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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


METHANA (Ancient city) METHANA
Methana (ta Methana, Paus., Strab., et alii; Methone1 , Thuc. iv. 45; Diod. xii. 65; Methene, Ptol. iii. 16. § 12: Methana), a striking rocky peninsula, connected by a narrow isthmus with the territory of Troezen in Argolis, and containing a city of the same name. Pausanias describes Methana as an isthmus running far into the sea (ii. 34. § 1); Thucydides more correctly distinguishes between the isthmus and chersonesus (iv. 45); and Ptolemy also speaks of the chersonesus (iii. 16. § 12). The isthmus is only about 1000 feet broad, but it immediately spreads out equally on both sides; The outline of the peninsula is grand and picturesque. The highest mountain, called Chelona, which is 2281 (French) feet above the level of the sea, is of a conical form, and was thrown up by a volcano. The whole peninsula bears marks of volcanic agency. The rocks are composed chiefly of that variety of lava called trachyte; and there are hot sulphureous springs, which were used in antiquity for medicinal purposes. Pausanias speaks of hot baths at the distance of 30 stadia from the city of Methana, which were said to have first burst out of the ground in the time of Antigonus, son of Demetrius, king of Macedon, after a violent volcanic eruption. Pausanias adds that there was no cold water for the use of the bather after the warm bath, and that he could not plunge in the sea in consequence of the sea-dogs and other monsters. (Paus. l. c.) Strabo, in describing the same volcanic eruption to which Pausanias alludes, says that a hill 7 stadia high, and fragments of rocks as high as towers, were thrown up; that in the day-time the plain could not be approached in consequence of the heat and sulphureous smell, while at night there was no unpleasant smell, but that the heat thrown out was so great that the sea boiled at the distance of 5 stadia from land, and its waters were troubled for 20 stadia (i. p. 59). Ovid describes, apparently, the same eruption in the lines beginning
Est prope Pittheam tumulus Troezena
(Met. xv. 296), and says that a plain was upheaved into a hill by the confined air seeking vent. (Comp. Lyell's Principles of Geology, pp. 10, 11, 9th ed.) The French Commission point out the site of two hot sulphureous springs; one called Vroma, in the middle of the north coast, and the other near a village Vromolimni, a little above the eastern shore. There are traces of ancient baths at both places; but the northern must be those alluded to by Pausanias.
  The peninsula Methana was part of the territory of Troezen; but the Athenians took possession of the peninsula in the seventh year of the Peloponnesian War, B.C. 425, and fortified the isthmus. (Thuc. iv. 45.) There are still traces of an ancient fortification, renewed in the middle ages, and united by means of two forts. In the peninsula there are Hellenic remains of three different mountain fortresses; but the capital lay on the west coast, and the ruins are near the small village of the same name. Part of the walls of the acropolis and an ancient town on the north side still remain. Within the citadel stands a chapel, containing stones belonging to an ancient building, and two inscriptions on marble, one of which refers [p. 350] to Isis. This, accordingly, was the site of the temple of Isis, mentioned by Pausanias, who also speaks of statues of Hermes and Hercules, in the Agora. (Leake, Morea vol. ii. p. 453, seq., Peloponnesiaca, p. 278; Boblaye, Recherches, &c. p. 59; Curtius, Peloponnesos, vol. ii. p. 438, seq.)
1 Strabo says (viii. p. 374), that in some copies of Thucydides it was written Methone, like the town so called in Macedonia. This form is now found in all the existing MSS. of Thucydides. But there can be no doubt that Methana, which has prevailed down to the present day, is the genuine Doric form of the name.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Perseus Encyclopedia Site Text


The southern half of the Argolid is dominated by the Adheres mountains in the interior, of which the highest is Mt. Didymo (1113 m). To the south of the Adheres Mountains is rolling hill country composed mostly of soft conglomerates and other rocks. This district (c. 250 sq km) has good soils and many springs to counteract the general aridity of the climate. The principal prehistoric and Classical sites of Franchthi Cave, Mases, Halieis, and Hermione are found on three good harbors that are the most conspicuous feature of the region. The volcanic cone of Methana rises out of the Saronic Gulf near the eastern coast of the southern Argolid and is joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The last eruption was in the Hellenistic period, and the fertile volcanic soil allows the inhabitants to be largely self-sufficient. As a consequence, the Classical polis of Methana on the southeast coast facing the mainland was always independent and somewhat isolated...
The remains of ancient Methana are found on a small coastal plain on the southeast coast of the peninsula. They have not been excavated, but large stretches of well-preserved Classical and Hellenistic fortifications are a notable feature. There is an early Christian chapel here also.

Perseus Project


Traces of volcanic agency are visible in many parts of Greece, although no volcanoes, either in activity or extinct, are found in the country. There were hot-springs at Thermopylae, Aedepsus in Euboea, and other places; but the peninsula of Methana in the Peloponnesus, opposite Aegina, and the island of Thera in the Aegaean are the two spots which exhibit the clearest traces of volcanic agency. The greater part of Methana consists of trachyte; and here in historical times a volcanic eruption took place, of which the particulars are recorded both by Strabo and Ovid (Strab. i.; Ov. Met. xv. 296, seq). In this peninsula there are still two hot sulphureous springs, near one of which exist vestiges of volcanic eruption. The island of Thera is covered with pumice-stone; and it is related by Strabo that on one occasion flames burst out from the sea between Thera and the neighbouring island of Therasia, and that an island was thrown up four stadia in circumference. In modern times there have been eruptions of the same kind at Thera and its neighbourhood: of one of the most terrible, which occurred in 1650, we possess a circumstantial account by an eye-witness.

This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited Aug 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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