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THE expansion of the Greeks beyond Greece proper and the coasts of the Aegean, the plantation of Greek colonies on the shores of Thrace and the Black Sea, in Italy and Sicily, even in Spain and Gaul, began in the eighth and reached its completion in the sixth century. But it must not be regarded as a single or isolated phenomenon. It was the continuation of the earlier expansion over the Aegean islands and the coast of Asia Minor, the details of which were forgotten by the Greeks themselves, and are consequently unknown to us.

The cause of Greek colonization is not to be found in mere trade interests. These indeed were in most cases a motive, and in some of the settlements on the Black Sea they were perhaps a leading motive. But the great difference between Greek and Phoenician colonization is that, while the Phoenicians aimed solely at promoting their commerce, and only a few of their settlements, notably Carthage, became more than mere trading-stations or factories, Greek colonization satisfied other needs than desire of commercial profit. It was the expression of the adventurous spirit which has been poetically reflected in the legends of the “Sailing of the Argo” and the “Homecoming of Odysseus” — the same spirit, not to be expressed in any commercial formula, which prompted English colonization.

Trade, of course, sometimes paved the way. Colonists followed in the paths of trade, and the merchants of Miletus, who adventured themselves in the dangerous waters of the Euxine, observed natural harbours and inviting sites for cities, and when they returned home organized parties of settlers. The adventurous, the discontented, and the needy were always to be found. But in the case of the early colonies at least, it was not over-population of the land, so much as the nature of the land-system, that drove men to emigrate. In various ways, under the family system, which was ill suited to independent and adventurous spirits, it would come about that individual members were excluded from a share in the common estate, and separated from their kin. Such lacklands were ripe for colonial enterprise. Again, the political circumstances of most Greek states in the eighth and seventh centuries favored emigration. We have seen that at this time the aristocratic form of government generally prevailed. Sometimes a king was formally at the head, but he was really no more than the first of peers; a body of nobles were the true masters. Sometimes there was an aristocracy within an aristocracy; or a large clan, like the Bacchiads at Corinth, held the power. In all cases the distinction between the members of the ruling class and the mass of free citizens was widened and deepened. It was the tendency of the rulers to govern in their own interest and oppress the multitude, and they cared little to disguise their contempt for the mass of the people. At Mytilene things went so far that the Penthilids, who had secured the chief power, went about in the streets, armed with clubs, and knocked down citizens whom they disliked. Under these conditions there were strong inducements for men to leave their native city where they were of little account and had to endure the slights, if nothing worse, of their rulers, and to join in the foundation of a new polis where they might themselves rule. The same inducement drew nobles who did not belong to the inner oligarchical circle. In fact, political discontent was an immediate cause of Greek colonization; and conversely it may be said that colonisation was a palladium of aristocracy. If this outlet had not existed, or if it had not suited the Hellenic temper, the aristocracies might not have lasted so long, and they wisely discerned that it was their own interest to encourage colonization.

But while we recognize the operation of general causes we must not ignore special causes. We must, for instance, take into account the fact that Miletus and the south Ionian cities were unable to expand in Caria, as the north Ionian cities expanded in Lydia, because the Carians were too strong for them; and Lycia presented the same kind of barrier to Rhodes. Otherwise, perhaps neither Rhodes nor Miletus would have sent settlers to distant lands.

Wherever the Greek went, he retained his customs and language, and made a Greek “polis”. It was as if a bit of Greece were set down on the remote shores of the Euxine or in the far west on the wild coasts of Gaul or Iberia. The colony was a private enterprise, but the bond of kinship with the "mother-city" was carefully fostered, and though political discontent might have been the cause which drove the founders forth, yet that solemn departure for a distant land, where a new city-state, protected by the same gods, was to spring up, always sealed a reconciliation. The emigrants took fire from the public hearth of their city to light the fire on that of their new home. Intercourse between colonies and the mother-country was specially kept up at the great religious festivals of the year, and various marks of filial respect were shown by the daughter to the mother. When, as frequently befell, the colony determined herself in turn to throw off a new shoot, it was the recognized custom that she should seek the oecist or leader of the colonists from the mother-city. Thus the Megarian colony, Byzantium, when it founded its own colony, Mesembria, must have sought an oecist from Megara. The political importance of colonization was sanctified by religion, and it was a necessary formality, whenever a settlement was to be made, to ask the approbation of the Delphic god. The most ancient oracular god of Greece was Zeus of Dodona. The Selli, his priests and “interpreters”, are mentioned in the Iliad; and in the Odyssey Dodona appears as a place to which a king of the west might go to ask the will of Zeus “from the lofty oak”, wherein the god was conceived to dwell. But the oak-shrine in the highlands of Epirus was too remote to become the chief oracle of Greece, and the central position of Delphi enabled the astute priests of the Pythian Apollo to exalt the authority of their god as a true prophet to the supreme place in the Greek world. There were other oracular deities who foretold the future; there was, not far off, Trophonius at Boeotian Lebadea; there was Amphiaraus in the land of the Graes, not yet Boeotian. But none of these ever became even a rival of the Delphian Apollo, who by the seventh century at least had won the position of adviser to Greece.

It is worthy of notice that colonization tended to promote a feeling of unity among the Greek peoples, and it did so in two ways. By the wide diffusion of their race on the fringe of barbarous lands, it brought home to them more fully the contrast between Greek and barbarian, and, by consequence, the community of the Greeks. The Greek dwellers in Asia Minor, neighbors of not-Greek peoples, were naturally impressed with their own unity in a way which was strange to dwellers in Boeotia or Attica, who were surrounded on all sides by Greeks and were therefore alive chiefly to local differences. With the diffusion of their sons over various parts of the world, the European Greeks acquired a stronger sense of unity. In the second place, colonization led to the association of Greeks of different cities. An oecist who decided to organize a party of colonists could not always find in his own city a sufficient number of men willing to take part in the enterprise. He therefore enlisted comrades from other cities; and thus many colonies were joint undertakings and contained a mixture of citizens of various nationalities. This feature was not indeed confined to the later epoch of colonization; it is one of the few facts about the earlier settlements on the Asiatic coast of which we can be certain.




The voyage of the Argonauts in quest of the golden fleece commemorates in a delightful legend the memorable day on which Greek sailors for the first time burst into the waters of the Euxine Sea. Accustomed to the island straits and short distances of the Aegean, they fancied that when they had passed the Bosphorus they were embarking on a boundless ocean, and they called it the “Main”, Pontos. Even when they had circumnavigated its shores it might still seem boundless, for they knew not where the great rivers, the Ister, the Tanais, the Danapris, might lead. The little preliminary sea into which the Hellespont widens, to contract again into the narrow passage of the Bosphorus, was appropriately named the “vestibule of the Pontus”—Propontis. Full of creeks and recesses, it is happily described by Euripides as the “bayed water-key of the boundless Sea”. The Pontus was a treacherous field for the barques of even experienced mariners, and it was supposed to have received for this reason its name “Euxine”, or Hospitable, in accordance with a habit of the Greeks to seek to propitiate adverse powers by pleasant names. It was when the compass of the Euxine was still unknown, and men were beginning shyly to explore its coasts, that the tale of the wanderings of Odysseus took form. He was imagined to have sailed from Troy into the Pontus, and, after having been driven about in its waters, to have at last reached Ithaca by an overland journey through Thrace and Epirus. In the Odyssey, as we have it now, compounded of many different legends and poems, this is disguised; the island of Circe has been removed to the far west, and the scene of the Descent to the Underworld translated to the Atlantic Ocean. But Circe, the daughter of the Sun, and sister of King Aeetes who possessed the golden fleece, belongs to the seas of Colchis; and the world of shades beyond the Cimmerians is to be sought near the Cimmerian Bosphorus. The mention of Sicily in some of the later parts of the poem, and the part played by Ithaca, which, with the other islands of the Ionian Sea, lay on the road to the western Mediterranean, reflect the beginning of the expansion of Greece in that direction. But the original wanderings of Odysseus were connected, not with the west, but with the exploration of the Euxine.

