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.

490 (Aug 17) Battle of Marathon. Greeks (Athenians and Plataeans) defeat an invading Persian army. (c) Death of Pythagoras of Samos according to some sources (alt. date: 480 BC). Aristodemus Malacus, tyrant of Kyme (Cumae), is assassinated by a group of conspirators. (c) Birth of Zeno of Elea, philosopher. Zeno will head the Eleatic school of philosophy founded by Parmenides. He proposed a number of paradoxes supporting Parmenides’ belief that the world was a motionless, unchanging unity. Among these is that of Achilles and the tortoise (which eventually evolved into the fable of the tortoise and the hare): the faster Achilles can never catch up to the slower tortoise as long as the tortoise has had a head start of a certain distance, because Achilles can only reach as far as the last place the tortoise has been. (c) Cumae (Kyme) begins to mint its own coins. (c) Temple E constructed at Selinus (to 470 BC). Probably dedicated to Hera, the temple stylobate measured 68.72 m x 25.33 m with 15 columns along each long side.

488 Theron II takes power in Akragas. (alt. date: 489 BC). 73rd Olympiad Astylos of Kroton a victor of the stadion and the diaulos footraces at the 73rd Olympiad. Gelon I, tyrant of Gela, is victor in chariot racing at the 73rd Olympiad.

486 Treaty between the Romans and Hernici.

485 Gelon I restores the power of the noble Gamoroi class in Syracuse, ousting the government of the commoner Killichiroi. Anaxilas, tyrant of Rhegium, crosses over into Sicily and captures Zankle (mod. Messina). He now controls both shores of the Strait of Messina. Displacing the original inhabitants, he populates the city with Messenians, who rename the city Messene (Messanion) in honor of their former home. Parmenides of Elea, founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, denies the existence of the void. This would be the modern equivalent to stating that vacuums cannot exist.

484 Gelon I of Gela is proclaimed tyrant of Syracuse. Moving his seat of power to that city, he declares his brother Hieron I as his successor in Gela. (alt date: 485 BC). 74th Olympia. Astylos (formerly of Kroton) of Syracuse a victor of the stadion and diaulos at the 74th Olympiad. Although a citizen of Kroton, he switched his loyalties to Syracuse to win the favor of Gelon I. As a result, the people of Kroton banished him from their city and torn down the statue raised in his honor for his first victory in the Temple of Hera. They also turned his now-vacant house into a prison. Birth of Herodotus.

483 Gelon I destroys Camarina and transports the population to Syracuse. Terillus, tyrant of Himera, is expelled by Theron II of Akragas.

482 Gelon I transports half of the population of Gela to Syracuse. Gelon I destroys Megara Hyblaea.

481 Envoys from the mainland Greek cities are sent to Gelon I, tyrant of Syracuse, seeking help in the imminent invasion of the Persian King Xerxes.  Gelon answers that he will contribute 200 ships, c 30,000 foot-soldiers and cavalrymen, as well as wheat for the entire Greek army for the duration of the war. His contributions, however, are conditional only if he is named commander-in-chief of the Greek forces. When the Spartans and Athenians refuse to grant him the honor, Gelon retracts his offer of aid. (Apr 19) Solar eclipse.

