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Argos

Argos (/ˈɑːrɡɒs, -ɡəs/; Modern Greek: Άργος [ˈarɣos]; Ancient Greek: Ἄργος [árɡos]) is a city in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Also a former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see. It is the biggest town in Argolis and a major center for the area.
Since the 2011 local government reform it has been part of the municipality of Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres (7 miles) from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour. A settlement of great antiquity, Argos has been continuously inhabited as at least a substantial village for the past 7,000 years.The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
A resident of the city of Argos is known as an Argive (pronounced /ˈɑːrɡaɪv/, “ahr-gyv”). However, this term is also used to refer to those ancient Greeks generally who assaulted the city of Troy during the Trojan War; the term is more widely applied by the Homeric bards.
Numerous ancient monuments can be found in the city today, the most famous of which is the Heraion of Argos. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local economy.
Etymology
The name of the city is very ancient and several etymological theories have been proposed as an explanation to its meaning. The most popular one maintains that the name of the city is a remainder from the Pelasgian language, i.e. the one used by the people who first settled in the area, in which Argos meant “plain”. Alternatively, the name is associated with Argos, the third king of the city in ancient times, who renamed it after himself, thus replacing its older name Foronikon Asty (Φορωνικόν Άστυ). It is also believed that “Argos” is linked to the word “αργός” (argós), which meant “white”; possibly, this had to do with the visual impression given of the argolic plain during harvest time. According to Strabo, the name could have even originated from the word “αγρός” (=field) by antimetathesis of the consonants.
History
Antiquity
As a strategic location on the fertile plain of Argolis, Argos was a major stronghold during the Mycenaean era. In classical times Argos was a powerful rival of Sparta for dominance over the Peloponnese, but was eventually shunned by other Greek city-states after remaining neutral during the Greco-Persian Wars.
There is evidence of continuous settlement in the area starting with a village about 7000 years ago in the late Neolithic, located on the foot of Aspida hill. It was colonized in prehistoric times by the Pelasgian Greeks. Since that time, Argos has been continually inhabited at the same geographical location. Its creation is attributed to Phoroneus, with its first name having been Phoronicon Asty, or the city of Phoroneus. The historical presence of the Pelasgian Greeks in the area can be witnessed in the linguistic remainders that survive up to today, such as the very name of the city and “Larissa”, the name of the city’s castle located on the hill of the same name, meaning “citadel”.
The city, located at a rather privilegious area, among Nemea, Corinth and Arcadia also benefited by its proximity to lake Lerna, which, at the time, was at a distance of one kilometre from the south end of Argos. During the Dorian invasion, c. 1100 BC, Argos was divided into four neighbourhoods, each of them inhabited by a different phyle.
Argos was a major stronghold of Mycenaean times, and along with the neighbouring acropolis of Mycenae and Tiryns became a very early settlement because of its commanding positions in the midst of the fertile plain of Argolis. Argos experienced its greatest period of expansion and power under the energetic 7th century BC ruler King Pheidon. Under Pheidon, Argos regained sway over the cities of the Argolid and challenged Sparta’s dominance of the Peloponnese. During this time of its greatest power, the city boasted a pottery and bronze sculpturing school, pottery workshops, tanneries and clothes producers. Moreover, at least 25 celebrations took place in the city, in addition to a regular local products exhibition. A sanctuary dedicated to Hera was also found at the same spot where the monastery of Panagia Katekrymeni is located today.
Argos remained neutral or the ineffective ally of Athens during the 5th century BC struggles between Sparta and Athens. This, however, lead to its weakening and loss of power, which lead to the shift of commercial focus from the Ancient Agora to the eastern side of the city, delimited by Danaou and Agiou Konstadinou streets.
Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Ottoman rule and independence
Under Rome, Argos was part of Achaia province, and after its division of Peleponnesus Secundus, where it was a suffragan bishopric of its capital Corinth’s Metropolitan archbishop.
In the aftermath of the so-called Fourth Crusade, the Crusaders captured the castle called built on Larissa Hill, the site of the ancient Acropolis, and the area become part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia. In 1388 it was sold to the Republic of Venice, but was taken by the despot of Mystra (Morea) Theodore I Palaiologos before the Venetians could take control of the city; he sold it anyway to them in 1394. The Crusaders established a Latin bishopric.
During Ottoman rule, Argos was divided in four mahalas, or quarters; the Roman mahala, Liepur mahala, Bekir Efenti mahala and Karamoutza or Besikler mahala, respectively corresponding to what is now the northeastern, the northwestern, the southwestern and southeastern part of the city. The Roman mahala was also called the “quarter of the unfaithful of Archos town” in Turkish documents, whereas Liepur mahala (the quarter of the Rabbits) was composed mostly of Albanian emigrants and well-reputed families. As far as Karamoutza mahala is concerned, it was home to the most prominent Turks and boasted a mosque (modern-day church of Agios Konstadinos), a Turkish cemetery, Ali Nakin Bei’s serail, Turkish baths and a Turkish school. It is also at this period when the open market of the city is first organised on the site north to Kapodistrias’ barracks, at the same spot where it is held in modern times. Interestingly, a mosque would have existed there, too, according to the city planning most Ottoman cities followed.
