Erythrae or Erythrai (Greek: Ἐρυθραί) later Litri, was one of the twelve Ionian cities of Asia Minor, situated 22 km north-east of the port of Cyssus (modern name: Çeşme), on a small peninsula stretching into the Bay of Erythrae, at an equal distance from the mountains Mimas and Corycus, and directly opposite the island of Chios. It is recorded that excellent wine was produced in the peninsula. Erythrae was notable for being the seat of the Erythraean Sibyl. The ruins of the city are found north of the town Ildırı in the Çeşme district of Izmir Province, Turkey.

Ἐρυθραί ‹See Tfd›(in Greek)
Erythrai amphitheatre
Ruins of the theatre at Erythrae
Erythrae is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
Alternative nameErythrai, Litri
LocationIldırı, Izmir Province, Turkey
Coordinates38°22′58″N 26°28′51″E / 38.38278°N 26.48083°ECoordinates: 38°22′58″N 26°28′51″E / 38.38278°N 26.48083°E
Associated withErythraean Sibyl


The bay at Ildırı in Çeşme district, formerly the bay of Erythrae

According to Pausanias (Paus. 7.3.7), the Erythraeans said they came originally from Crete under the leadership of Erythrus ('Red'), son of Rhadamanthus, and at the same time inhabited by Lycians, Carians, and Pamphylians. At a later period came Knopos (Strab. 14.633), son of Codrus, with an Ionian colony, whence the city is sometimes called Cnopopolis. The city did not lie exactly on the coast, but some little distance inland, and had a harbor on the coast named Cissus (Livy, 36.43).

In the 7th century BC as an Ionian city of Asia Minor, Erythrae was a member of the Pan-Ionian League. Sometime during the 7th century Erythrae fought a war against the neighbouring island of Chios. (Herodotus 1.18). The city gained fame as a producer of millstone during the period of tyrannical rule.

Erythrae was never a large city, it sent only eight ships to the Battle of Lade. The Erythraeans were for a considerable time subject to the supremacy of Athens, but towards the close of the Peloponnesian War they threw off their allegiance to that city. After the battle of Cnidus, however, they received Conon, and paid him honours in an inscription, still extant.

Erythrae was the birthplace of two prophetesses (sibyls) --one of whom, Sibylla, is mentioned by Strabo as living in the early period of the city; the other, Athenais, lived in the time of Alexander the Great. The Erythraean Sibyl presided over the Apollonian oracle.

About 453 BC Erythrae, refusing to pay tribute, seceded from the Delian League. A garrison and a new government restored the union, but late in the Peloponnesian War (412 BC) it revolted again with Chios and Clazomenae.

Later it was allied alternately with Athens and Persia. About the middle of the 4th century BC the city became friendly with Mausolus: in an inscription found on the site he is called a benefactor of Erythrae. About the same time the city signed a treaty with Hermias, Tyrant of Assus and Atarneus, based on reciprocal aid in the event of war.

In 334 BC the city regained its freedom through Alexander the Great who, according to Pliny (HN 5.116) and Pausanias (2.1.5), planned to cut a canal through the peninsula of Erythrae to connect Teos bay with the gulf of Smyrna.

When Alexander returned to Memphis in April 331 BC, envoys from Greece were waiting for him, saying that the oracles at Didyma and Erythrae, which had been silent for a long time, had suddenly spoken and confirmed that Alexander was the son of Zeus. The timing proves that Alexander was already thinking that he was of a more than human nature when he entered Greece: after all, the people of Didyma and Erythrae can never have known that Alexander was recognized as the son of Ra and wanted to be called 'son of Zeus'.

Erythrae was later associated with Pergamum and with Rome, and after the death of Attalos III in 133 BC, when the Pergamene kingdom was bequeathed to the Romans, it flourished as a free city ("civitas libera") attached to the Roman province of Asia.

At this time, Erythrae was renowned for its wine, goats, timber, and millstones, as well as its prophetic sibyls, Herophile and Athenais.

In the Roman period the city was plundered and its importance faded after the earthquakes of that region in the 1st century AD.

The city experienced a revival of some sorts under the later Roman Empire and into the Byzantine period. Bishops are attested from 431 to 1292, and an archon, a minor governor, was based in the city in the 9th and 10th centuries.[1]

Pausanias, at the Description of Greece writes that in the city there was a temple of Athena Polias and a huge wooden image of her sitting on a throne, she holds a distaff in either hand and wears a firmament on her head.[2]

Recent times

From the mid-18th century until the early 20th century, Litri was a considerable place and port, extending from the ancient harbour to the acropolis. It attracted smaller coasting steamers, and there was an active trade with Chios and Smyrna (modern day Izmir).


The archaeological site is situated within the settlement zone of the present-day Turkish village of Ildırı. The site was explored in depth in the 1960s by Professor Ekrem Akurgal, leading to precious discoveries, but has been left somewhat unattended since. The ruins include well-preserved Hellenistic walls with towers, of which five are still visible. The acropolis (280 ft) has a theatre on its northern slope, and eastwards lie many remains of Byzantine buildings.

