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Thessaly

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But speaking of it as a whole, I may say that in earlier times it was called Pyrrhaea, after Pyrrha the wife of Deucalion, and Haemonia after Haemon, and Thessaly after Thessalus the son of Haemon. But some writers, dividing it into two parts, say that Deucalion obtained the portion towards the south and called it Pandora after his mother, and that the other part fell to Haemon, after whom it was called Haemonia, but that the former name was changed to Hellas, after Hellen the son of Deucalion, and the latter to Thessaly, after the son of Haemon. Some, however, say that descendants of Antiphus and Pheidippus, the sons of Thessalus the son of Heracles, invaded the country from Thesprotian Ephyra and named it after Thessalus, their own ancestor. And it has been said that the country too was once named Nessonis, like the lake, after Nesson the son of Thessalus (Strab. 9.5.23).

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Thessalia

  Region of northern Greece between Doris south and Macedon north, the coast of the Aegean Sea east and Epirus west.
  Thessalia was a region of plains surrounded by mountains: east, along the coast of the Aegean Sea, Mount Ossa and, further south, in the peninsula of Magnesia, Mount Pelion; north, Mount Olympus; west, the Pindus Range; and south, the Othrys Range. Several rivers, gathering to form the Peneus, were flowing from the surrounding mountains across these plains and a great lake, lake Boebeis, remnant of a time when most of these plains were under water, still covered a large area of southeastern Thessalia. Because of these plains, Thessalia was a rich country and, among other things, a major supplier of horse to Athens and other parts of Greece, governed by a few noble families owning most of the land and herds and controling the cities, especialy the four major ones: Larissa, Crannon, Pheres and Pharsalus.
  These nobles had enslaved local peoples that were there when they arrived, in much the same way Sparta had enslaved local Helots, and were living in luxury, sponsoring such artists as Simonides and Pindar. Their families provided kings to the several “states” that together were forming Thessalia. It was divided into four major regions: Hestiaotis in the northwest, Pelasgiotis in the northeast, Thessaliotis in the southwest and Phthiotis in the southeast, but it is hard to know how united they were and we know of rivalries between leading families.
  Peoples in the regions surrounding Thessalia, such as Dolopes from the Pindus range, Magnetes from the eartern peninsula of Magnesia, Achaeans from Phthiotis were at times subjected to a tribute by Thessalian kings. Thessalia was playing a major role in the protection of the sanctuary of Delphi as a leading member of the Delphic Amphictiony.
  Mythology knows of several heroes named Thessalus who were supposed to have given their name to the region. One was the son of Heracles and Chalciope, daughter of Eurypylus, that Heracles killed on his way back from Troy because he didn't want to let him land in his island. This Thessalus became king of Cos as had been his grandfather and had two sons, Phidippus and Antiphus, who took part in the Trojan war and, after coming back, settled in Thessalia, giving the region its name in memory of their father. Another Thessalus was a son of Jason and Medea who escaped his mother's wrath and fled to Iolcos to become king of the place at the death of Acastus, the son of Pelias.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1999), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.


Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

Thessalia

   The largest division of Greece. It was bounded on the north by the Cambunian Mountains, which separated it from Macedonia; on the west by Mount Pindus, which separated it from Epirus; on the east by the Aegaean Sea; and on the south by the Maliac Gulf and Mount Oeta, which separated it from Locris, Phocis, and Aetolia. Thessaly proper is a vast plain, shut in on every side by mountain barriers, broken only at the northeastern corner by the valley and defile of Tempe, which separates Ossa from Olympus. This plain is drained by the river Peneus and its affluents, and is said to have been originally a vast lake, the waters of which were afterwards carried off through the vale of Tempe by some sudden convulsion which rent the rocks of this valley asunder. In addition to the plain already described, there were two other districts included under the general name of Thessaly: one called Magnesia, being a long, narrow strip of country extending along the coast of the Aegaean Sea from Tempe to the Pagasaean Gulf, and bounded on the west by Mounts Ossa and Olympus; and the other being a long, narrow vale at the extreme south of the country, lying between Mounts Othrys and Oeta, and drained by the river Spercheus. Thessaly proper was divided in very early times into four districts or tetrarchies--a division which we still find existing in the Poloponnesian War. These districts were: (a) Hestiaeotis (Hestiaiotis), the northwestern part of Thessaly, bounded on the north by Macedonia, on the west by Epirus, on the east by Pelasgiotis, and on the south by Thessaliotis; the Peneus may be said in general to have formed its southern limit. (b) Pelasgiotis (Pelasgiotis), the eastern part of the Thessalian plain, bounded on the north by Macedonia, on the west by Hestiaeotis, on the east by Magnesia, and on the south by the Sinus Pagasaeus and Phthiotis. (c) Thessaliotis (Thessaliotis), the southwestern part of the Thessalian plain, bounded on the north by Hestiaeotis, on the west by Epirus, on the east by Pelasgiotis, and on the south by Dolopia and Phthiotis. (d) Phthiotis (Phthiotis), the southeast of Thessaly, bounded on the north by Thessaliotis, on the west by Dolopia, on the south by the Sinus Maliacus, and on the east by the Pagasaean Gulf. It is in this district that Homer places Phthia and Hellas proper, and the dominions of Achilles. Besides these there were four other districts, viz.: (e) Magnesia. (See Magnesia.) (f) Dolopia (Dolopia), a small district bounded on the east by Phthiotis, on the north by Thessaliotis, on the west by Athamania, and on the south by Oetaea. The Dolopes were an ancient people, for they are not only mentioned by Homer as fighting before Troy, but they also sent deputies to the Amphictyonic assembly. (g) Oetaea (Oitaia), a district in the upper valley of the Spercheus, lying between Mounts Othrys and Oeta, and bounded on the north by Dolopia, on the Thessalian Coin. south by Phocis, and on the east by Malis. (h) Malis.
