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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


LAOS (Ancient city) ITALY
  Laus (Laos: Eth. La+inos: near Scalea). A city on the W. coast of Lucania, at the mouth of the river of the same name, which formed the boundary between Lucania and Bruttium. (Strab. vi. pp. 253, 254.) It was a Greek city, and a colony of Sybaris; but the date of its foundation is unknown, and we have very little information as to its history. Herodotus tells us that, after the destruction of Sybaris in B.C. 510, the inhabitants who survived the catastrophe took refuge in Laus and Scidrus (Herod. vi. 20); but he does not say, as has been supposed, that these cities were then founded by the Sybarites: it is far more probable that they had been settled long before, during the greatness of Sybaris, when Posidonia also was planted by that city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian sea. The only other mention of Laus in history is on occasion of a great defeat sustained there by the allied forces of the Greek cities in southern Italy, who had apparently united their arms in order to check the progress of the Lucanians, who were at this period rapidly extending their power towards the south,,. The Greeks were defeated with great slaughter, and it is probable that Laus itself fell into the hands of the barbarians. (Strab. vi. p. 253.) From this time we hear no more of the city; and though Strabo speaks of it as still in existence in his times it seems to have disappeared before the days of Pliny. The latter author, however (as well as Ptolemy), notices the river Laus, which Pliny concurs with Strabo in fixing as the boundary between Lucania and Bruttium. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. iii. 5. s. 10; Ptol. iii. 1. § 9 ; Steph. B. s. v.)
  The river Laus still retains its ancient name as, the Lao, or Laino: it is a considerable stream, falling into the Gulf of Policastro. Near its sources about 10 miles from the sea, is the town of Laino, supposed by Cluverius to represent the ancient Laus; but the latter would appear, from Strabo's description, to have been nearer the sea. Romanelli would place it at Scalea, a small town with a good port, about three miles N. of the mouth of the river; but it is more probable that the ancient city is to be looked for between this and the river Lao. (Cluver. Ital. p. 1262; Romanelli, vol. i. p. 383.) According to Strabo there was, near the river and city, a temple or Heroum of a hero named Dracon, close to which was the actual scene of the great battle between the Greeks and Lucanians. (Strab. l. c.)
  Strabo speaks of a gulf of Laus, by which he can hardly mean any other than the extensive bay now called the Gulf of Policastro, which may be considered as extending from the promontory of Pynus (Capo degli Infreschi) to near Cirella. There exist coins of Laus, of ancient style, with the inscription LAINON: they were struck after the destruction of Sybaris, which was probably the most flourishing time in the history of Laus.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


(Laos). A Greek city in Lucania, near the mouth of the river Laus, which formed the boundary between Lucania and Bruttium.

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