The name Magna Grecia derives from the Greek Megale Hellás and it means in Italian Great Greece.
This name, of origin, a great deal uncertain, it is given from the complex of the poleis Greek fate on the coasts of southern Italy, for the greatest part between the VIII and the VI century a.C., whose inhabitants were said Italioti. In the current use it is also amiss sometimes express to the Hellenic poleises of Sicily. it is probably to exclude a real colonization, the testimonies of archaeology and mythology document relationships to the sure demand of rents between these regions and Greece Micenea, probably of commercial nature. An effective and substantial number of Greek people had him, therefore, only beginning from the VII sec. a.C. according to the tradition with the foundation of Cuma in Campania from the "CALCIDESI" and "ERITRESI" that with the "ACHEI" they were between the most active in the work of colonization (Reggio, Naples, Metaponto, Caulonia, Poseidonia, etc.), imitated in small measure from the "Locresi" (Locri Epizefiri) and from the "spartani" (Taranto, that in turn Eraclea founded). Groups of exiles on the ionic coast were taken office to Siri and Elea; finally in the 444 a.C. for initiative of the Athenian Pericle it was deduced the colony "Panellenica" of "Turi", to the place of the destroyed Sibari. Thanks to the fertile one within earth and the intense commercial trade developed soon there a great deal, the "poleis Italiote" reached an extraordinary economic prosperity precociously and they elaborated a splendid and original civilization, that, being essentially Greek fret, heard again also in notable measure of the isolation of the mother country and of the influences of varied cultures and he expressed therefore in characteristic forms in the figurative arts, as in literature, in the religion ("orfismo"), in philosophy ("pitagorismo" and school "eleatica"). "Italiota" was also a famous Greek athlete the famous Milone of Crotone. An "anfizionia" (that is representative of the Greek cities gathered for discussing some common affairs) it was the center in the sanctuary of Era to the Capo Lacinio, which gave a semblance of unity to the "poleis Italiote", which yet with the innate Greek particularism they were more often in struggle among them. Unlike those "siceliote", were sustained in the extraneous complex to the political circumstances of the mother country. Between the first ones to emerge they were Taranto and Sibari, that it became well soon rather proverbial for his luxury, but that it was then completely destroyed from the rival Crotone which, in turn it started to decay a little afterwards, so that at the end of the V century to. C. Taranto can affirm uncontested like the greatest power of Magna Grecia. Then it started to make more and more serious the threat of the native populations, Lucani, Bruzi, Messapi, Sanniti that, from the inside they pressed toward the coast, besides, they found an ambitious ally: the old Dionisio in Syracuse, so that the league Italiota strongly against them he had not resulted positive. To defend from their attacks, Taranto resorted to the help with alternate success of Greek commanders (Archidamo III of Sparta, Alexander I, the "milosso" of Epiro), while the other cities did recourse to the Roman protection. Rome from his part in the turn of some decade, imposed pacifically now, now with weapons the own hegemony, breaking the power in Taranto, that had applied in vain to the alliance with the king Epiro, Pirro II (war "tarantina", 282 and 272 a.Cs.) smothered therefore also the last velleities of independence aroused from the war "Annibaliaca", the Roman dominion on Magna Grecia it remained uncontested. For the cities "Italiote" started so, it seems, a period of decadence that however obviously it was not neither equally rapid neither equally serious for everybody and not even maimed of periods of notable resumption. Instead from the artistic and cultural point of view they are also centers of diffusion of the Hellenism in the western world, they more ever practiced then a conclusive influence on the whole Roman and italic civilization: then the complex of the artistic demonstrations develops in the centers of Magna Grecia constitutes the art "Italiota".