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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
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
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
(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.
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
The Catholic Encyclopedia
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,
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.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908)
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
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
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)