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Rhegium (hrayg'-ee-on, Hebrew: Ῥήγιον)[1] is an ancient city, identified in the location of modern-day Reggio Calabria,[2] located in southern Italy, located opposite of the city of Messina on the island of Sicily. Rhegium is also named by the early Christian Paul on one of his travelling journeys.[3] Today, the modern-day city of Rheggio has over 10,000 inhabitants.[4]


The origins of the name Rhegium is in question, as two of our ancient sources contradict each other on this issue. According to Aeschylus, the name Rhegium derives from the Greek word meaning “to rend, split, break,” however, Strabo claims that the term derives from the Latin word 'royal' (regium).[5]


The ancient city of Rhegium was founded as a colony in 743 BC by Greek Aeolian Chalcidians from Euboea at the time of the first Messian war. Rhegium clearly became a powerful city, capable of sending over 3,000 men to assist the Tarentines in battle, and by the 3rd century BC it possessed over 80 warships. In the year 387 BC, it was captured by Dionysus of Syracuse, and destroyed, with its people being taken and sold into slavery.[6] Later on, in the third century BC, the city of Rhegium was being threatened by the forthcoming invasion of Italy by the Greek general Pyrrhus in 280 BC, and so it petitioned Rome to provide it with military assistance. In response, Rome sent a garrison of over 4,000 men. However, in 279 BC, rather than aiding the people of Rhegium, the garrison devastatingly plundered the city. The men of Rhegium were either killed or driven out, and the Roman garrison took possession of the women and children and subsequently forced them into slavery.[7] Rome, because it was too preoccupied with the battle against Pyrrhus, did not immediately take notice of these acts. However, in 270 BC, Rome greatly punished the garrison that committed these crimes, and returned the men who were driven out back to their city, and partially restored the city to its former state.[8]

Rhegium is an ancient city