Messenia


Messenia
/meuh see"nee euh, -seen"yeuh/, n.
a division of ancient Greece, in the SW Peloponnesus: an important center of Mycenaean culture.

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 ancient district and modern nomós (department) of the southwestern Peloponnese, Greece, bounded on the east by the Taygetus Mountains (Taí¨yetos Óros), on the north by the Nédha Potamós (river) and the Arcadian mountains, and on the south and west by the Ionian Sea. Kalámai, at the head of the Messiniakós Kólpos (gulf), is the departmental capital. The heart of the province is the plain of Messenia, or Pámisos River Valley, historically one of the most fertile in Greece. It produces oranges, citrons, almonds, figs, grapes, and olives of the highest quality for export. It is bounded on the north by Tetrázion Óros and on the west and southwest by the foothills of the Kiparissías Óri. Off the southwest coast of the Akrítas peninsula lie the three Oinoúsai islands and the islet of Venétiko. The most notable of Messenia's Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements is the magnificent Mycenaean palace of Nestor north of Pylos (Pílos) on the Ionian Sea, discovered in 1939.

      According to Homeric legend, the southwestern Peloponnese was governed during Mycenaean times by the family of Neleides, originating in Iolcos, near modern Vólos, in Thessaly. The Dorians invaded Messenia after 1200 BC and intermingled with the inhabitants to form a single people. About 735 the aggressive Spartans invaded, annexing the central plain. Several more conflicts with Sparta occurred. In the 7th century BC the Messenians lost their remaining territory to Sparta, which enslaved those inhabitants who did not flee. Revolts in 490 and 465/464 were staged from the fortress citadel of Ithome, but c. 460 the defenders left the Peloponnese.

      After the Battle of Leuctra in 371, the heavily fortified city of Messene was established. While the city flourished, the province remained depopulated; eventually it joined the Achaean League, which proved ineffective in protecting Messenia from Spartan onslaughts. In 146 the Messenians were brought under Roman rule as part of the province of Achaea.

      In the Middle Ages Messenia shared the fortunes of the rest of the Peloponnese; it was overrun by Slavic hordes and was a battlefield for Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and Turks, as the ruins of such medieval strongholds as Kalámai, Koróni, Methóni, and Pílos attest. Pop. (1981) 159,818.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • MESSENIA — provinc. Peloponnesi, versus Austrum inter Laconiam ad Ortum, et Elidem ad Occasum, a Septentrione habens Arcadiam, inter sinus Messeniacum et Cyparissium. Nunc pars est provinc. Belvedere. Sub Turcis …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Messenia — [mə sē′nē ə, məsēn′yə] 1. ancient region in the SW Peloponnesus bordering on the Ionian Sea 2. department of modern Greece in the same general area …   English World dictionary

  • Messenia — For the ancient region, see Messenia (ancient region). Messenia Περιφερειακή ενότητα Μεσσηνίας   Regional unit   …   Wikipedia

  • Messenia — geographical name region S Greece in SW Peloponnese bordering on Ionian Sea …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Messenia — noun Also Messinia. A region in southwestern Peloponnese which has its modern capital at Kalamata. The original capital was at Messene …   Wiktionary

  • MESSENIA —    a province of Greece, mainly the fertile peninsula between the Gulfs of Arcadia and Coron; in ancient times the Messenians were prosperous, excited Spartan envy, and after two long wars were conquered in 668 B.C. and fled to Sicily …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Messenia — Mes•se•ni•a [[t]məˈsi ni ə, ˈsin yə[/t]] n. ara geg a division of ancient Greece, in the SW Peloponnesus …   From formal English to slang

  • Messenia — /mɛˈsiniə/ (say me seeneeuh) noun the south western area of the Peloponnesus in southern Greece …   Australian English dictionary

  • Messenia — /meuh see nee euh, seen yeuh/, n. a division of ancient Greece, in the SW Peloponnesus: an important center of Mycenaean culture …   Useful english dictionary

  • Messenia (ancient region) — Messenia Μεσσηνία Region of Ancient Greece Burial chamber, Pylos …   Wikipedia


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