How Greeks and Calabria are connected?
The Calabrian and Greek histories are mixed in their origins, many years ago. The Greeks played a fundamental role in the formation of this territory and until today it is possible to perceive their influences in the cities of Calabria. Let’s get to our post, How Greeks and Calabria are connected? Come with me to discover some of this history! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? LOOKING FOR A HOTEL IN CALABRIA? Check our suggestions! Click here!
Before we get started, how about a little history and background?
Greece has a mountainous territory, so there are few flat areas, favorable for agriculture, so its main source of income was fishing. This particularity made its inhabitants settle in the valleys and in the flatter areas. The primitive name of this territory was actually “Helenes”, but later the Romans called them Greeks and the area they occupied was consequently called Greece.
The different peoples
Something that we need to highlight is that, within that same territory, there were different populations, which had the most diverse characteristics – some stronger in terms of warfare and with more prepared warriors and another more focused on the commercial aspect and in other professions, more linked to art, literature and philosophy.
As Greece grew and its population increased, of course it became imperative to start exploring other places, beyond the already established borders. The Greeks were now convinced that only commercial activity would offer the possibility of getting out of that state of want and poverty, so they started to head towards the coasts of present-day Calabria and Sicily.
It was thus, based on the need for survival, that the colonies of Calabria began to emerge.
What are colonies?
The colony was a city founded by the so-called Greek colonists, strayed from the original State, so it did not organize, administer or organize the new colonies – that is, they were autonomous. Almost always, due to the competitive characteristics of these powers and the resistance of the local populations, the establishment of the colony took place through the intervention of military forces.
As part of their autonomy, colonies could have their own laws and judges and establish a new form of government, even if they were sometimes indirectly affected by political influences from Greece.
We can say that the Greek colonization of the Calabrian territory, and of Italy as a whole, began in the 7th century BC. called Magna Graecia.
This denomination does not mean “great” in the sense of superior to Greece itself, but with a more religious meaning: Magna Graecia had Templar structures superior to those of original Greece – we can mention as an example the beautiful Temple of Hera, in Crotone, which it was a pilgrimage destination for the entire Greek world.
1) How Greeks and Calabria are connected? SIBARI
Now that you have a historical background, let’s talk about the most important Greek colonies in Calabria? Remembering that they are not the only ones!
We start with Sybaris or Síbari. Founded by the Greeks around 720 BC, when they arrived in the territory they named the two rivers that surround the city as Sybaris and Crathis, to remember two rivers from their cities of origin.
According to legend, these rivers were miraculous, with healing abilities, and it was said that whoever bathed in the Crati River, whether man or animal, in its waters, came out with blond hair, while whoever entered the Sibaris River, assumed dark hair.
The main sources of wealth in Sibari were the production and export of oil, wheat and wine and the breeding of horses. Ceramics and precious fabrics were also traded. It was a relatively wealthy city and, thanks to the silver mines present in the area between Corigliano and Longobucco, it minted the first coins in the first half of the 6th century, even before Athens.
Due to wars and conflicts, the city was refounded with the name of Thurii in 446 BC. Its planning was entrusted to Hippodamus of Miletus, who had already designed the city of Rhodes and Piraeus in Athens.
An ally of Athens in the war against Syracuse, it was attacked by the Syracusan allies, the Lucani, in 389 BC and was partially destroyed. During this period, it was dominated by the Romans, when it took the name of Copia, which means abundance, due to the prosperity of the region. Today, in the Archaeological Park of Sibari, it is possible to see the remains of the three cities: Sibari achea, Thurii and Thurii-Copia. It is definitely worth your visit!
2) How Greeks and Calabria are connected? CROTONE
Crotone, or Kroton, was founded in 734 – 709 BC. History tells that Myskellos led the expedition to the place indicated by the Oracle of Delphi – by the way, the Delphi tripod is reported on the first coins of Kroton.
It was here that the philosopher Pythagoras of Samos founded the Pythagorean school. In a short time, Crotone became more powerful than Sybaris and managed to destroy it in 510 BC.
The Pythagorean school played a central role in the development of the Colony. The Pythagoreans advocated constant care of the body, which was seen as the vessel of the soul. This vision has led to the emergence of exceptional gyms and athletes, such as Milone di Kroton, a multiple-time Olympic winner.
Temples and cults
The cult of Apollo, linked to the foundation of the city, was also quite strong, but it did not surpass the cult of Hera, to whom the Temple on the promontory of Lacinius was dedicated.
Hera was also revered as the patron goddess of weddings, which caused girls in the region to donate fine, elegant clothes to the Goddess. She was also the protector of animals, and around the Temple there was a forest in which free animals of all kinds lived.
The excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi in the region evidenced the existence of several ancient temples and sacred monuments, as well as uncovered several artifacts, such as the head of a deity, a golden diadem and several fine bronzes.
If you go to Crotone, be sure to visit…
- 10km away from Crotone, are the Museum and the National Park of Capo Colonna, the main extra-urban sanctuary of the Greek colony of Crotone. Click here for more information.
Kroton’s Important Characters
- Milone: frequent winner of the Olympics, it is said that, dressed as Heracles, he led the Crotoniats to victory against the Sibarites.
- Pythagoras: philosopher, originally from Samos, here he acquired his fame by establishing the Pythagorean school. He died in Metaponto, after being banned.
3) How Greeks and Calabria are connected? LOCRI
Locri Epizefiri was founded at the end of the 8th century BC (Strabo). According to Aristotle, the city was founded by Locresi women and their slaves, as their husbands were involved in war, which led women to assume great importance in the Colony.
The first landmark episode in Locri’s history was the war with Kroton, which was won at the Battle of the River Sagra in the mid-6th century BC. The Locresi, founders, helped by the people of Reggio Calabria, managed to defeat the Krotonese.
In 205 BC, it assumed the position of Roman municipality and began its most accelerated development. Several Roman statues were found in its territory, perhaps belonging to the city’s forum and to a large thermal structure that has now been restored and can be visited.
Don’t forget to visit…
- In Locri, visit the Locri Park and Museum to learn more about its history. Click here for more information.
4) How Greeks and Calabria are connected? REGGIO CALABRIA
Of course, we could not leave out of our list the splendid Reggio Calabria, whose foundation dates back to the 8th century BC.
The toe of the boot was not uninhabited when the Greeks arrived, but populated by the Itali, legendary descendants of King Italo. It was the second Greek colony in southern Italy after Cuma, in Campania. Diodorus Siculus narrates that, like Crotone, it was the Oracle of Delphi who indicated to the Chalcidians, its founders, the place to found the new colony:
Rhegion, as it was called, was one of the most important Greek colonies thanks to its privileged position. In the past, it hosted one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean, a role now played by Gioia Tauro.
On the commercial side, Reggio was an important center for the production of Greek pottery, and bronze works and sculptures were also prominent.
Did you know? The name Italy was given by the Greek
Yes it’s true! The name Italy comes from this important period!
The Greeks called the people who lived here VITULI, that is, calf worshippers. This name was interpreted by the Greeks with the term Italoi. Initially, they called that only the small part they inhabited, but they extended the name of Italoi or Italikoi and then Italia to all the peoples with whom they came in contact later.
It must also be said that, in fact, the name Italy was assigned by the Greeks to the southern part of the peninsula, but only after they settled in the territory of Calabria.
Watch this video on our YouTube channel and learn more about Riace bronzes in Calabria!
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How Greeks and Calabria are connected? As you have seen, this wonderful region has so much history to discover, not to mention its splendid landscapes and exceptional monuments. I invite you to discover everything this wonderful territory has to offer!