    The Thessalians were a Thesprotian tribe, and, under the guidance of leaders who are said to have been descendants of Heracles, invaded the western part of the country, afterwards called Thessaliotis, whence they subsequently spread over the other parts of the country. For some time after the conquest, Thessaly was governed by kings of the race of Heracles; but the kingly power seems to have been abolished in early times, and the government in the separate cities became oligarchical, the power being chiefly in the hands of a few great families descended from the ancient kings. Of these, two of the most powerful were the Aleuadae and the Scopadae, the former of whom ruled at Larissa, and the latter at Cranon (or Crannon). At an early period the Thessalians were united into a confederate body. Each of the four districts into which the country was divided probably regulated its affairs by some kind of provincial council; and in case of war a chief magistrate was elected, under the name of Tagus (Tagos), whose commands were obeyed by all the four districts. This confederacy, however, was not of much practical benefit to the Thessalian people, and appears to have been only used by the Thessalian nobles as a means of cementing and maintaining their power. The Thessalians never became of much importance in Grecian history. In B.C. 344 Philip completely subjected Thessaly to Macedonia, by placing at the head of the four divisions of the country governors devoted to his interests. The victory of T. Flamininus at Cynoscephalae, in 197, again gave the Thessalians a semblance of independence under the protection of the Romans.

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


Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Thessalia

  Thessalia (Thettalos, or Thettalia: Eth. Thessalos or Thettalos, Thessalus, fem. Thssalis, Thettalis, Thessalis: Adj. Thessalikos, Thettalikos, Thessalicus, Thessalius), the largest political division of Greece, was in its widest extent the whole country lying N. of Thermopylae as far as the Cambunian mountains, and bounded upon the W. by the range of Pindus. But the name of Thessaly was more specifically applied to the great plain, by far the widest and largest in all Greece, enclosed by the four great mountain barriers of Pindus, Othrys, Ossa and Pelion, and the Cambunian mountains. From Mount Pindus,--the Apennines or back-bone of Greece,--which separates Thessaly from Epeirus, two large arms branch off towards the eastern sea, running parallel to one another at the distance of 60 miles. The northern, called the Cambunian mountains, forms the boundary between Thessaly and Macedonia, and terminates in the summit of Olympus, which is the highest mountain in all Greece. The southern arm, named Othrys, separates the plain of Thessaly from Malis, and reaches the sea between the Malian and Pagasaean gulfs. The fourth barrier is the range of mountains, first called Ossa and afterwards Pelion, which run along the coast of Thessaly upon the E., nearly parallel to the range of Pindus. The plain of Thessaly, which is thus enclosed by natural ramparts, is broken only at the NE. corner by the celebrated vale of Tempe, which separates Ossa from Olympus, and is the only way of entering Greece from the N., except by a pass across the Cambunian mountains. This plain, which is drained by the river Peneius and its affiuents, is said to have been originally a vast lake, the waters of which were afterwards carried off through the vale of Tempe by some sudden convulsion, which rent the rocks of the valley asunder. (Herod. vii. 129.) The lakes of Nessonis and Boebeis, which are connected by a channel, were supposed by Strabo (ix. p. 430) to have been the remains of this vast lake. In addition to this plain there are two other districts included under the general name of Thessaly, of which one is the long and narrow slip of rocky coast, called Magnesia, extending from the vale of Tempe to the gulf of Pagasae, and lying between Mounts Ossa and Pelion and the sea; while the other, known under the name of Malis, is quite distinct in its physical features from the rest of Thessaly, being a long narrow valley between Mounts Othrys and Oeta, through which the river Spercheius flows into the Maliac gulf.