A mist of obscurity hangs about the beginnings of the first Greek cities which arose on the Pontic shores. Here Miletus was the pioneer. Merchants carrying the stuffs which were manufactured from the wool of Milesian sheep may have established trading-stations along the southern coast. Flax from Colchis, steel and silver, slaves were among the chief products which their wool bought. But the work of colonization beyond the gate of the Bosphorus can hardly have fully begun until the gate itself was secured by the enterprise of Megara, which sent out men, in the first part of the seventh century, to found the towns of Chalcedon and Byzantium. Byzantium could command the trade of the Black Sea, but the great commercial and political importance of her situation was not fully appreciated until a thousand years had passed, when she became the rival and successor of Rome and took, in honour of her second founder, the name Constantinople. This is the first appearance of the little state of Megara in Greek history; and none of her contemporaries took a step that was destined to lead to greater things than the settlement on the Chalcedon; Bosphorus. The story was that Chalcedon was founded first, before the Megarians perceived the striking advantages of the opposite shore, and the Delphic oracle, which they consulted as a matter of course, chid them as “blind men”. Westward from Byzantium they also founded Selymbria, on the north coast of the Propontis; eastward they established “Heraclea in Pontus”, on the coast of Bithynia.

The enterprise of the Megarians stimulated Miletus, and she determined to anticipate others in seizing the best sites on the Pontic shore. At the most northerly point of the southern coast a strait-necked cape forms two natural harbours, an attractive site for settlers, and here the Milesians planted the city Sinope. Farther east, half-way to that extreme eastern point of the sea where the Phasis flows out at the foot of Mount Caucasus, arose another Milesian colony, Trapezus. At the Bosphorus the Milesians had been anticipated by Megara, but they partly made up for this by planting Abydos on the Hellespont opposite Sestos, and they also seized a jutting promontory on the south coast of the Propontis, where a narrow neck, as at Sinope, forms two harbours. The town was Cyzicus, and the peninsula was afterwards transformed into an island; the tunny-fish on the coins of the city shows what was one of the chief articles of her trade. Lampsacus, at the northern end of the Hellespont, once a Phoenician factory, was colonized by another Ionian city, Phocaea, about the same time, and the winged sea-horse on Lampsacene coins speaks of naval enterprise which led afterwards to wealth and prosperity. The foundation of Paron was due to a joint undertaking of Miletus and Erythrae; and Clazomenae joined Miletus in planting Cardia at the neck of the Thracian Chersonese, in the important position of an advance fort against Thrace. On the southern side of the Hellespont the lands of the Scamander invited the Greeks of Lesbos, and a number of small Aeolian settle­ments arose.  

Greek settlements also sprang up in the more remote parts of the Euxine. Dioscurias and Phasis were founded in the far east, in the fabled land of Colchis. On the Tauric Chersonesus or “peninsula” (now the Crimea), Panticapaeum was founded over against Phanagoria at the entrance to the Maeotic lake, and Tanais at the mouth of the like-named river. Heraclea, or Chersonesus, on the western side of the peninsula, was destined to preserve the municipal forms of an old Greek city for more than a thousand years. Olbia at the mouth of the Dnieper, Odessus, IstrusMesembria were only some of the Greek settlements which complete the circuit of the Black Sea.

This sea and the Propontis were the special domain of the sea-god Achilles, whose fame grew greater by his association as a hero with the legend of Troy. He was worshipped along the coasts as “lord of the Pontus”; and in Leuce, the “shining island” near the Danube’s mouth, the lonely island where no man dwelled, he had a temple, and the the birds of the sea were said to be its warders.

If Miletus and Megara took the most promi­nent part in extending the borders of the Greek world eastward of the Hellespont, the north­western corner of the Aegean was the special domain of Euboea. The barren islands of Sciathus and Peparethus were the bridge from Euboea to the coast of Macedonia, which, between the rivers Axius and Strymon, runs out Potidaea into a huge three-pronged promontory. Here Chalcis planted so many towns that the whole promontory was named Chalcidice. Some of the chief cities, however, were founded by other states, notably Corinthian Potidaea on the most westerly of the three prongs, which was called Pallene. Sithonia was the central prong, and Acte, ending in Mount Athos, the eastern. Many of the colonies on Pallene were founded by Eretria, and those on Acte by Andros, which was dependent on Eretria. Hence we may regard this group of cities as Euboean, though we cannot regard it as Chalcidian. On the west side of the Thermaic Bay, two Euboean colonies were planted, Pydna and Methone, on Macedonian soil.




The earliest mention of Sicilian and Italian regions in literature is to be found in some later passages of the Odyssey, which should perhaps be referred to the eighth century. There we meet with the Sicels, and with the sland of Sicania; while Temesa, where Greek traders could buy Tuscan copper, has the distinction of being the first Italian place mentioned by name in a literary record. By the end of the seventh century Greek states stood thick on the east coast of Sicily and round the sweep of the Tarentine Gulf. These colonies naturally fall into three groups :

1.The Euboean, which were both in Sicily and in Italy.

2.The Achaean, which were altogether on Italian soil.

3. The Dorian, which were, with few exceptions, in Sicily.

The chronology is uncertain, and we cannot say whether the island or the mainland was first colonized.

The oldest stories of the adventures of Odysseus were laid, as we have seen, in the half-explored regions of the Black Sea. Nothing shows more impressively the life of this poetry, and the power it had won over the hearts of the Greek folks, than the fact that when the navigation of the Italian and Sicilian seas began, these adventures were transferred from the east to the west; and in the further growth of this cycle of poems a new mythical geography was adopted. At a time when the Greeks knew so little of Italy that the southern pro­montories could be designated as “sacred islands”, the straits of Messana were identified with Scylla and Charybdis, Lipara became the island of Aeolus, the home of the Cyclopes was found in the fiery mount of Aetna. Then Scheria, the isle of the Phaeacians, was fancied to be Corcyra; an entrance to the underworld was placed at Cumae; and the rocks of the Sirens were sought near Sorrento. And not only did the first glimpses of western geography affect the trans­mutation of the Odyssey into its final shape, but the Odyssey reacted on the geography of the west. That the promontory of Circei in Latin territory bears the name of the sorceress of Colchis, is an evidence of the spell of Homeric song. Odysseus was not the only hero who was borne westward with Greek ships in the eighth century. Cretan Minos and Daedalus, for example, had links with Sicily. Above all, the earliest navigation of the western seas was ascribed to Heracles, who reached the limits of the land of the setting sun, and stood on the ledge of the world looking out upon the stream of Oceanus. From him the opposite cliffs which form the gate of the Mediterranean were called the Pillars of Heracles.

The earliest colony founded by Greek sailors in the western seas was said to have been Cyme on the coast of Campania. Tradition assigned to it an origin before 1000 B.C., a date which modern criticism has decidedly rejected. But though we place its origin in the eighth century, the tradition that it was the earliest Greek city founded in the middle peninsula of the Mediterranean may possibly be true. It was at all events one of the oldest, and it had an unique position. Chalcis, Eretria, and Cyme a town on the eastern coast of Euboea, which at that time had some eminence but afterwards sunk into the obscurity of a village, joined together, and enlisted for their expedition some Graeans who dwelled on the opposite main­land in the neighborhood of Tanagra. The colonizers settled first on the island of Pithecusae, and soon succeeded in establishing themselves on a rocky height which rises above the sea just where the Italian coast is about to turn sharply eastward to encircle the bay of Naples. The site was happily chosen. It was a strong post, and though there was no harbour, the strangers could haul up their ships on a stretch of sand below. Subsequently they occupied the harbour which was just inside the promontory, and established there the town of Dicaearchia, which afterwards became Puteoli; farther east they founded Naples, “the new city”.

