The site of ancient Corinth was first inhabited in the Neolithic period (5000-3000 BC), and flourished as a major Greek city from the 8th century BC until its destruction by the Romans in 146 BC. Its commanding position on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow strip of land that separates the Peloponnese from northern Greece, was the primary basis of its importance. In Greek mythology, it was in Corinth that Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, abandoned Medea. During the Trojan War Corinthians participated under the leadership of Agamemnon. Being a leading naval power as well as a rich commercial city enabled ancient Corinth to establish colonies in Syracuse on the island of Sicily. Beginning in 582 BC, in the spring of every second year the Isthmian Games were celebrated in honor of the sea god Poseidon. The Corinthians developed the Corinthian order, the third order of the classical architecture after the Ionic and the Doric. The city was a major participant in the Persian Wars, offering forty war ships in the sea Battle of Salamis. After the end of the Peloponnesian War, Corinth and Thebes, which were former allies with Sparta in the Peloponnesian League, had grown dissatisfied with the hegemony of Sparta and started the Corinthian War against it. Corinth was conquered by Philip II of Macedon in 338 BC, but it was named the meeting place of Philip's new Hellenic confederacy. After Philip was assassinated, Alexander the Great immediately came to Corinth to meet with the confederacy, confirm his leadership, and forestall any thoughts of rebellion. At the Isthmian Games of 336 BC, the Greeks chose Alexander the Great to lead them in war against the Persians. Corinth was partially destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, but in 44 BC it was rebuilt as a Roman city under Julius Caesar. The Apostle Paul visited Corinth in the 50s AD and later wrote two letters to the Christian community at Corinth (the books of Corinthians in the New Testament). Although Paul intended to pass through Corinth a second time before he visited Macedonia, circumstances were such that he first went from Troas to Macedonia before stopping at Corinth for a "second benefit". In 267 AD, the invasion of the Herulians initiated the decline of the city. During Alaric's invasion of Greece in 395–396, he destroyed Corinth and sold many of its citizens into slavery. Nevertheless, Corinth remained inhabited for many centuries through successive invasions, destructions and plagues.
© 2009 Jordan Kevrekidis