Site 20 km NE of Ce^scedil;me. The four islands in the gulf opposite
the city were called Hippoi (Strab. 14.644). Inscriptions mention the Aleon river,
noted by Pliny, but the coins of Erythrai represent a river god named Axos. Actually
there is only one stream in Erythrai, which flows into the gulf.
According to Pausanias (7.3.7), Erythrai was founded by Cretan settlers under the leadership of Erythros the Red, son of Rhadamanthys, and at the same time inhabited by Lycians, Carians, and Pamphylians, later reinforced by Ionian colonists under Kleopos, or Knopos (Strab. 14.633), a descendant of the legendary Athenian king, Kodros. Erythrai was governed for a time by members of the Athenian royal house; Aristotle mentions an oligarchy of Basilidae at Erythrai (Pol. 1305b). It belonged to the Panionion, the political league of Ionian cities, founded in the 9th c. B.C., and, together with Teos, Erythrai sent noblemen of Ionian descent to reinforce the Ionic settlement at Phokaia (Paus. 7.3.8). The local historian, Hippias, who probably lived in the Hellenistic period, reported that Knopos was dethroned by the tyrants Ortyges, Iros, and Echaros, friends of the tyrants Amphiklos and Polyteknos of Chios; they were expelled by the brother of Knopos and died during their flight. This king, whom Hippias probably confused with the legendary Knopos, must have lived in the 7th c. B.C. From ca. 560 B.C. on Erythrai was under Lydian domination, and after 545 was subject to the Persians.
The city sent eight ships to the battle of Lade (494 B.C.), and its tribute to the Delian Confederacy was the considerable sum of seven talents; it left the Delian League perhaps ca. 453. Together with Chios, it revolted against the Athenian hegemony in 412 B.C. and served as a base for the Peloponnesians. Later it was allied alternately with Athens and Persia. About the middle of the 4th c. the city became friendly with Mausolos: in an inscription found on the site he is called a benefactor of Erythrai. About the same time the city signed a treaty with Hermias, Tyrant of Assos and Atarneus, based on reciprocal aid in the event of war. In 334 the city regained its freedom through Alexander the Great who, according to Pliny (HN 5.116) and Pausanias (2.1.5), planned to cut a canal through the peninsula of Erythrai to connect Teos bay with the gulf of Smyrna. Erythrai was later associated with Pergamon and with Rome, and after the death of Attalos III in 133 B.C., when the Pergamene kingdom was bequeathed to the Romans, it flourished as a free city attached to the Roman province of Asia.
The landward fortification is still well preserved; it is of fine ashlar masonry 4-5 m thick, with several gateways. Three inscriptions found on the site indicate that the city wall was built either at the end of the 4th or the beginning of the 3d c. B.C. Near the coffee-house in the village, part of a Hellenistic pebble mosaic of griffins is still in situ. The theater, cut into the N slope of the acropolis hill, is badly damaged. The aqueduct S of the acropolis crosses the Aleon (?) from N to S, and dates from Byzantine times.
The site of the Herakleion, sanctuary of the Tyrian Herakles, is not known. A cult statue of Egyptian type was described by Pausanias (7.5.4) and depicted on the city's coins. Herophile, the prophetic sibyl of Erythrai, enjoyed a great reputation in the ancient world, second only to the sibyl of Kyme in Italy. A building claimed to be her sanctuary was discovered at Ildiri, a structure resembling a nymphaion with a number of inscriptions, one of which records the Erythraian origin of Herophile. This building, however, has not yet been identified.
Finds from recent excavations are in the Archaeological Museum in Izmir. Trenches on top of the acropolis have yielded much pottery and small offerings in bronze and ivory of ca. 670-545 B.C. The pronounced Cretan and Rhodian style of the ivory statuettes confirms Pausanias' statement that Erythrai was originally founded by Cretans and inhabited by Lycians, Carians, and Pamphylians. The city was apparently destroyed by the Persians shortly after the mid 6th c. B.C.
According to a graffito on a bowl of the early 6th c., the offerings belonged to the Temple of Athena Polias (Paus. 7.5.8). The small lion figurines in bronze, of the first half of the 6th c. B.C., strongly resemble the lion statue from Bayindir now in the Izmir Museum; they are the earliest Ionian examples of a lion type which served as a model for Etruscan artists. From the same trench on top of the acropolis came a monumental archaic statue of a woman (also in the Izmir Museum); the head is missing, but the folds on the chiton recall such Samian sculptures as the Hera of Cheramyes in the Louvre and the statues by Geneleos. The Erythraian statue is the work of an Anatolian artist of ca. 560-550 B.C.
