Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/35

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SICANI—SICILY

(quoting from Varro) : the Babylonian or Persian, the Libyan, the Cimmerian, the Delphian, the Erythraean, the Samian, the Cumaean, the Hellespontine, the Phrygian and the Tiburtine. The Sibyl of whom we hear most is the Erythraean, generally identified with the Cumaean, whom Aeneas consulted before his descent to the lower world (Aeneid, vi. 10); it was she who sold to Tarquin the Proud the Sibylline books. She first offered him nine; when he refused them, she burned three and offered him the remaining six at the same price; when he again refused them, she burned three more and offered him the remaining three still at the same price. Tarquin then bought them (Dion. Halic. iv. 62). He entrusted them to the care of two patricians; after 367 B.C. ten custodians were appointed, five patricians and five plebeians; subsequently (probably in the time of Sulla) their number was increased to fifteen. These officials, at the command of the senate, consulted the Sibylline books in order to discover, not exact predictions of definite future events, but the religious observances necessary to avert extraordinary calamities (pestilence, earthquake) and to expiate prodigies in cases where the national deities were unable, or unwilling, to help. Only the interpretation of the oracle which was considered suitable to the emergency was made known to the public, not the oracle itself. An important effect of these books was the grecizing of Roman religion by the introduction of foreign deities and rites (worshipped and practised in the Troad) and the amalgamation of national Italian deities with the corresponding Greek ones (fully discussed in J. Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, iii., 1885, pp. 42, 350, 382). They were written in hexameter verse and in Greek; hence the college of curators was always assisted by two Greek interpreters. The books were kept in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol and shared the destruction of the temple by fire in 83. After the restoration of the temple the senate sent ambassadors in 76 to Erythrae to collect the oracles afresh and they brought back about 1000 verses; others were collected in Ilium, Samos, Sicily, Italy and Africa. In the year 12 B.C. Augustus sought out and burned a great many spurious oracles and subjected the Sibylline books to a critical revision; they were then placed by him in the temple of Apollo Patroūs on the Palatine, where we hear of them still existing in A.D. 363. They seem to have been burned by Stilicho shortly after 400. According to the researches of R. H. Klaus (Aeneas und die Penaten, 1839), the oldest collection of Sibylline oracles appears to have been made about the time of Solon and Cyrus at Gergis on Mount Ida in the Troad; it was attributed to the Hellespontine Sibyl and was preserved in the temple of Apollo at Gergis. Thence it passed to Erythrae, where it became famous. It was this very collection, it would appear, which found its way to Cumae and from Cumae to Rome.

Some genuine Sibylline verses are preserved in the Book of Marvels (Περὶ θαυμασἰων) of Phlegon of Tralles (2nd century A.D.). See H. Diels, Sibyllinische Blätter (1890). On the subject generally see J. Marquardt as above; A. Bouché-Leclerq, La Divination dans l'antiqué (1879–1882); E. Maass, De Sibyllarum indicibus (1879); C. Schultess, Die sibyllinischen Bücher in Rom (1895; with references to authorities in notes).


SICANI, in ancient geography, generally regarded (together with the Elymi) as the oldest inhabitants of Sicily. Sicania (the country of the Sicani) and the Siculi (q.v.) or Siceli are mentioned in Homer (Odyssey, xx. 383, xxiv. 307), the latter apparently being known to the Greeks as slave-dealers. There existed considerable difference of opinion among the ancients as to the origin of the Sicani. From the similarity of name, it would be natural to identify them with the Siculi, but ancient authorities expressly state that they were two distinct peoples (see Sicily: History, ad init.). At first the Sicani occupied nearly the whole of the island, but were gradually driven by the Siceli into the interior and the N. and N.W. They lived chiefly in small towns and supported themselves by agriculture. These towns were not subject to a single king, but each had its own ruler and constitution. The most important of the towns to which a Sicanian origin can be with certainty assigned and whose site can be determined, are: Hyccara (Muro di Carini), taken and plundered by the Athenians during the Sicilian expedition (415 B.C.); Omphake, between Agrigentum (Girgenti) and Gela (Terranova) ; and Camicus (site unknown), the residence of the mythical Sicanian king Cocalus, constructed for him by Daedalus (q.v.), to whom he had given shelter when pursued by Minos, king of Crete.


