), a group of islands in the Aegaean Sea, lying to the south of Attica and Euboea, and so called because they lay in a circle (ἐν κύκλῳ
) around Delos, the smallest but the most important of them.
According to Strabo (x. p.485
) they were originally only twelve in number; namely, Ceos, Cythnos, Seriphos, Melos, Siphnos, Cimolos, Paros, Naxos, Syros
, Myconos, Tenos, Andros. To these Artemidorus added Prepesinthos, Oliaros, and Cyaros, thus making them fifteen. (Strab. l.c.
) Scylax differs from all other writers in making two groups of Cyclades, a northern and a southern.
In the northern he places Ceos, Helena, Cythnos, Seriphos, Siphnos, Paros, Naxos, Delos, Rhene, Scyros (an error probably of the transcriber, for Syros
), Myconos, Tenos, Andros. (Scylax, p. 22
In the southern group he specifies Melos, Cimolos, Oliaros, Sicinos, Thera, Anaphe, Astypalaea. (Ibid. p. 18.) Most authorities, however, make the Cyclades consist of the twelve islands mentioned by Strabo, with the exception that they substitute Rhene or Rheneia for Melos, which is certainly more correct, since Melos scarcely lay within the circle. Accordingly the twelve, taking them in a circle from the NW. are; Ceos, Cythnos, Seriphos, Siphnos, Paros, Naxos, Delos, Rheneia, Myconos, Syros
, Tenos, Andros. Mela (2.7), probably only through inadvertence, omits Ceos, and names Sicinos instead of Cythnos. Pliny (4.12. s. 22
) follows Artemidorus in including Prepesinthos, Oliaros and Cyaros.
According to Thucydides (1.4
) the Cyclades were originally inhabited by Carians, who were expelled by Minos. (Comp. Hdt. 1.171
.) They were afterwards colonized by Ionians and Dorians, principally by the former.
The history of each is given under its own name.