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In 455 BC, during the First Peloponnesian War, it was besieged and captured by the Athenian admiral Tolmides along with 50 triremes and 4,000 hoplites.The Spartan leadership of the Peloponnese lasted until 371 BC, when the Thebans under Epaminondas defeated them at Leuctra.

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They were also formerly known as Mainotes and the peninsula as Maina.This signified the beginning of the "Golden Age" of the Koinon.Contrary to the rest of Greece, Mani flourished under the Romans, because of its respectful obedience to Rome.During the 12th century BC, the Dorians invaded Laconia.The Dorians settled originally at Sparta, but they soon started to expand their territory and by around 800 BC they had occupied Mani and the rest of Laconia. During that time, the Phoenicians came to Mani and were thought to have established a colony at Gythion (Roman name: Gythium).Maniots are described as descendants of the ancient Dorian population of the Peloponnese and as such related to the ancient Spartans.

The terrain is mountainous and inaccessible (until recently many Mani villages could be accessed only by sea), and the regional name "Mani" is thought to have meant originally "dry" or "barren".

The name "Maniot" is a derivative meaning "of Mani".

In the early modern period, Maniots had a reputation as fierce and proudly independent warriors, who practiced piracy and fierce blood feuds.

The Maniots suffered from pirate raids by Cretans and Cilicians who plundered Mani and pillaged the temple of Poseidon.

The Maniots were delivered from the pirates when Pompey the Great defeated them.

The conflict resulted in the destruction of Corinth by the forces of Lucius Mummius Achaicus and the annexation of the Achaean League by the Roman Republic.