George Grote.

A history of Greece from the earliest period to the close of the ..., Volume 1 online

. (page 91 of 98)
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Drako at Athens.
That these first of all Grecian written laws were few and simple,.

may be sufficiently assured. The only fact certain respecting
m is their extraordinary rigor: they seem to have enjoined the
)lication of the lex talionis as a punishment for personal injuries.

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In this general character of his laws, Zaleuktis was the counterpart
of Drako. But so little was certainly known, and so much falsely
asserted, respecting him, that Timseus the historian went sp far as to
call in question his real existence — against the authority not only of
Ephorus, but also of Aristotle and Theophnistus. The laws must
have remained, however, for a longtime, formally unchanged; for so
great was the aversion of the Lokrians, we are told, to any new law,
that the man who ventured to propose one appeared in public with
a rope round his neck, which was at once tightened if he failed to
couvmce the assembly of the necessity of his proposition. Of the
government of the Epizephyrian Lokri we know only that in later
times it included a great council of 1000 members, and a chief
executive magistrate called Kosmopolis; it is spoken of also as
strictly and carefully administered.

The date of Rhegium (Reggio), separated from the territory of the
Epizephyrian Lokri by the river Halex, must have been not only
earlier than Lokri, but even earlier than Sybaris — if the statement of
Antiochus be correct, that the colonists were joined by those Messe-
nians, who, prior to the first Messenian war, were anxious to make
reparation to the Spartans for the outrage offered to the Spartan
maidens at the temple of Artemis Limnatis, but were overborne by
their countrymen and forced into exile. A different version. Low-
ever, is given by Pausanias of this migration of Messenians to
Rhegium, yet still admitting the fact of such migration at the close
of the first Messenian war, which would place the foundation of the
city earlier than 720 b.c. Though Rhegium was a Chalkidic eolony,
yet a portion of its inhabitants seem to have been undoubtedly of
Messenian origin, and among them Anaxilas, despot of the town
between 500-470 B.C., who traced his descent through two centuries
to a Messenian emigrant named Alkidamidas. The celebrity and
power of Anaxilas, just at the time when the ancient histoiy of the
Greek towns was beginning to be set forth in prose and with some
degree of system, caused the Messenian element in the population of
Rhegium to be noticed prominently. But the town was essentially
Chalkidic, connected by colonial sisterhood with the Chalkidic se^
tlements in Sicily — Zankle, Naxos, Katana, and Leontini. The
original emigrants departed from Chalkis, as a tenth of ihe citizens
consecrated by vow to Apollo in consequence of famine; and the
directions of the god, as well as the invitation of the Zanklseans,
guided their course to Rhegium. The town was flourishing, and
acquired a considerable number of dependent villages around, inhab-
ited doubtless by cultivators of the indigenous population. But it
seems to have been often at variance with the conterminous Lokrians,
and received one severe defeat, in conjunction with the Tarentines,
which will be hereafter recounted.

Between Lokri and the Lakinian cape were situated the Achftan
colony of Kaulonia, and Skylletium; the latter seemingly include

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n the domain of Kroton, though pretending to hare been originally
bunded bv Menestheus, the leader of the Athenians at the siege of
Troy; Petilia, also, a hill-fortress north-west of the Lakinian cape,
s well as Makalla, both comprised in the territory of Kroton, w ere
fflrmed to have been founded by Philoktetes. Along all this coast
•f the Gulf of Tarentuin, there were various establishments ascribed
the heroes of the Trojan war — Epeius, Philoktetes, Nestor — or to
heir returning troops. Of these establishments, probably the occu-
lants had been small, miscellaneous, unacknowledged bands of.
Grecian adventurers, who assumed to tliemselves the most honorable j
rigin which they could imagine, and who became afterward absorbed i
iito the larger colonial establishments which followed; the latter
dopting and taking upon themselves the heroic worship of Philok-
it«s or other warriors from Troy, which the prior emigrants had

