Selinunte

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Selinunte (Greek: Σελινοῦς; Latin: Selinus) is an ancient Greek archaeological site on the south coast of Sicily, southern Italy, between the valleys of the rivers Belice and Modione in the province of Trapani. The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis. Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera, also known as "Temple E", has been re-erected.

Contents

History

Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of that island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name, and 6.5 km west of that of the Hypsas (the modern Belice River). It was founded, according to historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, or Megara Hyblaea, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece[1]. The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE. Diodorus places it 22 years earlier, or 650 BCE, and Hieronymus still further back, 654 BCE. The date from Thucydides, which is probably the most likely, is incompatible with this earlier epoch[2]. The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild parsley (σελινὸς) that grew on the spot. For the same reason, they adopted the parsley leaf as the symbol on their coins.

Selinunte was the most westerly of the Greek colonies in Sicily, and for this reason was early brought into contact and collision with the Carthaginians and the native Sicilians in the west and northwest of the island. The former people, however, do not at first seem to have offered any obstacle to their progress; but as early as 580 BCE we find the Selinuntines engaged in hostilities with the people of Segesta (a non-Hellenic city), whose territory bordered on their own[3]. The arrival of a body of emigrants from Rhodes and Cnidus who subsequently founded Lipara, and who lent their assistance to the Segestans, for a time secured the victory to that people; but disputes and hostilities seem to have been of frequent occurrence between the two cities, and it is probable that in 454 BCE, when Diodorus speaks of the Segestans as being at war with the Lilybaeans (modern Marsala)[4], that the Selinuntines are the people really meant. The river Mazarus, which at that time appears to have formed the boundary between the two states, was only about 25 km west of Selinunte; and it is certain that at a somewhat later period the territory of Selinunte extended to its banks, and that that city had a fort and emporium at its mouth[5] On the other side its territory certainly extended as far as the Halycus (modern Platani), at the mouth of which it founded the colony of Minoa, or Heracleia, as it was afterward termed[6] It is evident, therefore, that Selinunte had early attained to great power and prosperity; but we have very little information as to its history. We learn, however, that, like most of the Sicilian cities, it had passed from an oligarchy to a despotism, and about 510 BCE was subject to a despot named Peithagoras, from whom the citizens were freed by the assistance of the Spartan Euryleon, one of the companions of Dorieus: and thereupon Euryleon himself, for a short time, seized on the vacant sovereignty, but was speedily overthrown and put to death by the Selinuntines[7]. The causes leading the Selinuntines to abandon the cause of the other Greeks, and take part with the Carthaginians during the great expedition of Hamilcar (480 BCE) are unknown; they had even promised to send a contingent to the Carthaginian army, which, however did not arrive till after its defeat[8]

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