THURII (/ˈθʊərɪaɪ/ ; Greek : Θούριοι Thoúrioi), called
also by some
Latin writers THURIUM (compare Greek : Θούριον in
Ptolemy ), for a time also COPIA and COPIAE, was a city of Magna
Graecia , situated on the Tarentine gulf , within a short distance of
the site of
Sybaris , whose place it may be considered as having
taken. The ruins of the city can be found in the Sybaris
archaeological park near
Sibari in the
Province of Cosenza , Calabria
* 1 History
* 1.1 Abandonment
* 2 Coinage
* 3 Famous people
* 4 References
* 5 External links
Excavated area seen from the normal elevation of the surrounding
landscape. Excavated remains of buildings, possibly from
Thurii. Excavated mosaic floor with swastikas , possibly from
Thurii was one of the latest of all the Greek colonies in this part
of Italy, not having been founded until nearly 70 years after the fall
of Sybaris. The site of that city had remained desolate for a period
of 58 years after its destruction by the Crotoniats ; when at length,
in 452 BC, a number of the Sybarite exiles and their descendants made
an attempt to establish themselves again on the spot, under the
guidance of some leaders of Thessalian origin; and the new colony rose
so rapidly to prosperity that it excited the jealousy of the
Crotoniats, who, in consequence, expelled the new settlers a little
more than 5 years after the establishment of the colony. The fugitive
Sybarites first appealed for support to
Sparta , but without success:
their application to the Athenians was more successful, and that
people determined to send out a fresh colony, at the same time that
they reinstated the settlers who had been lately expelled from thence.
A body of Athenian colonists was accordingly sent out by
under the command of Lampon and Xenocritus . Pericles' expressed
intent was for it to be a Panhellenic colony, and the number of
Athenian citizens was small, the greater part of those who took part
in the colony being collected from various parts of
Greece . Among
them were two celebrated names –
Herodotus the historian, and the
Lysias , both of whom appear to have formed part of the
original colony. The laws of the new colony were established by the
Protagoras at the request of Pericles, adopting the laws of
The new colonists at first established themselves on the site of the
deserted Sybaris, but shortly afterwards removed (apparently in
obedience to an oracle) to a spot at a short distance from thence,
where there was a fountain named "Thuria", from whence the new city
derived its name of Thurii. The foundation of
Thurii is assigned by
Diodorus to the year 446 BC; but other authorities place it three
years later, 443 BC, and this seems to be the best authenticated date.
The protection of the Athenian name probably secured the rising
colony from the assaults of the Crotoniats, at least we hear nothing
of any obstacles to its progress from that quarter; but it was early
disturbed by dissensions between the descendants of the original
Sybarite settlers and the new colonists, the former laying claim not
only to honorary distinctions, but to the exclusive possession of
important political privileges. These disputes at length ended in a
revolution, and the Sybarites were finally expelled from the city.
They established themselves for a short time in
Sybaris on the Traeis
but did not maintain their footing long, being dislodged and finally
dispersed by the neighboring barbarians. The Thurians meanwhile
concluded a treaty of peace with Crotona, and the new city rose
rapidly to prosperity. Fresh colonists poured in from all quarters,
Peloponnese ; and though it continued to be generally
regarded as an Athenian colony, the Athenians in fact formed but a
small element of the population. The citizens were divided, as we
learn from Diodorus, into ten tribes, the names of which sufficiently
indicate their origin. They were: the Arcadian (from
Achaea ), Elean (from Elea ), Boeotian (from
Amphictyonis ), Dorian (from Doris ), Ionian (from
Ionia ), Athenian (from
Athens ), Euboean (from
Euboea ), and Nesiotic
(from the islands). The form of government was democratic, and the
city is said to have enjoyed the advantage of a well-ordered system of
laws; but the statement of Diodorus, who represents this as owing to
the legislation of
Charondas , and that lawgiver himself as a citizen
of Thurii, is certainly erroneous. The city itself was laid out with
great regularity, being divided by four broad streets or plateae, each
of which was crossed in like manner by three others.
Very shortly after its foundation,
Thurii became involved in a war
with Tarentum (modern
Taranto ). The subject of this was the
possession of the fertile district of the Siritis , about 50 km north
of Thurii, to which the Athenians had a claim of long standing, which
was naturally taken up by their colonists. The Spartan general,
Cleandridas , who had been banished from
Greece some years before, and
taken up his abode at Thurii, became the general of the Thurians in
this war, which, after various successes, was at length terminated by
a compromise, both parties agreeing to the foundation of the new
colony of Heracleia in the disputed territory.
Knowledge of the history of
Thurii is very scanty and fragmentary.
Fresh disputes arising between the Athenian citizens and the other
colonists were at length allayed by the oracle of Delphi , which
decided that the city had no other founder than Apollo . But the same
difference appears again on occasion of the great Athenian expedition
Sicily , when the city was divided into two parties, the one
desirous of favoring and supporting the Athenians, the other opposed
to them. The latter faction at first prevailed, so far that the
Thurians observed the same neutrality towards the Athenian fleet under
Alcibiades as the other cities of Italy.