The people in whose midst this outpost of Greek civilization was planted were the Opicans, one of the chief branches of the Italic race. The colonists were eminently successful in their intercourse with the natives; and the solitary position of Cyme in these regions—for no Greek settlement could be made northward on account of the great Etruscan power, and there was no rival southward until the later plantation of Posidonia—made her influence both wide and noiseless. Her external history is uneventful; there are no striking wars or struggles to record; but the work she did holds an important and definite place in the history of European civilization. To the Euboeans of Cyme we may say that we owe the alphabet which we use today, for it was from them that the Latins learned to write. The Etruscans also got their alphabet independently from the same masters, and, having modified it in certain ways to suit themselves, passed it onto the Oscans and Umbrians. Again, the Cymaeans introduced the neighboring Italian peoples to a knowledge of the Greek gods and Greek religion. Heracles, Apollo, Castor, and Polydeuces became such familiar names in Italy that they came to be regarded as original Italian deities. The oracles of the Cymaean Sibyl, prophetess of Apollo, were believed to contain the destinies of Rome.

To Cyme, too, western Europe probably owes the name by which she calls Hellas and the Hellenes. The Greeks, when they first came into contact with Latins, had no common name; Hellenes, the name which afterwards united them, was as yet merely associated with a particular tribe. It was only natural that strangers should extend the name of the first Greeks with whom they came in contact to others whom they fell in with later, and so to all Greeks whatsoever. But the curious circumstance is that the settlers of Cyme were known, not by the name of Chalcis or Eretria or Cyme itself, but by that of Graia. Graii was the term which the Latins and their fellows applied to the colonists, and the name Graeci is a derivative of a usual type from Graii. It was doubtless some trivial accident which ruled that we today call Hellas “Greece”, instead of knowing it by some name derived from Cyme, Eretria, or Chalcis. The west has got its “Greece” from an obscure district in Boeotia; Greece itself got its " Hellas " from a small territory in Thessaly. This was accidental. But it was no accident that western Europe calls Greece by a name connected with that city in which Greeks first came into touch with the people who were destined to civilize western Europe and rule it for centuries.

The next settlement of the Euboean Greeks was on Sicilian, not Italian, ground. The island of Sicily is geographically a continuation of Italy—just as the Peloponnesus is a continuation of the great eastern peninsula; but its historical importance depends much more on another geographical fact. It is the centre of the Mediterranean; it parts the eastern from the western waters. It has been thus marked out by nature as a meeting-place of nations; and the struggle between European and Asiatic peoples, which has been called the “Eternal Question”, has been partly fought out on Sicilian soil. There has been in historical times no native Sicilian power. The greatness of the island was due to colonization—not migration—from other lands. Lying as a connecting link between Europe and Africa, it attracted settlers from both sides; while its close proximity to Italy always rendered it an object of acquisition to those who successively ruled in that peninsula.

The earliest inhabitants of the island were the Sicans. They believed themselves to be autochthonous, and we have no record at what time they entered the island or whence they came or to what race they belonged. The nature of things makes it probable that they entered from Italy. From them the island was called Sicania. The next comers were the Sicels, of whom we can speak with more certainty. As we find Sicels in the toe of Italy, we know that tradition correctly described them as settlers from the Italian peninsula, and there is some slight evidence to show that they spoke the same language as that group of Italic peoples, to which the Latins belonged. The likeness of the names Sicel and Sican has naturally led to the view that these two folks were akin in race and language. But likeness of names is deceptive; and it is a remarkable fact that the Greeks, who were only too prone to build up theories on resemblances of words, always carefully distinguished the Sican from the Sicel as ethnically different. Still a connection is possible, if we suppose that the Sicels were Sicans who remaining behind in Italy had in the course of centuries become Italicized by intercourse with the Latin and kindred peoples, and then, emigrating in their turn to the island, met without recognition the brethren from whom they had parted in the remote past. But all this is uncertain. The Sicels, however, wrested from the Sicans the eastern half of the island, which was thus cut up into two countries, Sicania in the west, Sicelia in the east. In the Odyssey we read of Sicania; perhaps the Greeks of Cyme knew it by this name. At a very early time Sicania was invaded by a mysterious people named Elymians, variously said to have come from Italy and from the north of Asia Minor. The probability is that they were of Iberian race. They occupied a small territory in the north-west of the island.

These were the three peoples who inhabited this miniature continent, soon about to become the battlefield of Greek and Phoenician. The Sicels were the most numerous and most important. The only Sican town of any significance in historical times was Hykkara on the north-west promontory. Minda, originally Sican on the south coast, became Greek. Camicus, at some distance inland in the same region, was in early days an important stronghold. The Elymian settlements at Segesta and Eryx became of far greater importance than the Sican. The eastern half of the isle, the original Sicelia, was thickly set with Sicel fortresses from Cephaloedium (the modern Cefalu), at the centre of the northern coast, to Motyca, an inland town in the south-eastern corner. Among the most famous were Agyrium, Centuripa, Morgantina, and above all Henna.

At an early age merchants from Phoenicia planted factories on the coasts of the island. At first they did not make any settlements of a permanent kind,—any that could be called cities. For Sicily was to them only a house to call at, lying directly on their way to the land of the farthest west, when they went forth to win the golden treasures of Tarshish and planted their earliest colony, Gades, outside the straits which divide Europe from Africa. Their next colonies were on the coast of Africa over against Sicily, and this settlement had a decisive influence on the destinies of the island. The Phoenician trading-stations on the east coast of Sicily were probably outposts of old Phoenicia, but some at least of those in the west seem to have come from the new and nearer Phoenicia. The of Hippo and Utica, older than Carthage, were probably the parents of the more abiding Phoenician settlements in Sicily. In the east of the island the Phoenicians had no secure foothold. They were not able to dispossess the Sicel natives, or to make a home among them; they appeared purely in the guise of traders. Hence when the Greeks came and seriously set to work to plant true cities, the Phoenicians disappeared and left few traces to show that they had ever been there.



Sicilian, like Italian history, really opens with the coming of the Greeks. They came under the guidance of Chalcis and the auspices of Apollo. It was naturally on the east coast which faces Greece that the first Greek settlement was made, and it is to be noticed that of the coasts of Sicily the east is that which most resembles in character the coast-line of Greece. The site which was chosen by the Chalcidians, Naxos and the Ionians of Naxos who accompanied them, was not a striking one.  A little tongue of land, north of Mount Aetna, very different from the height of Cyme, was selected for the foundation of Naxos.

Here, as in the case of Cyme, the Chalcidians who led the enterprise surrendered the honor of naming the new city to their less prominent fellow-founders. The first of all the Greek towns of Sicily, Naxos was not  destined to live for much more than three hundred years. It was be destroyed by the fire and lava of the dangerous mountain which dominated it. A sort of consecration was always attached to Naxos as the first homestead of the Hellenes in the island which was to become a brilliant part of Hellas. To Apollo Archegetes an altar was erected on the  spot where the Greeks first landed,—driven, as 'the legend told, by contrary winds, owing to Apollo’s dispensation, to the Sicilian shores. It was the habit of ambassadors from old Greece as soon as they arrived in Sicily to offer sacrifice on this altar. In the fertile plain south of Aetna the Chalcidians soon afterwards founded Catane (728 BC), close to the sea and protected by a low range of hills behind, but under the power of Aetna which was to unmake the place again and again; and inland Leontini at the south end of her plain between two hills, with an eastern and western acropolis. These sites, Leontini certainly if not Catane, were wrested from the Sicels. The Chalcidians also won possession of the north-east corner, and thus obtained command of the straits between the island and the mainland. Here Cymaeans and Chalcidians planted Zancle (715 BC) on a low rim of land, which resembles a reaping-hook and gave the place its name. The haven is formed by the curving blade; and when Zancle came in after-days to mint money she engraved on her coins a sickle representing her harbour and a dolphin floating within it. A hundred years later the city was transformed by the immigration of a company of Messenians, and ultimately the old local name was ousted in favour of Messana. From Zancle the Euboeans established the fortress of Mylae on the other side of the north-eastern promontory; and in the middle of the seventh century they founded Himera, the only Greek city on the  northern coast, destined to live for scarce two centuries and a half, and then to be swept away by the Phoenician. It was important for Zancle that the land over against her, the extreme point of the Italian peninsula, should be in friendly hands, and therefore the men of Zancle incited their mother-city to found Rhegion; and in this foundation Messenians took part.

