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Pylos

Pylos [pei'-los] is the name of two sites in relatively close proximity to one another on the western coast of the Peloponnesus [pel"-&-po-nee'-s&s] of Greece. Of these sites, one is dated to the Bronze Age and contains the remains of a large Mycenean[?] [mei-s&n-nee'-&n] Palace, and the other to the classical period, when it was made famous by the Athenian forces' victory over and occupation of Sparta during the Peloponnesian [pel"-&-po-nee'-zh&n] War. These two locations have nothing in common with one another except the name "Pylos"; "pylos" in Greek means "gate."

The Bronze Age site, which was excavated by C. W. Blegen[?] in 1952, is located at modern Ano Englianos[?], [aa'-noh eng-lee'-a-nos] about 9 km north-east of the bay of Navarino[?]. [naa"-vaa-ree'-noh] Blegen called the remains of a large Mycenean Palace found there the "Palace of Nestor[?]," after the character Nestor, who ruled over the "Sandy Pylos" of the Homeric poems. We do not know whether this site is the palace mentioned in the Homeric poems or for that matter whether Nestor even existed. Linear B tablets found by Blegen, however, clearly demonstrate that the site itself was called Pylos by its Mycenean inhabitants. This site was abandoned sometime after the 8th century B.C.E. and was apparently unknown in the classical period.

The classical site is most likely located on the rocky promontory now known as Coryphasium [ko"-ru-fa'-see-&m] at the northern edge of the Bay of Navarino. This site is featured prominently in Thucydides' [thoo-sid?-i-deez] History of the Peloponnesian War because of the dramatic success, in 425 B.C.E., of the Athenian demagogue Cleon [klee'-on] in seizing and occupying the city where the Athenian general Demosthenes [de-maws'-th&-neez] had failed. Cleon's success lead in turn to the capture of a number of Spartan troops on the adjacent island of Sphacteria, [sfak-teer'-ee-&] modern Sphagia. [sfa-gee'-a] A detailed account of the incident is given in book 4, sections 2-41. Spartan anxiety over the return of the prisoners, who had been captured on the island and brought back to Athens as hostages, contributed to their acceptance of the Peace of Nicias [ni'-see-as] in 421 (book 5, section 15.1). The Athenians kept a garrison at Pylos until 409.

An earlier version of the above article was posted on Nupedia (http://www.nupedia.com/article/460/). This article is open content.



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