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Perseus Project index

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

Patrai

  The first mythical inhabitants of the area were known to the ancients as the Autochthonous Ones or People on the Shore. Triptolemos taught the art of cultivation to the Autochthonous king, Eumelos, and because of that the place was called Aroe. Eumelos' son was named Antheias, and a second city was called Antheia after him, while a third city was built between the first two and was called Mesatis.
  The first Greeks who came were the Ionians from Attica. Later, the chief of the branch of Achaians from Lakonia who came into the area of Aroe was the Spartiate, Patreus. He brought together the inhabitants of both Antheia and Mesatis into Aroe. The new synoecism was then called Patras, which Strabo says was constituted from a synoecism of seven cities. The Achaians controlled the Ionic institution of the Dodecapolis. The kingship lasted from the Argive Tisamenos to Ogyges, but the latter's children were displeasing to the people, and the kingship ended. The democratic institutions of the Achaians which followed were famous, and served as a model for the Achaian settlements in Magna Graecia.
  The Achaians took no part in the Persian Wars. On the other hand, they played an important part in the Peloponnesian Wars, when the strategic value of Patras' harbor was a matter of concern. The Athenians held Naupaktos chiefly as a point d'appui while the Corinthians tried vainly to control the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth by holding Patras. The Athenian fleet under Phormio fought the Corinthians at the entrance to the Gulf of Patras in the summer of A.D. 429. Ten years later Alkibiades persuaded the people of Patras to construct the Long Wall while he himself made plans to fortify Rhion.
  In 314 B.C. Patras, which had been held by Alexander the son of Polyperchon, was taken by Aristodemos, the general of Antigonos. Between 307 and 303 B.C. it came into the territory of Demetrios Poliorketes. Patras, Dyme, Triteia, and Pharai were the founders of the second Achaian League. Men of Patras had a large part in the repulse of the Galatians in 279 B.C. Philip V as an ally twice landed at Patras when the Aitolians were ravaging Achaia. Shortly afterwards, in reaction against the Macedonians, the Achaians followed a policy of alliance with Rome. At the end of this period came the fearful destruction of Patras, following the taking of Corinth (146 B.C.). Thereafter it is mentioned only in connection with the careers of the Consul, Quintus Fabius Maximus, of Cicero, and of Cato. Nevertheless, the harbor of Patras was convenient for travel from Rome to Greece and the Near East. Therefore, Augustus, the victor of Actium (31 B.C.) and the founder of Nikopolis, made a synoecism of the Achaians at Patras. The city was declared free (civitas libera) and a colony under the name of Colonia Aroe Augusta Patrensis. After the time of Augustus, Nero, Hadrian, Antoninus, and Diocletian honored the city, where the Greek language and education continued through the Roman period. Plutarch set one of his dialogues in Patras. The Lucius or Ass is attributed to Lucian, and is for philological reasons supposed to be an epitome of the lost Metamorphoses of Lucius of Patras, who is placed in the 2d c. A.D.
  Historical monuments of the city are known to some degree from Mycenaean times. Mycenaean tombs which have been discovered are attributed to Antheia and Mesatis, while the remains of Aroe are supposed to have been destroyed or covered over by the acropolis of Patras. Most of the finds in the region date to the later Mycenaean period. Pausanias (7.18-22) is the chief chronicler of the remains of Classical Patras. Of the buildings, temples, and statues that he mentions very little remains. The acropolis retains no apparent traces of the ancient wall, but there are numerous architectural fragments of ancient buildings as well as statuary built into the mediaeval wall. The line of the Lower City wall can only be guessed at. A certain amount of the odeion is preserved, and in part restored. Between the acropolis and the odeion may be placed, on the basis of Pausanias' description, the agora and the Temple of Zeus (near the Church of the Pantocrator). The seaside temple of Demeter has finally been located, and its oracular spring identified with the sacred spring near the Church of St. Andreas.
  In recent years (1966-72) because of the increase in excavations for buildings, roads and squares, numerous parts of the Roman city of Patras have been discovered, the most noteworthy of which are the remains of the Roman roads, remains of buildings, baths, workshops, monumental graves along the ancient road to the NE, and poorer tile graves along the road leading SW out of the city.
  Moveable finds are collected in the Museum of Patras. There is a great deal of Roman sculpture, including a copy of the chryselephantine statue of Athena Parthenos by Phidias. Mosaic pavements have been moved to the museum, and there are others in the area around the odeion and in the storehouse.

PH. Petsas, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

Patrae

(Patrai). Now Patras. One of the twelve cities of Achaea, and situated west of Rhium, near the opening of the Corinthian Gulf. It was the only Achaean city that sided with Athens in the Peloponnesian War ( Thuc.v. 52). Augustus made it the chief city of Achaia.


