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  Region along the coast of Asia Minor.
  Ionia was the name collectively given to a set of Greek cities of the coast of Asia Minor and nearby islands that were settled initially by Ionians. These cities spread over the provinces of Caria and Lydia and included, from south to north, the Carian cities of Miletus (the leading city of Ionia), Myous and Priene, the Lydian cities of Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedus, Teos, Clazomenae and Phocaea, plus Samos and Chios on the islands of the same names, and Erythraeus on the mainland facing Chios. Together they formed a confederacy called the Paniones (etymologically, “all the Ionians pan Iones”), and had erected on cape Mycale, a promontory between Miletus and Ephesus, a sanctuary to Poseidon called the Panionion where they celebrated a yearly festival called Panionia. But originally, Ionians lived in mainland Greece, especially in Attica where many of them were still living in historical times. Indeed, both Herodotus and Thucydides viewed the history of Greece in their time as dominated by the relationship between Ionians led by Athens and Dorians led by Sparta.
  The Ionians owed their name to the mythological hero Ion, of the race of Deucalion who became king of Athens after Erechtheus. Ion and his brother Achaeus were the sons of Xouthus. Ion's mother was Creousa, a daughter of Erechtheus. Various traditions about Ion have come down to us, attempting to explain in different ways the history of the Ionian people. One of them, reported by Pausanias, shows Xouthus ousted from Thessalia by his brothers Dorus and Aeolus and seeking refuge in Attica where he married Creousa, the daughter of the king of the place. But when his father-in-law Erechtheus died, he was expelled from Athens and moved to the northern coast of Peloponnese, in an area then called Aegialis. After Xouthus' death, his two sons, Ion and Achaeus, parted. Achaeus returned to Thessalia while Ion remained in Aegialis, married the daughter of the local king Selinus and succeeded him, founding there a city named after his wife, Helice. Later, he was asked by the Athenians to lead them in a war against the people of Eleusis, so he moved to Attica, where he died. But his offspring remained in Aegialis until they were ousted by the offspring of Achaeus, back from Thessalia, who gave their name to the region, hereafter called Achaia.
  Strabo has a somewhat different version: in it, Xouthus, after marrying Erechtheus' daughter Creousa, founded in Attica a tetrapolis (group of four cities) including the villages of Oenoe, Marathon, Probalinthus and Tricorynthus. One of his sons, Achaeus, after having commited a murder, had to flee to Lacedaemon and gave the people there the name Achaeans. His other son, Ion, fought the Thracians of Eumolpus and, in so doing, earned such a repute that the Athenians made him their king. Ion organized Attica in four tribes named after his four sons and gave the country his name. Later, the Athenians sent settlers in Aegialis and gave that region too the name Ionia, before they were ousted, in the time of the Heraclidae, by Achaeans who, in turn, gave the area their name.
  Still another version of Ion's story is provided by Euripides in his drama Ion. In it, Ion has become the son of Apollo and Creousa, born before she married Xouthus, exposed soon after his birth and raised by the priestess of Apollo in Delphi, and adopted later by Xouthus, when it turned out he couldn't get children of his own. In all these stories, Ionians are found in Attica and on the northern coast of Peloponnese, and are ousted from this later area by Achaeans, which agrees with what Herodotus tells us at us of the origin of the Ionians who settled the coast of Asia Minor in the area that was called in his time Ionia.
  From a historical standpoint, Ionians may have been the first Indo-European Greek-speaking tribe to move into Greece toward the beginning of the second millenium B. C., followed by Achaeans and Aeolians, and eventually, toward 1300 B. C., by Dorians. Ionian settlements on the coast of Asia Minor took place toward the XIth and Xth centuries B. C. and Thucydides attributes them to the need for more land to feed the population. Ionia was the birthplace of philosophy, giving the world many of the most famous so-called Presocratic philosophers: Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, collectively called the Milesians (Miletus) ; Heraclitus (Ephesus) ; Pythagoras (Samos) ; Xenophanes (Colophon) ; Anaxagoras (Clazomenae).