480 An allied Siciliot Greek army led by Gelon I of Syracuse, Theron of Akragas, and Hieron I of Gela, defeats a large Carthaginian invasion force at Himera. The Carthaginian general, Himilco, had been sacrificing to his gods when he learned that his army had been attacked and all but destroyed. Rather than be taken prisoner, Himilco chose to throw himself into the sacrificial fire. By this act, he was raised to the status of a demigod in the eyes of the Carthaginians. According to ancient sources the Carthaginian army numbered some 300,000. Modern researchers, however, believe that the army could not have been more than 50,000. As with most Carthaginian armies, the bulk of the troops would have been mercenaries. In this case, the Carthaginian core of the army was supported by Libyans, Iberians, Ligurians, Helisycians, Sardinians, and Corsicans. According to Diodorus Siculus (11.24.1), the battle of Himera was fought of the same day as the battle of Thermopylae, while Herodotus coordinates it with the battle of Salamis. Whichever date, if either, is correct, it seems to confirm the very reasonable belief of the Greeks that the Persians and Carthaginians had formed and alliance to destroy their civilization. Had such an alliance succeeded, Greece itself would have been incorporated into the Persian Empire while the Western Greek territories in Sicily and southern Italy would have fallen to the Carthaginians. Such a situation could well have blocked the later Roman expansion and Western Civilization as we know it would never have developed. It is also claimed by some that the Greek playwright Euripides was born on the same day as the battles of Salamis and Himera. Deputation from the city-states of Greece arrives in Sicily to petition for help from Gelon I against the impeding Persian invasion. The mission is unsuccessful because of Gelon’s insistence on being granted supreme command over all Greek forces. A great Doric Temple of Victory is built at Himera to commemorate the Greek victory over Carthaginians there. Persian king Xerxes captures Athens. The Athenians, having previously escaped to the nearby island of Salamis, consider immigrating to southern Italy. (Sept 30) Battle of Salamis. Greek coalition fleet, numbering between 366 and 380 ships, defeat the Persian armada of 1,000 to 1,207 vessels. Only 1 ship from the western Greek states, a vessel from Croton, is known to have fought in the battle. As a result of the defeat at Himera, the Mago ruling dynasty of Carthage is overthrown. A new government, the Court of 104 Magistrates, is established. Locri and Rhegium join forces to defeat Croton. Greek Classical Period begins (to 323 BC). Doric Temple of Athena begun at Syracuse by Gelon. The temple was raised to celebrate the victory over the Carthaginians at Himera. Sources differ on the time it took to complete the structure, ranging from 2 to 10 years. (c) Construction begins on the Doric Temple of Olympian Zeus at Akragas. Begun after the Greek victory at Himera over the Carthaginians, it was still unfinished when the city was burned it 406 BC. Measuring 112.6 m x 56.3 m it is nearly a perfect double square and is the largest known Doric temple. Between each of its half columns stood huge statues 7.65 m high called telemons. There were 7 columns on each front of the temple and 14 along the sides. (c) Temple of Demeter built at Akragas. The base and most of the cella of the temple are still well-preserved. In medieval times the Church of San Biagio was built on the steps of the temple. Its stylobate measured 12.10 m x 22.66 m. (c) Temple of Athena built at Gela. This classical temple sits on the foundations of an earlier, archaic temple. (c) Philolaus, mathematician and philosopher, is born in Magna Graecia. Croton, Tarentum, and Heraclea have all been identified as his birthplace. A contemporary of Zeno of Elea, Melissus and Thucydides, he was the first Pythagorean to actually publish his teachings, though today only fragments survive as quotes in other philosophers’ works. He is one of the earliest, if not the first, to expound on the motion of the earth. At some period he was forced to flee from his home, going first to Lucania, and then to Thebes in Greece. 75th Olympiad. Astylos (formerly of Kroton) of Syracuse a victor of the stadion, diaulos, and hoplites at the 75th Olympiad. This triple win by a single athlete in the principal footraces would not be repeated for another 3 centuries. Plato (Laws 8.840A) mentions that Astylos was a firm believer in abstaining from sex while training before a competition. It is also known that he took considerable pride in his accomplishments, having a victory song commissioned by the Greek odist Simonides, and a statue of himself carved by Pythagoras of Samos. Pythagoras dies at Metapontum according to some sources. (alt date 490 BC). Birth of the Greek playwright Euripides.

479 (Aug) Period of volcanic activity begins on Mt Etna (to c476 BC). Greeks defeat the Persians at the battle of Plataea.

478 Gelon I of Syracuse dies. He is succeeded by his brother Hieron I. Hieron raises another brother, Polyzelos, to succeed him at Gela.

476 Anaxilaus, tyrant of Rhegium and Messina, dies. He is succeeded in Rhegium by Mycithos becomes ruler of Rhegium. 76th Olympiad. Zopyrus of Syracuse is victor in the armored race at the 76th Olympiad.

