Patrai - A settlement in Peloponnese also known as Patrae
The first traces of settlement in Patras date to the 3rd millennium BC, in modern Aroe. During the first half of the 2nd millennium BC another settlement was founded in the region. Patras flourished for the first time during the Mycenean period (1580–1100 BC). Ancient Patras was formed by the unification of three Mycenaean villages located in modern Aroe, Antheia and Mesatis. The legendary account of Patrai foundation being that Eumelus, having been taught by Triptolemus how to grow grain in the rich soil of the Glaucus valley, established three townships, Aroe (i.e. "ploughland"), Antheia ("the flowery"), and Mesatis ("the middle settlement") united by the common worship of Artemis Triclaria at her shrine on the river Meilichus. Mythology further tells us that after the Dorian invasion, a group of Achaeans from Laconia, led by the eponymous Patreus, established a colony. The Achaeans, having strengthened and enlarged Aroe, called it Patrae, as the exclusive residence of the ruling families, and it was recognized as one of the twelve Achaean cities. During antiquity, Patras remained a farming region but in Classical times it became an important port. In 419 BC the town was, on the advice of Alcibiades, connected with its harbour by long walls in imitation of those at Athens.

After 280 BC Patras played a significant role in the foundation of the second "Achaean League" (Achaike Sympoliteia) together with the cities Dyme, Triteia and Pharai. As a consequence, the initiative of political developments was transferred for the first time to western Achaea. However, the League's armed force was destroyed by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus after the defeat of the Achaeans at Scarpheia in 146 BC, and many of the remaining inhabitants forsook the city; but after the Battle of Actium Augustus restored the ancient name Aroe, established a military colony of veterans from the 10th and 12th legions, and bestowed the rights of colonists on the inhabitants of Rhypae and Dyme, and all the Locri Ozolae except those of Amphissa.

Colonia Augusta Achaica Patrensis (CAAP) became one of the most populous of all the towns of Greece; its colonial coinage extends from Augustus to Gordian III. A cadastral map was drawn up, privileges were granted, crafts were created, the most important being that of earthen oil lamps which were exported almost to the whole world of that time, two industrial zones were created, temples were built, roads that rendered Patras a communication center were opened, streets were paved with flagstones, foreign religions were introduced. Patras was by then a cosmopolitan city. The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius, one of the most well-known works of Latin literature, was said to be adapted from a lost Greek original by a Lucius of Patrae - of whom little is known, but who presumably lived at the city in this period. At the end of the 3rd century AD, the city fell into decline, probably because of a strong earthquake that struck the whole of northeastern Peloponnese in AD 300.

During the Byzantine times Patras continued to be an important port as well as an industrial center. In 551 AD it was laid in ruins by an earthquake. In 807 AD it was able without external assistance to repulse a Slavonian siege, though most of the credit of the victory was assigned to St Andrew, whose church was enriched by the imperial share of the spoils, and whose archbishop was made superior of the bishops of Methone, Lacedaemon and Corone. Besides, one of the most scholarly philosophers and theologians of the time, Arethas of Caesarea was born at Patras, at around 860. In the 9th century there is a sign that the city was prosperous: the widow Danielis from Patras had accumulated immense wealth in land ownership, carpet and textile industry and offered critical support in the ascent of Basil I to the Byzantine throne.

Modern location: Patras, Greece

(1) Claudius 41-54 AD
Obverse: bare head left; TI·CLAVDIVS·CAESAR·AVG·GERM
Reverse: aquila on thunderbolt right, signum on each side; COL·_·A·A·_PATR / X_XII
Ref: RPC 1256; BCD Peloponnesos 546.1