Tegea – Ancient Greek City-State in the Peloponnese
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When most of us think of Ancient Greece, certain city-states come to mind, such as Athens and Sparta. Although these were certainly influential and well known, there countless numbers of city-states in the region we think of as Ancient Greece. Tegea was one of these city-states, and they were most known for the role they played in the Peloponnesian War as well as being an ally of Sparta. Here’s more information about this city-state:
Early Days of Tegeaa
Tegea is one of those ancient city-states whose creation was immortalized in the Greek myths and legends. According to the stories, the city was founded by Tageate, one of the sons of Lycaon, the mythological king of Arcadia. To contrast that with archaeological findings, and it is clear that the city was originally settled in the Neolithic Era in the early days of Ancient Greece. It is unknown whether there are some truth to the legends or not. Tegea was originally part of the Ancient Greek civilization of Mycenae and even Homer refers to it in some of his writings. Based on Homer’s work, we understand that the people of Tegea worshipped a goddess named Alea and that this was important to the culture of the city.
Worshipping Athena Alea
Tegea was also the site of at least one known religious sanctuary but it is speculated that there were more. According to Pausanias, a popular travel writer who wrote during Ancient Greece, there was a sanctuary dedicated to Athena Poliatis but this particular one hasn’t been uncovered by archaeologists. However, there has been a sanctuary that has been found and this one is dedicated to Athena Alea. This shows that this particular goddess was important to the culture. based on the archaeological findings, this site had people worshipping as far back as the tenth century B.C.
Tegea and Sparta Were Allies
Another important thing to note as that Tegea was an ally to Sparta, especially during the Peloponnesian War. However, they weren’t described as being a willing ally to the Spartans. History indicates that Tegea was forced into it, largely because Sparta was a nearby neighbor and also because Tegea was much smaller than Sparta was. Tegea did, however, manage to resist Spartan expansion into its territory. Later on, however, the two parties did sign a treaty that is looked at now as an act that eventually led to the formation of the Peloponnesian League. Tegea contributed soldiers to famous battles such as Thermopylae and also the Battle of Plataea, two important battles during the Persian Invasions.
Sparta had a hold over Tegea up until Sparta was defeated by Thebes during the Battle of Leuctra. After that, Tegea broke away from Spartan influence and formed a new, independent city-state as well as an alliance known as the Arcadian League.
Although Tegea wasn’t the most well known of all the Ancient Greek city-states, it still played an important role in history.
Categorized in: Ancient Greek History
This post was written by Greek Boston