Map of the Roman Empire - Massilia

F-3 on the Map

Ancient Massilia (Gr. Marseilles) was a Greek city of Gallia Narbonensis situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, east of the Rhone. Marseilles contained a wonderful harbor on a small half mile inlet forming a narrow opening.

Massilia was called by the Greeks Marseilles. A Greek city in Gallia Narbonensis, on the coast of the Mediterranean, in the country of the Salyes, founded by the Phoenicians of Asia Minor about B.C. 600. It was situated on a promontory, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus, and washed on three sides by the sea. Its excellent harbour (Lacydon) was formed by a small inlet of the sea, about half a mile long and a quarter of a mile broad. This harbour had only a narrow opening, and before it lay an island, where ships had good anchorage. At an early period the Massilienses cultivated the friendship of the Romans, to whom they always continued faithful allies. Massilia was for many centuries one of the most important commercial cities in the ancient world, and founded a number of other towns, such as Antipolis (Antibes) and Nicaea (Nice). In wealth and power it even excited the jealousy of Carthage, which led to a war between the two cities, in which the Massilienses won a naval victory (Thuc.i. 13). Because of its friendship for Rome, the Romans left it independent with its own constitution and government, which was aristocratic or oligarchic, the city being ruled by a Senate of 600 called Timuchi, who acted through smaller councillors (De Rep. i. 27, 43). In the civil war between Caesar and Pompey (B.C. 49) it espoused the cause of the latter, but after a protracted siege, in which it lost its fleet, it was obliged to submit to Caesar. Its inhabitants had long paid attention to literature and philosophy; and under the early emperors it became one of the chief seats of learning, to which the sons of many Romans resorted in order to complete their studies. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.

Marseille (in English traditionally spelled Marseilles, pronounced /mɑrˈseɪ/; French pronunciation: [maʁsɛj]; locally [mɑχˈsɛjɐ]; in Occitan Marselha or Marsiho [maʀˈsejɔ, maʀˈsijɔ]), formerly known as Massalia (from Greek: Μασσαλία), is the second most populous city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of 240.62 km2 (93 sq mi). The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of over 1,420,000[2] on an area of 1,204 km2 (465 sq mi). 1,530,000[3] or 1,601,095[4] people live in the Marseille metropolitan area. Located on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, Marseille is France's largest commercial port and largest French city on the Mediterranean coast...

History. Massalia was one of the first Greek ports in Western Europe,[11] growing to a population of over 1000. It was the first settlement given city status in France. Facing an opposing alliance of the Etruscans, Carthage and the Celts, the Greek colony allied itself with the expanding Roman Republic for protection. This protectionist association brought aid in the event of future attacks, and perhaps equally important, it also brought the people of Massalia into the complex Roman market. The city thrived by acting as a link between inland Gaul, hungry for Roman goods and wine (which Massalia was steadily exporting by 500 BC),[12] and Rome's insatiable need for new products and slaves. Under this arrangement the city maintained its independence until the rise of Julius Caesar, when it joined the losing side (Pompey and the optimates) in civil war, and lost its independence in 49 BC. It was the site of a siege and naval battle, after which the fleet was confiscated by the Roman authorities. During Roman times the city was called Massilia. It was the home port of Pytheas. Most of the archaeological remnants of the original Greek settlement were replaced by later Roman additions. Marseille adapted well to its new status under Rome. During the Roman era, the city was controlled by a directory of 15 selected "first" among 600 senators. Three of them had the preeminence and the essence of the executive power. The city's laws amongst other things forbade the drinking of wine by women and allowed, by a vote of the senators, assistance to a person to commit suicide. It was during this time that Christianity first appeared in Marseille, as evidenced by catacombs above the harbour and records of Roman martyrs.[13] According to provencal tradition, Mary Magdalen evangelised Marseille with her brother Lazarus. The diocese of Marseille was set up in the 1st century (it became the Archdiocese of Marseille in 1948). - Wikipedia

Map of the Roman Empire (Click to Enlarge)

Large Map of the Roman Empire (Clickable Locations)

The Roman Empire During the First Century AD

Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.

