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Ancient Sicilia - A large island in the Mediterranean Sea, off the southern coast of Italy. It was also a very important island in the history of the Roman Empire. The modern name of the island is Sicily, from the ancient tribes of Siceli. To the ancient Greeks it was called Thrinacia (three cornered) and the Romans called it Triquetra.

Sicily (Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia, [siˈtʃiːlja]) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, comprising an autonomous region of Italy. Minor islands around it, such as the Aegadian Islands, Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria, Lampedusa are part of Sicily. Its official name is Regione Autonoma Siciliana (English: Sicilian Autonomous Region).

Ancient History. Greece began to make peace with the Roman Republic in 262 BC and the Romans sought to annex Sicily as its empire's first province. Rome intervened in the First Punic War, crushing Carthage so that by 242 BC Sicily had become the first Roman province outside of the Italian Peninsula. The Second Punic War, in which Archimedes was murdered, saw Carthage trying to take Sicily from the Roman Empire. They failed and this time Rome was even more unrelenting in the annihilation of the invaders; during 210 BC the Roman consul M. Valerian, told the Roman Senate that "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily". Sicily served a level of high importance for the Romans as it acted as the empire's granary, it was divided into two quaestorships in the form of Syracuse to the east and Lilybaeum to the west. Although under Augustus some attempt was made to introduce the Latin language to the island, Sicily was allowed to remain largely Greek in a cultural sense, rather than a complete cultural Romanisation. When Verres became governor of Sicily, the once prosperous and contented people were put into sharp decline, in 70 BC noted figure Cicero condemned the misgovernment of Verres in his oration In Verrem. The island was used as a base of power numerous times, being occupied by slave insurgents during the First and Second Servile Wars, and by Sextus Pompey during the Sicilian revolt. Christianity first appeared in Sicily during the years following AD 200; between this time and AD 313 when Constantine the Great finally lifted the prohibition on Christianity, a significant number of Sicilians became martyrs such as Agatha, Christina, Lucy, Euplius and many more. Christianity grew rapidly in Sicily during the next two centuries. The period of history where Sicily was a Roman province lasted for around 700 years in total. - Wikipedia

Sicilia (Sicania, Trinacria) ins., an isl. of Italy, in the Mediterranean, bet. Italy and Africa. Named Sicilia from the Siculi, Sicania from the Sicani, and Trinacria from the three great promontories marking its triangular outline. By some writers it is considered to be the Thrinakria of Homer. Sicily. - Classical Gazetteer

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(S??e??a). Sicily; a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, off the southern coast of Italy. It was anciently identified with the Thrinacia (T???a??a) of Homer, and is styled Trinacria and Trinacris, names supposed to mean “three-cornered,” whence the Romans likewise styled the island Triquetra (cf. Lucret. i. 717). The names Sicilia and Sicania come from that of its early inhabitants—the Siceli or Sicani. It is separated from Italy by the narrow channel called Fretum Siculum or simply Fretum (????µ??), also Scyllaeum Fretum, now the Strait of Messina. The part of the Mediterranean lying to the east and south of the island was called Maré Siculum. Sicily is in the shape of a triangle, the north and south sides of which are about 175 miles long exclusive of the windings of the coast; the eastern side has a length of 115 miles. The northwestern point was the Promontorium Lilybaeum; the northeastern point, Promontorium Pelorus, and the southeastern point, Promontorium Pachynus. Sicily was originally a part of Italy, and was torn from it by some great convulsion of nature. A mountain range (Nebrodi Montes) extends through it as a continuation of the Apennines. Of this range the most important offshoots are Mount Aetna on the east of the island, Mount Eryx (S. Giuliano) on the west, and the Heraei Montes (Monti Sori) in the south. A number of small rivers have their sources in the mountains, but most of them are dry, or nearly so, in the summer. The soil of Sicily was very fertile, and produced in antiquity an immense quantity of wheat, on which the population of Rome relied to a great extent for their subsistence. So celebrated was it even in early times on account of its corn that it was represented as sacred to Demeter, and as the favourite abode of this goddess. Hence it was in this island that her daughter Persephoné was carried away by Pluto. Besides corn, the island produced excellent wine, saffron, honey, almonds, and the other Southern fruits.

The earliest inhabitants of Sicily are said to have been the savage Cyclopes and Laestrygones; but these are fabulous beings, and the first inhabitants mentioned in history are the Sicani (S??a???) or Siculi (S??e???), who crossed over into the island from Italy. Some writers, indeed, regard the Sicani and Siculi as two distinct tribes, supposing the latter only to have migrated from Italy, and the former to have been the aboriginal inhabitants of the country; but there is no good reason for making any distinction between them. They appear to have been a Keltic people. According to Thucydides, their original settlement was on the river Sicanus in Iberia; but as Thucydides extends Iberia as far as the Rhône, it is probable that Sicanus was a river of Gaul, and it may have been the Sequana, as some modern writers suppose. The ancient writers relate that these Sicani, being hard pressed by the Ligyes (Ligures), crossed the Alps and settled in Latium; that, being driven out of this country by the Aborigines with the help of Pelasgians, they migrated to the south of the peninsnla, where they lived for a considerable time along with the Oenotrians, but finally crossed over into Sicily, to which they gave their name. They soon spread over the greater part of the island, but in later times were found chiefly in the interior and in the northern part; some of the most important towns belonging to them were Herbita, Agyrium, Adranum, and Enna. The next immigrants into the island were Cretans, who are said to have come to Sicily under their king, Minos, in pursuit of Daedalus, and to have settled on the southern coast in the neighbourhood of Agrigentum, where they founded Minoa (afterwards Heraclea Minoa). Then came the Elymaei, a small band of fugitive Trojans, who are said to have built Entella, Eryx, and Egesta. These Cretans and Elymaei, however, if indeed they ever visited Sicily, soon became incorporated with the Siculi. The Phœnicians likewise at an early period formed settlements, for the purposes of commerce, on all the coasts of Sicily, but more especially on the northern and northwestern parts. They were subsequently obliged to retire from the greater part of their settlements before the increasing power of the Greeks, and to confine themselves to Motya, Solus, and Panormus. But the most important of all the immigrants into Sicily were the Greeks. The first body of Greeks who landed in the island were Chalcidians from Euboea, and Megarians led by the Athenian Thucles. These Greek colonists built the town of Naxos, B.C. 735. They were soon followed by other Greeks, who founded a number of very flourishing cities, such as Syracuse in 734, Leontini and Catana in 730, Megara Hybla in 726, Gela in 690, Selinus in 626, Agrigentum in 579, etc. The Greeks soon became the ruling race in the island, and received the name of Siceliotae (S??e???ta?) to distinguish them from the earlier inhabitants.

At a later time the Carthaginians obtained a firm footing in Sicily. Their first attempt was made in 480; but they were defeated by Gelon of Syracuse, and obliged to retire with great loss. Their second invasion in 409 was more successful. They took Selinus in this year, and four years afterwards (B.C. 405) the powerful city of Agrigentum. They now became the permanent masters of the western part of the island, and were engaged in frequent wars with Syracuse and the other Greek cities. (For the Athenian invasion of Sicily, see Syracusae.) The struggle between the Carthaginians and Greeks continued, with a few interruptions, down to the First Punic War; at the close of which (B.C. 241) the Carthaginians were obliged to evacuate the island, the western part of which now passed into the hands of the Romans, and was made a Roman province. The eastern part still continued under the rule of Hieron of Syracuse as an ally of Rome; but after the revolt of Syracuse in the Second Punic War, and the conquest of that city by Marcellus, the whole island was made a Roman province, and was administered by a praetor. Under the Roman dominion more attention was paid to agriculture than to commerce; and consequently the Greek cities on the coast gradually declined in prosperity and wealth. The inhabitants of the province received the ius Latii from Iulius Caesar; and Antony conferred upon them, in accordance, as it was said, with Caesar's will, the full Roman franchise. Augustus, after his conquest of Sextus Pompey, who had held the island for several years, founded colonies at Messana, Tauromenium, Catana, Syracuse, Thermae, and Panormus. On the downfall of the Roman Empire, Sicily formed part of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths; but it was taken from them by Belisarius in A.D. 536, and annexed to the Byzantine Empire. It continued a province of this Empire till 828, when it was conquered by the Saracens.

Literature and the arts were cultivated with great success in the Greek cities of Sicily, especially at the time of the first Hiero (q.v.) of Syracuse (B.C. 478-467), and of Dionysius the elder, the friend of Plato. Sicily was the birthplace of the philosophers Empedocles, Epicharmus, and Dicaearchus; of the mathematician Archimedes; of the physicians Herodicus and Acron; of the historians Diodorus, Antiochus, Philistus, and Timaeus; of the rhetorician Gorgias; and of the poets Stesichorus, Theocritus, and Moschus.

Good histories of ancient Sicily are those of Holm, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1870-74); Lloyd (1872); Freeman, vols. i.-iii. (1891-92); id. a short history in the “Story of the Nations Series” (1892). On the earliest inhabitants of Sicily, see the monograph by Costanzi, De Siciliae Gentibus Antiquissimis (1893); and on the Greek colonies that of Frömter (1886), and of Brunet de Presle, Les Établissements des Grecs en Sicile (Paris, 1845). See also Hoffweiler, Sicilien in Wort und Bild (Leipzig, 1870), and the articles Agrigentum; Carthago; Dionysius; Gelon; Leontini; Punic Wars; Selinus; Syracusae. For a map of Sicily, see Italia. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.


SICI´LIA (Σικελία: Eth. Σικελιώτης, Ath. Σικελικός, Siciliensis: Sicily), one of the largest and most important islands in the Mediterranean. It was indeed generally reckoned the largest of all; though some ancient writers considered Sardinia as exceeding it in size, a view which, according to the researches of modern geographers, turns out to be correct. [SARDINIA]

The general form of Sicily is that of a triangle, having its shortest side or base turned to the E., and separated at its NE. angle from the adjoining coast of Italy only by a narrow strait, called in ancient times the FRETUM SICULUM or Sicilian Strait, but now more commonly known as the Straits of Messina. It was generally believed in antiquity that Sicily had once been joined to the continent of Italy, and severed from it by some natural convulsion. (Strab. vi. p.258; Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Verg. A. 3.414.) But though this is probably true in a geological sense, it is certain that the separation must have taken place at a very early period, not only long before the historical age, but before the first dawn of tradition. On the other side, the W. extremity of Sicily stretches out far towards the coast of Africa, so that the westernmost point of the island, the headland of Lilybaeum, is separated only by an interval of 80 geogr. miles from the Hermaean Promontory, or Cape Bon in Africa.
The general triangular form of Sicily was early recognised, and is described by all the ancient geographers. The three promontories that may be considered as forming the angles of the triangle, viz. Cape Pelorus to the NE., Cape Pachynus to the SE., and Lilybaeum on the W., were also generally known and received (Pol. 1.42; Strab. vi. pp. 265, 266; Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4; Mel. 2.714). Its dimensions are variously given: Strabo, on the authority of Posidonius, estimates the side from Pelorus to Lilybaeum, which he reckons the longest, at 1700 stadia (or 170 geogr. miles); and that from Pachynus to Pelorus, the shortest of the three, at 1130 stadia. Pliny on the contrary reckons 186 Roman miles (149 geogr.) from Pelorus to Pachynus, 200 M.P. (160 geogr. miles) from Pachynus to Lilybaeum, and 170 M.P. (136 geogr.) from Lilybaeum to Pelorus: thus making the northern side the shortest instead of the longest. But Strabo's views of the proportion of the three sides are entirely correct; and his distances but little exceed the truth, if some allowance be made for the windings of the coast. Later geographers, from the time of Ptolemy onwards, erroneously conceived the position of Sicily as tending a great deal more to the SW. than it really does, at the same time that they gave it a much more regular triangular form; and this error was perpetuated by modern geographers down to the time of D'Anville, and was indeed not altogether removed till the publication of the valuable coast survey of the island by Captain Smyth. (See the map published by Magini in 1620, and that of D'Anville in his Analyse Géographique de l'Italie, Paris 1744.)

