home   :    index    :    ancient Greece    :    Sicily    :    article by Thucydides

Greek settlers on Sicily


Thucydides. Mosaic from Jerash, now in the Altes Museum Berlin (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering. Thucydides; mosaic from Jerash (Altes Museum, Berlin) The Athenian historian Thucydides (c.460-c.395) wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War, which was fought between Athens and Sparta in the years 431-404. In books 6 and 7, he describes the Athenian expedition against Sicily in the years 415-413, an act of naked imperialism that ended in disaster. Of many Athenians only a few returned.

In his account of the Sicilian war, Thucydides inserts a history of Greek settlements on Sicily, probably based on the History of Sicily by Antiochus of Syracuse, which appeared shortly after 424. The list is very important, because it is one of the few accounts of Greek colonization. Archaeologists have often used the chronological information offered by Thucydides to date the oldest deposits at Sicilian sites, which were in turn used to establish a more or less accurate chronology of Greek ceramics (especially Corinthian style pottery).

Thucydides 6.1-5 is offered here in the translation by Richard Crawley. (Go here for the beginning.)

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Sicily. Design Jona Lendering.
(**)

Thucydides 6.3

These were the barbarians in Sicily, settled as I have said. Of the Greeks, the first to arrive were Chalcidians from Euboea with Thucles, their founder [734 BCE]. They founded Naxos and built the altar to Apollo Archegetes, which now stands outside the town, and upon which the deputies for the games sacrifice before sailing from Sicily.

Syracuse was founded the year afterwards [733] by Archias, one of the Heraclids from Corinth, who began by driving out the Siculians from the island upon which the inner city now stands, though it is no longer surrounded by water: in process of time the outer town also was taken within the walls and became populous.

Meanwhile Thucles and the Chalcidians set out from Naxos in the fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse, and drove out the Siculians by arms and founded Leontini [728] and afterwards Catana; the Catanians themselves choosing Euarchus as their founder.






to part four




 home   :    index    :    ancient Greece    :    Sicily