1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Locri (Italy)

LOCRI, an ancient city of Magna Graecia, Italy. The original settlers took possession of the Zephyrian promontory (Capo Bruzzano some 12 m. N. of Capo Spartivento), and though after three or four years they transplanted themselves to a site 12 m. farther north, still near the coast, 2 m. S. of Gerace Marina below the modern Gerace, they still retained the name of Locri Epizephyrii (Λοκροὶ οἱ ἐπιζεφύριοι), which served to distinguish them from the Ozolian and Opuntian Locri of Greece itself (see preceding article). The foundation of Locri goes back to about 683 B.C. It was the first of all Greek communities to have a written code of laws given by Zaleucus in 664 B.C. From Locri were founded the colonies of Meisma and Heiponium (Hipponium). It succeeded in repelling the attacks of Croton (battle on the river Sagras, perhaps sometime in the 6th century), and found in Syracuse a support against Rhegium: it was thus an active adversary of Athenian aggrandisement in the west. Pindar extolls its uprightness and love of the heroic muse of beauty, of wisdom, and of war, in the 10th and 11th Olympian Odes. Stesichorus (q.v.) was indeed of Locrian origin. But it owed its greatest external prosperity to the fact that Dionysius I. of Syracuse selected his wife from Locri: its territory was then increased, and the circuit of its walls was doubled, but it lost its freedom. In 356 B.C. it was ruled by Dionysius II. From the battle of Heraclea to the year 205 (when it was captured by P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus Maior, and placed under the control of his legate Q. Pleminius), Locri was continually changing its allegiance between Rome and her enemies; but it remained an ally, and was only obliged like other Greek coast towns to furnish ships. In later Roman times it is often mentioned, but was apparently of no great importance. It is mentioned incidentally until the 6th century A.D., but was destroyed by the Saracens in 915.

Excavations in 1889–1890 led to the discovery of an Ionic temple (the Doric style being usual in Magna Graecia) at the north-west angle of the town—originally a cella with two naves, a closed pronaos on the E. and an adytum at the back (W.), later converted into a hexastyle peripheral temple with 34 painted terra-cotta columns. This was then destroyed about 400 B.C. and a new temple built on the ruins, heptastyle peripteral, with no intermediate columns in the cella and opisthodomos, and with 44 columns in all. The figures from the pediment of the twin Dioscuri, who according to the legend assisted Locri against Crotona, are in the Naples museum (see R. Koldewey and O. Puchstein, Griechische Tempel in Unteritalien und Sicilien, Berlin, 1899, pp. 1 sqq.). Subsequent excavations in 1890–1891 were of the greatest importance, but the results remained unpublished up to 1908. From a short account by P. Orsi in Atti del Congresso Storico, vol. v. (Archeologia) Rome, 1904, p. 201, we learn that the exploration of the environs of the temple led to the discovery of a large number of archaic terra-cottas, and of some large trenches, covered with tiles, containing some 14,000 scyphoi arranged in rows. The plan of the city was also traced; the walls, the length of which was nearly 5 m., consisted of three parts—the fortified castles (φρούρια) with large towers, on three different hills, the city proper, and the lower town—the latter enclosed by long walls running down to the sea. In the Roman period the city was restricted to the plain near the sea. Since these excavations, a certain amount of unauthorized work has gone on, and some of the remains have been destroyed. In the course of these excavations some prehistoric objects have been discovered, which confirm the accounts of Thucydides and Polybius that the Greek settlers found the Siculi here before them.  (T. As.)