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Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
(/ˌmæɡnə ˈɡriːsiə, ˈɡriːʃə/, US: /ˌmæɡnə ˈɡreɪʃə/; Latin
meaning "Great Greece", Greek: Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, Megálē Hellás, Italian: Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy
Southern Italy
in the present-day regions of Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria
and Sicily
that were extensively populated by Greek settlers; particularly the Achaean settlements of Croton, and Sybaris, and to the north, the settlements of Cumae
and Neapolis.[1] The settlers who began arriving in the 8th century BC brought with them their Hellenic civilization, which was to leave a lasting imprint on Italy, such as in the culture of ancient Rome. Most notably the Roman poet Ovid
referred to the south of Italy
as Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
in his poem Fasti.


1 Antiquity 2 Middle Ages 3 Modern Italy 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Antiquity[edit] Main article: Colonies in antiquity
Colonies in antiquity
§ Greek colonies According to Strabo, Magna Graecia's colonization had already begun by the time of the Trojan War and lasted for several centuries.[2] In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, for various reasons, including demographic crises (famine, overcrowding, etc.), the search for new commercial outlets and ports, and expulsion from their homeland, Greeks
began to settle in southern Italy
(Cerchiai, pp. 14–18). Also during that period, Greek colonies were established in places as widely separated as the eastern coast of the Black Sea, Eastern Libya and Massalia (Marseille). They included settlements in Sicily
and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. The Romans called the area of Sicily
and the foot of Italy
Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
(Latin, “Great Greece”) since it was so densely inhabited by the Greeks. The ancient geographers differed on whether the term included Sicily
or merely Apulia
and Calabria: Strabo
being the most prominent advocate of the wider definitions.[citation needed] With colonization, Greek culture
Greek culture
was exported to Italy, in its dialects of the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
language, its religious rites and its traditions of the independent polis. An original Hellenic civilization soon developed, later interacting with the native Italic civilisations. The most important cultural transplant was the Chalcidean/Cumaean variety of the Greek alphabet, which was adopted by the Etruscans; the Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic alphabet
subsequently evolved into the Latin
alphabet, which became the most widely used alphabet in the world.[citation needed] Many of the new Hellenic cities became very rich and powerful, like Neapolis (Νεάπολις, Naples, "New City"), Syracuse (Συράκουσαι), Acragas (Ἀκράγας) Paestum (Ποσειδωνία) and Sybaris
(Σύβαρις). Other cities in Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
included Tarentum (Τάρας), Epizephyrian Locri (Λοκροί Ἐπιζεφύριοι), Rhegium (Ῥήγιον), Croton (Κρότων), Thurii
(Θούριοι), Elea (Ἐλέα), Nola (Νῶλα), Ancona
(Ἀγκών), Syessa (Σύεσσα), Bari (Βάριον) and others.[citation needed] Following the Pyrrhic War
Pyrrhic War
in the 3rd century BC, Magna Graecia
Magna Graecia
was absorbed into the Roman Republic.[citation needed]

Greek temples of Paestum, Campania

Mosaic from Caulonia, Calabria

Temple of Hera
in Metaponto, Basilicata

The Temple of Concordia, Akragas, Sicily

Milo of Croton

of Syracuse

of Tarentum

5th century BC Greek coins of Tarentum

The goddess Nike riding on a two-horse chariot, Apulian patera (tray), 4th century BC.

Fresco of dancing Peucetian women in the Tomb of the Dancers
Tomb of the Dancers
in Ruvo di Puglia, 4th-5th century BC

Middle Ages[edit] During the Early Middle Ages, following the disastrous Gothic War, new waves of Byzantine Christian Greeks
may have come to Southern Italy from Greece
and Asia Minor, as Southern Italy
Southern Italy
remained loosely governed by the Eastern Roman Empire. Although possible, the archaeological evidence shows no trace of new arrivals of Greek peoples, only a division between barbarian newcomers, and Greco-Roman locals. The iconoclast emperor Leo III appropriated lands that had been granted to the Papacy in southern Italy[3] and the Eastern Emperor loosely governed the area until the advent of the Lombards then, in the form of the Catapanate of Italy, superseded by the Normans.[citation needed] A remarkable example of the influence is the Griko-speaking minority that still exists today in the Italian regions of Calabria
and Apulia. Griko is the name of a language combining ancient Doric, Byzantine Greek, and Italian elements, spoken by few people in some villages in the Province of Reggio Calabria
and Salento. There is a rich oral tradition and Griko folklore, limited now but once numerous, to around 30,000 people, most of them having become absorbed into the surrounding Italian element. Some scholars, such as Gerhard Rohlfs, argue that the origins of Griko may ultimately be traced to the colonies of Magna Graecia.[citation needed] Modern Italy[edit]

