The area to the north-west of the Rio – Antirrio bridge is home to numerous extremely interesting antique ruins and remains of cities often referred to by Pausanias, but not visited. Sometimes we can only guess for the reason, sometimes it is also known. For example, Pausanias tells that Emperor Augustus, among other things, dismantled ancient Calydon and transferred the inhabitants of the moribund town to Patras, thinking “better one big, flourishing town than ten poor hamlets.” In the case of Makyneia, Molykrion and Pleuron, the reason that Pausanias did not visit them is unknown, but here too dismantling by Augustus is obvious. If not, the towns may have been largely deserted before August. Nevertheless, some of the most interesting are discussed in this page.
Located between Chalkis and Molykreion, ancient Makyneia has been identified with the remains of an ancient city just west of Antirrio on a hill known as Palaiokastro. Makyneia was originally a Lokrian city, but later came into the hands of the Aitolians. The city flourished in Hellenistic times, and was probably destroyed by Philippos V in 218 or 207 B.C. He is not mentioned by Pausanias. The poor remains of an acropolis have been found on Palaiokastro, and a small theater and a temple. The acropolis was protected by a defensive wall (consisting of two walls with rubble in between) with 8 towers and two bastions, currently very dilapidated. The photo shows the great bridge of Rhion in the background, and the theater may have originally served for public assemblies. 14 rows of benches have been preserved, but the skènè has completely disappeared. In front of the guest of honor there was a stone throne on the north side of the cavea.
The cape known today as Antirrio fell in ancient times under a Corinthian colony called Molykreion. This town, between Naupaktos and Antirrio, originally also ruled the Poseidon Shrine in Rhion, until the Achaians mastered it. The exact location is controversial. The temple on the acropolis near the modern village of Velvina is sometimes attributed to Molykreion, but this is also discussed, given its location in the inland. This temple (14 x 31 m.) originally had 6 x 13 columns. The location is exceptionally beautiful, overlooking the Corinthian gulf and (in the distance) Naupaktos. Besides the temple there are the remains of the priest’s house, a second temple and the (very meager) remains of a colonnade.
Pausanias (9.31) mentions Molykreion only in connection with the murder of the Greek poet Hesiodos, who raped a girl. Her brothers murdered Hesiodos in revenge and fled from Naupaktos to Molykreion. There they would have misbehaved towards Poseidon, who was apparently venerated there, and died.
Above: twice the remains of the temple of Velvina from the air, below: the second temple on the acropolis, and the priest’s residence on the acropolis of Velvina.
The town of Chalcis was already known in Homer as one of the towns of the Aetolians, where it is mentioned in the so-called Ship catalog, a list of the participating Greeks in the Trojan war:
“The Aetolians were under the command of Thoas, the
son of Andraimon, the inhabitants of Pleuron,
Olenos and Pylene, the seaside Chalcis and the
rocky Calydon. ”
It is now no more than a beautiful location by the sea, except for the meager remains of a Byzantine church higher up inland. The favorable location of the ancient acropolis is clearly visible from that spot.