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AEGINA (EGINA or ENGIA)

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Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 253 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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AEGINA (EGINA or ENGIA), an island of Greece in the Saronic Gulf, 20 M. from the Peiraeus. Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of Aeacus, who was born in and ruled the island. In shape Aegina is triangular, 8 m. long from N.W. to S.E., and 6 m. broad, with an area of about 41 sq. m. The western side consists of stony but fertile plains, which are well cultivated and produce luxuriant crops of grain, with some cotton, vines, almonds and figs. The rest of the island is rugged and mountainous. The southern end rises in the conical Mount Oros, and the Panhellenian ridge stretches northward with narrow fertile valleys on either side. From the absence of marshes the climate is the most healthy in Greece. The island forms part of the modern norms of Attica and Boeotia, of which it forms an eparchy. The sponge fisheries are of considerable importance. The chief town is Aegina, situated at the north-west end of the island, the summer residence of many Athenian merchants. Capo d'Istria, to whom there is a statue in the principal square, erected there a large building, intended for a barracks, which was subsequently used as a museum, a library and a school. The museum was the first institution of its kind in Greece, but the collection was transferred to Athens in 1834. Antiquities. The archaeological interest of Aegina is centred in the well-known temple on the ridge near the northern corner of the island. , Excavations were made on its site in 181r by Baron Haller von Hallerstein and the English architect C. R. Cockerell, who discovered a considerable amount of sculpture from the pediments, which was bought in 1812 by the crown prince Louis of Bavaria; the groups were set up in the Glyptothek at Munich after the figures had been restored by B. Thorvaldsen. Their restoration was somewhat drastic, the ancient parts being cut away to allow of additions in marble, and the new parts treated in imitation of the ancient weathering. Various conjectures were made as to the arrangement of the figures. That according to which they were set up at Munich was in the main suggested by Cockerell; in the middle of each pediment was a figure of Athena, set well back, and a fallen warrior at her feet; on each side were standing spearmen, kneeling spearmen and bowmen, all facing towards the centre of the composition; the corners were filled with fallen warriors. In 1901 Professor Furtwangler began a more systematic excavation of the site, and the new discoveries he then made, together with a fresh and complete study of the figures and fragments in Munich, have led to a rearrangement of the whole, which, if not certain in all details, may be regarded as approaching finality. According to this the figures of combatants do not all face towards the centre, but are broken' up, as in other early compositions, into a series of groups of two or three figures each. A figure of Athena still occupies the centre of each pediment, but is set farther forward than in the old reconstruction. On each side of this, in the western pediment, is a group of two combatants over a fallen warrior; in the eastern pediment, a warrior whose opponent is falling into the arms of a supporting figure; other figures also—the bowmen especially—face towards the angles, and so give more variety to the composition. The western pediment, which is more conservative in type, represents the earlier expedition of Heracles and Telamon against Troy; the eastern, which is bolder and more advanced, probably refers to episodes in the Trojan war. There are also remains of a third pediment, which may have been produced in competition, but never placed on the temple. For the character of the sculptures see GREEK ART. The plan of the temple is chiefly remarkable for the unsymmetrically placed door leading from the back of the cella into the opisthodomus. This opisthodomus was completely fenced in with bronze gratings; and the excavators believe it to have been adapted for use as an adytum (shrine). It was disputed in earlier times whether the temple was dedicated to Zeus or Athena. Inscriptions found by the recent excavations seem to prove that it must be identified as the shrine of the local goddess Aphaea, identified by Pausanias with Britomartis and Dictynna. The excavations have laid bare several other buildings, including an altar, early propylaea, houses for the priests and remains of an earlier temple. The present temple probably dates from the time of the Persian wars. In the town of Aegina itself are the remains of another temple, dedicated to Aphrodite; one column of this still remains standing, and its foundations are fairly preserved. History.