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Although many of the Greek inhabitants of Southern Italy
Southern Italy
were entirely Italianized during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
(for example, Paestum
was by the 4th century BC), pockets of Greek culture
Greek culture
and language remained and survived into modernity partly because of continuous migration between southern Italy
and the Greek mainland. One example is the Griko people, some of whom still maintain their Greek language
Greek language
and customs.[citation needed] For example, Greeks
re-entered the region in the 16th and 17th century in reaction to the conquest of the Peloponnese
by the Ottoman Empire. Especially after the end of the Siege of Coron
Siege of Coron
(1534), large numbers of Greeks
took refuge in the areas of Calabria, Salento
and Sicily. Greeks
from Coroni, the so-called Coronians, were nobles, who brought with them substantial movable property. They were granted special privileges and tax exemptions. Other Greeks
who moved to Italy
came from the Mani Peninsula
Mani Peninsula
of the Peloponnese. The Maniots
were known for their proud military traditions and for their bloody vendettas, many of which still continue today. Another group of Maniot Greeks
moved to Corsica.[citation needed] See also[edit]

Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
dialects Greeks
in Italy Italiotes Graia Graïke Graecus Griko people Griko language Hellenic civilization Names of the Greeks


^ The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, Paul Harvey, 1927,1955, p258 ^ [ Strabo, Geographica οἱ δὲ τῆς Σικελίας τύραννοι καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα Καρχηδόνιοι, τοτὲ μὲν περὶ τῆς Σικελίας πολεμοῦντες πρὸς Ῥωμαίους τοτὲ δὲ περὶ αὐτῆς τῆς Ἰταλίας, ἅπαν- τας τοὺς ταύτῃ κακῶς διέθηκαν, μάλιστα δὲ τοὺς Ἕλληνας, πρότερον μέν γε καὶ τῆς μεσογαίας πολλὴν ἀφῄρηντο, ἀπὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν χρόνων ἀρξάμενοι, καὶ δὴ ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον ηὔξηντο ὥστε τὴν μεγάλην Ἑλλάδα ταύτην ἔλεγον καὶ τὴν Σικελίαν· νυνὶ δὲ πλὴν Τάραντος καὶ Ῥηγίου καὶ Νεαπόλεως ἐκβεβαρβαρῶσθαι συμβέβηκεν ἅπαντα καὶ τὰ μὲν Λευκανοὺς καὶ Βρεττίους κατέχειν τὰ δὲ Καμπανούς, καὶ τούτους λόγῳ, τὸ δ' ἀληθὲς Ῥωμαίους· καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ Ῥωμαῖοι γεγόνασιν. ] ^ T. S. Brown, "The Church of Ravenna and the Imperial Administration in the Seventh Century," The English Historical Review (1979 pp 1-28) p.5.


Cerchiai L., Jannelli L., Longo F. The Greek Cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily. Getty Trust, 2004. ISBN 0-89236-751-2 Dunbabin T. J. The Western Greeks. 1948. Smith W. "Magna Graecia." In Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. 1854. Woodhead A. G. The Greeks
in the West. 1962.

External links[edit]

has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Magna Graecia.

Map. Ancient Coins. David Willey. Italy
rediscovers Greek heritage. BBC News. 21 June 2005, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK. Gaze On The Sea. Salentinian Peninsula, Greece
and Greater Greece. (in Italian, Greek and English) Oriamu pisulina. Traditional Griko song performed by Ghetonia. Kalinifta. Traditional Griko song performed by amateur local group. Second Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Hellenic Heritage of Southern Italy. Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). June 11, 2015. (Dates: Monday, May 30, 2016 to Thursday, June 2, 2016.) Sergio Tofanelli et al. The Greeks
in the West: genetic signatures of the Hellenic colonisation in southern Italy
and Sicily. European Journal of Human Genetics, (15 July 2015).

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