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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
The settlement was founded from Lokris in Greece though it is not
certain whether by the Opuntii or by the Ozolai, at the beginning of the 7th c.
B.C. It is in the vicinity of modern Bortigliola, Locri, and Gerace.
The city flourished during the 6th and 5th c., extending its dominion
over territory from the Ionian to the Tyrrhenian seas, including the cities of
Metauroo, Medma, and Hipponion. It defeated Kroton in the battle of the Sagra
shortly after the middle of the 6th c.
Lokroi was allied with Sparta, Taras, and Syracuse, and aided Dionysios
I in the struggle against Rhegion and the Italic league. In 356 it welcomed Dionysios
II, sent out from Syracuse, but was soon forced to expel him. During the war between
Rome and Pyrrhos, Lokroi changed sides several times. It surrendered to Hannibal
in 216 and was conquered by Scipio in 205. Included in the orbit of Rome, Lokroi
increasingly diminished in importance until in the course of the 8th and 9th c.,
following the incursion of the Saracens, it ceased to exist.
Not all of the area inside the encircling wall, which dates to the
4th-3d c. B.C., was occupied by buildings. Several stretches of the wall, with
round and square towers, have been found. The outlines of the walls that regulated
the watercourses crossing the city are clear. Neither the location of the port
nor the situation of the acropolis has been identified. An urban complex just
inside the city wall in the locality now called Centocamere, was laid out in large
city blocks separated by roads. It contains remains of water conduits, and in
some places kilns for the production of small terracotta objects. A second nucleus
of habitations has been located in the section of the city now called Caruso,
and this also is characterized by modest buildings with kilns and millstones.
Above the modern road to the hill is the theater, with its tiers resting against
the natural incline of the terrain. Several parts of the steps and the parodoi
were rebuilt by the Romans, with the respective part of the analemma. The plan
of the scena is recognizable, with parascenia, and it is probable that behind
this was a portico.
Not far from the theater, in the locality now called Casa Marafioti,
the remains of a Doric temple have been discovered. It may perhaps be identified
with a temple of Olympian Zeus referred to on bronze tablets found a short distance
from the theater and from the dromos. Belonging to this temple is an akroterion
in terracotta with a horseman and a sphinx below, very similar to contemporaneous
akroterial groups from Marasii.
In the little valley between the hills of the Abbadessa and those
of the Mannella a deposit of votive objects has been found, particularly pinakes
and dedicatory inscriptions. The latter must refer to the Sanctuary of Persephone
(Diod. 27.4.3), which flourished especially during the 6th and 5th c. In the vicinity
is a treasury building. No trace remains of the temple itself, which numerous
clues indicate was on the summit of the hill called Mannella.
Near Marasa a temple has been discovered. It is not certain to which
divinity it was dedicated. In its earliest phase, at the end of the 7th c., it
was an elongated cella subdivided into two naves. Belonging to it are terracotta
slabs with meander motifs. During the 6th c. the cella was embellished by a peristyle,
probably hexastyle. In the last third of the 5th c. there was built on the ruins
of the archaic temple another larger temple (19 x 45.4 m) with a slightly different
orientation. It had a cella, pronaos, opisthodomos, and peristyle in the Ionic
order. It was hexastyle with 17 columns on the long sides, and furnished with
a gutter having leonine heads in stone, and with akroterial decoration in marble,
at the center of which a Nereid between Dioskouroi mounted on horses is sustained
To the NE of the city in the Lucifero section is a necropolis with
tombs largely from the 6th and 5th c., but with some later burials. A necropolis
from the 7th-6th c. has been found in the Manaci section of the city. Roman tombs
found in the area of the hill indicate a shrinking in the city's area.
F. Parise Badoni, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Locri (Lokroi), sometimes called, for distinction's sake, Locri Epizephyrii
(Lokroi Epizephurioi, Thuc. vii. 1; Pind. Ol.xi.15; Strab.; Steph. B.: Eth. Lokros,
Locrensis: Ruins near Gerace), a city on the SE. coast of the Bruttian peninsula,
not far from its southern extremity, and one of the most celebrated of the Greek
colonies in this part of Italy. It was a colony, as its name obviously implies,
of the Locrians in Greece, but there is much discrepancy as to the tribe of that
nation from which it derived its origin. Strabo affirms that it was founded by
the Locri Ozolae, under a leader named Euanthes, and censures Ephorus for ascribing
it to the Locri Opuntii; but this last opinion seems to have been the one generally
prevalent. Scymnus Chius mentions both opinions, but seems to incline to the latter;
and it is adopted without question by Pausanias, as well as by the poets and later
Latin authors, whence we may probably infer that it was the tradition adopted
by the Locrians themselves. (Strab. vi. p. 259; Scymn. Ch. 313-317; Paus. iii.
