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History (12)


  Syracuse was, with the single exception of Naxos, the most ancient of the Greek colonies in Sicily. It was a Corinthian. colony, sent out from that city under a leader named Archias, son of Euagetes, who belonged to the powerful family of the Bacchiadae, but had been compelled to expatriate himself. According to. some accounts the colony was strengthened by an admixture of Dorian or Locrian colonists with the original Corinthian settlers; but it is certain that the Syracusans regarded themselves in all ages as of pure Corinthian origin (Theocr. Id. xvi 91), and maintained relations of the closest amity with their parent city. The colony was founded in B.C. 734, and the first settlers established themselves in the island of Ortygia, to which it is probable that the city was confined for a considerable period. (Thuc. vi. 2; Strab. vi. p. 269; Seymn. Ch. 279-282; Marm. Par.; concerning the date, see Clinton, F. H. vol. i. p. 164.) The name of Ortygia is evidently Greek, and derived from the well-known epithet of Diana, to whom the island was regarded as consecrated (Diod. v. 3); but the city seems to have assumed from the very beginning the name of Syracusae, which was derived, as already mentioned, from the name of the adjoining marsh or lake, Syraco, doubtless an indigenous name, as it has no signification in Greek. It appears indeed that the form Syraco was used by Epicharmus for the name of the city itself, but this was evidently a mere poetic license. (Strab. viii. p. 364.)
  As in the case of most of the Greek colonies in Sicily, we have very little information concerning the early history and progress of Syracuse; but we may infer that it rose steadily, if not rapidly, to prosperity, from the circumstance that it continued to extend its power by the foundation of fresh colonies: that of Acrae within 70 years after its own establishment (B.C. 664); Casmenae 20 years later (B.C. 644), and Camarina 45 years afterwards, or B.C. 599. None of these colonies, however, rose to any considerable power: it was obviously the policy of Syracuse to keep them in the position of mere dependencies; and Camarina, having given umbrage to the parent city, was destroyed only 46 years after its foundation. (Thuc. vi. 5; Scymn. Ch. 294-296.) Syracuse was not, however, free front internal dissensions and revolutions. An obscure notice preserved to us by Thucydides indicates the occurrence of these as early as B.C. 648, which led to the expulsion of a party or clan called the Myletidae, who withdrew into exile and joined in the foundation of Himera. (Thuc. vi. 5.) Another indication of such disputes is found in Aristotle (Pol. v. 4), but we are unable to assign any definite place in chronology to the occurrence there alluded to. At a later period we find the government in the hands of an exclusive oligarchy called the Geomori or Gamori, who, from their name, would appear to have been the descendants of the original colonists, around whom there naturally grew up a democracy or plebs, composed of the citizens derived from other sources. At length, about B.C. 486, a revolution took place; and the democracy succeeded in expelling the Geomori, who thereupon withdrew to Casmenae. (Herod. vii. 155; Dionys. vi. 62.) But this revolution quickly led to another; Gelon, the powerful despot of Gela, having espoused the cause of the exiles. Gela was at this time at least equal, if not superior, to Syracuse in power. Hippocrates, its late despot, had extended his power over many of the other cities in the east of Sicily, and defeated the Syracusans themselves in a great battle at the river Helorus. He would probably indeed have made himself master of Syracuse upon this occasion had it not been for the interposition of the Corinthians and Corcyraeans, who brought about a peace upon equitable terms. (Herod. vii. 154.) But the expulsion of the Geomori opened a fresh opportunity to Gelon, who, putting himself at the head of the exiles, easily effected their restoration, while the people of Syracuse readily admitted Gelon himself as their ruler with despotic authority. (Ib. 155.)
  This revolution (which occurred in B.C. 485) seemed at first likely to render Syracuse subordinate to Gela, but it ultimately produced a directly contrary effect. Gelon seems to have been fully alive to the superior advantages of Syracuse, and from the moment he had established his power in that city, made it the chief object of his solicitude, and directed all his efforts to the strengthening and adorning his new capital. Among other measures, he removed thither the whole body of the citizens of Camarina (which had been repeopled by Hippocrates), and subsequently more than half of those of Gela itself, admitting them all to the full rights of Syracusan citizens. Afterwards, as he directed his arms successively against the Sicilian Megara and Euboea, he removed the wealthy and noble citizens of both those cities also to Syracuse. (Ib. 156.) That city now rose rapidly to a far greater amount of power and prosperity than it had previously enjoyed, and became, under the fostering care of Gelon, unquestionably the first of the Greek cities in Sicily. It was probably at this period that it first extended itself beyond the limits of the island, and occupied the table-land or heights of Achradina, which were adapted to receive a far more numerous population, and had already become thickly peopled before the time of Thucydides. (Thuc. vi. 3.) This portion of the city now came to be known as the Outer City (he exo polis), while the island of Ortygia was called the Inner City, though still frequently designated as the Island. Strictly speaking, however, it had ceased to merit that term, being now joined to the mainland by an artificial dike or causeway. (Thuc. l. c.)
