|May 22, 2013
|Information about the place
| Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Aetolia (Aitolia: Eth. Aitolos, Aetolus), a district of Greece, the boundaries
of which varied at different periods. In the time of Strabo it was bounded on
the W. by Acarnania, from which it was separated by the river Achelous, on the
N. by the mountainous country inhabited by the Athamanes, Dolopes, and Dryopes,
on the NE. by Doris and Malis, on the SE. by Locris, and on the S. by the entrance
to the Corinthian gulf. It contained about 1165 square miles. It was divided into
two districts, called Old Aetolia (he archaia Aitolia), and Aetolia Epictetus
(he epiktetos), or the Acquired. The former extended along the coast from the
Achelous to the Evenus, and inland as far as Thermum, opposite the Acarnanian
town of Stratus: the latter included the northern and more mountainous part of
the province, and also the country on the coast between the Evenus and Locris.
When this division was introduced is unknown; but it cannot have been founded
upon conquest, for the inland Aetolians were never subdued. The country between
the Achelous and the Evenus appears in tradition as the original abode of the
Aetolians; and the term Epictetus probably only indicates the subsequent extension
of their name to the remainder of the country. Strabo makes the promontory Antirrhium
the boundary between Aetolia and Locris, but some of the towns between this promontory
and the Evenus belonged originally to the Ozolian Locrians. (Strab. pp. 336, 450,
The country on the coast between the Achelous and the Evenus is a
fertile plain, called Paracheloitis (Paracheloitis), after the former river. This
plain is bounded on the north by a range of hills called Aracynthus, north of
which and of the lakes Hyria and Trichonis there again opens out another extensive
plain opposite the town of Stratus. These are the only two plains in Aetolia of
any extent. The remainder of the country is traversed in every direction by rugged
mountains, covered with forests, and full of dangerous ravines. These mountains
are a south-westerly continuation of Mt. Pindus, and have never been crossed by
any road, either in ancient or modern times. The following mountains are mentioned
by special names by the ancient writers:
1.Tymphrestus (Tumphrestos), on the northern frontier, was a southerly continuation
of Mt. Pindus, and more properly belongs to Dryopis.
2. Bomi (Bomoi), on the north-eastern frontier, was the most westerly part of
Mt. Oeta, inhabited by the Bomienses. In it were the sources of the Evenus. (Strab.
x. p. 451; Thuc. iii. 96; Steph. B. s. v. Bomoi.)
3. Coraxa (Korax), also on the north-eastern frontier, was a south-westerly continuation
of Oeta, and is described by Strabo as the greatest mountain in Aetolia. There
was a pass through it leading to Thermopylae, which the consul Acilius Glabrio
crossed with great difficulty and the loss of many beasts of burthen in his passage,
when he marched from Thermopylae to Naupactus in B.C. 191. Leake remarks that
the route of Glabrio was probably by the vale of the Vistritza into that of the
Kokkcino, over the ridges which connect Velukhi with Vardhusi, but very near the
latter mountain, which is thus identified with Corax. Corax is described on that
occasion by Livy as a very high mountain, lying between Callipolis and Naupactus.
(Strab. x. p. 450; Liv. xxxvi. 30; Steph. B. s. v.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol.
ii. p. 624.)
4. Taphiassus (Taphiassos: Kaki--scala), a southerly continuation of Corax, extended
down to the Corinthian gulf, where it terminated in a lofty mountain near the
town of Macynia. In this mountain Nessus and the other Centaurs were said to have
been buried, and from their corpses arose the stinking waters which flowed into
the sea, and from which the western Locrians are said to have derived the name
of Ozolae, or the Stinking. Modern travellers have found at the base of Mt. Taphiassus
a number of springs of fetid water. Taphiassus derives its modern name of Kaki--skala,
or Bad-ladder, from the dangerous road, which runs along the face of a precipitous
cliff overhanging the sea, half way up the mountain. (Strab. pp. 427, 451, 460;
Antig. Caryst. 129; Plin. iv. 2; Leake, vol. i. p. 111; Mure, Tour in Greece,
vol. i. p. 135; Gell, Itiner. p. 292.)
