Clockwise from top left: Second Temple of Hera in Poseidonia, Campania; Doric-styled Temple, Segesta; Taras' sculpture of a young man wearing cucullus and leading his donkey; depiction of Eos riding a two-horsed chariot, on a krater from Southern Italy.
Magna Graecia (UK: /ˌmæɡnə ˈɡriːsiə, - ˈɡriːʃə/ MAG-nə GREE-see-ə, - GREE-shə, US: /- ˈɡreɪʃə/ - GRAY-shə, Latin: [ˈmaŋna ˈɡrae̯ki.a]; Ancient Greek: Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, romanized: Megálē Hellás, Greek: [/me.ɡá.lɛː hel.lás/]; both lit. 'Great[er] Greece'; Italian: Magna Grecia, Italian: [ˈmaɲɲa ˈɡrɛʧa]) was the name given by the Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania and Sicily; these regions were extensively populated by Greek settlers. These settlers, who began arriving in the 8th century BC, brought with them their Hellenic civilization, which left a lasting imprint on Italy (such as in the culture of ancient Rome). They also influenced the native peoples, such as the Sicels and the Oenotrians, who became hellenized after they adopted the Greek culture as their own.
The Greek expression Megálē Hellás, later translated into Latin as Magna Graecia, first appears in Polybius' Histories, where he ascribed the term to Pythagoras and his philosophical school. Strabo also used the term to refer to the size of the territory that had been conquered by the Greeks, and the Roman poet Ovid used the term in his poem Fasti.
According to Strabo's Geographica, the colonization of Magna Graecia had already begun by the time of the Trojan War and lasted for several centuries.
In the 8th and 7th century BC, due to demographic crises (famine, overcrowding, etc.), stasis, a developing need for new commercial outlets and ports, and expulsion from their homeland after wars, Greeks began to settle in southern Italy. Colonies began to be established all over the Mediterranean and Black Seas (with the exception of Northwestern Africa, in the sphere of influence of Carthage), including in Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. The Romans called this area Magna Graecia (Latin for "Greater Greece") since it was so densely inhabited by the Greeks. Ancient geographers differed on whether the term included Sicily or merely Apulia, Campania and Calabria, Strabo and Livy being the most prominent advocates of the wider definitions.
With colonization, Greek culture was exported to Italy in its dialects of the Ancient Greek language, its religious rites and its traditions of the independent polis. An original Hellenic civilization soon developed and later interacted with the native Italic civilisations. The most important cultural transplant was the Chalcidean/Cumaean variety of the Greek alphabet, which was adopted by the Etruscans; the Old Italic alphabet subsequently evolved into the Latin alphabet, which became the most widely used alphabet in the world.
Some of these Hellenic colonies still stand today such as Neapolis ("New City", now Naples), Syracuse, Akragas (Agrigento), Taras (Taranto), Rhegion (Reggio Calabria), or Kroton (Crotone).
The first Greek city to be absorbed into the Roman Republic was Neapolis in 327 BC. The other Greek cities in Italy followed during the Samnite Wars and the Pyrrhic War; Taras was the last to fall in 272. Sicily was conquered by Rome during the First Punic War. Only Syracuse remained independent until 212 because its king Hiero II was a devoted ally of the Romans. His grandson Hieronymus however made an alliance with Hannibal, which prompted the Romans to besiege the city, which fell in 212 despite the machines of Archimedes, described by Proclus in his commentary on Euclid's Elements. Archimedes constructed weapons powered by compressed air, weights and counterweights, according to Ctesibius and Hero.
The Temple of Concordia, Akragas, Sicily
The goddess Nike riding on a two-horse chariot, Apulian patera (tray), 4th century BC.
Head-Kantharos of a Female Faun or Io, red-figure pottery, South Italy, 375-350 BC
List of Hellenic Poleis in Italy
This is a list of the 22 poleis (city states) in Italy, according to Mogens Herman Hansen. It does not list all the Hellenic settlements, only those organised around a polis structure.