  From the time of Gelon the history of Syracuse becomes inseparably blended with that of Sicily in general; its position in the island being so important that, as Strabo justly remarks, whatever vicissitudes of fortune befel the city were shared in by the whole island. (Strab. vi. p. 270.) Hence it would be useless to recapitulate the events of which a brief summary has been already given. in the article Sicilia and which are more fully detailed by all the general historians of Greece. The following summary will, therefore, be confined to those historical events which more immediately affected the city itself, as distinguished from the political vicissitudes of the state.
  There can be no doubt that Syracuse continued to flourish extremely throughout the reign of Gelon (B.C. 485-478), as well as that of his successor Hieron (B.C. 478-467), who, notwithstanding the more despotic character of his government, was in many respects a liberal and enlightened ruler. His patronage of letters and the arts especially rendered Syracuse one of the chief resorts of men of letters, and his court afforded shelter and protection to Aeschylus, Pindar, and Bacchylides. Nor was Syracuse itself deficient in literary distinction. Epicharmus, though not a native of the city, spent all the latter years of his life there, and Sophron, the celebrated writer of mimes, was a native of Syracuse, and exhibited all his principal works there. The care bestowed upon the arts is sufficiently attested by the still extant coins of the city, as well as by the accounts transmitted to us of other monuments; and there is every probability that the distinction of Syracuse in this respect commenced from the reign of Hieron. The tranquil reign of that monarch was followed by a brief period of revolution and disturbance; his brother Thrasybulus having, after a short but tyrannical and violent reign, been expelled by the Syracusans, who established a popular government, B.C. 466. This was for a time agitated by fresh tumults, arising out of disputes between the new citizens who had been introduced by Gelon and the older citizens, who claimed the exclusive possession of political power; but after some time these disputes were terminated by a compromise, and the new citizens withdrew to Messana. (Diod. xi. 67, 68, 72, 73, 76.)
  The civil dissensions connected with the expulsion of Thrasybulus, which on more than one occasion broke out into actual hostilities, show how great was the extent which the city had already attained. Thrasybulus himself, and afterwards the discontented citizens, are mentioned as occupying the Island and Achradina, both of which were strongly fortified, and had their own separate walls (Diod. xi. 68, 73); while the popular party held the rest of the city. It is evident therefore that there were already considerable spaces occupied by buildings outside the walls of these two quarters, which are distinctly mentioned on one occasion as the suburbs (ta proasteia, Ib. 68). Of these, one quarter called Tycha, which lay to the W. of Achradina, adjoining the N. slope of the table-land, is now first mentioned by name (Ibid.); but there can be no doubt that the plain between the heights of Achradina and the marshes was already occupied with buildings, and formed part of the city, though it apparently was not as yet comprised within the fortifications.
  The final establishment of the democracy at Syracuse was followed by a period of about sixty years of free government, during which we are expressly told that the city, in common with the other Greek colonies in Sicily, developed its resources with great rapidity, and probably attained to its maximum of wealth and power. (Diod. xi. 68, 72.) Before the close of this period it had to encounter the severest danger it had yet experienced, and gave abundant proof of its great resources by coming off victorious in a contest with Athens, then at the very height of its power The circumstances of the great siege of Syracuse by the Athenians must here be related in some detail, on account of their important bearing on all questions connected with the topography of the city, and the interest they confer on its localities. At the same time it will obviously be impossible to do more than give a very brief sketch of that memorable contest, for the details of which the reader must refer to the narrative of Thucydides, with the copious illustrations of Arnold, Grote, and Col. Leake.
  It was not till the spring of B.C. 414 that the siege of Syracuse was regularly commenced. But in the autumn of 415, the Athenians had already made a demonstration against the, city, and sailing into the Great Harbour, effected a landing without opposition near the Olympieum, where they established their camp on the shore, and erected a temporary fort at a place called Dascon (Thuc. vi. 66; Diod. xii. 6), apparently on the inner bight of the harbour, between the mouth of the Anapus and the bay now called the Bay of Maddalena. But though successful in the battle that ensued, Nicias did not attempt to follow up his advantage, and withdrew to winter at Catana. The next spring the Athenians landed to the N. of Syracuse, at a place called Leon, about 6 or 7 stadia from the heights of Epipolae, while they established their naval station at the adjoining peninsula of Thapsus (Magnisi). The land troops advanced at once to occupy Epipolae, the military importance of which was felt by both parties, and succeeded in establishing themselves there, before the Syracusans could dislodge them. They then proceeded to build a fort at a place called Labdalum, which is described by Thucydides as situated on the top of the cliffs of Epipolae, looking towards Megara (Thuc. vi. 97), and having