A considerable part of Sicily is of a mountainous character. A range of mountains, which are geologically of the same character as those in the southern portion of Bruttium (the group of Aspromonte), and may be considered almost as a continuation of the same chain, interrupted only by the intervening strait, rises near Cape Pelorus, and extends at first in a SW. direction to the neighbourhood of Taormina (Tauromenium) from whence it turns nearly due W. and continues to hold this course, running parallel with the N. coast of the island till it rises into the elevated group of the Monte Madonia, a little to the S. of Cefalù (Cephaloedium.) From thence it breaks up into more irregular masses of limestone mountains, which form the central nucleus of the W. portion of the island, while their arms extending down to the sea encircle the Bay of Palermo, as well as the more extensive Gulf of Castellamare, with bold and almost isolated headlands. The detached mass of MOUNT ERYX (Monte di S. Giuliano) rises near Trapani almost at the W. extremity of the island, but with this exception the W. and SW. coast round to Sciacca, 20 miles beyond the site of Selinus, is comparatively low and shelving, and presents no bold features. Another range or mass of mountains branches off from that of the Monte Madonia near Polizzi, and trends in a SE. direction through the heart of the island, forming the huge hills, rather than mountains, on one of which Enna was built, and which extend from thence to the neighbourhood of Piazza and Aidone. The whole of the SE. corner of the island is occupied by a mass of limestone hills, never rising to the dignity nor assuming the forms of mountains, but forming a kind of table-land, with a general but very gradual slope towards the S. and SE.; broken up, however, when viewed in detail, into very irregular masses, being traversed by deep valleys and ravines, and presenting steep escarpments of limestone rock, so as to constitute a rugged and difficult country.

None of the mountains above described attain to any great elevation. The loftiest group, that of the Monte Madonia, does not exceed 3765 feet, while the average height of the range which extends from thence to Cape Pelorus, is little, if at all, above 3000 feet high. Monte S. Giuliano, the ancient Eryx, erroneously considered in ancient times as the highest mountain in Sicily after Aetna [ERYX], is in reality only 2184 feet in height. (Smyth's Sicily, p. 242). The ancient appellations given to these [p. 2.976]mountains seem to have been somewhat vague and fluctuating; but we may assign the mame of NEPTUNIUS MONS to the chain which rises at Cape Pelorus, and extends from thence to the neighbourhood of Tauromenium; while that of MONS NEBRODES seems to have been applied in a more general sense to the whole northerly range extending from near Tauromenium to the neighbourhood of Panormus; and the HERAEI MONTES of Diodorus can be no others than a part of the same range. (See the respective articles.) But incomparably the most important of the mountains of Sicily, and the most striking physical feature of the whole island, is the great volcanic mountain of AETNA which rises on the E. coast of the island, and attains an elevation of 10.874 feet, while its base is not less than 90 miles in circumference. It is wholly detached from the mountains and hills which surround it, being bounded on the N. by the river Acesines or Alcantara, and the valley through which it flows, and on the W. and S. by the Symaethus, while on the E. its streams of lava descend completely into the sea, and constitute the line of coast for a distance of near 30 miles. The rivers already mentioned constitute (with trifling exceptions) the limits of the volcanic district of Aetna, but volcanic formations of older date, including beds of lava, scoriae, &c., are scattered over a considerable extent of the SE. portion of the island, extending from the neighbourhood of Palagonia to that of Palazzolo, and even to Syracuse. These indeed belong to a much more ancient epoch of volcanic action, and can never have been in operation since the existence of man upon the island. The extensive action of volcanic fires upon Sicily was, however, observed by the ancients, and is noticed by several writers. The apparent connection between Aetna and the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands is mentioned by Strabo, and the same author justly appeals to the craters of the Palici, and to the numerous thermal springs throughout the island, as proofs that the subterranean agencies were widely diffused beneath its surface (Strab. vi. pp. 274, 275).

Few countries in Europe surpass Sicily in general productiveness and fertility. Its advantages in this respect are extolled by many ancient writers. Strabo tells us (vi. p. 273) that it was not inferior to Italy in any kind of produce, and even surpassed it in many. It was generally believed to be the native country of wheat (Diod. 5.2), and it is certain that it was not surpassed by any country either in the abundance or quality of this production. It was equally celebrated for the excellence of its honey and its saffron, both of which were extensively exported to Rome; as well as for its sheep and cattle, and excellent breeds of horses, among which those of Agrigentum seem to have been the most celebrated (Strab. l.c.; Sil. Ital. 14.23; Verg. A. 3.704). There were indeed no extensive plains, like those of Campania or Cisalpine Gaul; the largest being that now called the Piano di Catania, extending along the banks of the Symaethus, and known in ancient times as the LEONTINUS or LAESTRYGONIUS CAMPUS. But the whole island was intersected by numerous streams, and beautiful valleys; and though a considerable part of its surface (as already observed) was occupied either by mountains or rocky hills, the slopes and underfalls of these abounded in scenery of the most charming description, and were adapted for the growth of vines, olives, and fruits of every description.

The climate of Sicily may be considered as intermediate between those of Southern Italy and Africa. The northern part of the island, indeed, closely resembles the portion of Italy with which it is more immediately in contact; but the southern and southwestern parts present strong indications of their more southerly latitude, and have a parched and arid appearance (at least to the eyes of northern travellers), except in winter and spring. The abundance also of the dwarf palm (Chamaerops humilis Linn.), a plant unknown to other parts of Europe, tends to give a peculiar aspect to these districts of Sicily. The climate of the island in general was certainly not considered unhealthy in ancient times; and though at the present day many districts of it suffer severely from malaria, there is good reason to believe that this would be greatly diminished by an increased population and more extensive cultivation. It is remarkable, indeed, in Sicily, as in the south of Italy, that frequently the very sites which are now considered the most unhealthy were in ancient times occupied by flourishing and populous cities. In many cases the malaria is undoubtedly owing to local causes, which might be readily obviated by draining marshes or affording a free outlet to stagnant waters.


The accounts of the early population of Sicily are more rational and consistent than is generally the case with such traditions. Its name was obviously derived from that of the people who continued in historical times to be its chief inhabitants, the SICULI or SICELS (Σικελοί); and the tradition universally received represented these as crossing over from the mainland, where they had formerly dwelt, in the extreme southern portion of Italy. The traditions and notices of this people in other parts of Italy, and of their previous wanderings and migrations, are, indeed, extremely obscure, and will be discussed elsewhere [SICULI]; but the fact that they were at one time settled in the Bruttian peninsula, and from thence passed over into Sicily, may be safely received as historical. There is every probability also that they were not a people distinct in their origin from the races whom we subsequently find in that part of Italy, but were closely connected with the Oenotrians and their kindred tribes. Indeed, the names of Σικελός and Ἰταλός are considered by many philologers as of common origin. There seems, therefore, little doubt that the Sicels, or Siculi, may be regarded as one of the branches of the great Pelasgic race, which we find in the earliest times occupying the southern portion of Italy: and this kindred origin will account for the facility with which we find the Sicels subsequently adopting the language and civilisation of the Greek colonists in the island, at the same time that there remain abundant traces of their common descent with the people of Italy.
But the Sicels, who occupied in the historical period the greater part of the interior of the island, were not, according to the Greek writers, its earliest inhabitants. Thucydides indeed assigns their immigration to a period only three centuries before the settlement of the first Greek colonies (Thuc. 6.2); and Diodorus, without assigning any date, agrees in representing them as the latest comers among the native population of the island (Diod. 5.6). The first notices of Sicily allude to the existence of races of gigantic men, of savage manners, under the [p. 2.977]names of Laestrygones and Cyclopes; but these fabulous tales, preserved only by the early poets in a manner that renders it impossible to separate truth from falsehood, are justly discarded by Thucydides as unworthy of serious consideration (Thuc. 6.2). It may suffice to remark, that Homer (of course, the earliest authority on the subject) says nothing directly to prove that he conceived either the Cyclopes or Laestrygones as dwelling in Sicily; and this is in both cases a mere inference of later writers, or of some tradition now unknown to us. Homer indeed, in one passage, mentions (but not in connection with either of these savage races), “the island of Thrinakia” (Odyss. 12.127), and this was generally identified with Sicily, though there is certainly nothing in the Odyssey that would naturally lead to such a conclusion. But it was a tradition generally received that Sicily had previously been called TRINACRIA from its triangular form and the three promontories that formed its extremities (Thuc. 6.2; Diod. 5.2; Strab. vi. p.265), and this name was connected with the Homeric Thrinakia. It is obvious that such a name could only have been given by Greek navigators, and argues a considerable amount of acquaintance with the configuration of its shores. It could not, therefore, have been (as supposed even by Thucydides) the original or native name of the island, nor could it have been in use even among the Greeks at a very early period. But we cannot discard the general testimony of ancient writers, that this was the earliest appellation by which Sicily was known to the Greeks.

Another people whom Thucydides, apparently with good reason, regards as more ancient than the Sicels, were the SICANI whom we find in historical times occupying the western and north-western parts of the island, whither, according to their own tradition, they had been driven by the invading Sicels, when these crossed the straits, though another tradition ascribed their removal to the terror and devastation caused by the eruptions of Aetna (Thuc. 6.2; Diod. 5.6). The Sicanians claimed the honour of being autochthons, or the original inhabitants of the island, and this view was followed by Timaeus; but Thucydides, as well as Philistus, adopted another tradition, according to which they were of Iberian extraction (Thuc. l.c.; Diod. l.c.). What the arguments were which he regards as conclusive, we are unfortunately wholly ignorant; but the view is in itself probable enough, and notwithstanding the close resemblance of name, it is certain that throughout the historical period the Sicani and Siculi are uniformly treated as distinct races. Hence it is improbable that they were merely tribes of a kindred origin, as we should otherwise have been led to infer from the fact that the two names are evidently only two forms of the same appellation.

