Theseus was the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens. Like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, Theseus battled and overcame foes that were identified with an archaic religious and social order: “This was a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules”. Theseus was a founding hero for the Athenians in the same way that Heracles was the founding hero for the Dorians; the Athenians regarded Theseus as a great reformer. The myths surrounding Theseus – his journeys and friends – have provided material for fiction throughout the ages. Theseus was responsible for the synoikismos – the political unification of Attica under Athens – represented emblematically in his journey of labours, subduing ogres and monstrous beasts; because he was the unifying king, Theseus built and occupied a palace on the fortress of the Acropolis that may have been similar to the palace, excavated in Mycenae. Pausanias reports that after the synoikismos, Theseus established a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos and Peitho on the southern slope of the Acropolis.
Plutarch's Life of Theseus makes use of varying accounts of the death of the Minotaur, Theseus' escape, the love of Ariadne for Theseus. Plutarch's sources, not all of whose texts have survived independently, included Pherecydes, Demon and Cleidemus; as the subject of myth, the existence of Theseus as a real person has not been proven, but scholars believe that he may have been alive during the Late Bronze Age as a king in the 8th or 9th century BC. Aegeus, one of the primordial kings of Athens, was childless. Desiring an heir, he asked the Oracle of Delphi for advice, her cryptic words were "Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief." Aegeus was disappointed. He asked the advice of king of Troezen. Pittheus understood the prophecy, got Aegeus drunk, gave Aegeus his daughter Aethra, but following the instructions of Athena in a dream, Aethra left the sleeping Aegeus and waded across to the island of Sphairia that lay close to Troezen's shore.
There she poured a libation to Sphairos and Poseidon, was possessed by the sea god in the night. The mix gave Theseus a combination of divine as well as mortal characteristics in his nature. After Aethra became pregnant, Aegeus decided to return to Athens. Before leaving, however, he buried his sandals and sword under a huge rock and told Aethra that when their son grew up, he should move the rock, if he were heroic enough, take the tokens for himself as evidence of his royal parentage. In Athens, Aegeus was joined by Medea, who had left Corinth after slaughtering the children she had borne, had taken Aegeus as her new consort. Priestess and consort together represented the old order in Athens, thus Theseus was raised in his mother's land. When Theseus grew up and became a brave young man, he moved the rock and recovered his father's tokens, his mother told him the truth about his father's identity and that he must take the sword and sandals back to king Aegeus to claim his birthright. To journey to Athens, Theseus could choose to go by sea or by land, following a dangerous path around the Saronic Gulf, where he would encounter a string of six entrances to the Underworld, each guarded by a chthonic enemy.
Young and ambitious, Theseus decided to go alone by the land route and defeated a great many bandits along the way. At the first site, Epidaurus, sacred to Apollo and the healer Asclepius, Theseus turned the tables on the chthonic bandit, the Club Bearer, who beat his opponents into the Earth, taking from him the stout staff that identifies Theseus in vase-paintings. At the Isthmian entrance to the Underworld was a robber named Sinis called "Pityokamptes", he would capture travellers, tie them between two pine trees that were bent down to the ground, let the trees go, tearing his victims apart. Theseus killed him by his own method, he became intimate with Sinis's daughter, fathering the child Melanippus. In another deed north of the Isthmus, at a place called Crommyon, he killed an enormous pig, the Crommyonian Sow, bred by an old crone named Phaea; some versions name the sow herself as Phaea. The Bibliotheca by Pseudo-Apollodorus described the Crommyonian Sow as an offspring of Typhon and Echidna.
