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THat vast space comprised between the rivers Strymon and Danube, and bounded to the west by the easternmost Illyrian tribes, northward of the Strymon, was occupied by the innumerable subdivisions of the race called Thracians, or Threicians. They were the most numerous and most terrible race known to Herodotus: could they by possibility act in unison or under one dominion (he says), they would be irresistible. A conjunction thus formidable once seemed impending, during the first years of the Peloponnesian war, under the reign of Sitalces king of the Odrysae, who reigned from Abdera at the mouth of the Nestus to the Euxine, and compressed under his sceptre a large proportion of these ferocious but warlike plunderers; so that the Greeks even down to Thermopylae trembled at his expected approach. But the abilities of that prince were not found adequate to bring the whole force of Thrace into effective cooperation and aggression against others.

Numerous as the tribes of Thracians were, their customs and character (according to Herodotus) were marked by great uniformity: of the Getae, the Trausi, and others, he tells us a few particularities. And the large tract over which the race were spread, comprising as it did the whole chain of Mount Haemus and the still loftier chain of Rhodope, together with a portion of the mountains Orbelus and Skomius, was yet partly occupied by level and fertile surface,—such as the great plain of Adrianople, and the land towards the lower course of the rivers Nestus and Hebrus. The Thracians of the plain, though not less warlike, were at least more home-keeping, and less greedy of foreign plunder, than those of the mountains. But the general character of the race presents an aggregate of repulsive features unredeemed by the presence of even the commonest domestic affections. The Thracian chief deduced his pedigree from a god called by the Greeks Hermes, to whom he offered up worship apart from the rest of his tribe, sometimes with the acceptable present of a human victim. He tattooed his body, and that of the women belonging to him, as a privilege of honorable descent: lie bought his wives from their parents, and sold his children for exportation to the foreign merchant: he held it disgraceful to cultivate the earth, and felt honored only by the acquisitions of war and robbery. The Thracian tribes worshipped deities whom the Greeks assimilate to Ares, Dionysus, and Artemis: the great sanctuary and oracle of their god Dionysus was in one of the loftiest summits of Rhodope, amidst dense and foggy thickets,—the residence of the fierce and unassailable Satraa. To illustrate the Thracian character, we may turn to a deed perpetrated by the king of the Bisaltas,—perhaps one out of several chiefs of that extensive Thracian tribe,—whose territory, between Strymon and Axius, lay in the direct march of Xerxes into Greece, and who fled to the desolate heights of Rhodope, to escape the ignominy of being dragged along amidst the compulsory auxiliaries of the Persian invasion, forbidding his six sons to take any part in it. From recklessness, or curiosity, the sons disobeyed his commands, and accompanied Xerxes into Greece; they returned unhurt by the Greek spear; but the incensed father, when they again came into his presence, caused the eyes of all of them to be put out. Exultation of success manifested itself in the Thracians by increased alacrity in shedding blood; but as warriors, the only occupation which they esteemed, they were not less brave than patient of hardship, and maintained a good front, under their own peculiar array, against forces much superior in all military efficacy. It appears that the Thynians and Bithynians, on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, perhaps also the Mysians, were members of this great Thracian race, which was more remotely connected, also, with the Phrygians. And the whole race may be said to present a character more Asiatic than European, especially in those ecstatic and maddening religious rites, which prevailed not less among the Edonian Thracians than in the mountains of Ida and Dindymon of Asia, though with some important differences. The Thracians served to furnish the Greeks with mercenary troops and slaves, and the number of Grecian colonies planted on the coast had the effect of par­tially softening the tribes in the immediate vicinity, between whose chiefs and the Greek leaders intermarriages were not unfrequent. But the tribes in the interior seem to have retained their savage habits with little mitigation, so that the language in which Tacitus describes them is an apt continuation to that of Herodotus, though coming more than five centuries after.

To note the situation of each one among these many different tribes, in the large territory of Thrace, which is even now so imperfectly known and badly mapped, would be unnecessary, and. indeed, impracticable. I shall proceed to mention the prin­cipal Grecian colonies which were formed in the country, noticing occasionally the particular Thracian tribes with which they came in contact.

The Grecian colonies established on the Thermaic gulf, as well as in the peninsula of Chalcidice, emanating principally from Chalcis and Eretria, though we do not know their precise epoch, appear to have been of early date, and probably preceded the time when the Macedonians of Edessa extended their conquests to the sea. At that early period, they would find the Pierians still between the Peneius and Haliakmon,—also a number of petty Thracian tribes throughout the broad part of the Chalcidic peninsula; they would find Pydna a Pierian town, and Therma, Anthemus, Chalastra, etc. Mygdonian.