A third race which is found in Sicily within the historical period, and which is regarded by ancient writers as distinct from the two preceding ones, is that of ELYMI who inhabited the extreme north-western corner of the island, about Eryx and Segesta. Tradition ascribed to them a Trojan origin (Thuc. 6.2; Dionys. A. R. 1.52), and though this story is probably worth no more than the numerous similar tales of Trojan settlements on the coast of Italy, there must probably have been some foundation for regarding them as a distinct people from their neighbours, the Sicani. Both Thucydides and Scylax specially mention them as such (Thuc. l.c.; Scyl. p. 4.13): but at a later period, they seem to have gradually disappeared or been merged into the surrounding tribes, and their name is not again found in history.

Such were the indigenous races by which Sicily was peopled when its coasts were first visited, and colonies established there, by the Phoenicians and the Greeks. Of the colonies of the former people we have little information, but we are told in general by Thucydides that they occupied numerous points around the coasts of the island, establishing themselves in preference, as was their wont, on projecting headlands or small islands adjoining the shore. (Thuc. 6.2). But these settlements were apparently, for the most part, mere trading stations, and as the Greeks came to establish themselves permanently and in still increasing numbers in Sicily, the Phoenicians gradually withdrew to the NW. corner of the island, where they retained three permanent settlements, Motya, Panormus, and Soloeis or Soluntum. Here they were supported by the alliance of the neighbouring Elymi, and had also the advantage of the proximity of Carthage, upon which they all became eventually dependent. (Thuc. l.c.)

The settlement of the Greek colonies in Sicily began about the middle of the eighth century B.C., and was continued for above a century and a half. Their dates and origin are known to us with much more certainty than those which took place during the corresponding period in the south of Italy. The earliest were established on the E. coast of the island, where the Chalcidic colony of NAXOS was founded in B.C. 735, and that of SYRACUSE the following year (B.C. 734), by a body of Corinthian settlers under Archias. Thus the division between the Chalcidic and Doric colonies in Sicily, which bears so prominent a part in their political history, became marked from the very outset. The Chalcidians were the first to extend their settlements, having founded within a few years of the parent colony (about B.C. 730) the two cities of LEONTINI and CATANA both of them destined to bear an important part in the affairs of Sicily. About the same time, or shortly after (probably about B.C. 728), a fresh body of colonists from Megara founded the city of the same name, called, for distinction's sake, MEGARA HYBLAEA, on the E. coast, between Syracuse and Catana. The first colony on the S. coast of the island was that of GELA founded in B.C. 690, by a body of emigrants from Rhodes and Crete; it was, therefore, a Doric colony. On the other hand, the Chalcidians founded, at what precise period we know not, the colony of ZANCLE (afterwards called MESSANA), in a position of the utmost importance, as commanding the Sicilian Straits. The rapid rise and prosperity of these first settlements are shown by their having become in their turn the parents of other cities, which soon vied with them, and, in some cases, surpassed them in importance. Thus we find Syracuse extending its power by establishing in succession the colonies of ACRAE in B.C. 664, CASMENAE in B.C. 644, and CAMARINA in B.C. 599. Of these, the last alone rose to be a flourishing city and the rival of the neighbouring Gela. The latter city in its turn founded the colony of AGRIGENTUM in B.C. 580, which, though one of the latest of the Greek colonies in the island, was destined to become one of the most powerful and flourishing of them all. Still further to the W., the colony of SELINUS planted as early as B.C. 628, by a body of settlers from the Hyblaean Megara, reinforced with emigrants from the parent city in Greece, rose to a state of power [p. 2.978]and prosperity far surpassing that of either of its mother cities. Selinus was the most westerly of the Greek colonies, and immediately bordered on the territory of the Elymi and the Phoenician or Carthaginian settlements. On the N. coast of the island, the only independent Greek colony was HIMERA founded about B.C. 648 by the Zanclaeans; MYLAE another colony of the same people, having apparently continued, from its, proximity, to be a mere dependency of Zancle. To the above list of Greek colonies must be added CALLIPOLIS and Euboea, both of them colonies of Naxos, but which never seem to have attained to consideration, and disappear from history at an early period.1

Our accounts of the early history of these numerous Greek colonies in Sicily are unfortunately very scanty and fragmentary. We learn indeed in general terms that they rose to considerable power and importance, and enjoyed a high degree of wealth and prosperity, owing *as well to the fertility and natural advantages of the island, as to their foreign commerce. It is evident also that at an early period they extended their dominion over a considerable part of the adjoining country, so that each city had its district or territory, often of considerable extent, and comprising a subject population of native origin. At the same time the Sicels of the interior, in the central and northern parts of the island, and the Sicanians and Elymi in the W., maintained their independence, though they seem to have given but little trouble to their Greek neighbours. During the sixth century B.C. the two most powerful cities in the island appear to have been Agrigentum and Gela, Syracuse not having yet attained to that predominance which it subsequently enjoyed. Agrigentum, though one of the latest of the Greek colonies in Sicily, seems to have risen rapidly to prosperity, and under the able, though tyrannical government of the despot Phalaris (B.C. 570--554) became apparently for a time the most powerful city in the island. But we know very little about his real history, and with the exception of a few scattered and isolated notices we have hardly any account of the affairs of the Greek cities before B.C. 500. At or before that period we find that a political change had taken place in most of these communities, and that their governments, which had originally been oligarchical, had passed into the hands of despots or tyrants, who ruled with uncontrolled power. Such were Panaetius at Leontini, Cleaner at Gela, Terillus at Himera, and Scythes at Zancle (Arist. Pol. 5.12; Hdt. 6.23, 7.154). Of these Cleander seems to have been the most able, and laid the foundation of a power which enabled his, brother and successor Hippocrates to extend his dominion over a great part of the island. Callipolis, Leontini, Naxos, Zancle, and Camarina successively fell under the arms of Hippocrates, and Syracuse itself only escaped subjection by the intervention of the Corinthians (Hdt. 7.154). But what Hippocrates had failed to effect was accomplished by Gelon, who succeeded him as despot of Gela, and by interposing in the civil dissensions of the Syracusans ultimately succeeded in making himself master of that city also, B.C. 485. From this time Gelon neglected his former government of Gela, and directed all his efforts to the aggrandizement of his new acquisition. He> destroyed Camarina, and removed all the inhabitants to Syracuse, together with a large part of those of Gela itself, and all the principal citizens of Megara Hyblaea and Euboea (Hdt. 7.156).

Syracuse was thus raised to the rank of the first city in Sicily, which it retained for many centuries. afterwards. A few years before (B.C. 488), Theron had established himself in the possession of the sovereign power at Agrigentum, and subsequently extended his dominion over Himera also, from whence he expelled Terillus, B.C. 481. About the same time also Anaxilaus, despot of Rhegium, on the other side of the straits, had established a footing in Sicily, where he became master of Zancle, to which he gave the name of Messana, by which it was ever afterwards known [MESSANA]. All three rulers appear to have been men of ability and enlightened and liberal views, and the cities under their immediate government apparently made great progress in power and prosperity. Gelon especially undoubtedly possessed at this period an amount of power of which no other Greek state could boast, as was sufficiently shown by the embassy sent to him from Sparta and Athens to invoke his assistance against the threatened invasion of Xerxes (Hdt. 7.145, 157). But his attention was called off to a danger more immediately at hand. Terillus, the expelled despot of Himera, had called in the assistance of the Carthaginians, and that people sent a vast fleet and army under a general named Hamilcar, who laid siege to Himera, B.C. 480. Theron, however, was able to maintain possession of that city until the arrival of Gelon with an army of 50,000 foot and 5000 horse to his relief, with which, though vastly inferior to the Carthaginian forces, he attacked and totally defeated the army of Hamilcar. This great victory, which was contemporaneous with the battle of Salamis, raised Gelon to the highest pitch of reputation, and became not less celebrated among the Sicilian Greeks than those of Salamis and Plataea among their continental brethren. The vast number of prisoners taken at Himera and distributed as slaves among the cities of Sicily added greatly to their wealth and resources, and the opportunity was taken by many of them to erect great public works, which continued to adorn them down to a late period (Diod. 11.25).

Gelon did not long survive his great victory at Himera: but he transmitted his power unimpaired to his brother Hieron. The latter, indeed, though greatly inferior to Gelon in character, was in some respects even superior to him in power: and the great naval victory by which he relieved the Cumaeans in Italy from the attacks of the Carthaginians and Tyrrhenians (B.C. 474) earned him a well-merited reputation throughout the Grecian world. At the same time the rule of Hieron was extremely oppressive to the Chalcidic cities of Sicily, the power of which he broke by expelling all the citizens of Naxos and Catana, whom he compelled to remove to Leontini, while he repeopled Catana with a large body of new inhabitants, at the same time that he changed its name to Aetna. Theron had continued to reign at Agrigentum until his death in B.C. 472, but his son Thrasydaeus, who succeeded him, quickly incurred the enmity of the citizens, who were enabled by the assistance of Hieron to expel him, [p. 2.979]and were thus restored to at least nominal freedom. A similar revolution occurred a few years later at Syracuse, where, on the death of Hieron (B.C. 467), the power passed into the hands of Thrasybulus, whose violent and tyrannical proceedings quickly excited an insurrection among the Syracusans. This became the signal for a general revolt of all the cities of Sicily, who united their forces with those of the Syracusans, and succeeded in expelling Thrasybulus from his strongholds of Ortygia and Achradina (Diod. 11.67, 68), and thus driving him from Sicily.

The fall of the Gelonian dynasty at Syracuse (B.C. 466) became for a time the occasion of violent internal dissensions in most of the Sicilian cities, which in many cases broke out into actual warfare. But after a few years these were terminated by a general congress and compromise, B.C. 461; the exiles were allowed to return to their respective cities: Camarina, which had been destroyed by Gelon, was repeopled and became once more a flourishing city; while Catana was restored to its original Chalcidic citizens, and resumed its ancient name (Diod. 11.76). The tranquillity thus re-established was of unusual permanence and duration; and the half century that followed was a period of the greatest prosperity for all the Greek cities in the island, and was doubtless that when they attained (with the exception of Syracuse) their highest degree of opulence and power. This is distinctly stated by Diodorus (l.c.) and is remarkably confirmed by the still existing monuments,--all the greatest architectural works being referable to this period. Of the form of government established in the Sicilian cities at this time we have little information, but it seems certain that a democratic constitution was in almost all instances substituted for the original oligarchies.