Duriog the flourishing times of Sybaris and Kroton, it seems that
lese two great cities divided the whole lengtli of the coast of the
'arentine Gulf, from the spot now called Rocca Imperiale down to
le south of the Lakinian cape. Between the point where the
omiuion of Sybaris terminated on the Tarentine side, and Tarentum
self, there were two considerable Grecian settlements — Siris, after-
ward called Herakleia, and Motapontium. The fertility and attrac-
on of the territory of Siris, with its two rivers, Akiris and Siris,
ere well known even to the poet Archilochus (660 b.c.), but we do
ot know the date at which it passed from the indigenous Chonians
• Chaonians into the hands of Greek settlers. A citizen of Siris is
tentioned among the suitors for the daughter of the Sikyonian Kleis-
lenes (580-560 B.C.). We are told that some Kolophonian fugitives,
nigrating to escape the dominion of the Lydian kings, attacked and
assessed themselves of the spot, giving to it the name Polieion.
he Chonians of Siris ascribed to themselves a Trojan origin, exhib-
ng a wooden image of the Ilian Athene, which they affirmed to
ive been brought away by their fugitive ancestors after the capture

Troy. When the town was stormed by .the lonians, many of the
habitants clung to this relic for protection, but were dragged away
id slain by the victors, whose sacrilege was supposed to have been the
use that their settlement was not durable. At the time of the inva-
)n of Greece by Xerxes, the fertile territory of Siris was considered

still open to be colonized ; for the Athenians, when their affairs
peared desperate, had this scheme of emigration in reserve as a
•ssible resource; and there were inspired declarations from some of
e contemporary prophets which encouraged them to undertake it
; length, after the town of Thurii had been founded by Athens, in
3 vicinity of the dismantled Sybaris, the Thurians tried to possess
Bmselves of the Siritid territory, but were opposed by the Taren-
les. According to the compromise concluded l^tween them, Taren-
m was recognized as the metropolis of the colony, but joint

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possession was allowed both to Tarentines and Thurians. The
former transferred the site of the city, under the new name Herakleia,
to a spot three miles from the sea, leaving Siris as the place cf mari-
time access to it.

About twenty-five miles eastward of Siris on the coast of the Taren-
tine Gulf was situated Metapontium, a Greek town, which was afl3 rmed
by some to draw its brigin from the Pylian companions of Nestor —
by othera, from the Phokinn warriors of Epeius, on their return from
T^roy. The proofs of the former were exhibited in the worship of the
Neleid heroes — the proofs of the latter in the preservation of the
reputed identical tools with which Epeius had constructed the Trojan
horse. Metapontium was planted on the territory of the Chonians or
CEnotrians, but the first colony is said to have been destroyed by an
attack of the Samnites, at what period we do not know. It had been
founded by some Achaean settlers — under the direction of the oekist
Daulius, despot of the Phokian Krissa, and invited by the inhabit-
ants of Sybaris — who feared that the place might be appropriated by
the neighboring Tarentines, colonists from Sparta and hereditary
enemies in Peloponnesus of the Achaean race. Before the new set-
tlers arrived, however, the place seems to have been already appro-
priated by the Tarentines; for the Achaean Leukippus only obtained
their permission to land by a fraudulent promise, and after all had to
sustain a forcible struggle both with them and with the neighboring
(Enotrians, which was compromised by a division of territory. The
fertility of the Metapontine territory waa hardly less celebrated than
that of the Siritid

Farther eastward of Metapontium, again, at the distance of about
twenty-five miles, was situated the great city of Taras or Tarentum,
a colony from Sparta founded after the first Messenian war, seem-
ingly about 707 B.C. The oekist Phalanthus, said to have been a
Herakleid, was placed at the head of a body of Spartan emigrants —
consisting principally of some citizens called Epeunaktse and of the
youth called Parthenise, who had been disgraced by their country-
men on account of their origin and were on the point of breaking out
into rebellion. It was out of the Messenian war that this emigration
is stated to have arisen, in a manner analogous to that which baa
been stated respecting the Epizephyrian Lokrians. The Lacedae-
monians, before entenng Messenia to carry on the war, had made a
. vow not to return until they should have completed the conquest; a
j vow iu which it appears that some of them declined to take part,
standing altogether aloof from the expedition. When the absent
soldiers returned after many years of absence consumed in the war,
they found a numerous progeny which had been born to their wives
and. daughters during the interval, from intercourse with those
(Epeunaktae) who had staid at home. The Epeunaktae were punished
by being degraded to the rank and servitude of Helots; the children
thus bom, called Partheniae, were also cut off from all the rights of

