A town of Messenia mentioned as early as Homer (Il. v. 543).
Pharai, Phere, Pherai, Eth. Pharates, Pharaiates. An ancient town
of Messenia, situated upon a hill rising from the left bank of the river Nedon,
and at a distance of a mile from the Messenian gulf. Strabo describes it as situated
5 stadia from the sea (viii. p. 361), and Pausanias 6 (iv. 31. § 3); but it is
probable that the earth deposited at the mouth of the river Nedon has, in the
course of centuries, encroached upon the sea. Pherae occupied the site of Kaleamata,
the modern capital of Messenia; and in antiquity also it seems to have been the
chief town in the southern Messenian plain. It was said to have been founded by
Pharis, the son of Hermes. (Paus. iv. 30. § 2.) In the Iliad it is mentioned as
the well-built city of the wealthy Diocles, a vassal of the Atridae (v. 543),
and as one of the seven places offered by Agamemnon to Achilles (ix. 151); in
the Odyssey, Telemachus rests here on his journey from Pylos to Sparta (iii. 490).
After the capture of Messene by the Achaeans in B.C. 182, Pharae, Abia, and Thuria
separated themselves from Messene, and became each a distinct member of the league.
(Polyb. xxv. 1.) Pharae was annexed to Laconia by Augustus (Paus. iv. 30. § 2),
but it was restored to Messenia by Tiberius. Pausanias found at Pharae temples
of Fortune, and of Nicomachus and Gorgasus, grandsons of Asclepius. Outside the
city there was a grove of Apollo Carneius, and in it a fountain of water. (Paus.
iv. 30. § 3, seq., iv. 31. § 1.) Strabo correctly describes Pharae as having an
anchorage, but only for summer (viii. p. 361); and at present, after the month
of September ships retire for safety to Armyro, so called from a river strongly
impregnated with salt flowing into the sea at this place: it is the (hudor halmuron,
mentioned by Pausanias (iv. 30. § 2) as on the road from Abia to Pharae.
There are no ancient remains at Kalamata, which is not surprising, as the place has always been well occupied and inhabited. The height above the town is crowned by a ruined castle of the middle ages. It was the residence of several of the Latin chieftains of the Morea. William Villehardouin II. was born here. In 1685 it was conquered and enlarged by the Venetians. It was the headquarters of the insurrection of 1770, and again of the revolution of 1821, which spread from thence over the whole peninsula.
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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