But prosperous as this period (B.C. 461--409) undoubtedly was, it was by no means one of unbroken tranquillity. It was disturbed in the first instance by the ambitious schemes of Ducetius, a Siculian chief, who endeavoured to organise all the Sicels of the interior into one confederacy, which should be able to make head against the Greek cities. He at the same time founded a new city, to which he gave the name of Palice, near the sacred fountain of the Palici. But these attempts of Ducetius, remarkable as the only instance in the whole history of the island in which we find the Sicels attempting to establish a political power of their own, were frustrated by his defeat and banishment by the Syracusans in B.C. 451; and though he once more returned to Sicily and endeavoured to establish himself on the N. coast of the island, his projects were interrupted by his death, B.C. 445. (Diod. 11.88, 90--92, 12.8, 29.) He found no successor; and the Sicels of the interior ceased to be formidable to the Greek cities. Many of their towns were actually reduced to subjection by the Syracusans, while others retained their independent position; but the operation of Hellenic influences was gradually diffusing itself throughout the whole island.

The next important event in the history of Sicily is the great Athenian expedition in B.C. 415. Already, at an earlier period, soon after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians had interfered in the affairs of Sicily, and, in B.C. 427, had sent a squadron under Laches and Charoeades to support the Ionic or Chalcidic cities in the island, which were threatened by their more powerful Doric neighbours. But the operations of these commanders, as well as of Eurymedon and Sophocles, who followed them in B.C. 425 with a large force, were of an unimportant character, and in B.C. 424 a general pacification of the Greek cities in Sicily was brought about by a congress held at Gela (Thuc. 4.58, 65). But the peace thus concluded did not remain long unbroken. The Syracusans took advantage of the intestine dissensions at Leontini to expel the democratic party from that city: while the Selinuntines were engaged in war with their non-Hellenic neighbours the Segestans, whom they pressed so hard that the latter were forced to apply for assistance to Athens. The Leontine exiles also sued for aid in the same quarter, and the Athenians, who were at this time at the height of their power, sent out an expedition on the largest scale, nominally for the protection of their allies in Sicily, but in reality, as Thucydides observes, in hopes of making themselves masters of the whole island (Thuc. 6.6). It is impossible here to relate in detail the proceedings of that celebrated expedition, which will be more fully noticed in the article SYRACUSAE and are admirably related in Grote's History of Greece, vol. viii. ch. 58--60. Its failure may be attributed in great measure to the delays and inactivity of Nicias, who lingered at Catana, instead of proceeding at once to besiege Syracuse itself, and thus gave the Syracusans time to strengthen and enlarge their fortifications, at the same time that they revived the courage of their allies. The siege of Syracuse was not actually commenced till the spring of 414 B.C., and it was continued till the month of September, 413 B.C., with the most unremitting exertions on both sides. The Syracusans were supported by the chief Dorian cities in the island, with the exception of Agrigentum, which stood aloof from the contest, as well as by a portion of the Sicel tribes: but the greater part of those barbarians, as well as the Chalcidic cities of Naxos and Catana and the Segestans, furnished assistance to the Athenians (Thuc. 7.57, 58).

The total defeat of the Athenian armament (by far the most formidable that had been seen in Sicily since that of the Carthaginians under Hamilcar), seemed to give an irresistible predominance to the Dorian cities in the island, and to Syracuse especially. But it was not long before they again found themselves threatened by a still more powerful invader. The Selinuntines immediately took advantage of the failure of the Athenians to renew their attacks upon their neighbours of Segesta, and the latter, feeling their inability to cope with them, now applied for protection to Carthage. It is remarkable that we hear nothing of Carthaginian intervention in the affairs of Sicily from the time of the battle of Himera until this occasion, and they seem to have abandoned all ambitious projects connected with the island, though they still maintained a footing there by means of their subject or dependent towns of Panormus, Motya, and Soluntum. But they now determined to avail themselves of the opportunity offered them, and sent an armament to Sicily, which seemed like that of the Athenians, calculated not so much for the relief of Segesta as for the conquest of the whole island. Hannibal, the grandson of Hamilcar who had been slain at Himera, landed at Lilybaeum, in B.C. 409, with an army estimated at 100,000 men, and marching straight upon Selinus, laid siege at once to the city. Selinus was at this [p. 2.980]time, next to Agrigentum and Syracuse, probably the most flourishing city in Sicily, but it was wholly unprepared for defence, and was taken after a siege of only a few days, the inhabitants put to the sword or made prisoners, and the walls and public buildings razed to the ground (Diod. 13.54-58). From thence Hannibal turned his arms against Himera, which was able to protract its resistance some what longer, but eventually fell also into his power, when in order to avenge himself for his grandfather's defeat, he put the whole male population to the sword, and so utterly destroyed the city that it was never again inhabited (Id. 13.59--62).

After these exploits Hannibal returned to Carthage with his fleet and army. But his successes had now awakened the ambition of the Carthaginian people, who determined upon a second invasion of Sicily, and in B.C. 406 sent thither an army still larger than the preceding, under the command of Hannibal. Agrigentum, at this time at the very highest point of its power and opulence, was on this occasion the first object of the Carthaginian arms, and though the citizens had made every preparation for defence, and in fact were enabled to prolong their resistance for a period of eight months they were at length compelled by famine to surrender. The greater part of the inhabitants evacuated the city, which shared the fate of Selinus and Himera (Diod. 13.81, 91).

Three of the principal Greek cities in Sicily had thus already fallen, and in the spring of B.C. 405, Himilco, who had succeeded Hannibal in the command, advanced to the attack of Gela. Meanwhile the power of Syracuse, upon which the other cities had in a great degree relied for their protection, had been in great measure paralysed by internal dissensions: and Dionysius now availed himself of these to raise himself to the possession of despotic power. But his first operations were not more successful than those of the generals he replaced, and after an ineffectual attempt to relieve Gela, he abandoned both that city and Camarina to their fate, the inhabitants of both emigrating to Leontini. Dionysius was able to fortify himself in the supreme power at Syracuse, and hastened to conclude peace with Himilco upon terms which left the Carthaginians undisputed masters of nearly half of Sicily. In addition to their former possessions, Selinus, Himera, and Agrigentum were to be subject to Carthage, while the inhabitants of Gela and Camarina were to be allowed to return to their native cities on condition of becoming tributary to Carthage (Diod. 13.114.)

From this time Dionysius reigned with undisputed authority at Syracuse for a period of 38 years (B.C. 405--367), and was able at his death to transmit his power unimpaired to his son. But though he raised Syracuse to a state of great power and prosperity, and extended his dominion over a large part of Sicily, as well as of the adjoining part of Italy, his reign was marked by great and sudden changes of fortune. Though he had dexterously availed himself of the Carthaginian invasion to establish his power at Syracuse, he had no sooner consolidated his own authority than he began to turn his thoughts to the expulsion of the Carthaginians from the island. His arms were, however, directed in the first instance against the Chalcidic cities of Sicily, Naxos, Catana, and Leontini, all of which successively fell into his> power, while he extended his dominions over a great part of the Sicel communities of the interior. It was not till he had effected these conquests, as well as made vast preparations for war, by enlarging and strengthening the fortifications of Syracuse and building an enormous fleet, that he proceeded to declare war against Carthage, B.C. 397. His first successes were rapid and sudden: almost all the cities that had recently been added to the Carthaginian dominion declared in his favour, and he carried his victorious arms to the extreme W. point of Sicily, where Motya, one of the chief strongholds of the Carthaginian power, fell into his hands after a long siege. But the next year (B.C. 396) the state of affairs changed. Himilco, who landed in Sicily with a large army, not only recovered Motya and other towns that had been taken by Dionysius, but advanced along the N. coast of the island to Messana, which he took by assault and utterly destroyed. Dionysius was even compelled to shut himself up within the walls of Syracuse, where he was closely besieged by Himilco, but a sudden pestilence that broke out in the Carthaginian camp reduced them in their turn to such straits that Himilco was glad to conclude a secret capitulation and retire to Africa (Diod. 14.47-76). Hostilities with Carthage were renewed in B.C. 393, but with no very decisive result, and the peace concluded in the following year (B.C. 392) seems to have left matters in much the same state as before. In B.C. 383 war again broke out between Dionysius and the Carthaginians, but after two great battles, with alternate success on both sides, a fresh treaty was concluded by which the river Halycus was established as the boundary between the two powers. The limit thus fixed, though often infringed, continued to be recognised by several successive treaties, and may be considered as forming from henceforth the permanent line of demarcation between the Carthaginian and the Greek power in Sicily (Diod. 15.17).

(For a more detailed account of the reign of Dionysius and his wars with the Carthaginians, see the article DIONYSIUS in the Biogr. Dict. Vol. I. p. 1033. The same events are fully narrated by Mr. Grote, vol. x. ch. 81, 82, and vol. xi. ch. 83.)

Several important towns in Sicily derived their origin from the reign of the elder Dionysius and the revolutions which then took place in the island. Among these were TAUROMENIUM which arose in the place and not far from the site of the ancient Naxos, which had been finally destroyed by Dionysius: TYNDARIS founded by the Syracusan despot on the N. coast of the island, with a body of colonists principally of Messenian origin; ALAESA in the same part of Sicily, founded by the Sicel chief Archonides; and LILYBAEUM which grew up adjoining the port and promontory of that name, a few miles S. of Motya, the place of which it took as one of the principal Carthaginian ports and strongholds in the island.

The power of Syracuse over the whole of the eastern half of Sicily appeared to be effectually consolidated by the elder Dionysius, but it was soon broken up by the feeble and incompetent government, of his son. Only ten years after the death of the father (B.C. 357), Dion landed in Sicily at the head of only a few hundred mercenary troops, and raised the standard of revolt; all the dependent subjects of Syracuse soon flocked around it, and Dion was welcomed into the city itself by the acclamations of the citizens. Dionysius himself was absent at the time, but the island-citadel of Ortygia was held by [p. 2.981]his garrison, and still secured him> a footing in Sicily. It was not till after a long blockade that his son Apollocrates was compelled to surrender it into the hands of Dion, who thus became master of Syracuse, B.C. 356. But the success of Dion was far from restoring liberty to Sicily, or even to the Syracusans: the despotic proceedings of Dion excited universal discontent, and he was at length assassinated by Callippus, one of his own officers, B.C. 353. The period that followed was one of great confusion, but with which we are very imperfectly acquainted. Successive revolutions occurred at Syracuse, during which the younger Dionysius found means to effect his return, and became once more master of Ortygia. But the rest of the city was still held by a leader named Hicetas, who called in the assistance of the Carthaginians. Ortygia was now besieged both by sea and land by a Carthaginan fleet and army. It was in this state of things that a party at Syracuse, equally opposed to Hicetas and Dionysius, had recourse to the parent city of Corinth, and a small force of 1200 soldiers was sent to their assistance under Timoleon, B.C. 344. His successes were rapid and brilliant; and within less than two months from his landing in Sicily, he found himself unexpectedly in the possession of Ortygia, which was voluntarily surrendered to him by Dionysius. Hicetas and the Carthaginians were, however, still masters of the rest of the city; but mistrust and disunion enfeebled their defence: the Carthaginian general Magon suddenly withdrew his forces, and Timoleon easily wrested the city from the> hands of Hicetas, B.C. 343.