Near Megara, an elderly robber named Sciron forced travellers along the narrow cliff-face pathway to wash his feet. While they knelt, he kicked them off the cliff behind them. Theseus pushed him off the cliff. Another of these enemies was Cercyon, king at the holy site of Eleusis, who challenged passers-by to a wrestling match and, when he had beaten them, killed them. Theseus beat Cercyon at wrestling and killed him instead; the last bandit was Procrustes the Stretcher, who had two beds, one of which he offered to passers-by in the plain of Eleusis. He made them fit into it, either by stretching them or by cutting off their feet. Since he had two beds of different lengths, no one would fit. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, decapitating him with his own axe; when Theseus arrived at Athens, he did not reveal his true identity immediately. Aegeus gave him
Megara is a historic town and a municipality in West Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King Pandion II, of whom Nisos was the ruler of Megara. Megara was a trade port, its people using their ships and wealth as a way to gain leverage on armies of neighboring poleis. Megara specialized in the exportation of wool and other animal products including livestock such as horses, it possessed two harbors, Pegae, to the west on the Corinthian Gulf and Nisaea, to the east on the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. According to Pausanias, the Megarians said that their town owed its origin to Car, the son of Phoroneus, who built the citadel called'Caria' and the temples of Demeter called Megara, from which the place derived its name. In historical times, Megara was an early dependency of Corinth, in which capacity colonists from Megara founded Megara Hyblaea, a small polis north of Syracuse in Sicily.
Megara fought a war of independence with Corinth, afterwards founded Chalcedon in 685 BC, as well as Byzantium. Megara is known to have early ties with Miletos, in the region of Caria in Asia Minor. According to some scholars, they had built up a "colonisation alliance". In the 7th/6th century BCE these two cities acted in concordance with each other. Both cities acted under the sanction of an Apollo oracle. Megara cooperated with that of Delphi. Miletos had her own oracle of Apollo Didymeus Milesios in Didyma. There are many parallels in the political organisation of both cities. In the late 7th century BC Theagenes established himself as tyrant of Megara by slaughtering the cattle of the rich to win over the poor. During the second Persian invasion of Greece Megara fought alongside the Spartans and Athenians at crucial battles such as Salamis and Plataea. Megara defected from the Spartan-dominated Peloponnesian League to the Delian league due to border disputes with its neighbour Corinth and it became one of the causes of the First Peloponnesian War.
By the terms of the Thirty Years' Peace of 446–445 BC Megara was returned to the Peloponnesian League after revolting from the Delian league. In the Peloponnesian War, Megara was an ally of Sparta; the Megarian decree is considered to be one of several contributing "causes" of the Peloponnesian War. Athens issued the Megarian decree with the aim of choking out the Megarian economy; the decree banned Megarian merchants from territory controlled by Athens. The Athenians claimed that they were responding to the Megarians' desecration of the Hiera Orgas, a sacred precinct in the border region between the two states. Arguably the most famous citizen of Megara in antiquity was Byzas, the legendary founder of Byzantium in the 7th century BC; the 6th century BC poet Theognis came from Megara. In the early 4th century BC, Euclid of Megara founded the Megarian school of philosophy which flourished for about a century, which became famous for the use of logic and dialectic. During the Celtic invasion in 279 BC, Megara sent a force of 400 peltasts to Thermopylae.
During the Chremonidean War, in 266 BC, the Megarians were besieged by the Macedonian king Antigonus Gonatas and managed to defeat his elephants employing burning pigs. Despite this success, the Megarians had to submit to the Macedonians. In 243 BC, exhorted by Aratus of Sicyon, Megara expelled its Macedonian garrison and joined the Achaean League, but when the Achaeans lost control of the Isthmus in 223 BC the Megarians left them and joined the Boeotian League. Not more than thirty years however, the Megarians grew tired of the Boeotian decline and returned their allegiance to Achaea; the Achaean strategos Philopoemen fought off the Boeotian intervention force and secured Megara's return, either in 203 or in 193 BC. The Megarians were proverbial for their generosity in endowing temples. Saint Jerome reports "There is a common saying about the Megarians'They build as if they are to live forever. Megara seems to have experienced democracy on two occasions; the first was between 427, when there was a democratic uprising, 424, when a narrow oligarchy was installed.
