Polybius on the topography of Sicily


The following account, from Polybius's History of the World, 1.42, describes the geographical situation of Sicily. The text is offered here in the translation by W. R. Paton, and was taken from LacusCurtius.

Polybius on the Topography of Sicily

[1.42] Sicily, then, as a whole occupies the same position with regard to Italy and its extremity that the Peloponnese occupies with regard to Greece and its extremity, the difference lying in this, that the Peloponnese is a peninsula whereas Sicily is an island, the communication being in the one case by land and in the other by sea.

Sicily is triangular in shape, the apices of all three angles being formed by capes.

  1. The cape that looks to the south and stretches out into the Sicilian Sea is called Pachynus,
  2. that on the north forms the extremity of the western coast of the strait; it is about 2ΒΌ kilometers distant from Italy and is called Pelorias.
  3. The third looks towards Africa itself, and is favorably situated as a base for attacking the promontories in front of Carthage, from which it is distant about one 180 kilometers. It is turned to the south-west, separating the African from the Sardinian Sea, and its name is Lilybaeum. On the cape stands the city of the same name.

This page was created in 2004; last modified on 29 July 2020.