Trachis

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Trachis (Greek: Τραχίς, Trakhís) was a region in ancient Greece. Situated south of the river Spercheios, it was populated by the Malians. It was also a polis (city-state).[1]

Its main town was also called Trachis until 426 BC, when it was refounded as a Spartan colony and became Heraclea Trachinia. It is located to the west of Thermopylae. Trachis is located just west of the westernmost tip of the island of Euboea, north of Delphi. Near this place archaeologists discovered tombs from the Mycenaean period.[2]

According to Greek mythology Trachis was the home of Ceyx and Alcyone. Heracles went to Trachis after the death of Eunomus. The town is mentioned by Homer (as one of the cities subject to Achilles[3]) and for the last time in antiquity by Pausanias.[4]

Trachis/Heraclea in ancient and modern times[edit]

In antiquity the settlement was famous for being at the base of the mountain where Heracles is said to have died (Mount Oeta) as well as being the place where the descendants of Heracles settled. During the Greco-Persian wars, the fertile plains of Heraclea saw the landing and encampment of the Persian army as they marched to Thermopylae.

The settlement formerly known as "Trachis" was renamed "Heraclea in Trachis/Trachinia" by the Spartans, who sent a garrison in 427 BC to guard the Trachinian plain against the marauding highland tribes of Oeta, and built a citadel close by the Asopus gorge.[5] But their attempted settlement during the Peloponnesian war failed, due to the hostility of the Thessalians.[6] For a short time the Spartans were displaced by the Thebans. After a bloody defeat at the hands of the neighbouring mountaineers in 409, the Spartan governor quarrelled with the native settlers, whom he expelled in 399. Four years later Thebes used her new predominance in central Greece to restore the Trachinians, who retained Heraclea until 371, when the Thessalonian ruler Jason of Pherae seized and dismantled it. The fortress was rebuilt, and after 280 served the Aetolians as a bulwark against Celts and Macedonians. It was captured in 191 by the Romans, but restored to the Aetolian League until 146, after which it fell into obscurity, and Strabo described it as mostly deserted.[5]

During the Greek War of Independence the area was famous for its resistance fighters or klephts, a term which means mountain fighters or bandits, and includes those who opposed the Turkish Haraç poll tax upon agricultural commodities. In World War II, the area saw significant resistance to the Germans. A vital railroad bridge linking southern and northern Greece was destroyed here.

Today the village of Heraclea is a thriving agricultural community. Recent excavations have also revealed a series of small tombs at the foothills of Oeta near the banks of the Asopus river.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mogens Herman Hansen & Thomas Heine Nielsen (2004). "Thessaly and Adjacent Regions". An inventory of archaic and classical poleis. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 713. ISBN 0-19-814099-1.
  2. ^ Trachis was identified as a Mycenaean site by R. Hope Simpson and J. F. Lazenby, "The Kingdom of Pelius and Achilles," Antiquity, XXXIII (1933), 103.
  3. ^ Homer Iliad 2.682
  4. ^ Pausanias, Guide to Greece 10.22.1
  5. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCaspari, Maximilian Otto Bismarck (1911). "Trachis". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 116.
  6. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.[1], citing Thucydides 3.92 http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Thuc.%203.92&lang=original and Diodorus 2.59 http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Diod.%2012.59&lang=original