left hand of the river opposite the south-eastern extremity of Sparta. (Μενελάϊον, Plb. 5.22
; Μενελάειον, Steph. B. sub voce
Menelaius Mons, Liv. 34.28
.) The Menelaium has been compared to the Janiculum of Rome, and rises about 760 feet above the Eurotas.
It derived its name from a temple of Menelaus, containing the tombs of Menelaus and Helen, whither solemn processions of men and women were accustomed to repair, the men imploring Menelaus to grant them bravery and success in war, the women invoking Helen to bestow beauty upon them and their children. (Paus. 3.19.9
; Hdt. 6.61
; Isocr. Encom. Hel.
17; Hesych. sub voce Ἑλένια, Θεραπνατίδια.
The foundations of this temple were discovered in 1834 by Ross, who found amongst the ruins several small figures in clay, representing men in military costume and women in long robes, probably dedicatory offerings made by the poorer classes to Menelaus and Helen. (Ross, Wandersungen in Geriechenland,
vole ii. p. 13, seq.)
The temple of Menelaus is expressly said to have been situated in THERAPRN (Θεράπνη, Θεράπναι;
Theramne, Plin. Nat. 4.5. s. 8
), which was one of the most ancient and venerable places in the middle valley of the Eurotas.
It was said to have derived its name from a daughter of Lelex (Paus. 3.19.9
), and was the Achaean citadel of the district.
It is described by the poets as the lofty well-towered Therapne, surrounded by thick woods (Pind. Isthm.
1.31; Coluth. 225), where slept the Dioscuri, the guardians of Sparta. (Pind. N. 10.55
.) Here was the fountain of Messeis, the water of which the captive women had to carry (Paus. 3.20.1
; Hom. Il. 6.457
); and it was probably upon this height that the temple of Menelaus stood, which excited the astonishment of Telemachus in the Odyssey. Hence Therapne is said to have been in Sparta, or is mentioned as syanonymous with Sparta. (Θεράπναι, πόλις Λακανική, ἥν τινες Σπάρτην φασίν, Steph. B. sub voce ἐν Σπάρτῃ,
Schol. ad Apoll. Rhod.
2.162, Pind. Isthm.
It is probable that further excavations upon this spot would bring to light some tombs of the heroic ages. The Phoebaeum, which has been already described as the open space on the right bank of the Eurotas [see p. 1028b.], contained a temple of the Dioscuri. Not far from this place was the temple of Poseidon, surnamed Gaeaochus. (Paus. 3.20.2
After the power of Sparta was destroyed by the battle of Leuctra, its territory was exposed to invasion and the city to attack.
The first time that an enemy appeared before Sparta was when Epaminondas invaded Laconia in B.C. 390, as already related.
After crossing the river opposite Amyclae, he marched against the city. His cavalry advanced as far as the temple of Poseidon Gaeaochus, which we have seen from Pausanias was in the Phoebaeum. We also learn from Xenophon that the Hippodrome was [p. 2.1030]
in the neighbourhood of the temple of Poseidon, and consequently must not be confounded with the Dromus. The Thebans did not advance further, for they were driven back by a body of picked hoplites, whom Agesilaus had placed in ambush in the sanctuary of the Tyndaridae (Dioscuri), which we likewise know from Pausanias was in the Phoebaeum. (Xen. Hell. 6.5. 31
.) In B.C. 362 Epaminondas made a daring attempt to surprise Sparta, and actually penetrated into the market-place; but the Spartans having received intelligence of his approach, the city had been put into a state of defence, and Epaminondas again withdrew without venturing upon an assault. (Xen. Hell. 7.5. 11
; Plb. 9.8
; Diod. 15.83
.) In B.C. 218 Philip unexpectedly entered Laconia, descended the vale of the Eurotas by the left bank of the river, passing by Sparta, and then laid waste the whole country as far as Taenarus and Malea. Lycurgus, the Spartan king, resolved to intercept him on his return: he occupied the heights of the Menelaium with a body of 2000 men, ordered the remaining forces of Sparta to be ready to take up their position between the city and the western bank of the river, and at the same time, by means of a dam, laid the low ground in that part under water. Philip, however, contrary to the expectation of Lycurgus, stormed the Menelaium, and brought his whole army safely through the pass, and encamped two stadia above the city. (Plb. 5.17
.) In B.C. 195 Quinctius Flamininus attacked Sparta, bacause Nabis, the tyrant of the city, refused obedience to the terms which the Roman general imposed.
