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GORTYNA, or GORTYN, an important ancient city on the southern side of the island of Crete. It stood on the banks of the small river Lethaeus (Mitropolipotamo), about three hours distant from the sea, with which it communicated by means of its two harbours, Metallum and Lebena. It had temples of Apollo Pythius, Artemis and Zeus. Near the town was the famous fountain of Sauros, inclosed by fruit-bearing poplars; and not far from this was another spring, overhung by an evergreen plane tree which in popular belief marked the scene of the amours of Zeus and Europa. Gortyna was, next to Cnossus, the largest and most powerful city of Crete. The two cities combined to subdue the rest of the island; but when they had gained their object they quarrelled with each other, and the history of both towns is from this time little more than a record of their feuds. Neither plays a conspicuous part in the history of Greece. Under the Romans Gortyna became the metropolis of the island. Extensive ruins may still be seen at the modern village of Hagii Deka, and here was discovered the great inscription containing chapters of its ancient laws. Though partly ruinous, the church of St Titus is a very interesting monument of early Christian architecture, dating from about the 4th century.

See also CRETE, and for a full account of the laws see GREEK LAW.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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