19. § 12; Virg. Aen. iii. 399.) Unfortunately Polybius, who had informed himself
particularly as to the history and institutions of the Locrians, does not give
any statement upon this point. But we learn from him that the origin of the colony
was ascribed by the tradition current among the Locrians themselves, and sanctioned
by the authority of Aristotle, to a body of fugitive slaves, who had carried off
their mistresses, with whom they had previously carried on an illicit intercourse.
(Pol. xii. 5, 6, 10-12.) The same story is alluded to by Dionysius Periegetes
(365-367). Pausanias would seem to refer to a wholly different tale where he says
that the Lacedaemonians sent a colony to the Epizephyrian Locri, at the same time
with one to Crotona. (Paus, iii. 3. § 1.) These were, however, in both cases,
probably only additional bands of colonists, as Lacedaemon was never regarded
as the founder of either city. The date of the foundation of Locri is equally
uncertain. Strabo (l. c.) places it a little after that of Crotona and Syracuse,
which he regarded as nearly contemporary, but he is probably mistaken in this
last opinion. Eusebius, on the contrary, brings it down to so late a date as B.C.
673 (or, according to Hieronymus, 683); but there seems good reason to believe
that this is much too late, and we may venture to adopt Strabo's statement that
it was founded soon after Crotona, if the latter be placed about 710 B.C. (Euseb.
Arm. p. 105; Clinton F. H. vol. i. p. 186, vol. ii. p. 410.) The traditions adopted
by Aristotle and Polybius represented the first settlers as gaining possession
of the soil from the native Oenotrians (whom they called Siculi), by a fraud not
unlike those related in many similar legends. (Pol. xii. 6.) The fact stated by
Strabo that they first established themselves on Cape Zephyrium (Capo di Bruzzano),
and subsequently removed from thence to the site which they ultimately occupied,
about 15 miles further N., is supported by the evidence of their distinctive appellation,
and may be depended on as accurate. (Strab. l. c.)
As in the case of most of the other Greek colonies in Italy, we have
very scanty and imperfect information concerning the early history of Locri. The
first event in its annals that has been transmitted to us, and one of those to
which it owes its chief celebrity, is the legislation of Zaleucus. This was said
to be the most ancient written code of laws that had been given to any Greek state;
and though the history of Zaleucus himself was involved in great obscurity, and
mixed up with much of fable, there is certainly no doubt that the Locrians possessed
a written code, which passed under his name, and which continued down to a late
period to be in force in their city. Even in the days of Pindar and of Demosthenes,
Locri was regarded as a model of good government and order; and its inhabitants
were distinguished for their adherence to established laws and their aversion
to all innovation. (Pind. Ol. x. 17; Schol. ad loc.; Strab. vi. p. 260; Demosth.
adv. Timocrat. p. 743; Diod. xii. 20, 21.)
The period of the legislation of Zaleucus cannot be determined with
certainty: but the date given by Eusebius of Ol. 30, or B.C. 660, may be received
as approximately correct. (Euseb. Arm. p. 105; Clinton, vol. i. p. 193.) Of its
principles we know but little; and the quotations from his laws, even if we could
depend upon their authenticity, have no reference to the political institutions
of the state. It appears, however, that the government of Locri was an aristocracy,
in which certain select families, called the Hundred Houses, enjoyed superior
privileges: these were considered to be derived from the original settlers, and
in accordance with the legend concerning their origin, were regarded as deriving
their nobility from the female side. (Pol. xii. 5.)
The next event in the history of Locri, of which we have any account,
is the memorable battle of the Sagras, in which it was said that a force of 10,000
Locrians, with a small body of auxiliaries from Rhegium, totally defeated an army
of 130,000 Crotoniats, with vast slaughter. (Strab. vi. p. 261; Cic. de N. D.
ii. 2; Justin. xx. 2, 3.) The extraordinary character of this victory, and the
exaggerated and fabulous accounts of it which appear to have been circulated,
rendered it proverbial among the Greeks (alethestera ton epi Sagra, Suid. s. v.)