  The plain of Thessaly properly consists of two plains, which received in antiquity the name of Upper and Lower Thessaly; the Upper, as in similar cases, meaning the country near Mount Pindus most distant from the sea, and the Lower the country near the Thermaic gulf. (Strab. ix. pp. 430, 437.) These two plains are separated by a range of hills between the lakes Nessonis and Boebeis on the one hand, and the river Enipeus on the other. Lower Thessaly, which constituted the ancient division Pelasgiotis, extends from Mounts Titarus and Ossa on the N. to Mount Othrys and the shores of the Pagasaean gulf on the S. Its chief town was Larissa. Upper Thessaly, which corresponded to the ancient divisions Thessaliotis and Histiaeotis, of which the chief city was Pharsalus, stretches from Aeginium in the N. to Thaumaci in the S., a distance of at least 50 miles in a straight line. The road from Thermopylae into Upper Thessaly entered the plain at Thaumaci, which was situated at the pass called Coela, where the traveller came in sight of a plain resembling a vast sea. (Liv. xxxii. 4.)
  The river Peneius, now called the Salamvria or Salambria (Salambrias, Salamprias), rises at the NW. extremity of Thessaly, and is composed of streams collected in the valleys of Mount Pindus and the offshoots of the Cambunian mountains. At first it flows through a contracted valley till it reaches the perpendicular rocks, named the Meteora, upon the summits of which several monasteries are perched. Below this spot, and near the town of Aeginium or Stagus, the valley opens out into the vast plain of Upper Thessaly, and the river flows in a general southerly direction. At Tricca, or Trikkala, the Peneius makes a bend to the E., and shortly afterwards reaches the lowest point in the plain of Upper Thessaly, where it receives within a very short space many of its tributaries. Next it passes through a valley formed by a range of hills, of which those upon the right divide the plains of Upper and Lower Thessaly. It then emerges into the plain a few miles westward of Larissa; after passing which city it makes a sudden bend to the N., and flows through the vale of Tempe to the sea. Although the Peneius drains the greater part of Thessaly, and receives many tributaries, it is in the greater part of its course a shallow and sluggish river, except after the melting of the snows, when it sometimes floods the surrounding plain. Hence on either side of the river there is frequently a wide gravelly uncultivable space, described by Strabo as poramoklustos (ix. p. 430; Leake, Northern Greece, vol. i. p. 420). When the river is swollen in the spring, a channel near Larissa conducts the superfluous waters into the Karatjai‘r or Maurolimne, the ancient Nessonis; and when this basin is filled, another channel conveys the waters into the lake of Karla, the ancient Boebeis. (Leake, iv. p. 403.) In the lower part of its course, after leaving Larissa, the Peneius flows with more rapidity, and is full of small vortices, which may have. suggested to Homer the epithet argurodines (Il. ii. 753); though, as Leake has remarked, the poet carries his flattery to an extreme in comparing to silver the white hue of its turbid waters, derived entirely from the earth suspended in them. (Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 291.) The principal rivers of Thessaly, according to Herodotus (vii. 129), are the Peneius, Apidanus, Onochonus, Enipeus and Pamisus. The four latter rivers all flow from the S. Of these the most important is the Enipeus, now called the Fersaliti, which flows through the plain of Pharsalus, and falls into the Peneius near Piresiae in the lowest part of the plain. The Apidanus, now called Vrysia, into which the Cuarius (Sofadhitiko) falls, is a tributary of the Enipeus. The Pamisus, now called the Bliuri or Piliuri, also joins the Peneius a little to the W. of the Enipeus. The Onochonus, which is probably the same as the Onchestus, flows into the lake Boebeis and not into the Peneius. [For details, see Vol. II. p. 483, a.] The chief tributary of the Peneius on the N. is the Titaresius, now called Elassonitiko or Xeraghi, which rises in Mt. Titarus, a part of the Cambunian range, and joins the main stream between Larissa and the vale of Tempe. Homer relates (Il. ii. 753, seq.) that the waters of the Titaresius did not mingle with those of the Peneius, but floated upon the surface of the latter like oil upon water, whence it was regarded as a branch of the infernal river Styx. (Comp. Lucan, vi. 375.) Leake calls attention to the fact that Strabo (ix. p. 441), probably misled by the epithet (argurodines) applied by the poet to the Peneius, has reversed the true interpretation of the poet's comparison of the Peneius and the Titaresius, supposing that the Peneius was the pellucid river, whereas the apparent reluctance of the Titaresius to mingle with the Peneius arises from the former being clear and the latter muddy. (Northern Greece, iii. p. 396, iv. p. 296.) The Titaresius was also called Eurotas (Strab. vii. p. 329) and Horcus or Orcus (Plin. iv. 8. s. 15). The plain of Thessaly is the most fertile in all Greece. It produced in antiquity a large quantity of