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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Euboea (Euboia: Eth. Euboieus, Euboeus, fem. Eubois: Adj. Euboikos, Euboicus, Euboeus: Egripo or Negropont), the largest island in the Aegaean sea, lying along the coasts of Attica, Boeotia, Locris, and the southern part of Thessaly, from which countries it is separated by the Euboean sea, called the Euripus in its narrowest part. It is a long and narrow island. According to Strabo, its length from N. to S., from the promontory Cenaeum to the promontory Geraestus, is about 1200 stadia, and its greatest breadth 150 stadia. (Strab. x. p. 444.) Pliny describes it as 150 miles in length, and 365 miles in circuit; as in one place more than 40 miles in breadth, and nowhere less than two. (Plin. iv. 12. s. 21.) But these measurements are far from accurate. The real length of the island from N. to S. is about 90 miles; its extreme breadth is 30 miles, but in one part it is not more than 4 miles across.
  Throughout the whole length of Euboea there runs a range of mountains, forming as it were the back-bone of the island, which may be regarded as a continuance of the range of Ossa and Pelion, and of that of Othrys. In several parts of the island these mountains rise to a great height. Mt. Delphi, on the eastern coast, is 7266 feet above the sea. These mountains consist of grey limestone, with a considerable quantity of clay-slate.
  The interior of Euboea has never been thoroughly explored by any modern traveller; and the best description of its physical features is given in the Penny Cyclopaedia by a writer well acquainted with the island, to whose account we are chiefly indebted for the following remarks. The northern end of the island, facing the coast of Thessaly and the Pagasaean gulf, is of considerable width. Its north-western extremity is a small peninsula, terminating in the promontory Cenaeum (Kenaion: Lithadha), and containing a mountain called Lithadha, which rises to the height of 2837 feet above the sea. Immediately south of the isthmus, which connects this peninsula with the mass of the island, is Mount Telethrius (Telethrios, Strab. x. p. 445), 3100 feet high, on the west coast opposite Locris: at the foot of this mountain upon the coast are some warm springs, called Therma, which were celebrated in antiquity. From Telethrius the mountains spread out across the island to the eastern coast, and contain several elevations above 2000 feet in height. Along the foot of these mountains, opposite Thessaly, is the fertile plain of Histiaea. Upon this northern coast was the promontory Artemisium, off which the Greeks gained their celebrated naval victory over the Persians, B.C. 480. South of Telethrius there is high land along the western coast as far as C. Politika; and one of the mountains between these limits, called Kandili, is 4200 feet high. South of C. Politika, and extending south of Chalcis, is a fertile and extensive plain, bounded on the north and north-east by the high mountains which extend to the eastern coast; this plain, which is the largest in the island, was called Lelantum in antiquity, and was divided between the rival cities of Chalcis and Eretria. The centre of the mountain mass, which bounds this plain, is Delphi, already mentioned: it was called in ancient times Dirphys or Dirphe (Dirphus, Steph. B. s. v.; Dirphe, Eurip. Here. Fur. 185). South of Chalcis there is for some distance a track of low land along the western coast, backed however by lofty mountains. South of Eretria is the plain of Aliveri, after which there appear to be no longer plains of any size. The whole of the southern end of the island is filled by a. mass of mountains, presenting a dangerous coast to mariners: the highest elevation of these mountains, called Oche (Oche) in antiquity, now Mt. Elias, is 4748 feet above the level of the sea. On the summit of Mt. Oche are the ruins of a very ancient temple, of which a description and drawings are given by Mr. Hawkins in Walpole's Travels (p. 288, seq.). The southeastern extremity of the island was called Caphareus or Caphereus (Kapherens), now Kavo Doro or Xylofago: the south-western extremity was named Geraestus (Geraidtos), now Mandili. The dangerous part of the coast, called the Coela or Hollow, appears to have been a little north of the promontory Geraestus.
