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PYLOS (mod. Navarino)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 680 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PYLOS (mod. Navarino), in ancient geography a town and bay on the west coast of Messenia, noted chiefly for the part it played in the Peloponnesian War. The bay, roughly semi-circular in shape, is protected by the island of Sphacteria (mod. Sphagia), over 22 M. long from N. to S., and is entered by two channels, that on the S., some 1,400 yds. wide, and that on the N., 220 yds. wide and now almost silted up. To the north lies an extensive shallow basin, called the lagoon of Osman Aga, originally part of the great harbour but now cut off from it by a narrow sandbank. North of Sphagia is the rocky headland of Pylos or Coryphasium, called in modern times Palaeo-Navarino or Palaeokastro, from the Venetian ruins on its summit. Originally an island, this headland was in classical times, as now, connected by a narrow bar with the lower promontory of Hagios Nikolaos on the north; it is now united to the mainland also by the sandbar already mentioned. Most scholars, ancient and modern, have identified this with the Homeric Pylos, the home of Neleus and Nestor,and a cave on the north slope of Coryphasium is pointed out as that in which Hermes hid the stolen cattle of Apollo. But this view presents considerable difficulties, and Strabo (viii. 348 sqq.) argued that the Pylos of Nestor must be the place of that name in Triphylia. After the Dorian migration Pylos declined, and it is referred to by Thucydides (iv. 3) as a deserted headland in 425 B.C. In May of that year, the seventh of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians sent an expedition to Sicily under command of Eurymedon and Sophocles. With them was the general, Demosthenes, who landed at Coryphasium with a body of Athenian troops and hastily fortified it. The Spartans, who were then invading Attica, withdrew their forces and attacked them vigorously by sea and land, but were re-pulsed, and the Athenians were enabled by the arrival and victory of their fleet to blockade on the island of Sphacteria a body of 420 Spartiates with their attendant helots. A truce was concluded, but peace negotiations were defeated by Cleon (q.v.), who was himself appointed to conduct operations with Demosthenes. A large body of light troops was landed and drove the Spartans from their encampment by a well in the middle of the island to its northern extremity. Their heroic resistance was overcome by a rear attack directed by a Messenian, who led a body of men by a difficult path along the cliffs on the east, and the 292 Spartan survivors laid down their arms 72 days after the beginning of the blockade. Their surrender made a deep impression on the whole Greek world, which had learned to regard small hole near the bottom, through which the pygmy crawls on all fours. Ten or twelve of these arbours constitute a village. These arbours are only temporary habitations, as the pygmies are always moving on to different portions of the forest in pursuit of game. The Philippine Pietas show the same nomadic tendencies. The dwellings of the Malay Semangs are mere lean-to's, constructed of matted palm-leaves, while the Karons of New Guinea live in wretched hovels of foliage and branches, and in some districts have no habitations whatever. The pygmies are seldom if ever tillers of the soil. The African forest dwarfs live mainly on the flesh of birds, deer and other animals, which they shoot with bows and arrows. They eat white ants, bee grubs and the larvae of beetles, also honey, wild beans and mushrooms. They are fond of fruits, particularly bananas, which they obtain from their bigger neighbours by barter or by plunder. They eat the vegetables raw, while the meat is broiled in the ashes of the fire until quite dry. Their utensils consist solely of a few clay cooking-pots and gourds for water. There is no record of cannibalism among the pygmy races. The six Mambute pygmies brought to England in 1906 soon became acclimatized. They took most kindly to European diet and clothing. At the expiry of eighteen months they went back to the Ituri forest much improved in health, having each gained on an average 91 lb in weight. They are most daring hunters, and marvellously skilful archers. Though of small size they are well made and agile, and are able to dart in and out with the greatest of ease amongst the tall tangled vegetation of the tropical woodlands. The Batwa, from the south of the Congo, successfully attack elephants, shooting them with their tiny poisoned arrows. The poison is obtained from the juice of certain plants, and also from decaying animal matter derived from the putrefaction of ants. The Andaman pygmies live exclusively by hunting and fishing. The African pygmies marry at a very early age, often when only nine or ten years old. Marriage is simply a question of the purchase of the girl from her father; the purchase-price being from ten to fifteen arrows, occasionally supplemented, in the case of a desirable wife, by one or two spears or some tobacco. A man may have as many wives as he can afford to buy. A mother gives birth to her offspring in the forest, severing the navel-cord with her teeth, and burying the placenta in the ground. The families are usually small, rarely exceeding three in number. There is great rejoicing when a boy is born, while the unlucky girl baby is beaten by her father with plantain leaves. The boys are often circumcised. There is great affection between the husband and the wife and between the parents and the