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On the coast of Asia Minor to the north of the twelve Ionic confederated cities, were situated the twelve Aeolic cities, apparently united in a similar manner. Besides Smyrna, the fate of which has already been described, the eleven others were— Temnos, Larissa, Neon-Teichos, Kyme, Aegae, Myrina, Gryneium, Killa, Notium, AegiroessaPitane. These twelve are especially noted by Herodotus as the twelve ancient continental Aeolic cities, and distinguished on the one hand from the insular Aeolic Greeks, in Lesbos, Tenedos, and Hekatonnesoi—and on the other hand from the Aeolic establishments in and about Mount Ida, which seem to have been subsequently formed and derived from Lesbos and Kyme.

Of these twelve Aeolic towns, eleven were situated very near together, clustered round the Elaeitic Gulf: their territories, all of moderate extent, seem also to have been conterminous with each other. Smyrna, the twelfth, was situated to the south of Mount Sipylus, and at a greater distance from the remainder—one reason why it was so soon lost to its primitive inhabitants. These towns occupied chiefly a narrow but fertile strip of territory lying between the base of the woody mountain-range called Sardene and the sea. Gryneium, like Colophon and Miletus, possessed a venerated sanctuary of Apollo, of older date than the Aeolic immigration. Larissa, Temnos, and Aegae were at some little distance from the sea; the first at a short distance north of the Hermus, by which its territory was watered and occasionally inundated, so as to render embankments necessary; the last two upon rocky mountain-sites, so inaccessible to attack, that the inhabitants were enabled, even during the height of the Persian power, to maintain constantly a substantial independence. Elaea, situated at the mouth of the river Kaikus, became in later times the port of the strong and flourishing city of Pergamus; while Pitana, the northernmost of the twelve, was placed between the mouth of the Kaikus and the lofty promontory of Kanae, which closes in the Elaeitic Gulf to the northward. A small town Kanae close to that promontory is said to have once existed.

It has already been stated that the legend ascribes the origin of these colonies to a certain special event called the Aeolic emigration, of which chronologers profess to know the precise date, telling us how many years it happened after the Trojan war, considerably before the Ionic emigration. That the Aeolic as well as the Ionic inhabitants of Asia were emigrants from Greece, we may reasonably believe, but as to the time or circumstances of their emigration we can pretend to no certain knowledge. The name of the town Larissa, and perhaps that of Magnesia on Mount Sipylus (according to what has been observed in the preceding passage), has given rise to the supposition that the anterior inhabitants were Pelasgians, who, having once occupied the fertile banks of the Hermus, as well as those of the Kaister near Ephesus, employed their industry in the work of embankment. Kyme was the earliest as well as the most powerful of the twelve Aeolic towns; Neon-Teichos having been originally established by the Kymaeans as a fortress for the purpose of capturing the Pelasgic Larissa. Both Kyme and Larissa were designated by the epithet of Phrikonis : by some this was traced to the mountain Phrikium in Locris, from whence it was alleged that the Aeolic emigrants had started to cross the Aegean; by others it seems to have been connected with an eponymous hero Phrikon.

It was probably from Kyme and its sister cities on the Elaeitic Gulf that Hellenic inhabitants penetrated into the smaller towns in the inland plain of the Kaikus—Pergamus, Halisama, Gambreion, &c. In the more southerly plain of the Hermus, on the northern declivity of Mount Sipylus, was  situated the city of Magnesia, called Magnesia ad Sipylum in order to distinguish it from Magnesia on the river Meander. Both these towns called Magnesia were inland—the one bordering upon the Ionic Greeks, the other upon the Aeolic, but seemingly not included in any Amphictyony either with the one or the other. Each is referred to a separate and early immigration either from the Magnates in Thessaly or from Crete. Like many other of the early towns, Magnesia ad Sipylum appears to have been originally established higher up on the mountain—in a situation nearer to Smyrna, from which it was separated by the Sipylene range—and to have been subsequently brought down nearer to the plain on the north side as well as to the river Hermus. The original site, Palae-Magnesia, was still occupied as a dependent township, even daring the times of the Attalid and Seleucid kings. A like transfer of situation, from a height difficult of access to some lower and more convenient position, took place with other towns in and near this region; such as Gambreion and Skepsis, which had their Palae-Gambreion and Palae-Skepsis not far distant.