5. Chalcis or Chalceia (Chalkis e Chalkia: Varassova), an offshoot of Taphiassus,
running down to the Corinthian gulf, between the mouth of the Evenus and Taphiassus.
At its foot was a town of the same name. Taphiassus and Chalcis are the ancient
names of the two great mountains running close down to the sea-coast, a little
west of the promontory Antirrhium, and separated from each other by some low ground.
Each of these mountains rises from the sea in one dark gloomy mass. (Strab. pp.
451, 460; Horn. Il. ii. 640; Leake, l. c.; Mure, vol. i. p. 171.)
6. Aracyntus (Arakunthos: Zygos), a range of mountains running in a south-easterly
direction from the Achelous to the Evenus, and separating the lower plain of Aetolia
near the sea from the upper plain above the lakes Hyria and Trichonis. (Strab.
x. p. 450.)
7. Panaetolium (Viena), a mountain NE. of Thermum, in which city the Aetolians
held the meetings of their league. (Plin. iv. 2; Pol. v. 8; Leake, vol. i. p.
8. Myenus (to oros Muenon, Plut. de Fluviis, p. 44), between the rivers Evenus
9. Macynium mentioned only by Pliny (l. c.), must, from its name, have been near
the town of Macynia on the coast, and consequently a part of Mt. Taphiassus.
10. Curium (Kourion), a mountain between Pleuron and lake Trichonis, from which
the Curetes were said to have derived their name. It is a branch of Aracynthus.
(Strab. x. p. 451.)
The two chief rivers of Aetolia were the Achelous and the Evenus,
which flowed in the lower part of their course nearly parallel to one another.
There were no other rivers in the country worthy of mention, with the exception
of the Campylus and Cyathus, both of which were tributaries of the Achelous.
There were several lakes in the two great plains of Aetolia. The upper
plain, N. of Mt. Aracynthus, contained two large lakes, which communicated with
each other. The eastern and the larger of the two was called Trichonis (Trichonis,
Pol. v. 7, xi. 4: Lake of Apokuro), the western was named Hyria (Lake of Zygos);
and from the latter issued the river Cyathus, which flowed into the Achelous near
the town of Conope, afterwards Arsinoe (Ath. x. p. 424). This lake, named Hyrie
by Ovid (Met. vii. 371, seq.) is called Hydra (gdra) in the common text of Strabo,
from whom we learn that it was afterwards called Lysimachia (Ausimachia) from
a town of that name upon its southern shore. (Strab. p. 460.) Its proper name
appears to have been Hyria, which might easily be changed into Hydra. (Muller,
Dorians, vol. ii. p. 481.) This lake is also named Conope by Antoninus Liberalis
(Met. 12). The mountain Aracynthus runs down towards the shores of both lakes,
and near the lake Hyrie there is a ravine, which Ovid (l. c.) calls the Cycneia
Tempe, because Cycnus was said to have been here changed into a swan by Apollo.
The principal sources which form both the lakes are at the foot of the steep mountain
overhanging the eastern, or lake Trichonis; a current flows from E. to W. through
the two lakes; and the river of Cyathus is nothing more than a continuation of
the same stream (Leake, vol. i. p. 154).
In the lower plain of Aetolia there were several smaller lakes or
lagoons. Of these Strabo (pp. 459, 460) mentions three.
1. Cynia (Kunia), which was 60 stadia long and 20 broad, and communicated with
2. Uria (Ouria), which was much smaller than the preceding and half a stadium
from the sea.
3. A large lake near Calydon, belonging to the Romans of Patrae: this lake, according
to Strabo, abounded in fish (euopsos), and the gastronomic poet Archestratus said
that it was celebrated for the labrax (labrax, a ravenous kind of fish. (Ath.
vii. p. 311, a.)
There is some difficulty in identifying these lakes, as the coast
has undergone numerous changes; but Leake supposes that the lagoon of Anatoliko
was Cynia, that of Mesolonghi Uria, and that of Bokhori the lake of Calydon. The
last of these lakes is perhaps the same as the lake Onthis (Onthis), which Nicander
(ap. Schol. ad Nicand. Ther. 214) speaks of in connection with Naupactus. (Leake,
vol. iii. p. 573, &c.)
