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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


Elaios. A town of Aetolia, belonging to Calydon, was strongly fortified, having received all the necessary munitions from king Attalus. It was taken by Philip V., king of Macedonia, B.C. 219. Its name indicates that it was situated in a marshy district; and it must have been on the coast to have received supplies from Attalus. We may therefore place it near Mesolonghi.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited May 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Aetolia (Aitolia: Eth. Aitolos, Aetolus), a district of Greece, the boundaries of which varied at different periods. In the time of Strabo it was bounded on the W. by Acarnania, from which it was separated by the river Achelous, on the N. by the mountainous country inhabited by the Athamanes, Dolopes, and Dryopes, on the NE. by Doris and Malis, on the SE. by Locris, and on the S. by the entrance to the Corinthian gulf. It contained about 1165 square miles. It was divided into two districts, called Old Aetolia (he archaia Aitolia), and Aetolia Epictetus (he epiktetos), or the Acquired. The former extended along the coast from the Achelous to the Evenus, and inland as far as Thermum, opposite the Acarnanian town of Stratus: the latter included the northern and more mountainous part of the province, and also the country on the coast between the Evenus and Locris. When this division was introduced is unknown; but it cannot have been founded upon conquest, for the inland Aetolians were never subdued. The country between the Achelous and the Evenus appears in tradition as the original abode of the Aetolians; and the term Epictetus probably only indicates the subsequent extension of their name to the remainder of the country. Strabo makes the promontory Antirrhium the boundary between Aetolia and Locris, but some of the towns between this promontory and the Evenus belonged originally to the Ozolian Locrians. (Strab. pp. 336, 450, 459.)
  The country on the coast between the Achelous and the Evenus is a fertile plain, called Paracheloitis (Paracheloitis), after the former river. This plain is bounded on the north by a range of hills called Aracynthus, north of which and of the lakes Hyria and Trichonis there again opens out another extensive plain opposite the town of Stratus. These are the only two plains in Aetolia of any extent. The remainder of the country is traversed in every direction by rugged mountains, covered with forests, and full of dangerous ravines. These mountains are a south-westerly continuation of Mt. Pindus, and have never been crossed by any road, either in ancient or modern times. The following mountains are mentioned by special names by the ancient writers:
1.Tymphrestus (Tumphrestos), on the northern frontier, was a southerly continuation of Mt. Pindus, and more properly belongs to Dryopis.
2. Bomi (Bomoi), on the north-eastern frontier, was the most westerly part of Mt. Oeta, inhabited by the Bomienses. In it were the sources of the Evenus. (Strab. x. p. 451; Thuc. iii. 96; Steph. B. s. v. Bomoi.)
3. Coraxa (Korax), also on the north-eastern frontier, was a south-westerly continuation of Oeta, and is described by Strabo as the greatest mountain in Aetolia. There was a pass through it leading to Thermopylae, which the consul Acilius Glabrio crossed with great difficulty and the loss of many beasts of burthen in his passage, when he marched from Thermopylae to Naupactus in B.C. 191. Leake remarks that the route of Glabrio was probably by the vale of the Vistritza into that of the Kokkcino, over the ridges which connect Velukhi with Vardhusi, but very near the latter mountain, which is thus identified with Corax. Corax is described on that occasion by Livy as a very high mountain, lying between Callipolis and Naupactus. (Strab. x. p. 450; Liv. xxxvi. 30; Steph. B. s. v.; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. ii. p. 624.)
4. Taphiassus (Taphiassos: Kaki--scala), a southerly continuation of Corax, extended down to the Corinthian gulf, where it terminated in a lofty mountain near the town of Macynia. In this mountain Nessus and the other Centaurs were said to have been buried, and from their corpses arose the stinking waters which flowed into the sea, and from which the western Locrians are said to have derived the name of Ozolae, or the Stinking. Modern travellers have found at the base of Mt. Taphiassus a number of springs of fetid water. Taphiassus derives its modern name of Kaki--skala, or Bad-ladder, from the dangerous road, which runs along the face of a precipitous cliff overhanging the sea, half way up the mountain. (Strab. pp. 427, 451, 460; Antig. Caryst. 129; Plin. iv. 2; Leake, vol. i. p. 111; Mure, Tour in Greece, vol. i. p. 135; Gell, Itiner. p. 292.)