occupied this with a garrison, so as to secure their communications with their fleet, they advanced to a place called Syce (he Suke), where they established themselves, and began to construct with great rapidity a line of circumvallation across the plateau of Epipolae.1 The construction of such a line was the customary mode of proceeding in Greek sieges, and it was with the special object of guarding against it that the Syracusans had in the preceding winter extended their fortifications by running a new line of wall so as to enclose the temple of Apollo Temenites (Thuc. vi. 75), which probably extended from thence down to the Great Harbour. Nevertheless the Athenian line of circumvallation was carried on so rapidly as to excite in them the greatest alarm. Its northern extremity was made to rest on the sea at a point called Trogilus (probably near the Scala Greca), and it was from thence carried across the table-land of the Epipolae, to the point nearest to the Great Harbour. Alarmed at the rapid progress of this wall, the Syracusans endeavoured to interrupt it by constructing a counter or cross wall (hupoteichisma or enkarsion teichos), directed apparently from the wall recently erected around the temple of Apollo Temenites towards the southern cliff of Epipolae. (Thuc. vi. 99.) This wall was, however, carried by the Athenians by a sudden attack and destroyed, whereupon the Syracusans attempted a second counterwork, carried through the marshes and low ground, so as to prevent the Athenians from connecting their works on Epipolae with the Great Harbour. But this work was, like the preceding one, taken and destroyed; and the Athenians, whose fleet had meanwhile entered the Great Harbour, and established itself there, were able to construct a strong double line of wall, extending from the cliffs of Epipolae quite down to the harbour. (Ib. 100-103.) On the table-land above, on the contrary, their works were still incomplete, and especially that part of the line of circumvallation near Trogilus was still in an unfinished state when Gylippus landed in Sicily, so that that commander was able to force his passage through the lines at this point, and effect an entry into Syracuse. (Id. vii. 2.) It is remarkable that the hill of Euryalus, though in fact the key of the position on the Epipolae, seems to have been neglected by Nicias, and was still undefended by any fortifications.
  Gylippus immediately directed his efforts to prevent the completion of the Athenian lines across the table-land, and obtained in the first instance an important advantage by surprising the Athenian fort at Labdalum. He next began to erect another cross wall, running out from the walls of the city across the plateau, so as to cross and intersect the Athenian lines; and notwithstanding repeated efforts on the part of the Athenians, succeeded in carrying this on so far as completely to cut off their line of circumvallation, and render it impossible for them to complete it. (Id. vii. 4-6.) Both parties seem to have looked on the completion of this line as the decisive point of the siege; Nicias finding himself unable to capture the outwork of the Syracusans, almost despaired of success, and wrote to Athens for strong reinforcements. Meanwhile he sought to strengthen his position on the Great Harbour by occupying and fortifying the headland of Plemmyrium, which completely commanded its entrance. (lb. 4.) The Syracusans, however, still occupied the Olympieum (or Polichne, as it was sometimes called) with a strong body of troops, and having, under the guidance of Gylippus, attacked the Athenians both by sea and land, though foiled in the former attempt, they took the forts which had been recently erected on the Plemmyrium. (lb. 4, 22-24.) This was a most important advantage, as it rendered it henceforth very difficult for the Athenians to supply their fleet and camp with provisions; and it is evident that it was so regarded by both parties (Ib. 25, 31): the Syracusans also subsequently gained a decisive success in a sea-fight within the Great Harbour, and were preparing to push their advantage further, when the arrival of Demosthenes and Eurymedon from Athens with a powerful fleet restored for a time. the superiority of the Athenians. Demosthenes immediately directed all his efforts to the capture of the Syracusan counterwork on Epipolae; but meanwhile Gylippus had not neglected to strengthen his position. there, by constructing three redoubts or forts, each of them occupied with a strong garrison, at intervals along the sloping plateau of Epipolae, while a fort had been also erected at the important post of Euryalus, at the extreme angle of the heights. (Thuc. vii. 43.) So strong indeed was their position that Demosthenes despaired of carrying it by day, and resolved upon a night attack, in which he succeeded in carrying the fort at Euryalus, but was foiled in his attempt upon the other outworks, and repulsed with heavy loss. (lb. 43-45.)
