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Locri, Ancient Greek

LOCRI, ANCIENT GREEK, a people of ancient Greece, inhabiting two distinct districts, one extending from the north-east of Parnassus to the northern half of the Euboean channel, between Boeotia and Malis, the other south-west of Parnassus, on the north shore of the Corinthian Gulf, between Phocis and Aetolia. The former were divided into the northern Locri Epicnemidii, situated on the spurs of Mount Cnemis, and the southern Locri Opuntii, so named from their chief town Opus (q.v.) : and the name Opuntia is often applied to the whole of this easterly district. Homer mentions only these eastern Locrians: their national hero in the Trojan War is Ajax Oileus, who often appears afterwards on Locrian coins. From Hesiod's time onwards, the Opuntians were thought by some to be of " Lelegian " origin (see LELEGES), but they were Hellenized early (though matriarchal customs survived among them) , and Deucalion, the father of Hellen himself, is described as the first king of Opus. The westerly Locri " in Ozolae " on the Corinthian Gulf, a rude and barbarous people, make no appearance in Greek history till the Peloponnesian War. It was believed that they had separated from the eastern Locrians four generations before the Trojan War; yet Homer has no hint of their existence. Probably the Locrians were once a single people, extending from sea to sea, till subsequent immigrations forced them apart into two separate districts. The Locrian dialect of Greek is little known, but resembles that of Elis: it has or for ad; uses a; and has o in dat. plur. 3rd decl. A colony of Locrians (whether from Opus or Ozolae was disputed in antiquity) settled, about the end of the 8th century B.C., at the south-west extremity of Italy. They are often called Locri Epizephyrii from Cape Zephyrion 15 m. S. of the city. Their founder's name was Euanthes. Their social organization resembled that of the Opuntian Locri, and like them they venerated Ajax Oileus and Persephone. Aristotle (ap. Polyb. xii. 5 sqq.) records a tradition that these Western Locrians were base-born, like the Parthenians of Tarentum; but this was disputed by his contemporary Timaeus. See LOCRI (town) below. (J. L. M.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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