Related Content

Related Overviews


More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Classical studies


Show Summary Details



Quick Reference

An important polis on the large Aegean island of the same name (476 sq. km./184 sq. mi.), 1.8 km. (1 mi.) from Asia Minor. Though west and central Samos are each dominated by a mountain, Samos has arable slopes and coastal plains, and was considered fertile. Wheat was grown in its territory in Asia Minor. Exports included oil and Samian earth (a clay used in fulling); Samian transport amphorae are distinctive.

The city lay in the SE lowlands; 8 km. (5 mi.) to the west along a sacred road lay the sanctuary of (Hera Heraion). Samos was reputedly Carian before Ionians arrived, perhaps in the 10th cent. The first Hera temple (early 8th cent.) was one of the earliest stone temples in Greece, receiving lavish dedications as an emerging élite developed overseas contacts. Samians colonized Cilicia, the Propontis, and the Black (Euxine) Sea, helped found Cyrene, and built a temple at Naucratis (see colonization, greek).

Detailed history is lacking before the tyranny of Polycrates (1) (c.550–522). His warships dominated nearby islands and towns, and his court was frequented by artists and poets (including Ibycus and Anacreon). Refugees from the tyranny included Pythagoras, who settled in Italy; others founded Dicaearchia (Puteoli). Polycrates probably commissioned the three constructions mentioned by Herodotus (3. 60), all of them extant. A new Hera temple begun earlier had proved unstable: its replacement, by Theodorus, probably dates to Polycrates' reign. Though never finished, it was the largest Greek temple known to Herodotus.

The Persians killed Polycrates and installed tyrants friendly to themselves. Many Samian captains deserted the Ionians at Lade (see ionian Revolt). Prominent in the Delian League, Samos contributed ships until its revolt in 440, which took Pericles eight months to suppress. Cleruchs (see cleruchy) were installed, and the ruling élite remained pro‐Athenian in the Peloponnesian War. For a time Samians shared Athens' radical democracy: in 405 they even received Athenian citizenship. After the war Lysander installed a decarchy and received divine honours. After the fall of his regime Samos was generally pro‐Athenian until Mausolus renewed Persian domination. In 365 the Athenians again cleruchized the island, allegedly expelling the entire population. Liberated by Alexander 2 the Great's Exiles' Decree (see exile, Greek), Samos was disputed between the Successors (see diadochi); the historian Duris became tyrant of his own city. From 281 it was a Ptolemaic base; after being attacked by Philip V of Macedon it came under Rhodian hegemony (see rhodes), confirmed by Rome in 188.

Subjects: Classical studies

Reference entries

View all reference entries »