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Culture History Archaic Era - Roman Period Larissa

520-510 B.C. – Red- figure painted of Athenian type, C- shaped, painted by Euergides, Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)
457 B.C. – Tombstone of warrior Theotimos, Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)
425-400 B.C. – Tombstone of a mother feeding her child, Village Rodia, Tirnavos city (Archaeological Museum of Larissa)
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)
4th century B.C. – Red- figure painted krater, Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)
430-400 B.C. – Coin made my silver with a bullfighting representation, Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)
350 B.C. – Coin made by silver, Larissa
(Photo: Archive of 15th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities)

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Archaic Era - Roman Period
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Administration - Hegemonic Houses (7th century B.C. until the 2nd century B.C.)


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Larissa means fortress or acropolis and it is a Pelasgian- prothessalian name. According to mythology, the city was built by Larissos, the son of Pelasgos, approximately 4000 years ago.

It is also said that nymph Larissa while playing with her ball at the edge of the Pinios River, had an accident; she fell and lost her life, it is because of it, that the city took her name. The nymph Larissa was the wife of Poséidon and mother of Achaios and Pelasgos or according to another version, she was daughter of Pelasgos. She is represented at the facets of the ancient coins of the city.

In Larissa, according to the archaeological indications, dwelling has begun at the First Period of Copper in the current position of the hill called “Frourio” until today. It is the same position where acropolis was discovered.
During Archaic Period (end of 7th century B.C.) Larissa, the capital of Pelasgiotis State, was based on acropolis. The inhabitants of Thessaly dominated Prothessalian Pelasgian races; afterwards, they were divided into four racial states which were called “squadrons”. Land of each Thessalian State was divided analogically to each squadron’s power; the wider region of four States was bordered of the two valleys which Pinios River and the mountains Olympos and Ossa, characteristically distinct them.

Populations inhabited peripherally to this wider region were excluded by Thessalian Alliance of Squadrons which included Pelasgiotis State, Estiaiotis State, Thessaliotis State and Fthiotis State. The mythic personality of Alevas, according to Aristotle, was inspired this segregation. Thessalian states, mentioned above, created also another alliance “the Public of Thessalians” at the end of 7th century B.C., which was an administrative mainly institution. Thessalian Alliance of Squadrons, according to German historian Friedrich Stahlin, remained in force until 196 B.C., while it is reported for last time at the ages that Philippos the Second dominated Thessaly.

In period of crisis, powerful hegemonic houses, such as house of Alevas, undertook its confrontation by military forces and they set themselves up as provisional sovereigns or else known in Greek as "tagoi= means leaders". When crisis ended up, they tried to maintain their power and to turn the symbolic capital, which they had accumulated with hereditary way, to their advantage. As first leader is reported Alevas the Pyrros, founder of hegemonic house of Larissa. He organised the alliance militarily. The infantry was not included in these military compositions. Thessalians traditionally raised many horses so “the real protagonist” in the field of battle, was cavalry rather than infantry. Moreover, horse as a subject in many artworks was a particularly favourite one as well as in the facets of currencies many years ago.

The hegemonic house of Alevas, in any case, didn’t proved to be neither politically effective either proposed a particularly successful social nor other type of policy, especially during the period that Persian king Xerxes invaded ancient Greece. The only change was that of the character of the hegemonic house of Alevas, which was shifted to a large extent, from the politics into economic practices and Larissa became the main city of Thessalian monetary union (1).

However, intellectual life of Larissa was quite interesting, as hegemonic families such as of Alevas’ family, very often invited philosophers and important personalities. Among them, they were the poets Anakreontas, Simonides, Pindaros, Vakhylides, the sophist Gorgias and the father of medical science, Hippocrates. Also, of great importance was the distinguished personality Philo of Larissa, who was born in Larissa 159/158 B.C. and died 84/83 B.C. He travelled to Athens and there he became student of Klitomachos. According to Sextus Empiricus, he was the founder of Fourth Academy of Plato (2). He was also mentor of Antiochus Askalonites.
He left Athens during First Persian War, and returned in Rome. Unfortunately, his books weren’t preserved. Philo of Larissa is believed that belonged in the philosophical faculty of Sceptics (3).

References in Greek language:
(1) Stählin F., Η αρχαία Θεσσαλία (Θεσσαλονίκη: Εκδοτικός Οίκος Αδελφών Κυριακίδη α.ε./ Φιλολογικός Ιστορικός Λογοτεχνικός Σύνδεσμος (Φ.Ι.Λ.Ο.Σ.) Τρικάλων, 2008), Σειρά: Κείμενα και Μελέτες, 2η Έκδοση διορθωμένη

References in English language:
(2) Sextus Empiricus, Hypotyp. i. 220

(3) Brittain C., Philo of Larissa (Oxford University Press, 2001) ISBN 0198152981