475 (c) Temple D constructed at Metapontum. This Ionic temple had 8 columns on each front and 20 on each side. Its maximum dimensions measured c17.90 m. x 41.60 m. Destroyed during the 3rd Century BC much of its material was reused in other buildings. (c) Possible eruption on Vulcano Island.

474 Combined fleets of Cumae and Syracuse, under the command of Hieron I defeat the Etruscans in a sea-battle off Cumae. Most of the Greek population of Ischia abandons the island because of volcanic activity. Hieron I establishes a Syracusan garrison on the island of Ischia. Samnites capture Pompeii (some sources say c420 BC) from the Greeks. Roman census taken: 103,000 citizens.

473 Pindar visits the court of Hieron I at Syracuse. (c) Greeks from Taras/Tarentum suffer a major defeat at the hands of the neighboring Messapii/Iapygians.

472 77th Olympiad Thrasydaeos takes power in Akragas.

471 Birth of the Greek historian Thucydides.

470 A democratic republic is established at Akragas which lasts until 406 BC. Foundation of Neapolis (mod Naples) in Campania near the earlier colony of Paleopolis. Syracusan garrison on Ischia abandons the island because of volcanic activity. Ischia is then claimed by Neapolis. Deinomene, son of Gelone I, becomes tyrant of Aetna. (c) Temple of Athena built at Syracuse. Its stylobate measured c22.00 m x 55.00 m and its cella c12.50 m x 42.00 m. It had 6 columns on each front and 14 per side. Much of the temple was later incorporated into the Cathedral of Syracuse. (c) Eruption on Ischia.

469 Birth of Socrates in Athens.

468 78th Olympiad

467 Hieron I dies. Thrasybullus (Thrasybulos), brother of Hieron I, becomes tyrant of Syracuse. He is soon overthrown and a democratic government (politeia) is established. Thrasybullus flees to Lokroi Epizephyrioi (alt. date 468). Death of Simonides at Syracuse. Cleophron becomes ruler of Rhegium.

466 Civil war in Syracuse (to 461 BC). Gela’s population increases with the arrival of new settlers. Aenesidemus is overthrown as tyrant of Leontini.

465 Independent commonwealths (politeia) are established in several Sicilian cities including Syracuse and Akragas. Roman census taken: 104,714 citizens.

464 79th Olympiad

463 (Sept – Nov) Plague at Rome kills many people and animals (horses and cattle). Although most of the victims belonged to the lower classes, many wealthy and powerful Romans, including both consuls for that year, died. Festival of Liberty established to celebrate democracy at Syracuse.

461 Kamarina is refounded by Gela. Catane and Naxos are restored. Messene’s name is altered to its Doric Greek form, Messana. The sons of Anaxilaus are driven from power in Rhegium. Democratic republics established at Rhegium and Messana (to 387 BC). Himera gains its independence from Akragas. Sikels under Ducetius rise up against the Greeks in Sicily, establishing their own state. (alt. date 460 BC).

460 80th Olympiad. War breaks out between Catana and Syracuse. Syracuse receives help from the native Sikels on whose land Catana had been built. Catane is defeated by the allies. (c) Doric Temple of Hera (Juno) Lacinia built at Akragas (to 440 BC). Its stylobate (stepped foundation) measures 16.9 m x 38.18 m and its cella measures 9.45 m x c28.00 m with 6 columns running along each front and 13 on each side. The surviving ruins still bear scorch marks from when Akragas was burned by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. (c) “Temple of Poseidon” built at Poseidonia. Mistakenly attributed to Poseidon, it was more likely dedicated to the goddess Hera. The mistake arose from visitors who believed that its large size was a clue that it belonged to the city’s patron god. It had 6 columns on each front and 14 per side. The stylobate measured 24.26 m. x 59.98 m. and the cella 13.49 m. x ca. 45.30 m.