The most ancient Grecian colony in these regions seems to have been Methone, founded by the Eretrians in Pieria; nearly at the same time (if we may trust a statement of rather suspicious character, though the date itself is noway improbable) as Corcyra was settled by the Corinthians, (about 730-720 bc) . It was a little to the north of the Pierian town of Pydna, and separated by about ten miles from the Bottiaean town of Alorus, which lay north of the Haliakmon. We know very little about Methone, except that it preserved its autonomy and its Hellenism until the time of Philip of Macedon, who took and destroyed it. But though, when once established, it was strong enough to maintain itself in spite of conquests made all around by the Macedo­nians of Edessa, we may fairly presume that it could not have been originally planted on Macedonian territory. Nor in point of fact was the situation peculiarly advantageous for Grecian colonists, inasmuch as there were other maritime towns, not Grecian, in its neighborhood,Pydna, Alorus, Therma, Chalastra; whereas the point of advantage for a Grecian colony was, to become the exclusive seaport for inland indigenous people.

The colonies, founded by Chalcis and Eretria on all the three projections of the Chalcidic peninsula, were numerous, though for a long time inconsiderable. We do not know how far these projecting headlands were occupied before the arrival of the settlers from Euboea,—an event which we may probably place at some period earlier than 600 bc; for after that period Chalcis and Eretria seem rather on the decline,and it appears too, that the Chalcidian colonists in Thrace aided their mother­city Chalcis in her war against Eretria, which cannot be much later than 600 bc, though it may be considerably earlier.

The range of mountains which crosses from the Thermaic to the Strymonic gulf, and forms the northern limit of the Chalcidic peninsula, slopes down towards the southern extremity, so as to leave a considerable tract of fertile land between the Toronaic and the Thermaic gulfs, including the fertile headland called Pallene,—the westernmost of those three prongs of Chalcidice which run out into the Aegean. Of the other two prongs, or projections, the easternmost is terminated by the sublime Mount Athos, which rises out of the sea as a precipitous rock six thousand four hundred feet in height, connected with the mainland by a ridge not more than half the height of the mountain itself, yet still high, rugged, and woody from sea to sea, leaving only little occasional spaces fit to be occupied or cultivated. The intermediate or Sithonian headland is also hilly and woody, though in a less degree,—both less inviting and less productive than Pallene.

Aeneia, near that cape which marks the entrance of the inner Thermaic gulf,— and Potidaea, at the narrow isthmus of Pallene,—were both founded by Corinth. Between these two towns lay the fertile territory called Krusis, or Krossaea,forming in after­times a part of the domain of Olynthus, but in the sixth century BC occupied by petty Thracian townships. Within Pallene were the towns of Mende, a colony from Eretria,—Skione, which, having no legitimate mother-city traced its origin to Pellenian warriors returning from Troy,—Aphytis, Neapolis, Aege, Therambos, and Sane, either wholly or partly colonies from Eretria. In the Sithonian peninsula were Assa, Pildrus, Singus, Sarte, Torone, Galepsus, Sermyle, and Mekyberna; all or most of these seem to have been of Chalcidic origin. But at the head of the Toronaic gulf (which lies between Siyhonia and Pallene) was placed Olynthus, surrounded by an extensive and fertile plain. Originally a Bottiaean town, Olynthus will be seen at the time of the Persian invasion to pass into the hands of the Chalcidian Greeks, and gradually to incorporate with itself several of the petty neighboring establishments belonging to that race; whereby the Chalcidians acquired that marked preponderance in the peninsula which they retained, even against the efforts of Athens, until the days of Philip of Macedon.

On the scanty spaces, admitted by the mountainous promontory, or ridge, ending in Athos, were planted some Thracian and some Pelasgic settlements of the same inhabitants as those who occu­pied Lemnos and Imbros; a few Chalcidic citizens being domiciliated with them, and the people speaking both Pelasgic and Hellenic. But near the narrow isthmus which joins this promontory to Thrace, and along the north-western coast of the Strymonic gulf, were Grecian towns of considerable importance,—Sane, Akanthus, Stageira, and Argilus, all colonies from Andros, which had itself been colonized from Eretria. Akanthus and Stageira are said to have been founded in 654 bc.