The second was in the 370s, when we hear that the people of Megara expelled some anti-democratic conspirators. By the 350s, Isocrates is referring to Megara in terms that suggests that it was an oligarchy again. One of the first actions of the new oligarchy in 424 was to compel the people to vote which suggests that the democracy had made use of the secret ballot. Megarian democracy made use of ostracism. Other key institutions of the democracy included a popular Assembly and Council, a board of five generals. Megara is located in the westernmost part of Attica, near the Megara Gulf, a bay of the Saronic Gulf; the coastal plain around Megara is referred to as Megaris, the name of the ancient city state centered on Megara. Megara is 8 km west of Nea Peramos, 18 km west of Eleusis, 19 km east of Agioi Theodoroi, 34 km west of Athens and 37 km east of Corinth; the Motorway 8 connects it with Corinth. The Megara railway station is served by Proastiakos suburban trains to Kiato. There is a small military airfield south of the town, ICAO code LGMG.
The main town Megara had 23,456 inhabitants at the 2011 census. The largest other settlements in the municipal unit are Vlychada, Kineta and Lakka Kalogirou; the municipa
The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, arguably making the peninsula an island; the canal has no locks. It is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.4 metres wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. Nowadays it has little economic importance and is a tourist attraction; the canal was proposed in classical times and a failed effort was made to build it in the 1st century AD. Construction started in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders, it was completed in 1893 but, due to the canal's narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslides from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic expected by its operators. Several rulers of antiquity dreamed of digging a cutting through the isthmus; the first to propose such an undertaking was the tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC.
The project was abandoned and Periander instead constructed a simpler and less costly overland portage road, named the Diolkos or stone carriageway, along which ships could be towed from one side of the isthmus to the other. Periander's change of heart is attributed variously to the great expense of the project, a lack of labour or a fear that a canal would have robbed Corinth of its dominant role as an entrepôt for goods. Remnants of the Diolkos still exist next to the modern canal; the Diadoch Demetrius Poliorcetes planned to construct a canal as a means to improve his communication lines, but dropped the plan after his surveyors, miscalculating the levels of the adjacent seas, feared heavy floods. The philosopher Apollonius of Tyana prophesied that anyone who proposed to dig a Corinthian canal would be met with illness. Three Roman rulers considered the idea but all suffered violent deaths. Caligula, the third Roman Emperor, commissioned a study in 40 AD from Egyptian experts who claimed incorrectly that the Corinthian Gulf was higher than the Saronic Gulf.
As a result, they concluded. Caligula's interest in the idea got no further as he too was assassinated before making any progress; the emperor Nero was the first to attempt to construct the canal breaking the ground with a pickaxe and removing the first basket-load of soil in 67 AD, but the project was abandoned when he died shortly afterwards. The Roman workforce, consisting of 6,000 Jewish prisoners of war, started digging 40–50-metre-wide trenches from both sides, while a third group at the ridge drilled deep shafts for probing the quality of the rock. According to Suetonius, the canal was dug to a distance of four stades – 700 metres – or about a tenth of the total distance across the isthmus. A memorial of the attempt in the form of a relief of Hercules was left by Nero's workers and can still be seen in the canal cutting today. Other than this, as the modern canal follows the same course as Nero's, no remains have survived; the Greek philosopher and Roman senator Herodes Atticus is known to have considered digging a canal in the 2nd century AD, but did not get a project under way.
The Venetians considered it in 1687 after their conquest of the Peloponnese but did not initiate a project. The idea of a canal was revived after Greece gained formal independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830; the Greek statesman Ioannis Kapodistrias asked a French engineer to assess the feasibility of the project but had to abandon it when its cost was assessed at 40 million gold francs—far too expensive for the newly independent country. Fresh impetus was given by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the following year, the government of Prime Minister Thrasyvoulos Zaimis passed a law authorizing the construction of a Corinth Canal. French entrepreneurs were put in charge but, following the bankruptcy of the French company that had attempted to dig the Panama Canal, French banks refused to lend money and the company went bankrupt as well. A fresh concession was granted to the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe in 1881, commissioned to construct the canal and operate it for the next 99 years.
