Ionia - 1050 B.C. - 334 B.C.
Ionia, in ancient geography, was the name given to a portion of the W. coast of Asia Minor, adjoining the Aegean Sea and bounded on the E. by Lydia. It consisted of a narrow strip of land near the coast, which together with the adjacent islands was occupied by immigrant Greeks of the Ionic race, and thus distinguished from the interior district, inhabited by the Lydians. As early as the 13th century BC the seafaring people of the Aegean sea who set sail from the Greek mainland colonized the early settlements of this region. The area was previously occupied by Lelegs and Carians who were later driven out by the Ionians. The Ionians were the next to come into Anatolia from the Greek mainland after the Aeolians. Ionians from Attica settled this district of Asia Minor about BC 1050. It extended from the river Hermus along the shore of the /Egean Sea to Miletus, but its southern limits varied at different times.
According to the Greek legend, the lonians were led by the sons of Codrus, the king of Athens. According to Herodotus, lonia had the finest climate in the world. A brilliant civilization was developed here that perpetuated and expanded the Greek literature, philosophy and science. It is generally accepted that the poet Homer was an Ionian. Thales was another famous ancient philosopher who was also from lonia. He made an accurate prediction of a solar eclipse in 585 BC. The standard of living in lonia was probably the highest of all the peoples living in Anatolia at that time. According to the universal Greek tradition, the cities of Ionia were founded by emigrants from the other side of the Aegean, and their settlement was connected with the legendary history of the Ionic race in Attica, by the statement that the colonists were led by Neleus and Androclus, sons of Codrus, the last king of Athens. In accordance with this view the "Ionic migration," as it was called by later chronologers, was dated by them one hundred and forty years after the Trojan war, or sixty years after the return of the Heraclidae into the Peloponnese. Without assigning any definite date, research has tended to support the popular Greek idea that Ionia received its main Greek element rather late - after the descent of the Dorians, and, therefore, after any part of the Aegean period. It is not probable that all the Greek colonists were of the not numerous Ionian race.
Herodotus relates (i. 146) that they comprised settlers from many different tribes and cities of Greece (a fact indicated also by the local traditions of the cities), and that they intermarried with the native races. A striking proof of this was the fact that so late as the time of the historian distinct dialects were spoken by the inhabitants of different cities within the limits of so restricted an area. E. Curtius supposed that the population of this part of Asia was aboriginally of Ionic race and that the settlers from Greece found the country in the possession of a kindred people. The last contention is probably true; but the kinship was certainly more distant than that between two branches of one Ionian stock.
The cities called Ionian in historical times were twelve in number, - an arrangement copied as it was supposed from the constitution of the Ionian cities in Greece which had originally occupied the territory in the north of the Peloponnese subsequently held by the Achaeans. These were (from south to north) -Miletus, Myus, Priene, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedus, Teos, Erythrae, Clazomenae and Phocaea, together with Samos and Chios. Smyrna, originally an Aeolic colony, was afterwards occupied by Ionians from Colophon, and became an Ionian city,- an event which had taken place before the time of Herodotus. But at what period it was admitted as a member of the league there is no information. These cities unquestionably formed a kind of league, of which participation in the Pan-Ionic festival was the distinguishing characteristic. This festival took place on the north slope of Mt. Mycale in a shrine called the Panionium. But like the Amphictyonic league in Greece, the Ionic was rather of a sacred than a political character; every city enjoyed absolute autonomy, and, though common interests often united them for a common political object, they never formed a real confederacy like that of the Achaeans or Boeotians. The advice of Thales of Miletus to combine in a political union was rejected.
Ionia was of small extent, not exceeding 90 geographical miles in length from N. to S., with a breadth varying from 20 to 30 m., but to this must be added the peninsula of Mimas, together with the two large islands. So intricate is the coastline that the voyage along its shores was estimated at nearly four times the direct distance. A great part of this area was, moreover, occupied by mountains. Of these the most lofty and striking were Mimas and Corycus, in the peninsula which stands out to the west, facing the island of Chios; Sipylus, to the north of Smyrna; Corax, extending to the south-west from the Gulf of Smyrna, and descending to the sea between Lebedus and Teos; and the strongly marked range of Mycale, a continuation of Messogis in the interior, which forms the bold headland of Trogilium or Mycale, opposite Samos. None of these mountains attains a height of more than 4000 ft.
