1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eretria

ERETRIA (mod. Aletria), an ancient coast town of Euboea about 15 m. S.E. of Chalcis, opposite to Oropus. Eretria, like its neighbour Chalcis (q.v.), early entered upon a commercial and colonizing career. Besides founding townships in the west and north of Greece, it acquired dependencies among the Cyclades and joined the great mercantile alliance of Miletus and Aegina. Since the so-called Lelantine War (7th century B.C.) against the coming league of Chalcis, it began to be overshadowed by its rivals. The interference of Eretria in the Ionian revolt (498) brought upon it the vengeance of the Persians, who captured and destroyed it shortly before the battle of Marathon (490). The city was soon rebuilt, and as a member of both the Delian Leagues attached itself by numerous treaties to the Athenians. The latter, through their general Phocion, rescued it from the tyrants suborned by Philip of Macedon (354 and 341). Under Macedonian and Roman rule Eretria fell into insignificance; for a short period under Mark Antony, the triumvir, it became a possession of Athens. Eretria was the birthplace of the tragedian Achaeus and of the “Megarian” philosopher Menedemus.

The modern village, which is sometimes called Nea Psará because the inhabitants of Psará were transferred there in 1821, is on unhealthy low-lying ground near the sea. The excavation of the site was carried out by the American School of Athens (1890–1895). At the foot of the Acropolis Hill, where the ground begins to rise, the theatre lies; and though the material of which this was built is rough, and only seven imperfect rows of seats remain, a good part of the scena and of the chambers behind it is preserved, and beneath these there runs a tunnel, which, together with other peculiar features, has raised interesting questions in connexion with the arrangement of the Greek theatre, the orchestra being at present on a level about 12 ft. below that of the rooms in the scena. Near by are the substructions of a temple of Dionysus and a large altar, and also a gymnasium with arrangements for bathing. Besides these, in 1900 the substructions of a temple of Apollo Daphnephoros were unearthed. Both the northern and the southern side of the hill are flanked by walls, which seem to have reached the sea, where there was a mole and a harbour; and the wall of the acropolis itself remains in one part to the height of eight courses.

Authorities.—Strabo x. 447 f.; Herodotus v. 99, vi. 101; Corpus Inscr. Atticarum, i. 339, iv. (2), pp. 5, 10, 22; H. Heinze, De rebus Eretriensium (Göttingen, 1869); W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece (London, 1835), ii. 266, 443; B. V. Head, Historia numorum (Oxford, 1887), pp. 305-308; Papers of the American School at Athens, vol. vi.  (E. Gr.)