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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

William Smith, A Smaller History of Ancient Greece

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VI

The Greek Colonies

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

HOMER

PLATO

ARISTOTLE

THE GREEK OLD TESTAMENT (SEPTUAGINT)

THE NEW TESTAMENT

PLOTINUS

DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN

CAVAFY

More...


Page 2

1. The earliest Greek colonies were those founded on the western shores of Asia Minor. They were divided into three great masses, each bearing the name of that section of the Greek race with which they claimed affinity. The AEolic cities covered the northern part of this coast, together with the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos; the Ionians occupied the centre, with the islands of Chios and Samos; and the Dorians the southern portion, with the islands of Rhodes and Cos. Most of these colonies were founded in consequence of the changes in the population of Greece which attended the conquest of Peloponnesus by the Dorians. The Ionic cities were early distinguished by a spirit of commercial enterprise, and soon rose superior in wealth and in power to their AEolian and Dorian neighbours. Among the Ionic cities themselves Miletus and Ephesus were the most flourishing, Grecian literature took its rise in the AEolic and Ionic cities of Asia Minor. Homer was probably a native of Smyrna. Lyric poetry flourished in the island of Lesbos, where Sappho and Alcaeus were born. The Ionic cities were also the seats of the earliest schools of Grecian philosophy. Thales, who founded the Ionic school of philosophy, was a native of Miletus. Halicarnassus was one of the most important of the Doric cities, of which Herodotus was a native, though he wrote in the Ionic dialect.

2. The earliest Grecian settlement in Italy was Cumae in Campania, situated near Cape Misenum, on the Tyrrhenian sea. It is said to have been a joint colony from the AEolic Cyme in Asia and from Chalcis in Euboea, and to have been founded, according to the common chronology, in B.C. 1050. Cumae was for a long time the most flourishing city in Campania; and it was not till its decline in the fifth century before the Christian era that Capua rose into importance.

The earliest Grecian settlement in Sicily was founded in B.C. 735. The extraordinary fertility of the land soon attracted numerous colonists from various parts of Greece, and there arose on the coasts of Sicily a succession of flourishing cities. Of these, Syracuse and Agrigentum, both Dorian colonies, became the most powerful. The former was founded by the Corinthians in B.C. 734, and at the time of its greatest prosperity contained a population of 500,000 souls, and was surrounded by walls twenty- two miles in circuit. Its greatness, however, belongs to a later period of Grecian history.

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