Peloponnesus

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Peloponnesus

(pĕl'əpənē`səs) or

Pelopónnisos

(pâ'lôpô`nyēsôs), formerly

Morea

(mōrē`ə), peninsula (1991 pop. 1,086,935), c.8,300 sq mi (21,500 sq km), S Greece. It is linked with central Greece by the Isthmus of Corinth, and it is washed by the Aegean Sea on the east and southeast, by the Ionian Sea on the southwest and west, and by the gulfs of Pátrai and Corinth on the north. Its deeply indented south coast terminates in Cape Matapan. Mainly mountainous, the region includes the Taygetus, Kyllene, and Erímanthos mts. The Evrótas and Alfiós are the chief rivers. Near Pátrai in the north, the Charilaos Trikoupis, or Rio–Antirrio, Bridge (2004) connects the peninusula with mainland Greece.

Economy

Predominately agricultural and pastoral, the Peloponnesus produces currants, grapes, figs, citrus fruit, olives, tobacco, and wheat. The most fertile parts of the peninsula are the coastal strips in the north and west. Sheep and goat raising, textile manufacturing, fishing, and sericulture are major sources of income. There are deposits of pyrite, manganese, lignite, and chromium. The peninsula attracts many tourists; the port cities of Pátrai, Corinth, Kalamata, and Návplion are the main modern centers of the Peloponnesus.

History

Originally populated by Leleges and Pelasgians (said to have been the builders of MycenaeMycenae
, ancient city of Greece, in Argolis. In historical times it had little importance and was usually dependent on Argos. Its significance is in its remote past as a center of Mycenaean civilization.
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 and TirynsTiryns
, ancient city of Greece, in the NE Peloponnesus, 2.5 mi (4 km) N of Nauplia (now Návplion) and near Argos. The site seems to have been inhabited since the 3d millennium B.C. It was a city of splendor from c.1600 to c.1100 B.C.
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), the peninsula was later occupied by the AchaeansAchaeans,
people of ancient Greece, of unknown origin. In Homer, the Achaeans are specifically a Greek-speaking people of S Thessaly. Historically, they seem to have appeared in the Peloponnesus during the 14th and 13th cent. B.C., and c.1250 B.C. they became the ruling class.
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 and then by the DoriansDorians,
people of ancient Greece. Their name was mythologically derived from Dorus, son of Hellen. Originating in the northwestern mountainous region of Epirus and SW Macedonia, they migrated through central Greece and into the Peloponnesus probably between 1100 and 950 B.C.
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, who dominated the Peloponnesus in historic times. The chief ancient divisions of the Peloponnesus were Elis, Achaea, Argolis, and the city-state of CorinthCorinth
or Kórinthos
, city (1991 pop. 27,412), capital of Corinth prefecture, S Greece, in the NE Peloponnesus, on the Gulf of Corinth. It is a port and major transportation center trading in olives, tobacco, raisins, and wine.
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 in the north; Arcadia in the center; and Lacedaemonia (comprising MesseniaMessenia
, ancient region of SW Greece, in the Peloponnesus and corresponding to the modern nome of Messinías. Excavation has revealed an important center of Mycenaean culture at Pylos dating from the 13th cent. B.C. From the 8th cent. B.C.
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 and Laconia) in the south. SpartaSparta
, city of ancient Greece, capital of Laconia, on the Eurotas (Evrótas) River in the Peloponnesus. Spartan Society

Sparta's government was headed by two hereditary kings furnished by two families; they were titular leaders in battle and in religion.
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, Corinth, ArgosArgos
, city of ancient Greece, in NE Peloponnesus, 3 mi (4.8 km) inland from the Gulf of Argos, near the modern Nauplia. It was occupied from the early Bronze Age and is mentioned in Homer's Iliad as the kingdom of Diomed.
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, and megalopolismegalopolis
[Gr.,=great city], a group of densely populated metropolitan areas that combine to form an urban complex. It was first used in its modern sense by Jean Gottman (1957) to describe the huge urban area along the eastern seaboard of the United States from Boston to
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 were among its chief cities in ancient times.

