1902 Encyclopedia > Scio

Scio, Asia Minor
(also known as: Chios; Saki Asasi)




SCIO, the Italian name of an island on the west coast of Asia Minor, called by the Greeks Chios (_______) and by the Turks Saki Adasi; the soft pronunciation of x before i in Modern Greek, approximating to sh, caused Xto to be Italianized as Scio. Scio, which is about 30 miles lorfg from north to south, and varies in breadth from 8 to 15 miles, is divided into a larger northern part and a smaller southern part, called respectively apanomeria and katomeria. The island is rugged and well deserves the epithet " craggy " (jrai.TraXoecra-a') applied to it in the Homeric hymn. The southern part is less rocky than the northern, and the wealth of the island is concentrated there. The figs of Chios were noted in ancient times, but wine and gum mastic have always been its most important products. The climate is almost perfect, the atmosphere delightful and healthy; oranges, olives, and even palms grow freely. The finest wine was grown on the north-western coast, in the district called by Strabo Ariusia, and was known in Italy as vinum Arvisium. The population of Chios has always been far greater than its resources could feed; the people have therefore been forced to import the necessaries of life in exchange for their wine and mastic and fruit, and alike in ancient and modern times they have been known as merchants and traders. Pottery of Chios and Thasos was exported to Illyria (Strab., p. 317) and doubtless elsewhere; it formed or contained the cargo of outward-bound trading ships. Thasian ware is familiar in museums, where the stamped handles of Thasian amphorae have been collected in thousands; but no pottery has yet been identified as of Chian manufacture. An incidental proof of the importance of Chian handicrafts lies in the fact that early in the 7th century B.C. Glaucus of Chios discovered the process of soldering iron, and the iron stand of a large crater whose parts were all connected by this process was constructed by him, and preserved as one of the most interesting relics of antiquity at Delphi. The long line of Chian sculptors in marble, Bupalus and Athenis, sons of Archermus, son of Micciades, son of Melas, bears witness to the fame of Chian art in the period 660 to 540 B.C. The Winged Victory of Micciades and Archermus, which was dedicated at Delos, is still preserved,—the most im-portant attested work extant of archaic Greek art. Marble quarries also "were worked in the island. In literature the chief glory of Chios was the school of epic poets called Homeridse, who carried on and gave an Ionic tone to the traditional art of the older iEolic bards. Cimetkus is said to have written the Homeric Hymn to Apollo of Delos, and is believed by some modern critics to have exer-cised great influence on the text of the Iliad and Odyssey. The Chian recension of these poems (________) was in later times one of the standard texts. Ion the tragic poet, Theopompus the historian, and other writers maintained the position of Chios in literature during the classical period.

The chief city of Chios has always borne the same name as the island. It is situated near the middle of the eastern coast, and at the present day contains about 17,000 inhabitants. A theatre and a temple of Athena Poliuchus existed in the ancient city. About C miles north of the city there is a curious monument of antiquity, commonly called "the school of Homer"; it is a very ancient sanctuary of Cybele, with an altar and a figure of the goddess with her two lions, cut out of the native rock on the summit of a hill. On the west coast there is a monastery of great wealth with a .church founded by Constantine IX. (1042-54). Starting from the city and encompassing the island, one passes in succession the pro-montory Posidium ; Cape Phana;, the southern extremity of Chios, with a harbour and a temple of Apollo ; Notium, probably the south-western point of the island ; Laii, opposite the city of Chios, whore the island is narrowest; the town Bolissns (now Yolisso), the home of the Homerid poets ; Melama, the north-western point; the wine-growing district Ariusia ; Cardamyle (now Cardhamili); the north-eastern promontory was probably named Phlium, and the mountains that cross the northern part of the island Pelinams or Pellenams. The situation of the small towns Leuconium, Delphinium, Caucasa, Ccela, and Polichne is uncertain; probably most of them were in the southern part. The island is subject to earthquakes ; a very destructive shock occurred in March 1881.





The history of Chios is very obscure. According to Pherecydes, the original inhabitants were Leleges, while according to other accounts Thessalian Pelasgi possessed the island before it became an Ionian state. The name iEthalia, common to Chios and Lemnos in very early time, suggests the original existence of a homogeneous population in these and other neighbouring islands. (Enopium, a mythical hero, son of Dionysus or of Rhadamanthus, was an early king of Chios. His successor in the fourth generation, Hector, united the island to the Ionian confederacy (Pausan., vii. 4), though Strabo (p. 633) implies an actual conquest by Ionian settlers. The name Hector and the fountain Helene (probably at the modern Thelena in the north) might be expected in the island of the Homerida}. The regal government was at a later time exchanged for an oligarchy or a democracy, but nothing is known as to the manner and date of the change. As in most other states of Greece, tyrants sometimes ruled in Chios ; the names of Amphielus and Polytecnus are mentioned. The early relations of Chios with other states are very obscure, but it seems to have been an ally of Miletus, and to have been at enmity with the Phocajo-Samian alliance, to which the neighbouring Erythrte belonged. The same form of the Ionian dialect was spoken in Chios and in Erythrae.

When the Persians appeared on the Ionian coast Chios willingly submitted, refused to their old enemies the Phocreans, who were fleeing from the Persian yoke, a refuge on their islands OZnussa?., and even surrendered the Lydian fugitive Pactyes in defiance of all religious scruples. Strattis, tyrant of Chios, followed Darius in his Scythian expedition. The Chians joined in the Ionian rebellion against the Persians (500-495) and supplied 100 ships. After the Persian victory at Lade the island was most severely treated, the towns and temples burned, and many of the people enslaved. At Salamis (480) the Chian ships, led by the tyrant Stvattis, served in the Persian fleet. After the battle of Mycale (479) the island became free and a democratic government no doubt took the place of the tyranny. Chios was the most powerful state after Athens in the Delian confederacy, and it was an ally on equal terms of the Athenian empire, paying no tribute, but furnishing ships in case of war. It remained a faithful ally of the Athenians till the year 412, when, encouraged by the weakness caused in Athens by the Sicilian disasters, it joined the Lacedaemonians. Its fleet then consisted of fifty ships. The Athenians defeated them in three battles, at Bolissns, Phana?, and Leuconium, but could not reconquer the island. Finding the Spartan hegemony more op- pressive than the Athenian, Chios returned to the Athenian con- nexion in 394, but soon afterwards deserted and joined the Thebans. In the wars of Alexander the Great, Memnon, supported by the oligarchical party, held the island for the Persians. It was afterwards involved in the rapid vicissitudes of Ionian history, falling under the power of various dynasties among the diadochi. In the Mithradatic wars it favoured the Roman alliance, and the king's general Zenobius fined the island 2000 talents and carried off a great number of the population into slavery in Pontns. It had many centuries _ of peaceful prosperity under Roman and Byzantine rule. The Genoese held it from the 14th century till in 1566 the Turks conquered it and the third great Chian disaster and massacre occurred. Except for a brief Venetian occupation in 1694, Chios has remained in Turkish hands till the present day. A fourth massacre afflicted the island in 1822, when the Turks repressed with fire and sword the attempted Greek insurrection. Till this terrible event the island was ruled very leniently by the Turks ; the internal government was left in the hands of five archons, three Greek and two Catholic, while two resident Turkish officials represented the sultan and received through the archons the stipulated tribute. (W. M. RA.)






The above article was written by: W. M. Ramsay, M.A., Professor of Humanity, University of Aberdeen.



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