In the two great plains of Aetolia excellent corn was grown, and the
slopes of the mountains produced good wine and oil. These plains also afforded
abundance of pasture for horses; and the Aetolian horses were reckoned only second
to those of Thessaly. In the mountains there were many wild beasts, among which
we find mention of boars and even of lions, for Herodotus gives the Thracian Nestus
and the Achelous as the limits within which lions were found in Europe. (Herod.
The original inhabitants of Aetolia are said to have been Curetes,
who according to some accounts had come from Euboea. (Strab. x. p. 465.) They
inhabited the plains between the Achelous and the Evenus, and the country received
in consequence the name of Curetis. Besides them we also find mention of the Leleges
and the Hyantes, the latter of whom had been driven out of Boeotia. (Strab. pp.
322, 464.) These three peoples probably belonged to the great Pelasgic race, and
were at all events not Hellenes. The first great Hellenic settlement in the country
is said to have been that of the Epeans, led by Aetolus, the son of Endymion,
who crossed over from Elis in Peloponnesus, subdued the Curetes, and gave his
name to the country and the people, six generations before the Trojan war. Aetolus
founded the town of Calydon, which he called after his son, and which became the
capital of his dominions. The Curetes continued to reside at their ancient capital
Pleuron at the foot of Mt. Curium, and for a long time carried on war with the
inhabitants of Calydon. Subsequently the Curetes were driven out of Pleuron, and
are said to have crossed over into Acarnania. At the time of the Trojan war Pleuron
as well as Calydon were governed by the Aetolian chief Thoas. (Paus. v. 1. § 8;
Hom. Il. ix. 529, seq.; Strab. p. 463.) Since Pleuron appears in the later period
of the heroic age as an Aetolian city, it is represented as such from the beginning
in some legends. Hence Pleuron, like Calydon, is said to have derived its name
from a son of Aetolus (Apollod. i. 7. § 7); and at the very time that some legends
represent it as the capital of the Curetes, and engaged in war with Oeneus, king
of Calydon, others relate that it was governed by his own brother Thestius.
Aetolia was celebrated in the heroic age of Greece on account of the
hunt of the Calydonian boar, and the exploits of Tydeus, Meleager and the other
heroes of Calydon and Pleuron. The Aetolians also took part in the Trojan war
under the command of Thoas; they came in 40 ships from Pleuron, Calydon, Olenus,
Pylene and Chalcis (Hom. Il. ii. 638). Sixty years after the Trojan war some Aeolians,
who had been driven out of Thessaly along with the Boeotians, migrated into Aetolia,
and settled in the country around Pleuron and Calydon, which was hence called
Aeolis after them. (Strab. p. 464; Thuc. iii. 102.) Ephorus (ap. Strab. p. 465)
however places this migration of the Aeolians much earlier, for he relates that
the Aeolians once invaded the district of Pleuron, which was inhabited by the
Curetes and called Curetis, and expelled this people. Twenty years afterwards
occurred the great Dorian invasion of Peloponnesus under the command of the descendants
of Heracles. The Aetolian chief Oxylus took part in this invasion, and conducted
the Dorians across the Corinthian gulf. In return for his services he received
Elis upon the conquest of Peloponnesus.
From this time till the commencement of the Peloponnesian war we know
nothing of the history of the Aetolians. Notwithstanding their fame in the heroic
age, they appear at the time of the Peloponnesian war as one of the most uncivilized
of the Grecian tribes; and Thucydides (i. 5) mentions them, together with their
neighbours the Ozolian Locrians and Acarnanians, as retaining all the habits of
a rude and barbarous age. At this period there were three main divisions of the
Aetolians, the Apodoti, Ophionenses, and Eurytanes. The last, who were the most
numerous of the three, spoke a language which was unintelligible, and were in
the habit of eating raw meat. (Thuc. iii. 102.) Thucydides, however, does not
call them Barbaroi; and notwithstanding their low culture and uncivilized habits,
the Aetolians ranked as Hellenes, partly, it appears, on account of their legendary
renown, and partly on account of their acknowledged connection with the Eleans
in Peloponnesus. Each of these three divisions was subdivided into several village
tribes. Their villages were unfortified, and most of the inhabitants lived by
plunder. Their tribes appear to have been independent of each other, and it was
only in circumstances of common danger that they acted in concert. The inhabitants
of the inland mountains were brave, active, and invincible. They were unrivalled
in the use of the javelin, for which they are celebrated by Euripides. (Phoeniss.
