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

27 [LVII]

SICILIAN AFFAIRS AFTER THE EXTINCTION OF THE GELONIAN DYNASTY

THE relations of Attica with the West began with the export trade in pottery which the Athenians set themselves to win from Corinth in the course of the sixth century. The numerous finds in Etruria and South Italy alike show that Athens must have had a considerable trade interest in those regions from this time onward.

This connexion is illustrated by Themistoklês' well-known threat before the council of admirals at Salamis, that he would sail with his countrymen to found a new home on the site of Siris on the Gulf of Tarentum, on which Athens laid a special claim (Herodot., viii. 62). The reputed intrigues of this statesman with Hiero of Syracuse (Stesimbr. ap. Plut., Them., c. 24), the names of his daughters ('Sybaris' and 'Italia' - Plut., Them., c. 32), his relations with Korkyra and Epirus (Thuk., i. 136), all point to a policy of Western expansion, to which he may have hoped to win his countrymen.

The anti-Persian enthusiasm of Kimon diverted Athenian enterprise from this quarter, and we have no further evidence of interference till 454. In this year an Athenian general is said to have instituted a torch-race at Neapolis while engaged in war with the 'Sikels' (Timæus, fr. 99). A campaign against the 'Sikels' is inconceivable, but we may bring this event into connexion with a war, mentioned by Diod., xi. 86, between Segesta and Lilybæum: though here again there is an obvious error (Lilybæum did not exist before the fourth century). We may suppose Segesta was hard pressed, probably by Selinus, which dedicated thank-offerings for victory about this time (Inscr. Gr. Sic. et Ital., i., p. 45, No. 268, Hicks and Hill, 34). Thus Athens was drawn into the same quarrel as committed her afterwards to her great expedition.

Other marks of Athenian influence in the West are their foundation of Thurii (444), and their settlement (probably in the earlier fifth century) at Neapolis (Strabo, 5, p. 246). The introduction of Athenian coin-types in this city, as well as Thurii, Herakleia, may be similarly interpreted, though perhaps this merely indicates a personal triumph of a pupil of the Attic sculptor Myron (Evans, Horsemen of Tarentum).

This forward policy of Athens may naturally be ascribed to Periklês, who in his early career entered into a bitter conflict with the Corinthians (cf. note 17, p. 418). Though in later days he set his face against armed intervention in the West, he persevered in his tentative process of expansion (cf. note 20, p. 420). The Korkyrean alliance gave this movement a new impulse, for in 433 Athens entered into treaties with the Ionic cities of Rhegium and Leontini (C.I.A., iv. (1), p. 13; Hicks and Hill, 51 and 52).

These

may not have been entered on with any definite purpose of interference in Sicily, but they provided an excellent pretext for so doing, of which

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