corn and cattle, which supported a numerous population in the towns, and especially a rich and proud aristocracy, who were at frequent feuds with one another and much given to luxury and the pleasures of the table (ekei gar de pleiste ataxia kai akolasia, Plat. Crit. 15; Athen. xii. p. 564; Theopomp. ap. Athen. vi. p. 260; Dem. Olynth. p. 16). The Thessalian horses were the finest in Greece, and their cavalry was at all times efficient; but we rarely read of their infantry. The nobles, such as the Aleuadae of Larissa and the Scopadae of Crannon, supplied the poorer citizens with horses; but there was no class of free equal citizens, from which the hoplites were drawn in other Grecian states. (See Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 367.) Hence the political power was generally either in the hands of these nobles or of a single man who established himself as despot. The numerous flocks and herds of the Scopadae at Crannon are alluded to by Theocritus (Id. xvi. 36), and the wealth of the Thessalian nobles is frequently mentioned by the ancient writers. Thessaly is said to have been originally known by the names of Pyrrha, Aemonia, and Aeolis. (Rhian. ap. Schol. Rhod. iii. 1089; Steph. B. s. v. Aimonia; Herod. vii. 176.) The two former appellations belong to mythology, but the latter refers to the time when the country was inhabited by the Aeolian Pelasgi, who were afterwards expelled from the country by the Thessalians. This people are said to have been immigrants, who came from Thesprotia in Epeirus, and conquered the plain of the Peneius. (Herod. vii. 176, comp. i. 57; Strab. ix. p. 444.) The Boeotians are said to have originally dwelt at Arne, in the country afterwards called Thessaly, and to have been expelled by the Thessalian invaders 60 years after the Trojan War. (Thuc. i. 12.) The expulsion of the Boeotians by the Thessalians seems to have been conceived as an immediate consequence of the immigration of the Thessalian invaders; but, however this may be, the name of Thessaly is unknown in Homer, who only speaks of the several principalities of which the country was composed. In the Homeric catalogue Pheidippus and Antiphus, who led the Greeks from Carpathus, Cos, and the neighbouring islands, are called the sons of Thessalus, the son of Hercules (Hom. Il. ii. 676); and, in order to connect this name with the Thessalians of Thesprotia, it was reported that these two chiefs had, upon their return from Troy, been driven by a storm upon the coast of Epeirus, and that Thessalus, the grandson of Pheidippus, led the Thessalians across Mount Pindus and imposed his name upon the country. (Vell. Pat. i. 2, 3; Steph. B. s. v. Dorion; Polyaen. viii. 44.) There are many circumstances in the historical period which make it probable that the Thessalians were a body of immigrant conquerors; though, if they came from Thesprotia, they must have gradually dropt their original language, and learnt that of the conquered people, as the Thessalian was a variety of the Aeolic dialect. There was in Thessaly a triple division of the population analogous to that in Laconia. First, there were the Thessalians proper, the rich landed proprietors of the plain. Secondly, there were the descendants of the original inhabitants of the country, who were not expelled by the Thessalian conquerors, and who were more or less dependent upon them, corresponding to the Lacedaemonian Perioeci, but, unlike the latter, retaining their original names and their seats in the Amphictyonic council. These were the Perrhaebi who occupied the mountainous district between Mount Olympus and the lower course of the Peneius; the Magnetes, who dwelt along the eastern coast between Mounts Pelion and Ossa and the sea; the Achaeans, who inhabited the district called Phthiotis, which extended S. of the Upper Thessalian plain, from Mount Pindus on the W. to the gulf of Pagasae on the S.; the Dolopes who occupied the mountainous regions of Pindus, S. of Phthiotis; and the Mialians, who dwelt between Phthiotis and Thermopylae. The third class of the Thessalian population were the Penestae, serfs or dependent cultivators, corresponding to the Helots of Laconia, although their condition seems upon the whole to have been superior. They tilled the estates of the great nobles, paying them a certain proportion of the produce, and followed their masters to war upon horseback. They could not, however, be sold out of the country, and they possessed the means of acquiring property, as many of them were said to have been richer than their masters. (Archemach. ap. Athen. vi. p. 264; Plat. Leg. vi. p. 777; Aristot. Pol. ii. 6. § 3, vii. 9. § 9; Dionys. ii. 84.) They were probably the descendants of the original inhabitants of the country, reduced to slavery by the conquering Thesprotians; but when Theopompus states that they were the descendants of the conquered Perrhaebians and Magnetes (ap. Athen. vi. p. 265), this can only be true of a part of these tribes, as we know that the Penestae were entirely distinct from the subject Perrhaebians, Magnetes, and Achaeans. (Aristot. Polit. ii. 6. § 3.) The Penestae, like the Laconian Helots, frequently rose in revolt against their masters.
