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Fountains of the Ancient Greece

Among the Greeks water management was a primary concern and fountains were very common in the cities. Springs being very plentiful in Greece, little engineering skill was required to bring water into growing cities through pipelines or rock-cut channels. Receptacles of sufficient size were made for it at the springs, and to maintain its purity, structures were raised enclosing and covering the receptacle. Most Greek fountains flowed by simple gravity, but they also discovered how to use water pressure and the principle of a siphon.

In Greece where the world's waters was seen as one global system, fountains were dedicated to gods and goddesses, nymphs and heroes, and were frequently placed in or near temples. Greek mythology is full of stories related to water and foutains such as the story of the nymph Arethusa who, in order to escape the love of Alpheus, was transformed into a fountain on the island of Ortygia, Sicily.

Pirene fountain Corinth
Pirene fountain, Corinth

The Pirene foutain in Corinth was formed of white stone, and contained four vaulted reservoirs hewn in clay and supplied by long galleries into which water was filtered. . Legend connects it with the nymph Pirene, who shed such copious tears, when bewailing her son who had been slain by Diana, that she was changed into a fountain.

The city of Corinth possessed many fountains. In one near the statues of Diana and Bellerophon the water flowed through the hoofs of the horse Pegasus. The fountain of Glauce, enclosed in the Odeum, was dedicated to Glauce, because she was said to have thrown herself into it believing that its waters could counteract the poisons of Medea.

ancient greece fountain corinth
fountain of Glauce

Another Corinthian fountain had a bronze statue of Poseidon standing on a dolphin from which the water flowed. The fountain constructed by Theagenes at Megara was remarkable for its size and decorations, and for the number of its columns. One at Lerna was surrounded with pillars, and the structure contained a number of seats affording a cool summer retreat.

Fountain of Megara, Greece

Megara fountain: Megara was the home of Eupalinus, an engineer who was called to design the fountain and the aqueductof Megara


In Athens ther mas many local fountains such as the Fountain of Pan, the Panopos Fountain, the Springs in the Attalos Gallery and at the foot of the Areios Pagos Hill. Water was supplied from natural springs suc as Caliroi (the source of the Ilisos River) or Klepsidra, Asklipios, and the Erechtieda Sea.

The fountain Enneacrunus at Athens was called Callirrhoe (as a metter of fact there was two fountains named Callirrhoe) before the time the water was drawn from it by the nine pipes from which it took its later name Two temples were above it, according to Pausamas, one dedicated to Demeter and Persephone, and the other to Tnptolemus The fountain in the temple of Erechtheus at Athens was supplied by a spring of salt water, and a similar spring supplied that in the temple of Poseidon Hippiosat Mantinea.


The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome Edited by Michael Gagarin

The Architecture of Ancient Greece: An Account of Its Historic Development by William Bell Dinsmoor

Encyclopedia Britannica 1903

Water Management in Ancient Greek Cities By Dora P. Crouch


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