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Nafpaktos in antiquity

Ancient Aetolia
Part of ancient Aetolia, Nafpaktos travels through a long historical process that purportedly starts from the Mycenaean period and continues to modern times. In the wider region of the State of the Aetolians, between Evinos and Achelous, according to Homer, Xenophon, Strabo and Pausanias the cities of Aetolia numbered to 28. As Homer mentions the prominent cities of the region were Calydona and Plevrona. During the Trojan War, the Aetolian cities participated under King Thoas in the Greek fleet with 40 ships. During the war the military performance of both Thoas and Aetolians turned to be worthy of remembrance.
The inauguration of Nafpaktos
The first reference of the city of Nafpaktos can be drawn of Herodotus during the descent of the Doric tribes, Ozoles Lokroi, in the late 12 century B.C. In their attempt to cross to Peloponnese, it is said that they built ships at the site where the future town of Nafpaktos was established. It is by which, the city received its name of the noun ναυς (ship) and the verb πήγνυμι (build). According to Thucydides, Nafpaktos was in the hands of Ozolon Lokron up to 456/54 BC when with the contribution of the Athenians, the Messenians moved to the city due to their banishment by the Spartans and the creation of the Spartan hegemony.
Nafpaktos under the Athenian control
The geographical location of Nafpaktos – substantial throughout the history of the city- was the reason that during the Peloponnesian war Nafpaktos turned to be the point of contention between Athens and Sparta. As a main naval base of the Athenians, it gave the possibility to control the fleet of the Lacedaemonians in Corinth. The naval collisions that took place in 429 BC, first in Patras and afterwards in Nafpaktos failed to obtain the latter of the sovereignty of Athens.
The tumultuous 4th century. B.C.
Nafpaktos remained under the Athenian rule until 369 BC when the Messenians were forced by the Spartans to surrender to Ozoles Locroi. The defeat of the Athenian fleet at Aegos Potamoi (405 BC) along with the gradual weakening of the Athenians during the Corinthian War (395 BC onwards), made the Messenians of Nafpaktos helpless of any Athenian support. According to Pausanias, they were forced to move to Sicily. The city fell into the hands of the Achaeans for a short period of time as the repeated conflicts with the Thebian hegemony of Sparta stormed out. During the fourth Thebian invasion in Peloponnese, general Epaminondas installs in Nafpaktos Theban garrison (361 BC). After the battle at Chaeronea (338 BC) the city of Nafpaktos participated in the Aetolian Confederacy (Simpoliteia).
The Roman Rule
At the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. the city of Nafpaktos was besieged by the Romans. In 191 BC and after capitulation, the Roman Empire made a truce with the Aetolians. However, Nafpaktos passed again into the hands of Locroi both as recognition of their contribution towards the Gallic invasion (278 BC) as well as a response to the Aetolian opposition towards the Roman rule. During the Roman period the city was politically dependent of the Roman colony in Patras (Colonia Augusta Patrensis). The lack of written sources concerning the Roman Nafpaktos does not allow any historical follow up of this period. However, the archaeological remains of the Roman period in the city reveal a fully organized city with an extensive system of roads and buildings of private and public character as well.