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CHIOS (Χίος: Eth. Χῖος, contracted from Χίϊος; Adj. Χιακός: Khio, Scio; Saki Adassi, as the Turks call it, or Sakisadasi, according to other authorities), an island of the Aegean, opposite to the peninsula in which Erythrae was situated. The various fanciful reasons for the name are collected by Stephanus (s. v. Χίος: comp. Paus. 7.6.4). The earlier names of the island were Aethalia, according to Ephorus quoted by Pliny (5.31), and Macris, an epithet probably derived from its form, and Pityusa or Pine island, from the pine forests. (Plin. l.c.; Strab. p. 589.)

A strait 5 miles wide in the narrowest part separates the island from the mainland of Asia. Seen from the sea to the NE. “the bold and yellow mountains of Scio form a striking outline against the blue sky” (Hamilton, Researches, &c. vol. ii. p. 5). Chios lies from north to south, and its extreme length is about 32 miles. The greatest width, which is in the northern part, is about 18 miles; and in the narrowest part, which is somewhat nearer to the southern than the northern extremity, it is only about 8 miles wide. The circuit (περίπλους) according to Strabo (p. 645) is 900 stadia; but Pliny makes it 125 Roman miles, or 1,000 stadia; and Isidorus, whom he quotes, makes it 134. The real circuit is about 110 English miles by the maps. Pliny's 125 miles may be nearly exact. The area may be somewhat about 400 square miles, English, or about thrice the area of the Isle of Wight. Clinton very erroneously makes it only 257 square miles (Fasti, Pop. of Ancient Greece, p. 411).

Strabo's description commences on the east side of the island, where the chief town, Chios, was situated, which had a harbour capable of holding 80 ships. His periplus is southwards. He next mentions the Posidium, now Cape Mastico, the southern point of the island; then Phanae (Thuc. 8.24), where there was a deep recess, a temple of Apollo, and a grove of palm-trees. There was also a point or headland at Phanae (Steph. s. v. Φάναι), which Ptolemy also mentions under the name Phanaea, Livy (44.28) mentions the Promontorium Phanae as a convenient, place to sail from to Macedonia. It seems to correspond to Port Mesta, on the western coast. After Phanae, proceeding northward along the west coast, Strabo mentions Notium, a beach which was adapted for hauling up ships; and then Laii, a beach of the same character, whence the distance to the city of Chios, on the opposite coast, was 60 stadia. The position of Laii is fixed by this description at or near a place marked Port Aluntha in some maps. Groskurd (Transl. Strab. vol. iii. p. 26) proposes to change this name to Laïnus, or Laïni, “the stony shore.” According to Koray, who was a native of Smyrna, the Greeks still call this coast, with the harbour Mesta, which belongs to it, by the name of Lithilimena; and he remarks that the isthmus at this part is the narrowest. But this is not true of Port Mesta, for the island contracts several miles north of that point.

The periplus from the town of Chios to Laii is 360 stadia (Strab.). The real distance is about 60 miles, and Strabo's measure is incorrect.

Strabo mentions no other place on the west coast, till he comes to the promontory Melaena, opposite to the island of Psyra (Psara), which island he places only 50 stadia from the cape, which is too little, for it is 11 or 12 miles. Melaena seems to be Cape S. Nicolo. After the promontory Melaena comes the Ariusia, a rocky shore without harbours, about 300 stadia in length; but this tract produced the best of all the Greek wines. Then, the mountain Pelinaeus, the highest summit in the island. This is Mt. Elias, a common name for mountains in the Greek archipelago. The island has a marble quarry. This is the sum of Strabo's incomplete description of Chios. He makes the distance from Chios to Lesbus 400 stadia; but the nearest points are not more than 30 miles apart.