5. Chalcis or Chalceia (Chalkis e Chalkia: Varassova), an offshoot of Taphiassus, running down to the Corinthian gulf, between the mouth of the Evenus and Taphiassus. At its foot was a town of the same name. Taphiassus and Chalcis are the ancient names of the two great mountains running close down to the sea-coast, a little west of the promontory Antirrhium, and separated from each other by some low ground. Each of these mountains rises from the sea in one dark gloomy mass. (Strab. pp. 451, 460; Horn. Il. ii. 640; Leake, l. c.; Mure, vol. i. p. 171.)
6. Aracyntus (Arakunthos: Zygos), a range of mountains running in a south-easterly direction from the Achelous to the Evenus, and separating the lower plain of Aetolia near the sea from the upper plain above the lakes Hyria and Trichonis. (Strab. x. p. 450.)
7. Panaetolium (Viena), a mountain NE. of Thermum, in which city the Aetolians held the meetings of their league. (Plin. iv. 2; Pol. v. 8; Leake, vol. i. p. 131.)
8. Myenus (to oros Muenon, Plut. de Fluviis, p. 44), between the rivers Evenus and Hylaethus.
9. Macynium mentioned only by Pliny (l. c.), must, from its name, have been near the town of Macynia on the coast, and consequently a part of Mt. Taphiassus.
10. Curium (Kourion), a mountain between Pleuron and lake Trichonis, from which the Curetes were said to have derived their name. It is a branch of Aracynthus. (Strab. x. p. 451.)
  The two chief rivers of Aetolia were the Achelous and the Evenus, which flowed in the lower part of their course nearly parallel to one another. There were no other rivers in the country worthy of mention, with the exception of the Campylus and Cyathus, both of which were tributaries of the Achelous.
  There were several lakes in the two great plains of Aetolia. The upper plain, N. of Mt. Aracynthus, contained two large lakes, which communicated with each other. The eastern and the larger of the two was called Trichonis (Trichonis, Pol. v. 7, xi. 4: Lake of Apokuro), the western was named Hyria (Lake of Zygos); and from the latter issued the river Cyathus, which flowed into the Achelous near the town of Conope, afterwards Arsinoe (Ath. x. p. 424). This lake, named Hyrie by Ovid (Met. vii. 371, seq.) is called Hydra (gdra) in the common text of Strabo, from whom we learn that it was afterwards called Lysimachia (Ausimachia) from a town of that name upon its southern shore. (Strab. p. 460.) Its proper name appears to have been Hyria, which might easily be changed into Hydra. (Muller, Dorians, vol. ii. p. 481.) This lake is also named Conope by Antoninus Liberalis (Met. 12). The mountain Aracynthus runs down towards the shores of both lakes, and near the lake Hyrie there is a ravine, which Ovid (l. c.) calls the Cycneia Tempe, because Cycnus was said to have been here changed into a swan by Apollo. The principal sources which form both the lakes are at the foot of the steep mountain overhanging the eastern, or lake Trichonis; a current flows from E. to W. through the two lakes; and the river of Cyathus is nothing more than a continuation of the same stream (Leake, vol. i. p. 154).
  In the lower plain of Aetolia there were several smaller lakes or lagoons. Of these Strabo (pp. 459, 460) mentions three.
1. Cynia (Kunia), which was 60 stadia long and 20 broad, and communicated with the sea.
2. Uria (Ouria), which was much smaller than the preceding and half a stadium from the sea.
3. A large lake near Calydon, belonging to the Romans of Patrae: this lake, according to Strabo, abounded in fish (euopsos), and the gastronomic poet Archestratus said that it was celebrated for the labrax (labrax, a ravenous kind of fish. (Ath. vii. p. 311, a.)
  There is some difficulty in identifying these lakes, as the coast has undergone numerous changes; but Leake supposes that the lagoon of Anatoliko was Cynia, that of Mesolonghi Uria, and that of Bokhori the lake of Calydon. The last of these lakes is perhaps the same as the lake Onthis (Onthis), which Nicander (ap. Schol. ad Nicand. Ther. 214) speaks of in connection with Naupactus. (Leake, vol. iii. p. 573, &c.)
