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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


RAMNOUS (Ancient demos) ATTIKI
Rhamnus, Pamnous,- ountos: Eth. Rhamnousios, fem. Ramnousia. A demus of Attica, belonging to the tribe Aeantis (Steph. B., Harpocr., Suid., s. v.), which derived its name from a thick prickly shrub, which still grows upon the site. (Rhamnous, contr. of pamnoeis from pamnos.) The town stood upon the eastern coast of Attica, at the distance of 60 stadia from Marathon, and upon the road leading from the latter town to Oropus. (Paus. i. 33. § 2.) It is described by Scylax as a fortified place; and it appears from a decree in Demosthenes (pro Cor. p. 238, Reiske) to have been regarded as one of the chief fortresses in Attica. It was still in existence in the time of Pliny ( Rhamnus pagus, locus Marathon, iv. 7.s. 11). Rhamnus was the birthplace of the orator Antipho; but it was chiefly celebrated in antiquity on account of its worship of Nemesis, who was hence called by the Latin poets Rhamnsusia virgo and Rhamnsssia dea. (Catull. lxvi. 71; Claud. B. Get. 631; Ov. diet. iii. 406, Trist. v. 8. 9; Stat. Silv. iii. 5. § 5.) The temple of the goddess was at a short distance from the town. (Paus. l. c.; comp. Strab. ix. p. 399.) It contained a celebrated statue of Nemesis, which, according to Pausanias, was the work of Pheidias, and was made by him out of a block of Parian marble, which the Persians had brought with them for the construction of a trophy. The statue was of colossal size, 10 cubits in height (Hesych. s. v.; Zenob. Prov. v. 82), and on its basis were several figures in relief. Other writers say that the statue was the work of Agoracritus of Paros, a disciple of Pheidias. (Strab. ix. p. 396; Plin. xxxvi. 5. s. 4. § 17, Sillig.) It was however a common opinion that Pheidias was the real author of the statue, but that he gave up the honour of the work to his favourite disciple. (Suid. s. v.; Zenob. l. c.; Tzetz. Child. vii. 960.) Rhamnus stood in a small plain, 3 miles in length, which, like that of Marathon, was shut out from the rest of Attica by surrounding mountains. The town itself was situated upon a rocky peninsula, surrounded by the sea for two-thirds of its circumference, and connected by a narrow ridge with the mountains, which closely approach it on the land side. It is now called Ovrio-Kastro. (Obrio-Kastro, a corruption of Hebraion-Kastron, Jews'-Castle, a name frequently applied in Greece to the ruins of Hellenic fortresses.) It was about half a mile in circuit, and its remains are considerable. The principal gate was situated upon the narrow ridge already mentioned, and is still preserved; and adjoining it is the southern wall, about 20 feet in height. At the head of a narrow glen, which leads to the principal gate, stand the ruins of the temple of Nemesis upon a large artificial platform, supported by a wall of pure white marble. But we find upon this platform, which formed the temenos or sacred enclosure, the remains of two temples, which are almost contiguous, and nearly though not quite parallel to each other. The larger building was a peripteral hexastyle, 71 feet long and 33 broad, with 12 columns on the side, and with a pronaus, cella, and posticum in the usual manner. The smaller temple was 31 feet long by 21 feet broad, and consisted only of a cella, with a portico containing two Doric columns in antis. Among the ruins of the larger temple are some fragments of a colossal statue, corresponding in size with that of the Rhamnusian Nemesis; but these fragments were made of Attic marble, and not of Parian stone as stated by Pausanias. It is, however, not improbable, as Leake has remarked, that the story of the block of stone brought by the Persians was a vulgar fable, or an invention of the priests of Nemesis by which Pausanias was deceived. Among the ruins of the smaller temple was found a fragment, wanting the head and shoulders, of a statue of the human size in the archaic style of the Aeginetan school. This statue is now in the British Museum. Judging from this statue, as well as from the diminutive size and ruder architecture of the smaller temple, the latter appears to have been the more ancient of the two. Hence it has been inferred that the smaller temple was anterior to the Persian War, and was destroyed by the Persians just before the battle of Marathon; and that the larger temple was erected in honour of the goddess, who had taken vengeance upon the insolence of the barbarians for outraging her worship. In front of the smaller temple are two chairs (thronoi) of white marble, upon one of which is the inscription Nemesei Sostratos anetheken, and upon the other Themidi Sostratos anetheken, which has led some to suppose that the smaller temple was dedicated to Themis. But it is more probable that both temples were dedicated to Nemesis, and that the smaller temple was in ruins before the larger was erected. A difficulty, however, arises about the time of the destruction of the smaller temple, from the fact that the forms of the letters and the long vowels in the inscriptions upon the chairs clearly show that those inscriptions belong to an era long subsequent to the battle of Marathon. Wordsworth considers it ridiculous to suppose that these chairs were dedicated in this temple after its destruction, and hence conjectures that the temple was destroyed towards the close of the Peloponnesian War by the Persian allies of Sparta.

