The Greek traveler, geographer, Pausanias
from Magnesia (115-180 AD), visited Sikyon around 150 AD. In his books
gives not only his personal observations on monuments of art and
architecture but also topographical and historical information, as well
the religious cults and the opinion of the natives of the places he
visited. Later in his life, he settled in Rome, where he composed from his
notes the "Periegesis" (Tour of Greece) in ten books. In
book II describes Corinth and Sikyon. The accuracy of his
descriptions have been proved correct.
Pausanias came to Sikyon from
Corinth. Close to the Gate of the city, he saw a spring whose water was
coming from the roof of a cave, the so-called "Stazousa"
Many suggestions have been made about the location of the spring. In our
opinion this place is where the spring of
Mikri Brysi is today
and here are some arguments:
In the eastern plateau they were two possible entrances, as still are
today, the way Pausanias was coming. The Sacred Gate and the way to the
plateau from Mikri Brysi. Since he did not enter from the Sacred Gate,
which he mentions only later in his description, the one left ought to be
near the spring of Mikri Brysi, where there is a path still
today (Saint Athanasios) to ascend to the plateau.
This explains why he starts his description from the Hellenistic
Any other entrance must be rejected. A possible entrance of Pausanias from
the northwest side of the plateau, must be dismissed, the reason being
there are no springs and caves there, second he would have seen the
Stadium, which he does not mention and third it is an unnatural entrance
because Pausanias was coming from the east (Corinth), not the west.
Another possible site for an entrance, a gully in the middle of the
eastern plateau, not exactly in his way, it has a large cave, but it is
too steep and difficult to ascend and if Pausanias came through here, he
would had start his description from the Agora and not from the
Pausanias begins his description from the Hellenistic Acropolis where he
finds the temple of Tyche Akraia and a little
further the Dioscouroi Temple. The statues of
them both were made from wood.
Descending from the Acropolis, he came to the Theater
and in the stage he saw a statue of Aratos, son
of Kleinias, holding a shield.
From there, he visited the nearby Temple of Dionysos
whose statue was made of gold and ivory and at his sides were
Bakchai of white marble.
Walking towards the market, at his right, he saw the ruined temple of
a very ancient temple. This is identified today with the excavated ruins
of a temple opposite to the Roman baths. The
name given to Artemis "Limnaia" indicates, that at these times there was
abundant water on the plateau, as also the drainage of the Theater
suggests. Diodoros confirms this.
In a sort distance from the
temple of Artemis and at
the entrance in Agora, there was the sanctuary of Peitho,
the so-called later "Phobos" place, where Apollo
and Artemis came after killing the Python at Delphi. The next to it
temenos of Roman emperors, was once the house of tyrant
TheTemple of Apollo in the market, where the
ceremony from the river Sythas was ended, had been founded by Proetos, for
the sake of his daughters recovering from madness. Inside the temple in
older times they were kept various precious objects.
Close to "Phobos" place was the Heroon of Aratos.
Pausanias now walking through Agora, he saw the Altar of
Isthmian Poseidon and close to it the statues of
Zeus Meilichios and Artemis Patroa,
both of them made symbolically, Zeus in the shape of pyramid and Artemis
as a column.
From there he went to the
close-by Bouleuterion. Excavations today shows us, that it was a big
square building (40m x 41m), having sixteen columns in the interior for
the support of the roof. At later times it was used as baths.
Next to it there was a big Stoa, which Pausanias
tell us that was a dedication by Kleisthenes from the plunders of the
sacred war. The building whose excavations have been made dates from
Hellenistic times and Pausanias can't be correct unless the building had
been rebuild. The dimensions of the building were 106m x 6m and had 47
Doric columns and in the interior 24 Ionic columns. Inside it they were 20
rooms of same size which they were used as shopping stores.
It was near here that the enormous bronze statue of Zeus
was standing made by Lysippos and next to it a
gilded Artemis and close to them the ruined from
fire, very old temple of Apollo Lykeios. Inside
it was kept the bark of the log with which Apollo helped the Sikyonians to
poison the wolves. It was also here that the bronze statues of the
daughters of Proetos were standing.
The last statues Pausanias describes in the Agora is the colossal
made by Lysippos at 320 BC, at the age of
seventy years old and Hermes Agoraios.
Pausanias continues his description by visiting the Gymnasium
of Agora's, in which another Herakles made by
Skopas stood, nearby was the sanctuary of
Herakles whose perivolos was known as "Paidizoi",
a place for children to play. Herakles statue had been made from wood, by
Laphaes of Phleious in very ancient times.
A little further was the sanctuary of Asklepios,
whose temple contained the chryselephantine statue of the God made by
Kalamis of Sikyon. Inside the sanctuary there was
also another temple shared by Apollo Karneios
and Hypnos, whose only his head had survived at
this time. Pausanias was unable to see the statue of Apollo Karneios
because it was forbidden to anyone to enter, except priests.
There was another sanctuary near the Asklepios, the sanctuary of
Aphrodite, which also contained a chryselephantine
statue of the goddess made by Kanachos of Sikyon.
It was in the yard of the temple that the rare plant "Paidairos"
was growing from which the famous garlands "Iakchoi"
were made. Pausanias was told by the Sikyonians that it could grow here
and nowhere else. Inside the sanctuary was also a statue of
Antiope the mother of Amphion and Zethos, the son of
Sikyonian king Epopeos.
Pausanias ascending to the
Gymnasium of Kleinias, on his right saw the
sanctuary of Artemis Pheraia, the statue of
goddess made of wood had been brought from Pherai and in the Gymnasium the
busts of Herakles and Artemis.
Lastly Pausanias moved towards the Sacred Gate
to the eastern site of the plateau, where the main part of the
Ancient Acropolis was. The first building he
visited near the gate was that of Athena, a very
large temple, which had been founded by Epopeos and who had been buried in
the front of the altar. By this time the temple had been destroyed and
only the altar had remained.
Close to the grave of Epopeos were the "Apotropaioi Theoi"
(the averters of misfortunes). The neighboring sanctuary of
Apollo and Artemis was also made
The near them sanctuary of Hera had been made by
Adrastos. Pausanias did not see any images in
both of them. Behind the sanctuary of Hera was an altar to Pan
and one to Helios (Sun) made of white marble.
Pausanias now descended from the plateau to the slope, to see the
sanctuary of Demeter which had been founded by
Plemnaeis as a thank-offering to the goddess for the rearing of his son.
He ascended back to the plateau and near the sanctuary of Hera saw the
temple of Karneian Apollo. Only the pillars were
standing as also in the temple of Hera Prodromia
(Hera Pioneer) which was founded by Phalkes, son of Temenos, who asserted
that Hera guide him on the road to Sikyon.
From here Pausanias left the city and traveled to Titane.