ERMIONI (Ancient city) ARGOLIS
Historian Strabo, making mention of Ermioni, the town lying on the northeastern end of Argolis with a history that stretches far back into times points out that “δ’ εστίν ων ουκ ασήμων πόλεων” (it is not one of the lesser towns).
Built and later rebuilt on the same site, it has been inhabited since 3000BC. In his works, such as the Iliad, Homer makes mention of Ermioni’s participation in the Trojan War. The town flourished in the 5th century BC. In antiquity, it grew in importance due to agriculture, shipbuilding and fishery; yet, it mainly gained a reputation for the wealth of its coasts attributed to a rare species of a purple mollusk, the porphyra, wherefrom local inhabitants obtained by means of a special process a purple dye used for dyeing the palliums of kings, such as Alexander the Great. Certain finds, such as silver and bronze coins depicting goddess of earth Demeter dating from 550BC come to manifest the affluence experienced in the area. The latter is also confirmed by the existence of many music instructors, such as the great dithyrambist Lasos who tutored the lyric poet Pindar.
In roman times, Ermioni witnessed considerable prosperity, as well. The aqueduct that carried water to a number of rock-hewn cisterns found across the highly populated town was completed at that time. Traveler Pausanias who visited the area in the 2nd century AD describes with admiration the lavish temples, the festivals, the music contests and swimming races that suffused the area with glory. Ermioni’s historical course was also marked by Byzantine rule and concomitant development.
A paleo-Christian three-aisled basilica with impressive mosaic floors found at the southeastern side of today’s Town Hall attests to the existence and predominance of early Christian worship in the area. During the Frankish occupation, Ermioni was encircled by walls that were erected on the remains of ancient structures, thus, acquiring the name Kastri (castle).
After hard struggles, the town fell into the hands of Ottoman Turks. It survived the Turkish occupation due to its powerful shipping, while many of the area’s natives took part in several battles fought for the cause of Greek Independence.
This text (extract) is cited March 2004 from the Municipality of Ermioni tourist pamphlet.
Putting out from Epidaurus, they (the Athenians) laid waste the territory of Troezen, Halieis, and Hermione, all towns on the coast of Peloponnese, and thence sailing to Prasiai, a maritime town in Laconia, ravaged part of its territory, and took and sacked the place itself; after which they returned home, but found the Peloponnesians gone and no longer in Attica.
This extract is from: Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. Richard Crawley. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
Cited Sept 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
The following took part in the war: from the Peloponnese, … the Hermioneans furnished three ships
. . . them one thousand from Phlius. By these stood three hundred men of Hermione. Next to the men of Hermione were six hundred Eretrians and Styreans
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