459 Sikels under Ducetius capture Morgantina in Sicily. (alt. date 459 BC). Ducetius founds Menainon (mod. Mineo (CT)) in Sicily. (alt. date 459 BC). Roman census taken: 117,319 citizens.

458 Aeschylus, the famous playwright, begins his final visit to Sicily. Treaty established between Athens and Segesta (or 457 BC). Battle of Mons Algidus. Romans defeat the Aequi. (alt date 457).

456 81st Olympiad Aeschylus, the great playwright, dies at Gela. There is no reliable evidence to confirm the story that he perished when an eagle mistook his bald head for a rock and dropped a tortoise on it from a high distance to try to break the animal’s shell. Another version of the story has this confused eagle dropping a stone on Aeschylus’s head, believing it was an egg. The Geloans raise erect a fine tomb for Aeschylus being an epitaph which he appears to have written for himself. It makes no mention of his success as a playwright, but proclaims the accomplishment which brought him the greatest pride; his participation as an Athenian warrior at the battle of Marathon.

454 Second war between Segesta and Selinus in western Sicily. Both cities were seeking to establish access to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Petalism (temporary banishment) introduced at Syracuse after an unsuccessful attempt to reestablish a tyranny.

453   Syracusan expeditions against the Etruscans (to 452 BC).

452 82nd Olympiad. Surviving refugees and their descendants from Sybaris (destroyed 511/511 BC) return to Bruttium and attempt to refound their city. The new settlement, however, was attacked and destroyed by Croton. Having brought most of central Sicily back under Sikel control, Ducetius founds a capital at Palice (Palica) (mod. Palagonia (CT)). (alt date 453 BC) Syracusan fleet ravages the Etruscan and Corsican coasts. They occupy Elba. Pestilence kills nearly half the population of Rome. The sickness also spread to the neighboring Aequi, Volsci, and Sabines.

451 Ducetius captures Motyon, a stronghold belonging to Akragas. The quick expansion of Sikel power alarms Syracuse and it forms an alliance with Akragas. The allied Greeks are still unable to check Ducetius. (alt date 452 BC).

450 Sikels under Ducetius are defeated by the Greeks at Nomae in Sicily. The Sikel army quickly disbands and Akragas is able to retake Motyon. (alt date: 449 BC). Ducetius flees to Syracuse. The Syracusans grant him a pension and send him into exile at Corinth, on condition that he never returns to Sicily. Epicharmus, Sicilian Greek comic poet, playwright and Pythagorean philosopher, dies. (c) Archestratus of Gela, poet and gastronomic writer, flourishes. (c) Temple of Apollo (formerly thought to have been dedicated to Poseidon or Hera) is built at Poseidonia. Romans create the law code of the Twelve Tables, inspired by Greek laws they learned from their contact with Magna Graecia. (c) The Oscan-speaking Lucani occupy the region that becomes known as Lucania on the southern mainland of Italy. According to the Greek writer Strabo, the Lucanians were governed by a democratic constitution and only choose a dictator in times of war. (c) Zeno of Elea presents his Paradoxes. (c) Greeks begin to use written numerals.

448 83rd Olympiad

447 Taras suffers a major defeat by the Iapyges.

446 Ducetius breaks his agreement with Syracuse and returns to Sicily. Rather than challenge Syracuse and Akragas, he chooses to rebuild a new Sikel state in northern Sicily. He founds Cale Acte (mod. Caronia [ME]) with a colony composed of both Sikels and Corinthian Greeks. (alt. dates: 447, 444 BC). Akragas defeated by Syracuse.

444 Thurii founded near the site of Sybaris. A Pan-Hellenic colony, it is principally sponsored by Athens. The colony was planned by the sophist Protagoras of Abdera at the request of Pericles. Among the colonists was Herodotus the historian and architect Hippodamus of Miletus. According to Diodorus Siculus (XII.9) Thurii was founded in 446 BC. One contingent of colonists consisted of descendents of refugees from the lost city of Sybaris. They attempted to take control of the new colony but were ultimately expelled and forced to flee into the mountains of Bruttium. According to Diodorus Siculus (XII.10), the new city had main four streets running in one direction, crossed by three other main streets. (alt. date: 443 BC). 84th Olympiad Ikos of Taras is victor in the Olympic Pentathlon. He abstained from sex as part of his training regimen.

