Ancient Greek Colonization



The colonizing impulse of the Greeks did not cease with the settlement of the coast of Asia Minor. Indeed, the Asiatic colonies became themselves "mother cities," as they were called, from which other colonies were sent out. Miletus alone is said to have established eighty colonies. The southern coast of Italy became populous with a long line of Grecian cities. The great island of Sicily became almost wholly Greek; and its metropolis, Syracuse, rivalled Athens in its splendor. Sardinia was occupied, and Corsica. The celebrated French city of Marseilles was founded as a Grecian colony, Spain was settled also; and gradually these far western colonies came in contact with those of the Phoenicians under Carthage. Thus between the years 1000 and 500 B.C. the Greeks spread all around the northern Mediterranean, forming a ring of cities which they proudly called the "Greater Greece."

These colonies, unlike the trading cities of the Phoenicians, were most of them agricultural communities. In selecting their sites for settlement the Greeks looked for fertile fields rather than good harbors. Thus the cities were of a much more permanent character than the Phoenician towns, and most of them remain as centres of their various districts even in our own day.

For a time at least these colonizing Greeks outgrew the mother land in intellectual development. We can well image that it was the ablest Greeks who thus set forth from the Peloponnesus rather than submit to Dorian supremacy at home. That earliest of all great poets, Homer, was a native of Asiatic Greece. He was born probably about the year 1000 B.C. at Smyrna, an Achaean colony, wherein the traditions of the war with Troy, that chief triumph of the days of Achaean rulership, would be most warmly cherished and most carefully preserved. Sappho, too, the celebrated poetess of early Greece, was a native of the Achaean island of Lebos in Asia.






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