After colonizing the Aegean islands and the coast of Asia Minor, the ancient Greeks turned toward southern Italy and Sicily, driven by the unrest that troubled their homeland in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. The new arrivals brought with them their language, as well as their cultural and religious traditions and the institution of the polis. In Italy they created an autonomous political community that eventually surpassed the cities of Greece in wealth, military power, and architectural and cultural splendor. Such forefathers of Western philosophy as Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Archimedes lived and worked within this civilization.
The Greek Cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily presents an overview of Greek colonization in Italy and the principal historical events that took place in this area from the Archaic period until the ascendancy of the Romans. This comprehensive survey is followed by a review of the major archaeological sites in the region.