Map of New Testament Israel  |  Map of Old Testament Israel

Map of the Roman Empire  |  Bible History Online

Massilia MASSI´LIA
MASSI´LIA  Massiliensis: the modern name, Marseille, is from the corrupted Latin, Marsilia, which in the Proven[acedil]l became Marsillo). Massalia, which the Romans wrote Massilia, is a town of Gallia Narbonensis, on the coast, east of the Rhone. Its position is represented by the French city of Marseille, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone. Ptolemy (2.10.8) calls Massalia a city of the Commoni, whose territory he extends along the coast from Massalia to Forum Julii (Fréjus). He places Massalia in 43° 5‘ N. lat. ; and he makes the length of the longest day 15 hours, 15 minutes ; which does not differ many minutes from the length of the longest day as deduced from the true latitude of Marseille, which is about 43° 18‘ N. lat.

The territory of Marseille, though poor, produced some good wine and oil, and the sea abounded in fish. The natives of the country were probably a mixed race of Celtae and Ligures ; or the Ligurian population may have extended west as far as the Rhone. Stephanus (s. v. ?assa??a), whose authority is nothing, except we may understand him as correctly citing Hecataeus, describes Massalia as a city of Ligystice in Celtice. And Strabo (iv. p.203) observes, “that as far west as Massalia, and a little further, the Salyes inhabit the Alps that lie above the coast and some parts of the coast itself, mingled with the Hellenes.” This is doubtless the meaning of Strabo's text, as Groskurd remarks (Transl. Strab. vol. i. p. 350). Strabo adds, “and the old Greeks give to the Salyes the name of Ligyes, and to the country which the Massaliots possess the name of Ligystice; but the later Greeks name them Celtoligyes, and assign to them the plain country as far as the Rhodanus and the Druentia.” Massalia, then, appears to have been built on a coast which was occupied by a Ligurian people.

The inhabitants of the Ionian town of Phocaea in Asia, one of the most enterprising maritime states of antiquity, showed their countrymen the way to the Adriatic, to Tyrrhenia, Iberia, and to Tartessus. (Hdt. 1.163). Herodotus says nothing of their visiting Celtice or the country of the Celtae. The story of the origin of Massalia is preserved by Aristotle (ap. Athen. 13.576) in his history of the polity of the Massilienses. Euxenus, a Phocaean, was a friend of Nannus, who was the chief of this part of the coast. Nannus, being about to marry his daughter, invited to the feast Euxenus, who happened to have arrived in the country. Now the marriage was after the following fashion. The young woman was to enter after the feast, and to give a cup of wine and water to the suitor whom she preferred ; and the man to whom she gave it was to be her husband. The maid coming in gave the cup, either by chance or for some reason, to Euxenus. Her name was Petta. The father, who considered the giving of the cup to be according to the will of the deity, consented that Euxenus should have Petta to wife; and Euxenus gave her the Greek name Aristoxena. It is added, that there was a family in Massalia, up to Aristotle's time, named Protiadae, for Protis was a son of Euxenus and Aristoxena.

Justin (43.3, &c.), the epitomiser of Trogus Pompeius, who was either of Gallic or Ligurian origin, for his ancestors were Vocontii, tells the story in a somewhat different way. He fixes the time of the Phocaeans coming to Gallia in the reign of Tarquinius, who is Tarquinius Priscus. The Phocaeans first entered the Tiber, and, making a treaty with the Roman king, continued their voyage to the furthest bays of Gallia and the mouths of the Rhone. They were pleased with the country, and returning to Phocaea, induced a greater number of Phocaeans to go with them to Gallia. The commanders of the fleet were Simos and Protis. Plutarch also (Solon, 100.2.) names Protos the founder of Massalia. Simos and Protis introduced themselves to Nannus, king of the Segobrii or Segobrigii, in whose territories they wished to build a city. Nannus was busy at this time with preparing for the marriage of his daughter Cyptis, and the strangers were politely invited to the marriage feast. The choice of the young woman for her husband fell on Protis ; but the cup which she offered him contained only water. From this fact, insignificant in itself, a modern writer deduces the [2.291] conclusion, that if it was wine and water, the wine came from foreign commerce, and commerce anterior to the arrival of the Phocaeans ; “for the vine was not yet introduced into Gaul.” But the vine is a native of Gallia Narbonensis, and king Nannus may have had wine of his own making. The Phocaeans now built Massalia ; and though they were continually harassed by the Ligurians, they beat them off, conquered fresh territories, and built new cities in them. The time of the settlement of Massalia is fixed by Scymnus Chius 120 years before the battle of Marathon, or B.C. 600.

