Agrigento

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Agrigento About this sound listen (Sicilian: Girgenti), is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas (also known as Acragas (Ἀκράγας) in Greek, Agrigentum in Latin and Kerkent in Arabic), one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece.

Contents

History

Agrigento was founded on a plateau overlooking the sea, with two nearby rivers, the Hypsas and the Akragas, and a ridge to the north offering a degree of natural fortification. Its establishment took place around 582-580 BCE and is attributed to Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas.

Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It came to prominence under the 6th-century tyrants Phalaris and Theron, and became a democracy after the overthrow of Theron's son Thrasydaeus. Although the city remained neutral in the conflict between Athens and Syracuse, its democracy was overthrown when the city was sacked by the Carthaginians in 406 BCE. Akragas never fully recovered its former status, though it revived to some extent under Timoleon in the latter part of the 4th century.

The city was disputed between the Romans and the Carthaginians during the First Punic War. The Romans laid siege to the city in 262 BCE and captured it after defeating a Carthaginian relief force in 261 BCE and sold the population into slavery. Although the Carthaginians recaptured the city in 255 BCE the final peace settlement gave Punic Sicily and with it Akragas to Rome. It suffered badly during the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE) when both Rome and Carthage fought to control it. The Romans eventually captured Akragas in 210 BCE and renamed it Agrigentum, although it remained a largely Greek-speaking community for centuries thereafter. It became prosperous again under Roman rule and its inhabitants received full Roman citizenship following the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE.

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