Corinth was located on the isthmus connecting mainland Greece and the Peloponnese. Because of its strategic location, it prospered as a trade route between the mainland and its two main ports located on the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf.
The city was founded around the 7th century B.C. Soon after its inception, Corinth became a prosperous and influential center in the region. Several colonies soon developed in the area. By the 5th century B.C., its population had risen to approximately 70,000. Corinth joined an association of Greek states known as the Archaean League around 280 B.C. A conflict arose with the Romans over the city of Sparta and Corinth declared war on Sparta. Corinth was quickly overtaken and destroyed. It lay in ruin until the time of Julius Caesar.
In 44 B.C. Julius Caesar designated Corinth as a Roman colony and began to rebuild it. Corinth became populated with freedmen and the poor. Syrians, Egyptians, and Jews made up the rest of the population. During the reign of the Roman emperors Tiberius and Claudius, the city underwent extensive reconstruction and prosperity. This was again due in part to its ideal location along important trade routes. This may be why Paul decided to make Corinth his base location in Greece; this thought is reinforced when one considers the reception Paul received in Athens.
The culture can easily be identified with the Roman culture. Latin was the official language and the city was subject to Roman laws and the government of a Roman colony. The streets and roadways were also patterned according to Roman plans. The ceremonial platform in the civic center and the theatre were also modeled after Roman architecture.
There was a temple to Aphrodite built on the summit of Acrocorinth, a mountain south of the city which stands 1500 feet above the city. Aphrodite was considered the goddess of love and the temple housed many prostitutes dedicated to worshipping Aphrodite through sex. About half a mile north of the forum was the complex dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing. This facility contained bathing, sleeping, and exercise areas as well as various terra cotta molds to aid in the healing of various body parts. Another temple, which was dedicated to the goddess Hera Argaea the goddess of marriage between divine beings, was located near the market. All in all, religious life was a very important part of Corinthian society.
Another important aspect of the social life centered on the home. The heads of Roman families frequently held club or association meetings in their homes; often professional or trade associations. There were also burial societies and social organizations, which met in the home. Gatherings of more than a few intimate friends would meet in the public area of the house dining room (triclinium) or the atrium. Both the Greeks and the Romans were very social in nature and enjoyed gathering together for conversation.