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ON the eastern side of the Ionian sea were situated the Grecian colonies of Corcyra, Leukas, Anaktorium, Ambrakia, Apollonia, and Epidamnus.

Among these, by far the most distinguished, for situation, for wealth, and for power, was Corcyra, now known as Corfu, the same name belonging, as in antiquity, both to the town and the island, which is separated from the coast of Epirus by a strait varying from two to seven miles in breadth. Corcyra was founded by the Corinthians, at the same time, we are told, as Syracuse. Chersikrates, a Bacchiad, is said to have accompanied Archias on his voyage from Corinth to Syracuse, and to have been left with a company of emigrants on the island of Corcyra, where he founded a settlement. What inhabitants he found there, or how they were dealt with, we cannot clearly make out. The inland was generally conceived in antiquity as the residence of the Homeric Phaeakians, and it is to this fact that Thucydides ascribes in part the eminence of the Corcyraean marine. According to another story, some Eretrians from Euboea had settled there, and were compelled to retire. A third statement represents the Liburnians as the prior inhabitants, and this perhaps is the most probable, since the Liburnians were an enterprising, maritime, piratical race, who long continued to occupy the more northerly islands in the Adriatic along the Illyrian and Dalmatian coast. That maritime activity, and number of ships, both war-like and commercial, which we find at an early date among the Corcyraeans, and in which they stand distinguished from the Italian and Sicilian Greeks, may be plausibly attributed to their partial fusion with preexisting Liburnians; for the ante-Hellenic natives of Magna Graecia and Sicily, as has been already noticed, were as unpractised at sea as the Liburnians were expert.

At the time when the Corinthians were about to colonize Sicily, it was natural that they should also wish to plant a settlement at Corcyra, which was a post of great importance for facilitating the voyage from Peloponnesus to Italy, and was farther convenient for traffic with Epirus, at that period altogether non-Hellenic. Their choice of a site was fully justified by the prosperity and power of the colony, which, however, though sometimes in combination with the mother-city, was more frequently alienated from her and hostile, and continued so from an early period throughout most part of the three centuries from 700-400 BC.  Perhaps also Molykreia and Chalcis, on the south-western coast of Aetolia, not far from the mouth of the Corinthian gulf, may have been founded by Corinth at a date hardly less early than Corcyra.

It was at Corinth that the earliest improvements in Greek ship-building, and the first construction of the trireme or warship with a triple bank of oars, was introduced, and it was probably from Corinth that this improvement passed to Corcyra, as it did to Samos. In early times, the Corcyraean navy was in a condition to cope with the Corinthian, and the most ancient naval battle known to Thucydides, was one between these two states, in 664 BC. As far as we can make out, it appears that Corcyra maintained her independence, not only during the government of the Bacchiads at Corinth, but also throughout the long reign of the despot Kypselus, and a part of the reign of his son Periander. But towards the close of this latter reign, we find Corcyra subject to Corinth; and the barbarous treatment inflicted by Periander, in revenge for the death of his son, upon three hundred Corcyraean youths, has already been recounted in a former chapter. After the death of Periander, the island seems to have regained its independence, but we are left without any particulars respecting it, from about 585 BC down to the period shortly preceding the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, nearly a century. At this later epoch the Corcyraeans possessed a naval force hardly inferior to any state in Greece. The expulsion of Kypselids from Corinth, and the reestablishment of the previous oligarchy, or something like it, does not seem to have reconciled the Corcyraeans to their mother-city; for it was immediately previous to the Peloponnesian war that the Corinthians preferred the bitterest complaints against them, of setting at nought those obligations which a colony was generally understood to be obliged to render. No place of honor was reserved at the public festivals of Corcyra for Corinthian visitors, nor was it the practice to offer to the latter the first taste of the victims sacrificed, observances which were doubtless respectfully fulfilled at Ambrakia and Leukas. Nevertheless, the Corcyraeans had taken part conjointly with the Corinthians in favor of Syracuse, when that city was in imminent danger of being conquered and enslaved by Hippokrates despot of Gela (about 492 BC), an incident which shows that they were not destitute of generous sympathy with sister states, and leads us to imagine that their alienation  from Corinth was as much the fault of the mother-city as their own.