139, 140; comp. Thuc. iii. 97.)
The Apodoti, Ophionenses, and Eurytanes, inhabited only the central
districts of Aetolia, and did not occupy any part of the plain between the Evenus
and the Achelous, which was the abode of the more civilized part of the nation,
who bore no other name than that of Aetolians. The Apodoti (Apodotoi, Thuc. iii.
94; Apodotoi, Pol. xvii. 5) inhabited the mountains above Naupactus, on the borders
of Locris. They are said by Polybius not to have been Hellenes. (Comp. Liv. xxxii.
34.) North of these dwelt the Ophionenses or Ophienses (Ophioneis, Thuc. l. c.;
Ophieis, Strab. pp. 451,465), and to them belonged the smaller tribes of the Bomienses
(Bomies, Thuc. iii. 96; Strab. p. 451; Steph. Byz. s. v. Bomoi) and Callienses
(Kallies, Thuc.), both of which inhabited the ridge of Oeta running down towards
the Malic gulf: the former are placed by Strabo at the sources of the Evenus,
and the position of the latter is fixed by that of their capital town Callium.
The Eurytanes (Eurutanes, Thuc. iii. 94, et alii) dwelt north of the Ophionenses,
as far, apparently, as Mt. Tymphrestus, at the foot of which was the town Oechalia,
which Strabo describes as a place belonging to this people. They are said to have
possessed an oracle of Odysseus. (Strab. pp, 448, 451, 465; Schol. ad Lycophr.
The Agraei, who inhabited the north-west corner of Aetolia, bordering
upon Ambracia, were not a division of the Aetolian nation, but a separate people,
governed at the time of the Peloponnesian war by a king of their own, and only
united to Aetolia at a later period. The Aperanti, who lived in the same district,
appear to have been a subdivision of the Agraei. Pliny (iv. 3) mentions various
other peoples as belonging to Aetolia, such as the Athamanes, Tymphaei, Dolopes,
&c.; but this statement is only true of the later period of the Aetolian League,
when the Aetolians had extended their dominion over most of the neighbouring tribes
of Epirus and Thessaly.
At the commencement of the Peloponnesian war the Aetolians had formed
no alliance either with Sparta or Athens, and consequently are not mentioned by
Thucydides in his enumeration of the allied forces of the two nations. It was
the unprovoked invasion of their country by the Athenians in the sixth year of
the war (B.C. 455), which led. them to espouse the Lacedaemonian side. In this
year the Messenians, who had been settled at Naupactus by the Athenians, and who
had suffered greatly from the inroads of the Aetolians, persuaded the Athenian
general, Demosthenes, to march into the interior of Aetolia, with the hope of
conquering the three great tribes of the Apodoti, Ophionenses, and Eurytanes,
since if they were subdued the Athenians would become masters of the whole country
between the Ambracian gulf and Parnassus. Having collected a considerable force,
Demosthenes set out from Naupactus; but the expedition proved a complete failure.
After advancing a few miles into the interior, he was attacked at Aegitium by
the whole force of the Aetolians, who had occupied the adjacent hills. The rugged
nature of the ground prevented the Athenian hoplites from coming to close quarters
with their active foe; Demosthenes had with him only a small number of light-armed
troops; and in the end the Athenians were completely defeated, and fled in disorder
to the coast. Shortly afterwards the Aetolians joined the Peloponnesians under
Eurylochus in making an attack upon Naupactus, which Demosthenes caved with difficulty,
by the help of the Acarnanians. (Thuc. iii. 94, &c.) The Aetolians took no further
part in the Peloponnesian war; for those of the nation who fought under the Athenians
in Sicily were only mercenaries. (Thuc. vii. 57.) From this time till that of
the Macedonian supremacy, we find scarcely any mention of the Aetolians. They
appear to have been frequently engaged in hostilities. with their neighbours and
ancient enemies, the Acarnanians.
