Gerenia, (Paus., Steph. B. s. v.); ta Gerena (Strab.); Gerenos (Hes.
Fragm. 22): Eth. Gerenios. A town of Messenia, where Nestor was said to have been
brought up after the destruction of Pylos, and whence he derived the surname Gerenian,
which occurs so frequently in Homer. There is, however, no town of this name in
Homer, and many of the ancient critics identified the later Gerenia with the Homeric
Enope. (Il. i. 150; Pans. iii. 26. § 9; Strab. viii. p. 360.) Under the Roman
empire Gerenia was the most northerly of the Eleuthero-Laconian towns, and was
situated on the eastern side of the Messenian gulf, upon the mountainous promontory
now called Cape Kephali. It possessed a celebrated sanctuary of Machaon, which
bore the name of Rhodon. Pausanias says that in the district of Gerenia there
was a mountain called Calathium, upon which there was a sanctuary of Claea, and
close to the latter a cavern, of which the entrance was narrow, though within
there were many things worthy to be seen. (Paus. iii. 26. § 11.) This cavern is
undoubtedly the one noticed by Leake, which is situated at the head of a little
valley behind the beach of Kitries, and immediately under a rocky gorge in the
mountains: at present the entrance is not narrow, but it appears to have been
widened to make it more convenient for a sheep-fold, for which purpose it is at
present used. Leake observed two or three sepulchral niches in the side of the
cliffs about the valley. Two very ancient inscriptions discovered at Gerenia are
published by Bockh. (Corp. Inscr. no. 13, 42.)
Gerenia is placed by the French Commission at Zarnta, about three miles from the coast, where a castle built by the Franks rests upon very ancient foundations. But Leake observes that the words of Pausanias (iii. 26. § 11) - I erenias de hos es eesopsaian ano triakonta atechei stadious Alapsonia - leave little or no doubt that Gerenia was a maritime town, and that it is now represented by Kitries on the coast. He further supposes that Zarnata is the site of Alagonia. But since the most ancient towns in Greece were almost universally built at some distance from the coast, it is not improbable that the acropolis and the original town of Gerenia stood at Zarnata, but that the town itself was afterwards removed to the coast.
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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