Of these twelve Aeolic towns, it appears that all except Kyme were small and unimportant. Thucydides’, in recapitulating the dependent allies of Athens at the commencement of the Peloponnesian war, does not account them worthy of being enumerated. Nor are we authorized to conclude, because they bear the general name of Aeolians, that the inhabitants were all of kindred race, though a large proportion of them are said to have been Boeotians, and the feeling of fraternity between Boeotians and Lesbians was maintained throughout the historical times: one etymology of the name is indeed founded upon the supposition that they were of miscellaneous origin. We do not hear, moreover, of any considerable poets produced by the Aeolic continental towns: in this respect Lesbos stood alone—an island said to have been the earliest of all the Aeolic settlements, anterior even to Kyme. Six towns were originally established in Lesbos—Mitylene, Methymna, Eresus, Pyrrha, Antissa, and Arisbe: the last-mentioned town was subsequently enslaved and destroyed by the Methymnaeans, so that there remained only five towns in all. According to the political subdivision usual in Greece, the island had thus, first six, afterwards five, independent governments, of which, however, Mitylene, situated in the south-eastern quarter and facing the promontory of Kane, was by far the first, while Methymna, on the north of the island over against Cape Lekton, was the second. Like so many other Grecian colonies, the original city of Mitylene was founded upon an islet divided from Lesbos by a narrow strait; it was subsequently extended on to Lesbos itself, so that the harbour presented two distinct entrances.

It appears that the native poets and fabulists who professed to deliver the archaeology of Lesbos, dwelt less upon the Aeolic settlers than upon the various heroes and tribes who were alleged to have had possession of the island anterior to that settlement, from the deluge of Deukalion downwards,—just as the Chian and Samian poets seem to have dwelt principally upon the ante-ionic antiquities of their respective islands. After the Pelasgian Xanthus son of Triopas, comes Makar son of Krinakus, the great native hero of the island, supposed by Plehn to be the eponym of an occupying race called the Makares: the Homeric hymn to Apollo brings Makar into connection with the Aeolic inhabitants, by calling him son of Aeolus, and the native historian Myrsilus also seems to have treated him as an Aeolian. To dwell upon such narratives suited the disposition of the Greeks; but when we come to inquire for the history of Lesbos, we find ourselves destitute of any genuine materials, not only for the period prior to the Aeolic occupation, but also for a long time after it: nor can we pretend to determine at what date that occupation took place. We may reasonably believe it to have occurred before 776 b.c., and it therefore becomes a part of the earliest manifestations of real Grecian history: both Kyme, with its eleven sister towns on the continent, and the islands Lesbos and Tenedos, were then Aeolic; and I have already remarked that the migration of the father of Hesiod the poet, from the Aeolic Kyme to Askra in Boeotia, is the earliest authentic fact known to us on contemporary testimony,—seemingly between 776 and 700 b.c.

But besides these islands, and the strip of the continent between Kyme and Pitane (which constituted the territory properly called Aeolis), there were many other Aeolic establishments in the region near Mount Ida, the Troad, and the Hellespont, and even in European Thrace. All these establishments seem to have emanated from Lesbos, Kyme and Tenedos, but at what time they were formed  we have no information. Thirty different towns  are said to have been established by these cities,  and nearly all the region of Mount Ida (meaning by that term the territory west of a line drawn from the town of Adramyttion northward to Priapos on the Propontis) came to be Aeolised. A new Aeolis was thus formed, quite distinct from the Aeolis near the Elaeitic Gulf, and severed from it partly by the territory of Atarneus, partly by the portion of Mysia and Lydia, between Atarneus and Adramyttium, including the fertile plain of Thebe: a portion of the lands on this coast seem indeed to have been occupied by Lesbos, but the far larger part of it was never Aeolic. Nor was Ephorus accurate when he talked of the whole territory between Kyme and Abydos as known under the name of Aeolis.

