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From Aiantion to Peristeria
From the centre of Aiantion a road crosses the island to the attractive beaches and inlets of the island’s south coast. At the southern extremity of the island is the bay of Peristeria (10km), fronted by two small off-shore is lets. From a point shortly before the western end of the bay, a track leads inland, up between houses to the ‘Cave of Cychreus’, now generally referred to as the ‘Cave of Euripides’. (The track soon becomes a steep path through pines and thorn bushes: the climb takes 20 minutes from the shore. A torch is essential for exploring the cave; and some head protection is advisable.) Before reaching the cave the path passes the foundations of the walls of two small shrines which may have been related to the cult of Euripides and of Dionysos in later Hellenistic times; the threshold block and the plan of the eastern shrine can be clearly seen. The cave is a short distance above, entered by a long (c. 70m), low, serpentine passageway which is cramped and airless and not for the faint-hearted. It opens eventually into a broad, low-roofed chamber, for ested with thick stalagmites and stalactites. The Roman author Aulus Gellius accurately described the interior as a ‘spelunca taetra et horrida’.
The cave has been investigated archaeologically (Prof. Yannos Lolos), and has yielded evidence of Neolithic use in the late 5th to early 4th millennium bc. One of its deepest recesses later functioned as a burial place in Mycenaean times. It acquired its name as the ‘Cave of Euripides’ thanks to a consistent tradition that the tragedian, who may have been a native of Salamis, used the cave for a period as a place of retreat. The finding of a fragment of a glazed cup dedicated with the name ‘ΕΥΡΙΠΠ[-ΙΔΗΣ}(sic) suggests that the tradition has a long history: the inscription of the name dates probably from the 2nd century ad, and should be seen in the context of a later cult of the poet at the site.
At the western end of the bay of Peristeria, the road climbs up over a hill and drops down into the village of Kolones; visible, in silhouette against the western horizon, on the summit of the next promontory projecting into the sea is the doorway and lintel of a curious structure dating from the late Classical period. The building, constructed of large quadrilateral blocks of limestone, is circular (about 8m in diameter) with an entrance and monolithic lintel on the north side: in the interior are three neatly cut and finished sarcophagi sunk into the ground, still in situ. Both the width of the diameter, and the lack of sufficient fallen masonry, suggest that the building was not intended to be a tower, or to stand more than about six courses of masonry high at the most. Its purpose may have been more akin to the so-called ‘Tomb of Cleoboulos’ near Lindos on Rhodes to which it bears many resemblances.
Salamis Island is part of the Argosaronic Island Group, Greece.