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Sibari 60 km away from Cariati

The mythical city called Sybaris is in the heart of the Greeks quarter "Megale Hellas" and then called "Magna Grecia" by Romans. Sybaris is on the Calabrian ionic coast, between the massif of Pollino to the north and the foothills of the Sila Greca to the south. Sybaris was recognized as the most beautiful among the Greek colonies. Legendary for its richness and elegance, it was renowned all over the Greek world for luxury, opulence and splendor. A glorious and rich of myths and ideas past, famous all over the world wich still attracts the attention of scholars and universities worldwide. Sybaris is now almost in the same area of the ancient city, is a seaside town in summer and still holds the remains of the archaeological excavations of the ancient city in a modern museum.

Sybaris was an Achaean colony, and its Oekist (founder) was a citizen of Helice in Achaia; but with the Achaean emigrants were mingled a number of Troezenian citizens. The Achaeans, however, eventually obtained the preponderance, and drove out the Troezenians. The Sybarites indeed appear to have sought for an origin in heroic times; and Solinus has a story that the first founder of the city was a son of Oïlean Ajax; but the city was, historically speaking, undoubtedly an Achaean colony. It rose rapidly to great prosperity, owing in the first instance to the fertility of the plain in which it was situated. Its citizens also, contrary to the policy of many of the Greek states, freely admitted settlers of other nations to the rights of citizenship, and the vast population of the city is expressly ascribed in great measure to this cause. Sybaris had in the sixth century BC attained a degree of wealth and power unprecedented among Greek cities; this excited the admiration of the rest of the Hellenic world. Sybaris may have been the first city to boast an effective, yet primitive, streetlighting system. We are told that the Sybarites ruled over 25 subject cities, and could bring into the field 300,000 of their own citizens, a statement obviously incredible. The subject cities were probably for the most part Oenotrian towns in the interior, but we know that Sybaris had extended its dominion across the peninsula to the Tyrrhenian Sea, where it had founded the colonies of Poseidonia (Paestum), Laüs (Laus), and Scidrus. The city itself was said to be not less than 50 stadia in circumference, and the horsemen or knights who figured at the religious processions are said to have amounted to 5000 in number, which would prove that these wealthy citizens were more than four times as numerous as at Athens. Notwithstanding these details concerning the wealth and luxury of Sybaris, we are almost wholly without information as to the history of the city until shortly before its fall.

Herodotus incidentally refers to the time of Smindyrides (about 580-560 BC) as the period when Sybaris was at the height of its power. It is certain that Sybaris was never restored. The surviving inhabitants took refuge at Laüs and Scidrus, on the shores of the Tyrrhenian sea. An attempt was indeed made, 58 years after the destruction of the city, to establish them anew on the ancient site, but they were quickly driven out by the Crotoniats, and the fugitives afterwards combined with the Athenian colonists in the foundation of Thurii. At the present day the site is utterly desolate, and even the exact position of the ancient city cannot be determined. Explorations undertaken by the Italian government in 1879 and 1887 failed to lead to a precise knowledge of the site. Only two discoveries were made: an extensive necropolis, some 12 km to the west of the confluence of the two rivers, of the end of the first Iron Age, known as that of Torre Mordillo, the contents of which are now preserved at Potenza; a necropolis of about 400 BC – the period of the greatest prosperity of Thurii – consisting of tombs covered by tumuli (locally called timponi), in some of which were found fine gold plates with mystic inscriptions in Greek characters; one of these tumuli was over 2.7 m in diameter at the base with a single burial in a sarcophagus in the center. The word Sybaritic has become a byword meaning extreme luxury and a seeking for pleasure and comfort. One story (mentioned in Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755) has a Sybarite sleeping on a bed of rose petals, but unable to get to sleep because one of the petals was folded over. The best known anecdote of the Sybarites is of their defeat in battle. It is told that to amuse themselves the Sybarite cavalrymen trained their horses to dance to pipe music. Armed with pipes, an invading army from nearby Crotonia assailed the Sybarite cavalry with music. The attacking forces easily passed through the dancing horses and their helpless riders, and conquered the city.

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