Construction was formally inaugurated on 23 April 1882 in the presence of King George I of Greece. The company's initial capital was 30,000,000 francs, but after eight years of work it ran out of money and a bid to issue 60,000 bonds of 500 francs each flopped when less than half of the bonds were sold; the company's head, István Türr, went bankrupt, as did the company itself and a bank that had agreed to raise additional funds for the project. Construction resumed in 1890 when the project was transferred to a Greek company, was completed on 25 July 1893 after eleven years' work; the canal experienced operational difficulties after completion. The narrowness of the canal makes navigation difficult, its high walls channel wind along its length, the different times of the tides in the two gulfs cause strong tidal currents in the channel. For these reasons, many ship operators were unwilling to use the canal, traffic was far below predictions. Annual traffic of just under 4 million net tons had been anticipated, but by 1906 traffic had reached only half a million net tons annually.
By 1913 the total had risen to 1.5 million net tons, but the
Corinth is an ancient city and former municipality in Corinthia, located in south-central Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit, it is the capital of Corinthia. It was founded as Nea Korinthos or New Corinth in 1858 after an earthquake destroyed the existing settlement of Corinth, which had developed in and around the site of ancient Corinth. Located about 78 kilometres west of Athens, Corinth is surrounded by the coastal townlets of Lechaio, Isthmia and the inland townlets of Examilia and the archaeological site and village of ancient Corinth. Natural features around the city include the narrow coastal plain of Vocha, the Corinthian Gulf, the Isthmus of Corinth cut by its canal, the Saronic Gulf, the Oneia Mountains, the monolithic rock of Acrocorinth, where the medieval acropolis was built. Corinth derives its name from a city-state of antiquity; the site was occupied from before 3000 BC. But historical sources about the city concerns the early 8th century BC, when Corinth began to develop as a commercial center.
Between the 8th and 7th centuries, the Bacchiad family ruled Corinth. Cypselus overthrew the Bacchiad family, between 657 and 550 BC, he and his son Periander ruled Corinth as the Tyrants. In about 550 BC, an oligarchical government seized power; this government allied with Sparta within the Peloponnesian League, Corinth participated in the Persian Wars and Peloponnesian War as an ally of Sparta. After Sparta's victory in the Peloponnesian war, the two allies fell out with one another, Corinth pursued an independent policy in the various wars of the early 4th century BC. After the Macedonian conquest of Greece, the Acrocorinth was the seat of a Macedonian garrison until 243 BC, when the city was liberated and joined the Achaean League. Nearly a century in 146 BC, Corinth was captured and destroyed by Roman armies; as a Roman colony in 44 BC, Corinth flourished and became the administrative capital of the Roman province of Achaea. In 1858, the old city, now known as Ancient Corinth, located 3 kilometres south-west of the modern city, was destroyed by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake.
New Corinth was built to the north-east of it, on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth. In 1928 a magnitude 6.3 earthquake devastated the new city, rebuilt on the same site. In 1933 there was a great fire, the new city was rebuilt again; the Municipality of Corinth had a population of 58,192 according to the 2011 census, the second most populous municipality in the Peloponnese Region after Kalamata. The municipal unit of Corinth had 38,132 inhabitants, of which Corinth itself had 30,176 inhabitants, placing it in third place behind Kalamata and Tripoli among the cities of the Peloponnese Region; the municipal unit of Corinth includes apart from Corinth proper the town of Archaia Korinthos, the town of Examilia, the smaller settlements of Xylokeriza and Solomos. The municipal unit has an area of 102.187 km2. Corinth is a major industrial hub at a national level; the Corinth Refinery is one of the largest oil refining industrial complexes in Europe. Copper cables, petroleum products, medical equipment, gypsum, ceramic tiles, mineral water and beverages, meat products, gums are produced nearby.
As of 2005, a period of deindustrialization has commenced as a large pipework complex, a textile factory and a meat packing facility diminished their operations. Corinth is a major road hub; the A7 toll motorway for Tripoli and Kalamata, branches off the A8/European route E94 toll motorway from Athens at Corinth. Corinth is the main entry point to the Peloponnesian peninsula, the southernmost area of continental Greece. KTEL Korinthias provides intercity bus service in the peninsula and to Athens via the Isthmos station southeast of the city center. Local bus service is available; the city has been connected to the Proastiakos, the Athens suburban rail network, since 2005, when the new Corinth railway station was completed. The port of Corinth, located north of the city centre and close to the northwest entrance of the Corinth Canal, at 37 56.0’ N / 22 56.0’ E, serves the local needs of industry and agriculture. It is a cargo exporting facility, it is an artificial harbour (depth 9 metres, protected by a concrete mole.