The inhabitants of Tenedos possessed themselves of the strip of the Troad opposite to their island,  northward of Cape Lekton—those of Lesbos founded Assus, Gargara, Lamponia, Antandrus, &c., between Lek ton, and the north-eastern comer of the Adra-myttian Gulf—while the Kymaeans seem to have established themselves at Kebron and other places in the inland Idaean district. As far as we can make out, this north-western corner (west of a line drawn from Smyrna to the eastern corner of the Propontis) seems to have been occupied, anterior to the Hellenic settlements, by Mysians and Teucrians—who are mentioned together, in such manner as to show that there was no great ethnical difference between them. The elegiac poet Kallinus, in the middle of the seventh century b.c., was the first who mentioned the Teucrians: he treated them’ as immigrants from Crete, though other authors represented them as indigenous, or as having come from Attica: however the fact may stand as to their origin, we may gather that in the time of Kallinus, they were still the great occupants of the Troad. Gradually the south and west coasts, as well as the interior of this region, became penetrated by successive colonies of Aeolic Greeks, to whom the iron and ship timber of Mount Ida were valuable acquisitions; and thus the small Teucrian townships (for there were no considerable cities) became Aeolised; while on the coast northward of Ida, along the Hellespont and Propontis, Ionic establishments were formed from Miletus and Phocaea, and Milesian colonists were received into the inland town of Skepsis. In the time of Kallinus, the Teucrians seem to have been in possession of Hamaxitus and Koldnae, with the worship of the Sminthian Apollo, in the south-western region of the Troad: a century and a half afterwards, at the time of the Ionic revolt, Herodotus notices the inhabitants of Gergis (occupying a portion of the northern region of Ida in the line eastward from Dardanus and Ophrynion) as “ the remnant of the ancient Teucrians.” We also find the Mityleneans and Athenians contending by arms about 600-580 b.c., for the possession of Sigeium at the entrance of the Hellespont: probably the Lesbian settlements on the southern coast of the Troad, lying as they do so much nearer to the island, as well as the Tenedian settlements on the western coast opposite Tenedos, had been formed at some time prior to this epoch. We farther read of Aeolic inhabitants as possessing Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont. The name Teucrians gradually vanished out of present use, and came to belong only to the legends of the past; preserved either in connection with the worship of the Sminthian Apollo, or by writers such as Hellanikus and Cephalon of Gergis, from whence it passed to the later poets and to the Latin epic. It appears that the native place of Cephalon was a town called Gergis or Gergithes near Kyme: there was also another place called Gergetha on the river Kalkus, near its sources, and therefore higher up in Mysia. It was from Gergithes near Kyme (according to Strabo), that the place called Gergis in Mount Ida was settled: probably the non-Hellenic inhabitants, both near Kyme and in the region of Ida, were of kindred race, but the settlers who went from Kyme to Gergis in Ida were doubtless Greeks, and contributed in this manner to the conversion of that place from a Teucrian to an Hellenic settlement. In one of those violent dislocations of inhabitants, which were so frequent afterwards among the successors of Alexander in Asia Minor, the Teucro-Hellenic population of the Idaean Gergis is said to have been carried away by Attalus of Pergamus, in order to people the village of Gergetha near the river Kaikus.

We are to regard the Aeolic Greeks as occupying not only their twelve cities on the continent round the Elaeitic Gulf, and the neighbouring islands, of which the chief were Lesbos and Tenedos—but also as gradually penetrating and hellenising the Idaean region and the Troad. This last process belongs probably to a period subsequent to 776 b.c., but Kyme and Lesbos doubtless count as Aeolic from an earlier period.

Of Mitylene, the chief city of Lesbos, we hear some facts between the fortieth and fiftieth Olympiad (620-580 b.c.), which unfortunately reach us only in a faint echo. That city then numbered as its own the distinguished names of Pittakus, Sappho, and Alkaeus: like many other Grecian communities of that time, it suffered much from intestine commotion, and experienced more than one violent revolution. The old oligarchy called the Penthilids (seemingly a gens with heroic origin), rendered themselves intolerably obnoxious by misrule of the most reckless character; their brutal use of the bludgeon in the public streets was avenged by Megakles and his friends, who slew them and put down their government. About the forty-second Olympiad (612 b.c.) we hear of Melanchrus, as despot of Mityldnd, who was slain by the conspiracy of Pittakus, Kikis, and Antimenidds—the last two being brothers of Alkaeus the poet. Other despots, Myrsilus, Megalagyrus, and the Kleanaktidae, whom we know only by name, and who appear to have been immortalized chiefly by the bitter stanzas of Alkaeus, acquired afterwards the sovereignty of Mitylene. Among all the citizens of the town, however, the most fortunate, and the most deserving, was Pittakus the son of Hyrrhadus—a champion trusted by his countrymen alike in foreign war and in intestine broils.

