The ancient Corinth was inhabited since the Neolithic period (6500-3250 BC). The city, known from Mycenaean times, is referred to by Homer as “wealthy” (“afneios”) (Iliad B 570) due to its highly fertile land. The large production of agricultural products, already from the early historical times, favored the development of intense commercial activity, mainly towards the western Mediterranean, while in the 8th century BC Corinthian colonies were founded, such as Corfu in the Ionian Sea and Syracuse in Sicily, with a significant role and contribution to the history of the ancient Mediterranean world. The economic prosperity of the city reached its peak in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, under the rule of the tyrant Cypselus and his son Periander. The power of Corinth was impressively reflected in beautiful buildings such as the Temple of Apollo (560 BC), while the promotion of the Isthmian Games, held at the Corinthian Sanctuary of Poseidon and Amphitrite in the Isthmus, to Panhellenic Games (584 BC) further enhanced the city’s reputation and influence. However, from the late 6th century BC, the rise of Athens and its dominance in the production of pottery and in the Mediterranean trade gradually limited the influence of the Corinthians, especially after the Persian Wars (490-479 BC), where, despite their strong participation, they were forced to retreat.

About one hundred years later, in 44 BC, the lifelong dictator of Rome, Julius Caesar, decided to reestablish Corinth as a Roman colony, recognizing its particular geographical importance in his broader strategy for the eastern Mediterranean. His violent death the same year did not thwart his ambitious plan, as it was continued by his successor Octavian, later known as Augustus. The new city was named Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis or Clara Laus Iulia Corinthus or Iulia Corinthus Augusta, as a colony of the Julius family of Caesar and Augustus (Gens Iulia), and was designated in 27 BC as the capital of the Roman Province of Achaia (Provincia Achaiae), which included a large part of mainland Greece, the Peloponnese, and several islands. Due to its abandonment after the Battle of Leuctra, the city was initially settled by Roman freedmen and veteran soldiers, who were soon joined by Greeks, who took advantage of the particularly fertile land that was confiscated by Rome (ager publicus) and granted to new settlers. Rome’s goal was both to create a stable Roman base in the tumultuous East and to facilitate the faster passage of the Roman fleet through the Diolkos, the only overland, paved road for ships that crossed the Isthmus, as evidenced by a Latin inscription from 102 BC that records the fleet’s passage to confront…

The text is written in Greek and talks about the development of the ancient city of Corinth during the Roman period. According to the text, the city’s population grew significantly due to the revival of agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade, with corresponding exports of wool, dyed woolen fabrics, olive oil, honey, as well as timber and metal objects. The needs and habits of the Roman inhabitants of the new city, as well as its international role, led to imports of goods from other regions of the Empire, such as wine and building materials (marble, granite) that were necessary for the new luxurious constructions.

The city was redesigned with a system of streets and blocks, called “insulae”, delineated by vertical and horizontal axes (cardines and decumani). Around the Agora, beautiful public buildings and private monuments of wealthy Romans and Greeks were erected, who wanted to emphasize their presence in the capital of the province. Evidence of the construction of these buildings is found in many inscriptions, while their depictions are mainly found on later local coins. The phrases of Horace “non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum / non licet omnibus adire Corinthum” (Epistles 1.17.36) and Strabo’s “ou pantos andros es Korinthos esth’ o plus” (Geography 8.6.20) reflect the city’s prosperity and the high cost required for living there. By the mid-1st century AD, the city had become one of the wealthiest and most important commercial centers of the Eastern Mediterranean.

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