Strabo (iv. p.179) found in some of his authorities a story that the Phocaeans before they sailed to Gallia were told by an oracle to take a guide from Artemis of Ephesus ; and accordingly they went to Ephesus to ask the goddess how they should obey the oracular order. The goddess appeared to Aristarche, one of the women of noblest rank in Ephesus, in a dream, and bade her join the expedition, and take with her a statue from the temple. Aristarche went with the adventurers, who built a temple to Artemis, and made Aristarche the priestess. In all their colonies the Massaliots established the worship of Artemis, and set up the same kind of wooden statue, and instituted the same rites as in the mother-city. For though Phocaea founded Massalia, Ephesus was the city which gave to it its religion. [EPHESUS Vol. I. p. 834.]

The Galli, as Justin calls them, learned from the Massaliots the usages of civilised life (Justin, 43.4), to cultivate the ground, and to build walls round their cities. They learned to live under the rules of law, to prune the vine, and to plant the olive. Thus Greek civility was imported into barbaric Gallia, and France still possesses a large and beautiful city, a lasting memorial of Greek enterprise.

Nannus died, and was succeeded by his son Comanus, to whom a cunning Ligurian suggested that Massalia would some time ruin all the neighbouring people, and that it ought to be stifled in its infancy. He told him the fable of the bitch and her whelps, which Phaedrus has (1.19); but this part of the old story is hardly credible. However, the king took advantage of a festival in Massalia, which Justin calls by the Roman name of Floralia, to send some stout men there under the protection of Massaliot hospitality, and others in carts, concealed in hampers covered with leaves. He posted himself with his troops in the nearest mountains, ready to enter the city when his men should open the gates at night, and the Massaliots were sunk in sleep and filled with wine. But a woman spoiled the plot. She was a kinsman of the king, and had a Greek for her lover. She was moved with compassion for the handsome youth as she lay in his arms: she told him of the treachery, and urged him to save his life. The man reported it to the magistrates of the city. The Ligurians were pulled out of their hiding-places and massacred, and the treacherous king was surprised when he did not expect it, and cut to pieces with 7000 of his men. From this time the Massaliots on festal days shut their gates, kept good watch, and exercised a vigilant superintendence over strangers.

The traditions of the early history of Massalia have an appearance of truth. Everything is natural. A woman's love founded and saved Massalia. A woman's tender heart saved the life of the noble Englishman who rescued the infant colony of Virginia from destruction ; and the same gentle and heroic woman, Pocahontas, by marrying another Englishman, made peace between the settlers and the savages, and secured for England a firms footing in Chesapeake Bay.

Livy's story (5.34) of the Phocaeans landing on the site of Massalia at the time of Bellovesus and his Celts being on the way to invade Italy, is of no value.

