|May 24, 2013
|Information about the place
Region of northeastern Peloponnese.
Argolis owes its name to what became the main city of the region,
Argos, itself named after
several mythological heroes by the name Argos, the first of whom was a son of
Zeus and Niobe, daughter of Phoroneus, and the brother of Pelasgus. Argos reigned
over all of Peloponnese, which
was then called Argolis (hence the name “Argives” which is often used
in the Iliad to designate the Greeks as a whole).
Later, the name Argolis was restricted to the part of Peloponnese
around the city of Argos.
|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.
| Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Argos. The territory of Argos
called Argolis (he Argolis) by Herodotus (i. 82), but more frequently by other
Greek writers Argeia (he Argeia, Thuc. v. 75; Strab. viii.6), sometimes Argolice
(he Argolike, Strab. viii.6). By the Greek writers these words were used to signify
only the territory of the city of Argos,
which was bounded by the territories of Phlius,
Cleonae, and Corinth
on the N.; on the W. by that of Epidaurus;
on the S. by the Argolic gulf
and. Cynuria; and on the E.
by Arcadia. The Romans, however,
used the word Argolis in a more extended sense, including under that name not
only the territories of Phlius
and Cleonae on the N., but
the whole acted or peninsula between the Saronic
and Argolic gulfs, which
was divided in the times of Grecian independence into the districts of Epidauria,
Troezenia, and Hermionis.
Thus the Roman Argolis was bounded on the N. by Corinthia
and Sicyonia; on the E. by
the Saronic gulf and Myrtoum
sea; on the S. by the Hermionic
and Argolic gulfs and by
Cynuria; and on the W. by
Arcadia. But at present we
confine ourselves to the Argeia of the Greek writers, referring to other articles
for a description of the districts included in the Roman Argolis. [Phlius;
The Argeia, or Argolis proper, extended from N. to S from the frontiers
of Phlius and Cleonae
to the frontiers of Cynuria,
in direct distance about 24 English miles. It was separated from Arcadia
of the W. by Mts. Artemisiurnm
and Parthenium, and from
the territory of Epidaurus
on the E. by Mt. Arachnaeum.
Lessa was a town on the borders
of Epidauria (Paus. ii. 26.1);
and from this town to the frontiers of Arcadia,
the direct distance is about 28 English miles. These limits give about 524 square
English miles for the territory of Argos
(Clinton, F. H. vol. ii). The plain in which the city of Argos
is situated is one of the largest plains in the Peloponnesus,
being 10 or 12 miles in length, and from 4 to 5 in width. It is shut in on three
sides by mountains, and only open on the fourth to the sea, and is therefore called
by Sophocles (Oed. Col. 378) to koilon Argos. This plain was very fertile in antiquity,
and was celebrated for its excellent horses (Argos hippoboton, Hom. Il. ii. 287;
Strab. viii.6). The eastern side is much higher than the western; and the former
suffers as much from a deficiency, as the latter does from a superabundance of
water. A recent traveller says that the streams on the eastern part of the plain
are all drunk up by the thirsty soil, on quitting their rocky beds for the deep
arable land, a fact which offers a palpable explanation of the epithet very thirsty
(poludipsion) applied by Homer to the land of Argos
(Il. iv. 171). The western part of the plain, on the contrary, is watered by a
number of streams; and at the south-western extremity of the plain near the sea
there is besides a large number of copious springs; which make this part of the
country a marsh or morass. It was here that the marsh of Lerna
and the fathomless Alcyonian
pool lay, where Hercules is said to have conquered the Hydra. It has been well
observed by a modern writer that the victory, of Hercules over this fifty-headed
water-snake may be understood of a successful attempt of the ancient lords of
the Argive plain to bring
its marshy extremity into cultivation, by draining its sources and embanking its
streams (Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. ii. p. 194). In the time of Aristotle (Meteor.
i. 14) this part of the plain was well-drained and fertile, but at the present
day it is again covered with marshes. With respect to the present productions
of the plain, we learn that the dryer parts are covered with corn; where the moisture
is greater, cotton and vines are grown; and in the marshy parts, towards the sea,
lice and kalamhbokki (Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 348).
The two chief rivers in the plain of Argos are the Inachus
and the Erasinus.
The Inachus (Inachos:
Banitza) rises, according to Pausanias (ii 25.3, viii. 6.6), in Mt. Artemisium,
on the borders of Arcadia,
or, according to Strabo (viii. p. 370), in Mt. Lyrceium,
a northern offshoot of Artemisium.
Near its sources it receives a tributary called the Cephissus (Kephissos: Xeria),
which rises in Mt. Lyrceium
(Strab. ix. p. 424; Aelian, V. H. ii. 33). It flows in a south-easterly direction,
E. of the city of Argos,
into the Argolic gulf. This river
is often dry in the summer. Between it and the city of Argos
is the mountain-torrent named Charadrus
(Charadros: Xeria), which also rises in Mt. Artemisium,
and which, from its proximity to Argos,
has been frequently mistaken for the Inachus by modern travellers. It flows over
a wide gravelly bed, which is generally dry in the summer, whence its modern name
of Xeria, or the Dry River. It flows into the Inachus a little below Argos.
