according to Ptolemy (3:17,10), was situated in 540 15 and 340 50. Simon proposes a Sheinitic etymology for the name (Onom. page 50; but see Sickler, Handbuch, page 470). Next to Cnossus, it was the most important city in the island for power and magnificence. At one time Gortyna and Cnossus in union held the whole of Crete in their power except Lyttus (Polyb. 4:53, 54). In later times they were in a continual state of warfare (Strabo, x, Didot. ed., page 410). Gortyna was founded by a colony from Gortys of Arcadia (Plato, Leges, 4, Didot. ed., page 320). It was of very considerable size, its walls being fifty stadia in circuit, whilst those of its rival, Cnossus, were not more than thirty (Strabo, 10, Didot. ed., page 409-411). Homer bestows upon it the epithet "walled" (τειχιόεσσα, Il. 2:646). It was situated on the south side of the island on the river Lethaus (Messara), and at a distance of ninety stadia from the Libyan Sea (Strabo, l.c.). In the Peloponnesian war Gortyna seems to have had some relations with Athens (Thuc. 2:85). Its connection with Philopoemen in B.C. 201 is shown by the Gortynians having invited him to take the command of their army (Plutarch, Philop. 13). When the Achaean League was in alliance witli the Romans, B.C. 197., against Philip V of Macedor, 500 Gortynians joined Quinctius Flamininus when on his march to Thessaly, previous to the battle of Cynoscephalae (Livy, 33:3). It is only recently that a coin bearing the well-known types of the League has been found, struck at Gortyna. The late Col. Leake has shown that the coin with the legend ΚΟΡΤΥΝΙΩΝ ΑΧΑΙΩΝ, which had previously been assigned to Gortys in Arcadia by the late Mr. Burgon (Numbers Chron. 19:235-36), certainly belongs to the Cretan Gortyna (Supp. Num. Hell. page 110), thus proving that cities beyond the continent were admitted into the League (R.S. Poole, Numbers Chron., new ser., 1:173). About the same period there are evidences of an alliance, political or commercial, between Athens and several of the Cretan towns. Some of the coins of six of these — Cnossus, Cydonia, Gortyna, Hierapytna, Polyrrhenium, and Priansusare tetradrachms, with exactly the types of those of Athens of the same age, but distinguished by having the distinctive badges of the Cretan towns.
They were probably struck by the Cretan cities of the great alliance against Philip V of Macedon about B.C. 188 (Pausan. 1:36, 5, 6; comp. Eckhel, Doct. Numbers Vet. 2:221; Leake, Nun. Hell. Insular Greece, page 19; Poole, 1.c.). As Cnossus declined, Gortyna rose to eminence, and became the metropolis of Crete. About A.D. 200 a brother of Septimius Severus held at Gortyna the office of proconsul and quaestor of the united provinces of Crete and Cyrene (Bockh, No. 2591). In the arrangement of the provinces by Constantine, Gortyna was still the metropolis of Crete (Hierocl. Synod. page 649; comp. Leake, Supp. Numbers Hell. page 157).
The remains of Gortyna near Aghius Dheka (the ten Saints), and the cavern in the mountain, have been described by Tournefort (Relation d'un Voyage du Levant) and Pococke (Description of the East), and the cavern, more recently, by Mr. Cockerell (Walpole, 2:402). The modern Gortynians hold this cavern to be the Labyrinth, thus claiming for themselves the honors of the myth of the Minotaur; but it does not appear from the Gortynian coins, which date from the time of the Persian war to that of Hadrian (and there are none later), that their ancestors ever entertained such an idea (Leake, Numbers Hell. Insular Greece, page 18). The famous Labyrinth is represented on the coins of Cnossus, and Colossians Leake says that "it is difficult to reconcile this fact with the existence of the Labyrinth near Gortyna, for that the excavation near Aghius Dheka, at the foot of Mount Ida, is the renowned Cretan labyrinth, cannot be doubted after the description of Tournefort, Pococke, and Cockerell" (Supp. Numbers Hell. page 156). This opinion is given notwithstanding the assertion of Pausanias (ὁ ἐν Κνωσσῷ λαβύρινθος, 1:27, 9). One of the coins of Cnossus bears, besides the Labyrinth on its reverse, the Minotaur on the obverse. It cannot be much later than the expedition of Xerxes, and thus affords evidence of the antiquity of the tradition of the Labyrinth, if not of its real existence; whereas Höck (Kreta, 1:56 sq.), relying on the silence of Hesiod and Herodotus, and the assumed silence of Homer — though the Iliad contains what looks very like an allusion to the Cretan wonder (Il. 18:590 sq.) — has supposed it to have been an invention of the later poets borrowed from Egypt (Poole, ut sup. 1:171-72). A full account of the remains of the old site and the modern place is given in the Museum of Classical Antiquities (2:277-286). Mr. Falkner here describes the cavern near Gortyna, from Sieber, who spent three days in examining it, and says that certainly it had been nothing more than a quarry, which probably supplied the stone for building the city (Reise nach der Insel Kreta, 1:511-520). Höck seems to hold similar views (Kreta, 1:447-454). SEE CRETE.