With an army of 50.000 men Flamininus assulted the city on its three undefended sides of Phcebaeum, Dictynnaeum, and Heptagoniae.
He forced his way into the city, and after overcoming the resistance which he met with in the narrow ways at the entrance of the city, marched along the broad road (probably the Aphetais) leading to the citadel and the surrounding heights. Thereupon Nabis set fire to the buildings nearest to the city walls, which compelled the Romans to retreat.
But the main object of Flamininus had been answered, for three days afterwards Nabis sent his son-in-law to implore peace. (Liv. 34.38
The position of the Phoebaeum has been already explained. The Dictynnaeum was so called from the temple of Artemis Dictynna, which Pausanias describes as situated at the end of the Aphetais, close to the walls of the city (3.12.8). Leake thinks that the name of the village of Kalagoniá
may be a
|MAP OF SPARTA AND ITS ENVIRONS.
- A. Acropolis.
- B. M. Issorium.
- C. Hill Colona.
- D. New Sparta.
- 1. Theatre.
- 2. Agora.
- 3. Amphitheatre or Odeum.
- 4. Bridge across the Eurotas
- 5. Village of Magúla.
- 6. Village of Psychikó.
- 7. Village of Kalagoniá.
- 8. Temple of Menelaus.
- aaa. Circuit of Walls.
- bb. Canals.
- cc. The Tiasa. River of Trypiótiko or Magúla.
- dd. Street Aphetais.
- ee. The Hyacinthian Road.
- ff. Hollow Way leading from the Bridge of the Eurotas to Magúla and Mistrá.
- gg. Modern Road.
- hh. The Pandeleímona.
corruption of Heptagoniae; but it is more probable that the Heptagoniae lay further west in the direction of Mistrá,
as it was evidently the object of Flamininus to attack the city in different quarters.
The small stream which encloses Sparta on the south, now called the Trypiótiko
or river of Magúla,
is probably the ancient Tiasa (Τίασα
), upon which stood the sanctuary of Phaëna and Cleta, and across which was the road to Amyclae. (Paus. 3.18.6
.) Leake, however, gives the name of Tiasa to the Pandeleímona,
the next torrent southwards falling into the Eurotas.
With respect to the gates of Sparta, the most important was the one opposite the bridge of the Eurotas: it was probably called the gate to Therapne. Livy mentions two others, one leading to the Messenian town of Pharae, and the other to Mount Barbosthenes (35.30).
The former must have been upon the western side of the city, near the village of Magúla.
Of the southern gates the most important was the one leading to Amyclae.
In this article it has not been attempted to give any account of the political history of Sparta, which forms a prominent part of Grecian history, and cannot be narrated in this work at sufficient length to be of any value to the student.
A few remarks upon the subject are given under LACONIA
The modern authority chiefly followed in drawing up the preceding account of the topography of Sparta is Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. ii. p. 219, seq. Valuable information has also been derived from Leake, Morea,
vol. i. p. 150, seq., Peloponnesiaca,
p. 129, seq.
See also Mure, Tour in Greece,
vol. ii. p. 220, seq.; Ross, Wanderungen in Griechenland,
vol. ii. p. 11, seq.; Expédition scientifique de Morée,
vol. ii. p. 61, seq.; Boblaye, Recherches, &c.,
p. 78, seq.; Beulé, Études sur le Péloponèse,
p. 49, seq.