With the exception of Achaea and Argos, the whole peninsula participated in the Persian WarsPersian Wars,
500 B.C.–449 B.C., series of conflicts fought between Greek states and the Persian Empire. The writings of Herodotus, who was born c.484 B.C., are the great source of knowledge of the history of the wars.
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 (500–449 B.C.). At the time of the Peloponnesian WarPeloponnesian War
, 431–404 B.C., decisive struggle in ancient Greece between Athens and Sparta. It ruined Athens, at least for a time. The rivalry between Athens' maritime domain and Sparta's land empire was of long standing. Athens under Pericles (from 445 B.C.
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 (5th cent. B.C.) almost the entire peninsula was dominated by Sparta. Spartan hegemony, which after the defeat of Athens extended over all Greece, was broken in the 4th cent. B.C. by Epaminondas of Thebes, who thus prepared the way for the establishment of Macedonian supremacy over the Peloponnesus by Philip II of Macedon. The Second Achaean LeagueAchaean League
, confederation of cities on the Gulf of Corinth. The First Achaean League, about which little is known, was formed presumably before the 5th cent. B.C. and lasted through the 4th cent. B.C. Its purpose was mutual protection against pirates.
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, unable to shake off the Macedonian yoke, was ended in 146 B.C. by the Roman conquest of the Peloponnesus. Under Roman and Byzantine rule the Peloponnesus was reduced to provincial status and in the centuries that followed was repeatedly raided and invaded by Slavs, Bulgars, and Pechenegs.

When, in 1204, the leaders of the Fourth Crusade established the Latin Empire of Constantinople (see Constantinople, Latin Empire ofConstantinople, Latin Empire of,
1204–61, feudal empire established in the S Balkan Peninsula and the Greek archipelago by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade (see Crusades) after they had sacked (1204) Constantinople; also known as the empire of Romania
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), the French Villehardouin family received the principality of Achaia or Achaea (i.e., the Peloponnesus) as fief, except for several ports, which passed to Venice. A French feudal state was created and enjoyed a period of great prosperity and chivalrous culture under the Villehardouin princes. Many castles remain to show the unique mixture of French feudal culture and Hellenistic civilization that flourished in the Peloponnesus in the 13th cent. After the death (1278) of William of Villehardouin, the last prince, the principality passed first to the Angevin dynasty of Naples (by marriage), later to various nobles, and in 1383 to a body of Navarrese soldier-adventurers.

The Byzantine Greeks meanwhile had gradually recovered a good part of the peninsula, and in 1432 they achieved complete control. Their triumph, however, was short-lived, for by 1460 Sultan Muhammad II had conquered the peninsula and annexed it to the Ottoman Empire. In the Turko-Venetian Wars from the 15th cent. until the Treaty of Passarowitz (1718), Venice held parts of the Peloponnesus at various times and the entire peninsula from 1687 to 1715. As a result of the Greek War of Independence (1821–29) the peninsula passed to independent Greece.

Peloponnesus

 

a peninsula in Greece, the southern part of the Balkan peninsula. It is connected with the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth, which is cut by the Corinth Canal. Area, 21,500 sq km.

The Peloponnesus is washed by the waters of the Ionian and Aegean seas and their gulfs. Its shoreline is deeply indented, with many gulfs, bays, and peninsulas. Mountains predominate, composed primarily of Mesozoic and Paleogenic limestones, marbles, sandstones, conglomerates, and marls and schists. The chief mountain ranges, which have rocky limestone crests, are the Taiyetos, with elevations to 2,404 m (at Mount Ayios Ilias), and Parnon. In the central part is the Arcadian karst plateau, with karren, conical depressions, and poljes.

The Peloponnesus has a subtropical Mediterranean climate. Annual precipitation ranges from 400 mm in the east to 1,000 mm in the west; in summer there is drought. The peninsula’s vegetation is primarily scrub and evergreen (maquis) in the west and evergreen deciduous (xerophytic) in the east. On the western windward slopes are remnants of oak, fir, and pine forests. Much of the area is rocky wasteland. Olives, citrus and other fruits, tobacco, wheat, and corn are cultivated in the basins and valleys, and there are orchards. Livestock is raised, primarily sheep and goats. The cities of Sparta, Corinth, and Patras are located on the Peloponnesus, as are the ruins of Mycenae and Olympia.

R. A. ERAMOV

References in periodicals archive ?
A large part of the attractions of the Peloponnesos was the scenery: dramatic mountains, great gorges, a deeply indented shore line, and little population density.
I was also drawn to the Peloponnesos because of the Mani Peninsula in the south, famous for its desolate landscape, abandoned fortress villages, and fierce early residents--"a proud and courageous people" according to the Michelin Guide, supposedly descended from the Spartans, "exclusive and bellicose" and filled with "a spirit of adventure.
The Peloponnesos also abounds in famous ruins (such as Epidaurus, Mycenae, and Olympia), which I tend to find of lesser interest since in many instances there is more left to the imagination than to the eye on these sites, at any rate for those of us archeologically challenged.
Goette (DaM 5: 71-80) discusses a third-century Roman mosaic in the Tartus Museum that shows Alpheus and a female figure Goette interprets as a personification of Peloponnesos.