  Indeed, Presocratic philosophy is usually presented as opposing the so-called Ionian philosopher on the one hand, more concerned with physics and natural sciences, and the Italic schools on the other hand, dominated by Parmenides and the Eleans, followed by the first Sicilian masters of rhetoric (Tisias of Syracuses, Gorgias of Leontini), more concerned with logic, language and the art of speech.

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.

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Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   (Ionia) and Ionis (in Latin poetry). A district on the west coast of Asia Minor, so called from the Ionian Greeks who colonized it earlier than any distinct historical records. The mythical account of "the great Ionic migration" relates that in consequence of the disputes between the sons of Codrus, king of Athens, about the succession to his government, his younger sons, Neleus and Androclus, resolved to seek a new home beyond the Aegean Sea. Attica was at the time overpeopled by numerous exiles, whom the great revolution, known as "the return of the Heraclidae," had driven out of their own States, and the chief of whom were the Ionians who had been expelled from Peloponnesus by the Dorian invaders. A large portion of this superfluous population went forth as Athenian colonists, under the leadership of Androclus and Neleus, and of other chieftains of other races, and settled on that part of the western shores of Asia Minor which formed the coast of Lydia and part of Caria, and also in the adjacent islands of Chios and Samos, and in the Cyclades. The mythical chronology places this great movement 140 years after the Trojan War, or 60 years after the return of the Heraclidae--that is, in B.C. 1060 or 1044, according to the two chief dates imagined for the Trojan War.    Passing from mythology to history, the earliest authentic records show us the existence of twelve great cities on the above-named coast, claiming to be (though some of them only partially) of Ionic origin, and all united into one confederacy, similar to that of the twelve ancient Ionian cities on the north coast of the Peloponnesus. The district they possessed formed a narrow strip of coast, extending between, and somewhat beyond, the mouths of the rivers Maeander on the south, and Hermus on the north. The names of the twelve cities, going from south to north, were Miletus, Myus, Priene, Samos (city and island), Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedus, Teos, Erythrae, Chios (city and island), Clazomenae, and Phocaea; the first three on the coast of Caria, the rest on that of Lydia. The city of Smyrna, which lay within this district, but was of Aeolic origin, was afterwards (about B.C. 700) added to the Ionian confederacy. The common sanctuary of the league was the Panionium (panionion), a sanctuary of Poseidon Heliconius, on the north side of the promontory of Mycale, opposite to Samos; and here was held the great national assembly (paneguris) of the confederacy, called Panionia (panionia). It is important to observe that the inhabitants of these cities were far from being exclusively and purely of Ionic descent. The traditions of the original colonization and the accounts of the historians agree in representing them as peopled by a mixture, not only of Hellenic races, but also of these with the earlier inhabitants, such as Carians, Leleges, Lydians, Cretans, and Pelasgians; their dialects, Herodotus expressly tells us, were very different, and nearly all the cities were founded on the sites of pre-existing native settlements. The religious rites, also, which the Greeks of Ionia observed, in addition to their national worship of Poseidon, were borrowed in part from the native peoples; such were the worship of Apollo Didymaeus at Branchidae near Miletus, of Artemis at Ephesus, and of Apollo Clarius at Colophon. All these facts point to the conclusion that the Greek colonization of this coast was effected, not by one, but by successive emigrations from different States, but chiefly of the Ionic race.
    The central position of this district, its excellent harbours, and the fertility of its plains, watered by the Maeander, the Cayster, and the Hermus, combined with the energetic character of the Ionian race to confer a high degree of prosperity upon these cities; and it was not long before they began to send forth colonies to many places on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Euxine, and even to Greece itself. During the rise of the Lydian Empire, the cities of Ionia preserved their independence until the reign of Croesus, who subdued those on the mainland, but relinquished his design of attacking the islands. When Cyrus had overthrown Croesus, he sent his general, Harpagus, to complete the conquest of the Ionian Greeks, B.C. 557. Under the Persian rule, they retained their political organization, subject to the government of the Persian satraps, and of tyrants who were set up in single cities, but they were required to render tribute and military service to the king. In B.C. 500 they revolted from Darius Hystaspis, under the leadership of Histiaeus, the former tyrant of Miletus, and his brother-in-law Aristagoras, and supported by aid from the Athenians. The Ionian army advanced as far as Sardis, which they took and burned; but they were driven back to the coast, and defeated near Ephesus, B.C. 499. The reconquest of Ionia by the Persians was completed by the taking of Miletus, in 496, and the Ionians were compelled to furnish ships and to serve as soldiers, in the two expeditions against Greece. After the defeat of Xerxes, the Greeks carried the war to the coasts of Asia, and effected the liberation of Ionia by the victories of Mycale (479), and of the Eurymedon (469). In 387 the peace of Antalcidas restored Ionia to Persia; and after the Macedonian conquest, it formed part, successively, of the kingdom of Pergamus and of the Roman province of Asia.
