Sites & cities that bear the name of Selinunte


Today in : Italy
First trace of activity : 628 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 3rd century B.C.E
Recorded names : Σελινοῦς, Selinoūs, Selinus, Selinunte, Sélinonte

Description : Selinunte (Ancient Greek: Σελινοῦς, Selinoūs; Latin: Selinus) was an ancient Greek city on the south-western coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Cottone and Modione rivers. It now lies in the comune Castelvetrano, between the frazioni of Triscina di Selinunte in the west and Marinella di Selinunte in the east. The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis. Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera, also known as "Temple E", has been re-erected. At its peak before 409 BC the city may have contained up to 30,000 people, excluding slaves. Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of that island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name, and 6.5 km west of the Hypsas river (the modern Belice). It was founded, according to the historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara Hyblaea, under the leadership of a man called Pammilus, about 100 years after the foundation of Megara Hyblaea, with the help of colonists from Megara in Greece, which was Megara Hyblaea's mother city. The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to the foundation of Megara Hyblaea, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE. Diodorus places it 22 years earlier, or 650 BCE, and Hieronymus still further back in 654 BCE. The date from Thucydides, which is probably the most likely, is incompatible with this earlier date. The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild celery (Ancient Greek: σέλινον, romanized: (selinon)) that grew on the spot. For the same reason, they adopted the celery leaf as the symbol on their coins. Selinunte was the most westerly of the Greek colonies in Sicily, and for this reason they soon came into contact with the Phoenicians of western Sicily and the native Sicilians in the west and northwest of the island. The Phoenicians do not at first seem to have conflicted with them; but as early as 580 BCE the Selinuntines were engaged in hostilities with the non-Greek Elymian people of Segesta, whose territory bordered their own. A body of emigrants from Rhodes and Cnidus who subsequently founded Lipara, supported the Segestans on this occasion, leading to their victory; but disputes and hostilities between the Segestans and Selinuntines seem to have occurred frequently, and it is possible that when Diodorus speaks of the Segestans being at war with the Lilybaeans (modern Marsala) in 454 BCE, that the Selinuntines are the people really meant. The river Mazarus, which at that time appears to have formed the boundary with Segesta, was only about 25 km west of Selinunte; and it is certain that at a somewhat later period the territory of Selinunte extended to its banks, and that that city had a fort and emporium at its mouth. On the other side Selinunte's territory certainly extended as far as the Halycus (modern Platani), at the mouth of which it founded the colony of Minoa, or Heracleia, as it was afterward called. It is clear, therefore, that Selinunte had already achieved great power and prosperity; but very little information survives about its history. Like most of the Sicilian cities, it passed from an oligarchy to a tyranny, and about 510 BCE was subject to a despot named Peithagoras, who was overthrown with the assistance of the Spartan Euryleon, one of the companions of Dorieus. Euryleon himself ruled the city, for a little while, but was speedily overthrown and put to death by the Selinuntines. The Selinuntines supported the Carthaginians during the great expedition of Hamilcar (480 BCE); they even promised to send a contingent to the Carthaginian army, but this did not arrive until after Hamilcar's defeat at the Battle of Himera. The Selinuntines are next mentioned in 466 BCE, co-operating with the other cities of Sicily to help the Syracusans to expel Thrasybulus. Thucydides speaks of Selinunte just before the Athenian expedition in 416 BCE as a powerful and wealthy city, possessing great resources for war both by land and sea, and having large stores of wealth accumulated in its temples. Diodorus also represents it at the time of the Carthaginian invasion, as having enjoyed a long period of tranquility, and possessing a numerous population. The walls of Selinunte enclosed an area of approximately 100 hectares (250 acres). The population of the city has been estimated at 14,000 to 19,000 people during the fifth century BC.

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