Peribolos of Apollo

History of Construction and Use

Restored plan of the Peribolos in Corinth, A.D. 150 Figure 1. Restored plan of the Peribolos in Corinth, A.D. 150

The Peribolos of Apollo was a marble peristyle court offering shelter from inclement weather and respite from the noise and traffic of the adjacent Lechaion road. Adorned with a statue of Apollo and a painting of Odysseus fighting the suitors, according to Pausanias, the court also had stairs leading down to the refreshing water of the fountain of Peirene to the south.

Prior to the construction of the peristyle court in the last quarter of the first century A.D., a market building where provisions were sold (macellum) occupied the area.

Excavations have also revealed a long history for the area before the Roman period. Sequentially the finds from the periods represented are as follows: Neolithic sherds found in the northwest and southeast corners of the area, an early Helladic burial, sherds and two burials of Geometric date, and Protocorinthian and Corinthian sherds in the northwest corner.

From the early sixth century, possibly earlier, a dying workshop identified by deposits of murex shells and equipped with drying floors and reservoirs occupied the northern half of the area. A late sixth- or early fifth-century temenos wall and associated temple and altar, possibly belonging with a hero cult, occupied the southern half.

The plan of the temple was a simple pronaos and cella. A baldachino covered the semicircular altar. The temenos wall lay roughly 5.5 m to the north and 4 m to the west of the temple. In the second half of the fourth century the temenos wall on the north was abandoned and the dye workshop encroached into the former temenos. At the same time or slightly later the temple was dismantled and a baldachino with a screen wall on the west was built on the foundations of the temple. The altar was adapted and continued in use.

Following two ephemeral early Roman bronze working installations and a stoa built on the north border of the area, the first Roman phase was the macellum. An inscription probably associated with the macellum mentioning Quintus Cornelius Secundus provides a date in the Augustan period. Built with the shops along the east side of the Lechaion road, the macellum (20.3 X 41.0 m) was built of poros limestone and consisted of a tholos (diameter 7.50 m) stradling the Peirene drain in the center of a colonnaded court with shops on the north and south. A terrace wall perhaps pierced by an entrance lay on the east. Entrance into the court from the Lechaion road was through the central shop space.

The evidence for the second Roman phase is a poros stylobate in the foundations of the south wall of the third Roman phase. It suggests the construction, although perhaps not completed, of a poros peristyle court in third quarter of the first century AD.

In the third Roman phase the area was extended to the east and the marble peristyle court ca. 32.4 X 40.0 m of the Peribolos of Apollo proper was built. An Ionic colonnade of Pentelic and Hymettian marble with columns of a restored height of 3.9 m bordered the court. Four columns divide the southern colonnade from a roofed, slightly more than semicircular exedra (radius 6.1 m). To the east of the exedra there was an entrance into the court and to the west stairs led down to the court of Peirene. The western entrance continued through the central shop space. The Corinthian colonnade of the Lechaion road and a limestone sidewalk were built in front of the shops.

After the addition of three apses to the court of Peirene in the first half of the second century, the exedra of the Peribolos of Apollo was altered and the entrance to the west was moved to the east of the northern apse of the Peirene court.

The colonnade and the pavement of the Peribolos of Apollo were repaired in the fourth century AD. Modifications of the plan were also undertaken in the Byzantine period. The colonnade seems to have been dismantled and numerous pits were dug in the area.

Building summary written by Peri Johnson.

Pictures from the Peribolos

Testimonia

Pausanias 2.3.3
Paul, I Corinthians 10.25

Bibliography

Fowler, Harold N. and Richard Stillwell. Corinth I, i; Introduction, Topography, Architecture. Cambridge, 1932.
Mattusch, C.C., “Corinthian metalworking, the forum area,” Hesperia 46 (1977) 380-389, plates 99-104.
Slane, Kathleen W., “Tetrarchic recovery in Corinth: Pottery, lamps, and other finds from the Peribolos of Apollo,” Hesperia 63 (1994) 127-168, plates 33-37.
Stillwell, Richard and H. Ess Askew, “The Peribolos of Apollo,” in Corinth I, ii; Architecture. Richard Stillwell, R. L. Scranton, and S. E. Freeman. Cambridge, 1941, 1-54, plate 1.
West, A.B., “Latin Inscriptions 1896-1926,” in Corinth VIII, ii; Cambridge, 1931, no. 124.