The Catholic Encyclopedia

Patras

  A metropolitan see in Achaia. It was one of the twelve ancient cities of Achaia, built near Mount Panachaicon (now Voidia), and formed of three small districts, Aroe, Antheia, and Mesatis. After the Dorian invasion Patreus established there a colony from Laconia, and gave his name to the city. In the Peloponnesian War it took sides with Athens, and, in 419 B. C., Alcibiades advised the construction of long walls to connect the town with its harbour. Reverses having reduced it to extreme misery, Augustus restored it after the victory at Actium by a military colony, called Aroe Patrensis, the existence of which till the reign of Gordianus III is attested by coins.
  It became very prosperous through its commerce and especially through its weaving industry. In the sixth century it suffered from an earthquake, and afterwards from the ravages of the Slavs. In 807, however, it resisted the attacks of the Slavs and, in return, received the title of metropolitan see from the Emperor Nicephorus I. Patras was dependent on Rome until 733, when it became subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Nothing is known of the beginning of Christianity in the city, unless we accept the tradition that it was evangelized by the Apostle St. Andrew. The Latin archbishops held it from the second half of the thirteenth century till 1408, when they sold it to Venice. In 1429 it again fell into the power of the Greeks, and was taken by the Turks in 1460.
  Under the Ottoman dominion Patras became the capital of the pashalik of Morea, and underwent severe trials. It was burnt by the Spaniards in 1595; pillaged by the Maltese in 1603, and captured by the Venetians on 24 July, 1687, and kept by them for thirty years. In 1770, at the instigation of the Russians, the city revolted, and was sacked by the Turks. On 4 April, 1821, it rose unsuccessfully against the Ottomans, who held it until it was delivered by General Maison on 5 October, 1828. It is now the capital of the nome Achaia. The Greek see, first dependent on Corinth, became a metropolitan see in the ninth century. Its titulars were called Metropolitans of Patras from the ninth century until the Middle Ages, Metropolitans of Old Patras until 1833, Bishops of Achaia until 1852, Archbishops of Patras and Eleia from that time.
  he Latin archdiocese, created in 1205, lasted until 1441, when it became a titular see. It had five suffragans, Andravida, Amyclae, Modone, Corone, and Cephalonia-Zante; even when Modone and Corone belonged to the Venetians they continued to depend on Patras.