After the death of Alexander the Great (B.C. 323) the Aetolians joined
the confederate Greeks in what is usually called the Lamian war. This war was
brought to a close by the defeat of the confederates at Crannon (B.C. 322); whereupon
Antipater and Craterus, having first made peace with Athens, invaded Aetolia with
a large army. The Aetolians, however, instead of yielding to the invaders, abandoned
their villages in the plains and retired to their impregnable mountains, where
they remained in safety, till the Macedonian generals were obliged to evacuate
their territory in order to march against Perdiecas. (Diod. xviii. 24, 25.) In
the wars which followed between the different usurpers of the Macedonian throne,
the alliance of the Aetolians was eagerly courted by the contending armies; and
their brave and warlike population enabled them to exercise great influence upon
the politics of Greece. The prominent part they took in the expulsion of the Gauls
from Greece (B.C. 279). still further increased their reputation. In the army
which the Greeks assembled at Thermopylae to oppose the Gauls, the contingent
of the Aetolians was by far the largest, and they here distinguished themselves
by their bravery in repulsing the attacks of the enemy; but they earned their
chief glory by destroying the greater part of a body of 40,000 Gauls, who had
invaded their country, and had taken the town of Callium, and committed the most
horrible atrocities on the inhabitants. The Aetolians also assisted in the defence
of Delphi when it was attacked by the Gauls, and in the pursuit of the enemy in
their retreat. (Paus. x. 20--23.) To commemorate the vengeance they had inflicted
upon the Gauls for the destruction of Callium, the Aetolians dedicated at Delphi
a trophy and a statue of an armed heroine, representing Aetolia. They also dedicated
in the same temple the statues of the generals under whom they had fought in this
war. (Paus. x. 18. § 7, x. 15. § 2.)
From this time the Aetolians appear as one of the three great powers
in Greece, the other two being the Macedonians and Achaeans. Like the Achaeans,
the Aetolians were united in a confederacy or league. At what time this league
was first formed is uncertain. It is inferred that the Aetolians must have been
united into some form of confederacy at least as early as the time of Philip,
the father of Alexander the Great, from an inscription on the statue of Aetolus
at Thermum, quoted by Ephorus (Strab. p. 463: Aitolon tond anepheikan Aitoloi
spheteras mnem aretes esorain), and from the cession of Naupactus, which was made
to them by Philip. (Strab. p. 427: esti de nun Aitolon, philippou proskrinantos,
quoted by Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. viii. p. 207.) But it was not till
after the death of Alexander the Great that the league appears to have come into
full activity; and it was probably the invasion of their country by Antipater
and Craterus, and the consequent necessity of concerting measures for their common
defence, that brought the Aetolians into a closer political association. The constitution
of the league was democratical, like that of the Aetolian towns and tribes. The
great council of the nation, called the Panaetolicon (Liv. xxxi. 9), in which
it is probable that every freeman above the age of thirty had the right of voting,
met every autumn at Thermum, for the election of magistrates, general legislation,
and the decision of all questions respecting peace and war with foreign nations.
There was also another deliberative body, called Apocleti (Apokletoi), which appears
to have been a kind of permanent committee. (Pol. xx. 1; Liv. xxxvi. 28.) The
chief magistrate bore the title of Strategus Hstrategos), He was elected annually,
presided in the assemblies, and had the command of the troops in war. The officers
next in rank were the Hipparchus (Hipparchos), or commander of the cavalry, and
the chief Secretary Grammateus), both of whom were elected annually.