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Mzenship, and held in dishonor. But the parties punished were
lunerous enough to make themselves formidable, and a conspiracy
BB planned among them intended tolbreak out at the great religious
jstival of the Hyakinthia, in the temple of the Amyklaean Apollo.
hal£«itbus was the secret chief of the conspirators, who agreed to
)mmence their attack upon the authorities at the moment when he
lould put on his helmet. The leader, however, never intending
lat the scheme should be executed, betrayed it beforehand, stipu-
.ting for the safety of all those implicated in it. At the commence-
lent of the festival, when the multitude were already assembled, a
ardld was directed to proclaim aloud that Phalanthus would not on
lat day put on his helmet — a proclamation which at once revealed
> the conspirators that they were betrayed. Some of them sought
ifety in flight, others assumed the posture of suppliants; but they
ere merely detained in confinement, with assurance of safety, while
halanthus was sent to the Delphian oracle to ask advice respecting
nigration. He is said to have inquired whether he might be per-
litted to appropriate the fertile plain of Sikjron, but the Pythian
riestess emphatically dissuaded him, and enjoined him to conduct
is emigrants to Satyrium and Tarentum, where he would be **a
lischief to the lapygians." Phalanthus obeved, and conducted the
3tected conspirators as emigrants to the Tarentine gulf, which he
sached a few years after the foundation of Sybaris and Kroton by
le AchsBans. According to Ephorus, he found these prior emi-
•ants at war with the natives, aided them in the contest, and
ceived in return their aid to accomplish his own settlement. But
is can hardly have consisted with the narrative of Antiochus,who
presented the Acheeans of Sybaris as retaining even in their colo-
es the hatred against the Dorian name which they had contracted
Peloponnesus. Antiochus stated that Phalanthus and his colo-
sts were received in a friendly manner by the indigenous inhabit-
its and allowed to establish their new town in tranquillity.
If such was really the fact, it proves that the native inhabitants of
e soil must have been of purely inland habits, making no use of
B sea either, for commerce or for fishery, otherwise they would
rdly have relinquished such a site as that of Tarentum — which,
iile favorable and productive even in regard to the adjoining land,
is with respect to sea advantages without a parallel in Grecian
ily. It was the only spot in the gulf which possessed a perfectly
■e and convenient harbor. A spacious inlet of the sea is therej
•med, sheltered by an isthmus and an outlying peninsula so as tov
,ve only a narrow entrance. This inlet, still known as the Mare
3Colo, though its shores and the adjoining tongue of land appear
have undergone much change, affords at the present day a cou-
nt, inexhaustible, and varied supply of fish, especially of shell-
i; which furnish both nourishment and employment to a large
:>portioQ among the inhabitants of the contracted modem Taranto,

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just as they once served the same pnrpose to the numermig, lively;
and jovial population of the mighty Tarentum. The coocentratcd
population of fishermen foimed a predominant element in the char-
acter of the Tarentine democracy. Tarentum was just on the borders
of the country originally known as Italy, within which Herodotus
includes it, while Antiochus considers it in lapygia, and regarcb
Metapontium as the last Greek town in Italy.

Its immediate neighbors wer6 the lapygians, who, under various
subdivisions of name and dialect, seem to have occupied the greater
part of south-eastern Italy, includinff the peninsula denominated
after them (yet sometimes also called the Saientine), between tke
Adriatic and the Tarentine gulf, — and who are even stated al on*
time to have occupied some territory on the south-east of that gulf,
near the site of Kroton. The lapygian name appears to have com-
prehended Messapians, Salen tines, and Kolabrians; according to
some even Peuketians and Daunians, as far along the Adriatic as
Mount Garganus orDrion: Sky lax notices in his time (about 860 B.c.)
five different tongues in the country which he calls lapygia. The
Messapians and Salentines are spoken of as immigrants from Kreke,
akin to the Minoian or primitive Kretans ; and we find a nationid
ffenealogv which recognizes lapyx, son of Daedalus, an immigrant
from Sicily. But the stoiy told to Herodotus was, that the Kretmn
soldiers who had accompanied Minos in his expedition to recov«
Daedalus from Kamikus in Sicily, were on their return home cast
away on the shores of lapygia, and became the founders of Hyria
and other Messapian towns in the interior of the country. Brundn-
sium also, or Brentesion as the Greeks called it, inconsiderable in the
days of Herodotus, but famous in the Roman times afterward as the
most frequented sea-port for voyaging to Epirus, was a Messapian
town. The native language spoken by the lapygian Messa^ns was
a variety of the Oscan: the Latin poet Ennius, a native of Kudise in
the lapygian peninsula, spoke Greek, Latin, and Oscan, and even
deduced his pedigree from the ancient national prince or hero