  In the two great plains of Aetolia excellent corn was grown, and the slopes of the mountains produced good wine and oil. These plains also afforded abundance of pasture for horses; and the Aetolian horses were reckoned only second to those of Thessaly. In the mountains there were many wild beasts, among which we find mention of boars and even of lions, for Herodotus gives the Thracian Nestus and the Achelous as the limits within which lions were found in Europe. (Herod. v. 126.)
  The original inhabitants of Aetolia are said to have been Curetes, who according to some accounts had come from Euboea. (Strab. x. p. 465.) They inhabited the plains between the Achelous and the Evenus, and the country received in consequence the name of Curetis. Besides them we also find mention of the Leleges and the Hyantes, the latter of whom had been driven out of Boeotia. (Strab. pp. 322, 464.) These three peoples probably belonged to the great Pelasgic race, and were at all events not Hellenes. The first great Hellenic settlement in the country is said to have been that of the Epeans, led by Aetolus, the son of Endymion, who crossed over from Elis in Peloponnesus, subdued the Curetes, and gave his name to the country and the people, six generations before the Trojan war. Aetolus founded the town of Calydon, which he called after his son, and which became the capital of his dominions. The Curetes continued to reside at their ancient capital Pleuron at the foot of Mt. Curium, and for a long time carried on war with the inhabitants of Calydon. Subsequently the Curetes were driven out of Pleuron, and are said to have crossed over into Acarnania. At the time of the Trojan war Pleuron as well as Calydon were governed by the Aetolian chief Thoas. (Paus. v. 1. § 8; Hom. Il. ix. 529, seq.; Strab. p. 463.) Since Pleuron appears in the later period of the heroic age as an Aetolian city, it is represented as such from the beginning in some legends. Hence Pleuron, like Calydon, is said to have derived its name from a son of Aetolus (Apollod. i. 7. § 7); and at the very time that some legends represent it as the capital of the Curetes, and engaged in war with Oeneus, king of Calydon, others relate that it was governed by his own brother Thestius.
  Aetolia was celebrated in the heroic age of Greece on account of the hunt of the Calydonian boar, and the exploits of Tydeus, Meleager and the other heroes of Calydon and Pleuron. The Aetolians also took part in the Trojan war under the command of Thoas; they came in 40 ships from Pleuron, Calydon, Olenus, Pylene and Chalcis (Hom. Il. ii. 638). Sixty years after the Trojan war some Aeolians, who had been driven out of Thessaly along with the Boeotians, migrated into Aetolia, and settled in the country around Pleuron and Calydon, which was hence called Aeolis after them. (Strab. p. 464; Thuc. iii. 102.) Ephorus (ap. Strab. p. 465) however places this migration of the Aeolians much earlier, for he relates that the Aeolians once invaded the district of Pleuron, which was inhabited by the Curetes and called Curetis, and expelled this people. Twenty years afterwards occurred the great Dorian invasion of Peloponnesus under the command of the descendants of Heracles. The Aetolian chief Oxylus took part in this invasion, and conducted the Dorians across the Corinthian gulf. In return for his services he received Elis upon the conquest of Peloponnesus.
  From this time till the commencement of the Peloponnesian war we know nothing of the history of the Aetolians. Notwithstanding their fame in the heroic age, they appear at the time of the Peloponnesian war as one of the most uncivilized of the Grecian tribes; and Thucydides (i. 5) mentions them, together with their neighbours the Ozolian Locrians and Acarnanians, as retaining all the habits of a rude and barbarous age. At this period there were three main divisions of the Aetolians, the Apodoti, Ophionenses, and Eurytanes. The last, who were the most numerous of the three, spoke a language which was unintelligible, and were in the habit of eating raw meat. (Thuc. iii. 102.) Thucydides, however, does not call them Barbaroi; and notwithstanding their low culture and uncivilized habits, the Aetolians ranked as Hellenes, partly, it appears, on account of their legendary renown, and partly on account of their acknowledged connection with the Eleans in Peloponnesus. Each of these three divisions was subdivided into several village tribes. Their villages were unfortified, and most of the inhabitants lived by plunder. Their tribes appear to have been independent of each other, and it was only in circumstances of common danger that they acted in concert. The inhabitants of the inland mountains were brave, active, and invincible. They were unrivalled in the use of the javelin, for which they are celebrated by Euripides. (Phoeniss. 139, 140; comp. Thuc. iii. 97.)
