Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/44

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29
SICILY


troops; by inviting and murdering Ophelias, lord of Cyrene, he doubled his army and brought Carthage near to despair. Meanwhile Syracuse, all but lost, had driven back Hamilcar, and had taken him prisoner in an unsuccessful attack on Euryelus, and slain him when he came again with the help of the Syracusan exile Deinocrates. Meanwhile Acragas, deeming Agathocles and the barbarians alike weakened, proclaimed freedom for the Sicilian cities under her own headship. Many towns, both Greek and Sicel, joined the confederacy. It has now become impossible to distinguish the two races; Henna and Herbessus are now the fellows of Camarina and Leontini. But the hopes of Acragas perished when Agathocles came back from Africa, landed at Selinus, and marched to Syracuse, taking one town after another. A new scheme of Sicilian union was taken up by Deinocrates, which cut short his dominion. But he now relieved Syracuse from the Carthaginian blockade; his mer- cenaries gained a victory over Acragas; and he sailed again for Africa, where fortune had turned against his son Archagathus, as it now did against himself. He left his sons and his army to death, bondage or Carthaginian service, and came back to Sicily almost alone. Yet he could still gather a force which enabled him to seize Segesta, to slay or enslave the whole population, and to settle the city with new inhabitants. This change amounts to the extinction of one of the elements in the old population of Sicily. We hear no more of Elymi; indeed Segesta has been practically Greek long before this. Deinocrates and Agathocles came to a kind of partnership in 304, and a peace with Carthage, with the old boundary, secured Agathocles in the possession of Syracuse and eastern Sicily (301).

At some stage of his African campaigns Agathocles had taken the title of king. Earlier tyrants were well pleased to be spoken of as kings; but no earlier rulers of Sicily put either their heads or their names on the coin. Agathocles now put his name, first without, and then with, the kingly title, though never his own likeness — Hiero II. was the first to do this. This was in imitation of the Macedonian leaders who divided the dominion of Alexander. The relations between the eastern and western Greek worlds are drawing closer. Agathocles in his old age took a wife of the house of Ptolemy; he gave his daughter Lanassa to Pyrrhus, and established his power east of Hadria, as the first Sicilian ruler of Corcyra. Alike more daring and more cruel than any ruler before him, he made the island the seat of a greater power than any of them.

On the death of Agathocles tyrants sprang up in various

cities. Acragas, under its king Phintias, won back for the

Period moment somewhat of its old greatness. By a new

after depopulation of Gela, he founded the youngest of

Agatho- Siceliot cities, Phintias, by the mouth of the southern

Himera. And Hellas was cut short by the seizure

of Messana by the disbanded Campanian mercenaries of

Agathocles (c. 282), who proclaimed themselves a new people in

a new city by the name of Mamertines, children of Mamers or

Mars. Messana became an Italian town — " Mamertina civitas."

The Campanian occupation of Messana is the first of the

chain of events which led to the Roman dominion in Sicily. As

Pyrrhus ^ et ^ ome nas hardly been mentioned in Sicilian story.

The Mamertine settlement, the war with Pyrrhus,

bring us on quickly. Pyrrhus (q.v.) came as the champion of

the western Greeks against all barbarians, whether Romans

in Italy or Carthaginians in Sicily. His Sicilian war (278-276) 1

was a mere interlude between the two acts of his war with Rome.

As son-in-law of Agathocles, he claimed to be specially king

of Sicily, and he held the Sicilian conquest of Corcyra as the

dowry of Lanassa. With such a deliverer, deliverance meant

submission. Pyrrhus is said to have dreamed of kingdoms of

Sicily and of Italy for his two sons, the grandsons of Agathocles,

and he himself reigned for two years in Sicily as a king who came

to be no less hated than the tyrants. Still as Hellenic champion

in Sicily he has no peer.

The Greek king, on his way back to fight for Tarentum against Rome, had to cut his way through Carthaginians and Mamertines 1 For the ensuing years cf. Rome: History, II. "The Republic."


in Roman alliance. His saying that he left Sicily as a wrestling- ground for Romans and Carthaginians was the very truth of the matter. Very soon came the first war between Rome and Carthage (the " First Punic War "). It mattered much, now that Sicily was to have a barbarian master, whether that master should be the kindred barbarian of Europe or the bar- barian of Asia transplanted to the shore of Africa.

Sicily in truth never had a more hopeful champion than Hiero II. of Syracuse. The established rule of Carthage in western Sicily was now something that could well be „. .. endured alongside of the robber commonwealth at Messana. The dominion of the freebooters was spreading. Besides the whole north-eastern corner of the island, it reached inland to Agyrium and Centoripa. The Mamertines leagued with other Campanian freebooters who had forsaken the service of Rome to establish themselves at Rhegium. But a new Syracusan power was growing up to meet them. Hiero, claiming descent from Gelo, pressed the Mamertines hard. He all but drove them to the surrender of Messana; he even helped Rome to chastise her own rebels at Rhegium. The wrestling-ground was thus opened for the two barbarian commonwealths. Car- thaginian troops held the Messanian citadel against Hiero, while another party in Messana craved the help of the head of Italy. Rome, chastiser of the freebooters of Rhegium, saw Italian brethren in the freebooters of Messana.

The exploits of Hiero had already won him the kingly title (270) at Syracuse, and he was the representative of Hellenic life and independence throughout the island. Partly in this char- acter, partly as direct sovereign, he was virtual ruler of a large part of eastern Sicily. But he could not aspire to the dominion of earlier Syracusan rulers. The advance of Rome after the retreat of Pyrrhus kept the new king from all hope of their Italian position. And presently the new kingdom exchanged independence for safety. When Rome entered Sicily as the ally of the Mamertines, Hiero became the ally of Carthage. But in the second year of the war (263) he found it needful to change sides. His alliance with Rome marks a great epoch in the history of the Greek nation. The kingdom of Hiero was the first-fruits out of Italy of the system by which alliance with Rome grew into subjection to Rome. He was the first of Rome's kingly vassals. His only burthen was to give help to the Roman side in war; within his kingdom he was free, and his dominions flourished as no part of Sicily had flourished since the days of Timoleon.

During the twenty-three years of the First Punic War (264- 241) the rest of the island suffered greatly. The war for Sicily was fought in and round Sicily, and the Sicilian cities were taken and retaken by the contending powers PmUs

(see Punic Wars). The highest calling of the Greek w ar .

had now, in the western lands, passed to the Roman. By the treaty which ended the war in 241 Carthage ceded to Rome all her possessions in Sicily. As that part of the island which kept a national Greek government became the first kingdom dependent on Rome, so the share of BC " Carthage became the first Roman province. Messana alone remained an Italian ally of Rome on Sicilian soil.

We have no picture of Sicily in the first period of Roman rule. One hundred and seventy years later, several towns within the original province enjoyed various degrees of freedom, which they had doubtless kept from the beginning. Panormus, Segesta, with Centoripa, Halesa and Halikye, once Sicel but now Hellenized, kept the position of free cities (liberae et immunes, Cic. Verr. iii. 6). The rest paid tithe to the Roman people as landlord. The province was ruled by a praetor sent yearly from Rome. It formed, as it had even from the Carthaginian period, a closed customs district. Within the Roman province the new state of things called forth much discontent; but Hiero remained the faithful ally of Rome through a long life. On his death (216) and the accession of his grandson Hieronymus, his dynasty was swept away by the last revolution of Greek Syracuse. The result was revolt against Rome, the great sie<ge^ and capture of the city, the addition of Hiero's kingdom to