It was on the banks of the Charadrus
that the armies of Argos,
on their return from military expeditions, were obliged to undergo a court of
inquiry before they were permitted to enter the city. (Thuc. v. 60; comp. Paus.
ii. 25.2; Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 364, Peloponnesiaca, p. 267; Mure, vol. ii.
(Erasinos, also Ardinos, Strab. viii.6: Kephalari) is the only river in the plain
of Argos which flows during
the whole year. Its actual course in the plain of Argos
is very short; but it was universally believed to be the same stream as the river
of Stymphalus, which disappeared
under Mt. Apelauron, and made its reappearance, after a subterranean course of
200 stadia, at the foot of the rocks of Mt. Chaon,
to the SW. of Argos. It issues
from these rocks in several large streams, forming a river of considerable size
(hence ingens Erasinus, Ov. Met. xv. 275), which flows directly across the plain
into the Argolic gulf. The
waters of this river turn a great number of mills, from which the place is now
called The Mills of Argos (hoi muloi tou Argous). At the spot where the Erasinus
issues from Mt. Chaon, there
is a fine lofty cavern, with a roof like an acute Gothic arch, and extending 65
yards into the mountain (Leake). It is perhaps from this cavern that the mountain
derives its name (from chao, chaino, chasko). The only tributary of the Erasinus
is the Phrixus (Phrixos, Paus. ii. 36.6, 38.1), which joins it near the sea. (Herod.
vi. 76; Strab. vi. p. 275, viii.6; Paus. ii. 36.6, 7, 24.6, viii. 22.3; Diod.
xv. 49; Senec. Q. N. iii. 26; Stat. Theb. i. 357; Plin. iv. 5.9; Leake, Morea,
vol. ii. p. 340, seq., vol. iii. p. 112, seq., Pelopon. p. 384; Ross, Reisen im
Peloponnes, p. 141.)
The other rivers in the Argeia are mere mountain torrents. On the
Argolic gulf we find the
following, proceeding from S. to N.:
1. Tanus (Tanos, Paus. ii. 38.7), or Tanaus (Tanaos, Eurip. Electr 413), now the
river of Luku, forming the boundary between the Argeia and Cynuria.
(Leake, Pelopon. pp. 392, 340)
2. Pontinus (Pontinos), rising in a mountain of the same name (Pontinus),
on which stood a temple (of Athena Saitis, said to have been founded by Danaus.
(Paus. ii. 36.8; Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 473, Pelopon. p. 368)
3. Amymone (Amumone), which
descends from the same mountain, and immediately enters the lake of Lerna.
4. Cheimarrhus (Cheimarrhos), between the lake of Lerna
and the Erasinus. (Paus.
ii. 36.7; Leake, More, vol. ii. p. 338). In the interior of the country we find:
5. Asterion (Asterion), a small torrent flowing on the south-eastern side of the
Heraeum, or temple of Hera,
the waters of which are said by Pausanias to disappear in a chasm. No trace of
this chasm has been found; but Mure observed that its waters were absorbed in
the earth at a small distance from the temple (Paus. ii. 17.2; Mure, vol. ii.
p. 180; Leake, Pelopon. p. 262, seq).
6. Eleutherion, a small torrent flowing on the north-western side of the Heraeum
(Paus. ii. 17.1; Leake, Pelopon. p. 272). From a passage of Eustathius (in Od.
xiii. 408), quoted by Leake, we learn that the source of this torrent was named
In the time of the Peloponnesian
war the whole of the Argeia was subject to Argos,
but it originally contained several independent cities. Of these the most important
were Mycenae and Tiryns,
which in the heroic ages were more celebrated than Argos
itself. Argos is situated
about 3 miles from the sea. Mycenae
is between 6 and 7 miles N. of Argos;
and Tiryns about 5 miles SE.
of Argos. Nauplia,
the port of Argos, is about
2 miles beyond Tiryns. A list
of the other towns in the Argeia is given in the account of the different roads
leading from Argos. Of these
roads the following were the most important:
1. The North road to Cleonae
issued from the gate of Eileithyia (Pans. ii. 18.3),, and ran through the centre
of the plain of Argos to
Mycenae. Shortly after leaving
Mycenae the road entered
a long narrow pass between the mountains, leading into the valley of Nemea
in the territory of Cleonae.
This pass, which was called the Tretus (Tretos) from the numerous caverns in the
mountains, was the carriage-road in the time of Pausanias from Cleonae
to Argos; and is now called
Dervenaki. The mountain is
also called Treton by Hesiod and Diodorus. It was celebrated as the haunt of the
Nemean lion slain by Hercules
(Hes. Tlzeog. 331; Diod. iv. 11; Paus. ii. 15.2, 4), Pausanias mentions (1. c.)
a footpath over these mountains, which was shorter than the Tretus. This is the
road called by other writers Contoporia (Kontororia, Pol. xvi. 16; Athen. ii.
