Messenia was the western part of the Peloponnesus. The country is fertile, with a beautiful climate. Its richness and prosperity excited the cupidity of the Spartans, who, after three wars, succeeded in taking possession of it. Many of the inhabitants expatriated themselves and went to Sicily, where they founded Messana (the modern Messina). When Epaminondas, the Theban, had defeated Sparta he brought back the Messenians to their country, where they remained independent till conquered by Rome. The province of Messenia, in modern Greece, is thinly-peopled and very backward.