Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/46

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31
SICILY

of his sister Analafrida (Proc. Bell. Vand. i. 8). Yet Lilybaeum was a Gothic possession when Belisarius, conqueror of Africa, demanded it in vain as part of the Vandal possessions (Proc. Bell. Vand. ii. 5; Bell. Goth. i. 3). In the Gothic war Sicily was the first land to be recovered for the empire, and that with the good will of its people (53 s). Panormus alone was stoutly defended by its Gothic garrison. In 550 Totila took some fortresses, but the great cities all withstood him, and the Goths were driven out the next year.

Sicily was thus won back to the Roman dominion. Belisarius Sicily was Pyrrhus and Marcellus in one. For 430 years under the some part of Sicily, for 282 years the whole of it, Eastern again remained a Roman province. To the Gothic p ' count again succeeded, under Justinian, a Roman praetor, in Greek crTpaTrryos. That was the official title; we often hear of a patrician of Sicily, but patrician {q.v.) was in strictness a personal rank. In the later mapping out of the empire into purely military divisions, the theme (de/xa) of Sicily took in both the island and the nearest peninsula of the mainland, the oldest Italy. The island itself was divided for financial purposes, almost as in the older times, into the two divisions of Syracuse and Lilybaeum. The revolutions of Italy hardly touched a land which looked steadily to the eastern Rome as its head. The Lombard and Frankish masters of the peninsula never fixed themselves in the island. When the Frank took the imperial crown of the west, Sicily still kept its allegiance to the Augustus who reigned at Constantinople, and was only torn away piecemeal from the empire by the next race of conquerors.

This connexion of Sicily with the eastern division of the empire no doubt largely helped to keep up Greek life in the Ectfesl- island. This was of course strengthened by union with astlcal a power which had already a Greek side, and where the relations Greek side soon became dominant. Still the connexion w y ' with Italy was close, especially the ecclesiastical

connexion. Some things tend to make Sicily look less Greek than it really was. The great source of our knowledge of Sicily in the century which followed the reconquest by Beli- sarius is the Letters of Pope Gregory the Great, and they naturally show the most Latin side of things. The merely official use of Latin was, it must be remembered, common to Sicily with Constantinople. Gregory's Letters are largely occupied with the affairs of the great Sicilian estates held by the Roman church, as by the churches of Milan and Ravenna. But they deal with many other matters. Saint Paul's visit to Syracuse naturally gave rise to many legends; but the Christian church undoubtedly took early root in Sicily. We hear of Manichaeans (CD. 163); Jews were plentiful, and Gregory causes compensation to be made for the unlawful destruction of synagogues. Many Christian catacombs and Byzantine rock-cut villages, churches and tombs have been explored of recent years. See the compre- hensive work by the late J. Fiihrer and V. Schultze, " Die altchristlichen Grabstatte Siziliens " (Berlin, 1907, Jahrbuch des K.D. archaologischen Instiluts, ETganzungsheft vii.): and several articles by P. Orsi in the Notizie degli scavi, and in Byzantinische Zeitschrift (1898, 1; 1899, 613). Of paganism we find no trace, save that pagan slaves, doubtless not natives of the island, were held by Jews (CD. 127). Herein is a contrast between Sicily and Sardinia, where, according to a letter from Gregory to the empress Constantina, wife of the emperor Maurice (594-395), praying for a lightening of taxation in both islands, paganism still lingered (CD. 121). Sicily belonged to the Latin patriarchate; but we already (CD. 103) see glimmerings of the coming disputes between the Eastern and Western Churches. Things were changed when Leo the Isaurian confiscated the Sicilian and Calabrian estates of the Roman Church (Theoph. i. 631).

