Southernmost of the great Ionian cities of Asia Minor. In Homer the people of Miletus were Carians (see caria) who fought against the Achaeans (i.e. Greeks) at Troy; and in later Greek prose tradition the Ionian settlers, seized Miletus from Carians (whose women they married). During the 7th and 6th cents. bc Miletus founded many colonies on the Black (Euxine) Sea and its approaches (including Abydos, Cyzicus, Sinōpē), led the way in Greek penetration of Egypt (Milesians' Fort and Naucratis; Necho's offering to the nearby temple at Didyma after Megiddo, 608; see saïtes). Miletus' sea power and colonies were partly cause, partly result of her long struggle with the Lydians (see lydia). Alyattes made terms with Miletus (then under a tyrant Thrasybulus, friend of Periander), which apparently kept a privileged position when Croesus subdued Ionia and when Persia conquered Croesus' dominions c.546. In 499 Miletus, instigated by its ex‐tyrant Histiaeus and Aristagoras, started the Ionian Revolt. After the naval disaster at Lade the city was captured, the temple at Didyma was burnt, and Miletus was destroyed (494).
Lade ended a long period of prosperity, interrupted by intervals of internal political strife; to this period belong the philosophers Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes and the chronicler Hecataeus. Finds from recent excavations of local pottery of the 7th–6th cents., richly decorated with animal friezes, seem to indicate that Miletus was the main production centre of these types.
After the Persian defeat at Mycale (479) Miletus joined the Delian League, but in the mid‐5th cent. (probably after a revolt) the Athenians imposed a garrison and imperial controls on the city. In 412, during the Peloponnesian War, Miletus revolted from Athens, and became the main Spartan naval base in the region. It became a Persian possession after the King's Peace, until captured and liberated by Alexander 2 the Great.
Subjects: Classical Studies.