A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

13 [XLIII]

EVENTS IN SICILY DOWN TO THE EXPULSION OF THE GELONIAN DYNASTY AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF POPULAR GOVERNMENTS THROUGHOUT THE ISLAND

[OF the early history of Sicily very little has come down to us beyond a bare record of colonization, whose chief value lies in the list which it supplies of the cities that sent out settlers. The traditional dates of the various foundations are generally admitted to be untrustworthy.

The genuine history of Sicily can only be said to begin with some scattered notices concerning events of the sixth century, and this is the point at which the present chapter takes up the narrative.

For further details about the early period the reader is referred to Grote, H. of G. (full text), c. 22; Freeman, History of Sicily, vols. i, and ii.; Holm, Geschichte Siziliens, vol. i., pp. 1-170; G. F. Hill, Coins of Ancient Sicily. - ED.]

THOUGH Syracuse, after it fell into the hands of Gelo, about 485 B.C., became the most powerful city in Sicily, yet in the preceding century Gela and Agrigentum, on the south side of the island, had been its superiors. The latter, within a few years of its foundation, fell under the dominion of one of its own citizens named Phalaris, a despot energetic, warlike and cruel. An exile from Astypalæa near Rhodes, but a rich man, and an early settler at Agrigentum, he contrived to make himself despot seemingly about the year 570 B.C. He had been named to one of the chief posts in the city, and having undertaken at his own cost the erection of a temple to Zeus Polieus in the acropolis (as the Athenian Alkmæônids rebuilt the burnt temple of Delphi), he was allowed on this pretence to assemble therein a considerable number of men, whom he armed, and availed himself of the opportunity of a festival of Dêmêtêr to turn them against the people. He is said to have made many conquests over the petty Sikan communities in the neighbourhood: but exaction and cruelties towards his own subjects are noticed as his most prominent characteristic, and his brazen bull passed into imperishable memory. This piece of mechanism was

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