Thurii was, in
fact, the city where
Alcibiades escaped his Athenian captors who were
taking him home for trial.
But two years afterwards (413 BC) the Athenian party had regained the
ascendency; and when Demosthenes and Eurymedon touched at Thurii, the
citizens afforded them every assistance, and even furnished an
auxiliary force of 700 hoplites and 300 dartmen. From this time we
hear nothing of
Thurii for a period of more than 20 years, though
there is reason to believe that this was just the time of its greatest
prosperity. In 390 BC we find that its territory was already beginning
to suffer from the incursions of the
Lucanians , a new and formidable
enemy, for protection against whom all the cities of
Magna Graecia had
entered into a defensive league. But the Thurians were too impatient
to wait for the support of their allies, and issued forth with an army
of 14,000 foot and 1000 horse, with which they repulsed the attacks of
the Lucanians; but having rashly followed them into their own
territory, they were totally defeated, near
Laüs , and above 10,000
of them cut to pieces.
This defeat must have inflicted a severe blow on the prosperity of
Thurii, while the continually increasing power of the
Bruttians , in their immediate neighborhood would prevent them from
quickly recovering from its effects. The city continued also to be on
hostile, or at least unfriendly, terms with Dionysius of Syracuse ,
and was in consequence chosen as a place of retirement or exile by his
Leptines and his friend
Philistus . The rise of the Bruttian
people about 356 BC probably became the cause of the complete decline
of Thurii, but the statement of
Diodorus that the city was conquered
by that people must be received with considerable doubt. It reappears
in history at a later period, when Corinthian soldiers en route to
Timoleon on his expedition to Syracuse are blockaded there by
Carthaginian ships. At this point it is still an independent Greek
city, though much fallen from its former greatness. No mention of it
is found during the wars of
Alexander of Epirus in this part of Italy;
but at a later period it was so hard pressed by the
Lucanians that it
had recourse to the alliance of Rome ; and a Roman army was sent to
its relief under
Gaius Fabricius Luscinus . He defeated the Lucanians,
who had actually laid siege to the city, in a pitched battle, and by
several other successes to a great extent broke their power, and thus
relieved the Thurians from all immediate danger from that quarter.
But shortly after they were attacked on the other side by the
Tarentines, who are said to have taken and plundered their city; and
this aggression was one of the immediate causes of the war declared by
the Romans against Tarentum in 282 BC.
Thurii now sunk completely into the condition of a dependent ally of
Rome, and was protected by a Roman garrison. No mention is found of
its name during the wars with Pyrrhus or the
First Punic War , but it
plays a considerable part in the
Second Punic War with
Hannibal . It
was apparently one of the cities which revolted to the Carthaginians
after the battle of Cannae , in another passage,
Livy places its
defection more precisely in 212 BC. After the defection of Tarentum,
they betrayed the Roman troops into the hands of the Carthaginian
general Hanno . A few years later (210 BC), Hannibal, finding himself
unable to protect his allies in
Campania , removed the inhabitants of
Atella who had survived the fall of their city to Thurii; but it was
not long before he was compelled to abandon the latter city also to
its fate; and when he himself in 204 BC withdrew his forces into
Bruttium , he removed to
Crotona 3500 of the principal citizens of
Thurii, while he gave up the city itself to the plunder of his troops.
It is evident that
Thurii was now sunk to the lowest state of decay;
but the great fertility of its territory rendered it desirable to
preserve it from utter desolation: hence in 194 BC, it was one of the
places selected for the establishment of a Roman colony with Latin
rights. The number of colonists was small in proportion to the extent
of land to be divided among them, but they amounted to 3000 foot and
Livy says merely that the colony was sent in Thurinum
agrum, and does not mention anything of a change of name; but Strabo
tells us that they gave to the new colony the name of COPIAE, and this
statement is confirmed both by
Stephanus of Byzantium
Stephanus of Byzantium , and by the
evidence of coins, on which, however, the name is written "COPIA".
But this new name did not continue long in use, and
continued to be known by its ancient appellation. It is mentioned as a
municipal town on several occasions during the latter ages of the
Roman Republic . In 72 BC it was taken by
Spartacus , and subjected to
heavy contributions, but not otherwise injured. According to
Suetonius , the Octavian family held some renown there, and Gaius
Octavius (father of the future
Caesar Augustus ) defeated a Spartacist
army near there; as a result, the future emperor was granted the
surname Thurinus shortly after birth. At the outbreak of the Civil
Wars it was deemed by
Julius Caesar of sufficient importance to be
secured with a garrison of Gaulish and Spanish horse; and it was there
M. Caelius Rufus was put to death, after a vain attempt to excite
an insurrection in this part of Italy. In 40 BC also it was attacked
Sextus Pompeius , who laid waste its territory, but was repulsed
from the walls of the city.