443 Plague strikes Rome (to 438 BC). (c) Athens signs treaties with Leontini and Rhegium. (c) Athenian fleet at Neapolis (Naples).

442 (c) Ducetius captures the city of Piacus.

440 85th Olympiad Ducetius, Sikel leader, dies of illness. Soon after his death the Sikel capital of Palice is sacked by the Syracusans and its population is sold into slavery. Syracuse annexes the former Sikel territory.

436 86th Olympiad

433 Heraclea is colonized by Taras and Thurii. The new joint-colony was meant to be a successor to the earlier Siris. Rhegium and Leontini renew their alliance with Athens against Syracuse.

432 87th Olympiad Heraclea is founded in Lucania by Tarentum in cooperation with Thurii. (c) Possible death of philosopher Empedocles. His natural gifts and charisma, while bringing him great fame and power, had also resulted in him being seen by many as someone more than human, perhaps even divine. All of his attempts to convince his followers that he was a mere mortal were unsuccessful. Finally weary of the oppressive awe in which he was held, Empedocles resolved that there was only one hope left for him; he decided to prove to his multitude of followers that he was mortal by committing suicide. Climbing Mt. Etna in Sicily, he jumped into the smoking crater. It was said that when his followers rushed to find him, only a single sandal was recovered. According to one version of the story, Empedocles committed suicide, not out an attempt to escape his followers, but because he had been frustrated in his attempt to discover the secrets of the volcano. There were many who, with good reason, believed that Empedocles was not a person who would succumb to suicide. Rather, it was suspected that he probably faked the entire affair and escaped in disguise, traveling to Greece where he lived on happily under an assumed name. (alt date: 436 BC).

431 Peloponnesian War breaks out in Greece.

430 Death of Zeno of Elea. (Sept) Birth of Plato (Aristokles) at Aegina. (alt. dates: 428 or 427 BC) (c) Dionysius I, future tyrant of Syracuse, is born. He is the son of Hermocritus. (c) Doric Temple of Concordia built at Akragas. Converted into the Christian church of S. Gregorio delle Rape in the 6th Century AD, it is one of the best-preserved Doric temples still in existence. Its stylobate (stepped foundation) measures 39.3 m x 16.9 m and its cella 9.68 m x 27.40 m with 6 columns running along each front and 13 on each side. (c) Doric Temple of Hephaestus constructed at Akragas. The date of this much-ruined temple is very uncertain. While generally accepted to be a 5th Century BC temples, it incorporates the foundation and interior elements of an earlier 6th Century temple. its stylobate (stepped foundation) measures 43 m x 20.80 m. (c) Temple at Segesta is built by the Elymians. Epidemic rages throughout Greece and Italy. Believed to be an aggressive form of scarlet fever, the disease causes blindness, high fever. While it spreads widely throughout much of Greece and Italy, most of the lands held by the Spartans are spared due to their practice of killing anyone showing symptoms.

429 Plague ravages Athens. Among those who die of the illness is the statesman Pericles.

428 88th Olympiad (c) Archytas of Tarentum, Pythagorean philosopher, mathematician, general, and statesman, born. He would eventually become leader of Tarentum and win renown it many fields including politics, the military, science and philosophy. Among his many achievements was the development of the idea of harmonic progression; the discovery that pitch depended on the speed of vibration or air (important to the development of the concept of wave motion); the working out of the ratios which underlie the relations of successive notes in the enharmonic, the chromatic, and the diatonic scales. It was also claimed that he was the inventor of the pulley and that he had created some form of flying machine or mechanical bird. This last was described as being set at the end of a pivotal bar and powered by a jet of steam or compressed air. A crater at the moon’s North Pole is named in his honor.

427 Kamarina forms an alliance with Athens. Gorgias of Leontini, sophist and rhetorician, arrives in Athens as the head of a delegation. He is credited with introducing the art of rhetoric to Athens. Plato is born in Athens.