  The failure of this attack was considered by Demosthenes himself as decisive, and he advised the immediate abandonment of the siege. But the contrary advice of Nicias prevailed; and even when increasing sickness in the Athenian camp had induced him also to consent to a retreat, his superstitious fears, excited by an eclipse of the moon, again caused them to postpone their departure. The consequences were fatal. The Syracusans now became rather the besiegers than the besieged, attacked the Athenian fleet in the Great Harbour, and cut off and destroyed the whole of their right wing under Eurymedon, in the bay of Dascon. Elated with this success, they sought nothing less than the capture of the whole armament, and began to block up the mouth of the Great Harbour, from Ortygia across to Plemmyrium, by mooring vessels across it. The Athenians were now compelled to abandon all their outposts and lines on the heights, and draw together their troops as close to the naval camp as possible; while they made a final effort to break through the barrier at the entrance of the harbour. But this attempt proved unsuccessful, and led to a complete defeat of the Athenian fleet. There was now no course but to retreat. The army under Nicias and Demosthenes broke up from its camp, and at first directed their course along the valley of the Anapus, till they came to a narrow pass, commanded by a precipitous ridge called the Acraean Rock (Akraion lepas, Thuc. vii. 78), which had been occupied in force by the Syracusans. Failing in forcing this defile, the Athenians changed their line of retreat, and followed the road to Helorus, but after forcing in succession, though not without heavy loss, the passage of the two rivers Cacyparis and Erineus, and reaching the banks of the Asinarus, the last survivors of the Athenian army were compelled to lay down their arms. The whole number of prisoners was said to amount to 7000. A trophy was erected by the Syracusans on the bank of the Asinarus, and a festival called the Asinaria instituted to commemorate their victory. (Thuc. vii. 78-87; Diod. xiii. 18, 19.)
  The failure of the Athenian expedition against Syracuse seemed likely to secure to that city the unquestionable superiority among the Greek colonies in Sicily. But a new and formidable power now appeared--the Carthaginians, who were invited by the Segestans to support them against the Selinuntines, but who, not content with the destruction of Selinus and Himera (B.C. 410), and with that of Agrigentum (B.C. 406), pushed forward their conquests with a view of making themselves masters of the whole island. Dionysius, then a young man, took advantage of the alarm and excitement caused by this danger to raise himself to despotic power at Syracuse (B.C. 405), and he soon after concluded a peace with the Carthaginians, whose career of victory had been checked by a pestilence. The history of the reign of Dionysius at Syracuse, which continued for a period of 38 years (B.C. 405-387), cannot be here related; but its influence and effects upon the city itself must be here noticed. From a very early period he turned his attention to the strengthening and fortification of the city, and constructed great works, partly with a view to the defence of the city against external invasion, partly for the security of his own power. One of his first operations was to convert the island of Ortygia into a strong fortress, by surrounding it with a lofty wall, fortified with numerous towers, especially on the side where it adjoined the land, where he raised a strongly fortified front, called the Pentapyla; while, for still further security, he constructed an interior fort or citadel within the island, which became the acropolis of Syracuse, and at the same time the residence of Dionysius and his successors in the despotism. Adjoining this he constructed within the lesser port, or Portus Lacceius, docks for his ships of war on a large scale, so as to be capable of receiving 60 triremes: while they were enclosed with a wall, and accessible only by a narrow entrance. But not content with this, he a few years afterwards added docks for 160 more ships, within the Great Port, in the recess or bight of it which approaches most nearly to the Portus Lacceius, and opened a channel of communication between the two. At the same time he adorned the part of the city immediately outside the island with porticoes and public buildings for the convenience of the citizens. (Diod. xiv. 7.) But his greatest work of all was the line of walls with which he fortified the heights of Epipolae. The events of the Athenian siege had sufficiently proved the vital importance of these to the safety of the city; and hence before Dionysius engaged in his great war with Carthage he determined to secure their possession by a line of permanent fortifications. The walls erected for this purpose along the northern edge of the cliffs of Epipolae (extending from near Sta Panagia to the hill of Euryalus, or Mongibellisi) were 30 stadia in length, and are said to have been erected by the labour of the whole body of the citizens in the short space of 20 days. (Diod. xiv. 18.) It is remarkable that we hear nothing of the construction of a similar wall along the southern edge of the plateau of Epipolae; though the table-land is at least as accessible on this side as on the other; and a considerable suburb called Neapolis had already grown up on this side (Diod. xiv. 9), outside of the wall of Achradina, and extending over a considerable part of the slope, which descends from the Temenitis towards the marshy plain of the Anapus. But whatever may have been the cause, it seems certain that Syracuse continued till a later period to be but imperfectly fortified on this side.