When Cyrus invaded Ionia (B.C. 546), part of the Phocaeans left Phocaea and sailed to Alalia in Corsica, where the Phocaeans had made a settlement twenty years before. Herodotus, who tells the history of these adventurers at some length, says nothing of their settlement at Massalia. (1.163--167.) Strabo (vi. p.252), on the authority of Antiochus, names Creontiades as the commander of the Phocaeans who fled from their country on the Persian invasion, and went to Corsica and Massalia, whence being driven away, they founded Velia in Italy. It is generally said that the exiles from Phocaea formed the second colony to Massalia ; but though it seems likely enough, the evidence is rather imperfect. When Thucydides says (1.13) that the Phocaeans while, they were founding Massalia defeated the Carthaginians in a naval battle, we get nothing from this fact as to the second settlement of Massalia. We only learn that the Carthaginians, who were probably looking out for trading posts on the Gallic shore, or were already there, came into conflict with the Phocaeans; and if we interpret Thucydides' words as we ought to do, he means at the time of the settlement of Massalia, whenever that was. Pausanias, who is not a careless writer (10.8.6), states that the Massaliots were a Phocaean colony, and a part of those who fled from Harpagus the Mede; and that having gained a victory over the Carthaginians, they got possession of the country which they now have. The Phocaeans dedicated a bronze statue to Apollo at Delphi to commemorate the victory. There seems, then, to have been an opinion current, that some of the exiles at the time of the Persian invasion settled at Massalia; and also a confusion between the two settlements. Justin, following Trogus, speaks of the Massaliots having great wars with the Galli and Ligures, and of their often defeating the Carthaginian armies in a war that arose out of some fishing vessels being taken, and granting them peace They also were, he says, in alliance with Rome almost from the time of founding their city ; but it seems that he had forgotten what he said a little before, that it was not almost from that time, but even before. They also contributed gold and silver to pay the ransom when the Galli took Rome, for which they received freedom from taxation (immunitas), and other privileges; which is very absurd, and certainly untrue. The historical connection of Rome and Massalia belongs to a later time.

Massalia was built on rocky ground. The harbour lay beneath a rock in the form of a theatre, which looked to the south. Both the harbour and the city were well walled, and the city was of considerable extent. On the citadel stood the Ephesium, and the temple of Delphinian Apollo, which was a common sanctuary of all the lonians, but the Ephesium was a temple of Artemis of Ephesus. The Massaliots had ship-houses (?e?s?????) and an armoury (?p??????); and in the time of their prosperity they had many vessels, arms, and stores of ammunition both for navigation and for the siege of cities; by which means they kept off the barbarians and gained the friendship of the Romans. (Strab. pp. [2.292] 4.179,180.) Caesar, who knew the site well, describes Massalia as washed by the sea almost along three parts of its extent; the fourth part was that by which the city was connected with the mainland; and here also the part that was occupied by the citadel was protected by the nature of the ground and a very deep valley (B.C. 2.1). He speaks of an island opposite to Massalia. There are three small islands nearly opposite the entrance of the present port. It was connected with the mainland, as Eumenius describes it, “by a space of fifteen hundred paces.” D'Anville observes that these fifteen hundred paces, or a Roman mile and a half, considerably exceed the actual distance from the bottom of the port to the place called the Grande Poínte; and he supposes that we must take these to be single paces, and so reduce the space to half the dimensions. Walckenaer (Géog. &c. vol. i. p. 25) supposes Eumenius to mean that the tongue of land on which Massalia stood was 1500 paces long. At present the port of Marseille is turned to the west; but the old port existed for a long time after the Roman period. This old port was named Lacydon (Mela, 2.5), a name which also appears on a medal of Massalia. The houses of Massalia were mean. Of the public buildings not a trace remains now, though it seems that there were not very long ago some remains of aqueducts and of baths. Medals, urns, and other antiquities have often been dug up.

The friendship of Rome and Massalia dates from the Second Punic War, when the Massaliots gave the Romans aid (Liv. 21.20, 25, 26), and assisted them all through the long struggle. (Plb. 3.95.) In B.C. 208 the Massaliots sent the Romans intelligence of Asdrubal having come into Gallia. (Liv. 27.36.) Massalia was never safe against the Ligurians, who even attacked them by sea (Liv. 40.18). At last (B.C. 154) they were obliged to ask the Romans for aid against the Oxybii and Deceates, who were defeated by Q. Opimius. The story of the establishment of the Romans in Southern Gallia is told in another place [GALLIA TRANSALPINA Vol. L p. I. p. 953.]


