Information about the place LARISSA (Ancient city) THESSALIA - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  A city of Pelasgiotis on the right bank of the Peneios river, approximately in the center of the E Thessalian plain. Through it ran the major routes from S Greece to Macedonia, and routes across Thessaly and to the Gulf of Pagasai. The city and the plain around it were settled in prehistoric times, and its name must be early, but it is first mentioned in connection with the aristocratic Aleuadai, whose home it was. It flourished during the 5th c. and was a considerable artistic center, but was weakened by party dissensions by the end of the century. It was the leader of the resistance against the tyrants of Pherai, but felt it necessary to call in first Thebes and then Macedon to help. In 344 B.C. Philip II of Macedon directly annexed Thessaly, and from then to 196 B.C. Larissa was under Macedonian control. It was the capital of the post-196 B.C. Roman-organized Thessalian League and flourished during the Republic and Empire. Justinian refortified the city.
  Very few visible remains of the ancient city are left in place. The Peneios bends in a rough arc around the N side of the city. A Turkish earth embankment (still visible in places) makes a wide arc around the S side. It is supposed the Turkish wall may lie on the line of the ancient one; if so, the circuit of Larissa (counting the river) would be approximately 7 km. There are no visible remains of the city wall, however. In the NW part of the city, close to the river, is a hill (96 m) which was the ancient acropolis. It was fortified in Byzantine times. No ancient wall is to be seen. The ancient theater, which dates to the later Hellenistic period, was dug into the S side of this hill. The seats are marble, and some have the names of notables of the city carved on them.
  East of the acropolis hill, in modern Demeter St., a large, 4th c. B.C. votive stele, dedicated to Poseidon, was discovered in situ in 1955.
  The agora of the ancient city was probably located near the center of the modern city, S of the citadel. Here, at the crossing of Roosevelt and Papakyriazis Sts., three large Doric poros column drums, two pieces of triglyph, and other architectural fragments were discovered recently. In the area were a row of statue bases and immediately W of them a massive 4th-3d c. B.C. foundation, which has been identified as some building of the agora, or possibly the Temple of Apollo Kerdoios, which is known to have been in the lower city. Near this were some Late Roman or Early Christian foundations. In this general area, in 1910, Arvanitopoullos discovered a few curved seats and a foundation which he ascribed to an odeion and dated to the 4th c. B.C. Stahlin suggested it might have been a bouleuterion. What appear to be remains of a Classical temple lie just N of the Metropolis cathedral, N of the E end of the bridge which leads across the river to the W. Part of an Athena head and other statues of the Roman period have been found here.
  Ca. 5 km S of the city at Palaiochori Larissis or Siiti, a Hellenistic underground vaulted chamber tomb has been excavated. At Kioski, across the river, a short way along the road leading to ancient Argura, a tomb containing two silver skyphoi was discovered. Hellenistic graves (terracotta comic masks) and a head of Dionysos were discovered at the airport SE of the city.
  Numerous small finds, sculptures (6th c. B.C. through Roman), inscriptions giving a good deal of information about the ancient city, etc., have been found in Larissa and its vicinity. These, and objects from the Nome of Larissa are mainly housed in the local museum, a restored mosque E of the city center. Some are in the Volo Museum.

T. S. Mackay, 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 2 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Perseus Project index

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


An important town of Thessaly in Pelasgiotis, situated on the Peneus, in an extensive plain, and once the capital of the Pelasgi.