Syracuse was now restored to liberty and a democratic form of government; and the same change was quickly extended to the other Greek cities of Sicily. These had thrown off the yoke of Syracuse during the disturbed period through which they had recently passed, but had, with few exceptions, fallen into the hands of local despots, who had established themselves in the possession of absolute power. Such were, Hicetas himself at Leontini, Mamercus at Catana, and Hippon at Messana, while minor despots, also of Greek origin, had obtained in like manner the chief power in the Siculian cities of Apollonia, Centuripa and Agyrium. Timoleon now turned his arms in succession against all these petty rulers, and overthrew them one after another, restoring the city in each case to the possession of independent and free self-government. Meanwhile the Greeks had been threatened with a more general danger from a fresh Carthaginian invasion; but the total defeat of their generals Hasdrubal and Hamilcar at the river Crimisus (B.C. 340), one of the most brilliant and decisive victories ever gained by the Greeks over the Carthaginians, put an end to all fears from that quarter: and the peace that followed once more established the Halycus as the boundary between the two nations (Diod. 15.17).

The restoration of the Sicilian Greeks to liberty by Timoleon, was followed by a period of great prosperity. Many of the cities had suffered severely, either from the exactions of their despotic rulers, or from the troubles and revolutions that had taken place, but these were now recruited with fresh colonists from Corinth, and other cities of Greece, who poured into the island in vast numbers; the exiles were everywhere restored, and a fresh impulse seemed to be given to the development of Hellenic influences in the island. Unfortunately this period of reviving prosperity was of short duration. Only twenty three years after the battle of the Crimisus, a despotism was again established at Syracuse by Agathocles (B.C. 317), an adventurer who raised himself to power by very much the same means as the elder Dionysius, whom he resembled in energy and ability, while he even surpassed him in sanguinary and unsparing severity. The reign of Agathocles (B.C. 317--289) was undoubtedly a period that exercised the most disastrous influence over Sicily; it was occupied in great part with internal dissensions and civil wars, as well as by long continued struggles between the Greeks and Carthaginians. Like Dionysius, Agathocles had, in the first instance, made use of Carthaginian support, to establish himself in the possession of despotic power, but as he gradually extended his aggressions, and reduced one Greek city after another under his authority, he in his turn came into fresh collision with Carthage. In B.C. 310, he was defeated at the river Himera, near the hill of Ecnomus, by the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, in so decisive a battle that it seemed to extinguish all his hopes: his allies and dependent cities quickly threw off his yoke, and Syracuse itself was once more blockaded by a Carthaginian fleet. In this extremity Agathocles adopted the daring resolution of transporting his army to Africa, and carrying on the war at the very gates of Carthage. During his absence (which was protracted for nearly four years, B.C. 310--307) Hamilcar had brought a large part of Sicily under the dominion of Carthage, but was foiled in all his attempts upon Syracuse, and at length was himself taken prisoner in a night attack, and put to death. The Agrigentines, whose name had been scarcely mentioned for a long period, but whose city appears to have been revived under Timoleon, and now again appears as one of the most considerable in Sicily, made a fruitless attempt to raise the banner of freedom and independence, while the Syracusan exile Deinocrates, at the head of a large army of exiles and mercenaries, maintained a sort of independent position, aloof from all parties. But Agathocles, on his return from Africa, concluded peace with Carthage, and entered into a compromise with Deinocrates, while he established his own power at Syracuse by a fearful massacre of all that were opposed to him. For the last twelve years of his reign (B.C. 301--289), his dominion seems to have been firmly established over Syracuse and a great part of Sicily, so that he was at liberty to follow out his ambitious schemes in the south of Italy and elsewhere.

After the death of Agathocles (B.C. 289), Sicily seems to have fallen into a state of great confusion; Syracuse apparently still retained its predominant position among the Greek cities, under a despot named Hicetas: but Agrigentum, which had also fallen into the hands of a despot named Phintias, was raised to a position that almost enabled it to dispute the supremacy. Phintias extended his dominion over several other cities, and having made himself master of Gela, utterly destroyed it, in order to found and people a new city at the mouth of the river Himera, to which he gave the name of Phintias. This was the last Greek city founded in Sicily. Meanwhile the Carthaginians were becoming more and more preponderant in the island, and the Greeks were at length led to invoke the assistance of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who was at this time carrying on war in Italy against the Romans. He readily listened to their overtures, and landed in [p. 2.982]the island in the autumn of B.C. 278. Phintias was at this time dead, and Hicetas had not long before been expelled from Syracuse. Pyrrhus therefore had no Greek adversaries to contend with, and was able to turn all his efforts against the Carthaginians. His successes were at first rapid and decisive: he wrested one town after another from the dominion of Carthage, took Panormus, which had long been the metropolis of their Sicilian possessions, and had never before fallen into the hands of a Greek invader, and carried by assault the strong fortresses of Ercte and Eryx: but he was foiled in an attack on Lilybaeum; jealousies and dissensions now arose between him and his Sicilian allies, and after little more than two years he was fain to return to Italy (B.C. 276), abandoning all his projects upon Sicily (Diod. Exc. Hoesch. 22.10, pp. 497--499).

The departure of Pyrrhus left the Sicilian Greeks without a leader, but Hieron, who was chosen general by the Syracusans, proved himself worthy of the occasion. Meanwhile a new and formidable enemy had arisen in the Mamertines, a band of Campanian mercenaries, who had possessed themselves by treachery of the important city of Messana, and from thence carried their arms over a considerable part of Sicily, and conquered or plundered many of its principal towns. Hieron waged war with them for a considerable period, and at length obtained so decisive a victory over them, in the immediate neighbourhood of Messana, that the city itself must have fallen, had it not been saved by the intervention of the Carthaginian general Hannibal. Hieron was now raised to the supreme power at Syracuse, and even assumed the title of king, B.C. 270. A few years after this we find him joining his arms with the Carthaginians, to effect the expulsion of the Mamertines, an object which they would doubtless have accomplished had not that people appealed to the protection of Rome. The Romans, who had recently completed the conquest of Italy, gladly seized the pretext for interfering in the affairs of Sicily, and espoused the cause of the Mamertines. Thus began the First Punic War, B.C. 264.

It is impossible here to relate in detail the events of that long-protracted struggle, during which Sicily became for twenty-three years the field of battle between the Romans and Carthaginians. Hieron, who had found himself at the beginning engaged in active hostilities with Rome, after sustaining several defeats, and losing many of his subject towns, wisely withdrew from the contest, and concluded in B.C. 263 a separate peace with Rome, by which he retained possession in full sovereignty of Syracuse and its territory, including the dependent towns of Acrae, Helorus, Netum, Megara, and Leontini, together with Tauromenium (Diod. xxiii. Exc. H. p. 502). From this time to the day of his death Hieron remained the faithful ally of the Romans, and retained the sovereign power at Syracuse undisturbed. In the rest of Sicily all trace of independent action on the part of the several Greek cities disappears: Agrigentum was indeed the only one of these cities in the island which appears to have retained any considerable importance: it was not taken by the Roman consuls till after a long and obstinate siege, B.C. 262, and was severely punished for its protracted resistance, the inhabitants being sold as slaves. Agrigentum indeed at a later period fell again into the hands of the Carthaginians, B.C. 255, but on the other hand the Romans made themselves' masters of Panormus, for a long time the capital of the Carthaginian dominion in the island, which was thenceforth occupied by a strong Roman garrison, and never again fell into the hands of its former masters. For several years before the conclusion of the war, the possessions of the Carthaginians in Sicily were confined to the mountain of Eryx, occupied by Hamilcar Barca, and to the two strongly fortified seaports of Lilybaeum and Drepanum, the former of which defied all the attacks of the Romans, as it had previously done those of Pyrrhus. The siege, or rather blockade, of Lilybaeum was continued for nearly ten years, until the destruction of the Carthaginian fleet off the islands of the Aegates, B.C. 241, compelled that people to purchase peace by the surrender of all their remaining possessions in Sicily.

The whole island was now reduced into the condition of a Roman province, with the exception of the territory still governed by Hieron as an allied, but independent sovereign. The province thus constituted was the first that had ever borne that name (Cic. Ver. 2.1): it was placed under the government of a praetor, who was sent annually from Rome (Appian, App. Sic. 2). On the first outbreak of the Second Punic War (B.C. 218), the consul Sempronius was at first sent to Sicily as his province, to guard against any threatened invasion from Africa; but he was soon recalled to oppose Hannibal in Italy, and for some years Sicily bore but an unimportant part in the war. A great change, however, occurred in the fourth year of the war (B.C. 215), in consequence of the defection of Hieronymus, the grandson and successor of Hieron at Syracuse, who abandoned the alliance of Rome to which Hieron had continued constant throughout his long reign, and espoused the Carthaginian cause. Hieronymus indeed was soon after assassinated, but the Carthaginian party at Syracuse, headed by Hippocrates and Epicydes, still maintained the ascendency, and Marcellus, who had been sent in haste to Sicily to put down the threatened revolt, was compelled to form the siege of Syracuse, B.C. 214. But so vigorous was the resistance offered to him that he soon found himself obliged to convert the siege into a blockade, nor was it till the autumn of B.C. 212 that the city finally fell into his hands. Meanwhile the war had extended itself to all parts of Sicily: many cities of the Roman province had followed the example of Syracuse, and joined the alliance of Carthage, while that power spared no exertions for their support. Even after the fall of Syracuse, the war was still continued: the Carthaginian general Mutines, who had made himself master of Agrigentum, carried on a desultory warfare from thence, and extended his ravages over the whole island. It was not till Mutines had been induced to desert the Carthaginian cause, and betray Agrigentum into the hands of the Romans, that the consul Laevinus was able to reduce the revolted cities to submission, and thus accomplished the final conquest of Sicily, B.C. 210 (Liv. 26.40; 27.5).

