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Corinth, city, Greece
Corinth, city, United States
(Korinthos), an ancient Greek city-state on the Isthmus of Corinth, 6 km southwest of the modern city of Corinth. Excavations at the site of ancient Corinth have uncovered traces of a settlement from the second millennium B.C.
Corinth was founded by the Dorians, probably in the tenth century B.C. In myths, Corinth was considered the home of Medea, Sisyphus, and Bellerophon. In the eighth and seventh centuries Corinth established many colonies, including Syracuse, Corcyra, and Potidaea, and maintained trade relations with Miletus, Lydia, Phrygia, Cyprus, and Egypt. The Corinthians were particularly active along the coasts of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Corinth had two harbors, Lechaeum on the west and Cenchreae on the east. The city-state’s citadel, Acrocorinth (575 m above sea level), dominated the southern routes from central Greece. Corinth was famous for its bronze artifacts and pottery.
In the eighth century an oligarchy was established in Corinth. After a fierce struggle between the demos and the clan aristocracy in the seventh century, the oligarchy was overthrown and a tyranny established. The period of Corinth’s greatest flowering coincided with the rule of the tyrants Cypselus and Periander (c. 657–585), when a strong navy was built, many colonies planted, and the city greatly expanded. The oligarchy was restored soon after Periander’s death. At the end of the sixth century Corinth joined the Peloponnesian League, headed by Sparta. During the Graeco-Persian Wars, Corinthians fought at Thermopylae and Plataea and in the naval battles of Salamis and Mycale.
Rivalry between Athens and Corinth was a major cause of the Peloponnesian War (431–404). Corinth led Argos, Thebes, Athens, and other city-states in waging the Corinthian War (395–387) against Sparta, which was becoming increasingly powerful.
During the Hellenistic period Corinth was occupied by Macedonian forces from 338 to 197, excluding the years 243–222. In the second century B.C. it joined the other Greek city-states in their struggle against the Romans, as a result of which it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 and its inhabitants sold into slavery.
In 46 B.C. Caesar settled freed slaves in Corinth, and when, in 27 B.C., the Roman province of Achaea was formed, Corinth became its capital. Sacked by the Goths in A.D. 395 and again in 521, it was rebuilt in the reign of Justinian.
Since 1896, with some interruptions, Corinth has been extensively excavated by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Partially preserved monuments include the majestic and austere Temple of Apollo, an outstanding work of archaic architecture (Doric peripteros, c. 550); the sanctuary of Apollo (Roman peristyle and temple of the fourth century B.C.); a Roman agora with propylaea (A.D. 15), temples, and the fountain of Peirene; Greek and Roman dwellings; and temples, an odeum, and a theater from Roman times. Among other remains found near Corinth are the classical and medieval fortifications on Acrocorinth; the ruins of a sanctuary of Poseidon (fifth century B.C.), a stadium (early fourth century B.C.), and a Roman theater and baths, all on the isthmus; and the sixth-century fortress built by Justinian and other vestiges of classical and medieval fortifications. Finds from the excavations are preserved in the Archaeo-logical Museum of Corinth.
REFERENCESCorinth. Results of Excavations, vols. 1–16. Cambridge (Mass.), 1929–66. (American School of Classical Studies at Athens.)
Will, E. Korinthiaka. Paris, 1955. (Bibliography.)
a city and port in Greece, on the Isthmus of Corinth, at the entrance to the Corinth Canal. It is the administrative center of the nomes of Corinth (the Peloponnesus region). Population, 20,800 (1971). Railroad junction and commercial center. Currants and olive oil are produced and exported. The city was founded in 1818. It was destroyed by earthquakes in 1858 and 1928. Nearby, 6 km to the southwest, are the ruins of ancient Corinth.