  The eastern side of Euboea is much more rocky than the western coast. On the eastern side the rocks rise almost precipitously from the water, and are rarely interrupted by any level spot, except towards the northern end. Fragments of wreck are found at the height of 80 feet perpendicular, washed up by the heavy sea which a north-east wind throws into this bay. These winds, which always blow very strong, are called by the Greeks `meltem,' probably a corruption of 'mal tiempo.' In addition to this, the Dardanelles current, preserving the course communicated to it by the direction of that strait, sets strong to the south-west into this bay (between the promontories Caphareus and Chersonesus), and renders it a most dangerous coast: no vessel once unbayed here can escape destruction. The current being deflected to the southward, sweeps round C. Doro (Caphareus), frequently at the rate of three miles an hour. Port Petries is the only refuge which this coast offers, and so little has hitherto been known of this shore that even this shelter has only recently been discovered. Along the whole extent of this coast, which is upwards of 100 miles, there are only five or six villages near the shore.
  It was believed by the ancient writers that Euboea was originally connected with the opposite coast of Greece, and. was separated from the latter by an earthquake. (Plin. iv. 12. s. 21; comp. Strab. i. p. 58, x. p. 447.) The channel between the northern end of Euboea and the opposite coast of Thessaly, now called Trikeri from the Thessalian town of this name, is an average width of about 4 miles, though in one part it contracts to not quite 1 1/2 mile. Upon rounding the promontory Cenaeum, off which lie the small rocky islands called Lichades, and turning to [p. 872] the southward, is the bay of Talanda, so called from the Boeotian town of this name. A remarkable feature in this part of the channel is the amazing depth of water under Mt. Telethrius, where, for about 12 or 15 miles, there is no bottom with 220 fathoms within half a mile of the shore; but from this point the water shoals gradually towards Egripo (Chalcis). Towards the north-west extremity of this shore there is a very safe and excellent harbour, now called Port Ghialtra (formerly Port Kalos). At Chalcis the Euboean sea contracts into a narrow channel, called the Euripus, only 40 yards across. An account of this channel, and of the extraordinary tides which here prevail, is given elsewhere. South of the Euripus are several islands along the Euboean shore, which afford good anchorage. Of these the most important are Glauconnesus, Aegiliae, and the islands Petaliae. (Plin. iv. 12. s. 21; Strab. x. p. 444.)
  Euboea is deficient in water. There is not a stream in the whole island into which the smallest boat can enter. Those streams of which the names are mentioned, are: Callas (Kallas, Strab. x. p. 445), on the north coast, flowing into the sea near Oreus; Cereus (Kereus) and Neleus (Neleus), of uncertain position, of which it is recorded that the sheep drinking the water of the Cereus became white, while those drinking the water of the Neleus became black (Strab. x. p. 449; Plin. xxxi. 9. s. 2; Antig. Caryst. Hist. Mirab. 84); Lelantus, flowing through the plain of this name (Plin. iv. 12. s. 21); and Budorus (Boudoros, Ptol. iii. 12. s. 25), flowing into the sea on the east coast by Corinthus.
  In the plains of Euboea a considerable quantity of corn was grown in antiquity; and there is excellent pasture for sheep in the summer, on the slopes of the mountains. These mountain-lands appear in ancient times to have belonged to the state, and were let out for pasture to such proprietors as had the means of supporting their flocks during the winter. The mountains are said to contain copper and iron, and the marble quarries of Carystus in the southern part of the island were among the most celebrated in Greece. At the present day a light red wine is made from the vines grown in the northern plains of the island; while the plains towards the south are generally cultivated with corn and olives.
  Euboea, like many of the other Grecian islands, is said to have borne other names in the most ancient times. Thus, it was called Macris, from its great length in comparison with its breadth. (Strab. x. p. 444.) It was also named Hellopia, properly a district near Histiaea in the northern part of the island, from Hellops, the son of Ion; Oche, from the mountain of this name in the south of the island; and Abantis, from the most ancient inhabitants of the island. (Strab. l. c.; Plin. iv. 12. s. 21.) It is observed by Strabo that Homer (Il. ii. 536) calls the inhabitants of the island Abantes, though he gives to the island itself the name of Euboea. Hesiod related that the name of Abantis was changed into Euboea from the cow Io, who was even said to have given birth to Epaphus in the island. (Hes. ap. Steph. B. s. v. Abantis;; Strab l. c.) It would be idle to inquire into the origin of these Abantes. According to Aristotle, they were Thracians who passed over to Euboea from the Thracian town of Abae; while others, in accordance with the common practice, derived their name from an eponymous hero. (Strab. l. c.) The southern part of the island was inhabited by Dryopes, who are expressly said to have founded Styra and Carystus (Herod. viii. 46; Thuc. vii. 57); but in the historical period the Abantes had disappeared from Euboea. Herodotus relates that the Abantes assisted in colonising the Ionic cities of Asia Minor. (Herod. i. 146.)