See also


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Erythrae". Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 758. Some of the text has been found on the website dedicated to the museum of The Temple of Athena in Erythrae which can be found in the external links section of this page.

  1. ^
  2. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.5.9

External links

Airai (Ionia)

Airai (Ancient Greek: Αἰραί) was a town of ancient Ionia, near Erythrae mentioned by Thucydides. It was a polis (city-state), and a member of the Delian League since it appears in tribute records of Athens between the years 454/3 and 427/6 BCE. In the year 411 BCE, during the Peloponnesian War, the Chians caused the cities of Lebedus and Airai, until then allies of Athens, to revolt against it. Then the Athenian Diomedon commanded the ten ships and attacked Airai, but was unable to take it. In Strabo's time it was a small town that belonged to Teos. Airai's silver and bronze coins dating from the 4th century BCE bearing the inscription «ΑΙΡΑΙΩΝ» survive.Its site is located near the modern Aşağı Demirci, Asiatic Turkey.

Apollodorus of Erythrae

Apollodorus of Erythrae was a writer of ancient Greece, who spoke of the Erythraean Sibyl as his fellow-citizen.


Boutheia (Ancient Greek: Βούθεια) or Bouthia (Βουθία) was a town of ancient Ionia, near Erythrae. It was a member of the Delian League since it is mentioned in tributary records of Athens at least between the years 454/3 and 427/6 or 426/5 BCE. In some of these records it appears as part of the territory of Erythrae.Its site is located near the modern Çeşme, Asiatic Turkey.


Casystes or Kasystes (Ancient Greek: Κασύστης) was a port town of ancient Ionia, near Erythrae. Strabo, whose description proceeds from south to north, after describing Teos, says, "before you come to Erythrae, first is Erae, a small city of the Teians, then Corycus, a lofty mountain, and a harbour under it, Casystes; and another harbour called Erythras." It is probably the Cyssus of Livy, the port to which the fleet of Antiochus III sailed (191 BCE) before the naval engagement in which the king was defeated by Eumenes II and the Romans.

Its site is tentatively located near the modern Kırkdilim Limanı, Asiatic Turkey.


Cybeleia or Kybeleia (Ancient Greek: Κυβέλεια) or Cybellia was a city of ancient Ionia. Strabo, after saying that the mountain Mimas is between Erythrae and the Hypocremnus, adds, "then a village Cybellia, and the promontory Melaena." This is all that is known.

Its site is tentatively located near the modern Badembükü.


Embatum or Embaton (Ancient Greek: τὸ Ἔμβατον) was a town of ancient Ionia, in the territory of Erythrae, mentioned by Theopompus in the eighth book of his Hellenica. It appears from Thucydides that it was on the coast.Its site is located near the modern Agrilya, Asiatic Turkey.

Erythrae (Locris)

Erythrae or Erythrai (Ancient Greek: Ἐρυθραί) was a town of the Ozolian Locrians, probably the harbour of Eupalium.The site of Erythrae is tentatively identified with the modern site of Monastiraki.

Erythrae (disambiguation)

Erythrae is an ancient Ionian city in Asia Minor.

Erythrae or Erythrai (ancient Greek: Ἐρυθραί) may also refer to:

Erythrae (Ainis), a city of Ainis, ancient Thessaly, Greece

Erythrae (Boeotia), a city of ancient Boeotia, Greece

Erythrae (Locris), a city of ancient Locris, Greece

Erythraean Sibyl

The Erythraean Sibyl was the prophetess of classical antiquity presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Erythrae, a town in Ionia opposite Chios, which was built by Neleus, the son of Codrus.

The word Sibyl comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess. Sibyls would give answers whose value depended upon good questions — unlike prophets, who typically answered with responses indirectly related to questions asked.

Presumably there was more than one sibyl at Erythrae. One is recorded as having been named Herophile,. At least one is said to have been from Chaldea, a nation in the southern portion of Babylonia, being the daughter of Berossus (who wrote the Chaldean history) and Erymanthe. Apollodorus of Erythrae, however, says that one who was his own countrywoman predicted the Trojan War and prophesied to the Greeks both that Troy would be destroyed and that Homer would write falsehoods.

The term acrostic has been applied to the prophecies of the Erythraean Sibyl, which were written on leaves and arranged so that the initial letters of the leaves always formed a word.In Christian iconography the Erythraean Sibyl is credited with prophesying the coming of the Redeemer, which prophesy was in the form of an acrostic whose initial letters spelled out "ΙΗΣΌΎΣ ΧΡΕΙΣΤΟΣ ΘΕΟΥ ΎΊΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ ΣΤΑΎΡΟΣ" ("Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior, Cross). Examples were in mediaeval paintings in Salisbury cathedral, and others are shown in the illustrations on this page.

