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Municiapality of Salamina

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Salamis,-nos: Eth. and Adj. Alaminios, Salaminius: Adj. Salaminiakos, Salaminiacus: Kuluri. An island lying between the western coast of Attica and the eastern coast of Megaris, and forming the southern boundary of the bay of Eleusis. It is separated from the coasts both of Attica and of Megaris by only a narrow channel. Its form is that of an irregular semicircle towards the west, with many small indentations along the coast. Its greatest length, from N. to S., is about 10 miles, and its width, in its broadest part, from E. to W., is a little more. Its length is correctly given by Strabo (ix. p. 393) as from 70 to 80 stadia. In ancient times it is said to have been called Pityussa (Rhituoussa), from the pines which grew there, and also Sciras (Skiras) and Cychreia (Kuchreia), from the names of two heroes Scirus and Cychreus. The former was a native hero, and the latter a seer, who came from Dodona to Athens, and perished along with Erechtheus in fighting against Eumolpus. (Strab. ix. p. 393; Paus. i. 36. § 1; Philochor. ap. Plut. Thes. 17.) The latter name was perpetuated in the island, for Aeschylus (Pers. 570) speaks of the aktai Kuchreiai, and Stephanus B. mentions a Kuchreios tagos. The island is said to have obtained the name of Salamis from the mother of Cychreus, who was also a daughter of Asopus. (Paus. i. 35. § 2.) It was colonised at an early period by the Aeacidae of Aegina. Telamon, the son of Aeacus, fled thither after the murder of his half-brother Phocus, and became sovereign of the island. (Paus. i. 35. § 1.) His son Ajax accompanied the Greeks with 12 Salaminian ships to the Trojan War. (Horn. Il. ii. 557.) Salamis continued to be an independent state till about the beginning of the 40th Olympiad (B.C. 620), when a dispute arose for its possession between the Athenians and Megarians. After a long struggle, it first fell into the hands of the Megarians, but was subsequently taken possession of by the Athenians through a stratagem of Solon. (Plut. Sol. 8, 9; Paus. i. 40. § 5.) Both parties appealed to the arbitration of Sparta. The Athenians supported their claims by a line in the Iliad, which represents Ajax ranging his ships with those of the Athenians (Il. ii. 558), but this verse was suspected to have been an interpolation of Solon or Peisistratus; and the Megarians cited another version of the line. The Athenians, moreover, asserted that the island had been made over to them by Philaeus and Eurysaces, sons of the Telamonian Ajax, when they took up their own residence in Attica. These arguments were considered sufficient, and Salamis was adjudged to the Athenians. (Plut. Sol. 10; Strab. ix. p. 394.) It now became an Attic demus, and continued incorporated with Attica till the times of Macedonian supremacy. In B.C. 318, the inhabitants voluntarily received a Macedonian garrison, after having only a short time before successfully resisted Cassander. (Diod. xviii. 69; Polyaen. Strat. iv. 11. § 2; Paus. i. 35. § 2.) It continued in the hands of the Macedonians till B.C. 232, when the Athenians, by the assistance of Aratus, purchased it from the Macedonians together with Munychia and Sunium. Thereupon the Salaminians were expelled from the island, and their lands divided among Athlenian cleruchi. (Plut. Arat. 34; Paus. ii. 8. § 6; Bockh, Inscr. vol. i. p. 148, seq.) From that time Salamis probably continued to be a dependency of Athens, like Aegina and Oropus; since the grammarians never call it a demos, which it had been originally, but generally a polis.
  The old city of Salamis, the residence of the Telamonian Ajax, stood upon the southern side of the island towards Aegina (Strab. ix. p. 393), and is identified by Leake with the remains of some Hellenic walls upon the south-western coast near a small port, where is the only rivulet in the island, perhaps answering to the Bocarus or Bocalias of Strabo (ix. p. 394; Leake, Demi, p. 169). The Bocarus is also mentioned by Lycophron (451). In another passage, Strabo (ix. p. 424) indeed speaks of a river Cephissus in Salamis; but as it occurs only in an enumeration of various rivers of this name, and immediately follows the Athlenian Cephissus without any mention being made of the Eleusinian Cephissus, we ought probably to read with Leake en Eleusini instead of en Salamini.