After the expulsion of the Gauls from Greece, the Aetolians began
to extend their dominions over the neighbouring nations. They still retained the
rude and barbarous habits which had characterised them in the time of Thucydides,
and were still accustomed to live to a great extent by robbery and piracy. Their
love of rapine was their great incentive to war, and in their marauding expeditions
they spared neither friends nor foes, neither things sacred nor profane. Such
is the character given to them by Polybius (e.g. ii. 45, 46, iv. 67, ix. 38),
and his account is confirmed in the leading outlines by the testimony of other
writers; though justice requires us to adds that the enmity of the Aetolians to
the Achaeans has probably led the historian to exaggerate rather than underrate
the vices of the Aetolian people. At the time of their greatest power, they were
masters of the whole of western Acarnania, of the south of Epirus and Thessaly,
and of Locris, Phocis, and Boeotia. They likewise assumed the entire control of
the Delphic oracle and of the Amphictyonic assembly. (Plut. Demetr. 40; Pol. iv.
25; Thirlwall, vol. viii. p. 210.) Their league also embraced several towns in
the heart of Peloponnesus, the island of Cephallenia, and even cities in Thrace
and Asia Minor, such as Lysimachia on the Hellespont, and Cios on the Propontis.
The relation of these distant places to the league is a matter of uncertainty.
They could not have taken any part in the management of the business of the confederacy;
and the towns in Asia Minor and Thrace probably joined it in order to protect
themselves against the attacks of the Aetolian privateers.
The Aetolians were at the height of their power in B.C. 220, when
their unprovoked invasion of Messenia engaged them in a war with the Achaeans,
usually called the Social War. The Achaeans were supported by the youthful monarch
of Macedonia, Philip V., who inflicted a severe blow upon the Aetolians in B.C.
218 by an unexpected march into the interior of their country, where he surprised
the capital city of Thermum, in which all the wealth and treasures of the Aetolian
leaders were deposited. The whole of these fell into the hands of the king, and
were either carried off or destroyed; and before quitting the place, Philip set
fire to the sacred buildings, to retaliate for the destruction of Dium and Dodona
by the Aetolians. (Pol. v.2--9, 13, 14; for the details of Philip's march, see
Thermun) The Social war was brought to a close by a treaty of peace concluded
in B.C. 217. Six years afterwards (B.C. 211) the Aetolians again declared war
against Philip, in consequence of having formed an offensive and defensive alliance
with the Romans, who were then engaged in hostilities with Philip. The attention
of the Romans was too much occupied by the war against Hannibal in Italy to enable
them to afford much assistance to the Aetolians, upon whom, therefore, the burden
of the war chiefly fell. In the course of this war Philip again took Thermum (Pol.
xi. 4), and the Aetolians became so disheartened that they concluded peace with
him in B.C. 205. This peace, was followed almost immediately by one between Philip
and the Romans.
On the renewal of the war between Philip and the Romans in B.C. 200,
the Aetolians at first resolved to remain neutral; but the success of the consul
Galba induced them to change their determination, and before the end of the first
campaign they declared war against Philip. They fought at the battle of Cynoscephalae
in B.C. 197, when their cavalry contributed materially to the success of the day.
(Liv. xxxiii. 7.) The settlement of the affairs of Greece by Flamininus after
this victory caused great disappointment to the Aetolians; and as soon as Flamininus
returned to Italy, they invited Antiochus to invade Greece, and shortly afterwards
declared war against the Romans. (B.C. 192.) The defeat of Antiochus at Thermopylae
(B.C. 191) drove the monarch back to Asia, and left the Aetolians exposed to the
full vengeance of the Romans. They obtained a short respite by a truce which they
solicited from the Romans; but having subsequently resumed hostilities on rumours
of some success of Antiochlis in Asia, the Roman consul M. Fulvius Nobilior crossed
over into Greece, and commenced operations by laying siege to Ambracia (B.C. 189),
which was then one of the strongest towns belonging to the league. Meantime news
had arrived of the total defeat of Antiochus at the battle of Magnesia, and the
Aetolians resolved to purchase peace at any price. It was granted to them by the
Romans, but on terms which destroyed for ever their independence, and rendered
them only the vassals of Rome. (Pol. xxii. 15; Liv. xxxviii. 11.) After the conquest
of Perseus (B.C. 167), the Roman party in Aetolia, assisted by a body of Roman
soldiers, massacred 550 of the leading patriots. All the survivors, who were suspected
of opposition to the Roman policy, were carried off as prisoners to Italy. It
was at this time that the league was formally dissolved. (Liv. xlv. 28, 31; Justin,
xxxiii. Prol. and 2.) Aetolia subsequently formed part of the province of Achaia;
though it is doubtful whether it formed part of this province as it was at first
constituted. The inhabitants of several of its towns were removed by Augustus
to people the city of Nicopolis, which he founded to commemorate his victory at
Actium, B.C. 31; and in his time the country is described by Strabo as utterly
worn out and exhausted. (Strab.) Under the Romans the Aetolians appear to have
remained in the same rude condition in which they had always been. The interior
of Aetolia was probably rarely visited by the Romans, for they had no road in
the inland part of the country; and their only road was one leading from the coast
of Acarnania across the Achelous, by Pleuron and Calydon to Chalcis and Molycreia
on the Aetolian coast. (Comp. Brandstaten, Die Geschichten des Aetolischen Landes,
Volkes und Bundes, Berlin, 1844.)