  In the Homeric poems the names of Perrhaebi, Magnetes, Achaeans, and Dolopes occur; and Achaea Phthiotis was the residence of the great hero Achilles. This district was the seat of Hellen, the founder of the Hellenic race, and contained the original Hellas, from which the Hellenes gradually spread over the rest of Greece. (Hem. Il. ii. 683; Thuc. i. 3; Strab. ix. p. 431; Dicaearch. p. 21, ed. Hudson; Steph. B. s. v. Hellas). The Achaeans of Phthiotis may fairly be regarded as the same race as the Achaeans of Peloponnesus.
  Thessaly Proper was divided at an early period into four districts or tetrarchies, named Thessaliotis, Pelasgiotis, Histiaeotis and Phthiotis. When this division was introduced is unknown. It was older than Hecataeus (Steph. B. s. v. Krannon), and was ascribed to Aleuas, the founder of the family of the Aleuadae. (Hellenic. Fragm. 28, ed. Didot; Harpocrat. s. v. Terrarchia; Strab. ix. p. 430.) This quadruple division continued to the latest times, and seems to have been instituted for political purposes; but respecting the internal government of each we have no precise information. The four districts were nominally united under a chief magistrate, called Tagus; but he seems to have been only appointed in war, and his commands were frequently disobeyed by the Thessalian cities. When Thessaly is under a Tagus, said Jason, despot of Pherae, she can send into the field an army of 6000 cavalry and 10,000 hoplites. (Xen. Hell. vi. 1. 8) But Thessaly was rarely united. The different cities, upon which the smaller: towns were dependent, not only administered their own affairs independent of one another, but the three most important, Larissa, Pharsalus and Pherae, were frequently at feud with one another, and at the same time torn with intestine faction. Hence they were able to offer little resistance to invaders, and never occupied that position in Grecian history to which their population and wealth would seem to have entitled them. (Respecting the Thessalians in general, see Mr. Grote's excellent remarks, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 363, seq.)
  The history of Thessaly may be briefly dismissed, as the most important events are related under the separate cities. Before the Persian invasion, the Thessalians had extended their power as far as Thermopylae, and threatened to overrun Phocis and the country of the Locrians. The Phocians built a wall across the pass of Thermopylae to keep off the Thessalians; and though active hostilities seem to have ceased before the Persian invasion, as the wall was at that time in ruins, the two nations continued to cherish bitter animosity towards one another. (Herod. vii. 176.) When Xerxes invaded Greece, the Thessalians were at first opposed to the Persians. It is true that the powerful family of the Aleuadae, whom Herodotus calls (vii. 6) kings of Thessaly, had urged Xerxes to invade Greece, and had promised the early submission of their countrymen; but it is evident that their party was in the minority, and it is probable that they were themselves in exile, like the Athenian Peisistratidae. The majority of the Thessalians sent envoys to the confederate Greeks at the Isthmus, urging them to send a force to the pass of Tempe, and promising them active co-operation in the defence. Their request was complied with, and a body of 10,000 heavy-armed infantry was despatched to Thessaly; but the Grecian commanders, upon arriving at Tempe, found that there was another pass across Mount Olympus, and believing it impossible to make any effectual resistance north of Thermopylae, retreated to their ships and abandoned Thessaly. (Herod. vii. 172, seq.) The Thessalians, thus deserted, hastened to make their submission to Xerxes; and under the influence of the Aleuadae, who now regained the ascendency in Thessaly, they rendered zealous and effectual assistance to the Persians. After the death of Leonidas and his heroic companions at Thermopylae, the Thessalians gratified their enmity against the Phocians by directing the march of the Persians against the Phocian towns and laying their country waste with fire and sword.
