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Elea (Ἐλέα), also called Hyele (Ὑέλη) or Velia by the Romans, was a Greek coastal city founded around 535 BC in Lucania in southern Italy, 15 miles southeast of the Gulf of Salerno. It is best know as the home of the philosophers Parmenides and Zeno of Elea, as well as the Eleatic school of which they were a part.


Elea was founded by Phocaean Greeks fleeing the Persian invasion of Ionia on the western coast of present-day Turkey around 545 BC. Finally in 535 they reached the region of Elea after a battle with the Etruscans in Alalia around 540 BC where the Phocaeans had significant loses

Velia Ruins

Elea, together with the rest of the Greek colonies in southern coastal Italy, formed the so-called Magna Graecia, the Greek expansion into southern Italy, which began in the 8th century BC. It remained independent longer than many Greek cities in Italy, finally becoming an ally of Rome around 275 BC, and, as a result of the Social War or Italian War, it gained the Roman franchise as a citizen municipium in 90-89 BC. It was abandoned in the middle ages and today it is the site of extensive ruins situated inside the Cilento National Park.

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