The towns in Aetolia were: In Old Aetolia. In the lower plain, between
the sea and Mount Aracynthus, Calydon, Pleuron, Olenus, Pylene, Chalcis (these
5 are the Aetolian towns mentioned by Homer), Halicyrna, Elaeus, Paeanium or Phana,
Proschium, Ithoria, Conope (afterwards Arsinoe), Lysimachia. In the upper plain
N. of Mount Aracynthus, Acraee, Metapa, Pamphia, Phyteum, Trichonium, Thestienses,
Thermon. In Aetolia Epictetus, on the sea-coast, Macynia, Molycreium or Molycreia:
a little in the interior, on the borders of Locris, Potidania, Crocyleium, Teichium,
Aagitium: further in the interior, Callium Oechalia, Aerantia, Agrinium, Ephyra,
the last of which was a town of the Agraei. The site of the following towns is
quite unknown: -Ellopium (Ellopion, Pol. ap. Steph. B. s. v.); Thorax (Thorax,
s. v.); Pherae (pherai, Steph. B. s. v.)
| Perseus Encyclopedia Site Text
The region of Aetolia is the southern continuation of the Pindus mountain
range, and is bordered on the west by the Acheloos River, and on the east by Mt.
Oxya. The mountains of Aetolia have peaks exceeding 1818 m, which cut off the
rich plains of central Aetolia from the Corinthian Gulf. The south coast of Aetolia
between the mouths of the Acheloos and the Euenus rivers has many shallow lagoons,
but no serviceable harbor. The only good harbour in Aetolia is at Naupaktos on
the Corinthian Gulf, opposite Patrai in the Peloponnese.
There are five cities of importance in Aetolia. Two of these are Kalydon
and Pleuron, and Thermon near lake Trichonis, the religious center of Classical
Aetolia. Owing to its seclusion from the sea, Aetolia remained undeveloped and
knew little urban advancement until the fourth century B.C. Small tribes, however,
did form to present a common front against the invasion of Demosthenes in 426
B.C. Only after 370 B.C., with the formation of the Aetolian Confederacy, did
this region rise to power and emerge as a close-knit federal state. The natural
avenues of expansion for Aetolia lay east in Akarnania and northwards into Malis
and Amphilochia, but Aetolia did not explore these possibilities until well into
the third century B.C.
Arta in the north was at one time the chief town of the district of
Epirus. The town is situated on the left bank of the Arakhthos River and occupies
the site of ancient Ambracia, which gave the Ambracian Gulf its name. Founded
in the seventh century B.C. by settlers from Corinth, Ambracia became the capital
of Epirus under the rule of Pyrrhos, king of the Molossians. In 31 B.C. the people
of the town were moved to the newly founded city of Nikopolis.
Thermon, situated on Lake Tichonis in central Aetolia, sits on a natural
height commanding the central plains. The city was the spiritual center of the
region and was the site of an annual festival during which magistrates were elected.