|Ancient name(s)||Location||Modern name(s)||Foundation date||Mother city||Founder(s)|
|Herakleia (Lucania)||Basilicata||(abandoned)||433–432 BC||Taras (and Thourioi)||Unknown|
|Hipponion||Calabria||Vibo Valentia||late 7th century BC||Lokroi Epizephiroi||Unknown|
|Hyele, or Elea, Velia (Roman name)||Campania||(abandoned)||c.540–535 BC||Phokaia, Massalia||Refugees from Alalie|
|Kaulonia||Calabria||(abandoned)||7th century BC||Kroton||Typhon of Aigion|
|Kroton||Calabria||Crotone||709–708 BC||Rhypes, Achaia||Myscellus|
|Kyme, Cumae (Roman name)||Campania||(abandoned)||c.750–725 BC||Chalkis and Eretria||Hippokles of Euboian Kyme and Megasthenes of Chalkis|
|Laos||Calabria||(abandoned)||before 510 BC||Sybaris||Refugees from Sybaris|
|Lokroi (Epizephiroi)||Calabria||Locri||early 7th century BC||Lokris||Unknown|
|Medma||Calabria||(abandoned)||7th century BC||Lokroi Epizephiroi||Unknown|
|Metapontion||Basilicata||Metaponto||c. 630 BC||Achaia||Leukippos of Achaia|
|Metauros||Calabria||Gioia Tauro||7th century BC||Zankle (or possibly Lokroi Epizephiroi)||Unknown|
|Neapolis||Campania||Naples||6th–5th centuries BC (previously an 8th century BC harbour of Kyme known as Parthenope)||Kyme||Unknown|
|Pithekoussai||Campania||Ischia||8th century BC||Chalkis and Eretria||Unknown|
|Poseidonia, Paestum (Roman name)||Campania||(abandoned)||c. 600 BC||Sybaris (and perhaps Troizen)||Unknown|
|Pyxous||Campania||Policastro Bussentino||471–470 BC||Rhegion and Messena||Mikythos, tyrant of Rhegion and Messena|
|Rhegion||Calabria||Reggio Calabria||8th century BC||Chalkis (with Zankle and Messenian refugees)||Antimnestos of Zankle (or perhaps Artimedes of Chalkis)|
|Siris||Basilicata||(abandoned)||c. 660 BC (or c. 700 BC)||Kolophon||Refugees from Kolophon|
|Sybaris||Calabria||Sibari||721–720 (or 709–708) BC||Achaia and Troizen||Is of Helike|
|Taras||Apulia||Taranto||c. 706 BC||Sparta||Phalanthos and the Partheniai|
|Temesa||unknown, but in Calabria||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (Ausones who became Hellenised)|
|Terina||Calabria||(abandoned)||before 460 BC, perhaps c. 510 BC||Kroton||Unknown|
|Thourioi||Calabria||(abandoned)||446 and 444–443 BC||Athens and many other cities||Lampon and Xenokrates of Athens|
List of Hellenic Poleis in Sicily
This is a list of the 46 poleis (city states) in Sicily, according to Mogens Herman Hansen. It does not list all the Hellenic settlements, only those organised around a polis structure.
|Ancient name(s)||Location||Modern name(s)||Foundation date||Mother city||Founder(s)|
|Abakainon||Metropolitan City of Messina||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Adranon||Metropolitan City of Catania||Adrano||c.400 BC||Syrakousai||Dionysios I|
|Agyrion||Province of Enna||Agira||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Aitna||Metropolitan City of Catania||on the site of Katane||476 BC||Syrakousai||Hieron|
|Akragas||Province of Agrigento||Agrigento||c.580 BC||Gela||Aristonoos and Pystilos|
|Akrai||Province of Syracuse||near Palazzolo Acreide||664 BC||Syrakousai||Unknown|
|Alaisa||Metropolitan City of Messina||Tusa||403–402 BC||Herbita||Archonides of Herbita|
|Alontion, Haluntium (Roman name)||Metropolitan City of Messina||San Marco d’Alunzio||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Apollonia||Metropolitan City of Messina||Monte Vecchio near San Fratello||405–367 BC||Syrakousai||Possibly Dionysios I|
|Engyon||Province of Enna||Troina?||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Euboia||Metropolitan City of Catania||Licodia Eubea||7th century BC, perhaps late 8th century BC||Leontinoi||Unknown|
|Galeria||Unknown||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Gela||Province of Caltanissetta||Gela||689–688 BC||Rhodes (Lindos), Cretans||Antiphemos of Rhodes and Entimos the Cretan|
|Heloron||Province of Syracuse||(abandoned)||Unknown||Syrakousai||Unknown|
|Henna||Province of Enna||Enna||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Herakleia Minoa||Province of Agrigento||Cattolica Eraclea||after 628 BC||Selinous, Sparta||refounded by Euryleon after c.510 BC|
|Herakleia||unlocated in Western Sicily||(abandoned)||c.510 BC||Sparta||Dorieus|
