Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Segesta
SEGESTA, a very ancient city near the north-western extremity of Sicily, so named by the natives and by the Romans, while the Greeks called it Egesta or Ægesta. Its origin was ascribed by tradition sometimes to Trojan refugees and sometimes to Phocians, followers of Philoctetes; the accounts agree only in making Segesta older than the Greek colonization of Sicily in the 7th century b.c. A tribe named Elymi, distinct from both the Siculi and the Greeks, occupied the country round the city. The scanty references to the history of Segesta show it in continual warfare with the Greek city Selinus from the year 580 b.c. downwards. As early as 426 b.c. it concluded an alliance with Athens; and in 416 a great Athenian fleet sailed to Sicily, ostensibly to aid Segesta against its enemies Selinus and Syracuse, but really to attempt the conquest of the island. After the destruction of the Athenian fleet and army, the Segestans turned to the Carthaginians. But, when Hannibal destroyed Selinus (see Selinus) in 409 b.c. and Himera, and established the Carthaginian power firmly in the western part of Sicily, Segesta sank to the position of a dependent ally. In 397 it suffered a long siege from Dionysius of Syracuse, but at last was relieved by Himilco. In 307, however, the Greek arms had better success; Agathocles of Syracuse sold the inhabitants into slavery, after massacring 10,000 men, and changed the name of the city to Dicæopolis. But it soon recovered its old name and passed again to the Carthaginians. In the beginning of the First Punic War the Segestans murdered the Carthaginian garrison and became allies of Rome. Being soon after besieged by the Carthaginians, they were relieved by the great naval victory of Duilius, 260 b.c. Segesta was always highly favoured by the Romans, both on account of its early adhesion to their cause and from its supposed Trojan origin. Its site is now deserted, having been exposed to the Saracen depredations in the 10th century; but the ruins are very fine. Segesta was about 6 miles from the sea, and the modern town of Castellamare probably occupies the site of the ancient harbour. The Crimisus, which is represented on coins of Segesta, is probably the river S. Bartolommeo, about 6 miles to the south. There were hot springs and baths not far from the city.