Heraclea at Latmus
Heraclea at Latmus (Ancient Greek: Ἡράκλεια πρὸς Λάτμῳ, romanized: Herakleia pros Latmo; Latin: Heraclea ad Latmum), or simply Heraclea or Herakleia (Ἡράκλεια), also transliterated as Heracleia, was an ancient town on the confines between ancient Caria and Ionia, situated at the western foot of Mount Latmus. It occupies a picturesque site on the shore of Lake Bafa which in ancient times was part of the Gulf of Latmus on which were several cities including Miletus, Priene, and Myus before their ports were silted up by deposits of the river Maeander.
Impressive ruins of the town still exist.
Originally called Latmos, during the 5th century BC the city was listed as a member of the Delian league. Then in the 4th century BC, king Mausolos conquered the town and it was renamed Heraclea.
Mausolos is credited with building the impressive walls of Heraclea which were enhanced by Lysimachus around 287 BC and are among the best preserved of this type in the world. The walls had a total length of about 6.5 km with 65 towers which are still remarkably well preserved.
The town was later called Pleistarcheia, a name which is mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium who writes that the city was originally called Herakleia, then Pleistarcheia, and then Herakleia again. The name Pleistarcheia is attributed to Pleistarchus, brother of king Cassander, who is recorded as being the king of the region of Caria after the battle of Ipsus which took place in 301 BC.
The town also holds the resting place of Endymion, a mythical figure who was put to sleep by Zeus for eternity, and Pausanias writes that the people of Heraclea honour him at a shrine in this spot.
The city was built on a Hippodamian grid, the temple of Athena being the only structure in the city that does not follow this method. The temple of Athena is the city’s main temple and sits west of the agora.
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- Lund University. Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire.
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- Ptolemy. The Geography. Vol. 5.2.9.
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- Catholic Hierarchy
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- "Herakleia under Latmus (Site)". www.perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2021-12-09.