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LOCRI EPIZEPHYRII



Salvatore La Rosa
WWW.LOCRIANTICA.IT Welcome to Magna Graecia HISTORY


SECOND PART - THE COLONIZATION AND THE GREEK AGE

CHAPTER I

THE COLONIZATION AND THE ORIGIN OF THE SETTLERS


The foundation date of the colony of Locri Epizephyrii is still a subject discussed amongst the scholars; that is the result of some controversial historical traditions which handed down three different dates for such event: Eusebius, Caesarea's bishop (who lived in the IV century a.D.) in the Armenian edition of his work, tells us the year 673 b.C.; instead, Jerome (who edited the Latin translation of Eusebius' work) dates the foundation back to 679 b.C.; at last, Strabo, without handing down a well-defined date, tells us that the foundation happened shortly after the ones of Syracuse (733 b.C.) and of Kroton (709 b.C.), therefore before the end of the VIII century b.C. or in the beginning of the VII century b.C.


Generally, the modern historians considered the 673 b.C. date as the most trustworthy; on the contrary, nowadays, thanks to new archaeological data, there is the tendency to suppose an antecedent date, closer to Strabo's thesis.
 



 


FOUNDATION DATES OF THE MAJOR CITIES OF MAGNA GRAECIA AND SICILY
 

THUCYDIDES EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA JEROME OTHERS
CUMAE - - 1050(?) -
METAPONTUM - 773(?) - -
ZANCLE - 757/756 - 756
NAXOS 734 735 741 -
SYRACUSE 733 733 738/737 733
LEONTINI 728 - - -
KATANE 728 733 737/736 -
MEGARA HYBLAEA 727 - - -
RHEGION - - - c. 730
MYLAI - 715(?) 716(?) -
SYBARIS - 708-707 709-708 721/720
KROTON - 709 - 709/708
TARAS - - 706 -
LOCRI EPIZEPHYRII - 673 679 c. 700
POSEIDONIA - - - 700(?)
GHELAS 688 688 691/690 -
KAULON - - - c. 675
AKRAI 663 - - -
KASMENAI 643 - - -
SELINUS 627 757(?) 650/649 650
HIMERA - - - 648
MELIGUNIS (LIPARA) - 627(?) 629(?) 580/576
KAMARINA 598 598/597 601/600 598/596
AKRAGAS 580 - - 580/576

 
N.B.:
More than likely Zancle was founded between the 730 and the 725 b.C. hence Rhegion followed briefly; Metapontum probably dates back to the 690 b.C. and Poseidonia was founded during the beginning of the VII century b.C. Really higher dates in Eusebius of Caesarea's work (and in Jerome's translation) are probably due to the attempt of the ancient historical tradition of establishing an uninterrupted relationship between the oldest Greek settlements in western Europe and the VIII-VII century b.C. colonial age; nowadays this is something completely ruled out by the modern historians.

 


Instead, there are no doubts regarding the site where the Greek settlers disembarked; it was cape Zephyrium (from which the city took the name - see
Geographical Position for more information), nowadays cape Bruzzano, which the settlers left behind after few years to move 25 km to the north where, solved the "cohabitation" problems with the natives (Sicels), they started the development of the new polis.

Another question still opened regarding the colonization is which has to be considered the place of origin of the Greek settlers. As the same name of the polis suggests, the settlers came from the Locris region, located in the central Greece.
This is the certain datum; the problem is that this region was split in three sub-regions: the Ozolian Locris or western Locris, the Opuntian Locris or eastern Locris and the Epicnemedian Locris.

On account that this last sub-region, the Epicnemedian, in the Homeric tradition and in the tradition of the ancient Greece was considered an integral part of the Opuntian Locris (the region of the Ajax Oileus' Locrians), the place of origin of the Greek settlers has to be searched for in the Opuntian Locris or in the Ozolian Locris.

Even the ancients didn't agree upon the origin of the settlers; particularly Strabo, probably referring to an older source (Antiochus), affirmed for certain that Locri Epizephyrii was founded by Ozolian Locris' settlers led out by Evanthes. On the contrary, other traditions, such as Ephorus' one, affirmed that the settlers came from the Opuntian Locris.
More or less, both opinions have their strength; and these opinions often base themselves on bound to another unsolved question regarding the Locrian settlers: their social class origins.
 

 

The major cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily
THE MAJOR CITIES OF MAGNA GRAECIA AND SICILY

 


The traditions are controversial either upon this matter, and they are essentially two: the former is the semi-servile one, with Aristotelian origin, confirmed by Polybius (Histories XII, 5-10) which claims that the Locrians settlers descend from the union of servants with their mistresses; the latter is the Timaeus' noble one, which denied the Aristotelian thesis, seen only as an Athenian will to discredit Locri allied with the rival Sparta, claiming that, on the contrary, Locrians' origins were noble because they were direct descendants of the "one-hundred houses", the noblest one-hundred families of Greece's Locris.

The Scholars' tendency, without considering the question solved yet, is to believe that settlers' origin region was the Opuntian Locris, without ruling out a limited participation of settlers from Ozolian Locris, and that in the settlers' origin have to be found, doubtless, servile characters.

 

     

 

 

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