These Ionians to whom belongs the Panionion [meeting place of the Ionian League] had the fortune to build their cities in the most favourable position for climate and seasons of any men whom we know: for neither the regions above Ionia nor those below, neither those towards the East nor those towards the West, produce the same results as Ionia itself, the regions in the one direction being oppressed by cold and moisture, and those in the other by heat and drought.
Believed by some to be the birthplace of Homer, and certainly that of Herodotus (quoted above), the west coast of what is now Turkey played a prominent role in Greek history.
According to Greek tradition, the cities of Ionia were founded by colonists from the other side of the Aegean. Their settlement was connected with the legendary history of the Ionic people in Attica, which claims that the colonists were led by Neleus and Androclus, sons of Codrus, the last king of Athens. In accordance with this view the ‘Ionic migration’, as it was called, was dated by them 140 years after the Trojan War, or 60 years after the return of the Heracleidae into the Peloponnese.
The victories of the Greeks during the Persian War and the liberation of Thrace, Macedon, and Ionia from the Persian Empire had the effect of enfranchising their kinsmen on the other side of the Aegean; and the battle of Mycale (479 BC), in which the defeat of the Persians was to a large extent owing to the Ionians, secured their emancipation. Thereafter they became the dependent allies of Athens (as members of the Delian League), though still retaining their autonomy; this they preserved until the peace of Antalcidas in 387 BC once again placed them (as well as the other Greek cities in Asia) under the nominal control of Persia.