Sites & cities that bear the name of Eryx


Today in : Italy
First trace of activity : ca. 10th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 1st century B.C.E
Recorded names : Ἔρυξ, Érux, Éryx, ʾrk, 𐤀‬𐤓𐤊

Description : Eryx (Greek: Ἔρυξ, Éryx; Punic: 𐤀‬𐤓𐤊, ʾrk) was an ancient city and a mountain in the west of Sicily, about 10 km from Drepana (modern Trapani), and 3 km from the sea-coast. It was located at the site of modern Erice. It does not appear to have ever received a Greek colony but became gradually Hellenized, like most other cities of Sicily, to a great extent though Thucydides (460–395) still speaks of the Elymi, including the people of Eryx and Segesta, as barbarians. Nothing is known of its history previous to that period, but it seems probable that it followed for the most part the lead of the more powerful city of Segesta and, after the failure of the Athenian expedition, became a dependent ally of the Carthaginians. Cyclopean masonry or Phoenician walls, and the parts later modified or built by the Elymians, once hugged the border of Erice. Punic colony In 406 BC, a sea-fight took place between a Carthaginian and a Syracusan fleet off the neighborhood of Eryx, in which the latter was victorious. On occasion of the great expedition of Dionysius I of Syracuse to the west of Sicily in 397 BC, Eryx was one of the cities which joined the Syracusan despot just before the siege of Motya, but it was speedily recovered by Himilco in the following year. It again fell into the hands of Dionysius shortly before his death, but must have been once more recovered by the Carthaginians and probably continued subject to their rule until the expedition of Pyrrhus (278 BC). On that occasion it was occupied by a strong garrison, which, combined with its natural strength of position, enabled it to oppose a vigorous resistance to the king of Epirus. It was, however, taken by assault, Pyrrhus himself leading the attack, and taking the opportunity to display his personal prowess as a worthy descendant of Heracles. In the First Punic War (264–241 BC) we find Eryx again in the hands of the Carthaginians, and in 260 BC their general Hamilcar destroyed the city, removing the inhabitants to the neighboring promontory of Drepanum, where he founded the town of that name. The old site, however, seems not to have been wholly deserted, for a few years later we are told that the Roman consul L. Junius made himself master by surprise both of the temple and the city. The former seems to have been well fortified, and, from its position on the summit of the mountain, constituted a military post of great strength. Hence probably it was that Hamilcar Barca, suddenly abandoning the singular position he had so long held on the mountain of Ercte, transferred his forces to Eryx, as being a still more impregnable stronghold. But though he surprised and made himself master of the town of Eryx, which was situated about halfway up the mountain, he was unable to reduce the temple and fortress on the summit, the Roman garrison of which was able to defy all his efforts. Meanwhile, Hamilcar maintained his position in the city, the remaining inhabitants of which he transferred to Drepanum; and though besieged or blockaded in his turn by a Roman army at the foot of the mountain, he preserved his communications with the sea, and was only compelled to abandon possession of Eryx and Drepanum when the great naval victory of G. Lutatius Catulus over the Carthaginians forced that people to sue for peace, 241 BC. From this time the town of Eryx sinks into insignificance, and it may even be doubted whether it was ever restored. Cicero (106–43 BC) alludes to the temple, but never notices the town; and Strabo speaks of it as in his day almost uninhabited. Pliny, indeed, enumerates the Erycini among the municipal communities of Sicily; but the circumstance mentioned by Tacitus, that it was the Segestans who applied to Tiberius for the restoration of the temple, would seem to indicate that the sanctuary was at that time dependent, in a municipal sense, on Segesta. No trace of the subsequent existence of the town of Eryx is found; the remaining inhabitants appear to have settled on the summit of the hill, where the modern town of Erice has grown up on the site of the temple. No remains of the ancient city are extant; but it appears to have occupied the site now marked by the convent of Santa Anna, about halfway down the mountain.

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