|Herbessos||Province of Enna||Montagna di Marzo||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Herbita||Unknown||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Himera||Province of Palermo||Termini Imerese||648 BC||Zankle, exiles from Syrakousai||Eukleides, Simos and Sakon|
|Hippana||Province of Palermo||Monte dei Cavalli||no Greek founder (indigenous settlement that became Hellenised)|
|Imachara||Metropolitan City of Catania||Mendolito||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Kallipolis||Unknown||(abandoned)||late 8th century BC||Naxos (Sicily)||Unknown|
|Kamarina||Province of Ragusa||Santa Croce Camerina||c.598 BC||Syrakousai, Korinth||Daskon of Syracuse and Menekolos of Corinth|
|Kasmenai||Province of Syracuse||(abandoned)||644–643 BC||Syrakousai||Unknown|
|Katane||Metropolitan City of Catania||Catania||729 BC||Naxos (Sicily)||Euarchos|
|Kentoripa||Province of Enna||Centuripe||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Kephaloidion||Province of Palermo||Cefalù||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Leontinoi||Province of Syracuse||Lentini||729 BC||Naxos (Sicily)||Theokles?|
|Lipara||Metropolitan City of Messina||Lipari||580–576 BC||Knidos, Rhodes||Pentathlos, Gorgos, Thestor and Epithersides|
|Longane||Metropolitan City of Messina||near Rodì Milici||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Megara Hyblaea||Province of Syracuse||Augusta||728 BC||Megara Nisaia||Theokles?|
|Morgantina||Province of Enna||near Aidone||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Mylai||Metropolitan City of Messina||Milazzo||700 BC?||Zankle||Unknown|
|Nakone||Unknown||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Naxos||Metropolitan City of Messina||Giardini Naxos||735–734 BC||Chalkis, Naxos (Cyclades)||Theokles|
|Petra||Unknown||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (indigenous settlement that became Hellenised)|
|Piakos||Metropolitan City of Catania||Mendolito?||no Greek founder (Sicels who became Hellenised)|
|Selinous||Province of Trapani||Marinella di Selinunte||628–627 BC||Megara Hyblaea||Pammilos|
|Sileraioi||Unknown||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (indigenous settlement that became Hellenised)|
|Stielanaioi||Metropolitan City of Catania?||(abandoned)||no Greek founder (indigenous settlement that became Hellenised)|
|Syrakousai||Province of Syracuse||Syracuse||733 BC||Korinth||Archias of Korinth|
|Tauromenion||Metropolitan City of Catania||Taormina||392 BC||Syrakousai||perhaps Dionysios I|
|Tyndaris||Metropolitan City of Messina||Tindari||396 BC||Syrakousai||Dionysios I|
|Tyrrhenoi||Province of Palermo?||Alimena?||no Greek founder (indigenous settlement that became Hellenised)|
|Zankle/Messana||Metropolitan City of Messina||Messina||c.730||Chalkis, Kyme||Perieres of Kyme and Krataimenes of Chalkis|
|History of Greece|
During the Early Middle Ages, following the disastrous Gothic War, new waves of Byzantine Christian Greeks fleeing the Slavic invasion of Peloponnese settled in Calabria, further strengthened the Hellenic element in the region. The iconoclast emperor Leo III appropriated lands that had been granted to the Papacy in southern Italy and the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire continued to govern the area in the form of the Catapanate of Italy (965 -1071) through the Middle Ages, well after northern Italy fell to the Lombards.
At the time of the Normans' late medieval conquest of southern Italy and Sicily (in the late 12th century), the Salento peninsula (the "heel" of Italy), up to one-third of Sicily (concentrated in the Val Demone), and much of Calabria and Lucania were still largely Greek-speaking. Some regions of southern Italy experienced demographic shifts as Greeks began to migrate northwards in significant numbers from regions further south; one such region was Cilento, which came to have a Greek-speaking majority. At this time the language had evolved into medieval Greek, also known as Byzantine Greek, and its speakers were known as Byzantine Greeks. The resultant fusion of local Byzantine Greek culture with Norman and Arab culture (from the Arab occupation of Sicily) gave rise to Norman-Arab-Byzantine culture on Sicily.
