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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Nauplia: Eth. Nauplieus. The port of Argos, was situated upon a
rocky peninsula, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus. It was a very
ancient place, and is said to have derived its name from Nauplius, the son of
Poseidon and Amymone, and the father of Palamedes, though it more probably owed
its name, as Strabo has observed, to its harbour (apo tou tais nausi prospleisthai,
Strab. viii. p. 368; Paus. ii. 38. § 2.) Pausanias tells us that the Nauplians
were Egyptians belonging to the colony which Danaus brought to Argos (iv. 35.
§ 2); and from the position of their city upon a promontory running out into the
sea, which is quite different from the site of the earlier Grecian cities, it
is not improbable that it was originally a settlement made by strangers from the
East. Nauplia was at first independent of Argos, and a member of the maritime
confederacy which held its meetings in the island of Calaureia. (Strab. viii.
P. 374.) About the time of the Second Messenian War, it was conquered by the Argives;
and the Lacedaemonians gave to its expelled citizens the town of Methone in Messenia,
where they continued to reside even after the restoration of the Messenian state
by Epaminondas. (Paus. iv. 24. § 4, iv. 27. § 8, iv. 35. § 2.) Argos now took
the place of Nauplia in the Calaureian confederacy; and from this time Nauplia
appears in history only as the seaport of Argos (ho Nauplios limen, Eurip. Orest.
767; limenes Nauplioi, Electr. 451). As such it is mentioned by Strabo (l. c.),
but in the time of Pausanias the place was deserted. Pausanias noticed the ruins
of the walls of a temple of Poseidon, certain forts, and a fountain named Canathus,
by washing in which Hera was said to have renewed her virginity every year. (Paus.
ii. 38. § 2.)
In the middle ages Nauplia was called to Nauplion, to Anaplion, or
ta Anaplia, but has now resumed its ancient name. It became a place of considerable
importance in the middle ages, and has continued so down to the present day. In
the time of the Crusades it first emerges from obscurity. In 1205 it was taken
by the Franks, and became the capital of a small duchy, which commanded the plain
of Argos. Towards the end of the 14th century it came into the hands of the Venetians,
who regarded it as one of their most important places in the Levant, and who successfully
defended it both against Mahomet II. and Soliman. They ceded it to the Turks in
1540, but wrested it from them again in 1686, when they constructed the strong
fortifications on Mt. Palamidhi. This fortress, although reckoned impregnable,
was stormed by the Turks in 1715, in whose hands it remained till the outbreak
of the war of Grecian independence. It then became the seat of the Greek government,
and continued such, till the king of Greece removed his residence to Athens in
The modern town is described by a recent observer as having more the
air of a real town than any place now existing in Greece under that title; having
continuous lines of houses and streets, and offering, upon the whole, much the
appearance of a second-rate Italian seaport. It is built on the peninsula; and
some remains of the Hellenic fortifications may be seen in the site of the walls
of Fort Itslale, which is the lower citadel of the town, and occupies the site
of the ancient Acropolis. The upper citadel, called Palamidhi (Ralamedion), is
situated upon a steep and lofty mountain, and is one of the strongest fortresses
in Europe. Although its name is not mentioned by any ancient writer, there can
be little doubt, from the connection of Palamedes with the ancient town, that
this was the appellation of the hill in ancient times.
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)
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Perseus Project index
- Nauplia: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
- Nauplion: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
The name derives from the legends associated with the original Nauplius
of tradition, son of Amymone and Poseidon. The two imposing rocks of the peninsula,
Its Kale and Palamedi, face one another across an inner bay of the Gulf of Argolis.
The town is on the flat N side of the harbor, with N-S streets which climb by
steps to the higher S level. Pronoia is on the E land side of the strong fortress
of Palamedi which can now be approached by a motor road, though formerly only
by steps (857).
Archaeology: The Classical acropolis was presumably on Its Kale. Blocks
from the original walls, ca. 300 B.C., the earliest now visible, some polygonal,
have been reused in later fortifications and there are traces of cuttings and
steps. The earliest excavations in the Pronoia area revealed Mycenaean chamber
tombs and recently work there has added rich examples. In the 1950's Geometric
finds outnumbered Mycenaean. In 1970-71 excavations in the area produced evidence
of Neolithic and of Early and Middle Helladic occupation. The presence of cavernous
holes seems to confirm Strabo's reference to a man-made labyrinth and caves. Continued
excavation here may well prove this region to have been an important center of
the EH period.
History and Chronology: Nauplia was a member of the Kalaurian Maritime
League, but in the 7th c. B.C. was conquered by Argos, its natural rival. Its
succeeding history, disturbed by conflicts, is meager. It includes a transference
of population during the Messenian Wars; Pausanias found the site deserted.
H. Wace, 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.