While this group of Chalcidian colonies was being formed in north-eastern Sicily, Dorian Greeks began to obtain a footing in south-eastern Sicily, which history decided should become the Dorian quarter. The earliest of the Dorian cities was also the greatest. Syracuse, destined to be the head of Greek Sicily, was founded by Corinthian emigrants under the leadership of Archias before the end of the eighth century (734 BC). Somewhere about the same time Corinth also colonised Corcyrathe Ionian islands were half-way stations to the west. Which colony was the elder, we know not; tradition did not attempt to decide, for it placed both in the same year. But in both cases Corinth had to dispossess previous Greek settlers, and in both cases the previous settlers were Euboeans. Her colonists had to drive Eretrians from Corcyra and Chalcidians from Syracuse.

The great Haven of Syracuse, with its island and its hill, formed the most striking site on the east coast, and could not fail to invite the earliest colonists. Chalcidians occupied the island of Ortygia (Isle of quails) as it was called—they must have won it from the Sicel or possibly from the Phoenician—and held it long enough to associate it for ever with the name of a fountain in their old home, Arethusa. It is highly probable that the Chalcidian occupation took place very soon after that of Naxos, and it is possible that the Corinthians did not supersede the Chal­cidians till many years later. But when they once held Syracuse, they effectually prevented any Chalcidian expansion south of Leontini.

At an early date Megarians also sailed into the West to find a new home. After various unsuccessful attempts to establish themselves, they finally built their city on the coast north of Syracuse, beside the hills of Hybla, and perhaps Sicel natives joined in founding the western Megara. It was the most northerly Dorian town on the east coast. But, like her mother, the Hyblaean Megara was destined to found a colony more famous than herself. In the middle of the seventh century the Megarians sent to their metropolis to invite cooperation in planting a settlement in the south-western part of the island. This settlement, which was to be the farthest outpost of Greek Sicily, was Selinus, the town named of wild celery as its own coins boasted, situated on a low hill on the coast. Megara had been occupied with the goodwill of the Sicel; Selinus was probably held at the expense of the Sican. In the meantime the south-eastern corner was being studded with Dorian cities, though they did not rise by any means so rapidly as the Chalcidian in the north. The Sicels seem to have offered a stouter resistance here. At the beginning of the seventh century, Gela (688BC)—the name is Sicel—was planted by Rhodian colonists with Cretans in their train. This city was set on a long narrow hill which stretched between the sea and an inland plain. At a later time Acrae and Casmenae were founded by Syracuse. They were overshadowed by the greatness of the mother-city, and never attained as much independence as more distant Camarina (595 BC) which was planted from the same metropolis about half a century later.

The latest Dorian colony of Sicily was only less conspicuous than the first. The Geloans sought an oecist from their Rhodian metropolis and founded, half-way between their own city and Selinus, the lofty town of Acragas, which soon took the second place in Greek Sicily and became the rival of Syracuse. It was perched on a high hill near the sea-shore. The small poor haven was at some distance from the town; “flock-feeding Acragas” never became a maritime power. The symbols on its coins were the eagle and the crab.


The Sicans.

In planting their colonies and founding their domination in Sicily, the Greeks had mainly to reckon with the Sicels. In their few foundations in the farther west they had to deal with the Sicans. These older inhabitants were forced to retire from the coasts, but they lived on in their fortresses on the inland hills. The island was too large and its character too continental to invite the newcomers to attempt to conquer the whole of it. With the Phoenicians the Greeks had no trouble. Their factories and temples had not taken root in the soil, and on the landing of a stranger who was resolved to take root they vanished. Traces of their worship sometimes remained, here as in the Aegean. But they did not abandon the western corner of the island, where the Greeks did not attempt to settle. There they maintained three places which now assumed the character of cities. These were Panormus, Solus, and Motya—the Haven, the Rock and the Island. Panormus or “All-haven” in a fertile plain is protected on the north by Mount Hercte, now the Pilgrim Mount, and on the east by Solus. Motya is on an island in a small bay on the west coast The Elymian country lay between Motya and Panormus. The chief town of the Elymians, Segesta (which in Greek mouths became Egesta), was essentially a city, while Weyx farther west, high above the sea but not actually on it, was their outpost of defence. On Eryx they worshipped some goddess of nature, soon to be identified with the Greek Aphrodite. The Elymians were on good terms with the Phoenicians, and western Sicily became a Phoenician corner. While the inland country was left to Sicel and Sican, the coasts were to be the scene of struggles between Phoenician and Greek. And here the natural position of the combatants was reversed, for the Asiatic power was in the west and the European in the east. In the seventh century this struggle was still a long way off, Sicily was still large enough to hold both the Greek and the Canaanite in peace.



The name by which we know the central of the three great peninsulas of the Mediterranean did not extend as far north as the Po in the time of Julius Caesar , and originally it covered a very small area indeed. In the fifth century Thucydides applies the name Italy to the modern Calabria—the western of the two extremities into which the peninsula divides. This extremity was inhabited, when the Greeks first visited it, by Sicels and Oenotrians. But the heel was occupied by peoples of that Illyrian race which had played, as we dimly see, a decisive part in the earliest history of the Greeks. The Illyrian was now astride of the Adriatic; he had reached Italy before the Greek. The Calabrians, who gave their name to the heel, were of Illyrian stock; and along with these were the Messapians, some of whose brethren on the other side of the water seem to have thrown in their fortunes with the Greeks and penetrated into Locris and  Boeotia and perhaps into the Peloponnesus. It was on the seaboard of the Sicels and Oenotrians that the Achaeans of the Peloponnesus, probably towards the close of the eighth century, found a field for colonization. It has been already remarked that the Ionian islands are a sort of stepping-stone to the west, and just as we find Corinthians settling in Corcyra, so we find Achaeans settling in Zacynthus. The first colonies which they planted in Italy were perhaps Sybaris (721 BC) and Croton (703 BC), famous for their wealth and their rivalry. Sybaris on the river Crathis, in an unhealthy but most fruitful plain, soon extended her dominion across the narrow peninsula and, founding the settlements of Laos and Scidros on the western coast, commanded two seas. Thus having in her hands an overland route to the western Mediterranean, she could forward to her ports on the Tyrrhenian sea the valuable merchandise of the Milesians, whom Chalcidian jealousy excluded from the straits between Italy and Sicily. Thus both agriculture and traffic formed the basis of the remarkable wealth of Sybaris, and the result was an elaboration of luxury which caused the Sybarite name to pass into a proverb. Posidonia, famous for its temples and its roses, was another colony on the western sea, founded from Sybaris. It is said to have been formed by Troezenians who were driven out from that city by the Achaeans.

A good way to the south of Sybaris you come to Croton, before the coast, in its southern trend, has yet reached the Lacinian promontory, on which a stately temple of Hera formed a central place of worship for the Greek settlers in Italy. Unlike the other Achaean colonies, Croton had a good harbour, the only good harbour on the west side of the gulf, but her prosperity, like that of her fellows, rested not on maritime traffic but on the cultivation of land and the rearing of cattle. The Delphic god seems to have taken a more than wonted interest in the foundation of this city, if we may judge from the Delphic tripod which appears on its earliest coins. Like Sybaris, Croton widened its territory and planted colonies of its own. On the Tyrrhenian sea, Terina and Temesa were to Croton what Laos and Scidros were to Sybaris.

