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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
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 on an area of 1,204 km2 (465 sq mi).
1,530,000 or 1,601,095 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
History. Massalia was one of the first Greek ports in Western Europe,
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), 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. 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).
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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
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
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.]
PLAN OF THE ENVIRONS OF MARSEILLE. PLAN OF THE ENVIRONS OF MARSEILLE., A. Site
of the modern town.
B. Mount above the Citadel.
C. Modern Port.
D. Port Neuf.
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
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
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
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.
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