We are told that during the lifetime of Phalanthus^ the Tarentine
settlers gained victories over the Messapians and Peuketians, which
they commemorated afterward by votive offerings at Delphi — and
that they even made acquisitions at the expense of the inhabitants of
Brundusium — a statement difficult to believe, if we look to the dis-
tance of the latter place, and to the circumstance that Herodotus even
in his time names it only as a harbor. Phalanthus too, driven into
exile, is said to have found a hospitable reception at Brundusium and
to have died there. Of the history of Tarentum, however, during
the first 230 years of its existence, we possess no details. We have
reason to believe that it partook in the general prosperity of the
Italian Greeks during those two centuries, though remaining inferior
both to Sybaris and to Kroton. About the year 510 b.c., Uiese two

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latter republics went to war, and Sybaris was nearly destroyed ; while
in the subsequent half -century the Krotoniates suffered tlie terrible
defeat of Sngra from the Lokrians, and the Tarentines experienced
an equally ruinous defeat from the lapypan Messapians. From
these reverses, however, the Tarentines appear to have recovered
more completely than the Krotoniates; for the foi-mer stand first
among the Italiots or Italian Greeks, from the year 400 B.C. down to
the supremacy of the Romans, and made better head against the
growth of the Lucaniaus and Bruttians of the interior.

Such were the chief cities of the Italian Greeks from Tarentum on
the upper sea to Poseidonia on the lower; and if we take them during
tlie period preceding the ruin of Sybaris (in 510 B.C.), they will appear
to have enjoyed a degree of prosperity even surpassing that of the
Sicilian Greeks. The dominion of Sybaris, Kroton, and Lokri ex-
tended across the peninsula from sea to sea» The mountainous
rejj^ons of the interior of Calabria were held in amicable connection
"With the cities and cultivators in the plain and valley near the sea —
to the reciprocal advantage of both The petty native tribes of (Eno-
trians, Sikels, or Italians properly so called, were partially hellenized.
and brought into the condition of village cultivators and shepherds
dependent upon Sybaris and its fellow-cities; a portion of them
dwelling in the town, probably, as domestic slaves of the rich men,
but most of them remaining in the country region as serfs, PenestsB.
or coloni, intermingled with Greek settlers, and paying over parts of
their produce to Greek proprietors.

But this dependence, though accomplished in the first instance by
force, was yet not upheld exclusively by force. It was to a great
degree the result of an organized march of life, and of more prSiuc-
tive cultivation brought within their reach — of new wants, both
created and supplied — of temples, festivals, ships, walls, chariots,
etc., which imposed upon the imagination of the rude landsmen and
shepherds. Against mere force the natives could have found shelter
in the unconquerable forests and ravines of the Calabrian Apennines,
and in that vast mountain region of the Sila, lying immediately
behind the plains of Sybaris, where even the French army with its
excellent organization in 1807 found so much difficulty in reaching
the bandit villagers. It was not by arms alone, but by arms and arts
combined — a mingled influence, such as enabled imperial Rome to
subdue the fierceness of the rude Germans and Britons — that the
Sybarites and. Krotoniates acquired and maintained their ascendency
over the natives of the interior. The shepherd of the banks of the
river Sybaris or Krathis not only found a new exchangeable value for
his cattle and other produce, becoming familiar with better diet and
clothing and improved cultivation of the olive and the vine — but he
was also enabled to display his prowess, if strong and brave, in the

Eublic games at the festival of the Lakinian Here, or even at the
Olympic games in Peloponnesus. It is thus that we have to explain

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the extensive dominion, the great population, and the wealth and
luxury of the Sybarites and &otoniates — a population of which the
incidental reports as given in figures are not trustworthy, but which
we may well believe to have been very numerous. The native
(Enotrians, while unable to combine in resisting Greek force, were at
the same time less widely distinguished from me Greeks in race and
language, than the Oscans of Middle Italy, and therefore more acces-
sible to Greek pacific influences ; while the Oscan race seem to have
been both fiercer in repehing the assaults of the Greeks, and more
intractable as to their seductions. The lapygians were not modified
by the neighborhood of Tarentum in the same degree as the tribes
adjoining to Sybaris and Kroton by their contact with those cities.
The dialect of Tarentum, as well as of Herakleia, though a marked
Doric, admitted many local peculiarities; and the farces of the Taren-
tine poet Rhinthon, like the Syracusan Sophron, seem to have bleiKled
the Hellenic with the Italic in language as well as in character.