Caulonia, perhaps also a Crotoniate settlement, was the most southerly Achaean colony and was the neighbour of the western Locri. This town was founded in the territory of the Sicels, it is not certain by which of the three Locrian states; perhaps it was a joint enterprise of all three. It was agricultural, like its Achaean neighbors, and like them it pushed over to the western sea and founded Medma and Hipponium on the other coast.

The Achaeans and Locrians might quarrel among themselves, but they had more in common with each other than either had with the Dorians, and we may conveniently  include Locri in the Achaean group. Thus the southern coast of Italy would have been almost a homogeneous circle if a Dorian colony had not been established in a small sheltered bay at the extreme north point of the gulf to which it gave the name it still bears, Taras or Tarentum. Taras was remarkable as the only foreign settlement ever made by the greatest of all the Dorian peoples. The town—called, like Sybaris, after the name of a neighboring stream—was founded by the Partheniae, a name which has not yet been explained. There are reasons for thinking that these first founders were pre-Dorian Greeks from the Peloponnesus. But Laconian settlers occupied the place at some unknown date and made of it a Dorian city. A legend then grew up which connected the Partheniae with Sparta, and a historical episode, taking various forms, was manufactured. It was said that in a war with the Messenians, when the Spartans were for many years absent from home, the women bore sons to Helots, and that this progeny, called Partheniae or “Maidens’ Children”, conspired against the state, and being driven out of the country were directed by the oracle to settle at Taras. The hero Phalanthus, who seems to have been originally a local sea-god, degraded to the rank of a hero at the coming of Poseidon, was worshipped by the Tarentines, and his ride overseas on a dolphin was represented on their coins. The framers of the story of the Partheniae made him the leader of the colonists from Laconia.

The prosperity of the Tarentines depended partly on the cultivation of a fruitful territory, but mainly on their manufacturing industry. Their fabrics and dyed wools became renowned, and their pottery was widely diffused. Taras in fact must be regarded as an industrial rather than as an agricultural state. Her position brought her into contact with inhabitants of the Calabrian peninsula, and she had a foe in the Messapian town of Brentesion. She founded the colonies of Callipolis and Hydrus on the eastern coast where she had no Greek rivals. But on the other side, her possible advance was fore­seen and hindered by the prudence of the Sybarites. They feared lest the Dorian city might creep round the coast and occupy the fertile lands which are watered by the Bradanos and the Siris. So they induced the Achaeans of old Greece to found a colony at Metapontion on the Bradanos, a place which had derived its name from Messapian settlers; and this the most northerly of the Achaean cities flourished as an agricultural community and cut off the westward expansion of Taras. But in the meantime another rival seized the very place from which the Achaeans had desired to exclude the Dorians. In the middle of the seventh century Colophonians planted a colony at Siris, and this Ionian state threatened to interrupt thAchaean line of cities and cut off Metapontion from her sisters. This solitary instance of an Ionian attempt to found a colony at this period in these regions is rendered interesting through the probability that the poet Archilochus took part in the expedition. But the at­tempt seems to have failed. There are reasons for thinking, though the evidence is not clear, that the place was seized by its Achaean neighbors and became an Achaean town. Siris, like Sybaris, Croton, and Locri, had her helpmate, though not a daughter, on the Tyrrhenian sea. By the persuasion of common interest she formed a close connection with Pyxus; the two cities issued common coins; and perhaps organized a rival overland route.   

Thus the western coast of the Tarentine gulf was beset with a line of Achaean cities, flanked at one extremity by Western Locri, on the other by Dorian Taras. The common feature, which distinguished them from the cities settled by the men of Chalcis and Corinth, was that their wealth depended on the mainland, not on the sea. Their rich men were landowners, not merchants; it was not traffic but rich soil that had originally lured them to the far west. The unwarlike Sicels and Oenotrians seem to have laid no obstacles in the way of their settlements and to have submitted to their rule. The Iapygians and Messapians of Calabria were of different temper, and it is significant that it was men from warlike Sparta who succeeded in establishing Taras.

These cities, with their dependencies beyond the hills, on the shores of the Tyrrhenian sea, came to be regarded as a group, and the country came to be called Great Hellas. We might rather have looked to find it called Great Achaia, by contrast to the old Achaean lands in Greece; but here, as in other cases, it is the name of a lesser folk which prevails. The Hellenes, who had in earlier days accom­panied the Achaeans from their mountain dwellings in the north to their southern homes on the sea-coast, had also gone forth with them to found new cities in the west; and here the Hellenic name rose to celebrity and honor. It was no small thing in itself that the belt of Greek settlements on the Tarentine gulf should come to be called Great Hellas. But it was a small thing compared with the extension of the name Hellenes to designate all peoples of Greek race. There was nothing to lead the Greeks of their own accord to fix on Hellenes as a common name; if they had sought such a name deliberately, their natural choice would have been Achaeans, which Homer had already used in a wide sense. The name must have been given to them from without. Just as the barbarian peoples in central Italy had taken hold of the name of the Graes, so the bar­barians in the southern peninsulas took hold of the name of the Hellenes, and used it to denote all settlers and strangers of the same race. Such a common name, applied by barbarian lips to them all alike, brought home to Greek traders the significance of their common race; and they adopted the name themselves as the conjugate of barbarians. So the name Hellenes, obscure when it had gone forth to the west, travelled back to the east in a new sense, and won its way into universal use. The fictitious ancestor Hellen became the forefather of the whole Greek race; and the fictitious ancestors of the Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians were all derived from him. The original Hellenes lost their separate identity as completely as the original Aeolians and Ionians had lost theirs; but their name was destined to live for ever in the speech of men, while those of their greater fellows had passed into a memory.




The age of the aristocratic republics saw the face of the Greek world completely transformed. The colonial expansion of Greece eastward and westward was itself part of this transformation, but it also helped signally to bring about other changes. For, while the colonies were politically independent of their mother-states, they reacted in many ways on the mother-country.

We have seen how the system of family property was favorable to colonial enterprise. But the colonists, who had suffered under that system were not  likely to introduce it in their new settlements, and thus the institution of personal landownership was probably first established and regulated in the colonies. Their example reacted on the mother-country, where other natural causes were also gradually undermining the family system. In the first place, as the power of the state grew greater the power of the family grew less; and when the head of the state, whether king or republican government, was felt as a formidable authority, the prestige of the head of the family, overshadowed by the power of the state, became insensibly weaker. In the second place, it was common to assign a portion of an estate to one member of the family, to manage and enjoy the un­divided use of it; and although it did not become his and he had no power of disposing of it, yet the natural tendency would have been to allow it on his death to pass to his son on the same conditions. It is clear that such a practice tended to the ultimate establishment of personal proprietorship of the soil. Again, side by side of the undivided family estate, personal properties were actually acquired. At this period there was much wild unallotted land, “which wild beasts haunt”, especially on the hill-slopes, and when a man of energy reclaimed a portion of this land for tillage, the new fields became his own, for they had belonged to no man. We can thus see generally how inevitable it was that the old system should disappear and the large family estates break up into private domains; but the change was not accomplished by legislation, and the gradual process by which it was brought about is withdrawn from our eyes. It was only when private landownership had become an established fact, that the law came in and recognized it by regulating sales of land and allowing men to bequeath it freely.