  The importance of the additional defences erected by Dionysius was sufficiently shown in the course of the war with Carthage which began in B.C. 397. In that war Dionysius at first carried his arms successfully to the western extremity of Sicily, but fortune soon turned against him, and he was compelled in his turn to shut himself up within the walls of Syracuse, and trust to the strength of his fortifications. The Carthaginian general Himilco entered the Great Port with his fleet, and established his head-quarters at the Olympieum, while he not only ravaged the country outside the walls, but made himself master of one of the suburbs, in which were situated the temples of Ceres and Proserpine, both of which he gave up to plunder. But the anger of the goddesses, brought on by this act of sacrilege, was believed to be the source of all the calamities that soon befel him. A pestilence broke out in the Carthaginian camp, from which they sustained very heavy losses, and Dionysius took advantage of their enfeebled state to make a general attack on their camp both by sea and land. The position occupied by the Carthaginians was very much the same as that which had been held by the Athenians: they occupied the headland of Plemmyrium, on which they had erected a fort, while they had also fortified the Olympieum, or Polichne, and constructed a third fort, close to the edge of the Great Harbour for the protection of their fleet, which lay within the inner bay or harbour of Dascon. But Dionysius, by a sudden attack from the land side, carried both the last forts, and at the same time succeeded in burning a great part of the Carthaginian fleet, so that Himilco was compelled to abandon the enterprise, and by a secret capitulation secured a safe retreat for himself and the native Carthaginians in his army, abandoning his allies and mercenaries to their fate. (Diod. xiv. 62, 63, 70-75.)
  The defeat of the Carthaginian armament left Dionysius undisputed master of Syracuse, while that city held as unquestioned a pre-eminence over the other cities of Sicily; and it is probable that the city itself continued to increase in extent and population. The impregnable citadel in the island of Ortygia constructed by the elder Dionysius continued to be the bulwark of his power, as well as that of his son and successor. Even when the citizens, in B.C. 357, opened their gates to Dion, who made a triumphal entry into Achradina, and made himself master with little difficulty of the fort on the summit of Epipolae, the island still held out, and Dion was compelled to resort to a blockade, having erected a line or wall of contravallation across from the lesser port to the greater, so as effectually to cut off the garrison from all communication with the interior. (Plut. Dion. 29; Diod. xvi. 12.) It was not till after the blockade had been continued for above a year that Apollocrates was compelled by scarcity of provisions to surrender this stronghold, and Dion thus became complete master of Syracuse, B.C. 356. But that event did not, as had been expected, restore liberty to Syracuse, and the island citadel still remained the stronghold of the despots who successively ruled over the city. When at length Timoleon landed in Sicily (B.C. 344) Ortygia was once more in the possession of Dionysius, while the rest of the city was in the hands of Hicetas, who was supported by a Carthaginian fleet and army, with which he closely blockaded the island fortress. But the arrival of Timoleon quickly changed the face of affairs: Ortygia was voluntarily surrendered to him by Dionysius; and Neon, whom he left there as commander of the garrison, by a sudden sally made himself master of Achradina also. Soon after Timoleon carried the heights of Epipolae by assault, and thus found himself master of the whole of Syracuse. One of the first measures he took after his success was to demolish the fortress erected by Dionysius within the Island, as well as the palace of the despot himself, and the splendid monument that had been erected to him by his son and successor. On the site were erected the new courts of justice. (Plut. Timol. 22.)
  Syracuse had suffered severely from the long period of civil dissensions and almost constant hostilities which had preceded its liberation by Timoleon; and one of the first cares of its deliverer was to recruit its exhausted population, not only by recalling from all quarters the fugitive or exiled citizens, but by summoning from Corinth and other parts of Greece a large body of new colonists. Such was the success of his invitation that we are assured the total number of immigrants (including of course the restored exiles) amounted to not less than 60,000. (Plut. Timol. 22, 23.) The democratic form of government was restored, and the code of laws which had been introduced by Diodes after the Athenian expedition, but had speedily fallen into neglect under the long despotism of the two Dionysii, was now revived and restored to its full vigour. (Diod. xiii. 35, xvi. 70.) At the same time a new annual magistracy was established, with the title of Amphipolus of the Olympian Jove, who was thenceforth destined, like the Archon at Athens, to give name to the year. The office was apparently a merely honorary one, but the years continued to be designated by the names of the Amphipoli down to the time of Augustus. (Diod. xvi. 70; Cic. Verr. ii. 5. 1, iv. 61.)
  There can be no doubt that the period following the restoration of liberty by Timoleon was one of great prosperity for Syracuse, as well as for Sicily in general. Unfortunately it did not last long. Less than 30 years after the capture of Syracuse by Timoleon, the city fell under the despotism of Agathocles (B.C. 317), which continued without interruption till B.C. 289. We hear very little of the fortunes of the city itself under his government, but it appears that, like his predecessor Dionysius, Agathocles devoted his attention to the construction of great works and public buildings, so that the city continued to increase in magnificence. We are told, among other things, that he fortified the entrance of the lesser port, or Portus Lacceius, with towers, the remains of one of which are still visible. During the absence of Agathocles in Africa, Syracuse was indeed exposed to the assaults of the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, who encamped, as Himilco had formerly done, at Polichne, and from thence made desultory attacks upon the city, but without any important result; and having at length made a night attack upon the fort of Euryalus, he was defeated, and himself taken prisoner. (Diod. xx. 29.) After the death of