Salvatore La Rosa


Strabone (Geografia VI, 7)

After the Heracleium comes a cape belonging to Locri,
which is called Zephyrium,
that keeps the harbour safe from the western winds,
and hence the name...
Then comes the city Locri Epizephyrii...

(Strabo, Geography VI, 1 7)

Collocazione Geografica

The archaeological site of the ancient Locri Epizephyrii is located in Reggio Calabria's province, few kilometres away from the modern Locri. However it is not the site in which the first Greek settlers arrived. As a matter of fact, they first went ashore in the bay adjoining cape Zephyrium (the ancient denomination of the headland, nowadays called cape Bruzzano, which is due - as Strabo suggests - to the Zephyrus, the wind that blows from the west). Then, after few years, they made for north, starting the building of the proper city upon the hill known as Epopis.

The settlers arrived near cape Zephyrium probably because, as the historical tradition hands down, this was a landing place commonly used both from merchants and Greek sailors; the former used it for commercial exchanges with the natives, while the latter used it as a landing place to resupply their ships with food and water. Therefore it was a well-known place for the newcomers Greek settlers.

After setting up their camp near cape Zephyrium, the Greek settlers began to establish closer relationships with the natives (Sicels), drawing up some peace agreements with them. At the same time they started the exploration of the territories to the north of cape Zephyrium, discovering very soon that such places were more suitable for the development of a new polis. They focused their attention particularly on the coastal zone below the native camp of Ianchina (today's name of the zone), much more fertile and rich of water than the hills near cape Zephyrium.

And so they took the decision that the new discovered zone would have been the definitive site for their settlement. However, to accomplish their project, the settlers had soon to breach the agreements previously stipulated with the natives. And in doing so, according to Polybius' narration, the Locrians resorted to a trick:

[…] ἦ μὴν εὐνοήσειν αὐτοῖς καὶ κοινῇ τὴν χώραν ἕξειν, ἕως ἂν ἐπιβαίνωσι τῇ γῇ ταύτῃ καὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς ἐπὶ τοῖς ὤμοις φορῶσι. τοιούτων δὲ τῶν ὅρκων γινομένων φασὶ τοὺς Λοκροὺς εἰς μὲν τὰ πέλματα τῶν ὑποδημάτων ἐμβαλόντας γῆν, ἐπὶ δὲ τοὺς ὤμους σκόρδων κεφαλὰς ἀφανεῖς ὑποθεμένους οὕτως ποιήσασθαι τοὺς ὅρκους, κἄπειτα τὴν μὲν γῆν ἐκβαλόντας ἐκ τῶν ὑποδημάτων, τὰς δὲ κεφαλὰς τῶν σκόρδων ἀπορρίψαντας μετ᾽ οὐ πολὺ καιροῦ παραπεσόντος ἐκβαλεῖν τοὺς Σικελοὺς ἐκ τῆς χώρας.

"(The Locrians were welcomed by the Sicels provided that) they would have vowed to share the land with them as long as they had kept walking on that very same ground and had kept their heads upon their shoulders. But, as it is said, the Locrians took the oath after having put some soil in their shoes and having concealed garlic heads upon their shoulders. After a while they took the soil away from their shoes, threw the garlic heads off their shoulders and drove the natives out of the region."

(Polybius, Histories XII, 6-3)

And so, in a short time, the natives were defeated and forced to flee and the Locrian settlers (we are now between the end of the VIII century b.C. and the beginning of the VII century b.C.) could finally start to build their city, 25 km to the north of the site where they had arrived some years before.

However, in the name of the city remained a reference to the site of their arrival; as a matter of fact, Oi Lokroi Oi Epizephyrioi is an ancient Greek plural form that can be translated this way: The Locrians who live next to the Zephyrium.


Locri Epizephyrii is in Italy


In Calabria Region


On the eastern coast of the
Province of Reggio Calabria


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