Greek Italy c. 500 BCE


Map Code: Ax02194

The colonies of ‘Greater Greece’ were planted as far afield as Spain and North Africa, but nowhere compared for prosperity, power and density of settlement to southern Italy and Sicily. Often, the impetus for colonization was domestic misfortune, either brought about by rival Greek city-states, or, as in the case of the Phocaean foundation of Elea, occupation of the home city by the Persians. The colonies outgrew their association with their founders, and became regional power brokers in their own right. Syracuse (founded by Corinth) would lead an alliance to defeat the Carthaginian invaders at Himera (480 BCE), then block Etruscan expansion at Cumae (474 BCE). Colonies often (although not reliably) formed alliances by region of origin: Achaean, Dorian, Ionian and Aeolian. By 500 BCE, ruled by a mix of tyrants and democracies, the major cities spawned their own colonies. Kasmenai and Kamarina were founded by Syracuse while Rhegion controlled the Messina Straits by establishing Zancle.

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