Sites & cities that bear the name of Sicyon


Today in : Greece
First trace of activity : ca. 12th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 8th century C.E
Recorded names : Aigialia, Σικυών, Sikyon, Sicyone, Hellas, Aigialeia, Mekone, Μηκώνη, Telchinia, Demetrias

Description : Sicyon (Greek: Σικυών; gen.: Σικυῶνος) or Sikyon was an ancient Greek city state situated in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea on the territory of the present-day regional unit of Corinthia. An ancient monarchy at the times of the Trojan War, the city was ruled by a number of tyrants during the Archaic and Classical period and became a democracy in the 3rd century BC. Sicyon was celebrated for its contributions to ancient Greek art, producing many famous painters and sculptors. In Hellenistic times it was also the home of Aratus of Sicyon, the leader of the Achaean League. Sicyon was built on a low triangular plateau about 3 kilometres (two miles) from the Corinthian Gulf. Between the city and its port lay a fertile plain with olive groves and orchards. In Mycenean times Sicyon had been ruled by a line of twenty-six mythical kings and then seven priests of Apollo. The king-list given by Pausanias comprises twenty-four kings, beginning with the autochthonous Aegialeus. The penultimate king of the list, Agamemnon, compels the submission of Sicyon to Mycenae; after him comes the Dorian usurper Phalces. Pausanias shares his source with Castor of Rhodes, who used the king-list in compiling tables of history; the common source was convincingly identified by Felix Jacoby as a lost Sicyonica by the late 4th-century poet Menaechmus of Sicyon. After the Dorian invasion the city remained subject to Argos, whence its Dorian conquerors had come. The community was now divided into the ordinary three Dorian tribes and an equally privileged tribe of Ionians, besides which a class of serfs (κορυνηφόροι, korynēphóroi or κατωνακοφόροι, katōnakophóroi) lived on and worked the land. For some centuries the suzerainty remained, but after 676 BC Sicyon regained its independence under a line of tyrants called the Orthagorides after the name of the first ruler Orthagoras. The most important however was the founder's grandson Cleisthenes, the grandfather of the Athenian legislator Cleisthenes, who ruled from 600 to 560 BC. Besides reforming the city's constitution to the advantage of the Ionians and replacing Dorian cults with the worship of Dionysus, Cleisthenes gained a reputation as the chief instigator and general of the First Sacred War (590 BC) in the interests of the Delphians. His successor Aeschines was expelled by the Spartans in 556 BC and Sicyon became an ally of the Lacedaemonians for more than a century. During this time, the Sicyonians developed the various industries for which they were known in antiquity. As the abode of the sculptors Dipoenus and Scyllis it gained pre-eminence in woodcarving and bronze work such as is still to be seen in the archaic metal facings found at Olympia. Its pottery, which resembled Corinthian ware, was exported with the latter as far as Etruria. In Sicyon also the art of painting was supposed to have been invented. After the fall of the tyrants their institutions survived until the end of the 6th century BC, when Dorian supremacy was re-established, perhaps by the agency of Sparta under the ephor Chilon, and the city was enrolled in the Peloponnesian League. Henceforth, its policy was usually determined either by Sparta or Corinth. During the Persian Wars, the Sicyonians participated with fifteen triremes in the Battle of Salamis and with 3,000 hoplites in the Battle of Plataea. On the Delphic Serpent Column celebrating the victory Sicyon was named in fifth place after Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Tegea. In September 479 BC a Sicyonian contingent fought bravely in the Battle of Mycale, where they lost more men than any other city. Later in the 5th century BC, Sicyon, like Corinth, suffered from the commercial rivalry of Athens in the western seas, and was repeatedly harassed by squadrons of Athenian ships. The Sicyonians fought two battles against the Athenians, first against their admiral Tolmides in 455 BC and then in a land battle against Pericles with 1000 hoplites in 453 BC. In the Peloponnesian War Sicyon followed the lead of Sparta and Corinth. When these two powers quarrelled during the peace of Nicias, it remained loyal to the Spartans. At the reprise of the war, during the Athenian expedition in Sicily, the Sicyonians contributed 200 pressed hoplites under their commander Sargeus to the force that relieved Syracuse. At the beginning of the 4th century, in the Corinthian war, Sicyon sided again with Sparta and became its base of operations against the allied troops round Corinth.

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