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date: 05 March 2021


  • Edward Togo Salmon
  •  and Simon Hornblower


Messapii were the inhabitants of the ‘heel’ of Italy, the Sallentine peninsula (see Calabria). Together with the Daunians and Peucetii they made up the people known collectively as ‘Iapygians’ (Polyb. 3. 88. 3, contrast 2. 24. 11, with Walbank, HCP on both passages). For their language see Messapic language. There was constant tension and warfare between the Messapians and Sparta's nearby colony *Tarentum: see Syll.3 21 and 40 a (Jeffery, LSAG pp. 281 and 284 nos. 6 and 7); and Hdt. 7. 170 for a massacre of Tarentines and allied Rhegines (see Rhegium) by Messapians. King Artas of Messapia, a *proxenos of Athens (M. Walbank, Athenian Proxenies of the Fifth Century BC (1978), no. 70), was allied to Athens against Sparta by 413 bce:. 7. 33; this is consistent with usual Messapian policy against Tarentum (see above). But despite this hostility, there was some cultural and religious borrowing from Tarentum, and the traffic may have been two-way on the evidence of the appearance of the words ‘Zeus Messapeus’ on an inscribed 6th-cent. Laconian bowl (SEG 39.

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