E. Akurgal, 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.
(Eruthrai). One of the twelve cities of Ionia, situated near the coast opposite Chios. Its founder was said to have been Erythrus, the son of Rhadamanthus, who established himself here with a body of Cretans, Carians, and Lycians. At a later period came Cnopus, son of Codrus, with an Ionian colony, whence the city is sometimes called Cnopopolis. The city did not lie exactly on the coast, but some little distance inland, and had a harbour on the coast named Cissus. Erythrae was famous as the residence of one of the Sibyls at an early period, and in the time of Alexander we find another making her appearance here, with similar claims to inspiration.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Erythrae (Eruthrai: Eth. Eruthraios), a city of the Ionians (Steph.
B. s. v.), on the authority of the Asia of Hecataeus; to which the compiler adds,
and it was called Knopoupolis, from Cnopus. Erythrae was one of the Ionian cities.
(Herod. i. 142.) According to the legend told by Pausanias (vii. 3. § 7), the
place was originally settled by Erythrus, the son of Rhadamanthus, from Crete;
and the city was occupied, together with Cretans, by Lycians, Carians, and Pamphylians.
While all these people were living together in Erythrae, Cleopus the son of Codrus,
having collected from all the cities of Ionia such as he could from each, introduced
them into the place, to live with the Erythraei. Strabo has the tradition of Cnopus,
an illegitimate son of Codrus, founding Erythrae. According to Casaubon, the MSS.
of Strabo have the name Cnopus, which he would alter to Cleopus; but perhaps Cleopus
in Pausanias should be corrected. Polyaenus (viii. 43) has the story of Cnopus,
and how, by a stratagem, he got possession of Erythrae, after killing the inhabitants;
a story which has the advantage over that of Pausanias in probability, for we
can conceive a general massacre of the original inhabitants of Erythrae and the
seizure of their town, better than the story of Cnopus and his men walking in
to live together with the original people. Hippias of Erythrae, in the second
book of his Histories of his native place, told a story of the murder of Cnopus
and the usurpation of his power by Ortyges, and of the extravagant tyranny and
violent death of Ortyges; which Athenaeus has preserved (vi. p. 259). The early
history of Erythrae, like that of most of the Ionian towns in Asia, was unknown.
Strabo, in another place, calls it a settlement from Erythrae in Boeotia.
Strabo describes Erythrae as being in the peninsula which he calls the peninsula of the Teians and the Erythraeans. He places the Teians on the south of the isthmus, and the Clazomenii on the north side; and the Erythraei dwell within it. The boundary between the Erythraea and Clazomenae was the Hypocremnus. On the south, Erae or Gerae belonged to the Teians. The peninsula lying west of a line drawn from Gerae to Hypocremnus must be supposed to be the Erythraean territory. As we proceed north and west from Gerae we come to Corycus, then another harbour named Erythras; and, after it, several others. After Corycus was a small island, Halonnesus, then Argennum, a promontory of the Erythraea, and the nearest point to Chios. On the west side of the Erythraean peninsula is a capacious bay, in which Erythrae is situated, opposite to the island of Chios; and there were in front of Erythrae four small islands called Hippi. The rugged tract which lies north of a line drawn from Erythrae to the Hypocremnus was called Mimas, a lofty mountain region, covered with forests, And abounding in wild animals. It contained a village, Cybellia, and the north-western point was called Melaena, where there was a quarry for millstones. Pliny describes Mimas as running out Ccl M. P., which is a great blunder or error in his text, whatever way we take it: he adds that Mimas sinks down in the plains that join it to the mainland; and that this level of 7 1/2 Roman miles Alexander ordered to be cut through by joining the two bays, and so he intended to insulate Erythrae and Mimas. Pliny doubtless found the story somewhere; and possibly among other grand things that the Macedonian king talked of, this may have been one. The rugged insulated territory of the Erythraei produced good wheat and wine.
Herodotus (i. 142) makes four varieties or dialects of language among the Ionians; and the dialect of Chios and Eythrae was the same. The geographical position of Erythrae, indeed, places it among the insular rather than the continental states of Ionia. The neighbourhood of Chios and Erythrae and the sameness of language did not make the people the best friends always, for there is a story of a war between them (Herod. i. 18) at an early period. This may be the war to which Anticleides alluded in his Nosti (Athen. ix. p. 384). The Erythraei furnished eight ships to the confederate Ionian fleet which was defeated in the battle before Miletus, B.C. 494 (Herod. vi. 8), but the Chians had 100 ships. Erythrae afterwards became a dependency of Athens, for a revolt of Erythrae is mentioned by Thucydides (viii. 23) B.C. 412, in the twentieth year of the Peloponnesian War.