The grounds of the quarrel were, probably, jealousies of trade, especially trade with the Epirotic and Illyrian tribes, wherein both were to a great degree rivals. Safe at home, and industrious in the culture of their fertile island, the Corcyraeans were able to furnish wine and oil to the Epirots on the mainland in exchange for the cattle, sheep, hides, and wool of the latter, more easily and cheaply than the Corinthian merchant. And for the purposes of this trade, they had possessed themselves of a peraea or strip of the main-land immediately on the other side of the intervening strait, where they fortified various posts for the protection of their property. The Corinthians were personally more popular among the Epirots than the Corcyraeans; but it was not until long after the foundation of Corcyra that they established their first settlement on the mainland, Ambrakia, on the north side of the Ambrakiotic gulf, and near the mouth of the river Arachthus. It was during the reign of Kypselus, and under the guidance of his son Gorgus, that this settlement was planted, which afterwards became populous and considerable. We know nothing respecting its growth, and we hear only of a despot named Periander as ruling in it, probably related to the despot of the same name at Corinth. Periander of Ambrakia was overthrown by a private conspiracy, provoked by his own brutality, and warmly seconded by the citizens, who lived constantly afterwards under a popular government.

Notwithstanding the long-continued dissensions between Corcyra and Corinth, it appears that four considerable settlements on this same line of coast were formed by the joint enterprise of both, Leukas and Anaktorium, to the south of the mouth of the Ambrakiotic gulf, and Apollonia and Epidamnus, both in the territory of the Illyrians, at some distance to the north of the Akrokeraunian promontory. In the settlement of the two latter, the Corcyraeans seem to have been the principals, in that of the two former, they were only auxiliaries; and it probably did not suit their policy to favor the establishment of any new colony on the intermediate coast opposite to their own island, between the promontory and the gulf above mentioned. Leukas, Anaktorium, and Ambrakia are all referred to the agency of Kypselus the Corinthian, and the tranquility which Aristotle ascribes to his reign may be in part ascribed to the new homes thus provided for poor or discontented Corinthian citizens. Leukas was situated near the modern Santa Maura : the present island was originally a peninsula, and continued to be so until the time of Thucydides; but in the succeeding half-century, the Leukadians cut through the isthmus, and erected a bridge across the narrow strait connecting them with the main-land. It had been once an Akarnanian settlement, named Epileukadii, the inhabitants of which falling into civil dissension, invited one thousand Corinthian settlers to join them. The new-comers choosing their opportunity for attack, slew or expelled those who had invited them, made themselves masters of the place with its lands, and converted it from an Akarnanian village into a Grecian town. Anaktorium was situated a short distance within the mouth of the Ambrakian gulf, founded, like Leukas, upon Akarnanian soil, and with a mixture of Akarnanian inhabitants, by colonists under the auspices of Kypselus or Periander. In both these establishments Corcyraean settlers participated; in both, also, the usual religious feelings connected with Grecian emigration were displayed by the neighborhood of a venerated temple of Apollo overlooking the sea, Apollo Aktius near Anaktorium, and Apollo Leukatas near Leukas.

Between these three settlements, Ambrakia, Anaktorium, and Lukas, and the Akarnanian population of the interior, there were standing feelings of hostility; perhaps arising out of the violence which had marked the first foundation of Leukas. The Corinthians, though popular with the Epirots, had been indifferent or unsuccessful in conciliating the Akarnanians. It rather seems, indeed, that the Akarnanians were averse to the presence or neighborhood of any powerful seaport; for in spite of their hatred towards the Ambrakiots, they were more apprehensive of seeing Ambrakia in the hands of the Athenians than in that of its own native citizens.