  In the historical times most of the cities of Euboea were inhabited by Ionic Greeks; and the Athenians are said to have taken the chief part in their colonisation. Euboea was divided between six or seven independent cities, of which Chalcis and Eretria on the western coast in the centre of the island, were the most important. In the northern end of the island were situated Histiaea afterwards called Oreus, on the coast opposite Thessaly; Dium, Aedepsus, Athenae Diades, Orobiae, and Aegae on the west coast opposite Locris; and Cerinthus on the east coast. In the southern end of the island were Dystus, Styra, and Carystus. There were also a few smaller places dependent upon these cities, of which a list is given under the names of the cities to which they respectively belonged. All the above-mentioned cities occur in the Iliad, with the exception of Athenae Diades. Scylax mentions only four cities Carystus, Eretria, Chalcis, and Hestiaea.
  As Euboea never formed one political state, it is impossible to give a general history of the whole island without repeating what is mentioned under each city. It is therefore only necessary to mention here a few leading facts, referring for the details of the history to other articles. At a very early period Chalcis and Eretria were two of the most important cities in Greece. They possessed an extensive commerce, and founded colonies upon the coasts of Macedonia, Italy, and Sicily, and in the islands of the Aegaean. They continued in a flourishing condition down to the expulsion of the Peisistratidae from Athens, when the Chalcidians joined the Boeotians in making war upon the Athenians. But for this they paid dearly; for the Athenians crossed over to Euboea, defeated the Chalcidians, and divided their lands among 4000 Athenian colonists, B.C. 506. Eretria was destroyed by the Persians in B.C. 490, in consequence of the aid which the Eretrians had rendered to the Ionians, in their revolt from Persia two years previously: and although the city was subsequently rebuilt near its former site, it never recovered its former power. After the Persian wars the whole of Euboea became subject to the Athenians, who regarded it as the most valuable of all their foreign possessions. It supplied them with a considerable quantity of corn, with timber and fire-wood, and with pasture for their horses and flocks. In B.C. 445 the whole island revolted from Athens, but it was speedily reconquered by Pericles. In B.C. 411, shortly after the Athenian misfortunes in Sicily, Euboea again revolted from Athens, and its cities continued for a time independent. But when Athens recovered its maritime supremacy, the influence of the Athenians again became predominant in Euboea, in spite of the Thebans, who attempted to bring it under their sway. The Athenians however were no longer able to exercise the same sovereignty over the Euboean cities, as they had done during the flourishing period of their empire; and accordingly they did not interfere to put down the tyrants who had established themselves in most of the cities shortly before the time of Philip of Macedon. This monarch availed himself of the overtures of Callias, the tyrant of Chalcis, to establish his influence in the island; which virtually became subject to him after the battle of Chaeroneia. From this time Euboea formed a part of the Macedonian dominions, till the Romans wrested it from Philip V., and restored to its cities their independence, B.C. 194. (Liv. xxxiv. 51.) The Euboean cities remained faithful to the Roman alliance during the war with the Aetolians (Liv. xxxv. 37, 39), but Chalcis fell into the hands of Antiochus when he crossed over into Greece (Liv. xxxv. 50, 51). Under the Romans, Euboea was included in the province of Achaia.
  In the middle ages Euboea was called Egripo, a corruption of Euripus, the name of the town built upon the ruins of Chalcis. The Venetians, who obtained possession of the island upon the dismemberment of the Byzantine empire by the Latins, called it Negropont, probably a corruption of Egripo, and ponte, a bridge. The island now forms part of the modern kingdom of Greece. (Comp. Fiedler, Reise dutch Griechenland, vol. i. p. 420, seq.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 252, seq.; Pflugk, Rerumn Euboicarum Spec., Gedani, 1829.)