After the close of the war with Antiochus, the Romans rewarded the Chians, Smyrnaeans, and Erythraeans, with some territory in return for their services on the Roman side. (Liv. xxxviii. 39; Polyb. xxii. 27.) Parium on the Propontis was a colony from Erythrae (Paus. ix. 27. § 1); but Strabo makes it a joint settlement of the Erythraeans, Milesians, and the island of Paros.
Erythrae was famed in ancient times for a wise woman, Sibylla, as Strabo calls her; aid in the time of Alexander there was another who had like prophetic gifts, and her name was Athenais. (Comp. Pans. x. 12. § 7; Tacit. Ann. vi. 12.) Contemporary with Strabo was Heracleides of Erythrae, a physician of the school of Herophilus. Though Erythrae never was a town of great note, it existed for a long time, and there are coins of Erythrae to a late period of the Roman empire. The coins anterior to the Roman period are said to be very scarce.
The exact position of Erythrae is well ascertained. It is now called Ritri, and it stands on the south side of a small peninsula, which projects into the bay of Erythrae. Pliny (v. 29) mentions a stream called Aleos, which he seems to place near Erythrae (xxxi. 2). But the name of the river on the coins of Erythrae is Axus. Erythrae contained a very ancient temple of Hercules, whom the Erythraei worshipped under the name of the Hercules of the Idaei Dactyli; and also the Tyrians, as Pausanias discovered (vii. 5. § 5; ix. 27. § 8). Strabo says, that Hercules Ipoctonos was worshipped by the Erythraeans who dwell about Melius, for the ips is an insect that damages the vines; and this was the only country that was free from this plague. The name Melius in this passage has been, perhaps, correctly altered to Mimas. There was also a temple of Athena Polias at Erythrae: the goddess was a large wooden figure seated. The remains of Erythrae are described by Chandler (Asia Minor, cc. 25, 26.); and lately by Hamilton (Researches, &c., vol. ii. p. 6). It is situated in a small alluvial plain at the mouth of the river Aleus, some of the sources of which are in the town itself. The city faces the west, and the whole extent of the Hellenic walls may be distinctly traced, from the commencement near the harbour, at the southern extremity of the town, to the northern point, where they terminate on a lofty rock of trachyte. (Hamilton.) The walls are well built in the isodomous style, except a small part of that which traverses the plains, and they consist either of blue marble or red trachyte. There are remains of several gateways, and outside of them also remains of ancient tombs in various styles. Near the chief source of the Aleus there are many remains of aqueducts, walls, terraces, and foundations of buildings with temples. (Hamilton.) One of these remains is a wall supporting a terrace 38 feet in length, the lower part of which consisted of a beautiful specimen of cyclopian architecture, the angles of the different blocks being cut very sharp, while upon it was reared a superstructure in the isodomous style, built with great regularity. (Hamilton.) He conjectures that the site may have been that of the temple of Hercules, and that three large Ionic capitals of red trachyte, which were lying in the water-course, may have belonged to it.
The acropolis of Erythrae is within 200 yards of the shore; it is a mass of red trachyte, and stands quite detached in the centre of the plain. The remains of a large theatre are still visible, on the north side of it, excavated in the solid rock. Near the mouth of the Aleus there are some remains of the port, and traces of an aqueduct. The inscriptions copied by Hamilton at Ritri are printed in his Appendix, vol. ii. One of the inscriptions that he dug out was the architrave of a door, on which was a dedication to Minerva or the sibyl Athenais, by a person whose name appears to be Artaxerxes. This is not quite a correct explanation, for the inscription clearly contains a dedication to Athenaea Poliuchus.
Thucydides (viii. 24) mentions Pteleon and Sidussa as two forts or walled places within the territory of Erythrae; and Pliny mentions Pteleon, Helos, and Dorium as near Erythrae. There was also a place called Embatum in the Erythraean territory.
Mela (i. 17) names a place Coryna in the Erythraean peninsula; but it is doubtful what he means. The promontory Mesate of Pausanias (vii. 5. § 6) appears to be the double point which extends from the southern part of the Erythraean peninsula northward, separating what we may call the bay of Erythrae from the strait of Chios.
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
Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.Subscribe now!