From this time the whole of Sicily became united as a Roman province, and its administration was in most respects similar to that of the other provinces. But its lot was anything but a fortunate one. Its great natural fertility, and especially its productiveness in corn, caused it, indeed, to be a possession of the utmost importance to Rome; but these very circumstances seem to have made it a favourite field for [p. 2.983]speculators, who bought up large tracts of land, which they cultivated solely by means of slaves, so that the free population of the island became materially diminished. The more mountainous portions of the island were given up to shepherds and herdsmen, all likewise slaves, and accustomed to habits of rapine and plunder, in which they were encouraged by their masters. At the same time the number of wealthy proprietors, and the extensive export trade of some of the towns, maintained a delusive appearance of prosperity. It was not till the outbreak of the Servile War in B.C. 135 that the full extent of these evils became apparent, but the frightful state of things then revealed sufficiently shows that the causes which had produced it must have been long at work. That great outbreak, which commenced with a local insurrection of the slaves of a great proprietor at Enna, named Damophilus, and was headed by a Syrian slave of the name of Eunus, quickly spread throughout the whole island, so that the slaves are said to have mustered 200,000 armed men. With this formidable force they defeated in succession the armies of several Roman praetors, so that in B.C. 134, it was thought necessary to send against them the consul Fulvius Flaccus, and it was not till the year B.C. 132 that their strongholds of Tauromenium and Enna were taken by the consul P. Rupilius. (Diod. xxxiv. Exc. Phot., Exc. Vales.) The insurrection was now finally quelled, but the state of Sicily had undergone a severe shock, and the settlement of its affairs was confided to P. Rupilius, together with ten commissioners, who laid down a code of laws and rules for its internal government which continued to be observed in the days of Cicero (Cic. Ver. 2.16).

But the outbreak of the second Servile War, under Salvius and Athenion, less than thirty years after the termination of the former one (B.C. 103), and the fact that the slaves were again able to maintain the contest against three successive consuls till they were finally vanquished by M. Aquilius, in B.C. 100, sufficiently proves that the evils in the state of society had been but imperfectly remedied by Rupilius; nor can we believe that the condition of the island was in reality altogether so flourishing as it is represented by Cicero during the interval which elapsed between this Servile War and the praetorship of Verres, B.C. 73. But the great natural resources of Sicily and its important position as the granary of Rome undoubtedly enabled it to recover with rapidity from all its disasters. The elder Cato had called it the store-room (cella penaria) of the Roman state, and Cicero observes that in the great Social War (B.C. 90--88) it supplied the Roman armies not only with food, but with clothing and arms also (Cic. Ver. 2.2). But the praetorship of Verres (B.C. 73--70) inflicted a calamity upon Sicily scarcely inferior to the Servile wars that had so recently devastated it. The rhetorical expressions of Cicero must not indeed be always understood literally; but with every allowance for exaggeration, there can no doubt that the evils resulting from such a government as that of Verres were enormous; and Sicily was just in such a state as to suffer from them most severely.

The orations of Cicero against Verres convey to us much curious and valuable information as to the condition of Sicily under the Roman republic as well as to the administration and system of government of the Roman provinces generally. Sicily at that time formed but one province, under the government of a praetor or pro-praetor, but it had always two quaestors, one of whom resided at Syracuse, the other at Lilybaeum. This anomaly (for such it appears to have been) probably arose from the different parts of the island having been reduced into the form of a province at different periods. The island contained in all above sixty towns which enjoyed municipal rights: of these, three only, Messana, Tauromenium, and Netum, were allied cities (civitates foederatae), and thus enjoyed a position of nominal independence; five were exempt from all fiscal burdens and from the ordinary jurisdiction of the Roman magistrates (civitates immunes et liberae): the rest were in the ordinary position of provincial towns, but retained their own magistrates and municipal rights, as well as the possession of their respective territories, subject to the payment of a tenth of their produce to the Roman state. These tenths, which were paid in kind, were habitually farmed out, according to principles and regulations laid down in the first instance by Hieron, king of Syracuse, and which therefore continued to be known as the Lex Hieronica. For judicial purposes, the island appears to have been divided into districts or conventus, but the number of them is not stated; those of Syracuse, Agrigentum, Lilybaeum, and Panormus are the only ones mentioned.

Sicily took little part in the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey. It was at first held by M. Cato on behalf of the latter, but abandoned by him when Pompey himself had quitted Italy, and was then occupied by Curio, as pro-praetor, with four legions (Caes. B.C. 1.30, 31). Caesar himself visited it previous to his African war, and it was from Lilybaeum that he crossed over with his army into Africa (Hirt. B. Afr. 1.) After the death of Caesar, it fell into the hands of Sextus Pompeius, whose powerful fleet enabled him to defy all the efforts of Octavian to recover it, and was at length secured to him by the peace of Misenum, B.C. 39, together with Sardinia and Corsica. But Octavian soon renewed his attempts to dispossess him, and though he sustained repeated defeats at sea, and lost a great part of his fleet by a storm, the energy and ability of Agrippa enabled him to triumph over all obstacles; and the final defeat of his fleet at Naulochus compelled Pompeius to abandon Sicily, and take refuge in the east (Appian, App. BC 5.77-122; D. C. 49.1-17). There seems no doubt that the island suffered severely from this contest, and from the rapacity or exactions of Sextus Pompeius: Strabo distinctly ascribes its decayed condition in his time principally to this cause (Strab. vi. pp. 270, 272). Augustus made some attempts to relieve it by sending colonies to a few cities, among which were Tauromenium, Catana, Syracuse, Thermae, and Tyndaris (Strab. vi. p.272; Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14); but the effect thus produced was comparatively small, and Strabo describes the whole island as in his time, with few exceptions, in a state of decay, many of its ancient cities having altogether disappeared, while others were in a declining condition, and the interior was for the most part given up to pasturage, and inhabited only by herdsmen (Strab. l.c.)

Augustus appears to have greatly remodelled the internal administration of Sicily: so that the condition of most of the towns had undergone a change between the time of Cicero and that of Pliny. Caesar had indeed proposed to give Latin rights to all the Sicilians, and M. Antonius even brought [p. 2.984]forward a law to admit them without distinction to the Roman franchise (Cic. Att. 14.2), but neither of these measures was accomplished; and we learn from Pliny that Messana was in his day the only city in the island of which the inhabitants possessed the Roman citizenship: three others, Centuripa, Netum, and Segesta enjoyed the Jus Latii, while all the others (except the colonies already mentioned) were in the ordinary condition of “civitates stipendiariae” (Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14). We hear very little of Sicily under the Empire; but it is probable that it never really recovered from the state of decay into which it had fallen in Strabo's time. Almost the only mention of it in history is that of an outbreak of slaves and banditti in the reign of Gallienus which seems to have resembled on a smaller scale the Servile wars that had formerly devastated it (Treb. Poll. Gallien, 4). The increasing importance of the supply of corn from Africa and Egypt renders it probable that that from Sicily had fallen off, and the small number of remains of the imperial period still existing in the island, though so many are preserved from a much earlier date, seems to prove that it could not then have been very flourishing. At a late period of the Empire, also, we find very few names of towns in the Itineraries, the lines of road being carried through stations or “mansiones” otherwise wholly unknown, a sufficient proof that the neighbouring towns had fallen into decay. (Itin. Ant. pp. 86--98.) In the division of the provinces under Augustus, Sicily was assigned to the senate, and was governed by a proconsul; at a later period it was considered as a part of Italy, and was governed by a magistrate named a Consularis, subject to the authority of the Vicarius Urbis Romae. (Notit. Dign. ii. p. 64; and Böcking, ad loc.)

Its insular position must have for a considerable time preserved Sicily from the ravages of the barbarians who devastated Italy towards the close of the Western Empire. Alaric indeed attempted to cross over the straits, but was foiled by a tempest. (Hist. Miscell. xiii. p. 535.) But Genseric, being master of a powerful fleet, made himself master of the whole island, which was held by the Vandals for a time, but subsequently passed into the hands of the Goths, and continued attached to the Gothic kingdom of Italy till it was conquered by Belisarius in A.D. 535. It was then united to the Eastern Empire, and continued to be governed as a dependency by the Byzantine emperors till the ninth century, when it fell into the hands of the Saracens or Arabs. That people first landed at Mazara, in the W. of the island in A.D. 827, and made themselves masters of Agrigentum; but their progress was vigorously opposed. They took Messana in 831, and Panormus in 835, but it was not till 878 that Syracuse, the last fortress in the island, fell into their hands. The island continued in the possession of the Saracens till the middle of the eleventh century, when it was partially recovered by the Byzantine emperors with the assistance of the Normans. But in 1061 the Norman Roger Guiscard invaded Sicily on his own account, and, after a long struggle, wholly reduced the island under his dominion. It has since remained attached, with brief exceptions, to the crown of Naples, the monarch of which bears the title of King of the Two Sicilies.

The extant remains of antiquity in Sicily fully confirm the inference which we should draw from the statements of ancient historians, as to the prosperity and opulence of the island under the Greeks, and its comparatively decayed condition under the Romans. The ruins of the latter period are few, and for the most part unimportant, the exceptions being confined to the three or four cities which we know to have received Roman colonies: while the temples, theatres, and other edifices from the Greek period are numerous and of the most striking character. No city of Greece, with the exception of Athens, can produce structures that vie with those of which the remains are still visible at Agrigentum, Selinus and Segesta. At the same time the existing relics of antiquity, especially coins and inscriptions, strongly confirm the fact that almost the whole population of the island had been gradually Hellenised. It is evident that the strong line of demarcation which existed in the days of Thucydides between the Greek cities and those of non-Hellenic or barbarian origin had been to a great degree effaced before the island passed under the dominion of Rome. The names of Sicilian citizens mentioned by Cicero in his Verrine orations are as purely Greek where they belong to cities of Siculian origin, such as Centuripa and Agyrium, or even to Carthaginian cities like Panormus and Lilybaeum, as are those of Syracuse or Agrigentum. In like manner we find coins with Greek legends struck by numerous cities which undoubtedly never received a Greek colony, such as Alaesa, Menaenum, and many others. It is probable indeed that during the Roman Republic the language of the whole island (at least the written and cultivated language) was Greek, which must, however, have gradually given way to Latin under the Empire, as the Sicilian dialect of the present day is one of purely Latin origin, and differs but slightly from that of the south of Italy. Of the language of the ancient Sicels we have no trace at all, and it is highly probable that it was never used as a written language.


