Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/45

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SICILY


Sicily Roman.


Roman province. Two towns only, besides Messana, which had taken the Roman side, Tauromenium and Netos, were admitted to the full privileges of Roman alliance. Tauromenium indeed was more highly favoured than Messana. Rome had a right to demand ships of Messana, but not of Tauromenium. Some towns were destroyed; the people of Henna were massacred. Acragas, again held for Carthage, was for four years (214-210) the centre of an active campaign. The story of Acragas ended in plunder, slaughter and slavery; three years later, the story of Agrigentum began.

The reign of Hiero was the last time of independent Greek culture in Sicily. His time marks the growth of a new form of local Sicilian genius. The spread of Hellenic culture among the Sicels had in return made a Greek home for many Sicel beliefs, traditions and customs. Bucolic poetry is the native growth of Sicily; in the hands of Theocritus it grew out of the germs supplied by Epicharmus and Sophron into a distinct and finished form of the art. The poet, himself of Syracuse, went to and fro between the courts of Hiero and Ptolemy Philadelphus; but his poetry is essentially Sicilian. So is that of his successors, both the Syracusan Moschus and Bion of Smyrna, who came to Sicily as to his natural school.

With the incorporation of the kingdom of Hiero into the Roman province independent Sicilian history comes to an end for many ages. In one part of the island the Roman people stepped into the position of Carthage, in another part into that of King Hiero. The allied cities kept their several terms of alliance; the free cities kept their freedom; elsewhere the land paid to the Roman people, accord- ing to the law of Hiero, the tithe which it had paid to Hiero. But, as the tithe was let out to publicani, oppression was easy. The praetor, after the occupation of Syracuse, dwelled there in the palace of Hiero, as in the capital of the island. But, as a survival of the earlier state of things, one of his two quaestors was quartered at Eryx, the other being in attendance on himself. Under the supreme dominion of Rome even the unprivileged cities kept their own laws, magistrates and assemblies, provision being made for suits between Romans and Sicilians and between Sicilians of different cities (Verr. ii. 16). In Latin the one name Siculi takes in all the inhabitants of the island; no distinction is drawn between Greek and Sicel, or even between Greek and Phoenician cities. It is assumed that all Siculi are Greeks ( Verr. ii. 3, 29, 49, 52, 65; iii. 37, 40, 73)- Even is? Greek, St/ceXot is now sometimes used instead of 'EiKeXubrtu All the persons spoken of by Cicero have Greek names save — a most speaking exception — Gaius Heius of Mamertina civitas. Inscriptions too from Sicel and Phoenician cities are commonly Greek, even when they commemorate men with Phoenician names, coupled perhaps with Greek surnames. The process of Hellenization which had been so long going on had at last made Sicily thoroughly Greek. Roman conquest itself, which everywhere carried a Greek element with it, would help this result. The corn of the fertile island was said even then to feed the Roman people. It was this character of Sicily which led to its one frightful piece of local history. The wars of Rome, and the systematic piracy and kidnapping that followed them, filled the Mediter- ranean lands with slaves of all nations. Sicily stood out before the rest as the first land to be tilled by slave-gangs, on the estates both of rich natives and of Roman settlers. It became the granary of Rome and the free population naturally degenerated and died out. The slaves were most harshly treated, and even encouraged by their masters to rob. The land was full of disorder, and the praetors shrank from enforcing the law against offenders, many of whom, as Roman knights, might be their own judges. Of these causes came the two great slave- revolts of the second half of the 2nd centuiy B.C. The first lasted from 134 to 132, the time of Tiberius Gracchus and the fall of Numantia. Enna and Tauromenium were the headquarters of the revolt. The second (the centre of which was Triocala, the modern S. Anna, 9 m. N.E. of Sciacca) lasted from 102 to 99, the time of the Cimbrian invasion. At other times the power of Rome might have quelled the revolt more speedily.


Slave revolts.


The slave wars were not the only scourge that fell on Sicily. The pirates troubled the coast, and all other evils were out- done by the three years' government of Verres (73-70 Later B.C.). Besides the light which the great impeachment Roman throws on the state of the island, his administration rule la seems really to have dealt a lasting blow to its Skdfy. prosperity. The slave wars had not directly touched the great cities; Verres plundered and impoverished everywhere, re- moving anything of value, especially works of art, that took his fancy, and there is hardly a city that had not to complain of what it suffered at his hands. Another blow was the occupation of Messana by Sextus Pompeius in 43 B.C. He was master of Sicily for seven years, and during this period the corn supply of Rome was seriously affected, while Strabo (vi. 2, 4) attributed to this war the decayed state of several cities. To undo this mischief Augustus planted Roman colonies at Palermo, Syracuse, Tauromenium, Thermae, Tyndaris and Catana. The island thus received another Italian infusion; but, as elsewhere, Latin in no way displaced Greek; it was simply set up alongside of it for certain purposes. Roman tastes now came in; Roman buildings, especially amphitheatres, arose. The Mamertines were Roman citizens, and Netum, Centuripae and Segesta had become Latin, perhaps by a grant of Caesar himself, but in any case before the concession of Latin rights to the rest of Sicily; this was followed by M. Antonius's grant of full citizenship to the whole island. But Sicily never became thoroughly Roman; no roads were constructed, so that not a single Roman milestone has been found in the whole island. In the division of provinces between Augustus and the senate, Sicily fell to the latter. Under the empire it has practically no history: Few emperors visited Sicily; Hadrian was there, as everywhere, in a.d. 126, and ascended Etna, and Julian also (CD. 10). In its provincial state Sicily fell back more than some other provinces. Ausonius could still reckon Catana and fourfold Syracuse (" quadruplices Syracusas ") among the noble cities; but Sicily is not, like Gaul, rich in relics of later Roman life, and it is now Egypt rather than Sicily that feeds Rome. The island has no internal history beyond a very characteristic fact, a third revolt of slaves and bandits, which was quelled with difficulty in the days of Gallienus. External history there could be none in the central island, with no frontier open to Germans or Persians. There was a single Frankish attack under Probus (276-282). In the division of Constantine, when the word " province " had lost its meaning, when Italy itself was mapped out into provinces, Sicily became one of these last. Along with Africa, Raetia and western Illyricum, it became part of the Italian praefecture; along with the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, it became part of the Italian diocese. It was now ruled by a corrector, afterwards by a consular under the authority of the vicar of the Roman city (Not. Imp. 14, 5).

Sicilian history began again when the wandering of the nations planted new powers, not on the frontier of the empire, but at its heart. The powers between which Sicily now passed to and fro were Teutonic powers. The mas ers earlier stages of Teutonic advance could not touch Sicily. Alaric thought of a Sicilian expedition, but a storm hindered him. Sicily was to be reached only by a Teutonic power which made its way through Gaul, Spain and Africa. The Vandal now dwelt at Carthage instead of the Canaanite. Gaiseric (429-477) subdued the great islands for which Roman and Phoenician had striven. Along with Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic Isles, Sicily was again a possession of a naval power at Carthage. Gaiseric made a treaty with Odoacer almost like that which ended the First Punic War. He gave up (Victor Vitensis i. 4) the island on condition of a tribute, which was hardly paid by Theodoric. Sicily was now ruled by a Gothic count, and the Gotbs claimed to have treated the land with special tenderness (Procopius, Bell. Goth. iii. 16). The island, like the rest of Theodoric's dominions, was certainly well looked after by the great king and his minister; yet we hear darkly of disaffection to Gothic rule (Cass. Var. i. 3). Theodoric gave back Lilybaeum to the Vandal king Thrasamund as the dowry