MESSENIA (Gr. M€ rcr vrl or M€o o vta) , the S.W.
See also:district of the Peloponnese, bounded on the E. by Mt Taygetus, on the N. by the
See also:river Neda and the Arcadian Mountains, on the S. and W. by the
See also:sea . Its
See also:area is some 825,000 acres, considerably less than that of
See also:Shropshire or
See also:Wiltshire . Historically and economically its most important
See also:part is the
See also:great plain, consisting of two distinct portions, watered by the river Pamisus (mod . Pirnatza) and its affluents . This is the most fertile
See also:tract in
See also:Greece, and at the
See also:day produces oranges, citrons, almonds,
See also:figs, grapesand olives in great abundance and of excellent quality . The plain, is bounded on the
See also:north by the Nomian Mountains (mod . Tetrasi, 5210 ft.) and their
See also:westerly extension, on the west by the mountains of Cyparissia (4000 ft.), a
See also:southern continuation of which forms the south-west peninsula of the Morea, attaining its greatest height in Mt Mathia (mod . Lyk6dimo 316o ft.) . Off the south
See also:coast of. this peninsula lie the three . Oenussae islands and the islet of . Theganussa (Venetik6) . In spite of its long coast-
See also:line, Messenia has no
See also:good harbours except the
See also:Bay of
See also:Pylos (
See also:Navarino), and has never played an important part in Greek
See also:history .
The earliest inhabitants of Messenia are said to have been
See also:Pelasgians and
See also:Leleges (qq.v.), of whom the latter had their capital at Andania . Then came an Aeolo-Minyan immigration, which apparently extended to Messenia, though the Pylos of Nestor almost certainly
See also:lay in Triphylia, and not at the site which in historic times
See also:bore that name . In the Homeric poems eastern Messenia is represented as under the
See also:rule of
See also:Menelaus of
See also:Sparta, while the western coast is under the Neleids of Pylos, but after Menelaus's
See also:death the Messenian frontier was pushed eastwards a's' far as Taygetus . A
See also:body of
See also:Dorians under Cresphontes invaded the
See also:country from
See also:Arcadia, and, taking..as their capital Stenyclarus in the
See also:northern plain, extended first their
See also:suzerainty and then their rule over the whole district . The task apparently proved an easy one, and the Dorians blending with the previous inhabitants produced a single Messenian
See also:race with a strong
See also:national feeling . But the fertility of the
See also:soil, the warm and genial
See also:climate,. the mingling of races and the
See also:absence of opposition, combined to render the Messenians no match for their
See also:hardy and warlike neighbours of Sparta . War broke out—in consequence, it was said, of the
See also:murder of the Spartan
See also:king Teleclus by the Messenians—which, in spite of the heroism of King Euphaes and his successor
See also:Aristodemus (q.v.) ended in the subjection of Messenia to Sparta (c . 720 B.C.) . Two generations later the Messenians revolted and under the leadership of
See also:Aristomenes (q.v.) kept the Spartans at bay for some seventeen years (648-631 B.e., according to
See also:Grote): but the stronghold of Ira (Eira) fell after a
See also:siege of eleven years, and those Messenians who did not leave the country were reduced to the
See also:condition of
See also:helots . The next revolt broke out in 464, when a severe
See also:earthquake destroyed Sparta and caused great loss of
See also:life; the insurgents defended themselves for some years on the
See also:rock-citadel of Ithome, as they had done in the first war; but eventually they had, to leave the Peloponnese and were settled by the Athenians at Naupactus in the territory of the
See also:Locri Ozolae . After the
See also:battle of
See also:Leuctra (371 B.C.)
See also:Epaminondas invited the exiled Messenians scattered in Italy,
See also:Sicily, Africa and elsewhere to return to their country: the city of
See also:Messene (q.v.) was founded in 369 to be the capital of the country and, like
See also:Megalopolis in Arcadia, a powerful check on Sparta . Other towns too were founded or rebuilt at this
See also:time, though a great part of the
See also:land still remained very sparsely peopled .
See also:independent Messenia never became really powerful or able to stand without
See also:external support . After the fall of the Theban power, to which it had owed its foundation, it became an ally of
See also:Philip II. of Macedon and took no part in the battle of
See also:Chaeroneia (338 B.c.) . Subsequently it joined the Achaean
See also:League, and we find Messenian troops fighting along with the
See also:Achaeans and Antigonus Doson at Sellasia in 222 B.C . Philip V. sent
See also:Demetrius of Pharos to seize'Messene, but the attempt failed and cost the life of Demetrius: soon afterwards the Spartan
See also:tyrant Nabis succeeded in taking the city, but was forced to retire by the timely arrival of the
See also:Philopoemen and the Megalopolitans . A war afterwards broke out with the Achaean League, during which Philopoemen was captured and put to death by the Messenians .(183 B.c.), but Lycortas took the city in the following
See also:year, and it again joined the Achaean League, though much weakened by the loss of Abia, Thuria and Pherae, which broke loose from it and entered the League as independent members (see ACHAEAN LEAGUE) . In 146 B.C. the Messenians, together with the other states of Greece, were brought directly under
See also:Roman sway by L .
See also:Mummius . For centuries there had been a dispute between Messenia and Sparta about the possession of the Ager Dentheliates on the western slope of Taygetus: after various decisions by Philip of Macedon, Antigonus, Mummius, Caesar, Antony,
See also:Augustus and others, the question was settled in A.D . 25 by Tiberius and the
See also:Senate in favour of the Messenians (Tac .
See also:Ann. iv . 43) . In the
See also:middle ages Messenia shared the fortunes of the
See also:rest of the Peloponnese .
It was overrun by Slavic hordes, who have
See also:left their traces in many
See also:village names, and was one of the chief battlefields of the various powers—Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Turks— who struggled for the possession of the Morea . Striking reminders of these conflicts are afforded by the extant ruins of the
See also:medieval strongholds of Kalamata, Coron (anc . Asine, mod . Korone), Modon (Methane) and Pylos . At the present day Messenia forms a department with its capital at Kalamata, and a population numbering (according to the
See also:census of 1907), 127,991 . See W . M .
See also:Leake, Travels in the Morea (
See also:London, 1830), i . 324 sqq . ; E . Curtius, Peloponnesos (
See also:Gotha, 1852), ii . 121 sqq.; C .
See also:Bursian, Geographie von Griechenland (
See also:Leipzig, 1868), iii . 155 sqq . ; E . P . Boblaye, Recherches geographiques
See also:les ruins de la Moree (
See also:Paris, 1835), 103 sqq . ;
See also:Strabo viii . 358 sqq . ;
See also:Pausanias iv., and the commentary in J . G . Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece, vol. iii . ; and articles by W . Kolbe, Athenische Mitteilungen (1904), 364 sqq., and M .
See also:Tod, Journal of Hellenic Studies,
See also:xxv . 32 sqq .
See also:Physical features: A . Philippson, Der Peloponnes (Berlin, 1892), 340-381 . Inscriptions: Inscriptiones graecae, v.; Le Bas-Foucart, Voyage archeologique: Inscriptions, Nos . 291–326 A; Collitz-Bechtel, Sammlung der griech . Dialektinschriften, iii . 2, Nos . 4637-4692 . (M .
MESSIAH (Dan. x. 25, 26)
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