1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gela

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GELA, a city of Sicily, generally and almost certainly identified with the modern Terranova (q.v.). It was founded by Cretan and Rhodian colonists in 688 B.C., and itself founded Acragas (see Agrigentum) in 582 B.C. It also had a treasure-house at Olympia. The town took its name from the river to the east (Thucydides vi. 2), which in turn was so called from its winter frost (γέλα in the Sicel dialect; cf. Lat. gelidus). The Rhodian settlers called it Lindioi (see Lindus). Gela enjoyed its greatest prosperity under Hippocrates (498–491 B.C.), whose dominion extended over a considerable part of the island. Gelon, who seized the tyranny on his death, became master of Syracuse in 485 B.C., and transferred his capital thither with half the inhabitants of Gela, leaving his brother Hiero to rule over the rest. Its prosperity returned, however, after the expulsion of Thrasybulus in 466 B.C.,[1] but in 405 it was besieged by the Carthaginians and abandoned by Dionysius’ order, after his failure (perhaps due to treachery) to drive the besiegers away (E. A. Freeman, Hist. of Sic. iii. 562 seq.). The inhabitants later returned and rebuilt the town, but it never regained its position. In 311 B.C. Agathocles put to death 5000 of its inhabitants; and finally, after its destruction by the Mamertines about 281 B.C., Phintias of Agrigentum transferred the remainder to the new town of Phintias (now Licata, q.v.). It seems that in Roman times they still kept the name of Gelenses or Geloi in their new abode (Th. Mommsen in C.I.L. x., Berlin, 1883, p. 737). (T. As.) 

  1. Aeschylus died there in 456 B.C.