Croton is a city in Calabria, southern Italy, on the Ionian Sea. Founded circa 710 BC as the Achaean colony of Croton (Greek: Κρότων; Modern Greek: Κρότωνας), it was known as Cotrone from the Middle Ages until 1928, when its name was changed to Crotone.
Croton was long one of the most flourishing cities of Magna Graecia. Its inhabitants were famous for their physical strength and for the simple sobriety of their lives. From 588 BC onwards, Croton produced many generations of victors in the Olympics and the other Panhellenic Games, the most famous of whom was Milo of Croton. According to Herodotus (3.131), the physicians of Croton were considered the foremost among the Greeks. Pythagoras founded his school, the Pythagoreans, at Croton circa 530 BC. Among his pupils were the early medical theorist Alcmaeon of Croton and the philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer Philolaus. The Pythagoreans acquired considerable influence with the supreme council of one thousand by which the city was ruled. Sybaris was the rival of Croton until 510 BC, when Croton sent an army of one hundred thousand men, commanded by the wrestler Milo, against Sybaris and destroyed it. Shortly afterwards, however, an insurrection took place, by which the Pythagoreans were driven out and a democracy established.
In 480 BC, Croton sent a ship in support of the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis (Herodotus 8.47), but the victory of Locri and Rhegion over Croton in the same year marked the beginning of its decline. It was replaced by Heraclea as headquarters of the Italiote League. Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, aiming at hegemony in Magna Graecia, captured Croton in 379 BC and held it for twelve years. Croton was then occupied by the Bruttii, with the exception of the citadel, in which the chief inhabitants had taken refuge; these, being unable to defend the place against a Carthaginian force, soon after surrendered, and were allowed to withdraw to Locri.
In 295 BC, Croton fell to another Syracusan tyrant, Agathocles. When Pyrrhus invaded Italy (280-278, 275 BC), Croton was still a considerable city, with twelve miles of walls, but after the Pyrrhic War, half the city was deserted (Livy 24.3). What was left of its population submitted to Rome in 277 BC. After the Battle of Cannae in the Second Punic War (216 BC), Croton revolted from Rome, and Hannibal made it his winter quarters for three years; it was not recaptured until 205 or 204 BC. In 194 BC, it became the site of a Roman colony. Little more is heard of it during the Republican and Imperial periods, though the action of one of the more significant surviving fragments of the Satyricon of Petronius is set in Croton.
Around 550, the city was unsuccessfully besieged by Totila, king of the Ostrogoths. At a later date it became a part of the Byzantine Empire. About 870 it was taken and sacked by the Saracens, who put to death the bishop and many people who had taken refuge in the cathedral. Over a hundred years later, Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor, mounted a campaign in southern Italy to drive them out and reduce the power of the Byzantines, but was defeated by a Kalbid army near Cotrone on July 13, 982. Later on Cotrone was conquered by the Normans. Thereafter it shared the fate of the Kingdom of Naples—including the period of Spanish rule of which the 16th-century castle of Charles V, overlooking modern Crotone, serves as a reminder—and its successor, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which was conquered by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1860 and incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
Croton hosts a national archaeological museum, a municipal museum, a municipal art gallery, and a provincial museum of contemporary art, as well as the Antiquarium di Torre Nao.