Magna Graecia: Greater Greece


This article will cover Magana Graecia. Also known as Greater Greece, the article will cover Magna Graecia’s early Greek colonies, the Greek temples, Greater Greece’s name, and Magna Graecia’s coin minting.

The Greek Colonies

Starting around 800 BCE, Greek settlers began showing up on the shores of what we know today as Sicily. The need for fertile land and new resources mostly drove these travelers. Just like the Greeks from mainland Greece these Greek travelers and settlements brought Greek culture with them.

The colonies eventually started mixing in with the indigenous population. This would be one of the ways the Etruscan people would learn about and eventually adopt the Greek alphabet. Some of these colonies, such as Naples, Syracuse, Akragas, Taras, Rhegion, and Kroton, were built into decent-sized cities and remain in use today.


Greek Temples

Like anywhere the Greeks went, they would build temples for their various gods and goddesses or for various other/secondary uses within the community. While you can travel to Athens and other areas of Greece, people are unaware that some of the most intact Greek temples actually reside in Sicily/Southern Italy.

One famous example is the Temple of Hera at the Paestum UNESCO World Heritage site. The archaeological site is located in the Italian Province of Salerno Campania. Greek temples in Magna Graecia most likely served a similar purpose to those in ancient mainland Greece. They were also built similarly to their mainland Greek counterparts.

Magna Graecia greek temples Greter Greece
Temple of Hera at famous Paestum Archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site, which contains some of the most well-preserved ancient Greek temples in the world, Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy

Greater Greece

Magna Graecia was actually a name given to the area by the Romans. As stated above, it originally referred to the coastal Greek settlements. The original Greek name for the area was Megálē Hellás. We get Magna Graecia from the Romans translating the Greek version of the name into Latin.

Southern Italy would become an important center for many different cultures over the centuries. This is one of the reasons southern Italy is considered so distinct compared to its Northern Italian neighbors. However, even in modern times, the influence of this period remains. Southern Italy still has pockets of proud ethnically Greek people who claim descent from the original Greek settlers.


Magna Graecia Coinage

Coin minting began in Magna Graecia around the same time other Greeks cities did. Like everything else, the coins minted within Magna Graecia by the greek colonies were based on Greek culture. This means many of their coins had a similar weight and or size to mainland Greece’s coinage.

There’s a myth/theory about Pythagoras, who likely died while living within Magna Gracia. Many Magna Graecia coins are minted with logos centered on the obverse and reverse throughout the minting process. It is believed that Pythagoras either gave advice or developed the minting technique that allowed the coins to be struck with the images and writing remaining centered, but this theory cannot be confirmed.

Magna Graecia coinage
Treasury of ancient Greek silver coins on dark background

Greek Silver Coins

Within Magna Graecia were many cities, and many of these cities minted their own Greek coinage. Below is the link to the ancient Greek silver coins we currently have in stock.

Lucania, Metapontum. Ca. 470-440 B.C. AR Nomos.

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.