Sack of Ilion to Seven Sages Seven Wonders of the World to Spartan Cipher Rod Sparti to Syrinx 2

Samos (1)

A Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea and within 1.24 miles (2 kilometers) of the coast of Asia Minor; Samos has an area of 183 square miles (475 square kilometers) and a coastline of 99 miles (159 kilometers).

The island of Samos played an important role in the history of ancient Greece because of its strategic location; from Samos, there is easy access to the northern Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the islands of the Kyklades (Cyclades) Group and the coast of Asia Minor; the pre-history of the island is assumed to have been dominated by settlers from Asia Minor and the Middle East.

Regarding Greek influence, the island was settled as early as the third millennium BCE by the original Greeks, known as the Pelasgians.

Circa 1300 BCE, the mythical Mykenaean (Mycenaean) king, Angaeus, founded the main city on the island which was also known as Samos.

Circa 1100 BCE, the Ionian Greeks colonized the island but were soon conquered and ruled by a king of nearby Ephesus named Androklos (Androclus); approximately ten years later, Leogoras expelled the Ephesians from the island.

Circa 700 BCE a temple dedicated to the goddess Hera was constructed on the ruins of an older building of unknown origin; Samos was thought to be favored by Hera and the island was one of her most important cult centers; the temple was destroyed by the Persians during the rule of Kyrus (Cyrus) the Great (559-529 BCE); the master-builder, Rhoikos (Rhoicos), rebuilt the temple but the temple was again destroyed by the Persians, circa 520 BCE, and this time the task of rebuilding the temple fell to Rhoikos’ son, Theodoros; the historian Herodotus cited the Temple of Hera as the largest structure in the Greek world and as one of three great accomplishments by the people of Samos; the temple was also known for its grandeur in Egypt, and honored by the Egyptian king, Amasis, when he sent two wooden statues of himself to the temple as a tribute; he also allowed the Samiots to built a sanctuary to Hera in Egypt.

Between 540 and 523 BCE, the islanders constructed a great mole (breakwater or causeway) a quarter of a mile into the sea creating a harbor.

Another great building project which has fascinated and baffled engineers throughout the ages is the aqueduct under Mount Kastro which went from Agiades Spring, through the mountain and supplied fresh water to the city of Samos (modern Pythagoreon); the tunnel was 3,399 feet (1,036 meters) in length and provided an estimated 14,126 cubic feet (400 cubic meters) of water per day; the tunnel was the work of Eupalinos of Megara and was constructed between 530 and 520 BCE.

The history of the island of Samos seems to be dominated by the notorious tyrant, Polykrates (Polycrates) (535-515 BCE); he was a man of exceeding ambition and a keen intellect; he skillfully maintained the island’s independence from the Greeks and the Persians with guile and military might until he was finally tricked and murdered by the Persians.

Samos spawned many great thinkers and artists such as: Kallistatos (Callistatus), Rhoikos, Theodoros, Saurias, Kalliphon (Calliphon) and, the greatest of them all, Pythagoras.

The hilly geography of the island is punctuated with several sheer mountains which plunge to rocky beaches; Mount Kerkis is the highest mountain on the island with a height of 4,700 feet (1,433 meters); twenty percent of the island is covered with pine forests which, in olden times, furnished the raw materials for the triremes of Polykrates’ fleet.

Aside from the exploits and death of Polykrates, Herodotus had many interesting entries about Samos:

  1. The fate of a mixing bowl the Spartans had made and were sending to the ruler of Lydia, Kroesus (Croesus) became a mystery and a point of contention between Samos and Sparta; Kroesus had humbly and graciously solicited the Spartans for their friendship because he intended to make war on the Persians; the Spartans accepted Kroesus’ gifts and sent a large bronze bowl to show their willingness to be his ally; while the bowl was in transit, Kroesus and his kingdom were captured by the Persians; the gigantic bowl disappeared; the Spartans said that the bowl had been stolen on Samos but the Samiots maintained that the Spartans, who had been entrusted with the delivery of the bowl, had sold it to pirates;
  2. Herodotus states that the Samiots, although they were Ionian colonists, spoke their own unique dialect of the Greek language; and
  3. during the Ionian Revolt against the Persians circa 498 BCE, the Samiots disgraced themselves by fleeing in the face of the Persian fleet.

In some translations of the older Greek texts (The Odyssey by Homer in particular), the island of Samos and the island of Same are regarded as identical; the two names seem to be used interchangeably even though the island to which the text is referring is near Odysseus’ home island of Ithaka (Ithaca); in many cases, the Greek text clearly says Samos, but the context denies that fact; at other times, the text calls the island Same; as I understand the distinction, Same was the name of the island which was later called Kephallenia (Cephallenia) and is very near Ithaka (Samos is 500+ miles (800+ kilometers) by sea from Ithaka); as to how and why the islands of Samos and Same are equated, I have no explanation; some translators, such as Robert Fitzgerald, avoid this confusing problem by simply not calling the island by name.

Approximate east longitude 26.44 and north latitude 37.48.

  • Histories, book 1, chapters 70 and 142; book 2, chapters 148 and 182; book 3, chapter 39, 40, 44-46, 54-60, 120-123, 142-149; book 4, chapter 95, 162; book 5, chapter 112; book 6, chapter 8 and 14; book 9, chapter 90
  • Anabasis, book 1, vii 5
  • Iliad, book 2, line 634 (Samos)
  • Odyssey, book 1, line 246 (Same); book 4, lines 671 (Samos) and 845 (Samos); book 9, line 24 (Same); book 15, lines 29 (Samos) and 367 (Same); book 16, lines 123 (Same) and 249 (Same); book 19, line 131(Same); book 20, line 288 (Same)
  • How to Cite this Page

    Cut and paste the following text for use in a paper or electronic document report.

    Stewart, Michael. "People, Places & Things: Samos (1)", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant.

    Cut and paste the following html for use in a web report.

    Stewart, Michael. &quot;People, Places &amp; Things: Samos (1)&quot;, <i>Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant</i>.

    Cut and paste the following html for use in a web report. This format will link back to this page, which may be useful but may not be required.

    Stewart, Michael. &quot;People, Places &amp; Things: Samos (1)&quot;, <i>Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant</i>. <a href=""></a>

    Sack of Ilion to Seven Sages Seven Wonders of the World to Spartan Cipher Rod Sparti to Syrinx 2


    Home • Essays • People, Places & Things • The Immortals
    Greek Myths Bookshop • Fun Fact Quiz • Search/Browse • Links • About