PYLOS (mod. Navarino), a town and bay on the west coast of Messenia, noted chiefly for the part it played in the Pelopon nesian War. The bay, roughly semicircular, is protected by the island of Sphacteria (mod. Sphagia), over 21 m. long. To the north lies the lagoon of Osman Aga. North of Sphagia is the rocky headland of Pylos or Coryphasium, called in modern times Palaea-Navarino or Palaeokastro, from the Venetian ruins on its summit. Most scholars have identified this with the Homeric Pylos, the home of Neleus and Nestor, and a cave on the north slope of Coryphasium is pointed out as that in which Hermes hid the stolen cattle of Apollo. But this view presents considerable difficulties, and Strabo (viii. 348, sqq.) argued that the Pylos of Nestor must be the place of that name in Triphylia, now known to have been an important prehistoric site. After the Dorian migra tion Pylos declined, and it is referred to by Thucydides (iv. 3) as a deserted headland in 425 B.C. In May of that year, the seventh of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians sent an expedition to Sicily under command of Eurymedon and Sophocles. With them was the general, Demosthenes, who landed at Coryphasium with a body of Athenian troops and hastily fortified it. The Spartans, who were then invading Attica, withdrew their forces and attacked Pylos vigorously by sea and land, but were repulsed, and the Athenians were enabled by the arrival and victory of their fleet to blockade on the island of Sphacteria a body of 420 Spartiates with helots. Their resistance was overcome by a rear attack directed by a Messenian, who led a body of men by a difficult path along the cliffs on the east, and the 292 Spartan survivors laid down their arms 72 days after the beginning of the blockade. Their surrender made a deep impression on the whole Greek world, which had learned to regard a Spartan surrender as in conceivable. Though Pylos should have been ceded to Sparta under the peace of Nicias (421 B.C.) it was retained by the Athen ians until the Spartans recaptured it early in 409 B.C. (Diodorus xiii. 64).
In the middle ages the name Pylos was replaced by that of Avarino A0afivos) or Navarino, derived from a body of Avars who settled there ; the current derivation from the Navarrese company, who entered Greece in 1381 and built a castle at this spot, cannot now be maintained (Eng. Hist. Review, xx. 307,
xxi. 1°6; Hermathena, xxxi. 43o sqq.). From 1498 to 1821 Navar ino was in the hands of the Turks, save at two periods when it was held by the Venetians, who named it Zonklon. (See NAVARINO, THE BATTLE OF.) BIBLIOGRAPHY.—See W. M. Leake, Travels in the Morea, i. 398 sqq. (183o), and Peloponnesiaca, 190 sqq. (1846) ; E. Curtius, Peloponnesos, ii. 173 sqq. (Gotha, 1852) ; C. Bursian, Geographie von Griechenland, ii. 175 sqq. (Leipzig, 1868) ; Pausanias iv. 36, and the commentary in J. G. Frazer, Pausanias's Description of Greece, iii. 456 sqq., v. 6o8 sqq. (1898) ; W. G. Clark, Peloponnesus, 214 sqq. (1858) ; W. Vischer, Erin nerungen and Eindrucke aus Griechenland, 431 sqq. (Basel, 1857) ; G. Grote, History of Greece, pt. ii. ch. 52 ; G. Busolt, Griechische Geschichte, iii. 1086 sqq.; F. M. Cornford, Thucydides mythistoricus, 82 sqq. (19o7). The operations at Pylos, described by Thucydides iv. 2-41, have been discussed on the basis of personal observation by Dr. G. B. Grundy (Journal of Hellenic Studies, xvi. 1 sqq.; Classical Review, x. 371 sqq., xi. 155 sqq., 448; J.H.S., xviii. 232 sqq.) and Pro fessor R. M. Burrows (J.H.S., xvi. 55 sqq.; C.R. xi. r sqq.; J.H.S., xviii. 147 sqq., 345 sqq.; C.R. xix. 129 sqq.). Though differing on many points, they agree in thinking (t) that the island of Sphagia is the ancient Sphacteria, Palaeokastro the ancient Coryphasium or Pylos; (2) that in 425 B.C. the lagoon of Osman Aga was navigable and corn municated by a navigable channel with the Bay of Navarino ; (3) that Thucydides, if the ms. reading is correct, underestimates the length of the island, which he gives as 15 stades instead of 24 (nearly 3 m.), and also the breadth of the southern channel between it and the main land. Cf. J.H.S., xx. 14 sqq., xxvii. 274 sqq., and Frazer's summary (op. cit. v. 6o8 sqq.). (M. N. T. ; X.)