It is certain therefore that
Thurii was at this time still a place of
some importance, and it is mentioned as a still existing town by Pliny
and Ptolemy, as well as Strabo. It was probably, indeed, the only
place of any consideration remaining on the coast of the Tarentine
Crotona and Tarentum; both
Metapontum and Heracleia
having already fallen into almost complete decay. Its name is still
found in the Itineraries. and it is noticed by
Procopius as still
existing in the 6th century.
Over time the sediment accretion of the Crati river caused its river
delta to shift towards the sea at a long term rate of one meter a
year. As a consequence the successive sites of Sybaris,
Copia became landlocked and lost their importance because they no
longer had easy access to the sea for trade. The period of its final
decay is uncertain; but it seems to have been abandoned during the
Middle Ages, when the inhabitants took refuge at a place called
Terranova (Terranova da Sibari), about 15 kilometers inland, on a hill
on the left bank of the Crati.
O: helmeted head of Athena left, wearing Attic helmet decorated
with Skylla holding a rudder, neck guard decorated with a palmette.
R: bull butting right; above, Nike flying right, crowning bull.
AR Stater (7.98 g, 6h) Lucania, Thourioi ~350-300 BC
The exact location of Greek
Thurii is not known, but that of the
Roman town, which probably though not certainly occupied the same
site, is fixed by several ruins as being c. 6 kilometers to the east
of Terranova da Sibari, and as occupying an area some 6 km in circuit.
It is clear, from the statements both of
Diodorus and Strabo, that
Thurii occupied a site near to, but distinct from, that of Sybaris:
hence the position suggested by some local topographers at the foot of
the hill of Terranova, is probably too far inland. It is more likely
that the true site is to be sought to the north of the
ancient Sybaris), a few kilometers from the sea, where ruins still
exist, attributed to Sybaris, but which are probably in reality those
Henry Swinburne , however, mentions Roman ruins as existing
in the peninsula formed by the rivers Crathis and
Sybaris near their
junction, which may perhaps be those of Thurii.
Thurii had an active mint in antiquity. The coins of
Thurii are of
great beauty; their number and variety indeed gives us a higher idea
of the opulence and prosperity of the city than we should gather from
the statements of ancient writers.
* Alexis (ancient comic poet)
* ^ Diod. xi. 90, xii. 10.
* ^ A B Pomeroy, Sarah; Burstein, Stanley; Donlan, Walter; Roberts,
Jennifer (2008). Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural
History (second edition). New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
p. 275. ISBN 978-0-19-530800-6 .
* ^ Diod. xii. 10;
Strabo vi. p. 263; Dionys. Lys. p. 453; Vit. X.
Orat. p. 835;
Plutarch Peric. 11, Nic. 5.
* ^ Barrett, Harold. The Sophists (Novato, California: Chandler
Strabo l. c.
* ^ Clinton, F. H. vol. ii. p. 54.
* ^ Diod. xii. 11, 22; Arist. Pol. v. 3.
* ^ Diod. xii. 11.
* ^ Diod. xii. 10.
* ^ Diod. xii. 23, 36, xiii. 106;
Strabo vi. p. 264; Polyaen.
Strat. ii. 10.
* ^ Diod. xii. 35.
Thucydides vi. 44.
* ^ Id. vii. 33, 35.
* ^ Diod. xiv. 101.
* ^ Diod. xv. 7.
* ^ xvi. 15.
Livy Epit. xi.; Pliny xxxiv. 6. s. 15;
Valerius Maximus i. 8.
Appian , Samn. 7. § 1.
* ^ Liv. xxii. 61, xxv. 1.
* ^ Id. xxv. 15; Appian, Hann. 34.
* ^ Appian, Hann. 49.
* ^ Appian, l. c., 57.
* ^ Liv. xxxiv. 53;
Strabo vi. p. 263.
* ^ Liv. xxxv. 9.
Strabo l. c.; Steph. Byz. s. v. Θούριοι;
Eckhel , vol.
i. p. 164.
* ^ Appian, B.C. i. 117.
Commentarii de Bello Civili iii. 21, 22.
* ^ Appian, B.C. v. 56, 58.
Strabo vi. p. 263; Plin. iii. 11. s. 15; Ptol. iii. 1. § 12.
Antonine Itinerary p. 114, where it is written TURIOS; Tabula
* ^ Procop. B. G. i. 15.
* ^ Stanley, Jean-Daniel; Bernasconi, Maria Pia (2009).
"Sybaris-Thuri-Copia trilogy: three delta coastal sites become
land-locked". Méditerranée (112): 75–86. doi
* ^ Diod. xii. 10; Strab. l. c.
Henry Swinburne , Travels, vol. i. pp. 291, 292; Romanelli,
vol. i. p. 236.
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Smith, William , ed. (1854–1857). "article name
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography . London: John
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed".
Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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