  From the Persian to the Peloponnesian wars the Thessalians are rarely mentioned. After the battle of Oenophyta (B.C. 456) had given the Athenians the ascendency in Boeotia, Locris, and Phocis, they endeavoured to extend their power over Thessaly. With this view they marched into Thessaly under the command of Myronides in B.C. 454, for the purpose of restoring Orestes, one of the exiled nobles or princes of Pharsalus, whom Thucydides calls son of the king of the Thessalians. The progress of Myronides was checked by the powerful Thessalian cavalry; and though he advanced as far as Pharsalus, he was unable to accomplish anything against the city, and was compelled to retreat. (Thuc. i. 111; Diodor. xi. 85.) In the Peloponnesian War the Thessalians took no part; but the mass of the population was friendly to the Athenians, though the oligarchical governments favoured the Spartans. With the assistance of the latter, combined with his own rapidity and address, Brasidas contrived to march through Thessaly in B.C. 424, on his way to attack the Athenian dependencies in Macedonia (Thuc. iv. 78); but when the Lacedaemonians wished to send reinforcements to Brasidas in the following year, the Thessalians positively refused them a passage through their country. (Thuc. iv. 132.) In B.C. 395 the Thessalians joined the Boeotians and their allies in the league against Sparta; and when Agesilaus marched through their country in the following year, having been recalled by the Spartan government from Asia, they endeavoured to intercept him on his return; but their cavalry was defeated by the skilful manoeuvres of Agesilaus. (Xen. Hell. vi. 3. 3, seq.)
  About this time or a little earlier an important change took place in the political condition and relative importance of the Thessalian cities. Almost down to the end of the Peloponnesian War the powerful families of the Aleuadae at Larissa, of the Scopadae at Crannon, and of the Creondae at Pharsalus, possessed the chief power in Thessaly. But shortly before the close of this war Pherae rose into importance under the administration of Lycophron, and aspired to the supremacy of Thessaly. Lycophron overthrew the government of the nobles at Pherae, and made himself tyrant of the city. In prosecution of his ambitious schemes he attacked Larissa; and in B.C. 404 he gained a great victory over the Larissaeans and the other Thessalians who were opposed to him. (Xen. Hell. ii. 3. 4) In B.C. 395 Lycophron was still engaged in a contest with Larissa, which was then under the government of Medius, probably the head of the Aleuadae. Lycophron was supported by Sparta; and Medius accordingly applied for succour to the confederacy of Greek states which had been lately formed to resist the Lacedaemonian power. With their assistance Medius took Pharsalus, which was then occupied by a Lacedaemonian garrison, and is said to have sold all its inhabitants as slaves. (Diod. xiv. 82.) The return of Agesilaus, and his victory over the Thessalians, probably deprived Medius and his party of their power, and Larissa no longer appears as the rival of Pherae for the supremacy of Thessaly. Pharsalus soon recovered from the blow which it had received from Medius, and became, next to Pherae, the most important city in Thessaly. The inhabitants of Pharsalus agreed to entrust the supreme power to Polydamas, one of their own citizens, in whose integrity and abilities all parties placed the greatest confidence. The acropolis and the whole management of the finances were placed in his hands, and he discharged his trust to the satisfaction of all parties. (Xen. Hell. vi. 1. 2, 3.)
  Meantime the supreme power at Pherae had passed into the hands of Jason, a man of great energy and ability, and probably the son of Lycophron, though this is not expressly stated. He inherited the ambitious views of Lycophron, and meditated nothing less than extending his dominion over the whole of Greece, for which his central situation seemed to offer many facilities. He cherished even still more extensive projects of aggrandisement, and, once master of Greece, he looked forward to conquer the Persian empire, which the retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks and the campaigns of Agesilaus in Asia seemed to point out as an easy enterprise. But the first step was his election as Tagus of Thessaly, and the submission of all the Thessalian cities to his authority. For this purpose it was necessary to obtain the acquiescence of Pharsalus, and although he might have gained his object by force, he preferred to effect it by negotiation, and accordingly frankly disclosed his schemes to Polydamas, and offered him the second place in Thessaly, if he would support his views. Polydamas asked the advice of the Spartans, and finding that he could receive from them no help, he acceded to the proposals of Jason, and induced the Pharsalians to espouse his cause. Soon after this, probably in B.C. 374, Jason was elected Tagus of Thessaly, and proceeded to settle the contingent of cavalry and heavy-armed troops which the Pharsalian cities were to furnish. He now possessed a force of 8000 cavalry and more than 20,000 infantry; and Alcetas I., king of Epeirus, and Amyntas II., king of Macedonia were his allies. (Xen. Hell. vi. 1. 2--19; Diod. xv. 60.) He could in effect command a greater force than any, other state in Greece; and from the disunion and exhaustion of the other Grecian states, it seemed not improbable that he might be able to carry his ambitious projects into effect. He had already formed an alliance with Thebes, and after the battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371) he was invited by the Thebans to join them in attacking the Lacedaemonian camp. But Jason's policy was to prevent any other power from obtaining the preponderance in Greece, and accordingly upon his arrival at Leuctra he advised the Thebans not to drive the Lacedaemonians to despair, and obtained a truce for the latter, which enabled them to secure their safety by a retreat. (Xen. Hell. vi. 4. 20, seq.) In the following year he announced his intention of marching to Delphi at the head of a body of Thessalian troops and presiding at the Pythian festival. Great alarm was felt throughout Greece; but before the time came, he was assassinated by seven youths as he sat in public to give audience to all comers. His death was felt as a relief by Greece; and the honours paid in many of the Grecian cities to his assassins prove the general fear which his ambitious schemes had excited. (Xen. Hell. vi. 4. 28--32.)