This text 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

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


Rhamnous. Now Obrio Kastro; a demus in Attica, belonging to the tribe Aeantis, which derived its name from the rhamnos, a kind of prickly shrub. Rhamnus was situated on a small rocky peninsula on the east coast of Attica, sixty stadia from Marathon. It possessed a celebrated temple of Nemesis, who is hence called by the Latin poets Rhamnusia dea or virgo. A colossal statue of the goddess in this temple was the work of Agoracritus, the pupil of Phidias, or possibly by Phidias himself. Remains of the temple still exist.

This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


Rhamnous. One of the most remote of the Athenian demes, Rhamnous was situated more than 50 km from the city, at the N limit of Attica's E coast, on the sea overlooking the strait separating the mainland from Euboia. Because of this strategic location Rhamnous became something of a garrison town in the 5th c. B.C., with a detachment of ephebes on permanent duty in Hellenistic times. The chief sanctuary, that of Nemesis, is rightly described by Pausanias (1.33.2) as "a small distance back from the coast". The path linking the sanctuary with the town/fort was lined on both sides with graves. So varied a set of remains, together with the many inscriptions, makes it possible to visualize the lineaments of a miniature city-state with unusual clarity.
   The Sanctuary of Nemesis contained two temples set on a flat terrace, in part supported by walls. The earlier, and smaller, is to the S, its plan a cella with Doric porch distyle in antis, built in the 480s B.C. Two thrones, originally placed in the porch, show that Themis was here worshiped together with Nemesis. A statue of the former and several other dedications were unearthed in the cella. They are now in the National Museum in Athens.
   Fifty years later a larger temple, dedicated to Nemesis alone, was built to the N of the earlier. It was of local marble with a peristyle of Doric columns, 6 x 12, surrounding a cella with normal pronaos and opisthodomos. Although only a few blocks remain in place above the platform, enough parts of the colonnade and superstructure lie around to permit a detailed reconstruction. The temple was unfinished at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, and completion was delayed until ca. 420 B.C. Even then, some final finishes, such as the fluting, were permanently abandoned. But at least the temple was fit to receive Agorakritos' famous cult statue, which, according to Pliny (HN 36.17), M. Varro preferred above all other statues. From Pausanias' description (1.33.3-8) and from the many fragments preserved both of the large figure of Nemesis and of the small figures on the base, some idea of the group's appearance can be gained.
   The fortress has not been fully explored. The most prominent remains are those of the heavy outer fortification, best preserved to the S, with a gate flanked by two towers. The summit of the hill is enclosed by a second, lighter circuit, also best preserved to the S, with an entrance at the SE corner guarded by a single tower. The higher circuit is dated to the 5th c. B.C., perhaps as late as 412 (cf. Thuc. 7.28.1), the lower to the 4th or early 3d.
   Between these two circuits, some excavation has taken place, sufficient to reveal a variety of structures and monuments, but not to explain their purposes or position within the town's plan. The one exception is a theater located directly S and W of the opening in the inner fortification. Here a rectangular open area was divided into auditorium and orchestra by a base for stelai and a foundation for prohedriai, three of which still exist and are dated ca. 350 B.C. These simple arrangements will have served for assemblies of the demesmen and ephebes as well as for the attested performances of comedies.
   On the hillside overlooking the fortress' main gate, on an artificial terrace, a small sanctuary was established to Aristomachos, a local hero physician said to have been buried at Marathon. But in Hellenistic times, perhaps through the broadening influence of the ephebes, his place was taken by the neighboring healing god from Oropos, Amphiaraos.

C. W. J. Eliot, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Sep 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains 9 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

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