In the 9th, 10th and nth centuries the old drama of Sicily was acted again. The island is again disputed between Europe and Asia, transplanted to Africa between Greek and Semitic dwellers on her own soil. Panormus and Syracuse are again the headquarters of races and creeds, of creeds yet more than


477-829.


of races. The older religious differences were small compared with the strife for life and death between Christendom and Islam. Gregory and Mahomet were contemporaries, and, though Saracen occupation did not begin in B f r ^ r Sicily till more than two centuries after Gregory's inroads. death, Saracen inroads began much sooner. In 655 (Theoph. i. 532) part of Sicily was plundered, and its inhabitants carried to Damascus. Then came the strange episode of the visit of Constans II. (641-668), the first emperor, it would seem, who had set foot in Sicily since Julian. After a war with the Lombards, after twelve days' plunder of Rome, he came on to Syracuse, where his oppressions led to his murder in 668. Sicily now saw for the first time the setting up of a tyrant in the later sense. Mezetius, commander of the Eastern army of Constans, revolted, but Sicily and Roman Italy kept their allegiance to the new emperor Constantine Pogonatus, who came in person to destroy him. Then came another Saracen inroad from Alexandria, in which Syracuse was sacked (Paul. Diac. v. 13). Towards the end of the 8th century, though Sicily itself was untouched, its patricians and their forces play a part in the affairs of southern Italy as enemies of the Frankish power. Charlemagne himself was believed (Theoph. i. 736) to have designs on Sicily; but, when it came to Saracen invasion, the sympathies of both pope and Caesar lay with the invaded Christian land (Mon. Car. 323, 328).

In 813 a peace for ten years was made between the Saracens and the patrician Gregory. A few years after it expired Saraaen settlement in the island began. About this time Crete was seized by Spanish adventurers. But the first conquest. Saracen settlers in Sicily were the African neighbours of Sicily, and they were called to the work by a home treason. The story has been tricked out with many romantic details (Chron. Salem. 60, ap. Pertz, iii. 498; Theoph. Cont. ii. 272; George Cedrenus, ii. 97); but it seems plain that Euphemius or Euthymius of Syracuse, supported by his own citizens, revolted against Michael the Stammerer (820-829), and, when defeated by an imperial army, asked help of Ziyadet Allah, the Aghlabite prince of Kairawan, and offered to hold the island of him. The struggle of 138 years now began. Euphemius, a puppet emperor, was led about by his Saracen allies much as earlier puppet emperors had been led about by Alaric and Ataulf, till he was slain in one of the many sieges. The second Semitic conquest of Sicily began in 827 at Mazzara on the old border of Greek and Phoenician. The advance of the invaders was slow. In two years all that was done was to occupy Mazzara and Mineum — the old Menae of Ducetius — strange points certainly to begin with, and seemingly to destroy Agrigentum, well used to destruction. Attacks on Syracuse failed; so did attacks on Henna — Castrum Ennae, now changing into Castrum Johannis (perhaps Kaorpo- lavvrj), Castrogiovanni. The actual gain was small; but the invaders took seizin alike of the coast and of the island.

A far greater conquest followed when new invaders came from Spain and when Theodotus was killed in 830. The next year Panormus pased away for ever from Roman, for 230 years from Christian, rule. Syracuse was for fifty years, not only, as of old, the bulwark of Europe, but the bulwark of Christendom. By the conquest of Panormus the Saracens were firmly rooted in the island. It became the seat of the amir or lord of Sicily. We hear dimly of treasonable dealings with them on the part of the stralegos Alexius, son-in-law of the emperor Theophilus; but we see more clearly that Saracen advance was largely hindered by dissensions between the African and the Spanish settlers. In the end the Moslem conquests in Sicily became an Aghlabite principality owning at best a formal superiority in the princes of Kairawan. With the Saracen occupation begins a new division of the island, which becomes convenient in tracing the progress of Saracen conquest. This is into three valleys, known in later forms of language as Val di Mazzara or Mazza in the N.W., Val di Noto in the S.E. and Val Demone (a name of uncertain origin) in the N.E. (see Amari, Musulmani in Sicilia, i. 465). The first Saracen settlement