Ancient Mende is referred to by Thucydides as a colony of Eretria, founded on Pallene (modern Kassandra), the most westerly of the three prongs of the Chalchidiki peninsula. We do not know the date of its foundation, but the presence of Eretrians and Chalkideans in Northern Greece goes back generally to the time of the second colonisation in the 8th c. BC.
The city owed its name to the aromatic minthe plant, a type of mint, which still grows in the region. Its great economic prosperity as early as the beginning of the 6th c. BC is shown by the wide circulation of its coins and was chiefly owing to its export of the famous "Mendean wine". Mende was also the birthplace of the well-known sculptor, Paionios, who made the statue of Nike at Olympia. In the 5th c. the city was one of Athens' most powerful allies, but during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) it defected, which resulted in its siege and pillage by the Athenians. In the mid 4th c. the city was captured by Philip II and thereafter steadily declined.