The Western Greeks: The History of Sicily and South Italy from the Foundation of the Greek Colonies to 480 B.C

The Western Greeks: The History of Sicily and South Italy from the Foundation of the Greek Colonies to 480 B.C

The Western Greeks: The History of Sicily and South Italy from the Foundation of the Greek Colonies to 480 B.C

The Western Greeks: The History of Sicily and South Italy from the Foundation of the Greek Colonies to 480 B.C

Excerpt

Sicily and south Italy together form the chief colonial region of the Greek world. Their coasts offered, more nearly than any other part of the Mediterranean, conditions similar to those of Greece; no strong and warlike race barred access; and so they were already dotted with colonies before less favoured regions began to be opened up. Here, as nowhere else outside the Aegean, were physical and social conditions favourable to reproduce the life of the city-state. The colonies equalled in population and power the cities of Old Greece, and made considerable contributions to Greek culture. They remained Greek long into the Roman domination, and the Greek spirit is even to-day not lost.

The title of Great Greece which was given to the south Italian colonies is extended by Strabo to include Sicily. Much would be lost by considering the two districts separately. They do not come into direct political relations until the fifth century; but they form an economic and cultural whole, so that a composite picture can be formed of life in the whole region. South Italy is less known and, in many respects, more interesting than Sicily; politically, economically, and artistically the Italian colonies reach independence of Old Greece earlier. Sicily has been more studied, and also there is more to be known, for the evidence is fuller.

Colonial history is threefold: relations with the mother country; development within the colonies; and relations with other races. The first is largely a matter of inference from archaeological evidence, for the literary sources record little. The second also can be only very briefly described, for lack of evidence; we have material for a full picture of Syracuse and some other colonies in the fifth and later centuries, but not of the period of growth. Among other races, the Phoenicians and Etruscans were the chief rivals of the Greeks in the West. The record of the relations between Greeks and Carthaginians is almost all one of wars, but the Greeks certainly had great influence on their adversaries, and had gain as well as loss from contact with them. The action of Greek culture on the Etruscans is too long a story to go into here: it is a subject as considerable as that of this book and, for the history of Italy and the world, perhaps of more moment. The hellenizing of . . .

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