The northern part of Chios is the most rugged and mountainous, but all the island is uneven, and the epithet παιπαλόεσσα in the Homeric Hymn, quoted by Thucydides (3.104), is appropriate. It is a rocky island, generally ill provided with water, and rain comes seldom. It produces, however, some corn and good wine. The wine was exported to Italy under the name of Vinum Arvisium in Pliny's time (14.7), and it is. often mentioned by the Roman writers. The Arvisia which produced this fine wine, is the Ariusia of Strabo. (See Vib. Sequester, p. 289, ed. Oberlin). The country about: Phanae [p. 1.610]was also a wine-growing tract (Verg. G. 2.97, “rex ipse Phanaeus,” &c.); there was a story that the people of this island claimed to be the discoverers of the art of wine making. (Theopomp. quoted by Athen. p. 26, ed. Cas.) Thevenot (Travels into the Levant, Engl. Transl. part i. p. 93, &c.) found the wine thick; but he must have been ill served, or have got hold of some vino cotto. Chandler (Travels in Asia Minor, 100.16), who was treated by an English resident, found the wines excellent. Another chief product of the island was the gum mastic (Plin. Nat. 12.17), which was in great repute in ancient times, and still forms one of the chief products of the island. This resin is got from the Lentiscus by making incisions, and collecting the fluid when it has hardened. The mode of getting it is described by Thevenot and Tournefort. Chios was also noted for its figs (Varr. de R. R. 1.41), which had been transplanted into Italy. The island contained a clay adapted for pottery (Strab. p. 317). In Thevenot's time all the earthenware that was used in the island, was made at a village named Armolia. The island is healthy. The beauty of the women is celebrated by ancient writers and modern travellers. The growth of the vine, olive, lemon, orange, citron, and palm, show what the temperature is. Thevenot says that the island is subject to earthquakes; and the fall of a school-house recorded by Herodotus (6.27) may have been owing to an earthquake. (Sueton. Tib. 8.)

The town or the island of Chios was one of the places that claimed to be the birth-place of Homer, and the natives show a place on the north coast of the island, at some distance from the town, which they call Homer's school. Chandler supposed the place to have been a temple of Cybele, open at the top, and situated on the summit of a rock. It is of an oval form, and in the centre was the figure of the goddess, which wanted the head and arm when Chandler saw it. She was represented sitting, and on each side of the chair, and also behind, was the figure of a lion. Round the inside is a kind of seat. Pococke changed the goddess into Homer, and the two lions on the sides of the chair into Muses. It is a rude piece of workmanship, perhaps of great antiquity, and cut in the rock (Chandler, 100.16, and the note in the French edition). The distinguished natives of Chios were Ion, the tragic writer, Theopompus, the historian, and the sophist Theocritus. (Strabo.) Also, Metrodorus, and the geographer Scymnus.

The chief town of Chios, as already observed, had the name of Chios, though Strabo does not mention the name of the city, but the passage is probably corrupt. (See Groskurd's note, vol. iii. p. 26.) It was on the east side of the island, and is now named Scio, though it seems to be called Kastro in some maps. The city and its environs are like Genoa and its territory in miniature. Some authorities (Dionys. Perieg. 535) place it at the foot of Pellenaeus, which seems to be the same name as Strabo's Pelinaeus. Probably the name of the high range of Pelinaeus may have extended as far south as the town of Chios. Chandler could not see either stadium, odeum or theatre, the usual accompaniments of every Greek town, and we know that Chios had a theatre. As there was a marble quarry in the vicinity, there was abundance of building materials. The stones of the old Greek town have, doubtless, been used for building the modern town, for marbles and basreliefs are seen in the walls of the town and of the houses. On the east side of the island was a town Delphinium, in a strong position, with harbours, and not far from Chios (Thuc. 8.38; Xen. Hell. 1.5. 15). The modern site is indicated by the name Delphino. Bolissus (Thuc. 8.24) is Volisso on the NW. coast, south of Cape S. Nicolo. Stephanus (s. v. Βολισσίς) has made a mistake in placing it in Aeolis, though he quotes Thucydides (ἐν ἐγδόη), and says that the historian calls it Boliscus. Thucydides (8.24) also mentions a place called Leuconium (Δευκώνιον), the site of which does not appear to be known. Cardamyle, also mentioned by Thucydides (8.24), as a place where the Athenians landed to attack the people of Chios, is Khardamli, a little distance from the NE. coast of the island. According to Thevenot there is a good harbour at Cardamila, as he writes it, which he places two miles from the coast. The country round Cardamyle is fertile, abounds in springs, and is well adapted for the cultivation of the vine. The situation of Caucasa (Hdt. 5.33), and Polichne (Hdt. 6.26), are not determined. Caucasa was probably on the west side of the island. The situation of the place called Coela (τὰ Κοῖλα, Hdt. 6.26) is uncertain.