The Boeotian poet Hesiod has given us a picture of rural life in Greece at this period. He was a husbandman himself near Ascra, where his father, who had come as a stranger from Cyme in Aeolis, had put under cultivation a strip of waste land on the slopes of Helicon. The farm was divided between his two sons, Perses and Hesiod, but in unequal shares; and Hesiod accuses Perses of winning the larger moiety by bribing the lords of the district. But Perses managed his farm badly and it did not prosper. Hesiod wrote his poem the to teach such unthrifty farmers as his brother true principles of agriculture and economy. His view of life is profoundly gloomy, and suggests a condition of grave social distress in Boeotia. This must have been mainly due to the oppression of the nobles, “gift-devouring” princes as he calls them. The poet looks back to the past with regret. The golden age, the silver, and the bronze, have all gone by, and the age of the heroes who fought at Troy; and mankind is now in the iron age, and “will never cease by day or night from weariness and woe”. “Would that I did not live in this generation, would that I had died before, or were born hereafter!” The poem gives minute directions for the routine of the husbandman’s work, the times and tides of sowing and reaping, and the other labours of the field, the fashion of the implements of tillage; and all this is accompanied by maxims of proverbial wisdom.

Apart from the value of his poem as a social picture, Hesiod has a great significance as the first spokesman of the common folk. In the history of Europe, his is the first voice raised from among the toiling classes and claiming the interest of mankind in their lot. It is a voice indeed of acquiescence, counseling fellow-toilers to make the best of an evil case; the stage of revolt has not yet been reached. But the grievances are aired, and the lords who wield the power are exhorted to deal just judgments, that the land may prosper. The new poet is, in form and style, under the influence of the Homeric poems, but he is acutely conscious that he is striking new notes and has new messages for men. He comes forward, unlike Homer, in his own person; he contrasts himself with Homer when he claims that the Muses can teach truth as well as beautiful fiction. In his other poem, the Theogony, he tells us that the daughters of Zeus taught Hesiod as he fed sheep on the hill-sides of Helicon; they gave him for staff a branch of bay. The staff was now the minstrel’s emblem  for the epic poems were no longer sung to the lyre, but were recited by the “rhapsode” standing with a staff in his hand. Then the Muses breathed into the shepherd of Ascra the wizard power of declaring the future and the past, and set him the task of singing the race of the blessed gods. In the Theogony he performs this task. He sings how the world was made, the gods and the earth, the rivers and the ocean, the stars and the heaven; how in infinite space which was at the beginning there arose Earth and Tartarus and Love the cosmic principle; and it is notable how he introduces amongst the eldest-born powers of the world such abstractions as love itself, memory, sleep. These speculations on the origin of the universe, and the attempt to work up the popular myths into a system, mark a new stage in the intellectual development of Greece. The Theogony produced a whole school of bards, who merged their identity under the name of Hesiod; and, as we have seens, these Hesiodic poems had a decisive influence in moulding the ideas of the Greeks as to the early history of their race.

Boeotia was always an unenterprising country of husbandmen, and Hesiod had no sympathy with trade or foreign venture, though his father had come from Aeolis. But the growth of trade was the most important fact of the times, and here too the colonies reacted on the mother-country. By enlarging the borders of the Greek world they invited and facilitated the extension of Greek trade and promoted the growth of industries. Hitherto the Greeks had been mainly an agricultural and pastoral people; many of them were now becoming industrial. They had to supply their western colonies with oil and wool, with metal and pottery, and they began to enter into serious competition with the Phoenician trader and to drive eastern goods from the market.

Greek trade moved chiefly along water-ways, and this is illustrated by the neglect of road-making in Greece. There were no paved roads, even in later times, except the Sacred Ways to frequented sanctuaries like that from Athens to Eleusis and Delphi, or that from the sea-coast to Olympia. Yet the Greeks were still timorous navigators, and it was deemed hazardous to sail even in the most familiar waters, except in the late summer. Hesiod expresses in vivid verses the general fear of the sea: “For fifty days after the solstice, till the end of the harvest, is the tide for sailing; then you will not wreck your ship, nor will the sea wash down your crew, unless Poseidon or Zeus wills their destruction. In that season winds are steady and Ocean kind; with mind at rest, launch your ship and stow your freight; but make all speed to return home, and await not the new wine and the rain of the vintage-tide, when the winter approaches, and the terrible South-wind stirs the waves, in fellowship with the heavy autumnal rain of Zeus, and makes the sea cruel”. About this time, however, an important advance was made in seacraft by the discovery of the anchor.

Seafaring states found it needful to build warships for protection against pirates. The usual type of the early Greek warship was the penteconter or “fifty-oar”, a long, narrow galley with twenty-five benches, on each of which two oarsmen sat. The penteconter hardly came into use in Greece before the eighth century. The Homeric Greeks had only smaller vessels of twenty oars, but we can see in the Homeric poems the penteconter coming within their ken as a strange and wonderful thing. The ocean deity, Briareos, called by the name of the Aegean, appears in the Iliad; and he is probably no other than the new racer of the seas, sped by a hundred hands. In the Odyssey the Phaeacians, who are the kings of sea-craft, have ships of fifty oars. But before the end of the eighth century a new idea revolutionized shipbuilding in Phoenicia. Vessels were built with two rows of benches, one above the other, so that the number of oarsmen and the speed were increased without adding to the length of the ship. The “bireme”, however, never became common in Greece, for the Phoenicians had soon improved it into the “trireme”, by the superposition of another bank of oars. The trireme, propelled by 170 rowers, was ultimately to come into universal use as the regular Greek warship, though for a long time after its first introduction by the Corinthians the old penteconters were still generally used; but the unknown shipwright who invented the bireme deserves the credit of the new idea. Whatever naval battles were fought in the seventh century were fought mainly, we may be sure, with penteconters. But penteconters and triremes alike were affected by the new invention of the bronze ram on the prow, a weapon of attack which determined the future character of Greek naval warfare.

The Greeks believed that the first regular sea-fight between two Greek powers was fought before the middle of the seventh century between Corinth and her daughter city Corcyra. If the tradition is true, we may be sure that the event was an incident in a struggle for the trade with Italy and Sicily and along the Adriatic coasts. The chief competitors, however, with Corinth in the west were the Euboean cities, Chalcis and Eretria. In the traffic in eastern seas the island city of Aegina, though she had no colonies of her own, took an active part, and became one of the richest mercantile states of Greece. Athens too had ships, but her industries were still on a comparatively small scale, and it was not till a much later period that her trade was sufficient to involve her in serious rivalry with her neighbors. But the most active of all in industry and commerce were the Greeks of Ionia.




The Greeks of the Asiatic coast were largely dependent, for good or evil, on the adjacent inland countries. The inland trade added to their prosperity, but at any moment if a strong barbarian power arose their independence might be gravely menaced. At the beginning of the seventh century active intercourse was maintained between the Greeks and the kingdoms of Phrygia and Maeonia. The Phrygian king Midas dedicated a throne to the god of Delphi; both the Phrygians and the Lydians adopted the Greek alphabet, while the Greeks adopted their modes of music and admitted Phrygian legends into Greek mythology.

A considerable Phrygian element had won its way into Lydia, and had gained the upper hand. In the Homeric poems we nowhereread of lydians but only of Maeonians, and there can be no doubt that name represents the Phrygian settlers or conquerors. A Maeonian dynasty ruled in Lydia at the beginning of the seventh century, and the king bears a Maeonian name, Candaules, “hound-choker”. The Aryan conquerors—conquerors, that is, who spoke an Aryan tongue—had occupied the throne for centuries; and Greek tradition afterwards derived the origin of the family of Candaules from Heracles himself. But they had become degenerate, and Gyges, a native Lydian, of the clan of the Mermnadae, succeeded in slaying Candaules and seizing the crown. This revolution ushered in a new period for the Lydian, as it was now called, no longer Maeonian, kingdom. The dominion of the Maeonian sovereign had probably extended southward to the valley of the Maeander. Gyges extended his power northward to the shores of the Propontis, where he founded Dascylion, and conquered the Troad. But he also designed to make the Aegean his western boundary and bring the Greek cities under his lordship. He pressed down the valley of the Hermus against Smyrna; down the valley of the Cayster against Colophon; down the valley of the Maeander against Miletus and Magnesia. Of these enterprises only the faintest hints have come down to us. It may be that Colophon was actually captured, and perhaps Magnesia; but the other cities beat back the enemy. The poet Mimnermus sings how a warrior, perhaps his own grandfather, wrought havoc in the ranks of the Lydian horsemen in the plain of the Hermus.