B. Mount above the Citadel.

C. Modern Port.

D. Port Neuf.

E. Citadel.

F. Catalan village and harbour.

G. Port l'Endoome.

H. I. d'If.

I. Rateneau I.

K. Pomegues I.

By the victory of the Romans over the Ligurians the Massaliots got some of the Ligurian lands; and after the defeat of the Teutones by C. Marius (B.C. 102) near Aquae Sextiae (Aix), the Roman commander gave the Massaliots the canal which he had constructed at the eastern outlet of the Rhone, and they levied tolls on the ships that used it [FOSSA MARIANA]. The Massaliots were faithful to the Romans in all their campaigns in Gallia, and furnished them with supplies. (Cic. Font. ch. 1) Cn. Pompeius gave to the community of Massalia lands that had belonged to the Volcae Arecomici and the Helvii; and C. Julius Caesar increased their revenue by fresh grants. (B.C. 1.35.)

When Caesar (B.C. 49) was marching from Italy into Spain against the legati of Pompeius, Massalia shut her gates against him. The excuse was that they would not side with either party ; but they showed that they were really favourable to Pompeius by admitting L. Domitius within their walls and giving him the command of the city (B.C. 1.34--36). At the suggestion of Pompeius the Massaliots also had made great preparations for defence. Caesar left three legions under his legatus C. Trebonius to besiege Massalia, and he gave D. Brutus the command of twelve ships which he had constructed at Arelate (Arles) with great expedition. While Caesar was in Spain, the Massaliots having manned seventeen vessels, eleven of which were decked ships, and put on board of them many of the neighbouring mountaineers, named Albici, fought a battle with Brutus in which they lost nine ships. (B.C. 1.56--59.) But they still held out, and the narrative of the siege and their sufferings is one of the most interesting parts of Caesar's History of the Civil War (B.C. 2.1--22; Dio Cassius, 41.25). When the town finally surrendered to Caesar, the people gave up their arms and military engines, their ships, and all the money that was in the public treasury. The city of Massalia appeared in Caesar's triumph at Rome, “that city,” says Cicero, “without which Rome never triumphed over the Transalpine nations” (Philipp. 8.6, de Offic. 2.8). Still it retained its freedom (a?t???µ?a), or in Roman language it was a Libera Civitas, a term which Strabo correctly explains to signify that the Massaliots “were not under the governors who were sent into the Provincia, neither the city itself, nor the dependencies of the city.” Pliny names Massalia a “foederata civitas” (3.4), a term which the history of its early connection with Rome explains.

The constitution of Massalia was aristocratic and its institutions were good (Strab. iv. p.179). It had a council of 600, who held their places for life, and were named Timuchi (t?µ?????). The council had a committee of fifteen, in whose hands the ordinary administration was: three out of the fifteen presided over the committee, and had the chief power: they were the executive. Strabo's text here becomes corrupt, and it is doubtful whether he means to say that no man could be a Timuchus, unless he had children and unless he could trace his descent for three generations from a citizen, or that no man could be one of the fifteen unless he fulfilled these conditions. (See Groskurd, Transl. Strabo, vol. i p. 310.) Their laws were Ionic, says Strabo, whatever this means; and were set up in public. Probably we may infer that they were not overloaded with legislation. Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 5.6) seems to say that Massalia was once an oligarchy, and we may conclude from this and other authorities that it became a Timocracy, that is, that the political power came into the hands of those who had a certain amount of wealth. Cicero (de Rep. 1.27, [2.293] his time speaks of the power being in the hands of the “selecti et principes,” or as he calls them in another place the “optimates ;” and though the administration was equitable, “there was,” he says, “in this condition of the ‘populus’ a certain resemblance to servitude.” Though the people had little or no power, so far as we can learn, yet the name Demus was in use; and probably, as in most Greek towns, the official title was Boule and Demus, as at Rome it was Senatus Populusque Romanus. The division of the people was into Phylae. The council of the 600 probably subsisted to a late period, for Lucian, or whoever is the author of the Toxaris (100.24) mentions it in his story of the friendship of Zenothemis and Menecrates.