A new pier finished in the late 1980s doubled the capacity of the port. The reinforced mole protects anchored vessels from strong northern winds. Within the port operates a customs office facility and a Hellenic Coast Guard post. Sea traffic is limited to trade in the export of local produce citrus fruits, marble and some domestic imports; the port operates as a contingency facility for general cargo ships, bulk carriers and ROROs, in case of strikes at Piraeus port. There was a ferry link to Catania and Genoa in Italy; the Corinth Canal, carrying ship traffic between the western Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, is about 4 kilometres east of the city, cutting through the Isthmus of Corinth that connects the Peloponnesian peninsula to the Greek mainland, thus making the former an island. The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level, it is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.3 metres (70
The Diolkos was a paved trackway near Corinth in Ancient Greece which enabled boats to be moved overland across the Isthmus of Corinth. The shortcut allowed ancient vessels to avoid the long and dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese peninsula; the phrase "as fast as a Corinthian", penned by the comic playwright Aristophanes, indicates that the trackway was common knowledge and had acquired a reputation for swiftness. The main function of the Diolkos was the transfer of goods, although in times of war it became a preferred means of speeding up naval campaigns; the 6 km to 8.5 km long roadway was a rudimentary form of railway, operated from c. 600 BC until the middle of the 1st century AD. The scale on which the Diolkos combined the two principles of the railway and the overland transport of ships remained unique in antiquity; the Diolkos saved ships sailing from the Ionian Sea to the Aegean Sea a dangerous sea journey round the Peloponnese, whose three headlands had a reputation for gales Cape Matapan and Cape Malea.
By contrast, both the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf were sheltered waters. In addition, the overland passage of the Isthmus, a neck of land 6.4 km wide at its narrowest, offered a much shorter route to Athens for ships sailing to and from the Ionian coast of Greece. Ancient literature is silent on the date of the construction of the Diolkos. For Thucydides the Diolkos seemed to be something ancient. Excavated letters and associated pottery found at the site indicate a construction date at the end of the 7th or beginning of the 6th century BC, around the time when Periander was tyrant of Corinth; the Diolkos remained in regular service until at least the middle of the 1st century AD, after which no more written references appear. The trackway was put out of use by Nero's abortive canal works in 67 AD. Much transports of warships across the Isthmus in the late 9th century, around 1150, are assumed to have used a route other than the Diolkos, due to the extensive time lag; the Diolkos played an important role in ancient naval warfare.
Greek historians note several occasions from the 5th to the 1st century BC when warships were hauled across the Isthmus in order to speed up naval campaigning. In 428 BC, the Spartans planned to transport their warships over the Diolkos to the Saronic Gulf to threaten Athens, while in the Peloponnesian War, in 411 BC, they carted over a squadron heading for operations at Chios. In 220 BC, Demetrius of Pharos had a fleet of about fifty vessels dragged across the Isthmus to the Bay of Corinth by his men. Three years a Macedonian fleet of 38 vessels was sent across by Philip V, while the larger warships sailed around Cape Malea. After his victory at Actium in 31 BC, Octavian advanced as fast as possible against Marc Antony by ordering part of his 260 Liburnians to be carried over the Isthmus. In 868 AD, the Byzantine admiral Niketas Oryphas had his whole fleet of one hundred dromons dragged across the Isthmus in a executed operation, but this took place most on a different route. Despite the frequent mentioning of the Diolkos in connection with military operations, modern scholarship assumes that the prime purpose of the trackway must have been the transport of cargo, considering that warships cannot have needed transporting often, ancient historians were always more interested in war than commerce.
