Page 0690



covered with forests, but the timber of this region is less valuable

than in the districts further north. The climate is very mild and would

be still warmer but for the highland character of the region, and the

recurring storms of wind and rain. In early times Bruttium was more

subject to Greek influences than any other state of Southern Italy.

Before passing to the consideration of the remaining provinces of

Central Italy, a few words in general respecting the country of Magna

Graecia will be appropriate. This name was given by the Greeks to those

countries of Southern Italy in which they had established colonies.

These settlements were planted on the shores of the Tarentine Gulf, in

different parts of Bruttium, on the western coast of Lucania, and at

Cumae in Campania-though by most authors Magna Graecia is not regarded

as extending beyond the northern frontier of Lucania. A few writers have

included the Greek settlements in Sicily with those of the main-land,

though they are generally considered as distinct colonies.

The geographical description of this country known as Great Greece,

together with a sketch of its climate and products, has already been

given in the paragraphs on Calabria, Lucania, and Bruttium. The country

at a certain epoch was one of great importance, involving the relations,

and at that time uncertain predominance, of the Greek and Latin races in

the West.

One of the oldest Grecian colonies established in Italy was that of

Cumae in Campania. Its date has been assigned to the year B. C. 1050. It

was by its position isolated from the other settlements of the Hellenes

in the Italian foot, and with its two dependent towns of Dicaearchi and

Neapolis has a history of its own.

Next in order of establishment were the Greek colonies in Sicily, which,

according to current chronology, were planted between the years B.C. 735

and 685. The most powerful of these settlements was the city of

Syracuse, situated on the east coast of the island about midway between

Catana and Cape Pachynus. Second in importance to this was the colony of

Agrigentum, on the southwest coast, between Selinus and Gela. On the

mainland, that is, in Magna Graecia proper, the principal Greek city was

Sybaris, on the western shore of the Tarentine Gulf. It was one of the

oldest of the Hellenic colonies, its founding bearing the date of B. C.

720-only a few years after the planting of Rome. The Sybarites claimed

an Achaean origin; but the Troezenians also constituted a part of the

original colony. The city grew to be wealthy, luxurious, powerful. Its

period of greatest splendor was from B. C. 580 to 560, at which time it

was one of the chief cities of the West.

Only second in importance to Sybaris was Crotona, on the eastern coast

of the Bruttian peninsula. This, like the sister city, was founded by

the Achaeans, the date being about B. C. 710. The settlement grew

rapidly into a powerful colony. The walls measured twelve miles in

circumference. The authority of the city was extended across the

peninsula, and other colonies were sent out from the parent hive. Like

Sybaris, Crotona became wealthy and luxurious. During the sixth century

she was recognized as one of the most civilized and powerful of all the

Western cities. The situation was one of the most healthful in Italy,

and the manner of life adopted by the citizens-modeled after the severe

system of discipline prevailing in Peloponnesus-conduced to give to the

inhabitants a robust development and manly character. Six miles distant

from the city was the famous temple of the Lacinian Juno, said to be the

oldest in Italy. The site is still marked by a single Doric column,

which from its bold position on the headland, is seen far out at sea,

and constitutes a landmark for sailors.

Next in rank among the Hellenic colonies of Magna Graecia was the city

of Locri. It was situated on the southeast coast of the Bruttian

peninsula, near the southern extremity. As the name indicates, the

original colony was composed of Locrians from Central Greece. The date

of the foundation was about B. C. 700. Of the early history of the

colony not much is known; but if tradition may be trusted it was here

rather than in Hellas that the first code of written laws was formulated

by a Greek. It is said that a certain Zaleucus, a kind of Solon of the

West, prepared a statute