2, 3. The two roads to Mantineia
both quitted Argos at the
gate called Deiras, and then immediately parted in different directions (Paus.
ii. 25.1--4). The more southerly and the shorter of the two roads, called Prinus
followed the course of the Charadrus:
the more northerly and the longer, called Climax, ran along the valley of the
Inachus. Both Ross and Leake
agree in making the Prinus the southern, and the Climax the northern of the two
roads, contrary to the conclusions of the French surveyors (Ross, Reisen im Peloponnes,
p. 130, seq.: Leake, Pelopon. p. 371, seq). For further details respecting these
roads see Mantineia.
The Prinus after crossing the Charadrus
passed by Oenoe, which was
situated on the left bank of the river; it then ascended Mt. Artemisium
(Malevos), on whose summit by the road side was the temple of Artemis, and near
it the sources of the Inachus.
Here were the boundaries of the territories of Mantineia
and Argos. (Pans. ii. 25.
§ § 1--3.)
The Climax first passed by Lyrceia
at the distance of 60 stadia from Argos,
and next Orneae,--a town
on the confines of Phliasia,
at the distance of 60 stadia from Orneae
(Paus. ii. 25. § § 4--6). It appears from this account that the road must have
run in a north-westerly direction, and have followed the course of the Inachus,
since we know that Lyrceia
was not on the direct road to Phlius,
and because 120 stadia by the direct road to Phlius would carry us far into Phliasia,
or even into Sicyonia (Ross,
Ibid. p. 134, seq). After leaving Orneae
the road crossed the mountain and entered the northern corner of the Argon Plain
in the territory of Mantineia.
4. The road to Tegea
quits Argos near the theatre,
and first runs in a southerly direction along the foot of the mountain Lycone.
After crossing the Erasinus
(Kephalari), the road divides into two, the one to the right leading to Tegea
across the mountains, and the other to the left leading through the plain to Lerna.
The road to Tegea passes
by Cenchreae and the sepulchral
monuments (poluandria) of the Argives who conquered the Lacedaemonians
at Hysiae, shortly afterwards
crosses the Cheimarrhus, and then begins to ascend Mt. Pontinus
in a westerly direction. It then crosses another mountain, probably the Creopolum
(Kreopolon) of Strabo (viii.6), and turns southwards to the Khan of Daouli, where
it is joined by a foot-path leading from Lerna.
From this spot the road runs to the W., passes Hysiae,
and crossing Mt. Parthenium
enters the territory of Tegea
(Paus. ii.24.5; Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 337, seq.; Ross, ib. p. 131).
At the distance of about a mile from the Erasinus,
and about half a mile to the right of the road, the remains of a interesting pyramid
are found (see Hellinicon)
5. The road to Thyrea
and Sparta is the same as
the one to Tegea, till it
reaches the Erasinus, where
it branches off to the left as described above, and runs southwards through the
marshy plain across the Cheimarrhus to Lerna
(Paus. ii. 36.6). After leaving Lerna,
the road passes by Genesium, and the place called Apobathmi, where Danaus is said
to have landed, in the neighbourhood of the modern village of Kyveri.
To the S. of Kyveri begins
the rugged road across the mountains, anciently called Anigraea (Anigraia), running
along the west into the plain of Thyrea
(Paus. ii. 38.4). Shortly before descending into the Thyreatic plain, the traveller
arrives opposite the Anavolos
(Anabolos), which is a copious source of fresh water rising in the sea, at a quarter
of a mile from the narrow beach under the cliffs. Leake observed that it rose
with such force as to form a convex surface, and to disturb the sea for several
hundred feet round. It is evidently the exit of a subterraneous river of some
magnitude, and thus corresponds with the Dine (Dine) of the ancients, which, according
to Pausanias (viii. 7.2), is the outlet of the waters of the Argon Pedion in the
Mantinice (Leake, vol. ii.
p. 469, seq.; Ross, p. 148, seq).
There were two other roads leading from Lerna,
one along the coast to Nauplia,
and the other across the country to Hysiae.
On the former road, which is described by Pausanias, stood a small village called
Temenion, which derived its
name from the Doric hero Temenus, who was said to have been buried here. It was
situated on an isolated hillock between the mouths of the Inachus
and the Erasinus, and on
that part of the coast which was nearest to Argos.
It was distant 26 stadia from Argos,
and 15 from Nauplia. (Strab.
viii.6; Paus. ii. 38.1; Ross, p. 149). On the other road leading to Hysiae,
which is not mentioned by Pausanias, stood Elaeus.
6. The road to Tiryns
issued from the gate Diampares. From Tiryns
there were three roads, one leading to Nauplia,
a second in a south-westerly direction past Asine
to Troezen, and a third in
a more westerly direction to Epidaurus.
Near the last of these roads Midea
appears to have been situated.
7. The road leading to the Heraeum,
or temple of Hera, issued from the gate between the gates Diam. pares and Eileithyia.
|This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks|