Ancient Greek colonies in Gaul (modern France) were founded during the 6th century BC, Archaic period for settlement, trade and cultural influence.
In 600 BC, Greeks from Phocaea (Ionian city of Asia Minor - now Foça, Turkey), founded Massalia (modern-day Marseille) on the Mediterranean coast of southern Gaul as an emporium (center of commerce) and introduced Artemis, the goddess of chastity, hunting and the moon.
The colony of Phocaea (Greek: Φώκαια) was founded by the Ionians from the Greek mainland around the 10th Century BC on the northern most promontory of the Gulf of Smyrna, Asia Minor that bordered Aeolis.
Herodotus states that the Phocaeans were the first Greeks who undertook distant voyages to eventually become a metropolis (mother-city) of several Greek colonies that thrived during the Greek Classical and Hellenistic Periods.
The "Age of Tyrants," during the 7th and 6th centuries BC were single rulers who generally came from the "elite" aristocracy, land-owners or powerful political figures.
It ended with the ousting of Hippias during the Athenian Revolution (508–507 BC) that overthrew the ruling aristocratic oligarchy and established the self-governance of Athens in the form of a democracy with a written constitution to prevent any one person from becoming too powerful.
The Athenians valued education and the arts and developed a strong democracy through well informed citizens.
Solon (in 594 BC), Cleisthenes (in 508–07 BC), and Ephialtes (in 462 BC) contributed to Athenian democracy by organizing citizens into ten groups based on where they lived, rather than on their wealth.
The Athenian Empire (5th century BC) had a strong naval power that defeated the Persian fleet in the battle of Salamis in 479 BC and allowed it to dominate the Mediterranean Sea.
The Delian League was military alliance of city-states led by Athens was founded in 478 BC, following the Persian Wars as protection from future invasions.
Greece has many peninsulas and islands surrounded by water which has always played an important role for the seafaring Greeks seeking opportunities for trade and new colonies along coastal areas across the Mediterranean and beyond.
Population growth, development of the emporium, the need for fertile farmland, raw materials and political instability often drove people to seek greener pastures through colonization that was generally dictated by the metropolis (mother city-state).
Ancient Greek colonies on the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Ionian Seas provided many ports for trade with other city-states and opportunities for fishermen, sailors and merchants.
Ancient Greek Colonies in Gaul
Greeks call France, Gallia (Greek: Γαλλία).
The Greek city-state of Massalia became an independent metropolis (mother city-state) and founded Nice, Antibes, Monaco, Le Brusc, Agde, and Aleria in southern Gaul during the 4rd and 3th centuries BC.
They also founded colonies in northeastern Spain such as Emporiae and Rhoda as well as Alalia on the island of Corsica.
Massalia (modern Marseille), the oldest Greek colony in Gaul comprised a community of merchants, ship-owners, intellectuals and traders.
The colony was a peninsula with fertile soil and surrounded by mountains.
It also had a natural harbor, which made it perfect for the sea-faring Greeks.
Massalia became the pre-eminent Greek polis of the region with a theatre, agora (market), temples, docks for shipping and a wealthy trading center through its tin and pottery enterprises.
Greek culture, especially in architecture and art flourished and spread and viticulture (cultivation of grapes especially, for wine making) was also introduced.
A notable ancient Greek of Massalia was the great explorer, geographer and astronomer Pytheas (Greek: Πυθέας) who in 325 BC, circumnavigated Great Britain and Ireland, he saw and described the Arctic, polar ice, the Celtic and Germanic tribes and was the first person to describe the midnight sun.
In both, the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Massalia defeated Carthage (modern-day Tunisia, North Africa) which made it a credible power in the region.
In 49 BC, Massalia supported Pompey the Great in his battle against Julius Caesar, for political hegemony (dominance) in the Roman Republic.
As Caesar marched to Spain, three legions of his army besieged the city with siege towers, siege ramps and battering ram.
Massalia eventually surrendered and became a member of the Roman Republic while still maintaining its reputation for Greek culture and learning.
With the rise of Christianity, Massalia became a monastic center and a haven for refugees fleeing from political and religious (Christian) persecution.
Massalia, just like the Roman Empire, fell to both the Ostrogoths and Visigoths in the mid-fifth century AD.
Over time, the Franks, a Germanic people, moved into Gaul during the Migration period (300 – 700 AD in Europe, marking the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages) and established one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms in Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Charlemagne (2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, became King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and crowned Emperor of the Romans on Christmas Day in 800 by Pope Leo III, thus creating the Holy Roman Empire and reviving the ancient, Imperial Roman state.
Ultimately, the country of France emerged from what had been known as Gaul or Gallia.
Ancient Greek Colonies in Gaul
Among the ancient Greek Colonies in Gaul founded by the Phocaean Greeks of Massalia was Nikaia (Νίκαια) around 350 BC in honor of a victory over the neighboring Ligurians (Vediantii kingdom, northwest of Italy).
Nike (Νίκη) was the Greek goddess of victory.
Níkaia became a busy trading center with established trade links with Massalia.
Monaco was founded by Phocaeans of Massalia as a port and trading post.
The name Monaco comes from the the Ligurians (north-western Italy( as Monoikos ("single house") or a monk at a monastery (Greek: monachos - "monk').
Ancient mythology says Hercules (Greek: Heracles), known for his enormous strength and the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and Alcmene, a mortal woman, passed through Monaco and a temple, the "House" of Hercules was constructed there and was named Monoikos.
In 1191, Monaco was refounded as a colony of Genoa in 1215.
Antibes was founded as a Greek colony by the Phocaeans of Massalia and named Antipolis (Greek: Ἀντίπολις - "Opposite-City") for its position on the opposite side of the Var estuary from Nice.
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