5th Century BC Roman History

5th Century BC (c) Samnites/Sabelli conquer Pompeii and other Campanian towns. They also expand into Apulia, Lucania, and Bruttium. (c) Greeks colonize the island of Capri off the coast of Campania. The exact date of the colonization remains uncertain as does the origin of the island’s name. Strabo called it Caprea or “Island of the Course Stones”. Varro, who referred to it as Capreae believed the name derived from the many wild goats (Lat. caprae= “goats”) found there. Some scholars contest both of these theories, believing that the name was inspired by the Greek word kapros meaning “boar”, referring to another of the island’s more plentiful fauna. (c) Eleatic school of philosophy founded by Parmenides. (c) Petty monarchies centering on strongly fortified cities are established in Apulia.

500 70th Olympiad (c) Greek colony established at Barium (mod. Bari) in Apulia. (c) Temple of Athena (formerly attributed to Ceres) built at Poseidonia (Paestum). The edifice had 6 columns on each front and 13 on each side; its stylobate measured 14.54 m. x 32.88 m. and the cella 7.64 m. x 24.15 m. In the 6th / 7th Centuries it was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. (c) Oscan alphabet is developed in southern Italy. During the 7th century BC the Oscan-speaking peoples had begun to use the Etruscan alphabet for inscriptions. Around the beginning of the 5th Century, a new alphabet, better suited to the Indo-European phonology of Oscan, came into use. Greek-based letters were added to allow for the “b”, “d”, and “g” sounds, and a “u” came into use for the “o” sound. In the mid-4th Century BC, symbols to represent the “long I” and “long u” sounds were added. In its final form, the Oscan alphabet used 21 symbols. The Oscans continued to follow the Etruscan practice of writing from right to left. In inscriptions, lines ran continuously with words being separated by dots. The Oscan language was eventually replaced by Latin, disappearing with its alphabet around the end of the 1st Century BC. (c) Temple G built at Selinus. Among the largest temples in antiquity, it measured 110.36 m. x 50.1 m. It was dedicated to either Apollo or Zeus. There were 8 columns on each front and 17 on each side. These columns were over 16 m in height with a base diameter of about 3.4 m. Each weighed about 100 tons. The temple was still incomplete when the city was destroyed in 409 BC. Carthaginians occupy Sardinia. (c) Possible eruption on Ischia.

498 Cleander is assassinated by Sabyllos. He is succeeded as tyrant of Gela by his brother Hippocrates. Hippocrates launches a policy of expansion and, over the next few years, conquers the cities of Callipoli, Leontini, Naxos, Hergetios and Zankle. Most of Greek Sicily, except for Syracuse and its colonies, come under Geloan rule. Roman census taken: 150,700 citizens.

497 Samians seize control of Zankle. Battle of Lake Regillus. Romans defeat the Latin League near Frascati.

496 71st Olympiad Following the battle of Lake Regillus, Tarquinus Superbus flees to Kyme (Cumae) where he is given asylum by the tyrant Aristodemus Malacus. Scythas, tyrant of Zankle, who had been imprisoned by Hippocrates, escapes and flees to Persia. Castrum Leonis (mod. Castiglione di Sicilia [CT]) founded.

494 Anaxilas becomes ruler of Rhegium (mod. Reggio di Calabria). (c) Leontini is captured by Hippocrates of Gela. The town is soon able to regain its independence and comes under the control of a new tyrant, Aenesidemus.

493 Roman census taken: 110,000 citizens.

492 72nd Olympiad Camerina revolts against Syracuse and seeks aid from Hippocrates of Gela. Hippocrates defeats the Syracusans at the river Heloros and then lays siege to Syracuse itself. A settlement is reached in which Hippocrates agrees to withdraw back to his own territories in exchange for control over Camerina. (c) Empedocles, philosopher, born in Akragas (mod. Agrigento).

491 Hippocrates, tyrant of Gela, is killed in battle against the Sikels. Gelon, son of Deinomenes, expels the legitimate heirs, Euclid and Cleander, and becomes the new tyrant of Gela.