Erythras (Ionia)

Erythras (Ancient Greek: Ἐρυθρᾶς) was a port town of ancient Ionia, near Erythrae. Strabo, whose description proceeds from south to north, after describing Teos, says, "before you come to Erythrae, first is Erae, a small city of the Teians, then Corycus, a lofty mountain, and a harbour under it, Casystes; and another harbour called Erythras."Its site is tentatively located near the modern Sarpdere Limanı, Asiatic Turkey.


Erythres (Greek: Ερυθρές, is a village and a former municipality in the northernmost part of West Attica, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Mandra-Eidyllia, of which it is a municipal unit. The municipal unit has an area of 61.145 km2.Erythres was named after the ancient city of Erythrae, the ruins of which are located 1.5 km east of the present town. The Greek National Road 3 (Elefsina - Thebes - Florina) passes through Erythres. The area south of Erythres is mountainous, with the Kithaironas to the southwest and the Pastra to the southeast. The area north of Erythres is characterised by the wide, flat valley of the Boeotian river Asopos, that flows to the east along the northern border of the municipal unit. This area is dominated by farmlands. Erythres is located 5 km east of Plataies, 6 km north of Vilia, 12 km south of Thebes and 44 km northwest of Athens.

Helos (Ionia)

Helos (Ancient Greek: Ἕλος) was a town of ancient Ionia, near Erythrae.

Its site is tentatively located near the modern Denizgiren.

Heraclides of Erythrae

Heraclides of Erythrae (Greek: Ἡρακλείδης; fl. 1st century BC), a physician of Erythrae in Ionia, who was a pupil of Chrysermus, a fellow-pupil of Apollonius, and a contemporary of Strabo in the 1st century BC. Galen calls him the most distinguished of the pupils of Chrysermus, and mentions a work written by him, On the school of Herophilus (Greek: Περὶ τῆς Ἡροφίλου Αἱρέσεως), consisting of at least seven books. He wrote a commentary on the sixth book of Hippocrates, De Morbis Vulgaribus, but neither this nor any of his writings survive.

Lamprus of Erythrae

Lamprus of Erythrae or Lamprus of Athens (Ancient Greek: Λάμπρος) was an ancient Greek musician with excellent skill at the playing of the lyre.

Polichna (Ionia)

Polichna (Ancient Greek: Πολίχνα) was a town of ancient Ionia, near Erythrae.

Its site is tentatively located near the modern Balıklıova.

Polichne (Ionia)

Polichne (Ancient Greek: Πολίχνη), or Polichna (Πολίχνα), was a town of ancient Ionia, near Clazomenae. After the losses of the Athenians in Sicily, Clazomenae revolted with Chios and Erythrae against their Athenian overlords. The Clazomenii at the same time began to fortify Polichne on the main as a place of refuge, if it should be necessary. The Athenians took Polichne, and removed the people back to Clazomenae, except those who had been most active in the revolt; and they went off to a place called Daphnus.Its site is tentatively located near the modern Urla Iskelesi.

Pteleum (Ionia)

Pteleum or Pteleon (Ancient Greek: Πτελεόν) was fortress town in the territory of Erythrae, in Ionia. Pliny the Elder mentions Pteleon, Helos, and Dorium as near Erythrae, but those places are confused by Pliny with the Triphylian towns in Homer's Catalogue of Ships in the Iliad.Pteleum was a member of the Delian League since it is mentioned in tribute records to Athens at least between the years 450/49 and 430/29 BCE.Thucydides places it in the territory of Erythrae and says that, like Sidussa it was a fortified place that was used by the Athenian army under the command of Leon and Diomedon to attack positions on Chios in the year 412 BCE. The following winter Astyochos, in command of Spartan ships along with others from Chios, attacked Pteleum, but failed to take it.Its location is near Karareis-Meli.


The sibyls were oracles in Ancient Greece. The earliest sibyls, according to legend, prophesied at holy sites. Their prophecies were influenced by divine inspiration from a deity; originally at Delphi and Pessinos, the deities were chthonic deities. In Late Antiquity, various writers attested to the existence of sibyls in Greece, Italy, the Levant, and Asia Minor.

The English word sibyl ( or /ˈsɪbɪl/) comes — via the Old French sibile and the Latin sibylla — from the ancient Greek Σίβυλλα (Sibulla). Varro derived the name from theobule ("divine counsel"), but modern philologists mostly propose an Old Italic or alternatively a Semitic etymology.


Sidussa (Ancient Greek: Σίδουσσα or Σιδούσση) was a small town of Ionia, belonging to the territory of Erythrae, noted by Thucydides as a strong place, like Pteleum. Pliny the Elder describes it as an island off the coast of Erythrae. It is probable that the place also bore the name of Sidus (Σιδοῦς), as Stephanus of Byzantium mentions a town of this name in the territory of Erythrae.Sidussa was a member of the Delian League since it is mentioned in tribute records to Athens at least between the years 450/49 and 430/29 BCE.Thucydides places it in the territory of Erythrae and says that, like Pteleum it was a fortified place that was used by the Athenian army under the command of Leon and Diomedon to attack positions on Chios in the year 412 BCE.Sidussa's location is tentatively accepted as at Büyük Ada.

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