  The Apodoti, Ophionenses, and Eurytanes, inhabited only the central districts of Aetolia, and did not occupy any part of the plain between the Evenus and the Achelous, which was the abode of the more civilized part of the nation, who bore no other name than that of Aetolians. The Apodoti (Apodotoi, Thuc. iii. 94; Apodotoi, Pol. xvii. 5) inhabited the mountains above Naupactus, on the borders of Locris. They are said by Polybius not to have been Hellenes. (Comp. Liv. xxxii. 34.) North of these dwelt the Ophionenses or Ophienses (Ophioneis, Thuc. l. c.; Ophieis, Strab. pp. 451,465), and to them belonged the smaller tribes of the Bomienses (Bomies, Thuc. iii. 96; Strab. p. 451; Steph. Byz. s. v. Bomoi) and Callienses (Kallies, Thuc.), both of which inhabited the ridge of Oeta running down towards the Malic gulf: the former are placed by Strabo at the sources of the Evenus, and the position of the latter is fixed by that of their capital town Callium. The Eurytanes (Eurutanes, Thuc. iii. 94, et alii) dwelt north of the Ophionenses, as far, apparently, as Mt. Tymphrestus, at the foot of which was the town Oechalia, which Strabo describes as a place belonging to this people. They are said to have possessed an oracle of Odysseus. (Strab. pp, 448, 451, 465; Schol. ad Lycophr. 799.)
  The Agraei, who inhabited the north-west corner of Aetolia, bordering upon Ambracia, were not a division of the Aetolian nation, but a separate people, governed at the time of the Peloponnesian war by a king of their own, and only united to Aetolia at a later period. The Aperanti, who lived in the same district, appear to have been a subdivision of the Agraei. Pliny (iv. 3) mentions various other peoples as belonging to Aetolia, such as the Athamanes, Tymphaei, Dolopes, &c.; but this statement is only true of the later period of the Aetolian League, when the Aetolians had extended their dominion over most of the neighbouring tribes of Epirus and Thessaly.
  At the commencement of the Peloponnesian war the Aetolians had formed no alliance either with Sparta or Athens, and consequently are not mentioned by Thucydides in his enumeration of the allied forces of the two nations. It was the unprovoked invasion of their country by the Athenians in the sixth year of the war (B.C. 455), which led. them to espouse the Lacedaemonian side. In this year the Messenians, who had been settled at Naupactus by the Athenians, and who had suffered greatly from the inroads of the Aetolians, persuaded the Athenian general, Demosthenes, to march into the interior of Aetolia, with the hope of conquering the three great tribes of the Apodoti, Ophionenses, and Eurytanes, since if they were subdued the Athenians would become masters of the whole country between the Ambracian gulf and Parnassus. Having collected a considerable force, Demosthenes set out from Naupactus; but the expedition proved a complete failure. After advancing a few miles into the interior, he was attacked at Aegitium by the whole force of the Aetolians, who had occupied the adjacent hills. The rugged nature of the ground prevented the Athenian hoplites from coming to close quarters with their active foe; Demosthenes had with him only a small number of light-armed troops; and in the end the Athenians were completely defeated, and fled in disorder to the coast. Shortly afterwards the Aetolians joined the Peloponnesians under Eurylochus in making an attack upon Naupactus, which Demosthenes caved with difficulty, by the help of the Acarnanians. (Thuc. iii. 94, &c.) The Aetolians took no further part in the Peloponnesian war; for those of the nation who fought under the Athenians in Sicily were only mercenaries. (Thuc. vii. 57.) From this time till that of the Macedonian supremacy, we find scarcely any mention of the Aetolians. They appear to have been frequently engaged in hostilities. with their neighbours and ancient enemies, the Acarnanians.
