or Larisa, or Pelasgis, Thessaly, Greece.
A city of Pelasgiotis on the right bank of the
Peneios river, approximately in the center of the E Thessalian plain. Through it ran the major routes from S
Greece to Macedonia, and routes across Thessaly and to
the Gulf of Pagasai. The city and the plain around it
were settled in prehistoric times, and its name must be
early, but it is first mentioned in connection with the
aristocratic Aleuadai, whose home it was. It flourished
during the 5th c. and was a considerable artistic center,
but was weakened by party dissensions by the end of the
century. It was the leader of the resistance against the
tyrants of Pherai, but felt it necessary to call in first
Thebes and then Macedon to help. In 344 B.C. Philip II
of Macedon directly annexed Thessaly, and from then to
196 B.C. Larissa was under Macedonian control. It was the
capital of the post-196 B.C. Roman-organized Thessalian
League and flourished during the Republic and Empire.
Justinian refortified the city.
Very few visible remains of the ancient city are left in
place. The Peneios bends in a rough arc around the N
side of the city. A Turkish earth embankment (still visible in places) makes a wide arc around the S side. It is
supposed the Turkish wall may lie on the line of the
ancient one; if so, the circuit of Larissa (counting the
river) would be approximately 7 km. There are no visible remains of the city wall, however. In the NW part
of the city, close to the river, is a hill (96 m) which was
the ancient acropolis. It was fortified in Byzantine times.
No ancient wall is to be seen. The ancient theater, which
dates to the later Hellenistic period, was dug into the S
side of this hill. The seats are marble, and some have
the names of notables of the city carved on them.
East of the acropolis hill, in modern Demeter St., a
large, 4th c. B.C. votive stele, dedicated to Poseidon, was
discovered in situ in 1955.
The agora of the ancient city was probably located
near the center of the modern city, S of the citadel.
Here, at the crossing of Roosevelt and Papakyriazis Sts.,
three large Doric poros column drums, two pieces of triglyph, and other architectural fragments were discovered
recently. In the area were a row of statue bases and immediately W of them a massive 4th-3d c. B.C. foundation,
which has been identified as some building of the agora,
or possibly the Temple of Apollo Kerdoios, which is
known to have been in the lower city. Near this were
some Late Roman or Early Christian foundations. In
this general area, in 1910, Arvanitopoullos discovered a
few curved seats and a foundation which he ascribed to
an odeion and dated to the 4th c. B.C. Stählin suggested it
might have been a bouleuterion. What appear to be
remains of a Classical temple lie just N of the Metropolis
cathedral, N of the E end of the bridge which leads
across the river to the W. Part of an Athena head and
other statues of the Roman period have been found here.
Ca. 5 km S of the city at Palaiochori Larissis or Siïti,
a Hellenistic underground vaulted chamber tomb has
been excavated. At Kioski, across the river, a short way
along the road leading to ancient Argura, a tomb containing two silver skyphoi was discovered. Hellenistic
graves (terracotta comic masks) and a head of Dionysos
were discovered at the airport SE of the city.
Numerous small finds, sculptures (6th c. B.C. through
Roman), inscriptions giving a good deal of information
about the ancient city, etc., have been found in Larissa
and its vicinity. These, and objects from the Nome of
Larissa are mainly housed in the local museum, a restored
mosque E of the city center. Some are in the Volo Museum.
A. S. Arvanitopoullos, ArchEph
; id., Praktika
(1910) 174f; (1920) 26f; F. Stählin, Das Hellenische Thessalien
; id., RE
(1924) s.v. Larisa 3 (Larisa Pelasgis)P
; Y. Béquignon,
Mel. Oct. Navarre
(1935) 1-10; N. I. Giannopoulos,
(1945-47) chron. 16f; T. D. Axenidis, Ἡ πελασγὶς Δάρισα
I, II (1947); N. M. Verdelis, Praktika
; id., Thessalika
; H. Biesantz, AA
; D. Theocharis,
16 (1960) chron. 174f, 184fI
; 20 (1965)
chron. 316f; 21 (1966) chron. 254; G. Chourmouziadis,
2 (1969) 167-69I
T. S. MAC KAY