But the plans of Gyges against his Greek neighbors were suddenly interrupted by a blow, which descended, as it were from the other side of the world, upon Greeks and Lydians alike. The regions round about Lake Maeotis, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, were inhabited by the Cimmerians, who appear in the marvellous wanderings of Odysseus. They were now driven forth from their abodes ( Crimea), to which, however, their name clung and still clings, by a Scythian folk, the Scolotae, who came from the east. Homeless, the Cimmerians wandered to the opposite side of the Euxine; but whether they travelled by the eastern or the western route, by the Caucasus or by the Danube, is not known for certain. On one hand, they seem to have appeared first in eastern Asia Minor; on the other, they seem to have associated with themselves some Thracian peoples—the Trerians, Edonians, and Thynians. The truth may be that they came round by the eastern coast; and that afterwards, when they made their incursions into western Asia Minor, they invited allies from Thrace to help them. Having defeated the Milesians of Sinope, they chose this place to be their chief settlement. They ventured to attack the great Assyrian empire, and King Assarhaddon himself tells how “I smote the Cimmerian Teuspa with all his army”. But they overthrew the realm of Phrygia under its last king Midas, and towards the middle of the seventh century they attacked Lydia. To meet this danger, Gyges sought help from Assyria. The warlike Assarhaddon had been succeeded at Nineveh by Assurbanipal, a peaceful and literary prince, whose refined luxury is caricatured in the Greek conception of Sardanapalus. The lord of Lydia acknowledged the overlordship of the lord of Assyria. He gained a victory over the Cimmerians, and sent their chiefs in chains to Nineveh. But he did not long brook to be the vassal of another sovereign. He threw off his allegiance to Assyria, and sent Ionian and Carian mercenary soldiers to Egypt, to help that country also to free itself from Assyrian dominion. At this moment, perhaps, Gyges was at the height of his power. His wealth was famous, and he too, like Phrygian Midas, sent gifts—among them, six golden mixing-bowls—to the Delphian god. The poet Archilochus, who witnessed his career, sings defiantly that he “cares not for the wealth of golden Gyges”.

But the Cimmerians presently renewed their attack, and fortune changed. Gyges was slain in battle; his capital Sardis was taken, except the citadel; and it was some satisfaction to Assurbanipal to record that Lydia was in the hands of the Cimmerians. It was not long before they swooped down upon the Greek cities. Callinus, a poet of Ephesus, heard the trample of their horses and roused his fellow-citizens to battle; Ephesus defied their attack, but the temple of Artemis out­side the walls was burned down. They and their allies from Thrace destroyed Magnesia on the Maeander. The barbarians made a deep impression. The swords which they swept down upon their enemies were enormous; they were equipped with large quivers, and wore the curved caps of the Scythians; fierce hounds ran with their horses. Such was their appearance as they were pourtrayed by a Greek artist of a later generation on a painted sarcophagus found at Clazomenae. But the danger passed away. Ardys succeeded Gyges on the Lydian throne, and he finally not only drave out the Cimmerians from the land, but perhaps succeeded in extending his power into Cappadocia, as far as the Halys.

In the meantime Lydia had made an invention which revolutionized commerce. It is to Lydia that Europe owes the invention of coinage. The Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Egyptians made use of weighed gold and silver as a medium of exchange, a certain ratio being fixed between the two metals. A piece of weighed metal becomes a coin when it is stamped by the State and is thereby warranted to have its professed weight and purity. This step was first taken in Lydia, where the earliest money was coined somewhere about the beginning of the seventh century, probably by Gyges. These Lydian coins were made of the native white gold, or electron—a mixture of gold and silver in which the proportion of gold was greater. A bar of the white gold of Sardis was regarded as ten times the value of a silver bar, and three-fourths of the value of a gold bar, of the same weight.  Miletus and Samos soon adopted the new invention, which then spread to other Asiatic towns. Then Aegina and the two great cities of Euboea instituted monetary systems, and by degrees all the states of Greece gave up the primitive custom of estimating value in heads of cattle, and most of them had their own mints. As gold was very rare in Greece, not being found except in the islands of Siphnos and Pharos, the Greeks coined in silver. This invention, coming at the very moment when the Greeks were entering upon a period of great commercial activity, was of immense importance, not only in facilitating trade, but in rendering possible the accumulation of capital. Yet it took many generations to supersede completely the old methods of economy by the new system.

The Greeks had derived their systems of weight from Babylonia and Phoenicia. But, when Aegina and the Euboean cities fixed the standard of their silver coinage, they did not adopt the silver standard of either of those countries. The heavier stater (as the standard silver coin was named) of Aegina weighed 196 grains, and slightly exceeded a florin in value; and this system was adopted throughout the Peloponnese and in northern Greece. The lighter stater of Euboea weighed 130 grains, which was the Babylonian standard of gold. This system, at first confined to Euboea, Samos, and a few other places, was afterwards adopted by Corinth, and then, in a slightly modified form, by Athens.

It was highly characteristic of the Greeks that their coinage was marked from the beginning by religious associations; and it has been supposed that the priests of their temples had an important share in initiating the introduction of money. It was in the shrines of their gods that men were accustomed to store their treasures for safe-keeping; the gods themselves possessed costly dedications; and thus the science of weighing the precious metals was naturally studied by the priesthoods. Every coin which a Greek state issued bore upon it a refer­ence to some deity. In early times this reference always took the shape of a symbol; in later times the head of the god was often represented. The Lydian coins of Sardis, the coins of Miletus and other Ionian cities, bore a lion; those of Eretria showed a cow with a sucking calf; Aegina displayed a tortoise, and Cyzicus a tunny-fish; and all these tokens were symbols of the goddess who, whether under the name of Aphrodite or Hera or Artemis, was identified by the Greeks with Astarte of Phoenicia.




Thus the merchants of Miletus and her fellows grew rich. They were the intermediaries between Lydia and the Mediterranean; while the Lydians carried their wares to the interior parts of Asia Minor and the far east. Their argosies sailed to the far west, as well as to the coasts of the Euxine. But a new field for winning wealth was opened to them, much about the same time as the invention of coinage revealed a new prospect to the world of commerce. The jealously guarded gates of Egypt were unbarred to Greek trade.

The greatest exploit of the Assyrian monarch Assarhaddon was the conquest of Egypt. The land had been split up into an endless number of small kingdoms, and the kings continued to govern as vassals of Assyria. But the foreign domination did not last for much more than a quarter of a century. One of the kings, Psammetichus of Sais, in Lower Egypt, probably of Libyan stock, revolted against Assurbanipal, who, in the last year of his reign, was occupied in subduing an insurrection of the Elamites of Susiana. We have seen how mail-clad soldiers of Ionia and Caria were sent by the lord of Lydia to assist Psammetichus. With the help of these “bronze-men who came up from the sea”, he reduced the other kings and brought the whole of Egypt under his sway. This Libyan dynasty kept Sais as their capital, and their power was supported by foreign mercenaries, Greeks and Carians, Syrians and Phoenicians. Psammetichus built the fortress of Daphnae—for so Greek speech graciously altered into Greek shape the Egyptian name Defenneh—and entrusted it to his Greek soldiers. Relics of this foreign garrison have been dug up among the ruins of Daphnae. Psammetichus and his successors completely departed from the narrow Egyptian policy of the Pharaohs, and were the forerunners in some respects of the Greek dynasty of the Ptolemies, who three centuries hence were to rule the land. They opened Egypt to the trade of the world and allowed Greeks to settle permanently in the country. Necho, the son of Psammetichus, connected the Red Sea with the Nile by a canal, and began a work, which it was reserved for our own time to achieve, the cutting of a channel through the isthmus which parts the Red Sea from the Mediterranean. His war-fleets sailed both in the Cypriot and in the Arabian seas; and a party of Phoenician explorers sent out by him accomplished the circumnavigation of Africa—a feat which two thousand years later was regarded as a wild dream.

