The seat of a titular archbishopric of Thessaly. The city, one of the oldest and richest in Greece, is said to have been founded by Acrisius, who was killed accidentally by his son, Perseus (Stephanus Byzantius, s.v.). There lived Peleus, the hero beloved by the gods, and his son Achilles; however, the city is not mentioned by Homer, unless it be identified with Argissa of the Iliad (II, 738). The constitution of the town was democratic, which explains why it sided with Athens in the Peloponnesian War. In the neighbourhood of Larissa was celebrated a festival which recalled the Roman Saturnalia, and at which the slaves were waited on by their masters. It was taken by the Thebans and afterwards by the Macedonian kings, and Demetrius Poliorcestes gained possession of it for a time, 302 B.C. It was there that Philip V, King of Macedonia, signed in 197 B.C. a shameful treaty with the Romans after his defeat at Cynoscephalae, and it was there also that Antiochus III, the Great, won a great victory, 192 B.C. Larissa is frequently mentioned in connection with the Roman civil wars which preceded the establishment of the empire and Pompey sought refuge there after the defeat of Pharsalus. First Roman, then Greek until the thirteenth century, and afterwards Frankish until 1400, the city fell into the hands of the Turks, who kept it until 1882, when it was ceded to Greece ; it suffered greatly from the conflicts between the Greeks and the Turks between 1820 and 1830, and quite recently from the Turkish occupation in 1897. On 6 March, 1770, Aya Pasha massacred there 3000 Christians from Trikala, who had been treacherously brought there.
Very prosperous under the Turkish sovereignty Larissa, which counted 40,000 inhabitants thirty years ago, has now only 14,000, Greeks, Turks, and Jews ; the province of which it is the chief town has a population of 140,000. Christianity penetrated early to Larissa, though its first bishop is recorded only in 325 at the Council of Nicaea . We must mention especially, St. Achilius, in the fourth centruy, whose feast is on 15 May, and who is celebrated for his miracles. Lequien, "Oriens Christ," II, 103-112, cites twenty-nine bishops from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries; the most famous Jermias II, occupied the Patriarch of the West until 733, when the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian annexed it to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the first years of the tenth century it had ten suffragen sees (Gelzer, "Ungedruckte. . .Texte der Notitiae episcopatuum", Munich, 1900, 557); subsequently the number increased and about the year 1175 under the Emperor Manuel Commenus, it reached twenty-eight (Parthey, "Hieroclis Synecdemus", Berlin, 1866, 120). At the close of the fifteenth century, under the turkish, domination, there were only ten suffragan sees (Gelzer, op. cit., 635), which gradually grew less and finally disappeared. Since 1882, when Thessaly was ceded to Greece, the Orthodox Diocese of Larissa has been dependent on the Holy Synod of Athens, not Constantinople. Owing to the law of 1900 which suppressed all the metropolitan sees excepting Athens, Larissa was reduced to the rank of a simple bishopric ; its title is united with that of Pharsalus and Platamon, two adjoining bishoprics now suppressed.
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