The inhabitants had a tradition that their city was founded by Abas, son of Lynceus and Hypermnestra, grandson of Danaus ( Paus.10.35). It was most probably of Pelasgic origin. Abae was early celebrated for its oracle of Apollo, of greater antiquity than that at Delphi, and hence Apollo is called Abaeus. During the Persian invasion, the army of Xerxes set fire to the temple, and nearly destroyed it; soon after it again gave oracles, though in this dilapidated state, and was consulted for that purpose by an agent of Mardonius ( Herod.viii. 134).
The oracle was consulted by the Thebans before Leuctra (Paus. iv. 32. 5). The temple seems to have been burnt again during the Sacred War, and was in a very dilapidated state when seen by Pausanias (x. 35), though some restoration, as well as the building of a new temple, was undertaken by Hadrian. The sanctity of the shrine ensured certain privileges to the people of Abae (Bull. Corresp. Hell. vi. 171), and these were confirmed by the Romans. The polygonal wabs of the acropolis may still be seen in a fair state of preservation on a circular hill standing about 500 ft. above the little plain of Exarcho; one gateway remains, and there are also traces of town walls below. The temple site was on a low spur of the hill, below the town. An early terrace wall supports a precinct in which are a stoa and some remains of temples; these were excavated by the British School at Athens in 1894, but very little was found.
See also W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, ii. p. 163i Journal of Hellenic Studies, xvi. pp. 291-312 (V. W. Yorke). . (E. GR.)
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