The Milesians founded a factory on the western or Canobic channel of the Nile, not very far from Sais; and around it a Greek of city grew up, which received the name of Naucratis, “sea-queen” (640-630 BC). This colony became the haven of all Greek traders; for though at first they seem to have moved freely, restrictions were afterwards placed upon them and they were not permitted to enter Egypt except by the Canobic mouth. At Naucratis, the Milesians, the Samians, and the Aeginetans had each their own separate quarter and their own sanctuaries; all the other Greek settlers had one common enclosure called the Hellenion, girt by a thick brick wall and capable of holding 50,000 men. Here were their market-place and their temples. All the colonists of Naucratis were Greeks of the Asiatic coast, whether Ionians, Dorians, or Aeolians, excepting alone the Aeginetans.

Egypt, as we see, offered a field not only for traders but for adventurous soldiers, and thus helped to relieve the pressure of over-population in Ionia. At Abusimbel in Upper Egypt we have a relic of the Greek mercenaries, who accompanied King Psammetichus II (594-589 BC) , Necho’s successor, in an expedition against Ethiopia. Some them scratched their names on the colossal statues of the temple; and the very triviality of this relic, at such a distance of time, perhaps makes it the more interesting.




Not long after Egypt was thrown open to Greek trade, there arose to the west of Egypt a new Greek city. Civil dissension in the island of Thera between the older population, who called themselves by the obscure name of Minyae, and the later Dorian settlers led to an emigration of the Minyae—some Dorians among them; and the exiles, having increased their band by Cretan adventurers, sailed for the shores of Barca. They made their first settlement on the little island of Platea off the coast; their second on the opposite coast of the mainland; and when this too proved a failure, they founded their abiding settlement about eight miles from the sea near an abundant spring of water, on two white hills, which commanded the encompassing plain. The city was named Cyrene ( 630 BC), and it was the only Greek colony on the coast of Africa which attained to eminence and wealth. The man who led the island folk to their new home became their king; his name seems to have been Aristoteles, but he took the strange name of Battus, which is said to mean “king” in the Libyan language, while its resemblance to the Greek word for “stammer” gave rise to the legend that Battus I stammered in his speech. His son was Arcesilas; and in the line of the Cyrenaean kings Battus and Arcesilas succeeded each other in alternation. Under Battus II the new city was reinforced by a large incoming of new settlers whom he invited, chiefly from the Peloponnese and Crete; and this influx the changed character of the place, since the original “Minyan” element was outnumbered. The lands which the Greeks took from the Libyan inhabitants were made fruitful by the winter rains; Pindar describes them as plains over which dark clouds hover. There was excellent pasturage, and the men of Cyrene became famous for rearing horses and for skill as riders and charioteers. They were naturally the intermediaries between Greek merchants and the Libyan natives; but the chief source of the wealth of the Cyrenaean kings was the export of silphion, a plant which acquired a high repute for medicinal virtues. In those days it grew luxuriantly in the regions of Barca; now it is extinct. The sale of silphion was a monopoly of the king; and on a fine Cyrenaean cup we can see Arcesilas II himself watching the herb being weighed and packed. It was in the reign of this king that Barca was founded, farther west. He quarrelled with his brothers, and they left Cyrene and founded a town for themselves.

Cyrene held her head high in the Greek world though she was somewhat apart from it. A Cyrenaean poet arose, and continued the Odyssey and described the last adventures of Odysseus. His poem was accepted by Greece as winding up the Epic Cycle which was associated with the name of Homer. His work was distinguished by local pride and local colouring. He gave Odysseus a son Arcesilaus, and connected the royal line of Cyrene with the great wanderer. And he introduced a flavour of those Libyan influences which modified Cyrenaean civilization, just as the remote cities of the Euxine received influences from Scythia.



The advance of the Greeks in trade and industry produced many consequences of moment for their political and social development. The manufactures required labour, and a sufficient number of free labourers was not to be had. Slaves were therefore indispensable, and they were imported in large numbers from Asia Minor and Thrace and the coasts of the Euxine. The slave-trade became a profitable enterprise, and the men of Chios made it their chief pursuit. The existence of household slaves, generally war-captives, such as we meet in Homer, was an innocent institution which would never have had serious results; but the new organized slave-system which began in the seventh century was destined to prove one of the most fatal causes of disease and decay to the states of Greece.

At first the privileged classes of the aristocratic republics benefited by the increase of commerce; for the nobles were themselves the chief speculators. But the wealth which they acquired by trade undermined their political position. For, in the first place, their position depended largely on their domains of land; and when arose to compete with agriculture, the importance of land necessarily declined. In the second place, wealth introduced a new political standard; and aristocracies resting on birth tended to transform themselves into aristocracies resting on wealth. The proverb “money makes the man” now came into vogue. As nobility by birth cannot be acquired, whereas wealth can, such a change is always a step in the direction of democracy.

On the other hand, the poorer freemen at first suffered. How heavily the transition from the old systems of exchange to the use of money bore upon them, we shall find illustrated when we come to the special history of Athens. But their distress and discontent drove them into striving for full political equality, and in many cases they strove with success. The second half of the seventh century is marked in many parts of Greece by struggles between the classes; and the wiser and better of the nobles began themselves to see the necessity of extending political privileges to their fellow-citizens. The centralization in towns, owing to the growth of industries and the declining importance of agriculture, created a new town population and doubtless helped on the democratic movement.

In this agitated period lived a poet of great genius, Archilochus of Paros. It has been truly said that Archilochus is the first Greek “of flesh and blood” whom we can grasp through the mists of antiquity. Son of a noble by a slave mother he tried his luck among the adventurers who went forth to colonise Siris in Italy, but he returned having won an experience of sea-faring, which taught him to sing of the “bitter gifts of Poseidon” and the mariner’s prayers for “sweet home”. Then he took part in a Parian colonisation of Thasos, and was involved in party struggles which rent the island. It must have been at Thasos that he witnessed an eclipse of the sun at noontide, which he describes; and this gives us, as a date in the Thasian period of his life, the 6th of April, 648 B.C.—the first exact date we have bearing on the history of Greece. All the evils of all Hellas are here, he exclaims; and “Thasos is not a fair place nor a desirable, like the land round the stream of Siris”. He announces that he is “the servant of the lord of battle and skilled in the delicious gift of the Muses”. But when he fought in a war which the Thasians waged with the Thracians of the opposite coast, he ran for his life and dropped his shield; “never mind, he said, I will get me another as good”. Poor, with a stain on his birth, tossed about the world, soured by adversity, Archilochus in his poetry gave full expression to his feelings, and used it to utter his passionate hatred against his enemies, such as the Parian Lycambes, for instance, who refused him his daughter Neobule. Had fortune favored him, he would have been a noble of the nobles; ill-luck drove him to join the movement against aristocracy. His poems present a complete contrast to the epic style and even to Hesiod. He addressed himself to the people; sang to the flute, instead of the lyre; used colloquial language; and perfected iambic and trochaic measures for literary purposes. His influence may be judged from the fact that his poems were recited by the rhapsodes along with Homer and Hesiod.

The ills of Greece, which were reflected in the poems of Archilochus, were to lead to the development of equality and freedom. But success in the struggle would in most cases depend on military efficiency; and a revolution in the art of warfare, which was brought about at the same period, was therefore of immense importance. This takes us to the history of Sparta.