Termini Imerese

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Termini Imerese[1] is a town and comune in the province of Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily, southern Italy.




The site where the town now sits has been populated since prehistoric times, as many archeologial excavations have shown through the years. Nevertheless, it might be stated that its recorded history started in 409 BC when its more ancient neighbor, Himera (now completely within the commune's borders), was completely destroyed by the Carthaginian army under Hannibal Mago. Those who survived the devastation promptly repaired to a site then called "Thermae" - the name deriving from the hot springs - which is today known as Termini; and the ancients considered Thermae as a successor to Himera. The new town of Thermae or Therma, called for the sake of distinction Thermae Himerenses, which thus took the place of Himera, obviously derived its name from the hot springs for which it was celebrated, and the first discovery of which was connected by legends with the wanderings of Hercules[2]. It appears to have early become a considerable town, though it continued, with few and brief exceptions, to be subject to the Carthaginian rule. In the First Punic War its name is repeatedly mentioned. Thus, in 260 BC, a body of Roman troops were encamped in the neighborhood, when they were attacked by Hamilcar, and defeated with heavy loss[3]. Before the close of the war, Thermae itself was besieged and taken by the Romans[4]. We have, however, no clue to the circumstances which led to the peculiar favor which this city seems to have received at the hands of its Roman conquerors. Cicero tells us that the Roman government restored to the Thermitani their city and territory, with the free use of their own laws, as a reward for their steady fidelity[5]. As we see that they were on hostile terms with Rome during the First Punic War, it can only be to the subsequent period that these expressions apply; but the occasion to which they refer is unknown. In the time of Cicero, Thermae appears to have been a flourishing place, carrying on a considerable amount of trade, though the orator speaks, of it as oppidum non maximum[6]. It seems to have received a colony in the time of Augustus, whence we find mention in inscriptions of the Ordo et Populus splendidissimae Coloniae Augustae Himeraeorum Thermitanorum[7]: and there can be very little doubt that the Thermae colonia of Pliny in reality refers to this town, though he evidently understood it to be Thermae Selinuntiae (modern Sciacca), as he places it on the south coast between Agrigentum (modern Agrigento) and Selinus[8] There are little subsequent account of Thermae; but, as its name is found in Ptolemy and the Itineraries, it appears to have continued in existence throughout the period of the Roman Empire, and probably never ceased to be inhabited, as the modern town of Termini Imerese retains the ancient site as well as name[9].

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