A city on the N bank of the former Lake Kopais, now Topolia, to the NW of the Mycenaean fortress of Gla.
A small town living on the rich pasture lands of the Kopais and eel-fishing in the Melas river, Kopai made up one of the 11 Boiotian districts from 447 to 387 and 378 to 338, together with Akraiphia and Chaironeia. Thereafter it was autonomous in the Boiotian League. Its territory consisted of all the NE section of the Kopais up to Cape Phtelio at the foot of Akraiphia, where an inscription engraved in the rock marks the boundary of the two territories. At the end of the 4th c. Krates of Chalkis attempted to drive a tunnel to carry off the waters of the Kopais to the sea; the beginnings of galleries and a line of well-shafts are still extant. The hill of Kopai, broken off from the shore of the ancient lake, is linked to it by a raised causeway some 100 m long; it formed a peninsula in the dry season and an island in times of flood. Made of large stone blocks, the causeway was joined to a surrounding wall, part of which is preserved to the N. To the E of the road, Frazer saw a broken bit of wall 'built of rough and rather small stones';; to the W the wall was polygonal, made of roughly bonded stones of different sizes. Nothing can be seen of it today. The acropolis, on the hilltop, was Underneath the modern village; the walls of the latter contain many ancient stones, architectural blocks, and inscriptions, especially the Church of the Panagia. A 6th c. B.C. relief of an Amazon and a metric epitaph of the 5th c. are in the Thebes Museum. Kopai had a Sanctuary to Demeter Tauropolos (the bull is represented on its coins), one to Dionysos, and one to Sarapis. The necropolis is N of the causeway, on the mainland side. No excavations have been carried out at Kopai. (P. ROESCH)
Info: Princeton Encyclopedia
(Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, from Perseus Project)