A remnant of this influence can be found in the survival of the Greek language in some villages of the above mentioned Salento peninsula (the "heel" of Italy). This living dialect of Greek, known locally as Griko, is found in the Italian regions of Calabria and Apulia. Griko is considered by linguists to be a descendant of Byzantine Greek, which had been the majority language of Salento through the Middle Ages, combining also some ancient Doric and local romance elements. There is a rich oral tradition and Griko folklore, limited now but once numerous, to around 30,000 people, most of them having abandoned their language in favour of Italian. Some scholars, such as Gerhard Rohlfs, argue that the origins of Griko may ultimately be traced to the colonies of Magna Graecia.
Although many of the Greek inhabitants of Southern Italy were entirely Latinized during the Middle Ages, pockets of Greek culture and language remained and survived into modernity partly because of continuous immigration to southern Italy from the Greek mainland. One example is the Griko people in Calabria and Salento, some of whom still maintain their Greek language and customs. Their working practices have been passed down through generations through storytelling and allowing the observation of work. The Italian parliament recognizes the Griko people as an ethnolinguistic minority under the official name of Minoranze linguistiche Grike dell'Etnia Griko-Calabrese e Salentina.
Greek nobles started taking refuge in Italy following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Greeks immigrated once again to the region in the 16th and 17th centuries in reaction to the conquest of the Peloponnese by the Ottoman Empire. Especially after the end of the Siege of Coron (1534), large numbers of Greeks took refuge in the areas of Calabria, Salento and Sicily. Greeks from Coroni, the so-called Coronians, were nobles, who brought with them substantial movable property.
Other Greeks who moved to Italy came from the Mani Peninsula of the Peloponnese. The Maniots (their name originating from the Greek word mania) were known for their proud military traditions and for their bloody vendettas, many of which still continue today. Another group of Maniot Greeks moved to Corsica in the 17th century under the protection of the Republic of Genoa.
- ^ Henry Fanshawe Tozer (30 October 2014). A History of Ancient Geography. Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-108-07875-7.
- ^ Polyb. Hist. 2.39.1
- ^ Polybius, ii. 39.
- ^ A. J. Graham, "The colonial expansion of Greece", in John Boardman et al., Cambridge Ancient History, vol. III, part 3, p. 94.
- ^ a b Luca Cerchiai; Lorena Jannelli; Fausto Longo (2004). The Greek Cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily. Getty Publications. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-89236-751-1.
- ^ Strabo. "I, Section I". Geographica (in Greek). Vol. VI.
- ^ "MAGNA GRECIA" (in Italian). Retrieved 24 November 2021.
- ^ Heitland, William Emerton (1911). A Short History of the Roman Republic. The University Press. pp. 72.
Roman Republic Neapolis in 327 BC.
- ^ Proclus Phil., In primum Euclidis elementorum librum commentarii Page 41, line 7, Πρὸς δὴ ταύταις ἡ μηχανικὴ καλουμένη τῆς περὶ τὰ αἰσθητὰ καὶ τὰ ἔνυλα πραγματείας μέρος ὑπάρχουσα, ὑπὸ δὲ ταύτην ἥ τε ὀργανοποιϊκὴ τῶν κατὰ πόλεμον ἐπιτηδείων ὀργάνων, οἷα δὴ καὶ Ἀρχιμήδης λέγεται κατασκευάσαι τῶν πολεμούντων τὴν Συράκουσαν ἀμυντικὰ ὄργανα, καὶ ἡ θαυματοποιϊκὴ τὰ μὲν διὰ πνῶν φιλοτεχνοῦσα, ὥσπερ καὶ Κτησίβιος καὶ Ἥρων πραγματεύονται, τὰ δὲ διὰ ῥοπῶν, ὧν τῆς μὲν κινήσεως τὴν ἀνισορροπίαν αἰτιατέον, τῆς δὲ στάσεως τὴν ἰσορροπίαν, ὥσπερ καὶ ὁ Τίμαιος διώρισεν, τὰ δὲ διὰ νεύρων καὶ σπάρτων ἐμψύχους ὁλκὰς καὶ κινήσεις ἀπομιμουμένων
- ^ Hansen & Nielsen (eds.), Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, pp. 249–320.