Yet we have no means of assigning its correct place in history, its date being
extremely uncertain, some accounts placing it after the fall of Sybaris (B.C.
510), while others would carry it back nearly 50 years earlier.
The small number of troops which the Locrians are represented as bringing
into the field upon this occasion, as compared with those of Crotona, would seem
to prove that the city was not at this time a very powerful one; at least it is
clear that it was not to compare with the great republics of Sybaris and Crotona.
But it seems to have been in a flourishing condition; and it must in all probability
be to this period that we must refer the establishment of its colonies of Hipponium
and Medma, on the opposite side of the Bruttian peninsula. (Scymn. Ch. 308; Strab.
vi. p. 256.) Locri is mentioned by Herodotus in B.C. 493, when the Samian colonists,
who were on their way to Sicily, touched there (Herod. vi. 23); and it appears
to have been in a state of great prosperity when its praises were sung by Pindar,
in B.C. 484. (Pind. Ol. x., xi.) The Locrians, from their position, were naturally
led to maintain a close connection with the Greek cities of Sicily, especially
with Syracuse, their friendship with which would seem: to have dated,. according
to some accounts, [p. 200] from the period of their very foundation. (Strab. vi.
p. 259.) On the other hand, they were almost constantly on terms of hostility
with their neighbours of Rhegium, and, during the rule of Anaxilas, in the latter
city, were threatened with complete destruction by that despot, from which they
were saved by the intervention of Hieron of Syracuse. (Pind. Pyth. ii. 35; and
Schol. ad loc.) In like manner we find them, at the period of the Athenian expeditions
to Sicily, in close alliance with Syracuse, and on terms of open enmity with Rhegium.
Hence they at first engaged in actual hostilities with the Athenians under Laches;
and though they subsequently concluded a treaty of peace with them, they still
refused to admit the great Athenian armament, in B.C. 415, even to anchor on their
coasts. (Thuc. iii. 99, 115, iv. 1, 24, v. 5, vi. 44, vii. 1; Diod. xii. 54, xiii.
3.) At a later period of the Peloponnesian War they were among the few Italian
cities that sent auxiliary ships to the Lacedaemonians. (Thuc. viii. 91.)
During the reign of the elder Dionysius at Syracuse, the bonds of
amity between the two cities were strengthened by the personal alliance of that
monarch, who married Doris, the daughter of Xenetus, one of the most eminent of
the citizens of Locri. (Diod. xiv. 44.) He subsequently adhered steadfastly to
this alliance, which secured him a footing in Italy, from which he derived great
advantage in his wars against the Rhegians and other states of Magna Graecia.
In return for this, as well as to secure the continuance of their support, he
conferred great benefits upon the Locrians, to whom he gave the whole territory
of Caulonia, after the destruction of that city in B.C. 389; to which he added
that of Hipponium in the following year, and a part of that of Scylletium. (Diod.
xiv. 100, 106, 107; Strab. p. 261.) Hipponium was, however, again wrested from
them by the Carthaginians in B.C. 379. (Id. xv. 24.) The same intimate relations
with Syracuse continued under the younger Dionysius, when they became the source
of great misfortunes to the city: for that despot, after his expulsion from Syracuse
(B.C. 356), withdrew to Locri, where he seized on the citadel, and established
himself in the possession of despotic power. His rule here is described as extremely
arbitrary and oppressive, and stained at once by the most excessive avarice and
unbridled licentiousness. At length, after a period of six years, the Locrians
took advantage of the absence of Dionysius, and drove out his garrison; while
they exercised a cruel vengeance upon his unfortunate wife and daughters, who
had fallen into their hands. (Justin, xxi. 2, 3; Strab. vi. p. 259; Arist. Pol.
v. 7; Clearch. ap. Athen. xii. 541.)
