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Text #8704

Ambraseys. Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East
[p. 91]

A damaging earthquake in central Greece. This event is known only from an inscription1, which dates it to before Antigonus Doson invaded Phocis (228–224 BC). The inscription2 records a plea for help made by the Aetolians and Dorians for the reconstruction of the walls of their towns, particularly of Cytenium, which were destroyed partly in earthquakes that occurred prior to the invasion and partly by Antigonus’ army. Cytenium was situated in the upper reaches of the river Ciphissus, not far from modern Gravia. There is some evidence that this or a separate earthquake destroyed the walls of Melitaea and that the king of the Athamanian tribe paid for their reconstruction.

The date of these events is not certain. It has been suggested3 that the ruin of Melitaea was due to the same earthquake as that which damaged Cytenium, about 40 km to the south of Melitaea. If this is the case, the earthquake should have been a relatively large event, and it is thus strange that it has not left a better record in literary sources.

‘The Dorians of the Metropolis who live at Cytenium send greetings to the council of the people of Xanthus. We and the Aetolians have sent to you as ambassadors Lamprias the son of Pancleus, Aenetus son of Polytas and Phegeus son of Sotion to give you a report in accordance with their instructions. At the time when king Antigonus invaded Phocis, it befell us that parts of the walls of all our cities fell in the earthquakes and our young men rushed for help to the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. When the king reached Doris he demolished the walls of all our cities and burned down the houses. We beg you to be mindful of our kinship with you and not to disregard the ruins of Cytenium, the largest city of our country . . .’ (Robert 1978, 406, Xanthus inscription).

‘Amynder Machaeus gave ten talents of silver for the gate and for the walls’ (Maier 1959, 136–138).

  1. Robert, L. (1978), ‘Documents d’Asie Mineure’, BCH, 102, 395–408.

  2. Bousquet, J. (1988), ‘Le stele des Kyteniens au Letoon de Xanthos’, Rev. Etudes Grecq., 101, 12–53.

  3. ibid.

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