Skip to main content

Magna Graecia

Magna Graecia (măg´nə grē´shə) [Lat.,=great Greece], Greek colonies of S Italy. The Greek overseas expansion of the 8th cent. BC founded a number of towns that became the centers of a new, thriving Greek territory. They were on both coasts from the Bay of Naples and the Gulf of Taranto southward. Unlike Greek Sicily, Magna Graecia began to decline by 500 BC, probably because of malaria and endless warfare among the colonies. Only Tarentum (now Taranto) and Cumae remained individually very significant. Magna Graecia was the center of two philosophical groups in the 6th cent. BC, that of Parmenides at Elea and that of Pythagoras at Crotona. Through Cumae especially, the Etruscans of Capua and the Romans came into early contact with Greek civilization. The following are the chief cities of Magna Graecia (those colonized from Greece, except Thurii and Elea, go back to the 8th or early 7th cent. BC; those colonized locally are perhaps a century younger)—on the east coast from north to south, Tarentum (colonized from Sparta), Metapontum (from Achaea), Heraclea (from Tarentum), Siris (from Colophon), Sybaris (from Achaea), Thurii (from Athens, replacing Sybaris), Crotona (from Achaea), Caulonia (from Crotona), Epizephyrian Locris (from Locris); on the west coast from north to south, Cumae (from Chalcis), Neapolis (now Naples; from Cumae), Paestum, or Posidonia (from Sybaris), Elea (from Phocaea in Ionia), Laos (from Sybaris), Hipponium (from Epizephyrian Locris), and Rhegium (now Reggio de Calabria; from Chalcis).

See D. Randall-MacIver, Greek Cities of Italy and Sicily (1931); T. J. Dunbabin, The Western Greeks (1948); A. G. Woodhead, The Greeks in the West (1962).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Magna Graecia." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 23 May. 2019 <>.

"Magna Graecia." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (May 23, 2019).

"Magna Graecia." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved May 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.