    In no country inhabited by the Hellenic race, except at Athens, were the refinements of civilization, the arts, and literature more highly cultivated than in Ionia. The restless energy and free spirit of the Ionians, the riches gained by commerce, and the neighbourhood of the great seats of Asiatic civilization, combined to advance with rapidity the intellectual progress and the social development of its people; but these same influences, unchecked by the rigid discipline of the Doric race, or the simple earnestness of the Aeolic, imbued their social life with luxury and license, and invested their works of genius with enchanting beauty at the expense of severe good taste and earnest purpose. Out of the long list of the authors and artists of Ionia, we may mention Mimnermus of Colophon, the first poet of the amatory elegy; Anacreon of Teos, who sang of love and wine to the music of the lyre; Thales of Miletus, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, and several other early philosophers; the early annalists, Cadmus, Dionysius, and Hecataeus, all of Miletus. In the fine arts, besides being the home of that exquisitely beautiful order of architecture, the Ionic, and possessing many of the most magnificent temples in the world, Ionia was the native country of that refined school of painting, which boasted the names of Zeuxis, Apelles, and Parrhasius. The most flourishing period in the history of Ionia is that during which it was subject to Persia; but its prosperity lasted till the decline of the Roman Empire, under which its cities were among the chief resorts of the celebrated teachers of rhetoric and philosophy. The important place which some of the chief cities of Ionia occupy in the early history of Christianity is attested by the Acts of the Apostles, and the epistles of St. Paul to the Ephesians, and of St. John to the seven churches of Asia.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Ionia (Ionia), also called lonis, the country of Asia Minor inhabited by Ionian Greeks, and comprising the western coast from Phocaea in the north to Miletus in the south. (Herod. i. 142; Strab. xiv. init.; Plin. v. 31.) Its length from north to south, in a straight line, amounted to 800 stadia, while the length of its much indented coast amounted to 3430; and the distance from Ephesus to Smyrna, in a straight line, was only 320 stadia, while along the coast it reached the large number of 2200. (Strab. xiv. pp. 632, 665.) Towards the inland, or the east, Ionia extended only a few miles, the towns of Magnesia, Larissa, Tralles, Alabanda, and others, not belonging to it. Ptolemy (v. 2) assigns much narrower limits to lonia than his predecessors, for, according to him, it extended only from the Hermus in Lydia to the Maeander in Caria; so that Phocaea and Miletus would not belong to Ionia. According to a generally received tradition, the lonian colonies on the west coast of Asia were founded after the death of Codrus, the last king of Attica, about B.C. 1044, or, according to others, as early as B.C. 1060, about 60 years after the conquest of Peloponnesus by the Dorians. The sons of Codrus, Neleus and Androclus, it is said, being dissatisfied with the abolition of royalty and the appointment of their eldest brother Medon to the archonship, emigrated, with large numbers of Attic lonians and bands from other parts of Greece, into Asia Minor. (Strab. xiv. p. 633, foil.; Pans. vii. 2.) Here, in one of the most beautiful and fertile parts of the earth, they founded a number of towns, partly expelling and partly subduing the ancient inhabitants, who consisted mainly of Maeonians, Carians, and Pelasgians. (Herod. i. 142; Paus. vii. 2; Pherecyd. Fragm. 26; Dionys. Per. 822, &c.) As a great many of the original inhabitants remained in the country as subjects of the conquerors, and as the latter had gone to Asia as warriors, without women, the new colonies were not pure Greek; but still the subdued nations were not so completely different as to render an amalgamation into one nation impossible, or even very difficult. This amalgamation with different tribes also accounts for the fact that four different dialects were spoken by the lonians. (Herod. 1. c.)