Agathocles, Syracuse for a short time recovered its liberty, but soon fell again under the virtual despotism of Hicetas, and subsequently passed into the hands of successive military adventurers, till in B.C. 275, the government became vested in Hieron, the son of Hierocles, who, at first with the title of general autocrator, and afterwards with that of king, continued to reign over the city till B.C. 216. His wisdom and moderation proved a striking contrast to the despotism of several of the former rulers of Syracuse, and while his subjects flourished under his liberal and enlightened rule, external tranquillity was secured by the steadiness with which he adhered to the alliance of Rome, after having once measured his strength against that formidable power. By the treaty concluded between him and the Romans in B.C. 263, he was recognised as king of Syracuse, with the dependent towns of Acrae, Helorus, Netum, Megara, and Leontini, to which was annexed Tauromenium also, as an outlying dependency. (Diod. xxiii. Exc. H. p. 502.) Notwithstanding the small extent of his territory, Hieron was undoubtedly a powerful prince, and Syracuse seems to have risen, during this long period of peace and tranquillity, to a high state of wealth and prosperity. Its commercial relations with foreign countries, especially with Egypt, were assiduously cultivated and extended, while the natural resources of its fertile territory were developed to the utmost by the wise and judicious regulations of Hieron, which, under the name of the Lex Hieronica, were subsequently introduced into all parts of Sicily, and continued to be observed by the Romans, in their administration of that province. At the same time the monarch adorned the city with many public works and buildings, including temples, gymnasia, &c., while he displayed his wealth and magnificence by splendid offerings, both at Rome and the most noted sanctuaries of Greece. On the whole it may probably be assumed that the reign of Hieron II. was the period when Syracuse attained its highest degree of splendour and magnificence, as well as of wealth and population.
  But this state of things was abruptly changed after the death of Hieron. His grandson, Hieronymus, who succeeded him, deserted the alliance of Rome for that of Carthage, and though the young king was shortly after assassinated, the Carthaginian party continued to maintain its ascendency at Syracuse under two leaders named Hippocrates and Epicydes, who were appointed generals with supreme power. They shut the gates against Marcellus, who was in command of the Roman armies in Sicily, and having refused all terms of accommodation, compelled that general to form the siege of Syracuse, B.C. 214. (Liv. xxiv. 21-33.) The enterprise proved far more arduous than the Roman General seems to have anticipated. He established his camp, as the Carthaginians had repeatedly done, on the height of the Olympieum; but his principal attacks were directed against the northern walls, in the neighbourhood of Hexapylum (the outlet of the city towards Leontini and Megara), as well as against the defences of Achradina from the sea. His powerful fleet gave Marcellus the complete command of the sea, and he availed himself of this to bring up his ships with powerful battering engines under the very walls which bordered the rocks of Achradina; but all his efforts were baffled by the superior skill and science of Archimedes; his engines and ships were destroyed or sunk, and after repeated attempts, both by sea and land, he found himself compelled to abandon all active assaults and convert the siege into a blockade. (Liv. xxiv. 33, 34.)
  During the winter he left the camp and army at the Olympieum, under the command of T. Quinctius Crispinus, while he himself took up his winter-quarters and established a fortified camp at Leon, on the N. side of the city. But he was unable to maintain a strict blockade by sea, and the Carthaginians succeeded in frequently throwing in supplies, so that the blockade was prolonged for more than two years; and Marcellus began to entertain little prospect of success, when in the spring of B.C. 212 an accident threw in his way the opportunity of scaling the walls by night, at a place called by Livy the Portus Trogiliorum (evidently the little cove called Scala Greca); and having thus surprised the walls he made himself master of the gate at Hexapylum, as well as of a great part of the slope of Epipolae. But the strong fort of Euryalus, at the angle of Epipolae, defied his efforts, and the walls of Achradina, which still retained its separate fortifications, enabled the Syracusans to hold possession of that important part of the city, as well as of the island and fortress of Ortygia. The two quarters of Tycha and Neapolis were, however, surrendered to him, and given up to plunder, the citizens having stipulated only for their lives; and shortly after Philodemus, who commanded the garrison of Euryalus, having no hopes of relief, surrendered that important post also into the hands of Marcellus. (Liv. xxv. 23-25.) The Roman general was now in possession of the whole heights of Epipolae, and being secured from attacks in the rear by the possession of Euryalus, he divided his forces into three camps, and endeavoured wholly to blockade Achradina. At the same time Crispinus still held the old camp on the hill of the Olympieum. (Ib. 26.) In this state of things a vigorous effort was made by the Carthaginians to raise the siege: they advanced with a large army under Himilco and. Hippocrates, and attacked the camp of Crispinus; while Bomilcar, with a fleet of 150 ships, occupied the Great Harbour, and took possession of the shore between the city and the mouth of the Anapus, at the same time that Epicydes made a vigorous sally from Achradina