  Jason had so firmly established his power that he was succeeded in the post of Tagus of Thessaly by his two brothers Polyphron and Polydorus; but they did not possess his abilities or energy, and Thessaly again sank into political insignificance. Polyphron was assassinated by his brother Polydorus, who became sole Tagus. Polydorus exercised his authority with great cruelty; he put to death Polydamas of Pharsalus, and killed or drove into exile many other distinguished persons of this city and of Larissa. (Xen. Hell. vi. 4. 33, 34.) At the end of a year he was also assassinated by Alexander, who was either his brother (Diod. xv. 61) or his nephew (Plut. Pelopid. 29.) Alexander surpassed even Polyphron in cruelty, and was guilty of gross enormities. The Aleuadae and other noble families, who were chiefly exposed to his vengeance, applied in their distress to Alexander, the youthful king of Macedonia, who had recently succeeded his father Amyntas. Alexander invaded Thessaly, defeated the tyrant, and took possession of Larissa and Crannon, which he garrisoned with his troops. (Diodor. xv. 61.) It would seem, however, that the necessities of his own kingdom compelled him shortly afterwards to withdraw his troops from Thessaly; since we find the Thessalian cities opposed to the tyrant inviting the aid of the Thebans. Accordingly, about B.C. 369, Pelopidas invaded Thessaly, and took Larissa and several other cities under his protection, apparently with the sanction of Alexander of Macedonia, with whom he formed an alliance. (Diodor. xv. 67.) In the following year (B.C. 368) Pelopidas again marched into Thessaly at the head of a Theban force, to protect Larissa and the other cities against the projects of Alexander of Pherae, who had solicited aid from Athens. Alexander was compelled to sue for peace; and Pelopidas, after arranging the affairs of Thessaly, marched into Macedonia, where the young king had been lately assassinated. Ptolemy, the regent of the kingdom, was also compelled to enter into alliance with Pelopidas, and to give him several hostages, among whom was the youthful Philip, afterwards king of Macedonia. (Diod. xv. 71; Plut. Pelop, c. 26.) By these means the influence of Thebes was extended over the greater part of Thessaly. Two years afterwards (B.C. 366) the Thebans obtained from the Persian court a rescript acknowledging their claims to the headship of Greece; and in the same year Pelopidas, accompanied by Ismenias, visited Thessaly with the view of obtaining the recognition of their claim from Alexander of Pherae and the other Thessalian cities. Alexander met them at Pharsalus, but when he found that they were not supported by any armed force, he seized them as prisoners and carried them off to Pherae. The first attempt of the Thebans to rescue their countryman proved unsuccessful; and the army which they sent into Thessaly was only saved from destruction by the genius of Epaminondas, who was then serving as a private, and was compelled [p. 1169] by the soldiers to take the command. So greatly was Alexander strengthened in his power by this failure that all the Thessalian cities submitted to him, and the influence of Thebes in Thessaly was for a time destroyed. Subsequently a second expedition was sent into Thessaly under the command of Epaminondas, who compelled the tyrant to release Pelopidas and Ismenias, but without restoring Thebes to the commanding position which she had formerly held in Thessaly. (Diod. xv. 71-75; Plut. Pelop. 27-29; Cornel. Nep. Pelop. 5; Paus. ix. 15. § 1.) The continued oppressions of Alexander of Pherae became so intolerable that the Thessalian cities once more applied to Thebes for assistance. Accordingly in B.C. 364 Pelopidas was again sent into Thessaly at the head of a Theban army. In the first engagemnent Pelopidas was slain, but Alexander was defeated. (Diod. xv. 80, 81; Plut. Pelop. 31, 32; Cornel. Nep. Pelop. 5; respecting the different expeditions of Pelopidas into Thessaly, as to which there are discrepancies in the accounts, see Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. x. p. 361, note, p. 391, note.) The death of Pelopidas, however, proved almost fatal to Alexander. Burning to revenge his loss, the Thebans sent a powerful army into Thessaly, which compelled him to renounce his supremacy in Thessaly, to confine himself to Pherae, and to submit to all the demands of Thebes. (Plut. Pelop. 35.)