Some writers have attempted, out of the fragments of antiquity, to reconstruct the whole polity of Massalia; an idle and foolish attempt. A few things are recorded, which are worth notice; and though the authority for some of them is not a critical writer, we can hardly suppose that he invented. (Valer. Maxim. 2.6.) Poison was kept under the care of the administration, and if a man wished to die, he must apply to the Six Hundred, and if he made out a good case, he was allowed to take a dose; and “herein,” says Valerius, “a manly investigation was tempered by kindness, which neither allowed any one to depart from life without a cause, and wisely gives to him who wishes to depart a speedy way to death.” The credibility of this usage has been doubted on various grounds; but there is nothing in it contrary to the notions of antiquity. Two coffins always stood at the gates, one for the the slave, one for the freeman; the bodies were taken to the place of interment or burning, whichever it was, in a vehicle: the sorrow terminated on the day of the funeral, which was followed by a domestic sacrifice and a repast of the relations. The thing was done cheap: the undertaker would not grow rich at Massalia. No stranger was allowed to enter the city with arms: they were taken from him, and restored when he went away. These and other precautions had their origin in the insecurity of settlers among a warlike and hostile population of Ligurians and Galli. The Massaliots also had slaves, as all Greeks had; and though manumission was permitted, it may be inferred from Valerius, if he has not after his fashion confounded a Greek and Roman usage, that the slave's condition was hard. A supply of slaves might be got from the Galli, who sold their own children. Whether the Ligurian was so base, may be doubted. We read of Ligurians working for daily hire for Massaliot masters. This hardy race, men and women, used to come down from the mountains to earn a scanty pittance by tilling the ground ; and two ancient writers have preserved the same story, on the evidence of Posidonius, of the endurance of a Ligurian woman, who was working for a Massaliot farmer, and being seized with the pains of childbirth, retired into a wood to be delivered, and came back to her work, for she would not lose her hire. (Strab. iii. p.165; Diod. 4.20.) It is just to add that the employer paid the poor woman her wages, and sent her off with the child.

The temperance, decency, and simplicity of Massaliot manners during their best period, before they had long been subjected to Roman rule, are commended by the ancient writers. The women drank no wine. Those spectacles, which the Romans called Mimi, coarse, corrupting exhibitions, were prohibited. Against religious impostors the Massaliot shut his door, for in those days there were men who made a trade of superstition. The highest sum of money that a man could get with a woman was a hundred gold pieces: he must take a wife for what she was worth, and not for her money. She had five gold pieces for her dress, and five for her gold ornaments. This was the limit fixed by the sumptuary laws. Perhaps the Massaliot women were handsome enough to want nothing more.

Massalia cultivated literature, though it did not produce, as far as we know, either poets or historians. An edition (d?????s??) of the Homeric poems, called the Massaliot edition, was used by the Alexandrine critics in settling the text of Homer. It is not known by whom this ediion was made; but as it bore the name of Massalia, it may be supposed that it came from this city. The name of Pytheas is inseparably connected with the maritime fame of Massalia, but opinions will always differ, as they did in antiquity, as to the extent of his voyages and his veracity. (Strab. ii. p.104.) That this man, a contemporary of Alexander, navigated the Atlantic Ocean, saw Britain, and explored a large part of the western coast of Europe, can hardly be doubted. There was nothing strange in this, for the Phoenicians had been in Britain centuries before. Pliny (2.97) records a statement of Pytheas as to the high tides on the British coast. Strabo (ii. p.71) states that Hipparchus, on the authority of Pytheas, placed Massalia and Byzantium in the same latitude. But it appears from another passage of Strabo (ii. p.115), that Hipparchus said that the ratio between the gnomon and its shadow at Byzantium was the same that Pytheas said it was at Massalia; whence it appears that the conclusion is Hipparchus' own, and that the error may have been either in the latitude of Massalia, or in the latitude of Byzantium. As for the voyages of another Massaliot, Euthymenes, there is too little authority to enable us to say anything certain.