The foreign war in which the Mityleneans were engaged and in which Pittakus commanded them, was against the Athenians on the continental coast opposite to Lesbos, in the Troad near Sigeium. The Mityleneans had already established various settlements along the Troad, the northernmost of which was Achilleium: they laid claim to the possession of this line of coast, and when Athens (about the 43rd Olympiad, as it is said) attempted to plant a settlement at Sigeium, they resisted the establishment by force. At the head of the Mitylenean troops, Pittakus engaged in single combat with the Athenian commander Phrynon, and had the good fortune to kill him. The general struggle was however carried on with no very decisive result. On one memorable occasion the Mityleneans fled, and Alkaeus the poet, serving as an hoplite in their ranks, commemorated in one of his odes both his flight and the humiliating loss of his shield, which the victorious Athenians suspended as a trophy in the temple of Athene at Sigeium. His predecessor Archilochus, and his imitator Horace, have both been frank enough to confess a similar misfortune, which Tyrtaeus perhaps would not have endured to survive. It was at length agreed by Mitylene and Athens to refer the dispute to Periander of Corinth. While the Mityleneans laid claim to the whole line of coast, the Athenians alleged that inasmuch as a contingent from Athens had served in the host of Agamemnon against Troy, their descendants had as good a right as any other Greeks to share in the conquered ground. It appears that Periander felt unwilling to decide this delicate question of legendary law. He directed that each party should retain what they possessed, and his verdict1 was still remembered and appealed to even in the time of Aristotle, by the inhabitants of Tenedos against those of Sigeium.

Though Pittakus and Alkaeus were both found in the same line of hoplites against the Athenians at  Sigeium, yet in the domestic politics of their native  city, their bearing was that of bitter enemies. Alkaeus and Antimenidas his brother were worsted in this party-feud, and banished: but even as exiles they were strong enough seriously to alarm and afflict their fellow-citizens, while their party at home, and the general dissension within the walls, reduced Mitylene to despair. In this calamitous condition, the Mityleneans had recourse to Pittakus, who with his great rank in the state (his wife belonged to the old gens of the Penthilids), courage in the field, and reputation for wisdom, inspired greater confidence than any other citizen of his time. He was by universal consent named Aesymnete or dictator for ten years, with unlimited powers: and the appointment proved eminently successful. How effectually he repelled the exiles, and maintained domestic tranquillity, is best shown by the angry effusions of Alkaeus, whose songs (unfortunately lost) gave vent to the political hostility of the time in the same manner as the speeches of the Athenian orators two centuries afterwards, and who in his vigorous invectives against Pittakus did not spare even the coarsest nicknames, founded on alleged personal deformities. Respecting the proceedings of this eminent Dictator, the contemporary and reported friend of Solon, we know only in a general way, that he succeeded in re-establishing security and peace, and that at the end of his term he voluntarily laid down his authority—an evidence not only of probity superior to the lures of ambition, but also of that conscious moderation during the period of his dictatorship which left him without fear as a private citizen afterwards. He enacted various laws for Mitylene, one of which was sufficiently curious to cause it to be preserved and commented on—for it prescribed double penalties against offences committed by men in a state of intoxication. But he did not (like Solon at Athens) introduce any constitutional changes, nor provide any new formal securities for public liberty and good government: which illustrates the remark previously made, that Solon in doing this was beyond his age and struck out new lights for his successors—since on the score of personal disinterestedness Pittakus and he are equally unimpeachable. What was the condition of Mityldnd afterwards, we have no authorities to tell us. Pittakus is said (if the chronological computers of a later age can be trusted) to have died in the 52nd Olympiad (b.c. 572-568). Both he and Solon are numbered among the Seven Wise Men of Greece, respecting whom something will be said in a future chapter. The various anecdotes current about him are little better than uncertified exemplifications of a spirit of equal and generous civism: but his songs and his elegiac compositions were familiar to literary Greeks in the age of Plato.