The Catholic Encyclopedia


  The seat of a titular archbishopric of Thessaly. The city, one of the oldest and richest in Greece, is said to have been founded by Acrisius, who was killed accidentally by his son, Perseus. There lived Peleus, the hero beloved by the gods, and his son Achilles; however, the city is not mentioned by Homer, unless it be identified with Argissa of the Iliad.
  The constitution of the town was democratic, which explains why it sided with Athens in the Peloponnesian War. It was taken by the Thebans and afterwards by the Macedonian kings, and Demetrius Poliorcestes gained possession of it for a time, 302 B.C. It was there that Philip V, King of Macedonia, signed in 197 B.C. a shameful treaty with the Romans after his defeat at Cynoscephalae, and it was there also that Antiochus III, the Great, won a great victory, 192 B.C.
  Larissa is frequently mentioned in connection with the Roman civil wars which preceded the establishment of the empire and Pompey sought refuge there after the defeat of Pharsalus. First Roman, then Greek until the thirteenth century, and afterwards Frankish until 1400, the city fell into the hands of the Turks, who kept it until 1882, when it was ceded to Greece; it suffered greatly from the conflicts between the Greeks and the Turks between 1820 and 1830, and quite recently from the Turkish occupation in 1897. On 6 March, 1770, Aya Pasha massacred there 3000 Christians from Trikala, who had been treacherously brought there.
  Christianity penetrated early to Larissa, though its first bishop is recorded only in 325 at the Council of Nicaea. In the first years of the tenth century it had ten suffragen sees; subsequently the number increased and about the year 1175 under the Emperor Manuel Commenus, it reached twenty-eight. At the close of the fifteenth century, under the Turkish, domination, there were only ten suffragan sees, which gradually grew less and finally disappeared. Since 1882, when Thessaly was ceded to Greece, the Orthodox Diocese of Larissa has been dependent on the Holy Synod of Athens, not Constantinople. Owing to the law of 1900 which suppressed all the metropolitan sees excepting Athens, Larissa was reduced to the rank of a simple bishopric; its title is united with that of Pharsalus and Platamon, two adjoining bishoprics now suppressed.

S. Vailhe, ed.
Transcribed by: Beth Ste-Marie
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  On coins and inscriptions Larisa or Lareisa: Eth. Larissaios, Larisaios. A name common to many Pelasgic towns, and probably a Pelasgic word signifying city. Hence in mythology Larissa is represented as the daughter of Pelasgus (Paus. ii. 24. ยง 1), or of Piasus, a Pelasgian prince. (Strab. xiv.)
  An important town of Thessaly, the capital of the district Pelasgiotis, was situated in a fertile plain upon a. gently rising ground, on the right or south bank of the Peneius. It had a strongly fortified citadel. (Diod. xv. 61.) Larissa is not mentioned by Homer. Some commentators, however, suppose it to be the same as the Pelasgic Argos of Homer (Il. ii. 681), but the latter was the name of a district rather than of a town. Others, with more probability, identify it with the Argissa of the poet. (Il. ii. 738.) Its foundation was ascribed to Acrisius. (Steph. B. s. v.) The plain of Larissa was formerly inhabited by the Perrhaebi, who were partly expelled by the Larissaeans, and partly reduced to subjection. They continued subject to Larissa, till Philip made himself master of Thessaly. (Strab. ix.) The constitution of Larissa was democratical (Aristot. Pol. v. 6), and this was probably one reason why the Larissaeans were allies of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. (Thuc. ii. 22.) During the Roman wars in Greece, Larissa is frequently mentioned as a place of importance. It was here that Philip, the son of Demetrius, kept all his royal papers during his campaign against Flamininus in Greece; but after the battle of Cynoscephalae, in B.C. 197, he was obliged to abandon Larissa to the Romans, having previously destroyed these documents. (Polyb. xviii. 16.) It was still in the hands of the Romans when Antiochus crossed over into Greece, B.C. 191, and this king made an ineffectual attempt upon the town. (Liv. xxxvi. 10.) In the time of Strabo Larissa continued to be a flourishing town. It is mentioned by Hierocles in the sixth century as the first town in Thessaly. It is still a considerable place, the residence of an archbishop and a pasha, and containing 30,000 inhabitants. It continues to bear its ancient name, though the Turks call it Yenisheher, which is its official appellation. Its circumference is less than three miles. Like other towns in Greece, which have been continually inhabited, it presents few remains of Hellenic times. They are chiefly found in the Turkish cemeteries, consisting of plain quadrangular stones, fragments of columns, mostly fluted, and a great number of ancient cippi and sepulchral stelae, which now serve for Turkish tombstones.

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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