Comments by Pliny the Elder and Strabo, which described the Diolkos as being in regular service during times of peace imply a commercial use of the trackway. Coinciding with the rise of monumental architecture in Greece, the construction of the Diolkos may have served for transporting heavy goods like marble and timber to points west and east, it is not known what tolls Corinth could extract from the Diolkos on its territory, but the fact that the trackway was used and maintained long after its construction indicates that it remained for merchant ships an attractive alternative to the trip around Cape Malea for much of antiquity. The Diolkos ran across the narrowest part of the Isthmus, where the trackway followed the local topography in a curved course in order to avoid steeper gradients; the roadway passed the Isthmus ridge at c. 79 m height with an average gradient of 1:70, while the steepest sections rose at a gradient of 1:16.5. Its total length is estimated at 6–7 km, 8 km or 8.5 km depending on the number of supposed bends taken into account.
A total of 1,100 m has been archaeologically traced at its western end close to the Bay of Corinth. There the known trackway began at a mooring place south of the more recent canal and ran parallel to the waterway for a few hundred meters, after which it switched to the north side, running in a slight bend a similar distance along the canal. From there on, the Diolkos either followed in a straight line the course of the modern canal, or swung south in a wide arc; the roadway ended at the Saronic Gulf at the village Schoinos, modern-day Kalamaki, described by Strabo as the trackway's eastern terminal. Sections of the Diolkos have been destroyed by the 19th-century Corinth Canal and other modern installations; the Diolkos was a trackway paved with hard limestone with parallel grooves running about 1.60 metres apart. The roadway was 3.4 to 6 metres wide. Since ancient sources tell little about how the ships were hauled across, the mode of ship transport has to be reconstructed from the archaeological evidence.
The tracks indicate. Eithe
The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus is a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth land bridge which separates the Gulf of Corinth from the Saronic Gulf. During the late Middle Ages and the Ottoman era, the peninsula was known as the Morea, a name still in colloquial use in its demotic form; the peninsula is divided among three administrative regions: most belongs to the Peloponnese region, with smaller parts belonging to the West Greece and Attica regions. In 2016, Lonely Planet voted the Peloponnese the top spot of their Best in Europe list; the Peloponnese is a peninsula that covers an area of some 21,549.6 square kilometres and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893, like other peninsulas that have been separated from their mainland by man-made bodies of waters, it is if referred to as an "island".
It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth, an artificial one by the Rio–Antirrio bridge. The peninsula has a mountainous interior and indented coasts; the Peloponnese possesses four south-pointing peninsulas, the Messenian, the Mani, the Cape Malea, the Argolid in the far northeast of the Peloponnese. Mount Taygetus in the south is the highest mountain in the Peloponnese, at 2,407 metres. Οther important mountains include Cyllene in the northeast, Aroania in the north and Panachaikon in the northwest, Mainalon in the center, Parnon in the southeast. The entire peninsula has been the site of many earthquakes in the past; the longest river is the Alfeios in the west, followed by the Evrotas in the south, the Pineios in the west. Extensive lowlands are found only in the west, with the exception of the Evrotas valley in the south and in the Argolid in the northeast; the Peloponnese is home to numerous spectacular beaches. Two groups of islands lie off the Peloponnesian coast: the Argo-Saronic Islands to the east, the Ionian to the west.
The island of Kythira, off the Epidaurus Limera peninsula to the south of the Peloponnese, is considered to be part of the Ionian Islands. The island of Elafonisos used to be part of the peninsula but was separated following the major quake of 365 AD. Since antiquity, continuing to the present day, the Peloponnese has been divided into seven major regions: Achaea, Argolis, Laconia and Elis; each of these regions is headed by a city. The largest city is Patras in Achaia, followed by Kalamata in Messenia; the peninsula has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Its modern name derives from ancient Greek mythology the legend of the hero Pelops, said to have conquered the entire region; the name Peloponnesos means "Island of Pelops". The Mycenaean civilization, mainland Greece's first major civilization, dominated the Peloponnese in the Bronze Age from its stronghold at Mycenae in the north-east of the peninsula; the Mycenean civilization collapsed at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Archeological research has found that many of its palaces show signs of destruction.