  After the death of Alexander the Great (B.C. 323) the Aetolians joined the confederate Greeks in what is usually called the Lamian war. This war was brought to a close by the defeat of the confederates at Crannon (B.C. 322); whereupon Antipater and Craterus, having first made peace with Athens, invaded Aetolia with a large army. The Aetolians, however, instead of yielding to the invaders, abandoned their villages in the plains and retired to their impregnable mountains, where they remained in safety, till the Macedonian generals were obliged to evacuate their territory in order to march against Perdiecas. (Diod. xviii. 24, 25.) In the wars which followed between the different usurpers of the Macedonian throne, the alliance of the Aetolians was eagerly courted by the contending armies; and their brave and warlike population enabled them to exercise great influence upon the politics of Greece. The prominent part they took in the expulsion of the Gauls from Greece (B.C. 279). still further increased their reputation. In the army which the Greeks assembled at Thermopylae to oppose the Gauls, the contingent of the Aetolians was by far the largest, and they here distinguished themselves by their bravery in repulsing the attacks of the enemy; but they earned their chief glory by destroying the greater part of a body of 40,000 Gauls, who had invaded their country, and had taken the town of Callium, and committed the most horrible atrocities on the inhabitants. The Aetolians also assisted in the defence of Delphi when it was attacked by the Gauls, and in the pursuit of the enemy in their retreat. (Paus. x. 20--23.) To commemorate the vengeance they had inflicted upon the Gauls for the destruction of Callium, the Aetolians dedicated at Delphi a trophy and a statue of an armed heroine, representing Aetolia. They also dedicated in the same temple the statues of the generals under whom they had fought in this war. (Paus. x. 18. § 7, x. 15. § 2.)
  From this time the Aetolians appear as one of the three great powers in Greece, the other two being the Macedonians and Achaeans. Like the Achaeans, the Aetolians were united in a confederacy or league. At what time this league was first formed is uncertain. It is inferred that the Aetolians must have been united into some form of confederacy at least as early as the time of Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, from an inscription on the statue of Aetolus at Thermum, quoted by Ephorus (Strab. p. 463: Aitolon tond anepheikan Aitoloi spheteras mnem aretes esorain), and from the cession of Naupactus, which was made to them by Philip. (Strab. p. 427: esti de nun Aitolon, philippou proskrinantos, quoted by Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. viii. p. 207.) But it was not till after the death of Alexander the Great that the league appears to have come into full activity; and it was probably the invasion of their country by Antipater and Craterus, and the consequent necessity of concerting measures for their common defence, that brought the Aetolians into a closer political association. The constitution of the league was democratical, like that of the Aetolian towns and tribes. The great council of the nation, called the Panaetolicon (Liv. xxxi. 9), in which it is probable that every freeman above the age of thirty had the right of voting, met every autumn at Thermum, for the election of magistrates, general legislation, and the decision of all questions respecting peace and war with foreign nations. There was also another deliberative body, called Apocleti (Apokletoi), which appears to have been a kind of permanent committee. (Pol. xx. 1; Liv. xxxvi. 28.) The chief magistrate bore the title of Strategus Hstrategos), He was elected annually, presided in the assemblies, and had the command of the troops in war. The officers next in rank were the Hipparchus (Hipparchos), or commander of the cavalry, and the chief Secretary Grammateus), both of whom were elected annually.
  After the expulsion of the Gauls from Greece, the Aetolians began to extend their dominions over the neighbouring nations. They still retained the rude and barbarous habits which had characterised them in the time of Thucydides, and were still accustomed to live to a great extent by robbery and piracy. Their love of rapine was their great incentive to war, and in their marauding expeditions they spared neither friends nor foes, neither things sacred nor profane. Such is the character given to them by Polybius (e.g. ii. 45, 46, iv. 67, ix. 38), and his account is confirmed in the leading outlines by the testimony of other writers; though justice requires us to adds that the enmity of the Aetolians to the Achaeans has probably led the historian to exaggerate rather than underrate the vices of the Aetolian people. At the time of their greatest power, they were masters of the whole of western Acarnania, of the south of Epirus and Thessaly, and of Locris, Phocis, and Boeotia. They likewise assumed the entire control of the Delphic oracle and of the Amphictyonic assembly. (Plut. Demetr. 40; Pol. iv. 25; Thirlwall, vol. viii. p. 210.) Their league also embraced several towns in the heart of Peloponnesus, the island of Cephallenia, and even cities in Thrace and Asia Minor, such as Lysimachia on the Hellespont, and Cios on the Propontis. The relation of these distant places to the league is a matter of uncertainty. They could not have taken any part in the management of the business of the confederacy; and the towns in Asia Minor and Thrace probably joined it in order to protect themselves against the attacks of the Aetolian privateers.