The district comprised three extremely fertile valleys formed by the outflow of three rivers, among the most considerable in Asia Minor: the Hermus in the north, flowing into the Gulf of Smyrna, though at some distance from the city of that name; the Cayster, which flowed under the walls of Ephesus; and the Maeander, which in ancient times discharged its waters into the deep gulf that once bathed the walls of Miletus, but which has been gradually filled up by this river's deposits. With the advantage of a peculiarly fine climate, for which this part of Asia Minor has been famous in all ages, Ionia enjoyed the reputation in ancient times of being the most fertile of all the rich provinces of Asia Minor; and even in modern times, though very imperfectly cultivated, it produces abundance of fruit of all kinds, and the raisins and figs of Smyrna supply almost all the markets of Europe.
The colonies naturally became prosperous. Miletus especially was at an early period one of the most important commercial cities of Greece; and in its turn became the parent of numerous other colonies, which extended all around the shores of the Euxine and the Propontis from Abydus and Cyzicus to Trapezus and Panticapaeum. Phocaea was one of the first Greek cities whose mariners explored the shores of the western Mediterranean. Ephesus, though it did not send out any colonies of importance, from an early period became a flourishing city and attained to a position corresponding in some measure to that of Smyrna at the present day.
The first event in the history of Ionia of which there is any trustworthy account is the inroad of the Cimmerians, who ravaged a great part of Asia Minor, including Lydia, and sacked Magnesia on tne Maeander, but were foiled in their attack upon Ephesus. This event may be referred to the middle of the 7th century BC. About 700 B.C. Gyges, first Mermnad king of Lydia, invaded the territories of Smyrna and Miletus, and is said to have taken Colophon as his son Ardys did Priene. But it was not till the reign of Croesus (560-545 B.C.) that the cities of Ionia successively fell under Lydian rale.
The defeat of Croesus by Cyrus was followed by the conquest of all the Ionian cities. These became subject to the Persian monarchy with the other Greek cities of Asia. In this position they enjoyed a considerable amount of autonomy, but were for the most part subject to local despots, most of whom were creatures of the Persian king. It was at the instigation of one of these despots, Histiaeus of Miletus, that in about 500 B.C. the principal cities broke out into insurrection against Persia. They were at first assisted by the Athenians, with whose aid they penetrated into the interior and burnt Sardis, an event which ultimately led to the Persian invasion of Greece. But the fleet of the Ionians was defeated off the island of Lade, and the destruction of Miletus after a protracted siege was followed by the reconquest of all the Asiatic Greeks, insular as well as continental.
The victories of the Greeks during the great Persian war had the effect of enfranchizing their kinsmen on the other side of the Aegean; and the battle of Mycale (479 B.C.), in which the defeat of the Persians was in great measure owing to the Ionians, secured their emancipation. They henceforth became the dependent allies of Athens , though still retaining their autonomy, which they preserved until the peace of Antalcidas in 387 B.C. once more placed them as well as the other Greek cities in Asia under the nominal dominion of Persia. They appear, however, to have retained a considerable amount of freedom until the invasion of Asia Minor by Alexander the Great. After the battle of the Granicus most of the Ionian cities submitted to the conqueror. Miletus, which alone held out, was reduced after a long siege (334 B.C.). From this time they passed under the dominion of the successive Macedonian rulers of Asia, but continued, with the exception of Miletus, to enjoy great prosperity both under these Greek dynasties and after they became part of the Roman province of Asia.
Ionia laid the world under its debt not only by giving birth to a long roll of distinguished men of letters and science (see Ionian School Of Philosophy), but by originating the distinct school of art which prepared the way for the brilliant artistic development of Athens in the 5th century. This school flourished in the 8th, 7th and 6th centuries, and is distinguished by the fineness of workmanship and minuteness of detail with which it treated subjects, inspired always to some extent by non-Greek models. Naturalism is progressively obvious in its treatment, e.g. of the human figure, but to the end it is still subservient to convention.
It has been thought that the Ionian migration from Greece carried with it some part of a population which retained the artistic traditions of the "Mycenaean" civilization, and so caused the birth of the Ionic school; but whether this was so or not, it is certain that from the 8th century onwards we find the true spirit of Hellenic art, stimulated by commercial intercourse with eastern civilizations, working out its development chiefly in Ionia and its neighbouring isles. The great names of this school are Theodorus and Rhoecus of Samos; Bathycles of Magnesia on the Maeander; Glaucus, Melas, Micciades, Archermus, Bupalus and Athenis of Chios.
Ionia is unrelated to the Ionian Islands, the modern collective name for the Greek islands of Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante, Santa Maura, Ithaca, Cythera (Cerigo) and Paxo, with their minor dependencies. The islands of the Ionian sea stretch along the western coast of the central part of the Greek mainland and further to the south along the western coast of the Peloponnese. These seven islands are often described also as the Heptanesus ("Seven Islands "), but they have no real geographical unity. The history of the name "Ionian" in this connexion is obscure, but it is probably due to ancient settlements of Ionian colonists on the coasts and islands.
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