IRAKLIA MINOA (Ancient city) SICILY
Heracleia surnamed Minoa (Herakleia Minoia: Eth. Hpachlotes, Heracliensis), in Sicily, an ancient Greek city, situated on the south coast of the island, at the mouth of the river Halycus, between Agrigentum and Selinus. Its two names were connected with two separate mythological legends in regard to its origin. The first of these related that Hercules, having vanquished the local hero Eryx in a wrestling match, obtained thereby the right to the whole western portion of Sicily, which he expressly reserved for his descendants. (Diod. iv. 23; Herod. v. 43; Paus. iii. 16. § 5.) He did not. however, found a town or settlement; but, somewhat later, Minos, king of Crete, having come to Sicily in pursuit of Daedalus, landed at the mouth of the river Halycus, and founded there a city, to which he gave the name of Minoa; or, according to another version of the story, the city was first established by his followers, after the death of Minos himself. Heraclides Ponticus adds, that there was previously a native city on the spot, the name of which was Macara. (Diod. iv. 79, xvi. 9; Heracl. Pont. § 29.) The two legends are so distinct that no intimation is given by Diodorus of their relating to the same spot, and we only learn their connection from the combination in later times of the two names. The first notice of the city which we find in historical times represents it as a small town and a colony of Selinus, bearing the name of Minoa (Herod. v. 46); but we have no account of its settlement. It was in this state when Dorieus the Spartan (brother of Cleomenes I.) came to Sicily, with a large body of followers, with the express view of reclaiming the territory which had belonged to his ancestor Hercules. But having engaged in hostilities with the Carthaginians and Segestans, he was defeated and slain in a battle in which almost all his leading companions also perished. Euryleon, the only one of the chiefs who escaped, made himself master of Minoa, which now, in all probability, obtained for the first time the name of Heracleia. (Herod. v. 42-46.) This is not, indeed, expressly stated by Herodotus, who gives the preceding narrative, but is. evidently implied in his statement at the beginning of it, that Dorieus set out for the purpose of founding Heracleia, combined with the fact that Diodorus represents him as having been its actual founder. (Diod. iv. 23.) Hence there seems no reason to suppose (as has been suggested) that Heracleia and Minoa were originally distinct cities, and that the name of the one was subsequently transferred to the other. From the period of this new settlement (B.C. 510) it seems to have commonly borne the name of Heracleia, though coupled with that of Minoa for the sake of distinction. (Herakleian ten Minoan, Pol. i. 25; Heraclea, quam vocant Minoa, Liv. xxiv. 35.)
Diodorus tells us that the newly founded city of Heracleia rose rapidly to prosperity, but was destroyed by the Carthaginians, through jealousy of its increasing power. (Id. iv. 23.) The period at which this took place is uncertain. It was probably related by Diodorus in his 10th book, which is now lost: at least he makes no mention of any such event on occasion of the great expedition of Hamilcar, in B.C. 480, to which epoch we might otherwise have referred it; while, from the absence of all notice of Heracleia during the subsequent century, and the wars of Dionysius with the Carthaginians, it seems certain that it did not then exist, or must have been in a very reduced condition. Indeed, the next notice we find of it (under the name of Minoa), in B.C. 357, when Dion landed there, represents it as a small town in the Agrigentine territory, but at that time subject to Carthage. (Diod. xvi. 9; Plut. Dion. 25.) Hence it is probable that the treaty between Dionysius and the Carthaginians which had fixed the Halycus as the boundary of the latter, had left Heracleia, though on its left bank, still in their hands: and, in accordance with this, we find it stipulated by the similar treaty concluded with them by Agathocles (B.C. 314), that Heracleia, Selinus, and Himera should continue subject to Carthage, as they had been before. (Diod. xix. 71.) From this time Heracleia reappears in history, and assumes the position of an important city; though we have no explanation of the circumstances that had raised it from its previous insignificance. Thus we find it, soon after, joining in the movement originated by Xenodicus of Agrigentum, B.C. 307, and declaring itself free both from the Carthaginians and Agathocles; though it was soon recovered by the latter, on his return from Africa. (Id. xx. 56.) At the time of the expedition of Pyrrhus it was once more in the hands of the Carthaginians, and was the first city taken from them by that monarch as lie advanced westward from Agrigentum. (Diod xxii. 10. Exc. H. p. 497.) In like manner, in the First Punic War, it was occupied by the Carthaginian general Hanno, when advancing to the relief of Agrigentum, at that time besieged by the Roman armies, B.C. 260. (Id. xxiii. 8. p. 502; Pol. i. 18.) Again, in B.C. 256, it was at Heracleia that the Carthaginian fleet of 350 ships was posted for the purpose of preventing the passage of the Roman fleet to Africa, and where it sustained a great defeat from the consuls Regulus and Manlius. (Pol. i. 25-28, 30; Zonar. viii. 12.) It appears, indeed, at this time to have been one of the principal naval stations of the Carthaginians in Sicily; and hence in B.C. 249 we again find their admiral, Carthalo, taking his post there to watch for the Roman fleet which was approaching to the relief of Lilybaeum. (Id. i. 53.) At the close of the war Heracleia, of course, passed, with the rest of Sicily, under the Roman dominion; but in the Second Punic War it again fell into the hands of the Carthaginians, and was one of the last places that still held out against Marcellus, even after the fall of Syracuse. (Liv. xxiv. 35, xxv. 27, 40, 41.)
