Ancient Corinth, Greece
All that remains of the ancient city of Corinth, Greece is scattered ruins of buildings and the columns of the temple of Apollo. In its glory, Corinth was a very prosperous and vibrant city of ancient Greece.
A Brief History
When Paul arrived in 51 AD, the Corinth he saw was little more than 100 years old, but was five times as large as Athens and the capital of the province. Ancient Corinth, the original Corinth, founded in the 10th Century BC, had been the richest port and the largest city in ancient Greece. Strategically located guarding the narrow isthmus that connects the Peloponnesus (as southern Greece is called) to the mainland, it was a powerful commercial center near two seaports only 4 miles apart. Lechaeum, the western harbor in the Corinthian Gulf was the trading port to Italy and Sicily, and Cenchreae, the eastern harbor in the Saronic Gulf, was the port for the eastern Mediterranean countries. Periander (ca. 625-585 BC) had constructed a five foot wide rock-cut tract (Gk. diolkos) for wheeling small ships and their unloaded cargo from one gulf to the other. By 400 BC, a double wall ran from the city to Lechaeum to protect a two mile rock paved street, about 40' wide, leading to the port.
When Rome demanded the dissolution of the Achaian League, Corinth, the leader, resisted and so Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, leveled the city in 146 BC, killed the men and sold the women and children into slavery. Some of the wealthier families escaped to the island of Delos. For the next 100 years, only a handful of squatters occupied the site. Julius Caesar refounded the city as a colony in 44 BC, named it Colonia Laus Julia Corinthiensis and populated it with conscripted Italian, Greek, Syrian, Egyptian and Judean freed slaves. New Corinth, as Ancient Corinth, thrived.
"Within just a few years, new Corinth's settlers' enormously profitable commerce at this crossroads of the nations had brought thousands more eager settlers from all over the Mediterranean and enormous personal wealth to a local ruling class of self-made women and men." [Horsley and Silberman, The Message and the Kingdom,p. 163] The wealthy Greek families who had fled to Delos also returned.
Commentators usually assume that Corinth was an especially licentious city, a reputation it seems to have had in ancient times. Indeed, one of the Greek verbs for fornicate was korinthiazomai,a word derived from the city's name. Apparently this estimation was based on Strabo's report of 1,000 sacred prostitutes in the temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth, an 1886-foot hill that rises above the city to the south. Recent scholars point out, however, that the charge was more likely an Athenian slander against the pre-146 BC city since sacred prostitution was a Middle East custom, not a Greek one. No doubt Corinth, like other large port cities, had plenty of prostitutes to service the sailors, but they were not sacred.
The Acrocorinth, the acropolis of the ancient city, was heavily fortified during the Middle Ages. Nothing is left of the fabled temple to Aphrodite, but remains of the medieval fortifications, which were built on earlier foundations, may still be seen from the western side.
Paul Settles Down
It's easy to see why Paul chose Corinth as headquarters for his mission to the west. The city was young, dynamic, not hidebound by tradition, a mix of dislocated individuals without strong ethnic identities seeking to shed their former low status by achieving social honor and material success. Paul was not intimidated by a big, bustling, cosmopolitan hub city, with no dominant religious or intellectual tradition, for Corinth shared many characteristics with Tarsus, his home town, and Syrian Antioch, his home church city. The heart of the city, the forum, was filled with temples and shrines to the emperor and various members of his family, built alongside temples to the older Greek gods such as Apollo. Apollo's son, Asklepios, the god of healing, had a shrine there as well as at Epidaurus, the ancient site of miracle healings, about 50 miles southeast. Reference: http://www.abrock.com/Greece-Turkey/corinth.html