The general description of the physical features of Sicily has been already given. But it will be necessary here to describe its coasts in somewhat more detail. The E. coast extending from Cape Pelorus to Pachynus, consists of three portions of a very different character. From Pelorus to Tauromenium, a distance of about 40 miles, it is closely bordered by the chain of mountains called the Mons Neptunius, the slopes of which descend steeply to the sea, forming a very uniform line of coast, furrowed by numerous small torrents. Two of the small headlands between these valleys appear to have borne the names of Drepanum (Plin.) and Argennum (Ptol.), but their identification is quite uncertain. S. of Tauromenium, from the mouth of the Acesines to that of the Symaethus, the whole coast is formed by beds of lava and other volcanic matters, which have flowed down from Aetna Off this coast, about midway between Acium and Catana are some rocky islets of volcanic origin, called by Pliny the Cyclopum Scopuli: the name of Portus Ulyssis is given by the same author to a port in this neighbourhood, but it is impossible so say which of the many small sheltered coves on this line of coast he means to designate. S. of the Symaethus the coast is much varied, being indented by several deep bays and inlets, separated by projecting rocky headlands. The principal of these is the bay of Megara (Sinus Megarensis) so called from the Greek city of that name; it was bounded on the N. by the Xiphonian [p. 2.985]promontory, now Capo di Sta Croce (Ξιφωνίας ἀκρωτήριον, Strab. vi. p.267), within which was the XIPHONIAN PORT (Ξιφώνειος, Scyl. p. 4), evidently the harbour of Augusta, one of the finest natural harbours in the island. Between this and Syracuse is the remarkable peninsular promontory of THAPSUS (Magnisi), while immediately S. of Syracuse occurs the remarkable landlocked bay called the Great Harbour of that city, and the rocky headland of PLEMMYRIUM which bounds it on the S. From this point to Cape Pachynus no ancient names have been preserved to us of the headlands or harbours. From Cape Pachynus to the site of Gela the coast is low but rocky. Along this line must be placed the port of Ulysses (Portus Odysseae) mentioned by Cicero, and the promontory of Ulysses of Ptolemy, both apparently in the immediate neighbourhood of Cape Pachynus [PACHYNUS] The Bucra promontory (Βούκρα ἄκρα) of Ptolemy, which he places further W., is wholly unknown, as is also the port of Caucana of the same author (Καυκάνα λιμήν, Ptol. 3.4.7). The remainder of the S. coast of Sicily from Gela to Lilybaeum presents on the whole a very uniform character; it has few or no natural ports, and no remarkable headlands. It is bounded for the most part by hills of clay or soft limestone, generally sloping gradually to the sea, but sometimes forming cliffs of no great elevation. The celebrated promontory of LILYBAEUM is a low rocky point, and its famous port, though secure, is of small extent. N. of Lilybaeum was the promontory of AEGITHALLUS with the adjacent low islands, on one of which the city MOTYA was built; while the more considerable islands of the AEGATES lay a few miles further to the W., and the promontory of DREPANUM adjoining the city of the same name formed the NW. point of Sicily. It is remarkable that no ancient name is preserved to us for the deep gulf of Castellamare which occurs on the coast between Trapani and Palermo, though it is one of the most remarkable features of the N. coast of Sicily; nor are the two striking headlands that bound the Bay of Palermo itself known to us by their ancient names. The bold and insulated hill of Monte Sta Rosalia is, however, the ancient ERCTE. The northern coast of Sicily is bold and varied, formed by offshoots and ridges of the northern chain of mountains descending abruptly to the sea; hence it was always a rugged and difficult line of communication. But none of the rocky headlands that interrupt it are mentioned to us by their ancient names, till we come to that of Mylae adjoining the town of the same name (Milazzo), and the PHALACRIAN PROMONTORY (Ptol. 3.4.2), apparently the Capo di Rasocolmo within a few miles of Cape Pelorus.
From the triangular form of Sicily and the configuration of the mountain chains which traverse it, it is evident that it could not have any rivers of importance. Most of them indeed are little more than mere mountain torrents, swelling with great rapidity after violent storms or during the winter rains, but nearly, if not wholly, dry during the summer months. The most important rivers of the island are: 1. The SYMAETHUS (Simeto or Giarretta), which rises in the northern chain of mountains (the Mons Nebrodes), and flows to the S. and SE. round the foot of Aetna, falling into the sea about 6 miles S. of Catania. It receives several tributaries, of which the Dittaino is certainly the ancient CHRYSAS that flowed near the city of Assorus, while the ADRANUS of Stephanus can be no other than the northern or main branch of the Symaethus itself. The Cyamosorus (Κναμόσωρος) of Polybius, which appears to have been in the neighbourhood of Centuripa, must probably be the branch now called Fiume Salso, which joins the Simeto just below Centorbi. 2. The ACESINES or ASINES (F. Cantara), which rises very near the Symaethus, but flows along the northern foot of Aetna, and falls into the sea just below Tauromenium. 3. The HIMERA (F. Salso), the most considerable of two rivers which bore the same name, rising in the Monte Madonia (Mons Nebrodes) only about 15 miles from the N. coast, and flowing due S.; so that it traverses nearly the whole breadth of Sicily, and falls into the sea at Alicata (Phintias). 4. The HALYCUS (Platani), so long the boundary between the Carthaginian and Greek territories in the island, is also a considerable stream; it rises not far from the Himera, but flows to the SW., and enters the sea between Agrigentum and Selinus, close to the site of Heraclea Minoa. 5. The HYPSAS (Belici), falling into the sea on the S. coast, a few miles E. of Selinus; and 6, the ANAPUS (Anapo), which flows under the walls of Syracuse and falls into the great harbour of that city. It is unlike most of the rivers of Sicily, being a full clear stream, supplied from subterranean sources. The same character belongs still more strongly to its tributary the CYANE which has a considerable volume of water, though its whole course does not exceed two miles in length.

The minor rivers of Sicily which are mentioned either in history or by the geographers are numerous, but in many cases are very difficult to identify. Beginning at Cape Pachynus and proceeding along the coast westward, we find: 1, the Motychanus (Μοτύχανος, Ptol. 3.4.7), evidently so called from its flowing near Motyca, and therefore probably the stream now called Fiume di Scicli; 2, the Hirminius of Pliny, probably the Flume di Ragusa, very near the preceding; 3, the HIPPARIS; and 4, the OANUS two small streams which flowed under the walls of Camarina, now called the F. di Camarana and Frascolari; 5, the GELA or GELAS, which gave name to the city of Gelas and must therefore be the Fiume di Terranova; 6, the ACRAGAS a small stream flowing under the walls of Agrigentum, to which it gave name, and receiving a tributary called the HYPSAS (Drago), which must not be confounded with the more important river of the same name already mentioned; 7, the CAMICUS probably the Fiume delle Canne, about 10 miles W. of Girgenti; 8, the SELINUS flowing by the city of that name, now the Madiuni; 9, the MAZARA or MAZARUS, flowing by the town of the same name, and still called Fiume di Mazzara. Besides these Ptolemy mentions the Isburus and Sosias or Sossius, two names otherwise wholly unknown, and which cannot be placed with any approach to certainty. Equally uncertain is the more noted river ACHATES which is placed by Pliny in the same part of Sicily with the Mazara and Hypsas; but there is great confusion in his enumeration as well as that of Ptolemy. It is generally identified with the Dirillo, but this is situated in quite a different part of Sicily. The Acithius of Ptolemy, which he places between Lilybaeum and Selinus, may be the Fiume di Marsala.

Along the N. coast, proceeding from Lilybaeum to Cape Pelorus, we meet with a number of small streams, having for the most part a short torrent-like [p. 2.986]course, from the mountains to the sea. Their identification is for the most part very obscure and uncertain. Thus we find three rivers mentioned in connection with Segesta, and all of them probably flowing through its territory, the Porpax, Telmessus, and CRIMESSUS or CRIMISUS The last of these is probably the Fiume di S. Bartolomeo, about 5 miles E. of Segesta: the other two, which are mentioned only by Aelian (Ael. VH 2.33), cannot be identified, though one of them is probably the Fiume Gaggera, which flows beneath Segesta itself, and falls into the F. di S. Bartolomeo near its mouth. But, to complicate the question still more, we are told that the names of Scamander and Simois were given by the Trojan colonists to two rivers near Segesta; and the former name at least seems to have been really in use. (Strab. xiii. p.608; Diod. 20.71.) Proceeding eastward we find: 1, the Orethus (Vib. Sequest. p. 15), still called the Oreto, a small stream flowing under the walls of Panormus; 2, the Eleutherus (Ἐλεύθερος, Ptol. 3.4.3), placed by Ptolemy between Panormus and Soluntum, and which must therefore be the Fiume di Bagaria; 3, the northern HIMERA commonly identified with the Fiume di S. Leonardo, near Termini, but more probably the Fiume Grande, about 8 miles further E. [HIMERA]; 4, the Monalus (Μόναλος, Ptol.), between Cephaloedium and Alaesa, now the Pollina; 5, the Halesus or Alaesus, flowing beneath the city of Alaesa, now the Pettineo; 6, the Chydas (Χύδας, Ptol.), between Alaesa and Aluntium; 7, the Timethus (Γίμηθος, Id.), between Agathyrna and Tyndaris; 8, the Helicon (Ἑλικών, Id.), between Tyndaris and Mylae; 9, the Phacelinus (Vib. Sequest.), which was near Mylae, or between that city and Messana (the nearer determination of these four last is wholly uncertain); 10, the Melas of Ovid (Ov. Fast. 4.476) is generally placed in the same neighbourhood, though without any obvious reason.

Along the E. coast the names may be more clearly identified. 1. The ONOBALAS of Appian (App. BC 5.109) is probably identical with the Acesines already noticed; 2, the ACIS a very small stream, is the Fiume di Jaci; 3, the AMENANUS flowing through the city of Catana, is the Giudicello; 4, the TERIAS is the Fiume di S. Leonardo, which flows from the Lake of Lentini; 5, the PANTAGIAS is the Porcari; 6, the ALABUS is the Cantaro, a small stream flowing into the bay of Augusta. The Anapus and its confluent the Cyane have been already mentioned. S. of Syracuse occur three small rivers, memorable in the retreat of the Athenians: these are, 1, the CACYPARIS (Cassibili); 2, the ERINEUS (Fiume di Avola); and 3, the ASINARUS (Falconara). A few miles S. of this was the HELORUS now called the Abisso, flowing by the city of the same name. No other stream occurs between this and Cape Pachynum.

Sicily contains no lakes that deserve the name; but there are a few pools or marshy lagoons, of which the names have been preserved to us. Of the latter description were the LYSIMELIA PALUS near Syracuse, and the CAMARINA PALUS adjoining the city of the same name. The LACUS PALICORUM, on the contrary, was a deep pool or basin of volcanic origin: while the small lake called by the poets Pergus or Pergusa is still extant in the neighbourhood of Enna. The Lago di Lentini, though much the most considerable accumulation of waters in Sicily, is not mentioned by any ancient author.

