Ithomi (mountain)

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View from ancient Messene over the village of Mavromati up to the summit of Ithomi
View from the summit of Ithomi down to the Messenian plain

Ithomi ( modern Greek Ιθώμη ( f. Sg. ), Ancient Greek Ἰθώμη Ithṓmē , residents: Ἰθωμάτης Ithōmátēs or Ἰθωμαῖος Ithōmaĩos ) is a 780 meter high limestone mountain in the Messenia countryside on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula . In ancient Greece, there was a mountain fortress of the same name on it, which served ancient Messene as an acropolis . Like the monastery Voulkanos (Greek: Moni Voulkano Μονή Βουλκάνου), formerly also Vourkano, Vurkano or Voulkani , which was later built on the summit , the mountain was called in the Middle Ages, which possibly goes back to a so-called Byzantine landlord who once owned the land around the mountain owned.


Strabo derives Ithōmē from thōmos ( θωμός ), after Strabo earlier also thōmē ( θῶμη ) 'pile', which probably meant either the mountain pile or the rock pile of the fortress.


The mountain Ithomi rises with its secondary peak Eva (Εύα, ancient Greek Eúa ) west of the Pamisos river , which marks its division into the lower, actual Messenian plain in the south and the Stenyklaros plain further north. It towers over the Messenian plain, visible from afar, and was of great strategic importance for the connection between the megalopolis and the sea.


On the summit was a sanctuary of Zeus, who was therefore also called Zeus Ithōmētas ( Ἰθωμήτας ), Doric Ithōmatas ( Ἰθωμάτας ). According to a Messenian legend, Klepsydra Zeus was born on the mountain at the source and bathed and raised there by the nymphs Ithome and Neda . There the Ithomaia ( Ἰθωμαῖα ), a festival in honor of Zeus, took place. On the foundations of the sanctuary of Zeus, the above mentioned monastery was built in Byzantine times.


The summit was fortified with a wall and served as a refuge for the Messenians. Aristodemus defended them against the Spartans in the lost First Messenian War (743–724 BC). In the lost Third Messenian War (464–455 BC) the fortress on the Ithōmē was besieged by the Spartans for ten years. After the victory of the Thebans over the Spartans in 370/369 BC between the Ithome and the secondary summit Eua. Chr. Messene was founded as the capital for the liberated new Messenia . The Ithome was included as an acropolis in the city fortifications. The ancient Messene is now one of the largest archaeological sites in Greece.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Pausanias 4, 13, 6.
  2. Strabo 9: 5, 17.
  3. Thucydides 1,103,2.
  4. Pausanias 33.2.
  5. Pausanias 4,33,1.
  6. prose novel by Myron of Priene on the First Messenian War, Pausanias 4.9 to 13.
  7. Thucydides 1,101-103; Diodorus 11.64 4; 15,66,4; Herodotus 9,35,2.
  8. Pausanias 4,26,6-27,8; 29.5; 31.4; 33.1f.

Coordinates: 37 ° 11 ′  N , 21 ° 56 ′  E