The oldest inhabitants of the island were Pelasgi, according to one tradition (Eustath. ad Dion. Perieg. 533); and Strabo affirms (p. 621) that the Chians considered the Pelasgi from Thessaly, as “their settlers,” which, if it has any exact meaning, is a statement that they were descendants of Thessalian Pelasgi. In another passage (p. 632) he gives the statement of Pherecydes, that Leleges originally possessed the Ionian coast north of Ephesus, as far as Phocaea, Chios, and Samus, by which is perhaps meant that Leleges occupied Chios, from which they were ejected by the Iones. Ion, a native of Chios, following, we may suppose, local tradition, knew of no inhabitants of Chios before the three sons of Poseidon, who were born in the island then came Oenopion and his sons from Crete, who were followed by Carians, and Abantes from Euboea. Other settlers came from Histiaea in Euboea under Amphiclus. Hector, the fourth in descent from Amphiclus, fought with the Abantes and Carians, killed some of them, and made terms with the rest for their quitting the island. Things being settled, it came into Hector's mind that the people of Chios ought to join the Ionians in their religious festival at Panionium. (Paus. 7.4.8.) But Ion, as Pausanias observes, has not said how the Chians came to be included in the Ionian confederation. Chios is enumerated by Herodotus (1.18, 142) among the insular states of the Ionian confederation, and as having the same peculiar dialect or variety of the Greek language as the people of Erythrae on the opposite mainland. At the time of the conquest of Ionia by Cyrus (B.C. 546), the Chians were protected by their insular position, for the Persians at that time had no navy. They obtained from the Persians at that time a grant of the Atarneus [ATARSNEUS], for delivering up to them Pactyes, a Lydian.

The Chians joined the rest of the Ionians in the revolt against the Persians (B.C. 499), and they had 100 ships in the great sea-fight off Miletus. After the defeat of the confederates, the Persians landed in Chios, burnt the cities and temples, and carried off all the most beautiful girls (Hdt. 6.8, 32). When Xerxes (B.C. 480) invaded Greece, the Ionians had 100 ships in the Persian navy, but it is not said which states supplied them. (Hdt. 7.94.) [p. 1.611]The island was afterwards in alliance with Athens (Thuc. 1.116); and at the commencement of the Peloponnesian war, the Chians were still the allies or subjects of the Athenians. (Thuc. 2.9.) At the close of the seventh year of the war, they fell under suspicion of intending to desert the Athenians, and they, that is, the inhabitants of the town of Chios, were compelled to pull down “their new wall.” (Thuc. 4.51.) A few years afterwards (B.C. 412) they did revolt. (Thuc. 8.14-61.) The Athenians landing at Bolissus and Cardamyle, defeated the Chians and destroyed both these places. Again, the Chians were defeated at Phanae and at Leuconium, and being unable to resist, they shut themselves up in their city, while the Athenians wasted their beautiful and well cultivated island, which had suffered no calamity since the Persian invasion. The Athenians then occupied Delphinium, which was not far from the city of Chios. During the siege, many of the slaves of the Chians made their escape, for the city possessed more slaves than any other Greek city except Lacedaemon. (Thuc. 8.40.) Their slaves were not the subjugated old inhabitants of the island, but barbarians whom they bought. Being at last closely invested by the Athenians, both on the land side and by sea, the Chians suffered from famine. The town however was not taken, for the Athenians had plenty to look after in other quarters. The Athenians recovered Chios at a later period, but it again revolted, and during the Social War, the Athenians again besieged Chios (B.C. 357), and Chabrias, one of the Athenian commanders, lost his life there.