The Locrians are said to have suffered severely from the oppressions
of this tyrant; but it is probable that they sustained still greater injury from
the increasing power of the Bruttians, who were now become most formidable neighbours
to all the Greek cities in this part of Italy. The Locrians never appear to have
fallen under the yoke of the barbarians, but it is certain that their city declined
greatly from its former prosperity. It is not again mentioned till the wars of
Pyrrhus. At that period it appears that Locri, as well as Rhegium and other Greek
cities, had placed itself under the protection of Rome, and even admitted a Roman
garrison into its walls. On the approach of Pyrrhus they expelled this garrison,
and declared themselves in favour of that monarch (Justin, xviii. 1); but they
had soon cause to regret the change; for the garrison left there by the king,
during his absence in Sicily, conducted itself so ill, that the Locrians rose
against them and expelled them from their city. On this account they were severely
punished by Pyrrhus on his return from Sicily; and, not content with exactions
from the inhabitants, he carried off a great part of the sacred treasures from
the temple of Proserpine, the most celebrated sanctuary at Locri. A violent storm
is said to have punished his impiety, and compelled him to restore the treasures.
(Appian, Samn. iii. 12; Liv. xxix. 18; Val. Max. i. 1, Ext. § 1.)
After the departure of Pyrrhus, the Locrians seem to have submitted
again to Rome, and continued so till the Second Punic War, when they were among
the states that threw off the Roman alliance and declared in favour of the Carthaginians,
after the battle of Cannae, B.C. 216. (Liv. xxii. 61, xxiii. 30.) They soon after
received a Carthaginian force within their walls, though at the same time their
liberties were guaranteed by a treaty of alliance on equal terms. (Liv. xxiv.
1.) When the fortune of the war began to turn against Carthage, Locri was besieged
by the Roman consul Crispinus, but without success; and the approach of Hannibal
compelled him to raise the siege, B.C. 208. (Id. xxvii. 25, 28.) It was not till
B.C. 205, that Scipio, when on the point of sailing for Africa, was enabled, by
the treachery of some of the citizens, to surprise one of the forts which commanded
the town; an advantage that soon led to the surrender of the other citadel and
the city itself. (Id. xxix. 6-8.) Scipio confided the charge of the city and the
command of the garrison to his legate, Q. Pleminius; but that officer conducted
himself with such cruelty and rapacity towards the unfortunate Locrians, that
they rose in tumult against him, and a violent sedition took place, which was
only appeased by the intervention of Scipio himself. That general, however, took
the part of Pleminius, whom he continued in his command; and the Locrians were
exposed anew to his exactions and cruelties, till they at length took courage
to appeal to the Roman senate. Notwithstanding vehement opposition on the part
of the friends of Scipio, the senate pronounced in favour of the Locrians, condemned
Pleminius, and restored to the Locrians their liberty and the enjoyment of their
own laws. (Liv. xxix. 8, 16-22; Diod. xxvii. 4; Appian, Annib, 55.) Pleminius
had, on this occasion, followed the example of Pyrrhus in plundering the temple
of Proserpine; but the senate caused restitution to be made, and the impiety to
be expiated at the public cost. (Diod. L. C.)
From this time we hear little of Locri. Notwithstanding the privileged
condition conceded to it by the senate, it seems to have sunk into a very subordinate
position. Polybius, however, speaks of it as in his day still a considerable town,
which was bound by treaty to furnish a certain amount of naval auxiliaries to
the Romans. (Pol. xii. 5.) The Locrians were under particular obligations to that
historian (lb.) ; and at a later period we find them enjoying the special patronage
of Cicero (Cic. de Leg. ii. 6), but we do not know the origin of their connection
with the great orator. From Strabo's account it is obvious that Locri still subsisted
as a town in his day, and it is noticed in like manner by Pliny and Ptolemy (Strab.
vi. p. 259; Plin. iii. 5. s. 10; Ptol. iii. 1. § 10). Its name is not found in
the Itineraries, though they describe this coast in considerable detail; but Procopius
seems to attest its continued existence in the 6th century (B. G. i. 15), and
it is probable that it owed its complete destruction to the Saracens. Its very
name was forgotten in the middle ages, and its site became a matter of dispute.
This has however been completely established by the researches of modern travellers,
who have found the remains of the ancient city on the sea-coast, near the modern
town of Gerace. (Cluver, Ital. p. 1301; Romanelli, vol. i. p. 152; Cramer, vol.
ii. p. 411; Riedesel, Voyage dans la Grande Grece, p. 148.)