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

Perseus Encyclopedia Site Text


Physical Description
Euboea, the second largest of the Aegean Islands, extends for some 180 km along the east coast of mainland Greece. The length and geomorphology of the island permits a natural division of Euboea into three distinct regions corresponding to its three major mountain groups. The north, dominated by the peak of Mt. Pyxaria (1341 m), is heavily forested and has a climate and environment similar to the Pelion Peninsula on the mainland immediately to the north. The broadest and most fertile part of Euboea is the central region which contains relatively large plains south of Mt. Dhirfis (1745 m), the highest peak on the island. Central Euboea lies closest to the mainland and is separated from it by only 40 m where the Euripos (Euboean Channel) narrows at Chalkis. The environment closely resembles those of Boeotia and Attica, with the exception that there is more rainfall on the eastern side of the island. The narrowest part of Euboea (in places less than 10 km) is the stretch of land between Dystos and Styra, which joins the central and southern portions of the island. Southern Euboea, with Mt. Ochi (1394 m) at its center, is mountainous and sparsely inhabited. The region lies at a greater distance from the mainland and is subject to a maritime climatic influence. Southern Euboea is geophysically and environmentally distinct from the rest of the island and its climate corresponds with that of the northern Cycladic Islands.
  The natural division of Euboea has been paralleled throughout history by the socio-cultural divisions of the island. Each region is represented by a major town (Histiaia-Oreos in the north, Chalkis in the center, and Karystos in the south) which has preserved its importance from the first mention in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships down to modern times. This tripartite cultural division of the island is first reflected in the prehistoric settlement of the island by the semi-legendary tribes of the Ellopians in the north, the Abantes in the center, and the Dryopians in the south. In historical antiquity Chalkis and Eretria contested the fertile Lelantine Plain, located between the two cities and the commercial and colonizing role afforded by their locations at the center of the Euripos. Although leaders in the colonizing period of Greek history, the city states of Euboea later became politically subject to Athens and then to Macedonia.
•Histiaia-Oreos- Histiaia, overlooking the strategic north entrance to the Euripos and a large fertile plain, was described by Homer as "rich in vines." In 446 Athens conquered the city, expelled the inhabitants, and settled a colony of cleruchs at nearby Oreos. After the Peloponnesian War the Histiaians reclaimed their area and the city thereafter was known by either name. No systematic excavations.
•Artemision- A high promontory on the northwest coast, below which the first Greek-Persian sea battle occurred in 480 B.C. A Sanctuary of Artemis Proseoa on the cape was excavated by the German Institute in 1883.
•Chalkis- Located at the narrowest part of the Euripos (where the direction of the currents change as often as seven times a day), the city was a commercial center and sent out many early colonies. It was a trade and territorial rival to Eretria, which it fought for control of the fertile Lelantine Plain located between the two cities. Few ancient remains have been recorded, chiefly through salvage excavations.
•Eretria- Located on the Euripos ca. 20 km south of Chalkis, Eretria is first mentioned in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships and rivaled Chalkis in trade and the establishment of colonies abroad. Eretria's support of the Ionian revolt in 500 B.C. may have encouraged the later Persian invasion of Greece in 490 B.C. Excavations, sporadic since the 19th century, were assumed by the Swiss Archaeological Mission in 1964 and are the most extensive on Euboea.
•Lefkandi- A coastal settlement with associated cemeteries located halfway between Chalkis and Eretria. The site was first occupied in the Early Bronze Age (ca 3000 B.C.) and continued into the Geometric period (ca 700 B.C.) and is claimed as the old settlement of Eretria or Chalkis. Excavations were conducted by the British School in the 1960's.
•Dystos- A fortified city located on an isolated conical hill above a marshy plain ca. 30 km east of Eretria. The history of Dystos is little known, but it may have been an Eretrian deme. The well preserved Classical architecture was investigated briefly by the German Institute in 1895, but the site remains unexcavated.
•Styra- On the southwest coast ca. 30 km north of Karystos, Styra remained under the influence of Eretria during most of its history. No excavations.
•Geristos- The one safe harbor on the southwest coast and the first safe stopping point for ships returning from the east. A Sanctuary of Poseidon, first mentioned by Homer, is located at Geristos and an ancient road leads to Karystos, ca. 20 km to the northwest. There have been only test excavations.
•Karystos- Located on the north shore of a large bay, Karystos controlled the southern entrance to the Euripos and sea traffic moving through the Andros Straits. Karystos was the first Greek city to oppose the Persian advance in 490 B.C., but later fell under Athenian control and probably had an Athenian clerouchy imposed on its territory. In the Roman period Karystos was famous for its marble quarries. Only minor excavations in the region.

