Thurii, or Thueium, a city of Magna Graecia on the Gulf of Tarentum, near the site of the older Sybaris (q.v.). It owed its origin to an attempt made in 452 B.C. by Sybarite exiles and their descendants to repeople their old home. The new settlement was crushed by Crotona, but the Athenians lent aid to the fugitives and in 443 Pericles sent out to Thurii a mixed body of colonists from various parts of Greece, among whom were Herodotus and the orator- Lysias. The pretensions of the Sybarite colonists led to dissensions and ultimately to their expulsion; peace was made with Crotona, and also, after a period of war, with Tarentum, and Thurii rose rapidly in power and drew settlers from all parts of Greece, especially from Peloponnesus, so that the tie to Athens was not always acknowledged. The oracle of Delphi determined that the city had no founder but Apollo, and in the Athenian War in Sicily Thurii was at first neutral, though it finally helped the Athenians. Thurii had a democratic constitution and good laws, and, though we hear little of its history till in 390 it received a severe defeat from the rising power of the Lucanians, many beautiful coins testify to the wealth and splendour of its days of prosperity. In the 4th century it continued to decline, and at length called in the help of the Romans against the Lucanians, and then in 282 against Tarentum. Thenceforward its position was dependent, and in the Second Punic War, after several vicissitudes, it was depopulated and plundered by Hannibal (204). In 194 a Roman colony was founded, with Latin rights, known for a time as Copiae, but afterwards by the old name of Thurii. It continued to be a place of some importance, the situation being favourable and the region fertile, and does not seem to have been wholly abandoned till the middle ages. The site of the original Greek city is not accurately known, though that of the Roman town, which probably though not certainly occupied the same site, is fixed by insignificant ruins as being 4 m. to the east of Terranova di Sibari, and as occupying an area some 4 m. in circuit. The tombs found in 1879-1880 (see SYBARIS) lie a little to the east of the site.

A medieval dictionary, the Suda, mentions Herodotus' tomb on the market of Thurii (Suda H536); this was a high honor, only attributed to the (often legendary) founders of new cities. In Aristotle's book on Rhetorics, he quotes the first line of The Histories as:

Herodotus of Thurii hereby publishes the results of his inquiries... (Rhetorics 1409a27)

This variant reading of Herodotus' opening line can be explained away by saying that Aristotle was simply mistaken. However, the philosopher's infallibility has been axiomatic for centuries, and many scholars, ancient and modern, have tended to believe that Herodotus was one of the settlers of Thurii. It is possible that Herodotus was the founder of Thurii, but since Athens and Pella (in Macedonia) also claimed his tomb, we should probably take the Suda's statement with a grain of salt. It is imaginable that the Thurians invented their claim after reading Aristotle!

1911 Edition Encyclopedia Brittanica

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