Elis, or Eleia (Greek, Modern: Ήλιδα "Ilida", Ancient: Polytonic|Ἦλις "Ēlis", Doric: Polytonic|Ἆλις "Alis" , Elean : Polytonic|Ϝάλις "Walis") is an ancient district, that corresponds with the modern Elis Prefecture. It is in southern Greece on the Peloponnesos peninsula, bounded on the north by Achaea, east by Arcadia, south by Messenia, and west by the Ionian Sea.

The first Olympic festival was organized in Elean land, Olympia, Greece by the authorities of Elis in the 8th century BCE - with tradition dating the first games at 776 BCE. The Hellanodikai, the judges of the Games, were of Elean origin.

The local form of the name was Valis, or Valeia, and its meaning, in all probability, “the lowland.” In its physical constitution Elis is practically one with Achaea and Arcadia; its mountains are mere offshoots of the Arcadian highlands, and its principal rivers are fed by Arcadian springs.

Elis was divided into three districts:
*Hollow ("Coele") or Lowland Elis,
*Pisatis, or the territory of Pisa, and
*Triphylia, or the country of the three tribes.

Hollow Elis, the largest and most northern of the three, was watered by the Peneus and its tributary the Ladon. The district was famous in antiquity for its cattle and horses. Pisatis extended south from Hollow Elis to the right bank of the Alpheus, and was divided into eight departments called after as many towns. Triphylia stretches south from the Alpheus to the Neda.

Today Elis is a small village of 150 citizens, located 14km NE of Amaliada, build over the ruins of the ancient town. It has a museum that contains many treasures, discovered in the recent excavations. It also has one of the most well-preserved Ancient Theaters in Greece. Elis is well known for breeding horses and its "creation" of the Olympic games.

List of Eleans

*Coroebus of Elis, the first Ancient Olympic gold-medalistKings and Leaders
*Salmoneus, mythological king of Elis
*Aethlius, mythological king of Elis
*Endymion (mythology)
*Augeas, king of Elis related to the Fifth Labour of Heracles
*Amphimachus, king of Elis and leader of Eleans in Trojan War
*Thalpius, leader of Eleans in Trojan War
*Oxylus, king of ElisIntellectuals
*Hippias of Elis, Greek sophist
*Phaedo of Elis, founder of the Elean School [http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/2563.html]
*Troilus (4th century BC) athlete

Eleans as barbarians

Eleans were labelled as the greatest barbarians "barbarotatoi" by musician Stratonicus of Athens [
Athenaeus,Deipnosophistae [http://books.google.com/books?id=T98IAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA551&dq=greatest+barbarians+Boeotians+Thessalians+Eleans VIII 350a]

In Hesychius(s.v. polytonic|βαρβαρόφωνοι) and other ancient lexica [James A. Towle, Commentary on Plato: Protagoras 341c. [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.04.0092&query=section%3d%23159] ] Eleans are also listed as "barbarophones". Indeed the North-West Doric dialect of Elis is, after the Aeolic dialects, one of the most difficult for the modern reader of epigraphic texts [Sophie Minon, Les Inscriptions Éléennes Dialectale - Reviewed by Stephen Colvin [http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2007/2007-11-07.html] ]


External links

* [http://www.culture.gr/2/21/maps/pelop/ilia/ilia.html Map] from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture

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