Argos grew exponentially during this time, with its sprawl being unregulated and without planning. As French explorer Pouqueville noted, “its houses are not aligned, without order, scattered all over the place, divided by home gardens and uncultivated areas”. Liepur mahala appears to have been the most organised, having the best layout, while Bekir mahala and Karamoutza mahala were the most labyrinthine. However, all quarters shared the same type of streets; firstly, they all had main streets which were wide, busy and public roads meant to allow for communication between neighbourhoods (typical examples are, to a great extent, modern-day Korinthou, Nafpliou and Tripoleos streets). Secondary streets were also common in all four quarters since they lead to the interior of each mahala, having a semi-public character, whereas the third type of streets referred to dead-end private alleys used specifically by families to access their homes. Remnants of this city layout can be witnessed even today, as Argos still preserves several elements of this Ottoman type style, particularly with its long and complicated streets, its narrow alleys and its densely constructed houses.
In 1397, the Ottomans plundered Argos, carrying off much of the population, to sell as slaves.[11] The Venetians repopulated the town and region with Albanian settlers, granting them long-term agrarian tax exemptions. Together with the Greeks of Argos, they supplied stratioti troops to the armies of Venice. Some historians consider the French military term “argoulet” to derive from the Greek “argetes”, or inhabitant of Argos, as a large number of French stratioti came from the plain of Argos.
With the exception of a period of Venetian domination in 1687–1715, Argos remained in Ottoman hands until the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, when wealthy Ottoman families moved to nearby Nafplio due to its stronger walling.
At that time, as part of the general uprising, many local governing bodies were formed in different parts of the country, and the “Consulate of Argos” was proclaimed on 28 March 1821, under the Peloponnesian Senate. It had a single head of state, Stamatellos Antonopoulos, styled “Consul”, between 28 March and 26 May 1821.
Later, Argos accepted the authority of the unified Provisional Government of the First National Assembly at Epidaurus, and eventually became part of the Kingdom of Greece. With the coming of governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, the city underwent efforts of modernisation. Being an agricultural village, the need for urban planning was vital. For this reason, in 1828, Kapodistrias himself appointed mechanic Stamatis Voulgaris as the creator of a city plan which would offer Argos big streets, squares and public spaces. However, both Voulgaris and, later, French architect de Borroczun’s plans were not well received by the locals, with the result that the former had to be revised by Zavos. Ultimately, none of the plans were fully implemented. Still, the structural characteristics of de Borroczun’s plan can be found in the city today, despite obvious proof of pre-revolutionary layout, such as the unorganised urban sprawl testified in the area from Inachou street to the point where the railway tracks can be found today.
After talks concerning the intentions of the Greek government to move the Greek capital from Nafplio to Athens, discussions regarding the possibility of Argos also being a candidate as the potential new capital became more frequent, with supporters of the idea claiming that, unlike Athens, Argos was naturally protected by its position and benefited from a nearby port (Nafplio). Moreover, it was maintained that construction of public buildings would be difficult in Athens, given that most of the land was owned by the Greek church, meaning that a great deal of expropriation would have to take place. On the contrary, Argos did not face a similar problem, having large available areas for this purpose. In the end, the proposition of the Greek capital being moved to Argos was rejected by the father of king Otto, Ludwig, who insisted in making Athens the capital, something which eventually happened in 1834.
Argos in Greek mythology
The mythological kings of Argos are (in order): Inachus, Phoroneus, Argus, Triopas, Agenor, Iasus, Crotopus, Pelasgus (aka Gelanor), Danaus, Lynceus, Abas, Proetus, Acrisius, Perseus, Megapenthes, Argeus and Anaxagoras. An alternative version supplied by Tatian of the original 17 consecutive kings of Argos includes Apis, Argios, Kriasos and Phorbas between Argus and Triopas, explaining the apparent unrelation of Triopas to Argus.
The city of Argos was believed to be the birthplace of the mythological character Perseus, the son of the god Zeus and Danaë, who was the daughter of the king of Argos, Acrisius.
After the original 17 kings of Argos, there were three kings ruling Argos at the same time (see Anaxagoras), one descended from Bias, one from Melampus, and one from Anaxagoras. Melampus was succeeded by his son Mantius, then Oicles, and Amphiaraus, and his house of Melampus lasted down to the brothers Alcmaeon and Amphilochus.
Anaxagoras was succeeded by his son Alector, and then Iphis. Iphis left his kingdom to his nephew Sthenelus, the son of his brother Capaneus.
Bias was succeeded by his son Talaus, and then by his son Adrastus who, with Amphiaraus, commanded the disastrous Seven Against Thebes. Adrastus bequeathed the kingdom to his son, Aegialeus, who was subsequently killed in the war of the Epigoni. Diomedes, grandson of Adrastus through his son-in-law Tydeus and daughter Deipyle, replaced Aegialeus and was King of Argos during the Trojan war. This house lasted longer than those of Anaxagoras and Melampus, and eventually the kingdom was reunited under its last member, Cyanippus, son of Aegialeus, soon after the exile of Diomedes.
Ecclesiastical history
After Christianity became established in Argos, the first bishop documented in extant written records is Genethlius, who in 448 CE took part in the synod called by Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople that deposed Eutyches from his priestly office and excommunicated him. The next bishop of Argos, Onesimus, was at the 451 Council of Chalcedon. His successor, Thales, was a signatory of the letter that the bishops of the Roman province of Hellas sent in 458 to Byzantine Emperor Leo I the Thracian to protest about the killing of Proterius of Alexandria. Bishop Ioannes was at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680, and Theotimus at the Photian Council of Constantinople (879).
For the Orthodox succession, see Metropolis of Argolis.
Under ‘Frankish’ Crusader rule, Argos became a Latin Church bishopric in 1212, which lasted as a residential see until Argos was taken by the Ottoman Empire in 1463 but would be revived under the second Venetian rule in 1686

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