against the lines of Marcellus. But they were repulsed at all points, and though they continued for some time to maintain their army in the immediate neighbourhood of the city, it was soon attacked by a pestilence, arising from the marshy nature of the low grounds in which they were encamped, to which both Hippocrates and Himilco fell victims, with a great part of their troops. Bomilcar, also, who had quitted the port with the view of obtaining reinforcements from Carthage, never returned, and Epicydes, who had gone out to meet him, abandoned the city to its fate, and withdrew to Agrigentum. The defence of Syracuse was now entrusted to the leaders of the mercenary troops, and one of these, a Spaniard named Mericus, betrayed his post to Marcellus. A body of Roman troops was landed in the night at the extremity of the island, near the fountain of Arethusa, and quickly made themselves masters of the whole of Ortygia; while Marcellus, having at the same time made a general assault on Achradina, succeeded in carrying a portion of that quarter also. The remaining part of the city was now voluntarily surrendered by the inhabitants; and Marcellus, after taking precautions to secure the royal treasures, and the houses of those citizens who had been favourable to the Romans, gave up the whole city to be pillaged by his soldiers. Archimedes, who had contributed so much to the defence of the city, was accidentally slain in the confusion. The plunder was said to be enormous; and the magnificent statues, pictures, and other works of art which were carried by Marcellus to Rome, to adorn his own triumph, are said to have given the first impulse to that love of Greek art which afterwards became so prevalent among the Romans. (Liv. xxv. 26-31, 40; Plut. Marc. 14-19; Diod. xxvi. Fr. 18-20.)
  From this time Syracuse sank into the ordinary condition of a Roman provincial town; but it continued to be the unquestionable capital of Sicily, and was the customary residence of the Roman praetors who were sent to govern the island, as well as of one of the two quaestors who were charged with its financial administration. Even in the days of Cicero; it is spoken of by that orator as the greatest of Greek cities, and the most beautiful of all cities. (Cic. Verr. iv. 5. 2) Its public buildings had apparently suffered little, if at all, from its capture by Marcellus, and were evidently still extant in the days of the orator, who enumerates most of them by name. All the four quarters of the city, the Island, Achradina, Tycha, and Neapolis, were still well inhabited; though as a measure of precaution no persons of native Syracusan extraction were permitted to dwell in the Island. (Ib. v. 32.) But the prosperity of Syracuse seems to have sustained a severe shock in the time of Sextus Pompeius, who, according to Strabo, inflicted upon it injuries, from which it appears never to have recovered. Such was its decayed condition that Augustus endeavoured to-recruit it by sending thither a Roman colony (B.C. 21). But the new settlers were confined to the Island and to the part of the city immediately adjoining it, forming a portion only of Achradina and Neapolis. (Strab. vi. p. 270; Dion Cass. liv. 7; Plin. iii. 8. s. 14.) It is in this part of the town that the amphitheatre and other edifices of Roman construction are still found.
  But though greatly fallen from its former splendour, Syracuse continued throughout the Roman Empire to be one of the most considerable cities of Sicily, and still finds a place in the 4th century in the Ordo Nobilium Urbium of Ausonius. The natural strength of the Island as a fortress rendered it always a post of the utmost importance. After the fall of the Western Empire, it fell with the rest of Sicily under the dominion of the Goths, but was recovered by Belisarius in A. D. 535, and annexed to the dominions of the Byzantine emperors, in whose hands it continued till the 9th century, when it was finally wrested from them by the Arabs or Saracens. Syracuse was, with the single exception of Tauromenium, the last place in Sicily that fell into the hands of those invaders: it was still a very strong fortress, and it was not till 878, more than fifty years after the Saracens first landed in the island, that it was compelled to surrender, after a siege of nine months' duration. The inhabitants were put to the sword, the fortifications destroyed, and the city given up to the flames. Nor did it ever recover from this calamity, though the Island seems to have always continued to be inhabited. Its fortifications were strengthened by Charles V., and assumed very much their present appearance. The modern city, which is still confined to the narrow limits of the Island, contains about 14,000 inhabitants. But the whole of the expanse on the opposite side of the strait, as well as the broad table-land of Achradina and Epipolae, are now wholly bare and desolate, being in great part uncultivated as well as uninhabited.
1 The account here given of the Athenian operations assumes that the circle repeatedly spoken of by Thucydides (vi. 98, 99, &c.), is the circuit of the lines of circumvallation. This is the construction adopted by Goller, and all earlier editors of Thucydides, as well as by Col. Leake; and appears to the writer of this article by far the most natural and intelligible interpretation. Mr. Grote, on the contrary, as well as Dr. Arnold in his later edition adopts the suggestion of M. Firmin Didot that the circle (ho kuklos) was a particular intrenchment or fortified camp of a circular form. It is difficult to understand the military object of such a work, as well as to reconcile it with the subsequent details of the siege operations.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Foundation/Settlement of the place

