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Chios


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An Ionian polis on the large Aegean island of the same name, some 7 km. (4½ mi.) from Asia Minor. Thucydides 2 calls it the greatest polis of Ionia and its citizens among the richest Greeks. The plain beside the large eastern bay has always supported the main settlement. Literary figures included Homer (supposedly), Ion, and Theopompus.

Reputedly colonized from Euboea in the 9th cent. bc (also the date of the earliest Greek burials), in Archaic times Chios was often at loggerheads with Erythrae on the Asiatic mainland (where Chians had land) and with Samos. The inscribed ‘constitution’ of c.575–550 refers to a ‘council of the people’ and to the duties of officials. Archaeology suggests that early trade concentrated on the Black (Euxine) Sea, Egypt, and the west. The only major colony was at Maroneia, though Chians helped found the Hellenion at Naucratis, where their pottery has been identified. They built an ostentatious altar at Delphi (late Archaic).

The Chians established a modus vivendi with Croesus and Cyrus 1, but later came under a Persian‐backed tyrant. They played a leading part in the Ionian Revolt, manning 100 ships at Lade. On the basis of that figure the free population is put at between 60,000 and 120,000; slaves were numerous from an early date. Settlement was dispersed: there are many Classical to Roman farmsteads.

The Chians encouraged Athens to set up the Delian League, in which they were leading ship‐contributors. Loyal to Athens during the Samian revolt and Sicilian Expedition, they revolted in 412. Lysander installed a harmost (Spartan military governor); after the Spartan withdrawal Chios was to become the first member of the Second Athenian Confederacy.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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