Among the Dorians only the communities with a mixed population, such as Corinth and Megara, took a special part, whereas the purely Doric provinces had but a subordinate share in the movement. This result was naturally to be expected, for the lonians were from ancient times a trading and sea-faring people, while it was only at a comparatively late period that the Dorian stocks descended from their inland mountains to the seaboard, and they always kept aloof from maritime commerce. The different groups of immigrants are very clearly distinguishable, especially by their monetary standards. The Phocaean settlers coined according to the Babylonian standard which prevailed in Asia. The Chalcidian towns followed in the earliest times the Aeginetan, in other words, that which originally prevailed throughout all European Greece, and more especially the modification of it which is found occurring in Euboea. The Achaean communities coined by the Corinthian standard; and lastly the Doric colonies followed that which Solon introduced in Attica in the year of Rome 160, with the exception of Tarentum and Heraclea, which in their principal pieces adopted rather the standard of their Achaean neighbours than that of the Dorians in Sicily.
Time Of The Greek Immigration
The dates of the earlier voyages and settlements will probably always remain enveloped in darkness. We may still, however, distinctly recognize a certain order of sequence. In the oldest Greek document, which belongs, like the earliest intercourse with the west, to the lonians of Asia Minor--the Homeric poems--the horizon scarcely extends beyond the eastern basin of the Mediterranean. Sailors driven by storms into the western sea might have brought to Asia Minor accounts of the existence of a western land and possibly also of its whirlpools and island-mountains vomiting fire: but in the age of the Homeric poetry there was an utter want of trustworthy information respecting Sicily and Italy, even in that Greek land which was the earliest to enter into intercourse with the west; and the story-tellers and poets of the east could without fear of contradiction fill the vacant realms of the west, as those of the west in their turn filled the fabulous east, with their castles in the air. In the poems of Hesiod the outlines of Italy and Sicily appear better defined; there is some acquaintance with the native names of tribes, mountains, and cities in both countries; but Italy is still regarded as a group of islands. On the other hand, in all the literature subsequent to Hesiod, Sicily and even the whole coast of Italy appear as known, at least in a general sense, to the Hellenes. The order of succession of the Greek settlements may in like manner be ascertained with some degree of precision. Thucydides evidently regarded Cumae as the earliest settlement of note in the west; and certainly he was not mistaken. It is true that many a landing-place lay nearer at hand for the Greek mariner, but none were so well protected from storms and from barbarians as the island of Ischia, upon which the town was originally situated; and that such were the prevailing considerations that led to this settlement, is evident from the very position which was subsequently selected for it on the mainland--the steep but well-protected cliff, which still bears to the present day the venerable name of the Anatolian mother-city. Nowhere in Italy, accordingly, were the scenes of the legends of Asia Minor so vividly and tenaciously localized as in the district of Cumae, where the earliest voyagers to the west, full of those legends of western wonders, first stepped upon the fabled land and left the traces of that world of story, which they believed that they were treading, in the rocks of the Sirens and the lake of Avernus leading to the lower world. On the supposition, moreover, that it was in Cumae that the Greeks first became the neighbours of the Italians, it is easy to explain why the name of that Italian stock which was settled immediately around Cumae, the name of Opicans, came to be employed by them for centuries afterwards to designate the Italians collectively. There is a further credible tradition, that a considerable interval elapsed between the settlement at Cumae and the main Hellenic immigration into Lower Italy and Sicily, and that in this immigration Ionians from Chalcis and from Naxos took the lead. Naxos in Sicily is said to have been the oldest of all the Greek towns founded by strict colonization in Italy or Sicily; the Achaean and Dorian colonizations followed, but not until a later period.
It appears, however, to be quite impossible to fix the dates of this series of events with even approximate accuracy. The founding of the Achaean city of Sybaris in 33, and that of the Dorian city Tarentum in 46, are probably the most ancient dates in Italian history, the correctness, or at least approximation to correctness, of which may be looked upon as established. But how far beyond that epoch the sending forth of the earlier Ionian colonies reached back, is quite as uncertain as is the age which gave birth to the poems of Hesiod or even of Homer. If Herodotus is correct in the period which he assigns to Homer, the Greeks were still unacquainted with Italy a century before the foundation of Rome. The date thus assigned however, like all other statements respecting the Homeric age, is matter not of testimony, but of inference; and any one who carefully weighs the history of the Italian alphabets as well as the remarkable fact that the Italians had become acquainted with the Greek people before the name "Hellenes" had emerged for the race, and the Italians borrowed their designation for the Hellenes from the stock of the -Grai- or -Graeci- that early fell into abeyance in Hellas,(1) will be inclined to carry back the earliest intercourse of the Italians with the Greeks to an age considerably mere remote.
Character Of The Greek Immigration
The history of the Italian and Sicilian Greeks forms no part of the history of Italy; the Hellenic colonists of the west always retained the closest connection with their original home and participated in the national festivals and privileges of Hellenes. But it is of importance even as bearing on Italy, that we should indicate the diversities of character that prevailed in the Greek settlements there, and at least exhibit some of the leading features which enabled the Greek colonization to exercise so varied an influence on Italy.