Acrae was founded by the Syracusans

AKRES (Ancient city) SICILY
Acrae and Casmenae were founded by the Syracusans; Acrae seventy years after Syracuse, Casmenae nearly twenty after Acrae.

Casmenae was founded by the Syracusans

KASMENAI (Ancient city) SICILY
Acrae and Casmenae were founded by the Syracusans; Acrae seventy years after Syracuse, Casmenae nearly twenty after Acrae

Chalcidians from Naxos founded Syracuse

LEONTINI (Ancient city) SICILY
Thucles and the Chalcidians set out from Naxos in the fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse, and drove out the Sicels by arms and founded Leontini and afterwards Catana; the Catanians themselves choosing Evarchus as their founder

Dorians (of Megara) founded Megara

According to Ephorus these were the earliest Greek cities to be founded in Sicily, that is, in the tenth generation after the Trojan war; for before that time men were so afraid of the bands of Tyrrhenian pirates and the savagery of the barbarians in this region that they would not so much as sail thither for trafficking; but though Theocles, the Athenian, borne out of his course by the winds to Sicily, clearly perceived both the weakness of the peoples and the excellence of the soil, yet, when he went back, he could not persuade the Athenians, and hence took as partners a considerable number of Euboean Chalcidians and some Ionians and also some Dorians (most of whom were Megarians) and made the voyage; so the Chalcidians founded Naxus, whereas the Dorians founded Megara, which in earlier times had been called Hybla.

Megarians of Thapsus founded Hyblaean Megara

About the same time Lamis arrived in Sicily with a colony from Megara, and after founding a place called Trotilus beyond the river Pantacyas, and afterwards leaving it and for a short while joining the Chalcidians at Leontini, was driven out by them and founded Thapsus. After his death his companions were driven out of Thapsus, and founded a place called the Hyblaean Megara; Hyblon, a Sicel king, having given up the place and inviting them thither. Here they lived two hundred and forty-five years; after which they were expelled from the city and the country by the Syracusan tyrant Gelo.

By Archias of Corinth

Syracuse was founded by Archias, who sailed from Corinth about the same time that Naxus and Megara were colonized. It is said that Archias went to Delphi at the same time as Myscellus, and when they were consulting the oracle, the god asked them whether they chose wealth or health; now Archias chose wealth, and Myscellus health; accordingly, the god granted to the former to found Syracuse, and to the latter Croton. And it actually came to pass that the Crotoniates took up their abode in a city that was exceedingly healthful, as I have related, and that Syracuse fell into such exceptional wealth that the name of the Syracusans was spread abroad in a proverb applied to the excessively extravagant--"the tithe of the Syracusans would not be sufficient for them." (Perseus Project)

Syracuse was founded by Archias from Corinth

Syracuse was founded the year afterwards by Archias, one of the Heraclids from Corinth, who began by driving out the Sicels from the island upon which the inner city now stands, though it is no longer surrounded by water: in process of time the outer town also was taken within the walls and became populous.

Lamis from Megara founded Thapsus

THAPSOS (Ancient city) SICILY
About the same time Lamis arrived in Sicily with a colony from Megara, and after founding a place called Trotilus beyond the river Pantacyas, and afterwards leaving it and for a short while joining the Chalcidians at Leontini, was driven out by them and founded Thapsus

Population movements

Chalcis - Leontines

LEONTINI (Ancient city) SICILY
Leontines, who were colonists from Chalcis.

Remarkable selections

Damon & Phintias

  A Pythagorean philosopher of Syracuse, united by ties of the firmest friendship to Phintias (not Pythias, as the name is commonly given), another Pythagorean, of the same city. Dionysius, the tyrant, having condemned Phintias to death for conspiring against him, the latter begged that leave might be allowed him to go for a short period to a neighbouring place, in order to arrange some family affairs, and offered to leave one of his friends in the hands of Dionysius as a pledge for his return by an appointed time, and who would be willing, in case Phintias broke his word, to die in his stead. Dionysius, sceptical as to the existence of such friendship, and prompted by curiosity, assented to the arrangement, and Damon took the place of Phintias. The day appointed for the return of the latter arrived, and public expectation was highly excited as to the probable issue of this singular affair. The day drew to a close; no Phintias came; and Damon was in the act of being led to execution, when, of a sudden, the absent friend, who had been detained by unforeseen and unavoidable obstacles, presented himself to the eyes of the admiring crowd and saved the life of Damon. Dionysius was so much struck by this instance of true attachment that he pardoned Phintias, and entreated the two to allow him to share their friendship.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Damon & Phintias: Various WebPages

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