We hear but little of it under the Roman dominion; but it appears to have suffered severely in the Servile War (B.C. 134-132), and in consequence received a body of fresh colonists, who were established there by the praetor P. Rupilius; and at the same time the relations of the old and new citizens were regulated by a municipal law, which still subsisted in the time of Cicero. (Cic. Verr. ii. 5. 0) In the days of the great orator, Heracleia appears to have been still a flourishing place (Ib. v. 33); but it must soon after have fallen into decay, in common with most of the towns on the southern coast of Sicily. (Strab. vi. p. 272.) But though not noticed by Strabo among the few places still subsisting on this coast, it is one of the three mentioned by Mela; and its continued existence is attested by Pliny and Ptolemy. The latter author is the last who mentions the name of Heracleia: it appears to have disappeared before the age of the Itineraries. (Mel. ii. 7. § 16; Plin. iii. 8. s. 14; Ptol. iii. 4. § 6.)
The site of Heracleia is now wholly deserted, and scarcely any ruins remain to mark the spot; but the position of the ancient city may still be clearly traced. It was situated a few hundred yards to the south of the river Platani (the ancient Halycus), extending nearly from thence to the promontory of Capo Bianco. In Fazello's time the foundations of the walls could be distinctly traced, and, though no ruins remained standing, the whole site abounded with remains of pottery and brickwork. An aqueduct was then also still visible between the city and the mouth of the river; but its remains have since disappeared. The site does not appear to have been examined with care by any modern traveller. (Fazell. de Reb. Sic. vi. 2; Smyth's Sicily, p. 216; Biscari, Viaggio in Sicilia, p. 188.)
The Capo Bianco, a conspicuous headland in the immediate neighbourhood of Heracleia, is evidently the one called by Strabo, in his description of the coasts of Sicily, the Heracleian promontory (vi. p. 266), which he correctly reckons 20 miles distant from the port of Agrigentum.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Minoa, a city of Sicily on the southern coast, northeast of Agrigentum, at the mouth of the river Camicus. It was founded by Minos when he pursued Daedalus hither, and was subsequently called Heraclea from Heracles, after his victory over Eryx--so, at least, said the fables of the day. Some authorities make the original name to have been Macara, and Minos to have been not the founder but the conqueror of the place.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
The remains of the ancient city on the S coast of Sicily, between
Agrigento and Selinus, on the plateau dominating Capo Bianco, at the mouth of
the river Platani (fl. Halykos). Minoa is the earlier component in the city's
double name; the name Herakleia was probably added in the second half of the 4th
c. B.C. when the city appears to have been repopulated by colonists from Kephaloidion
(Cefalu). Ancient authors connected the name Minoa with Minos, and this name may
go back to an Early Minoan settlement, of which however no archaeological evidence
has as yet been found. During the second half of the 6th c. B.C. Minoa was violently
disputed between Selinus, of which it formed the E outpost, and Akragas, which
wanted to invade the valley of the Platani river. The city was also briefly occupied
by Spartan exiles who took part in the abortive expedition of Dorieus to Sicily
(Herod. 5.46). During the whole of the 5th c. B.C. Minoa remained under Akragan
control. After 406 B.C. and until the Roman conquest at the end of the second
Punic war (210 B.C.) Minoa was under Carthaginian domination, with the exception
of brief and sporadic periods of freedom between Timoleon's time and Pyrrhos'
expedition (339-277 B.C.). After becoming civitas decumana, the city was destroyed
during the first Servile war and was recolonized by the consul Rupilius. It also
suffered from Verres' abuses and was visited by Cicero (Verr. 5.112. 129). At
the end of the 1st c. B.C. the city seems to have been completely abandoned.
Excavations have not yet revealed positive traces of the archaic city, which must have occupied the E part of the plateau. However a necropolis of the second half of the 6th c. B.C. has been partially brought to light near the mouth of the Platani river. The present remains belong to the Hellenistic-Roman period. The fortification wall has been cleared along the N limit of the city. It is built of chalky stone with sun-dried brick superstructures and is reinforced by square towers with gates and posterns. The most imposing stretch is seen where a powerful wall of masonry and mud brick extends between a square bastion and a round tower that was probably added during the 3d c. B.C. Here the fortifications stop at the edge of the great landslide into the sea which, through the centuries, has eroded a great part of the town. A second fortification wall was rebuilt twice and lies now in the interior of the city, near the theater and along the houses. It represents a narrowing of the urban area during the Punic and Servile wars.
The theater, recently cleared and protected with plastic material, dates from the end of the 4th c. B.C. Its cavea is oriented to the S and divided into nine sectors (kerkides); it retains ten rows of seats in friable marly stone. Both the orchestra and the strong retaining walls of the cavea (analemmata) are well preserved. Nothing remains of the stage building except the holes for a wooden platform; some Roman buildings were erected against the orchestra. The foundations of a temple and a shrine have been excavated to the N of the theater. To the S excavations have uncovered parts of the Roman habitation quarter during the Republican period, in two superimposed layers. The upper stratum must be connected with Rupilius' recolonization. The lower level (3d-2d c. B.C.) retains two particularly notable and well-preserved houses on parallel streets, with square plan and rooms gathered around a central atrium. One of the houses had two stories; its high mud brick walls and cocciopesto floors are well preserved. The second house still retains its lararium with altar and walls painted in incrustation style (First Pompeian Style).
A small antiquarium in the archaeological area houses part of the excavation finds and attempts to reconstruct and illustrate the various phases of the city's life. The remainder of the archaeological material from the site is displayed in the National Museum of Agrigento.
P. Orlandini, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
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