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Lesbos

Lesbos (lĕzˈbŏs) [key] or Lésvos lāzˈvôs, island (1991 pop. 87,151), c.630 sq mi (1,630 sq km), E Greece, in the Aegean Sea near Turkey. A fertile island, it has vast olive groves and also produces wheat, wine, and citrus fruit. Fishing, tanning, and livestock raising are significant industries. Mitilíni is the island's chief town. Lesbos was a center of Bronze Age civilization and later (c.1000 B.C.) was settled by Aeolians. The island was a brilliant cultural center from the 7th to the 6th cent. B.C., when the poets Alcaeus and Sappho and the statesman Pittacus were active there. Aristotle and Epicurus lived on the island, and Theophrastus was born on Lesbos. Lesbos joined the Delian League and revolted unsuccessfully against Athens in 428–27 B.C. Later, Lesbos passed to Macedonia, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire. It was taken by the Ottoman Turks in 1462 and became part of Greece in 1913. The island is sometimes known as Mytilene, which is a variation of Mitilíni.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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