  The towns founded by the lonians - which, though independent of one another, yet formed a kind of confederacy for common purposes - amounted to twelve (dodekapolis), a number which must not be regarded as accidental. These towns were: Phocaea, Erythrae, Clazomenaae, Teos, Lebedos, Colophon, Ephesus, Priene, Myus, Miletus, and Samos and Chios in the neighbouring islands. (Strab. xiv. p. 633; Aelian, V. H. viii. 5.) Subsequently, about B.C. 700, Smyrna, which until then had belonged to Aeolis, became by treachery a member of the Ionian confederacy, which henceforth consisted of thirteen cities. (Herod. i. 149; Paus. vii. 5; Strab. l. c.) These Ionian colonies soon rose to a high degree of prosperity, and in many respects outstripped the mother-country; for poets, philosophers, historians, and artists flourished in the Ionian cities long before the mother-country attained to any eminence in these intellectual pursuits. All the cities of lonia formed independent republics, with dernocratical constitutions; but their common affairs were discussed at regular meetings held at Panionium (Panionion), the common centre of all the Ionian cities, on the northern slope of Mount Mycale, near Priene, and about three stadia from the coast. (Herod. i. 141, 148; Strab. xiv. p. 639; Mela, i. 17; Plin. v. 29.) These meetings at Panionium appear to have given rise to a permanent town, with a Prytaneum, in which the meetings were held. (Steph. B. s. v.) The political bond which held the Ionian cities together appears to have been rather loose, and the principal objects of the meetings, at least in later times, were religious worship and the celebration of games. The cities continued to enjoy their increasing prosperity and their independence until the establishment of the Lydian monarchy. The attacks upon the Ionian colonies began even in the reign of Gyges, so that one city after another was conquered, until, in the reign of Croesus, all of them became subject to the Lydians. When Lydia became the prey of the Persian conqueror Cyrus, in B.C. 557, Ionia also was obliged to acknowledge the supremacy of Persia; but the new rulers scarcely interfered with the internal affairs of the cities and their confederacy; all they had to do was to pay tribute, to send their contingents to the Persian armies, and to submit to satraps and tyrants, the latter of whom were Greek usurpers who set themselves up in their native cities, and were backed by the Persian monarchs. But the lonians, accustomed to liberty, were unable to bear even this gentle yoke for any length of time, and in B.C. 500 a general insurrection broke out against Persia, in which the Athenians and Eretrians also took part. The revolt had been planned and organised by Histiaeus, tyrant of Miletus, and Aristagoras, his son-in-law. The Ionians burned and destroyed Sardes, the restdence of the Persian satraps, but were then routed and defeated in a bloody battle near Ephesus. In B.C. 496 all the lonians were again reduced, and compelled to assist the Persians with men and ships in the war against Greece. In the battle of Mycale, B.C. 479, the Ionians deserted from the ranks of the Persians and joined their kinsmen, and thus took the first step to recover their independence, which ten years later was fully secured by the battle on the Eurymedon. They then entered into a relation with the Athenians, who were to protect them against any further aggression from the Persians; but in consequence of this they became more or less dependent upon their protectors. In the unfortunate peace of Antalcidas, the lonians, with the other Asiatic Greeks, were again made over to Persia, B.C. 387; and when the Persian monarchy was destroyed by Alexander, they became a part of the Macedonian empire, and finally fell into the hands of the Romans. The highest prosperity of Ionia belongs to the period of the Lydian supremacy; under the rule of Macedonia it somewhat recovered from its previous sufferings. Under the Romans the Ionian cities still retained their importance as commercial places, and as seats of art and literature; but they lost their political life, and sank down to the condition of mere provincial towns. The last traces of their prosperity were destroyed under the barbarous rule of the Turks in the middle ages. During the period of their greatest prosperity and independence, the Ionian cities sent out numerous colonies to the shores of the Black sea and to the western coasts and islands of the Mediterranean. (Comp. Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. chap. 12, pp. 94, 115, 120, &c.; Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. pp. 229-253.)

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

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