  The Aetolians were at the height of their power in B.C. 220, when their unprovoked invasion of Messenia engaged them in a war with the Achaeans, usually called the Social War. The Achaeans were supported by the youthful monarch of Macedonia, Philip V., who inflicted a severe blow upon the Aetolians in B.C. 218 by an unexpected march into the interior of their country, where he surprised the capital city of Thermum, in which all the wealth and treasures of the Aetolian leaders were deposited. The whole of these fell into the hands of the king, and were either carried off or destroyed; and before quitting the place, Philip set fire to the sacred buildings, to retaliate for the destruction of Dium and Dodona by the Aetolians. (Pol. v.2--9, 13, 14; for the details of Philip's march, see Thermun) The Social war was brought to a close by a treaty of peace concluded in B.C. 217. Six years afterwards (B.C. 211) the Aetolians again declared war against Philip, in consequence of having formed an offensive and defensive alliance with the Romans, who were then engaged in hostilities with Philip. The attention of the Romans was too much occupied by the war against Hannibal in Italy to enable them to afford much assistance to the Aetolians, upon whom, therefore, the burden of the war chiefly fell. In the course of this war Philip again took Thermum (Pol. xi. 4), and the Aetolians became so disheartened that they concluded peace with him in B.C. 205. This peace, was followed almost immediately by one between Philip and the Romans.
  On the renewal of the war between Philip and the Romans in B.C. 200, the Aetolians at first resolved to remain neutral; but the success of the consul Galba induced them to change their determination, and before the end of the first campaign they declared war against Philip. They fought at the battle of Cynoscephalae in B.C. 197, when their cavalry contributed materially to the success of the day. (Liv. xxxiii. 7.) The settlement of the affairs of Greece by Flamininus after this victory caused great disappointment to the Aetolians; and as soon as Flamininus returned to Italy, they invited Antiochus to invade Greece, and shortly afterwards declared war against the Romans. (B.C. 192.) The defeat of Antiochus at Thermopylae (B.C. 191) drove the monarch back to Asia, and left the Aetolians exposed to the full vengeance of the Romans. They obtained a short respite by a truce which they solicited from the Romans; but having subsequently resumed hostilities on rumours of some success of Antiochlis in Asia, the Roman consul M. Fulvius Nobilior crossed over into Greece, and commenced operations by laying siege to Ambracia (B.C. 189), which was then one of the strongest towns belonging to the league. Meantime news had arrived of the total defeat of Antiochus at the battle of Magnesia, and the Aetolians resolved to purchase peace at any price. It was granted to them by the Romans, but on terms which destroyed for ever their independence, and rendered them only the vassals of Rome. (Pol. xxii. 15; Liv. xxxviii. 11.) After the conquest of Perseus (B.C. 167), the Roman party in Aetolia, assisted by a body of Roman soldiers, massacred 550 of the leading patriots. All the survivors, who were suspected of opposition to the Roman policy, were carried off as prisoners to Italy. It was at this time that the league was formally dissolved. (Liv. xlv. 28, 31; Justin, xxxiii. Prol. and 2.) Aetolia subsequently formed part of the province of Achaia; though it is doubtful whether it formed part of this province as it was at first constituted. The inhabitants of several of its towns were removed by Augustus to people the city of Nicopolis, which he founded to commemorate his victory at Actium, B.C. 31; and in his time the country is described by Strabo as utterly worn out and exhausted. (Strab.) Under the Romans the Aetolians appear to have remained in the same rude condition in which they had always been. The interior of Aetolia was probably rarely visited by the Romans, for they had no road in the inland part of the country; and their only road was one leading from the coast of Acarnania across the Achelous, by Pleuron and Calydon to Chalcis and Molycreia on the Aetolian coast. (Comp. Brandstaten, Die Geschichten des Aetolischen Landes, Volkes und Bundes, Berlin, 1844.)
