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Periphery:Central Greece
Prefecture : Fthiotis

Elateia (or Elatea) was an ancient Greek city of Phocis, and the most important place in the country after Delphi. It is also a municipality in the modern prefecture of Phthiotis, population 4,000 (2001).

Ancient Elateia was situated about the middle of the great fertile basin which extends near 20 miles from the narrows of the Cephissus River below Amphicleia to those which are at the entrance into Boeotia. Hence it was admirably placed for commanding the passes into Southern Greece from Mount Oeta, and became a post of great military importance.[1] Pausanias describes it as situated over against Amphicleia, at the distance of 180 stadia from the latter town, on a gently rising slope in the plain of the Cephissus.[2] Elateia is not mentioned by Homer. Its inhabitants claimed to be Arcadians, deriving their name from Elatus, the son of Areas.[3] It was burnt, along with the other Phocian towns, by the Persian army of Xerxes.[4] When Philip II of Macedon entered Phocis in 338 BC, with the professed object of conducting the war against Amphissa, he seized Elateia and began to restore its fortifications. The alarm occasioned at Athens by the news of this event shows that this place was then regarded as the key of Southern Greece.[5] The subsequent history of Elateia is given in some detail by Pausanias.[6] It successfully resisted Cassander, but it was taken by the king of Macedon Philip V, the son of Demetrius II Aetolicus. It remained faithful to Philip V when the Romans invaded Greece, and was taken by assault by the Romans in 198 BC.[7] At a later time the Romans declared the town to be free, because the inhabitants had repulsed an attack which Taxiles, the general of Mithridates VI, had made upon the place.


Among the objects worthy of notice in Elateia, Pausanias mentions the agora, a temple of Asclepius containing a beardless statue of the god, a theater, and an ancient brazen statue of Athena. He also mentions a temple of Athena Cranaea, situated at the distance of 20 stadia from Elateia: the road to it was a very gentle ascent, but the temple stood upon a steep hill of small size.

The ancient city has been repeatedly sacked and destroyed in its history, and also subject to several earthquakes. For these reasons the one modern excavation of the classical site has not been much successful; the one exception was the Temple of Athena Cranaia, 3 km from the town. What has been attested is continuous occupation of the valley, that goes back to as far as 6000 BC.[8]


Taxilus, a general of Mithridates, was at the time besieging Elatea in Phocis, but on receiving the news he withdrew his troops towards
The Phocians too of Elatea dedicated at Delphi a bronze statue of Olympiodorus for help in their revolt from Cassander.

Pausanias, Phocis

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