1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chios

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CHIOS, an island on the west coast of Asia Minor, called by the Greeks Chios (Χίος ᾽σ τὴ Χίο) and by the Turks Saki Adasi; the soft pronunciation of Χ before ι in modern Greek, approximating to sh, caused Χίο to be Italianized as Scio. It forms, with the islands of Psara, Nikaria, Leros, Calymnus and Cos, a sanjak of the Archipelago vilayet. Chios is about 30 m. long from N. to S., and from 8 to 15 m. broad; pop. 64,000. It well deserves the epithet “craggy” (παιπαλόεσσα) of the Homeric hymn. Its figs were noted in ancient times, but wine and gum mastic have always been the most important products. The climate is healthy; oranges, olives and even palms grow freely. The wine grown on the N.W. coast, in the district called by Strabo Ariusia, was known as vinum Arvisium. Early in the 7th century B.C. Glaucus of Chios discovered the process of welding iron (κόλλησις: see J. G. Frazer’s Pausanias, note on x. 16. 1, vol. v. pp. 313-314), and the iron stand of a large crater whose parts were all connected by this process was constructed by him, and preserved as one of the most interesting relics of antiquity at Delphi. The long line of Chian sculptors (see Greek Art) in marble bears witness to the fame of Chian art. In literature the chief glory of Chios was the school of epic poets called Homeridae, who helped to create a received text of Homer and gave the island the reputation of being the poet’s birthplace. The chief town, Chios (pop. 16,000), is on the E. coast. A theatre and a temple of Athena Poliuchus existed in the ancient city. About 6 m. N. of the city there is a curious monument of antiquity, commonly called “the school of Homer”; it is a very ancient sanctuary of Cybele, with an altar and a figure of the goddess with her two lions, cut out of the native rock on the summit of a hill. On the west coast there is a monastery of great wealth with a church founded by Constantine IX. Monomachus (1042–1054). Starting from the city and encompassing the island, one passes in succession the promontory Posidium; Cape Phanae, the southern extremity of Chios, with a harbour and a temple of Apollo; Notium, probably the south-western point of the island; Laii, opposite the city of Chios, where the island is narrowest; the town Bolissus (now Volisso), the home of the Homerid poets; Melaena, the north-western point; the wine-growing district Ariusia; Cardamyle (now Cardhamili); the north-eastern promontory was probably named Phlium, and the mountains that cross the northern part of the island Pelinaeus or Pellenaeus.

The history of Chios is very obscure. According to Pherecydes, the original inhabitants were Leleges, while according to other accounts Thessalian Pelasgi possessed the island before it became an Ionian state. The name Aethalia, common to Chios and Lemnos in very early times, suggests the original existence of a homogeneous population in these and other neighbouring islands. Oenopion, a mythical hero, son of Dionysus or of Rhadamanthus, was an early king of Chios. His successor in the fourth generation, Hector, united the island to the Ionian confederacy (Pausan. vii. 4), though Strabo (xiv. p. 633) implies an actual conquest by Ionian settlers. The regal government was at a later time exchanged for an oligarchy or a democracy. The names of two tyrants, Amphiclus and Polytecnus, are mentioned. The products of the island were largely exported on the ships of Miletus, with which city Chios formed a close mercantile alliance in opposition to the rival league of Phocaea and Samos. Similar commercial considerations determined the Chians in their attitude towards the Persian conquerors: in 546 they submitted to Cyrus as eagerly as Phocaea resisted him; during the Ionian revolt their fleet of 100 sail joined the Milesians in offering a desperate opposition at Lade (494). The island was subsequently punished with great rigour by the Persians. The Chian ships, under the tyrant Strattis, served in the Persian fleet at Salamis. After its liberation in 479 Chios joined the Delian League and long remained a firm ally of the Athenians, who allowed it to retain full autonomy. But in 413 the island revolted, and was not recaptured. After the Peloponnesian War it took the first opportunity to renew the Athenian alliance, but in 357 again seceded. As a member of the Delian League it had regained its prosperity, being able to equip a fleet of 50 or 60 sail. Moreover, it was reputed one of the best-governed states in Greece, for although it was governed alternately by oligarchs and democrats neither party persecuted the other severely. It was not till late in the 4th century that civil dissension became a danger to the state, leaving it a prey to Idrieus, the dynast of Caria (346), and to the Persian admiral Memnon (333). During the Hellenistic age Chios maintained itself in a virtually independent position. It supported the Romans in their Eastern wars, and was made a “free and allied state.” Under Roman and Byzantine rule industry and commerce were undisturbed, its chief export at this time being the Arvisian wine, which had become very popular. After temporary occupations by the Seljuk Turks (1089–1092) and by the Venetians (1124–1125, 1172, 1204–1225), it was given in fief to the Genoese family of Zaccaria, and in 1346 passed definitely into the hands of a Genoese maona, or trading company, which was organized in 1362 under the name of “the Giustiniani.” This mercantile brotherhood, formerly a privileged class, alone exploited the mastic trade; at the same time the Greeks were allowed to retain their rights of self-government and continued to exercise their industries. In 1415 the Genoese became tributary to the Ottomans. In spite of occasional secessions which brought severe punishment upon the island (1453, 1479), the rule of the Giustiniani was not abolished till 1566. Under the Ottoman government the prosperity of Chios was hardly affected. But the island underwent severe periods of suffering after its capture and reconquest from the Florentines (1595) and the Venetians (1694–1695), which greatly reduced the number of the Latins. Worst of all were the massacres of 1822, which followed upon an attack by some Greek insurgents executed against the will of the natives. In 1881 Chios was visited by a very severe earthquake in which over 5600 persons lost their lives and more than half the villages were seriously damaged. The island has now recovered its prosperity. There is a harbour at Castro, and steam flour-mills, foundries and tanneries have been established. Rich antimony and calamine mines are worked by a French undertaking, and good marble is quarried by an Italian company.

Authorities.—Strabo xiv. pp. 632 f.; Athenaeus vi. 265-266; Herodotus i. 160–165, vi. 15-31; Thucydides viii. 14-61; Corpus Inscr. Atticarum, iv. (2), pp. 9, 10; H. Houssaye in Revue des deux mondes, xlvi. (1876), pp. 1 ff.; T. Bent in Historical Review (1889), pp. 467-480; Fustel de Coulanges, L’Île de Chio (ed. Jullian, Paris, 1893); for coinage, B. V. Head, Historia numorum (Oxford, 1887), pp. 513-515, and Numismatics: Greek.  (E. Gr.; M. O. B. C.)