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date: 01 October 2022



  • Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond


  • Ancient Geography
  • Greek Material Culture

Olynthus, a city north of Potidaea on the mainland of the Chalcidic peninsula (see chalcidice). Originally Bottiaean, it became a Greek city after its capture by Persia (479 bce) and repopulation from Chalcidice; its position and mixed population made it the natural centre of Greek Chalcidice against attacks from Athens, Macedonia, and Sparta. In 433 the city was strengthened by further migration and received territory from Macedon (Thuc. 1. 58), and it soon became the capital of a Chalcidian Confederacy issuing federal coinage (see federal states); by 382 the growth of the Confederacy aroused the enmity of Sparta, which reduced Olynthus after a two-year siege and disbanded the Confederacy (Xen.Hell. 5. 2. 11 f.). When Sparta collapsed, Olynthus re-formed the Confederacy and resisted Athenian attacks on Amphipolis; when that city fell to Philip (1) II of Macedon Olynthus allied with him against Athens (Diod. Sic. 16. 8), expelled the Athenian cleruchy from Potidaea, and received Anthemus from Philip (357–356). Alarmed by the growing power of Philip, Olynthus intrigued with Athens, harboured rivals to the Macedonian throne, and with Athenian assistance defied Philip; the city fell to Philip by treachery (Dem. 19. 266 f.) and was destroyed (348). Excavations have revealed the layout of the city (see urbanism).


  • A. B. West, The History of the Chalcidic League (1919).
  • D. M. Robinson, Excavations at Olynthus (1929–52).
  • M. Gude, A History of Olynthus (1933).
  • F. Hampl, Hermes, Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie 1935, 177 ff.
  • J. A. O. Larsen, Greek Federal States (1968), 55ff.
  • M. Zahrnt, Olynth und die Chalkidier (1971)
  • and in Lexicon der historischen Stätten 488 f.
  • M. H. Hansen and T. H. Nielsen (eds.), An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (2004), no. 588.