The towns and cities of Sicily were very numerous. The Greek colonies and their offshoots or dependencies have been already mentioned in relating the history of their settlement; but the names of all the towns so far as they can be ascertained will be here enumerated in geographical order, without reference to their origin, omitting only the places mentioned in the Itineraries, which were probably mere villages or stations. 1. Beginning from Cape Pelorus and proceeding along the E. coast towards Cape Pachynus, were: MESSANA, TAUROMENIUM, NAXOS, ACIUM, CATANA and SYRACUSE. TROTILUM, destroyed at an early period, as well as MEGARA HYBLAEA, were situated between Catana and Syracuse. The Chalcidic colonies of CALLIPOLIS and EUBOEA both of which disappeared at an early period, must have been situated on or near the E. coast of the island, and to the N. of Syracuse, but we have no further clue to their situation. S. of Syracuse, between it and Cape Pachynus, was HELORUS at the mouth of the river of the same name. 2. W. of Cape Pachynus, proceeding along the S. coast, were CAMARINA, GELA, PHINTIAS, AGRIGENTUM, HERACLEA MINOA, THERMAE SELINUNTIAE, SELINUS, MAZARA, and LILYBAEUM Besides these the more obscure towns of CAMICUS, CAENA, and INYCUM the two former dependencies of Agrigentum, the latter of Selinus, must be placed on or near the S. coast of the island. 3. N. of Lilybaeum was MOTYA which ceased to exist at a comparatively early period, and DREPANUM (Trapani) at the NW. angle of the island. Between this and Panormus, were ERYX at the foot of the mountain of the same name, and a short distance from the coast, the Emporium of Segesta, HYCCARA and CETARIA Proceeding eastward from PANORMUS along the N. coast of the island, were SOLUNTUM, THERMAE, HIMERA, CEPHALOEDIUM, ALAESA, CALACTA, AGATHYRNA, ALUNTIUM, TYNDARIS, and MYLAE

The towns in the interior are more difficult to enumerate: with regard to some of them indeed we are at a loss to determine, even in what region of the island they were situated. For the purpose of enumeration it will be convenient to divide the island into three portions; the first comprising the western half of Sicily as far as the river Himera, and a line drawn from its sources to the N. coast: the other two, the NE. and SE. portions, being separated by the course of the river Dittaino and that of the Symaethus to the sea. 1. In the western district were SEGESTA and HALICYAE the most westerly of the inland cities; ENTELLA on the river Hypsas, about midway between the two seas; IAETA and MACELLA both of which may probably be placed in the mountainous district between Entella and Panormus; TRIOCALA near Calatabellotta, in the mountains inland from the Thermae Selinuntiae; SCHERA, of very uncertain site, but probably situated in the same part of Sicily; HERBESSUS in the neighbourhood of Agrigentum; PETRA near the sources of the W. branch of the Himera in the Madonia mountains; and ENGYUM (Gangi), at the head of the Fiume Grande, the E. branch of the same river. PAROPUS must apparently be placed on the northern declivity of the same mountains, but further to the W.

A little to the E. of the Himera and as nearly as possible in the centre of the island, was situated the fortress of ENNA (Castro Giovanni), so that the boundary line between the NE. and NW. regions may be conveniently drawn from thence. 2. In the NE. region were: ASSORUS and AGYRIUM [p. 2.987]NE. of Enna, but W. of the valley of the Symaethus; CENTURIPA (Centorbi), nearly due E. of Enna; ADRANUM (Adernò), on the E. bank of the Symaethus, at the foot of Mount Aetna; HYBLA MAJOR (which must not be confounded with the city of the same name near Syracuse), and AETNA previously called INESSA both situated on the southern slope of the same mountain. N. of Agyrium, on the southern slopes of the Mons Nebrodes were situated HERBITA, CAPITIUM, and probably also GALARIA: while on the northern declivities of the same mountains, fronting the sea, but at some distance inland, were placed APOLLONIA (probably Pollina), AMESTRATUS (Mistretta), ABACAENUM a few miles inland from Tyndaris, and NOAE probably Noara. Three other towns, IMACHARA, ICHANA, and TISSA may probably be assigned to this same region of Sicily, though their exact position cannot be determined. 3. In the SE. portion of Sicily, S. of the Symaethus and its tributary the Chrysas or Dittaino, were situated ERGETIUM, MORGANTIA, LEONTINI, and HYBLA: as well as MENAENUM and HERBESSUS: but of all these names Leontini (Lentini) and Menaenum (Mineo) are the only ones that can be identified with anything like certainty. In the hills W. of Syracuse were ACRAE (Palazzolo), BIDIS (S. Gio. di Bidino), and CACYRUM (Cassaro); and W. of these again, in the direction towards Gela, must be placed the Heraean HYBLA as well as ECHETLA in the neighbourhood of Gran Michele. SW. of Syracuse, in the interior, were NETUM or NEETUM (Noto Vecchio), and MOTYCA (Modica), both of which are well known. The Syracusan colony of CASMENAE must probably have been situated in the same district but its site has never been identified.

After going through this long list of Sicilian towns, there remain the following, noticed either by Cicero or Pliny, as municipal towns, to the position of which we have no means of even approximating. The ACHERINI (Cic.), TYRACINI (Cic.; Tyracienses, Plin.), Acestaei (Plin.), Etini (Id.), Herbulenses (Id.), Semellitani (Id.), Talarenses (Id.). Many of the above names are probably corrupt and merely false readings, but we are at a loss what to substitute. On the other hand, the existence of a town called MUTISTRATUM or Mytistratum is attested by both Cicero and Pliny, and there seems no sufficient reason for rejecting it as identical with Amestratus, as has been done by many modern geographers, though its site is wholly uncertain. Equally unknown are the following names given by Ptolemy among the inland towns of the island: Aleta (Ἄλητα), Hydra or Lydia (Ὕδρα or Λυδία), Patyorus (Πατίωρος), Coturga or Cortuga (Κότυργα or Κόρτυγα), Legum or Letum (Λῆγον or Λῆτον), Ancrina (Ἄγκρινα), Ina or Ena (Ἴνα or Ἤνα), and Elcethium (Ἐλκέθιον). It would be a waste of time to discuss these names, most of which are probably in their present form corrupt, and are all of them otherwise wholly unknown. On the other hand the existence of NACONA mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium, but not noticed by any other writer, is confirmed by coins.

The topography of Sicily is still very imperfectly known. The ruins of its more celebrated cities are indeed well known, and have been often described; especially in the valuable work of the Duke of Serra di Falco (Antichità della Sicilia, 5 vols. fol. Palermo, 1834--1839), as well as in the well-known travels of Swinburne, Sir R. Hoare, &c. (Swinburne's Travels in the Two Sicilies, 2 vols. 4to. Lond. 1783; Sir R. Hoare's Classical Tour through Italy and Sicily, 2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1819; St. Non, Voyage Pittoresque de Naples et de la Sicile, 5 vols. fol. Paris, 1781; Biscari, Principe di, Viaggio per le Antichità della Sicilia, 8vo. Palermo, 1817, &c.): but the island has never been thoroughly explored by an antiquarian traveller, like those to whom we are indebted for our knowledge of Greece and Asia Minor. The valuable work of Cluverius (Sicilia Antiqua, fol. Lugd. Bat. 1619) must here, as well as for Italy, be made the foundation of all subsequent researches. But much valuable information is found in the more ancient work of Fazello, a Sicilian monk of the sixteenth century, as well as of his commentator Amico, and in the Topographical Dictionary of the latter author. (Thomae Fazelli de Rebus Siculis Decades Duo, first edit. in fol. Panormi, 1558, republished with copious notes by Amico, 3 vols. fol. Catanae, 1749--1753; Amico, Lexicon Topographicum Siculum, 3 vols. 4to. Catanae, 1759). Much, however, still remains to be done. Many localities indicated by Fazello in the sixteenth century as presenting ancient remains have never (so far as we are aware) been visited by any modern traveller: no good map of the island exists, which can be trusted for topographical details, and there can be little doubt that a minute and careful examination of the whole country, such as has been made of the neighbouring island of Sardinia by the Chev. De la Marmora, would well reward the labours of the explorer. Even the ruins described by Sir R. Hoare as existing in the neighbourhood of Sta Croce, or those situated near Vindicari, a few miles N. of Cape Pachynus and commonly ascribed to Imachara, have never been examined in detail, nor has any clue been obtained to their identification.

The Itineraries give several lines of route through the island, but many of the stations mentioned are wholly uncertain, and were probably never more than obscure villages or mere solitary posthouses. The first line of route (Itin. Ant. pp. 86--89) proceeds from Messana along the E. coast by Tauromenium and Acium to Catana, and from thence strikes inland across the centre of the island to Agrigentum; the course of this inland route is wholly uncertain and the names of the three stations upon it, Capitoniana, Gelasium Philosophiana and Petiliana, are entirely unknown. From Agrigentum it followed the line of coast to Lilybaeum; the stations given are Cena [CAENA], Allava, Ad Aquas (i. e. the Aquae Labodes or Thermae Selinuntiae), Ad fluvium Lanarium, and Mazara; all except the 3rd and 5th of very uncertain site. A second route (Itin. Ant. pp. 89, 90) proceeds in the inverse direction from Lilybaeum to Agrigentum, and thence by a more southerly line, through Calvisiana, Hybla, and Acrae (Palazzolo) to Syracuse, and from thence as before along the E. coast to Messana. A third line follows the N. coast of the island from Lilybaeum by Panormus to Messana. The stations on this line are better known and can for the most part be determined: they are, Drepana, Aquae Segestanae (near Segesta), Parthenium (Partinico); Hyccara (Muro di Carini), Panormus, Soluntum, Thermae, Cephaloedium, Halesus (Alaesa), Calacte, Agatinnum, (Agathyrnum), Tyndaris, and Messana. A fourth route (Itin. Ant. p. 93) crossed the interior of the island from Thermae, where it branched off from the preceding, passing through Enna, Agyrium, Centuripa and Aetna to Catana. A fifth gives us a line [p. 2.988]of strictly maritime route around the southern extremity of the island from Agrigentum to Syracuse; but with the exception of Pintis, which is probably Phintias (Alicata), none of the stations can be identified. Lastly, a line of road was in use which crossed the island from Agrigentum direct to Panormus (Itin. Ant. p. 96), but none of its stations are known, and we are therefore unable to determine even its general course. The other routes given in the Itinerary of Antoninus are only unimportant variations of the preceding ones. The Tabula gives only the one general line around the island (crossing, however, from Calvisiana on the S. coast direct to Syracuse), and the cross line already mentioned from Thermae to Catana. All discussion of distances along the above routes must be rejected as useless, until the routes themselves can be more accurately determined, which is extremely difficult in so hilly and broken a country as the greater part of the interior of Sicily. The similarity of names, which in Italy is so often a sure guide where all other indications are wanting, is of far less assistance in Sicily, where the long period of Arabic dominion has thrown the nomenclature of the island into great confusion. - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.


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Aegean Sea



















Arabian Desert







Balearic Islands








Caesarea Philippi





















Danube River



Dniester River

Douro River


Ebro River


Emerita Augusta




Euphrates River

Fair Havens


Forum Appius





Garonne River





Greater Syrtis

Guadalquivir River

Guadiana River


Halys River



Heraclea Pontus

Hippo Regius









Jordan River


Kure Mountains




Leptis Magna

Lesser Syritis


Loire River









Mauritania Caesariensis

Mauritania Tingitana


Mediterranean Sea






Mount Sinai


Nabataean Kingdom









Nile River


Oceanus Atlanticus



Orontes River


















Po River



Pontus Euxinus

Porta Veneris


Prut River








Sahara Desert







Saonne River






Sea of Adria

Seine River





Sinus Arabicus






Tagus River




Taurus Mountains







Tiber River


Tisza River