  The towns in Aetolia were: In Old Aetolia. In the lower plain, between the sea and Mount Aracynthus, Calydon, Pleuron, Olenus, Pylene, Chalcis (these 5 are the Aetolian towns mentioned by Homer), Halicyrna, Elaeus, Paeanium or Phana, Proschium, Ithoria, Conope (afterwards Arsinoe), Lysimachia. In the upper plain N. of Mount Aracynthus, Acraee, Metapa, Pamphia, Phyteum, Trichonium, Thestienses, Thermon. In Aetolia Epictetus, on the sea-coast, Macynia, Molycreium or Molycreia: a little in the interior, on the borders of Locris, Potidania, Crocyleium, Teichium, Aagitium: further in the interior, Callium Oechalia, Aerantia, Agrinium, Ephyra, the last of which was a town of the Agraei. The site of the following towns is quite unknown: -Ellopium (Ellopion, Pol. ap. Steph. B. s. v.); Thorax (Thorax, s. v.); Pherae (pherai, Steph. B. s. v.)


  Oichalia: Eth. Oichalieus. In Aetolia. (Strab. x. p. 448.) Each of these cities was considered by the respective inhabitants as the residence of the celebrated Eurytus, who was conquered by Hercules, and the capture of whose city was the subject of an epic poem called Oichalias halosis, which was ascribed to Homer or Cresphylus. Hence among the early poets there was a difference of statement upon the subject. The Messenian Oechalia was called the city of Eurytus in the Iliad (ii. 596) and the Odyssey (xxi. 13), and this statement was followed by Pherecydes (ap.Schol. ad Soph. Trach. 354) and Pausanias (iv. 2. §3). The Euboean city was selected by the writer of the poem on the Capture of Oechalia (Schol. ap. Soph. l. c.), by Hecataeus (ap. Paus. l. c.), and by Strabo (x. p. 448). The Thessalian city is mentioned as the residence of Eurytus in another passage of the Iliad (ii. 730); and K. 0. Muller supposes that this was the city of the original fable. (Dorians, vol. i. p. 426, seq., transl.)

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


  Olenos: Eth. olenios. An ancient town in the S. of Aetolia, between the Achelous and the Evenus, was named after a son of Zeus or Hephaestus, and is mentioned in the Homeric catalogue. It was situated near New Pleuron, at the foot of Mount Aracynthus; but its exact site is uncertain. It is said to have been destroyed by the Aeolians; and there were only a few traces of it in the time of Strabo. (Strab.x. pp. 451, 460; Horn. Il. ii. 638; Apollod. i.8. § 4; Hyg. Poet. Astron. 2. § 13; Stat. Theb. iv. 104; Steph. B. s. v.) The Roman poets use Olenius as equivalent to Aetolian: thus Tydeus of Calydon in Aetolia is called Olenius Tydeus. (Stat. Theb. i. 402.)

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

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


    A division of Greece, bounded on the west by Acarnania, from which it was separated by the river Achelous; on the north by Epirus and Thessaly; on the east by the Ozolian Locrians; and on the south by the entrance to the Corinthian Gulf. It was divided into two parts--Old Aetolia, from the Achelous to the Evenus and Calydon; and New Aetolia, or the Acquired, from the Evenus and Calydon to the Ozolian Locrians. On the coast the country is level and fruitful, but in the interior mountainous and unproductive. The mountains contained many wild beasts, and were celebrated in mythology for the hunt of the Calydonian boar. The country was originally inhabited by Curetes and Leleges, but was at an early period colonized by Greeks from Elis, led by the mythical Aetolus. The Aetolians took part in the Trojan War, under their king Thoas. They continued for a long time a rude and uncivilized people, living to a great extent by robbery; and even in the time of Thucydides (B.C. 410) many of their tribes spoke a language which was not Greek, and were in the habit of eating raw flesh. They appear to have been early united by a kind of league, but this league first acquired political importance about the middle of the third century B.C., and became a formidable rival to the Macedonian monarchs and the Achaean League. The Aetolians took the side of Antiochus III. against the Romans, and on the defeat of that monarch, B.C. 189, they became virtually the subjects of Rome. On the conquest of the Achaeans, B.C. 146, Aetolia was included in the Roman province of Achaea.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



  Region of central Greece north of the gulf of Calydon.