SICARD, ROCH-AMBROISE CUCURRON (1742-1822), French abbe and instructor of deaf-mutes, was born at Le Fousseret, Haute-Garonne, on the 20th of September 1742. Educated as a priest, he was made principal of a school of deaf-mutes at Bordeaux in 1786, and in 1789, on the death of the Abb6 de l'Epee (see £pee), succeeded him at Paris. His chief work was his Cows d 'instruction d'un sourd-muet de naissance (1800). See Deaf and Dumb. The Abb6 Sicard managed to escape any serious harm in the political troubles of 1792, and became a member of the Institute in 179S, but the value of his educational work was hardly recognized till shortly before his death at Paris on the ioth of May 1822.


SICILY (Ital. Sicilia), an island of the Mediterranean Sea belonging to the kingdom of Italy, and separated from the nearest point of the mainland of Italy only by the Straits of Messina, which at their narrowest part are about 2 m. in width. It is nearly bisected by the meridian of 14 E., and by far the greater part lies to the south of 38 N. Its southernmost point, however, in 36 38' N. is 40' to the north of Point Tarifa, the southernmost point of Spain and of the continent of Europe. In shape it is roughly triangular, 1 whence the ancient poetical name of Trinacria, referring to its three promontories of Pelorum (now Faro) in the north-east, Pachynum (now Passero) in the south-east, and Lilybaeum (now Boeo) in the west. Its area> exclusive of the adjacent small islands belonging to the compartimento, is, according to the calculations of the Military Geographi- cal Institute of Italy, 9860 sq. m.; while the area of the whole compartimento is 9936 sq. m.

The island occupies that part of the Mediterranean in which the shallowing of the waters divides that sea into two basins, and in which there are numerous indications of frequent changes in a recent geological period. The channel between Cape Bon in Tunis and the south-west of Sicily (a distance of 80 m.) is, on the whole, shallower than the Straits of Messina, being for the most part under 100 fathoms in depth, and exceeding 200 fathoms only for a very short interval, while the Straits of Messina, have almost every where a depth exceeding 150 fathoms. The geological structure in the neighbourhood of this strait shows that the island must originally have been formed by a rupture between it and the mainland, but that this rupture must have taken place at a period long antecedent to the advent of man, so that the name Rhegium cannot be based even on the tradition of any such catastrophe. The mountain range that runs out towards the north-east of Sicily is composed of crystalline rocks precisely similar to those forming the parallel range of Aspromonte in Calabria, but both of these are girt about by sedimentary strata belonging in part to an early Tertiary epoch. That a subsequent land connexion took place, however, by the elevation of the sea-bed there is abundant evidence to show; and the occurrence of the remains of African Quaternary mammals, such as Elephas meridionalis, E. antiquus, Hippopotamus pentlandi, as well as of those of still living African forms, such as Elephas africanus and Hyaena crocuta, makes it probable that there was a direct post-Tertiary connexion also with the African continent.

The north coast is generally steep and cliff-bound, and abundantly provided with good harbours, of which that of Palermo is the finest. In the west and south, and in the south part of the east side, the hills are much lower and recede farther from the sea. The coast is for the most part flat, more regular in outline and less favourable to shipping, while in the east.

1 The name Tpivcuipla was no doubt suggested by the Qpwaichi of Homer (which need no*, however, be Sicily), and the geography was then fitted to the apparent meaning given to the name by the change. But of these three so-called promontories the last is not a true promontory, and it is more accurate to treat Sicily as having a fourth side on the west.