The subsequent history of Chios consists only of a few disconnected facts, but as they sent ambassadors to Greece at the same time with Ptolemy king of Egypt, the Rhodians, and the Athenians to put an end to the war between king Philip and the Aetolians (B.C. 208), we may infer that they maintained at that time an independent position. (Liv. 27.30.; comp. Plb. 5.24.) It appears from Appian (Maced. 3) that Philip took Chios, the town probably, in B.C. 201, about the same time that he ravaged the Peraea of the Rhodians. In the war of the Romans with Antiochus (B.C. 190), the Romans used Chios as a depot for their supplies from Italy (Liv. 37.27), at which time the coast of Chios was plundered by pirates, who carried off an immense booty. The Romans rewarded the Chians for their fidelity in this war with a grant of land (Liv. 38.39), but we are not told where the land was. (Plb. 22.27.) The Chians were the allies of Mithridates in a sea-fight against the Rhodians (App. Mith. 25); but as the king soon after suspected them of favouring the Romans, he sent Zenobius (B.C. 86) there to demand the surrender of their arms, and the children of the chief persons as hostages. The Chians, being unable to resist, for Zenobius had come on them unexpectedly with a large force, complied with both demands. A letter from Mithridates demanded of them 2000 talents, which the people raised by taking the valuable things from the temples, and the ornaments of the women. Zenobius, pretending that the tale was incomplete, summoned the Chians to the theatre, and drove them thence under the terror of the bare sword down to his ships in the harbour, and carried them off to the Black Sea. (Appian. Mithr. 46.) Part of them were hospitably received by the Heracleots of Bithynia, as the ships were sailing past their town, and entertained till they could return home. It appears from Appian, that at the time when Mithridates handled the Chians so roughly, Romans had settled in the island, probably in the usual way, as “negotiatores.” When Sulla (B.C. 84) had compelled Mithridates to accept his terms, he treated in a friendly way the Chians and others who had been allies with the Romans, or had suffered in the war, declared them free (Liberi), and allies and Socii of the Roman people. Cicero and Pliny speak of Chios as Libera, which terms signifies a certain amount of self-government under the Roman dominion, and a less direct subjection to the governor of a province. Chios was one of the places from which Verres carried off some statues. It does not seem to have been included in the Roman province of Asia; and indeed if the term “liberal” applied to the whole island, it would not be under a Roman governor. At a later period, Chios was one of the islands included in the Insularum Provincia, a province which seems to have been established by Vespasian.

The modern history of Scio is a repetition of old calamities. In the early part of the 14th century, the Turks took the city of Chios and massacred the people. In 1346, it fell into the hands of the Genoese, who kept it for nearly two centuries and a half, when the Turks took it from them. The condition of the people under Turkish rule was on the whole very favourable, and the island was in a prosperous condition till 1822, when the Chiots joined in the insurrection against the Turks, or, as it appears, were driven into it by some Samiotes and other Greeks. The Turks came with a powerful fleet, and slaughtered the people without mercy. The women and children were made slaves, and the town was burnt. This terrible and brutal devastation, which made a frightful desert of a well cultivated country, and a ruin of a town of near 30,000 inhabitants, gives us a more lively image of the sufferings of this unlucky island twenty-three centuries before, when the barbarous Persians ravaged it. The small islands Oenussae belonged to Chios. [OENUSSAE]



hide References (30 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (30):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.142
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.18
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.26
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.8
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.33
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.27
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.32
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.94
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.4.8
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.6.4
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.116
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.61
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.38
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.40
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 1.5.15
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 4.25
    • Polybius, Histories, 5.24
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.9
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.104
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.97
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 12.17
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.31
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 44, 28
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 37, 27
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 39
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.51
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.14
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.24
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 1.26
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