Since the Bronze Age, Aetolia has been a cult center for the worship of Apollo
Thermios, Apollo Lyseuis, and Artemis. Over time, Thermon became a Pan-Aetolian
sanctuary dedicated to the worship of Apollo Thermios. Remains of successive wooden
and stone temples to Apollo Thermios at Thermon are among the oldest religious
structures in Greece.
Ancient Pleuron, located to the southwest of Thermon, was known as
the city of the Curetes. It was destroyed by Demetrios II, son of Antigonus Gonatas,
in 234 B.C. Pleuron has a remarkable 15 course Hellenistic wall that includes
36 towers and seven gates. Within these walls lay a small theater, a large cistern,
an agora, and an acropolis to the north.
Kalydon, southeast of Pleuron, was celebrated in the heroic age as
the home of Oineus and his sons Tydeus and Meleager. The famed Kalydonian boar
hunt took place on the nearby slopes which culminate in Mt. Zygos (944 m). The
site consisted of a walled town, a Heroon, and the Sanctuary of Artemis Laphria
which stood on a natural spur of land, with a view of the plain and the gulf.
On this platform stood a fourth century temple supported by a sixth century retaining
The ancient port town of Naupaktos once belonged to Western Locris,
but was captured by Athens in 455 B.C. and used to house Messenians who had abandoned
their homes because of the Spartan raids. After the Spartans expelled the Messenians
from Naupaktos in 399 B.C., Achaia colonized the town and held it until Philip
II captured it and and bequeathed it to Aetolia in 338 B.C. When the Aetolian
Confederacy collapsed in 189 B.C., Naupaktos lost its importance.
| Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
A division of Greece, bounded on the west by Acarnania,
from which it was separated by the river Achelous; on the north by Epirus and
Thessaly; on the east by the Ozolian Locrians; and on the south by the entrance
to the Corinthian Gulf. It was divided into two parts--Old Aetolia, from the Achelous
to the Evenus and Calydon; and New Aetolia, or the Acquired, from the Evenus and
Calydon to the Ozolian Locrians. On the coast the country is level and fruitful,
but in the interior mountainous and unproductive. The mountains contained many
wild beasts, and were celebrated in mythology for the hunt of the Calydonian boar.
The country was originally inhabited by Curetes and Leleges, but was at an early
period colonized by Greeks from Elis, led by the mythical Aetolus. The Aetolians
took part in the Trojan War, under their king Thoas. They continued for a long
time a rude and uncivilized people, living to a great extent by robbery; and even
in the time of Thucydides (B.C. 410) many of their tribes spoke a language which
was not Greek, and were in the habit of eating raw flesh. They appear to have
been early united by a kind of league, but this league first acquired political
importance about the middle of the third century B.C., and became a formidable
rival to the Macedonian monarchs and the Achaean League. The Aetolians took the
side of Antiochus III. against the Romans, and on the defeat of that monarch,
B.C. 189, they became virtually the subjects of Rome. On the conquest of the Achaeans,
B.C. 146, Aetolia was included in the Roman province of Achaea.
|This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks|
Region of central Greece
north of the gulf of Calydon.
Aetolia owes its name to the mythological hero Aetolus, a son of the
Aeolian Endymion, king of Elis.
Endymion had three sons, Paeon, Epeius and Aetolus. In order to decide which one
would succeed him, he organized a race between them in Olympia.
Epeius won and became king of Elis,
and Paeon fled to Macedon,
while Aetolus stayed around and eventually succeeded his brother at his death.
But later, Aetolus killed Apis, a son of Phoroneus (the first man according to
Peloponnesian legends) who was then king of all Peloponnese
but acted as a tyrant. As a result, Aetolus had to flee and he moved across the
gulf of Corinth, where he
was greeted by the local kings, Dorus (the eponym of the Dorians), Laodocus and
Polypoetes, the three sons of Apollo and Phthia (the eponym of the region of Phthia).
But Aetolus killed the three of them, expelled local residents, the Couretes,
and reigned over the country, that took his name.
He had two sons, Pleuron and Calydon, who gave their names to two
cities of Aetolia.
|Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.|
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.