The few ruins that still remain have been carefully examined and described
by the Due de Luynes. (Ann. d. Inst. Arch. vol. ii. pp. 3-12.) The site of the
ancient city, which may be distinctly traced by the vestiges of the walls, occupied
a space of near two miles in length, by less than a mile in breadth, extending
from the sea-coast at Torre di Gerace (on the left bank of a small stream called
the Fiume di S. Ilario), to the first heights or ridges of the Apennines. It is
evidently to these heights that Strabo gives the name of Mount Esopis (Esopis),
on which he places the first foundation of the city. (Strab. vi. p. 259.) The
same heights are separated by deep ravines, so as to constitute two separate summits,
both of them retaining the traces of ancient fortifications, and evidently the
two citadels not far distant from each other noticed by Livy in his account of
the capture of the city by Scipio. (Liv. xxix. 6.) The city extended from hence
down the slopes of the hills towards the sea, and had unquestionably its port
at the mouth of the little river S. Ilario, though there could never have been
a harbour there in the modern sense of the term. Numerous fragments of ancient
masonry are scattered over the site, but the only distinct vestiges of any ancient
edifice are those of a Doric temple, of which the basement alone now remains,
but several columns were standing down to a recent period. It is occupied by a
farm-house, called the Casino dell' Imperatore, about a mile from the sea, and
appears to have stood without the ancient walls, so that it is not improbable
the ruins may be the remains of the celebrated temple of Proserpine, which we
know to have occupied a similar position. (Liv. xxix. 18.) The ruins of Locri
are about five miles distant from the modern town of Gerace, which was previously
supposed to occupy the site of the ancient city (Cluver, l. c.; Barr. de Sit.
Calabr. iii. 7), and 15 miles from the Capo di Bruzzano, the Zephyrian promontory.
The Locrians are celebrated by Pindar (Ol. x. 18, xi. 19) for their
devotion to the Muses as well as for their skill and courage in war. In accordance
with this character we find mention of Xenocritus and Erasippus, both of them
natives of Locri, as poets of some note; the lyric poetess Theano was probably
also a native of the Epizephyrian Locri. (Schol. ad Pind. Ol. xi. 17; Boeckh,
ad Ol. x. p. 197.) The Pythagorean philosophy also was warmly taken up and cultivated
there, though the authorities had refused to admit any of the political innovations
of that philosopher. (Porphyr. Vit. Pyth. 56.) But among his followers and disciples
several were natives of Locri (Iambl. Vit. Pyth. 267), the most eminent of whom
were Timaeus, Echecrates, and Acrion, from whom Plato is said to have imbibed
his knowledge of the Pythagorean tenets. (Cic. de Fin. v. 29.) Nor was the cultivation
of other arts neglected. Eunomus, a Locrian citizen, was celebrated for his skill
on the cithara; and the athlete Euthymus of Locri, who gained several prizes at
Olympia, was scarcely less renowned than Milo of Crotona. (Strab. vi. pp. 255,
260; Paus. vi. 6. § § 4-11.)
The territory of Locri, during the flourishing period of the city,
was certainly of considerable extent. Its great augmentation by Dionysius of Syracuse
has been already mentioned. But previous to that time, it was separated from that
of Rhegium on the SW. by the river Halex or Alice, while its northern limit towards
Caulonia was probably the Sagras, generally identified with the Alaro. The river
Buthrotus of Livy (xxix. 7), which appears to have been but a short distance from
the town, was probably the Novito, about six miles to the N. Thucydides mentions
two other colonies of Locri (besides Hipponium and Medma already noticed), to
which he gives the names of Itone and Melae, but no other trace is found of either
the one or the other. (Thuc. v. 5.)
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)
Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
(Aokroi Epizephurioi). An ancient Greek city in Lower Italy,
situated in the southeast of Bruttium, north of the promontory of Zephyrium, from
which it was said to have derived its surname Epizephyrii, though others suppose
this name was given to the place simply because it lay to the west of Greece.
It was founded by the Locrians from Greece, B.C. 683. The inhabitants regarded
themselves as descendants of Aiax Oileus; and as he resided at the town of Naryx
among the Opuntii, the poets gave the name of Narycia Locri. For the same reason
the pitch of Bruttium is frequently called Narycia. Locri was celebrated for the
excellence of its laws, which were drawn up by Zaleucus soon after the foundation
of the city. Near the town was an ancient and wealthy Temple of Persephone.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Perseus Project index
Locri. City of southern Italy.
The city of Locri was founded around 680 B. C. by settlers from Ozolian
Locris in central Greece,
on the northern coast of the gulf
of Corinth, who gave their new city the name of their homeland.
Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.