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Arcadia (ancient region)

Region of Ancient Greece
Arkadia idyll Peloponnese.jpg
Landscape of Arcadia
Ancient peloponnese.svg
Ancient Arcadia in the center of Peloponnese
Location Peloponnese
Major cities Mantinea, Tegea, Arcadian Orchomenos
Dialects Arcado-Cypriot
Key periods 4th century BC

Arcadia (Greek: Ἀρκαδία) was a region in the central Peloponnese. It took its name from the mythological character Arcas and in Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan. In European Renaissance arts, Arcadia was celebrated as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness.

There is also a modern regional unit of Greece of the same name, which is more extensive than the ancient region.

Arcadia was gradually linked in a loose confederation that included all the Arcadian towns and was named League of the Arcadians. It successfully faced in 7th century BC the threat of Sparta and the Arcadians managed to maintain their independence. They participated in the Persian Wars alongside other Greeks by sending forces at Thermopylae and Plataea. During the Peloponnesian War Arcadia allied with Sparta and Corinth. In the following years, during the period of the Hegemony of Thebes, the Theban general Epaminondas reinforced the Arcadian federation in order to form a rival pole to the neighboring Sparta. Then he founded Megalopolis which became its new capital. Over the next centuries Arcadia weakened. It initially subjugated to the Macedonians and later the Arcadians joined the Achaean League.

Geographically, ancient Arcadia occupied the highlands at the centre of the Peloponnese. To the north, it bordered Achaea along the ridge of high ground running from Mount Erymanthos to Mount Cyllene; most of Mount Aroania lay within Arcadia. To the east, it had borders with Argolis and Corinthia along the ridge of high ground running from Mount Cyllene round to Mount Oligyrtus and then south Mount Parthenius. To the south, the border Laconia and Messenia ran through the foothills of the Parnon and Taygetos mountain ranges, such that Arcadia contained all the headwaters of the Alpheios river, but none of the Eurotas river. To the south-west, the border with Messania ran along the tops of Mount Nomia, and Mount Elaeum, and from there the border with Elis ran along the valleys of the Erymanthos and Diagon rivers. Most of the region of Arcardia was mountainous, apart from the plains around Tegea and Megalopolis, and the valleys of the Alpheios and Ladon rivers.

  • Hermes, God of gymnasium, public speaking, thievery,
  • Pan, God of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs
  • Atalanta, a Greek mythic woman said to have been the daughter of the King of Arcadia


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