This text is cited June 2003 from Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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Names of the place

Euboea, Oche, Ellopia

Aristotle says that Thracians, setting out from the Phocian Aba, recolonized the island and renamed those who held it "Abantes." Others derive the name from a hero, just as they derive "Euboea" from a heroine. But it may be, just as a certain cave on the coast which fronts the Aegaean, where Io is said to have given birth to Epaphus, is called Boos Aule, that the island got the name Euboea from the same cause. The island was also called Oche; and the largest of its mountains bears the same name. And it was also named Ellopia, after Ellops the son of Ion. Some say that he was the brother of Aiclus and Cothus; and he is also said to have founded Ellopia, a place in Oria, as it is called, in Histiaeotis near the mountain Telethrius, and to have added to his dominions Histiaea, Perias, Cerinthus, Aedepsus, and Orobia; in this last place was an oracle most averse to falsehood (it was an oracle of Apollo Selinuntius).

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Prefecture of Evia

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Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   Now Negropont; the largest island of the Aegaean Sea, lying along the coasts of Attica, Boeotia, and the southern part of Thessaly, from which countries it is separated by the Euboean Sea, called the Euripus in its narrowest part. Its early name was Macris. Euboea is about ninety miles in length; its extreme breadth is thirty miles, but in the narrowest part it is only four miles across. Throughout the length of the island runs a lofty range of mountains, which rise in one part as high as 7266 feet above the sea. It contains, nevertheless, many fertile plains, and was celebrated in antiquity for the excellence of its pasturage and corn-fields. According to the ancients it was once united to Boeotia, from which it was separated by an earthquake. In Homer the inhabitants are called Abantes, and are represented as taking part in the expedition against Troy. In the northern part of Euboea dwelt the Histiaei, from whom that part of the island was called Histiaea; below these were the Ellopii, who gave the name of Ellopia to the district, extending as far as Aegae and Cerinthus; and in the south were the Dryopes. The centre of the island was inhabited chiefly by Ionians. It was in this part of Euboea that the Athenians planted the colonies of Chalcis and Eretria, which were the two most important cities in the island. After the Persian Wars Euboea became subject to the Athenians, who attached much importance to its possession; and consequently Pericles made great exertions to subdue it, when it revolted in B.C. 445. Under the Romans Euboea formed part of the province of Achaea.

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