  After the death of Epaminondas at the battle of Mantineia (B.C. 362) the supremacy of Thebes in Thessaly was weakened, and Alexander of Pherae recovered much of his power, which he continued to exercise with his accustomed cruelty and ferocity till his assassination in B.C. 359 by his wife Thebe and her brothers. One of these brothers, Tisiphonus, succeeded to the supreme power, under the direction of Thebe; but his reign lasted only a short time, and lie was followed in the government by Lycophron, another brother. (Xen. Hell. vi. 4. 37; Diod. xvi. 14; Plut. Pelop. 35.) Meanwhile Philip, who had ascended the throne of Macedon in B.C. 369, had been steadily extending his dominions and his influence; and the Aleuadae of Larissa now had recourse to him in preference to Thebes. Accordingly Philip marched into Thessaly in B.C. 353. Lycophron, unable to resist him, invoked the aid of Onomarchus and the Phocians; and Philip, after a severe struggle was driven out of Thessaly. (Diodor. xvi. 35.) In the following year Philip returned to Thessaly, and gained a signal victory over Onomarchus and Lycophron. Onomarchus was slain in the battle; and when Philip followed up his victory by laying siege to Pherae, Lycophron surrendered the city to him, upon being allowed to retire to Phocis with his mercenaries. (Diodor. xvi. 37.) Thus ended the powerful dynasty of the tyrants of Pherae. Philip established a popular government at Pherae (Diod. xvi. 38), and gave nominal independence to the Thessalian cities. But at the same time he garrisoned Magnesia and the port of Pagasae with his troops, and kept steadily in view the subjugation of the whole country. An attempt made in B.C. 344 to restore the dynasty of the tyrants at Pherae gave him an opportunity of carrying his designs into effect. Not only did he garrison Pherae with his own troops, but he revived the ancient division of the country into four tetrarchies or tetradarchies, and placed at the head of each some of the chiefs of the Aleuadae, who were entirely devoted to his interests. The result of this arrangement was the entire subjection of Thessaly to Philip, who drew from the country a considerable addition to his revenues and to his military resources. (Harpocrat. s. v. Tetrarchia; Dem. Olynth. i. § 23; Strab. ix. p. 440; Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. vi. pp. 12-14.) Upon the death of Philip the Thessalians were the first Grecian people who promised to support Alexander in obtaining the supremacy of Greece. (Diod. xvii. 4.) After the death of Alexander the Thessalians took an active part with the other Grecian states in attempting to throw off the Macedonian yoke, but by the victory of Antipater they were again united to the Macedonian monarchy, to which they remained subject till the defeat of Philip by the Romans at the battle of Cynoscephalae, B.C. 197. The Roman senate then declared Thessaly free (Liv. xxxiii. 32); but from this time it was virtually under the sovereignty of Rome. The government was vested in the hands of the more wealthy persons, who formed a kind of senate, which was accustomed to meet at Larissa. (Liv. xxxiv. 52, xxxvi. 8, xlii. 38.)
  When Macedonia was reduced to the form of a Roman province, Thessaly was incorporated with it. (Strab. xvii. p. 840.) Under Alexander Severus it formed a separate province governed by a procurator (Gruter, Inscr. p. 474. 4); and in the later constitution of the Empire after the time of Constantine, it also appears as a separate province under the administration of a praeses. (Not. Dig. i. p. 7; Bocking, i. p. 151; Marquardt, in Becker's Rom. Alterth. vol. iii. pt. i. p. 117.)

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


Argos Pelasgicum

  Argos Pelasgicum (Argos Peladgikon), was probably employed by Homer (Il. ii. 681) to signify the whole of Thessaly. Some critics have supposed that by Pelasgic Argos the poet alluded to a city, and that this city was the same as the Thessalian Larissa; but it has been correctly observed, that the line of the Catalogue in which Pelasgic Argos is named marks a separation of the poet' s topography of Southern Greece and the Islands from that of Northern Greece; and that by Pelasgic Argos he meant Pelasgic Greece, or the country included within the mountains Cnemis, Oeta, Pindus, and Olympus, and stretching eastward to the sea; in short, Thessaly in its most extended sense. (Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iv. p. 532.)

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