  Aetolia owes its name to the mythological hero Aetolus, a son of the Aeolian Endymion, king of Elis. Endymion had three sons, Paeon, Epeius and Aetolus. In order to decide which one would succeed him, he organized a race between them in Olympia. Epeius won and became king of Elis, and Paeon fled to Macedon, while Aetolus stayed around and eventually succeeded his brother at his death. But later, Aetolus killed Apis, a son of Phoroneus (the first man according to Peloponnesian legends) who was then king of all Peloponnese but acted as a tyrant. As a result, Aetolus had to flee and he moved across the gulf of Corinth, where he was greeted by the local kings, Dorus (the eponym of the Dorians), Laodocus and Polypoetes, the three sons of Apollo and Phthia (the eponym of the region of Phthia). But Aetolus killed the three of them, expelled local residents, the Couretes, and reigned over the country, that took his name.
  He had two sons, Pleuron and Calydon, who gave their names to two cities of Aetolia.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Perseus Encyclopedia Site Text


Physical Description
  The region of Aetolia is the southern continuation of the Pindus mountain range, and is bordered on the west by the Acheloos River, and on the east by Mt. Oxya. The mountains of Aetolia have peaks exceeding 1818 m, which cut off the rich plains of central Aetolia from the Corinthian Gulf. The south coast of Aetolia between the mouths of the Acheloos and the Euenus rivers has many shallow lagoons, but no serviceable harbor. The only good harbour in Aetolia is at Naupaktos on the Corinthian Gulf, opposite Patrai in the Peloponnese.
  There are five cities of importance in Aetolia. Two of these are Kalydon and Pleuron, and Thermon near lake Trichonis, the religious center of Classical Aetolia. Owing to its seclusion from the sea, Aetolia remained undeveloped and knew little urban advancement until the fourth century B.C. Small tribes, however, did form to present a common front against the invasion of Demosthenes in 426 B.C. Only after 370 B.C., with the formation of the Aetolian Confederacy, did this region rise to power and emerge as a close-knit federal state. The natural avenues of expansion for Aetolia lay east in Akarnania and northwards into Malis and Amphilochia, but Aetolia did not explore these possibilities until well into the third century B.C.
  Arta in the north was at one time the chief town of the district of Epirus. The town is situated on the left bank of the Arakhthos River and occupies the site of ancient Ambracia, which gave the Ambracian Gulf its name. Founded in the seventh century B.C. by settlers from Corinth, Ambracia became the capital of Epirus under the rule of Pyrrhos, king of the Molossians. In 31 B.C. the people of the town were moved to the newly founded city of Nikopolis.
  Thermon, situated on Lake Tichonis in central Aetolia, sits on a natural height commanding the central plains. The city was the spiritual center of the region and was the site of an annual festival during which magistrates were elected. Since the Bronze Age, Aetolia has been a cult center for the worship of Apollo Thermios, Apollo Lyseuis, and Artemis. Over time, Thermon became a Pan-Aetolian sanctuary dedicated to the worship of Apollo Thermios. Remains of successive wooden and stone temples to Apollo Thermios at Thermon are among the oldest religious structures in Greece.
  Ancient Pleuron, located to the southwest of Thermon, was known as the city of the Curetes. It was destroyed by Demetrios II, son of Antigonus Gonatas, in 234 B.C. Pleuron has a remarkable 15 course Hellenistic wall that includes 36 towers and seven gates. Within these walls lay a small theater, a large cistern, an agora, and an acropolis to the north.
  Kalydon, southeast of Pleuron, was celebrated in the heroic age as the home of Oineus and his sons Tydeus and Meleager. The famed Kalydonian boar hunt took place on the nearby slopes which culminate in Mt. Zygos (944 m). The site consisted of a walled town, a Heroon, and the Sanctuary of Artemis Laphria which stood on a natural spur of land, with a view of the plain and the gulf. On this platform stood a fourth century temple supported by a sixth century retaining wall.
  The ancient port town of Naupaktos once belonged to Western Locris, but was captured by Athens in 455 B.C. and used to house Messenians who had abandoned their homes because of the Spartan raids. After the Spartans expelled the Messenians from Naupaktos in 399 B.C., Achaia colonized the town and held it until Philip II captured it and and bequeathed it to Aetolia in 338 B.C. When the Aetolian Confederacy collapsed in 189 B.C., Naupaktos lost its importance.

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Aetolia, Aitolia

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Present location

Ruins ot the city are situated near the villages Floriada & Makriada.

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