The importance of Corinth as a city was enhanced by its location as a hub for travellers across Asia Minor and Europe. Because it hosted two harbors, Cenchreae on the eastern side of the isthmus connecting to Asia and Lechaeum the western link to Italy, it became known as the city on two seas. Although it was a small city, covering a mere four square kilometers, it provided the landing for ships travelling from both the east and the west as travellers made their way into the bigger and more significant cities further inland. Traffic through Corinth was consistently flowing, as did the revenue from the taxes. This made Corinth to be notably rich. Besides, the land was fertile with numerous springs and rivers Nemea and Longopotamus in the proximity. Towering over the city was the Acrocorinth, a hill elevated to 575m above sea level. Notably, the temple of Aphrodite Hoplismene was built on the summit of the Acrocorinth. A wall of over 10 kilometers enclosed the city and its mountain.
The history of the city has two clearly distinguishable periods. In the first period it was a Greek city that prospered during the most glorious years of Athens, around the 5th century B.C. It enjoyed great success and was well known for its ceramics, shipbuilding and architecture. Its greatly diversified and strong economy was well managed by the rich for centuries.
Athenian writers portrayed the Corinth of this time as a place where prostitution was rife. Greek writers Phileterus and Poliochus for example, wrote plays called Korinthiastes, meaning “The Whoremonger.” Plato on the other hand used the term “A Corinthian Girl” to mean a prostitute. In spite of this evidence, Corinth may not have been worse than any other Roman city of the time . However, the instances of the use of such language provide clues as to what the economy had done to the morals of the city.
This first Corinth was the major city of the Achaean league, a confederation of Greek city-states formed around the third century B.C. When Rome demanded that the league be dissolved, the city chose rather to revolt than comply, and the response was met with the wrath of Roman military dominance. The Roman consul Lucius Mummius in 146BC destroyed it, killing all the males and selling all the women and children into slavery. After the siege the city was left alone and remained generally dormant for over a century. However, because it was a traditional market, Corinth seems to have managed to slowly repopulate.
The second era of the city was established by Julias Caesar in 44BC. The reasons why it was re-founded were necessarily economic. The Acrocorinth’s elevation naturally provided the needed defense for the city to flourish. Water from the springs sufficiently assured a decent livelihood. The city’s ability to control both eastern and western trade made the Roman government to invest in it significantly. In order to control the population and propagate Roman civilization Julius Caesar...