children. The duration of life is short in the equatorial forests, death usually taking place before the age of forty. The dead are buried in graves, the chief's wives being sometimes killed and buried along with him. The African pygmies have little if any belief in life after death. They say death is the end of everything. They have a vague belief in ' Oudah," a sort of pygmy devil, who is responsible for sudden death and such-like calamities. There is no trace of spirit or ancestor worship. The Andaman Islanders have a vague belief in a sort of god—" Puluga "—an invisible being who lives in a large stone house in the sky, and who made all things. They also believe in an evil one, to whom they attribute sickness and death. There is no hereditary chief. In many cases a group of pygmies simply cluster round a skilful hunter. In the case of the Mambute pygmies, a chief is succeeded, not by his son, but by his best friend. There are no governmental laws. Murder in the Ituri forest is punished by the next-of-kin lying in wait for the culprit and killing him. The Negrilloes are fond of music and have numerous folk-songs. They also twang on stringed bows, and beat drums made of hollowed-out tree trunks covered in at the ends with antelope skin. They are also great dancers, keeping perfect time to the beating of the drums their bodies going through the most extraordinary contortions. They all dance together in a long line, which twists about like a snake. The forest dwarfs have some idea of drawing, each arrow shaft having its distinctive carving. The Andamanese display a consider-able degree of intelligence. The Karons of New Guinea, on the other hand, seem to be of a low type of intelligence. The Negrilloes have acquired a great reputation among the neighbouring tribes for their knowledge of poisons and their antidotes. Their treatment of all pains and inflammations consists in linear scarification of the skin of the affected part. They invariably use sharpened arrow-heads for this purpose. Close observation has convinced the present writer that the African pygmies are endowed with a high degree of intelligence. Sir Harry Johnston believes them to be the intellectual superiors of the big negroes. They exhibit vivacity and adroitness, quickness in picking up information and languages, and surprising readiness in grasping the salient points of a subject. They are wonderful mimics, and have a marked sense of humour, making witty remarks which set the others off into peals of laughter. They are as a rule bright and cheerful in disposition, will sometimes fly into sudden fits of ill temper and as quickly recover their good humour. They are cleanly in their habits, have a natural sense of a Spartan surrender as inconceivable, and to Sparta their loss was so serious that the Athenians might have concluded the war on very favourable terms had they so wished. Though Pylos should have been ceded to Sparta under the terms of the peace of Nicias (421 B.c.) it was retained by the Athenians until the Spartans recaptured it early in 409 B.C. (Diodorus xiii. 64). In the middle ages the name Pylos was replaced by that of Avarino ('A(3apivos) or Navarino, derived from a body of Avars who settled there; the current derivation from the Navarrese Company, who entered Greece in 1381 and built a castle at this spot, cannot now be maintained (Eng. Hist. Review, xx. 307, xxi. Io6; Hermathena, xxxi. 430 sqq.). From 1498 to 1821 Navarino was in the hands of the Turks, save at two periods when it was held by the Venetians, who named it Zonklon. In 1821 the Greeks captured the town, situated near the southern extremity of the bay, but in 1825 they had to retire before Ibrahim Pasha. On the loth of October 1827, however, his fleet of 82 vessels was annihilated in the Bay of Navarino by 26 British, French and Russian ships under Admiral Codrington (see NAVARINO, THE BATTLE OF). See W. M. Leake, Travels in the Morea, i. 398 sqq. (London, 183o), and Peloponnesiaca, 190 sqq. (London, 1846); E. Curtius, Peloponnesos, ii. 173 sqq. (Gotha, 1852); C. Bursian, Geographie von Griechenland, ii. 175 sqq. (Leipzig, 1868) ; Pausanias iv. 36, and the commentary in J. G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece, iii. 456 sqq., v. 6o8 sqq. (London, 1898) ; W. G. Clark, Peloponnesus, 214 sqq. (London, 1858); W. Vischer, Erinnerungen and Eindn2cke arts Griechenland, 431 sqq. (Basel, 1857) ; G. Grote, History of Greece, pt. ii. ch. 52; G. Busolt, Griechische Geschichte, iii. 1086 sqq.; F. M. Cornford, Thucydides mythistoricus, 82 sqq. (London, 1907). The operations at Pylos, described by Thucydides iv. 2-41, have been discussed on the basis of personal observation by Dr G. B. Grundy (Journal of Hellenic Studies, xvi. i sqq. ; Classical Review, x. 371 sqq., xi. 155 q., 448; J.H.S., xviii. 232 sqq.) and Professor R. M. Burrows (J.II.S., xvi. 55 sqq.; C.R. xi. I sqq.; J.H.S., xviii. 147 sqq., 345 sqq.; C.R. xis. 129 sqq.). Though differing on many points, they agree in thinking (1) that the island of Sphagia is the ancient Sphacteria, Palaeokastro the ancient Coryphasium or Pylos; (2) that in 425 B.C. the lagoon of Osman Aga was navigable and communicated by a navigable channel with the Bay of Navarino; (3) that Thucydides, if the MS. reading is correct, under-estimates the length of the island, which he gives as 15 stades instead of 24 (nearly 3 m.), and also the breadth of the southern channel between it and the mainland. Cf. J.H.S., xx. 14 sqq., xxvii. 274 sqq., and Frazer's summary (op. cit. v. 6o8 sqq.). (M. N. T.)
End of Article: PYLOS (mod. Navarino)
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