SPECIAL TOPIC: THE CITY OF CORINTH

A. Winter shipping lanes around the southern most point of Greece (i.e., Cape Malea) were very dangerous. Therefore, a land route of the shortest possible length was crucial. The geographical location of Corinth on the four mile isthmus between the Gulf of Corinth (i.e., Adriatic Sea) and the Saronic Gulf (i.e., Aegean Sea) made the city a major commercial (i.e., shipping and trading center specializing in types of pottery and a special type of brass) and military center. In Paul's day this was literally where the cultures of the East and West met.

 

B. Corinth was also a major cultural center of the Greco-Roman world because it hosted the bi-annual Isthmian Games which began in 581 b.c. (at the Temple of Poseidon). Only the Olympic Games in Athens, every four years, rivaled them in size and importance (Thucydides, Hist. 1.13.5).

 

C. In 146 b.c. Corinth was involved in a revolt (i.e., the Achaean League) against Rome and was destroyed by the Roman General Lucius Mummius and the population dispersed. Because of its economical and military importance it was rebuilt in either 46 or 48 b.c. by Julius Caesar. It became a Roman colony where Roman soldiers retired. It was a mimic of Rome in architecture and culture and the administrative center of the Roman (i.e., Senatorial) province of Achaia in 27 b.c. It became an Imperial Province in a.d. 15.

 

D. The acropolis of Old Corinth, rising more than 1880 feet above the plain, was the site of the temple to Aphrodite. To this temple were attached 1,000 prostitutes (Strabo, Geography, 8.6.20-22). To be called "a Corinthian" (i.e., Korinthiazesthai, coined by Aristophanes [450-385 b.c.]) was synonymous to loose, riotous living. This temple, as most of the city, was destroyed in an earthquake about 150 years before Paul arrived, as it was again in a.d. 77. It is uncertain if the fertility cult continued in Paul's day. Since the Romans, in 146 b.c., destroyed the city and killed or enslaved all of its citizens, the Greek flavor of the city was superseded by its Roman colonial status (Pausanias, II.3.7).

 

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