Following the southern coast of Thrace, from the mouth of the river Strymon towards the east, we may doubt whether, in the year 560 bc, any considerable independent colonies of Greeks Lad yet been formed upon it. The Ionic colony of Abdera, eastward of the mouth of the river Nestus, formed from Teos in Ionia, is of more recent date, though the Klazomenians had begun an unsuccessful settlement there as early as the year 651 BC; while Dikaea—the Chian settlement of Maroneia—and the Lesbian settlement of Aenus at the mouth of the Hebrus, are of unknown date. The important and valuable territory near the mouth of the Strymon, where, after many ruinous failures, the Athenian colony of Amphipolis afterwards maintained itself, was at the date here mentioned possessed by Edonian Thracians and Pierians: the various Thracian tribes,—Satrae, Edonians, Dersaeans, Sapaeans, Bistones, Kikones, Paetians, etc.—were in force on the principal part of the tract between Strymon and Hebrus, even to the sea-coast. It is to be remarked, however, that the island of Thasus, and that of Samothrace, each possessed what in Greek was called a Peraea,—a strip of the adjoining mainland cultivated and defended by means of fortified posts, or small towns: probably, these occupations are of very ancient date, since they seem almost indispensable as a means of support to the islands. For the barren Thasus, especially, merits even at this day the uninviting description applied to it by the poet Archilochus, in the seventh century bc,—“an ass’s backbone, overspread with wild wood”:  so wholly is it com­posed of mountain, naked or wooded, and so scanty are the patches of cultivable soil left in it, nearly all close to the sea­shore. This island was originally occupied by the Phenicians, who worked the gold mines in its mountains with a degree of industry which, even in its remains, excited the admiration of Herodotus. How and when it was evacuated by them, we do not know; but the poet Archilochus formed one of a body of Parian colonists who planted themselves on it in the seventh century BC, and earned on war, not always successful, against the Thracian tribe called Saians: on one occasion, Archilochus found himself compelled to throw away his shield. By their mines and their possessions on the mainland (which contained even richer mines, at Skapte Hyle, and elsewhere, than those in the island), the Thasian Greeks rose to considerable power and population. And as they seem to have been the only Greeks, until the settlement of the Milesian Histiaeus on the Strymon about 510 bc, who actively concerned themselves in the mining districts of Thrace opposite to their island, we cannot be sur­prised to hear that their clear surplus revenue before the Persian conquest, about 493 bc, after defraying the charges of their government without any taxation, amounted to the large sum of two hundred talents, sometimes even to three hundred talents, in each year (from forty-six thousand to sixty-six thousand pounds).

On the long peninsula called the Thracian Chersonese there may probably have been small Grecian settlements at an early date, though we do not know at what time either the Milesian settlement of Kardia, on the western side of the isthmus of that peninsula, near the Aegean sea,—or the Aeolic colony of Sestus on the Hellespont,—were founded; while the Athenian ascendency in the peninsula begins only with the migration of the first Milciades, during the reign of Peisistratus at Athens. The Samian colony of Perinthus, on the northern coast of the Propontis, is spoken of as ancient in date, and the Megarian colonies, Selymbria and Byzantium, belong to the seventh century bc : the latter of these two is assigned to the 30th Olympiad (657 bc), and its neighbor Chalcedon, on the opposite coast, was a few years earlier. The site of Byzantium in the narrow strait of the Bosphorus, with its abundant thunny-fishery, which both employed and nourished a large proportion of the poorer freemen, was alike convenient either for maritime traffic, or for levying contributions on the numerous corn ships which passed from the Euxine into the Aegean; and we are even told that it held a considerable number of the neighboring Bithynian Thracians as tributary Perioeki. Such dominion, though probably maintained during the more vigorous period of Grecian city life, became in later times impracticable, and we even find the Byzantines not always competent to the defence of their own small surrounding territory. The place, however, will be found to possess considerable importance during all the period of this history.

The Grecian settlements on the inhospitable south-western coast of the Euxine, south of the Danube, appear never to haveattained any consideration: the principal traffic of Greek shirs in that sea tended to more northerly ports, on the banks of the Borysthenes and in the Tauric Chersonese. Istria was founded by the Milesians near the southern embouchure of the Danube—Apollonia and Odessus on the same coast, more to the south,— all probably between 600—560 BC. The Megarian or Byzan­tine colony of Mesambria, seems to have been later than the Ionic revolt; of Kallatis the age is not known. Tomi, north of Kallatis and south of Istria, is renowned as the place of Ovid’s banishment. The picture which he gives of that uninviting spot, which enjoyed but little truce from the neighborhood of the murderous Getae, explains to us sufficiently why these towns acquired little or no importance.

The islands of Lemnos and Imbros, in the Aegean, were at this early period occupied by Tyrrhenian Pelasgi, were conquered by the Persians about 508 bc, and seem to have passed into the power of the Athenians at the time when Ionia revolted from the Persians. If the mythical or poetical stories respecting these Tyrrhenian Pelasgi contain any basis of truth, they must nave been a race of buccaneers not less rapacious than cruel. At one time, these Pelasgi seem also to have possessed Samothrace, but how or when they were supplanted by Greeks, we find no trustworthy account; the population of Samothrace at the time of the Persian war was Ionic.