Locri
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LOCRI

Locri is an important administrative centre of Calabria, located along the Jonic coasts in the province of Reggio Calabria.

History

Locri Epizephyrii was founded by a Greek colony coming from Locride between the VIII and VII centuries BC. Obeying the oracle Delfo, the Greeks first settled near Zephyrion Acra (today Capo Bruzzano) and then in the place of the present day archaeological site.

The Siculi, an Italic population, descended in Calabria and Sicily during the XII century BC. They had already settled on the high plains of Janchina, on the hill of the present day site, and called the new colonies Epizephyrii, meaning settled on Capo Zefirio.

However, not too long afterwards, the Greeks, realised the inadequacy of their choice and decided to move towards the present day site, after firstly establishing peaceful relationships with the Siculi, then finally driving them out and occupying the flat coastal plains downstream from the indigenous centre. Some remains from the latter have been found, like Necropolises and some funerary treasures.
Polibio recounts how the Greeks used a stratagem in order to get hold of the area, promising the Siculi a peaceful co-existence “until they walked the same earth and had a head on their shoulders”. But having firstly hidden earth from their motherland in their clothing and garlic heads on their shoulders, following the oath, they freed themselves of both and believed they were able to violate the pact without dishonour. It's impossible not to imagine a violent reaction from the Siculi and a subsequent battle with the defeat of the indigenous population.

In a short time, Locri assumed noteworthy importance and was distinguished for being the first Magno-Greek colony to introduce a code of laws. The famous Codice di Zaleuco (660 BC) established various types of punishment for every crime and gave women great authority in family businesses.

As testimony of its importance, Locri extended its influence to the Tyrrhenian coasts, founding the Medma (Rosarno) and Hipponion (Vibo Valentia) colonies during the VII century BC.
This expansionistic politics ended with determining situations of clashes with other Greek colonies like Crotone, who moved in battle against Locri and suffered grave defeat in the Battle of the Sagra (560-550 BC).

Peace followed in Locri which was then interrupted by new clashes with the City of Reggio (477 BC), which induced Locri to ask for alliance and protection from Gerone I of Siracusa. Reggio renounced the besiegement, but the clash was only postponed until Locri supported Siracusa in the war with Reggio Calabria, when Athens also intervened by sending a fleet. The clashes culminated in the siege of Siracusa by the Athenian fleet, the participation of Sparta and the total defeat of Athens (413 BCV).

The alliance with Siracusa was subsequently reinforced by the marriage of Dionigi I with Doride (398 BC), representative of a noble family of Locri.
Following the victory of Dionigi over the Italiota League (389 BC), Locri was annexed to the Cites of Caulonia, Medma and Hipponion.
The alliance with Siracusa ended when Dionigi II, sought refuge in Locri during 356 BC, then assumed power and inaugurated politics which were unpopular with the aristocracy. This was answered by the extermination of his family during his absence (346 BC), who were followed by a transitory government and the inauguration of democratic politics.
The City began to mint its own currency and developed to a point of reaching maximum splendour at the beginning of the III century BC.
The City then formed an alliance with the Greek tyrant Agathocles, and succeeded in taking Crotone (295 BC) and liberating Hipponion (282 BC) from Bruzi domination, but as a result of the death of the tyrant (289 BC), it had to accept Roman Praesidium to defend the City (282 BC).

The political picture once again changed with the beginning of the war between Taranto and Rome, after which followed the arrival of Pirro in Italy (280 BC). Locri and the Bruzi, until then enemies, joined forces in the hope of defeating the Romans. Locri was besieged from the sea by the Romans and Carthaginians (278 BC) but knew how to resist. However, the prevailing aristocratic faction in the City, which favoured Rome, permitted Locri to be delivered to the Roman Consul, Publio Cornelio Rufino (277BC). This was followed by the revenge of Pirro, who in the following year, besieged Locri and stripped the Persefone temple of its treasure.
The defeat of Pirro at Benevento (275 BC), delivered Locri into Roman hands, but they remarkably left the City an autonomous government.

After the Battle of Canne (216 BC), Locri was besieged and taken by the Carthaginians who made it one of their important garrisons. It was for this reason that it was besieged without success by Consul Quinio Crispino (208 BC) and eventually taken by Scipione (205 BC).
From this moment on Locri followed the destiny of Rome and became a Municipium (88 BC), progressively losing importance during the Imperial Era.

It then acquired new importance by becoming an Episcopal centre during 330, but the fall of Rome, the Visigoths and Vandali invasions (V century), the birth of the Ostrogoth Reign (494-553) and the clashes with the Byzantines (535-553) weakened the economic and social systems definitively. The wicked Byzantine political economy added to this, as well as Malaria and Saracen invasions which forced the inhabitants to abandon their City forever.

Locri was the birthplace of philosophers, legislators, athletes and the poet, Stesicoro.

A visit to the Archaeological site

About 3 kilometres from the modern day dwellings, one can visit the remains of ancient Locri Epizephyrii. The site allows for a pleasant visit to the temple remains, the theatre and Necropolises from different eras.
Some parts of the wall still remain from the ancient City and part of the main road which it crosses.
The remains of the Persefone Sanctuary which was stripped by Pirro, can be found on the higher ground of the ancient City.

The Locri Epizefiri National Museum is located adjacent to the site, which receives an incredible amount of finds, both in number and value.

Modern Locri is an important administrative centre and is also distinguished as a tourist seaside resort of the Jonic coast.

Place of interest

- Tempio Jonico di Marasà
- Tempio di Marafioti
- Santuario di Persefone
- Tempietto di Atena
- Teatro
- Mura
- Porte
- Centocamere
- Stoaà a U
- Porto
- Pinakes
- Torre Marzano
- Necropoli romana, greca ed italica

Museums

- Museo Nazionale di Locri Epizefiri
- Antiquarium

Events

- Premio nazionale di poesia del "Giugno Locrese"
- Rassegna del Teatro Classico, Tempio di Marasà, Area archeologica di Locri
- Festival Musica Etnica A Sud del Sud in agosto
- Locride Summer Village in agosto

LOCRI
Achaeological Site

Calabria region of Italy

 

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