Sybaris, an ancient Greek city of Lucania, in S. Italy, on the W. shore of the Tarentine gulf, between the rivers Crathis (now Crati) and Sybaris (Coscile), a short distance from the sea. It was founded by an Achrean colony about 720 B. C. The surrounding country was very fertile, and having large accessions from native Italian tribes, freely admitted to citizenship, the city rose rapidly to great wealth and power. When most prosperous, about 200 years after its foundation, Strabo says it was 50 stadia in circumference, ruled over 25 subject cities, and could muster an army of 300,000 men; while the knights in their religious processions numbered 5,000, or four times as many as the same class of citizens in Athens. Sybaris founded Posido-nia, Laus, and Scidrus, and traded extensively. Its citizens were famed for effeminacy and love of luxury. Athenaeus said no craft was permitted in the city which made a noise that might disturb the citizens; yet the arts conducive to pleasurable life were amply fostered. The aristocracy ruled till about 510 B. C, when Telys, a demagogue heading a democratic party, drove out the wealthier citizens and rulers, and raised himself to the position of tyrant, Of the exiled nobles 500 took refuge at Crotona, and Telys demanded their surrender.
This was refused, and a war ensued in which a largo armv of Sybarites was beaten by one third the number of the Orotfmiats, who sacked Sybaris, and turned the course of the river Crathis so that the city was inundated and buried in the deposits that the river brought down. Sybaris was never restored; its site is now a malarious marsh, and its exact position cannot be determined. Its surviving inhabitants, after remaining for many years at Laus and Scidrus, founded near it with Athenian colonists, the city of Thurii.