As the Massaliots planted their colonies along the south coast of Gallia and even in Spain, we may conclude that all the places which they chose were selected with a view to commerce. The territory which Massalia itself had, and its colonies, was insignificant. Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois, 20.5) justly estimated the consequences of this city's position : “Marseille, a necessary port of refuge in the midst of a stormy sea ; Marseille, this place where the winds, the sea-banks, the form of the coast, bid the mariner touch, was frequented by maritime peoples. The sterility of its soil determined commerce as the pursuit of the inhabitants.” The Massaliots were noted for their excellent ships and their skill in constructing machinery. They carried on a large trade by sea, and we may conclude that they exported the products of Gallia, for which they could give either foreign produce or their own wine, oil, domestic utensils, and arms. The fact that in Caesar's time the Helvetii used the Greek characters, is in itself evidence of the intercourse between the Greeks on the coast and the Galli. When we consider also that the Greeks were settled all along the southern coast of Gallia, from which the access was easy to the basin of the Garonne, it is a fair conclusion that they exchanged articles, either directly or through several hands, with the Galli on the Western Ocean; and so part of the trade of Britannia would pass through the Greek settlements on the south coast of France. [GALLIA, Vol. I. p. 963.] [2.294]

The medals of Massalia are numerous, and some of them are in good taste. It is probable that they also coined for the Galli, for the Galli had coined money of their own long before the Christian aera with Greek characters. The common types of the Massaliot medals are the lion and the bull. No gold coins of Massalia have yet been found; but there are coins of other metal covered over with gold or silver, which are generally supposed to be base coin; and base or false coin implies true coin of the same kind and denomination. It has been also supposed that the fraud was practised by the Massaliots themselves, to cheat their customers; a supposition which gives them no credit for honesty and little for sense.

The settlements of Massalia were all made very early: indeed some of them may have been settlements of the mother city Phocaea. One of the earliest of these colonies was Tauroeis or Tauroentum (a doubtful position), which Caesar (B.C. 2.4) calls “Castellum Massiliensium.” The other settlements east of Massalia were Olbia (Eoubes or Eoubo), Athenopolis [ATHENOPOLIS] Antipolis (Antibes), Nicaea (Nizza), and the islands along this coast, the Stoechades, and Lero and Lerina. West of Massalia was Agatha (Agde), on the Arauris (Hérault), doubtful whether it was a colony settled by Phocaea or Massalia. Rhoda (Rosas), within the limits of Hispania, was either a Rhodian or Mssaliot colony; even if it was Rhodian, it was afterwards under Massalia. Emporiae (Ampurias), in Hispania, was also Massaliot; or even Phocaean (Liv. 26.19) originally. [EMPORIAE]. Strabo speaks of three small Massaliot settlements further south on the coast of Hispania, between the river Sucro (Jucar) and Carthago Nova (iii. p. 159). The chief of them, he says, was Hemeroscopium. [DIANIUM].

The furthest Phocaean settlement on the south coast of Spain was Maenace (iii. p. 156), where remains of a Greek town existed in Strabo's time.

There may have been other Massaliot settlements on the Gallic coast, such as Heraclea. [HERACLEA]. Stephanus, indeed, mentions some other Massailot cities, but nothing can be made of his fragmentary matter. There is no good reason for thinking that the Massaliots founded any inland towns. Arelate (Arles) would seem the most likely, but it was not a Greek city; and as to Avenio (Avignon) and Cabellio (Cavaillon), the evidence is too small to enable us to reckon them among Massaliot settlements. There is also the great improbability that the Massaliots either wanted to make inland settlements, or were able to do it, if, contrary to the practice of their nation, they had wished it. That Massaliot merchants visited the interior of Gallia long before the Roman conquest of Gallia, may be assumed as a fact.<