 The two colonies, north of the Akrokeraunian promontory, and on the coast-land of the Illyrian tribes, Apollonia and Epidamnus, were formed chiefly by the Corcyraeans, yet with some aid and a portion of the settlers from Corinth, as well as from other Doric towns. Especially it is to be noticed, that the oekist was a Corinthian and a Herakleid, Phalius the son of Eratokleides, for, according to the usual practice of Greece, whenever a city, itself a colony, founded a sub-colony, the oekist of the latter was borrowed from the mother-city of the former. Hence the Corinthians acquired a partial right of control and interference in the affairs of Epidamnus, which we shall find here-after leading to important practical consequences. Epidamnus, better known under its subsequent name Dyrrhachiurn, was situated on an isthmus on or near the territory of the Illyrian tribe called Taulantii, and is said to have been settled about 627 BC. Apollonia, of which the god Apollo himself seems to have been recognized as oekist, was founded under similar circumstances, during the reign of Periander of Corinth, on a maritime plain both extensive and fertile, near the river Aous, two days’ journey south of Epidamnus.

Both the one and the other of these two cities seem to have flourished, and to have received accession of inhabitants from Triphylia in Peloponnesus, when that country was subdued by the Eleians. Respecting Epidamnus, especially, we are told that it acquired great wealth and population during the century preceding the Peloponnesian war. A few allusions which we find in Aristotle, too brief to afford much instruction, lead us to suppose that the governments of both began by being close oligarchies, under the management of the primitive leaders of the colony, that in Epidamnus, the artisans and tradesmen in the town were considered in the light of slaves belonging to the public, but that in process of time, seemingly somewhat before the Peloponnesian war, intestine dissensions broke up this oligarchy, substituted a periodical senate, with occasional public assemblies, in place of the permanent phylarchs, or chiefs of tribes, and thus introduced a form more or less democratical, yet still retaining the original single-headed archon. The Epidamnian government was liberal in the admission of metics, or resident aliens, a fact which renders it probable that the alleged public slavery of artisans in that town was a status carrying with it none of the hardships of actual slavery. It was through un authorized selling agent, or poletes, that all traffic between Epidamnus and the neighboring Illyrians was carried on, individual dealing with them being interdicted. Apollonia was in one respect pointedly distinguished from Epidamnus, since she excluded metics, or resident strangers, with a degree of rigor hardly inferior to Sparta. These few facts are all that we are permitted to hear respecting colonies both important in themselves and interesting as they brought the Greeks into connection with distant people and regions.

The six colonies just named, Corcyra, Ambrakia, Anaktorium, Leukas, Apollonia, and Epidamnus, form an aggregate lying apart from the rest of the Hellenic name, and connected with each other, though not always maintained in harmony, by analogy of race and position, as well as by their common original from Corinth. That the commerce which the Corinthian merchants carried on with them, and through them with the tribes in the interior, was lucrative, we can have no doubt; and Leukas and Ambrakia continued for a long time to be not merely faithful allies, but servile imitators, of their mother-city. The commerce of Corcyra is also represented as very extensive, and carried even to the northern extremity of the Ionic gulf. It would seem that they were the first Greeks to open a trade and to establish various settlements on the Illyrian and Dalmatian coasts, as the Phokaeans were the first to carry their traffic along the Adriatic coast of Italy : the jars and pottery of Corcyra enjoyed great reputation throughout all parts of the gulf. The  general trade of the island, and the encouragement for its shipping, must probably have been greater during the sixth century BC, while the cities of Magna Graecia were at the maximum of their prosperity, than in the ensuing century, when they had comparatively declined. Nor can we doubt that the visitors and presents to the oracle of Dodona in Epirus, which was distant two days’ journey on landing from Kerkira, and the importance of which was most sensible during the earlier periods of Grecian history, contributed to swell the traffic of the Corcyraeans.

It is worthy of notice that the monetary system established at Kerkira was thoroughly Grecian and Corinthian, graduated on the usual scale of obols, drachms, mina, and talents, without including any of those native Italian or Sicilian elements which were adopted by the cities in Magna Graecia and Sicily. The type of the Corinthian coins seems also to have passed to those of Leukas and Ambrakia.

Of the islands of Zakynthus and Kephallenia, Zante and Cephalonia, we hear very little: of Ithaka, so interesting from the story of the Odyssey, we have have no historical information at all. The inhabitants of Zakynthus were Achaeans from Peloponnesus : Kephallonia was distributed among four separate city governments. Neither of these islands play any part in Grecian history until the time of the maritime empire of Athens, after the Persian war.