- ^ Hansen & Nielsen (eds.), Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, pp. 189–248.
- ^ "Slavs and nomadic populations in Greece". www2.rgzm.de. Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-19.
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At the end of the twelfth century ... While in Apulia Greeks were in a majority – and indeed present in any numbers at all – only in the Salento peninsula in the extreme south, at the time of the conquest they had an overwhelming preponderance in Lucania and central and southern Calabria, as well as comprising anything up to a third of the population of Sicily, concentrated especially in the north-east of the island, the Val Demone.
- ^ Oldfield, Paul (2014). Sanctity and Pilgrimage in Medieval Southern Italy, 1000-1200. Cambridge University Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-107-00028-5.
"However, the Byzantine revival of the tenth century generated a concomitant process Hellenization, while Muslim raids in southern Calabria, and instability in Sicily, may also have displaced Greek Christians further north on the mainland. Consequently, zones in northern Calabria, Lucania and central Apulia which were reintegrated into Byzantine control also experienced demographic shifts and the increasing establishment of immigrant Greek communities. These zones also acted as springboards for Greek migration further north, into regions such as the Cilento and areas around Salerno, which had never been under Byzantine control.
- ^ Kleinhenz, Christopher (2004). Medieval Italy: an encyclopedia, Volume 1. Routledge. pp. 444–445. ISBN 978-0-415-93930-0.
ISBN 0-415-93930-5" "In Lucania (northern Calabria, Basilicata, and southernmost portion of today's Campania) ... From the late ninth century into the eleventh, Greek-speaking populations and Byzantine temporal power advanced, in stages but by no means always in tandem, out of southern Calabria and the lower Salentine peninsula across Lucania and through much of Apulia as well. By the early eleventh century, Greek settlement had radiated northward and had reached the interior of the Cilento, deep in Salernitan territory. Parts of the central and north-western Salento recovered early, came to have a Greek majority through immigration, as did parts of Lucania.
- ^ Rohlfs, Gerhard (1967). "Greek Remnants in Southern Italy". The Classical Journal. 62 (4): 164–9. JSTOR 3295569.
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- Polyxeni Adam-Veleni and Dimitra Tsangari (editors), Greek colonisation: New data, current approaches; Proceedings of the scientific meeting held in Thessaloniki (6 February 2015), Athens, Alpha Bank, 2015.
- Michael J. Bennett, Aaron J. Paul, Mario Iozzo, & Bruce M. White, Magna Graecia: Greek Art From South Italy and Sicily, Cleveland, OH, Cleveland Museum of Art, 2002.
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- Giovanni Casadio & Patricia A. Johnston, Mystic Cults In Magna Graecia, Austin, University of Texas Press, 2009.
- Lucia Cerchiai, Lorenna Jannelli, & Fausto Longo (editors), The Greek cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily, Photography by Mark E. Smith, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004.ISBN 0-89236-751-2
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- T. J. Dunbabin, The Western Greeks, 1948.
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- Mogens Herman Hansen & Thomas Heine Nielsen, An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, Oxford University Press, 2004.
- R. Ross Holloway, Art and Coinage In Magna Graecia, Bellinzona, Edizioni arte e moneta, 1978.
- Margaret Ellen Mayo, The Art of South Italy: Vases From Magna Graecia, Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1982.
- Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli, The Greek World: Art and Civilization In Magna Graecia and Sicily, New York: Rizzoli, 1996.
- ———— (editor), The Western Greeks: Catalog of an exhibition held in the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, March–Dec., 1996, Milan, Bompiani, 1976.
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|Library resources about |
- Map. Ancient Coins.
- David Willey. Italy rediscovers Greek heritage. BBC News. 21 June 2005, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK.
- Gaze On The Sea. Salentine Peninsula, Greece and Greater Greece. (in Italian, Greek and English)
- Oriamu pisulina. Traditional Griko song performed by Ghetonia.
- Kalinifta. Traditional Griko song performed by amateur local group.
- Second Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Hellenic Heritage of Southern Italy. Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). June 11, 2015. (Dates: Monday, May 30, 2016 to Thursday, June 2, 2016.)
- Sergio Tofanelli et al. The Greeks in the West: genetic signatures of the Hellenic colonisation in southern Italy and Sicily. European Journal of Human Genetics, (15 July 2015).