Probably the downfal of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War, and the alliance of Massalia with Rome, increased the commercial prosperity of this city; but the Massaliots never became a great power like Carthage, or they would not have called in the Romans to help them against two small Ligurian tribes. The foundation of the Roman colony of Narbo (Narbonne), on the Atax (Aude), in a position which commanded the road into Spain and to the mouth of the Garonne, must have been detrimental to the commercial interests of Massalia. Strabo (iv. p.186) mentions Narbo in his time as the chief trading place in the Provincia. Both before Caesar's time and after Massalia was a place of resort for the Romans, and sometimes selected by exiles as a residence. (Tac. Ann. 4.43, 13.47.) When the Roman supremacy was established in Gallia, Massalia had no longer to protect itself against the natives. The people having wealth and leisure, applied themselves to rhetoric and philosophy; the place became a school for the Galli, who studied the Greek language, which came into such common use that contracts were drawn up in Greek. In Strabo's time, that is in the time of Augustus and Tiberius, some of the Romans who were fond of learning went to Massalia instead of Athens. Agricola, the conqueror of Britannia, and a native of Forum Julii, was sent when a boy by a careful mother to Massalia, where, as Tacitus says (Agric. 100.4), “Greek civility was united and tempered with the thrifty habits of a provincial town.” (See also Tac. Ann. 4.44.) The Galli, by their acquaintance with Massalia, became fond of rhetoric, which has remained a national taste to the present day. They had teachers of rhetoric and philosophy in their houses, and the towns also hired teachers for their youth, as they did physicians; for a kind of inspector of health was a part of the economy of a Greek town. Circumstances brought three languages into use at Massalia, the Greek, the Latin, and the Gallic (Isid. xv., on the authority of Varro). the studies of the youth at Massalia in the Roman period were both Greek and Latin. Medicine appears to have been cultivated at Massalia. Crinas, a doctor of this town, combined physic and astrology. He left an enormous sum of money for repairing the walls of his native town. He made his fortune at Rome; but a rival came from Massalia, named Charmis, who entered on his career by condemning the practice of all his predecessors. Charmis introduced the use of cold baths even in winter, and plunged the sick into ponds. Men of ránk might be seen shivering for display under the treatment of this water doctor. On which Pliny (29.2) well observes that all these men hunted after reputation by bringing in some novelty, while they trafficked away the lives of their patients.<

The history of Massalia after Caesar's time is very little known. It is said that there are no imperial medals of Massalia. Some tombs and inscriptions are in the Musenum of Marseille.

A great deal has been written about the history of Massalia, but it is not worth much. The following references will lead to other authorities: Raoul-Rochette, Histoire des Colonies Grecques, a very poor work; H. Ternaux, Historia Reipublicae Massiliensium a Primordiis ad Neronis Tempora, which is useful for the references, but for nothing else; Thierry, Histoire des Gaulois. - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.


Map of the Roman Empire (Click to Enlarge)

Large Map of the Roman Empire (Clickable Locations)

The Roman Empire During the First Century AD

Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.

Map of New Testament Israel  |  Map of Old Testament Israel

Map of the Roman Empire  |  Bible History Online

Map of the Roman Empire - Places







Aegean Sea



















Arabian Desert







Balearic Islands








Caesarea Philippi





















Danube River



Dniester River

Douro River


Ebro River


Emerita Augusta




Euphrates River

Fair Havens


Forum Appius





Garonne River





Greater Syrtis

Guadalquivir River

Guadiana River


Halys River



Heraclea Pontus

Hippo Regius









Jordan River


Kure Mountains




Leptis Magna

Lesser Syritis


Loire River









Mauritania Caesariensis

Mauritania Tingitana


Mediterranean Sea






Mount Sinai


Nabataean Kingdom









Nile River


Oceanus Atlanticus



Orontes River


















Po River



Pontus Euxinus

Porta Veneris


Prut River








Sahara Desert







Saonne River






Sea of Adria

Seine River





Sinus Arabicus






Tagus River




Taurus Mountains







Tiber River


Tisza River