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Mother-city and Colony

Learning from overseas traders of likely places to relocate, Greek colonists set out from their “mother city” ( metropolis 1 in Greek), which selected a leader called the “founder” (ktistes ). Even though they were going to establish an independent city-state at their new location, colonists were expected to retain ties with their metropolis. A colony that sided with its metropolis' enemy in a war, for example, was regarded as disloyal. Sometimes the colonists enjoyed a friendly welcome from the local inhabitants where they settled; sometimes they had to fight to win the land for their new community. The colony's founder was in charge of laying out the settlement properly and parceling out the land, as Homer describes in speaking of the foundation of a fictional colony: “So [the founder] led them away, settling them in [a place called] Scheria, far from the bustle of men. He had a wall constructed around the town center, built houses, erected temples for the gods, and divided the land.”2

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