—(1) Ancient. Aegina, according to Herodotus (v. 83), was a colony of Epidaurus, to which state it was originally subject. The discovery in the island of a number of gold ornaments belonging to the latest period of Mycenaean art suggests the inference that the Mycenaean culture held its own in Aegina for some generations after the Dorian conquest of Argos and Lacedaemon (see A. J. Evans, in Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. xiii. p. 195). It is probable that the island was not dorized before the 9th century B.C. One of the earliest facts known to us in its history is its membership in the League of Calauria, which included, besides Aegina, Athens, the Minyan (Boeotian) Orchomenos, Troezen, Hermione, Nauplia and Prasiae, and was probably an organization of states which were still Mycenaean, for the suppression of the piracy which had sprung up in the Aegean as a result of the decay of the naval supremacy of the Mycenaean princes. It follows, therefore, that the maritime importance of the island dates back to pre-Dorian times. It is usually stated, on the authority of Ephorus, that Pheidon (q.v.) of Argos established a mint in Aegina. Though this statement is probably to be rejected, it may be regarded as certain that Aegina was the first state of European Greece to coin money. Thus it was the Aeginetans who, within thirty or forty years of the invention of coinage by the Lydians (c. 700 B.C.), introduced to the western world a system of such incalculable value to trade. The fact that the Aeginetan scale of coins, weights and measures was one of the two scales in general use in the Greek world is sufficient evidence of the early commercial importance of the island. It appears to have belonged to the Eretrian league; hence, perhaps, we may explain the war with Samos, a leading member of the rival Chalcidian league in the reign of King Amphicrates (Herod. iii. 59), i.e. not later than the earlier half of the 7th century B.C. In the next century Aegina is one of the three principal states trading at the emporium of Naucratis (q.v.), and it is the only state of European Greece that has a share in this factory (Herod. ii. 178). At the beginning of the 5th century it seems to have been an entrep6t of the Politic grain trade, at a later date an Athenian monopoly (Herod. vii. 147). Unlike the other commercial states of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., e.g. Corinth, Chalcis, Eretria and Miletus, Aegina founded no colonies. The settlements to which Strabo refers (viii. 376) cannot be regarded as any real exceptions to this statement. The history of Aegina, as it has come down to us, is almost exclusively a history of its relations with the neighbouring state of Athens. The history of these relations, as recorded by Herodotus (v. 79-89; vi. 49-51, 73, 85-94), involve critical problems of some difficulty and interest. He traces back the hostility of the two states to a dispute about the images of the goddesses Damia and Auxesia, which the Aeginetans had carried off from Epidaurus, their parent state. The Epidaurians had been accustomed to make annual offerings to the Athenian deities Athena and Erechtheus in payment for the Athenian olive-wood of which the statues were made. Upon the refusal of the Aeginetans to continue these offerings, the Athenians endeavoured to carry away the images. Their design was miraculously frustrated—according to the Aeginetan version, the statues fell upon their knees,—and only a single survivor returned to Athens, there to fall a victim to the fury of his comrades' widows, who pierced him with their brooch-pins. No date is assigned by Herodotus for this " old feud "; recent writers, e.g. J. B. Bury and R. W. Macan, suggest the period between Solon and Peisistratus, c. 570 B.C. It may be questioned, however, whether the whole episode is not mythical. A critical analysis of the narrative seems to reveal little else than a series of aetiological traditions, explanatory of cults and customs, e.g. of the kneeling posture of the images of Damia and Auxesia, of the use of native ware instead of Athenian in their worship, and of the change in women's dress at Athens from the Dorian to the Ionian style. The account which Herodotus gives of the hostilities between the two states in the early years of the 5th century B.C. iS to the following effect. Thebes, after the defeat by Athens about 507 B.C., appealed to Aegina for assistance. The Aeginetans at first contented themselves with sending the images of the Aeacidae, the tutelary heroes of their island. Subsequently, however, they entered into an alliance, and ravaged the sea-board of Attica. The Athenians were preparing to make reprisals, in spite of the advice of the Delphic oracle that they should desist from attacking Aegina for thirty years, and con-tent themselves meanwhile with dedicating a precinct to Aeacus, when their projects were interrupted by the Spartan intrigues for the restoration of Hippias. In 491 B.C. Aegina was one of the states which gave the symbols of submission (" earth and water ") to Persia. Athens at once appealed to Sparta to punish this act of. medism, and Cleomenes I. (q.v.), one of the Spartan kings, crossed over to the island, to arrest those who were responsible for it. His attempt was at first unsuccessful ; ----------------------------------------NORTH TERRACE WALL O .memo tlr+e-1 . , SI LOWER TERRACE WALL Reproduced by permission from Fu.-twang/er, Aegina, das Heiligtum der Aphaia
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