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Massilia

called by the Greeks Μασσαλία (Marseilles). A Greek city in Gallia Narbonensis, on the coast of the Mediterranean, in the country of the Salyes, founded by the Phocaeans of Asia Minor about B.C. 600. It was situated on a promontory, connected with the mainland by a narrow isthmus, and washed on three sides by the sea. Its excellent harbour (Lacydon) was formed by a small inlet of the sea, about half a mile long and a quarter of a mile broad. This harbour had only a narrow opening, and before it lay an island, where ships had good anchorage. At an early period the Massilienses cultivated the friendship of the Romans, to whom they always continued faithful allies. Massilia was for many centuries one of the most important commercial cities in the ancient world, and founded a number of other towns, such as Antipolis (Antibes) and Nicaea (Nice). In wealth and power it even excited the jealousy of Carthage, which led to a war between the two cities, in which the Massilienses won a naval victory (Thuc.i. 13). Because of its friendship for Rome, the Romans left it independent with its own constitution and government, which was aristocratic or oligarchic, the city being ruled by a Senate of 600 called Timuchi, who acted through smaller councillors (De Rep. i. 27, 43). In the civil war between Caesar and Pompey (B.C. 49) it espoused the cause of the latter, but after a protracted siege, in which it lost its fleet, it was obliged to submit to Caesar. Its inhabitants had long paid attention to literature and philosophy; and under the early emperors it became one of the chief seats of learning, to which the sons of many Romans resorted in order to complete their studies.

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