About the year 560 B.C., the time of the accession of Peisistratus at
Athens, the close of what may properly be called the first period of
Grecian history, Sybaris and Kroton were at the maximum of their
power, which each maintained for half a century afterward, until
the fatal dissension between them. We are told that the Sybarites
in that final contest marched against Kroton with an army of 300,000
men. Fabulous as this number doubtless is, we cannot doubt that
for an irruption of this kind into an adjoining territory, their large
body of semi-hellenized native subjects might be mustered in prodig-
ious force. The few statements which have reached us respecting
them, touch, unfortunately, upon little more than their luxury, fan-
tastic self-indulgence, and extravagant indolence, for which qualities
they have become proverbial in modem times as well as in ancient.
Anecdotes illustrating these qualities were current, and served more
than one purpose in antiquity. The philosopher recounted them in
order to discredit and denounce the character which they exemplified:
while among gay companies, ** Sybaritic tales," or tales respecting
saying and doing of ancient Sybarites, formed a separate^rid specif
class of excellent stories to be told simply for amusement — with which
view witty romancers multiplied them indefinitely. It is probable that
the Pythagorean philosophers (who belonged originally to Kroton, but
maintained themselves permanently as a philosophical sect in Italy and
Sicily with a strong tinge of ostentatious ascetism and mysticism), in
their exhortations to temperance and in their denunciations of luxu-
rious habits, might select by preference examples from Sybaris, the
ancient enemy of the Krotoniates, to point their moral; and that the
exaggerated reputation of the city thus first became the subject of
common talk throughout the Grecian world. For little could be
actually known of Sybaris in detail, since its humiliation dates from
the first commencement of Grecian contemporeous history. Heka-
taeus of Miletus may perhaps have visited it in full splendor, but even

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Herodotus knew it only by past report; and the principal anecdotes
respecting it are cited from authors considerably later than him, who
follow the tone of thought so common in antiquity, in ascribing the
ruin of the Sybarites to their overweening corruption and luxury.

Making allowance, however, for exaggeration on all these accounts,
there can be no reason to doubt that Sybaris, in 560 B.C., was one of
the most wealthy, populous, and powerful cities of the Hellenic name ;
and that it also presented both comfortable abundance among the
mass of the citizens, arising from the easy attainment of fresh lots of
fertile land, and excessive mdulgences among the rich — to a degree
forming marked contrast with Hellas Proper, of which Herodotus
characterized Poverty as the foster-sister. The extraordinaiy pro-
ductivenes of the neighboring territory — ^alleged by Varro, m his
time, when the culture must have been milch worse than it had been
under the old Sybaris, to yield an ordinany crop of a hundred-fold,
and extolled by modem travelers even in its present yet more neg-
lected culture — has been already touched upon. The river Krathis
— still the most considerable river of that region — at a time when there
was an industrious population to keep its water-course in order,
would enable the extensive fields of Sybaris to supply abundant
nourishment for a population larger, perhaps, than any other Gre-
cian city could parallel. But though nature was thus bountiful
industry, good management, and well-ordered government were
requirea to turn her bounty to account: where these are wanting,
later experience of the same territory shows that its inexhaustible
capacities may exist in vain. That luxury which Grecian moralists
denounced in the leading Sybarites between 560 and 510 B.C. was the
result of acquisitions vigorously and industriously pushed, and kept
together by an orderly central force, during a century and a half that
the colony had existed. Though the Troezenian settlers who formed
a portion of the original emigrants had been expelled when the Ach83-
ans became more numerous, yet we are told that, on the whole,
Sybaris was liberal in tlie reception of new immigrants to the citi-

Online LibraryGeorge GroteA history of Greece from the earliest period to the close of the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 91 of 98)