  When Salamis became an Athenian demus, a new city was built at the head of a bay upon the eastern side of the island, and opposite the Attic coast. In the time of Pausanias this city also had fallen into decay. There remained, however, a ruined agora and a temple of Ajax, containing a statue of the hero in ebony; also a temple of Artemis, the trophy erected in honour of the victory gained over the Persians, and a temple of Cychreus. (Paus. i. 35. § 3, 36. § 1.) Pausanias has not mentioned the statue of Solon, which was erected in the agora, with one hand covered by his mantle. (Dem. de Fals. Leg. p. 420; Aeschin. in Tim. p. 52.) There are still some remains of the city close to the village of Ambelakia. A portion of the walls may still be traced; and many ancient fragments are found in the walls and churches both of Ambelakia and of the neighbouring village of Kuluri, from the latter of which the modern name of the island is derived. The narrow rocky promontory now called Cape of St. Barbara, which forms the SE. entrance to the bay of Ambelakia, was the Sileniae (Sileniai) of Aeschylus, afterwards called Tropaea (Tropaia), on account of the trophy erected there in memory of the victory. (Asch. Pers. 300, with Schol.) At the extremity of this promontory lay the small island of Psytalleia (Psuttaleia), now called Lipsokutali, about a mile long, and from 200 to 300 yards wide. It was here that a picked body of Persian troops was cut to pieces by Aristeides during the battle of Salamis. (Herod. viii. 95; Aesch. Pers. 447, seq.; Plut. Arist. 9; Paus. i. 36. § 2, iv. 36. § 3; Strab. ix. p. 393; Plin. iv. 12. s. 20; Steph. B. s. v.)
  In Salamis there was a promontory Sciradium (Skiradion), containing a temple of the god of war, erected by Solon, because he there defeated the Megarians. (Plut. Sol. 9.) Leake identifies this site with the temple of Athena Sciras, to which Adeimantus, the Corinthian, is said to have fled at the commencement of the battle of Salamis (Herod. viii. 94); and, as the Corinthians could not have retreated through the eastern opening of the strait, which was the centre of the scene of action, Leake supposes Sciradium to have been the south-west promontory of Salamis, upon which now stands a monastery of the Virgin. This monastery now occupies the site of a Hellenic building, of which remains are still to be seen.
  Budorum (Bondoron or Boudooron) was the name of the western promontory of Salamis, and distant only three miles from Nisaea, the port of Megara. On this peninsula there was a fortress of the same name. In the attempt which the Peloponnesians made in B.C. 429 to surprise Peiraeeus, they first sailed from Nisaea to the promontory of Budorum, and surprised the fortress; but after overrunning the island, they retreated without venturing to attack Peiraeeus. (Thuc. ii. 93, 94, iii. 51; Diod. xii. 49; Strab. xi. p. 446; Steph. B. s. v. Boudoron.)
  Salamis is chiefly memorable on account of the great battle fought off its coast, in which the Persian fleet of Xerxes was defeated by the Greeks, B.C. 480. The details of this battle are given in every history of Greece, and need not be repeated here. The battle took place in the strait between the eastern part of the island and the coast of Attica, and the position of the contending forces is shown in the annexed plan. The Grecian fleet was drawn up in the small bay in front of the town of Salamis, and the Persian fleet opposite to them off the coast of Attica. The battle was witnessed by Xerxes from the Attic coast, who had erected for himself a lofty throne on one of the projecting declivities of Mt. Aegaleos. Colonel Leake has discussed at length all the particulars of the battle, but Mr. Blakesley has controverted many of his views, following the authority of Aeschylus in preference to that of Herodotus. In opposition to Col. Leake and all preceding authorities, Mr. Blakesley supposes, that though the hostile fleets occupied in the afternoon before the battle the position delineated in the plan annexed, yet that on the morning of the battle the Greeks were drawn up across the southern entrance of the strait, between the Cape of St. Barbara and the Attic coast, and that the Persians were in the more open sea to the south. Into the discussion of this question our limits prevent us from entering; and we must refer our readers for particulars to the essays of those writers quoted at the close of this article. There is, however, one difficulty which must not be passed over in silence. Herodotus says (viii. 76) that on the night before the battle, the Persian ships stationed about Ceos and Cynosura moved up, and beset the whole strait as far as Munychia. The only known places of those names are the island of Ceos, distant more than 40 geographical miles from Salamis, and the promontory of Cynosura, immediately N. of the bay of Marathon, and distant more than 60 geographical miles from Salamis. Both of those places, and more especially Cynosura, seem to be too distant to render the movement practicable in the time required. Accordingly many modern scholars apply the names Ceos and Cynosura to two promontories, the southernmost and south-easternmost of the island of Salamis, and they are so called in Kiepert's maps. But there is no authority whatever for giving those names to two promontories in the island; and it is evident from the narrative, as Mr. Grote has observed, that the names of Ceos and Cynosura must belong to some points in Attica, not in Salamis. Mr. Grote does not attempt to indicate the position of these places; but Mr. Blakesley maintains that Ceos and Cynosura are respectively the well-known island and cape, and that the real difficulty is occasioned, not by their distance, but by the erroneous notion conceived by Herodotus of the operations of the Persian fleet.

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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