S. Vailhe, ed.
Transcribed by: Douglas J. Potter
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.


Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Patrae

  Patrai, Patrees, properly the name of the inhabitants: Eth. Patreus, Patraieus, Patrensis: Patrasso, Patras, Patra. A town of Achaia, and one of the twelve Achaean cities, was situated on the coast, W. of the promontory Rhium, near the opening of the Corinthian gulf. (Herod. i. 145; Pol. ii. 41; Strab. viii. p. 386.) It stood on one of the outlying spurs of Mount Panachaicus (Voidhia), which rises immediately behind it to the height of 6322 feet. It is said to have been formed by an union of three small places, named Aroe (Aroe), Antheia (Antheia), and Mesatis (Mesatis), which had been founded by the Ionians, when they were in the occupation of the country. After the expulsion of the Ionians, the Achaean hero Patreus withdrew the inhabitants from Antheia and Mesatis to Aroe, which he enlarged and called Patrae after himself. The acropolis of the city probably continued to bear the name of Aroe, which was often used as synonymous with Patrac. Strabo says that Patrae was formed by a coalescence of seven demi; but this statement perhaps refers to the restoration of the town mentioned below. (Paus. vii. 18. § 2, seq.; Strab. viii. p. 337.) In the Peloponnesian War Patrae was the only one of the Achaean cities which espoused the Athenian cause; and in B.C. 419, the inhabitants were persuaded by Alcibiades to connect their city by means of long walls with its port. (Thuc. v. 52; Plut. Alc. 15.) After the death of Alexander the city fell into the hands of Cassander, but his troops were driven out of it by Aristodemus, the general of Antigonus, B.C. 314. (Diod. xix. 66.) In B.C. 280 Patrae and Dyme were the first two Achaean cities which expelled the Macedonians, and their example being shortly afterwards followed by Tritaea and Pharae, the Achaean League was renewed by these four towns. In the following year (B.C. 279) Patrae was the only one of the Achaean cities which sent assistance to the Aetolians, when their country was invaded by the Gauls. In the Social War Patrae is frequently mentioned as the port at which Philip landed in his expedition into Peloponnesus. In the war between the Achaeans and the Romans Patrae suffered so severely, that the greater part of the inhabitants abandoned the city and took up their abodes in the surrounding villages of Mesatis, Antheia, [p. 558] Bolina, Argyra, and Arba. (Pol. v. 2, 3, 28, &c.; Paus. vii. 18. § 6.; Pol. xl. 3.) Of these places we know only the position of Bolina and Argyra. Bolina was a little S. of the promontory Drepanumn, and gave its name to the river Bolinaeus. (Pans. vii. 24. § 4.) Argyra was a little S. of the promontory Rhium. (Paus. vii. 23. § 1.) Patrae continued an insignificant town down to the time of Augustus, although it is frequently mentioned as the place at which persons landed going from Italy to Greece. (Cic. ad Fam. vii. 2. 8, xvi. 1, 5, 6, ad Att. v. 9, vii. 2.) After the battle of Pharsalia (B.C. 48) Patrae was taken possession of by Cato, but shortly afterwards surrendered to Calenus, Caesar's lieutenant. It was here also that Antony passed the winter (32--31) when preparing for the war against Augustus; and it was taken by Agrippa shortly before the battle of Actium. (Dion Cass. xlii. 13, 14, 1. 9, 13.) It owed its restoration to Augustus, who resolved after the battle of Actium to establish two Roman colonies on the western coast of Greece, and for this purpose made choice of Nicopolis and Patrae. Augustus colonised at Patrae a considerable body of his soldiers, again collected its inhabitants from the surrounding villages, and added to them those of Rhypes. (Paus. vii. 18. § 7; Plin. iv. 5.) He not only gave Patrae dominion over the neighbouring towns, such as Pharae (Paus. vii. 22. § 1), Dyme (Paus. vii. 17. § 5), Tritaea (Paus. vii. 23. § 6), but even over Locris. (Paus. x. 38. § 9.) On coins it appears as a Roman colony with the name of Colonia Augusta Aroe Patrensis. Strabo describes it in his time as a populous place with a good anchorage, and Pausanias has devoted four chapters to an account of its public buildings. (Strab. viii. p. 387; Paus. vii. 18 - 21.) Of these the most important appear to have been a temple of Artemis Laphria, on the acropolis, with an ancient statue of this goddess, removed from Calydon to Patrae by order of Augustus, and in whose honour an annual festival was celebrated; the Odeum, which was the most magnificent building of the kind in Greece, after the Odeum of Herodes at Athens; the theatre; and on the seaside a temple of Demeter, which was remarkable on account of a well in front of it, which was supposed to foretell the fate of sick persons; a mirror was suspended on the water, and on this mirror there were certain appearances indicating whether the person would live or die. In the time of Pausanias Patrae was noted for its manufacture of byssus or flax, which was grown in Elis, and was woven at Patrae into head-dresses (kekrnphaloi) and garments. Women were employed in this manufacture, and so large was their number that the female population was double that of the male; and as a natural consequence there was great immorality in the town. (Paus. vii. 21. § 14.)
  Patrae has continued down to the present day to be one of the most important towns in the Morea, being admirably situated for communicating with Italy and the Adriatic, and with eastern Greece by means of the gulf of Corinth. It is frequently mentioned in the Byzantine writers. In A.D. 347 there was an archbishop of Patrae at the council of Sardica. In the sixth century it was destroyed by an earthquake. (Procop. Goth. iv. 25.) It is subsequently mentioned as a dukedom of the Byzantine empire; it was sold to the Venetians in 1408; was taken by the Turks in 1446; was recovered by the Venetians in 1533; but was shortly afterwards taken again by the Turks, and remained in their hands till the Greek revolution.
  The country around Patras is a fine and fertile plain, and produces at present a large quantity of currants, which form an article of export. The modern town occupies the same site as the ancient city. It stands upon a ridge about a mile long, the summit of which formed the acropolis, and is now occupied by the ruins of the Turkish citadel. From the town there is a beautiful sea-view. The outline of the land on the opposite side of the gulf, extends from the snowy tops of Parnassus in the east, to the more distant mountains of Acarnania in the same direction, while full in front, in the centre of the prospect, are the colossal pyramids of Kakiscala (the ancient Taphiassus) and Varasova (the ancient Chalcis), rising in huge perpendicular masses from the brink of the water. (Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. ii. p. 300.) There are very few remains of antiquity at Patras. The modern citadel contains some pieces of the walls of the ancient acropolis, and there are ruins of the Roman aqueduct of brick. The well mentioned by Pausanias is still to be seen about three quarters of a mile from the town under a vault belonging to the remains of a church of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Patras. Before the Greek revolution, in which Patras suffered greatly, its population was about 10.000; but its present population is probably somewhat less. (Leake, Morea, vol. ii. p. 123, seq.)

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


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