The subsequent period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, is marked by an absence of written records. In 776 BC, the first Olympic Games were held at Olympia, in the western Peloponnese and this date is sometimes used to denote the beginning of the classical period of Greek antiquity. During classical antiquity, the Peloponnese was at the heart of the affairs of ancient Greece, possessed some of its most powerful city-states, was the location of some of its bloodiest battles; the major cities of Sparta, Corinth and Megalopolis were all located on the Peloponnese, it was the homeland of the Peloponnesian League. Soldiers from the peninsula fought in the Persian Wars, it was the scene of the Peloponnesian War of 431–404 BC; the entire Peloponnese with the notable exception of Sparta joined Alexander's expedition against the Persian Empire. Along with the rest of Greece, the Peloponnese fell to the expanding Roman Republic in 146 BC, when the Romans razed the city of Corinth and massacred its inhabitants.
The Romans created the province of Achaea comprising central Greece. During the Roman period, the peninsula remained prosperous but became a provincial backwater cut off from the affairs of the wider Roman world. After the partition of the Empire in 395, the Peloponnese became a part of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire; the devastation of Alaric's raid in 396–397 led to the construction of the Hexamilion wall across the Isthmus of Corinth. Through most of late antiquity, the peninsula retained its urbanized character: in the 6th century, Hierocles counted 26 cities in his Synecdemus. By the latter part of that century, building activity seems to have stopped everywhere except Constantinople, Thessalonica and Athens; this has traditionally been attributed to calamities such as plague and Slavic invasions. However, more recent analysis suggests that urban decline was linked with the collapse of long-distance and regional commercial networks that underpinned and supported late antique urba
The Saronic Gulf or Gulf of Aegina in Greece is formed between the peninsulas of Attica and Argolis and forms part of the Aegean Sea. It defines the eastern side of the isthmus of Corinth, being the eastern terminus of the Corinth Canal, which cuts across the isthmus; the gulf includes the islands of Aegina and Poros along with smaller islands of Patroklos and Fleves. The port of Piraeus, Athens' port, lies on the northeastern edge of the gulf; the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport is in the northeast. Beaches line much of the gulf coast from Poros to Epidaurus, Galataki to Kineta and from Megara to Eleusis and from Piraeus down to Anavyssos. Athens' urban area surrounds the eastern coasts of this gulf. Bays in the gulf include Phaleron Bay, Elefsina Bay to the north, Kechries Bay in the northwest and Sofiko Bay in the east; the volcano of Methana is located to the southwest along with Kromyonia at the Isthmus of Corinth and Poros. Methana is the youngest most active volcano center and forms the northwestern end of the cycladic arch of active volcanoes that includes Milos island, Santorini island and Nisyros island.
A hydropathic institute at Methana makes use of the hot sulphurous water that still surfaces in the area. The most recent eruption was of a submarine volcano north of Methana in the 17th century; the gulf has refineries around the northern part of the gulf including east of Corinth and west of Agioi Theodoroi, Aspropyrgos and Keratsini. These refineries produce most of Greece's refined petroleum products, a large proportion of which are exported. Commercial shipping to the refineries, to and from the canal make the gulf quite a busy area with commercial shipping; the origin of the name comes from the mythological king Saron. The Saronic Gulf was a string of six entrances to the Underworld, each guarded by a chthonic enemy in the shape of a thief or bandit; the Battle of Salamis, just to the west of modern-day Piraeus, was a major turning point in European history which saw the Athenians defeat Xerxes, assuring Athens its place as the cradle of modern European culture. Fault lines dominate in the northwestern part.
The port of Cenchreae used to be situated here. Kechries Bay Saronic Bay Coast Lower Galataki Basin Upper Galataki Basin Examilia Basin Athikia Basin Loutro Basin Megara Bay/Megara Gulf Cephissus River Cephissus between Piraeus and Phaliron. Cape Lomvardi - SW of Vouliagmeni Sailing is popular in the Saronic Gulf which, like the neighbouring Argolic Gulf, benefits from the Attic mainland's partial shelter from the summer Meltemi wind that can reach Force 7 and above further to the east in the Aegean islands; the Gulf boasts two notable archaeological sites: the ancient theatre at Epidaurus and nearby asclepieion and the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina. The Saronic Gulf is one of congregating areas for short-beaked common dolphins in Aegean Sea. On recent occasions, more of large whales such as fin whales have been sighted in the gulf due to improving environmental conditions. Megara Gulf