425 Athens sends a fleet into Sicilian waters to support Leontini. They attack Lipara, an ally of Syracuse. The Athenians hope to be able to use this intervention as a means towards conquering Sicily. (alt. date 427 BC). (c Mar 15) Period of volcanic activity begins on Mt Etna (to c424 BC).

424 89th Olympiad Camarina and Gela sign a treaty. Envoys are then sent to other Greek cities in Sicily to meet for a general conference at Gela to discuss their stance on the Peloponnesian War then raging between Sparta and Athens. Congress at Gela. Greek states of Sicily meet. General Hermocrates of Syracuse successfully advocates banning of foreign intervention in Sicilian affairs. As a result, the Athenian fleet then in Sicilian waters sails home. Samnites/Sabelli capture Capua from the Etruscans. (or 425 BC). (c) Aesara of Lucania, a late Pythagorean philosopher, flourishes. The author of a book on human nature, only fragments of her work survives. (c) Antiochus of Syracuse publishes the now-lost History of Sicily which Thucydides used as an important source.

422 Leontini is captured by Syracuse.

421 Lilianum (mod. Giugliano in Campania) is founded by colonists from Cumae.

420 90th Olympiad Samnites/Sabelli capture Cumae from the Greeks (or 421 BC).

416 91st Olympiad Alcibiades successfully convinces the Athenians to invade Sicily.

415 Segesta seeks help from Athens against Selinus. The Athenians see in this request an opportunity to intervene in Sicily and to attack Sparta’s ally Syracuse. (May 22) The “mutilation of the herms” occurs at Athens, temporarily delaying the Athenian expedition against Syracuse and forcing Alcibiades to flee to Sparta. (Nov) Athenian expedition begins attack on Syracuse. Most of the Greek cities of Magna Graecia maintain a neutral position in the conflict between Athens and Syracuse but the Etruscans send 3 ships to aid the Athenians in their attack on Syracuse. Gela announces its support of Syracuse against Athens, while Leontini allies itself with Athens.

414 (Apr) Main Athenian fleet sails from Catane to Syracuse where they begin to blockade the city. Many of the Italiote Greek cities (including Metapontum) finally agree to support Athens against Syracuse. They dispatch a small auxiliary force to support the Athenian siege of Syracuse. Syracuse puts its defenses under the command of the Spartan Gylippus. Death of the Athenian general Lamachos at Syracuse.

413 (July) 2nd Athenian fleet under Demosthenes arrives at Syracuse. (Aug-Sept) Athenian siege of Syracuse is broken. After suffering reverses, the Athenians decide to withdraw from Syracuse but their retreat is delayed due to a lunar eclipse on the night of Aug 27. The delay results in the trapping and destruction of the Athenian fleet. Led by Nicias, the Athenians attempt to retreat by land, hoping to reach their allies at Noto. Forced to stop at the river Asinarus because of thirst they became trapped in open water by the pursuing Syracusans. After being subjected to a deadly rain of arrows, the survivors surrendered and were led off into slavery at Syracuse. Their general Nicias was executed while the remaining Athenians were forced to live and work in sub-human conditions in the silver-mines near Syracuse. After a number of years the handful of survivors were ransomed and allowed to return home. In celebration of their victory the Syracusans established the Asinarian Games, named for the river. The disaster suffered by the Athenians at Syracuse is one of the principal reasons for their ultimate defeat by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. Besides disrupting the balance of power in Greece itself, which ultimately opened the way for the rise of Macedonia, it also created a situation in Sicily that led to new aggression by the Carthaginians and the rise of eventual rise of Dionysius I. Syracuse attacks and captures Leontini for its support of the Athenian expedition. Romans destroy Auruncian Pentapolis (a confederation of 5 cities: Ausona, Minturnae, Suessa, Sinuessa and Vescia).

412 92nd Olympiad.

411 As a result of the disastrous defeat at Syracuse (413 BC), the democratic government is overthrown in Athens and replaced by an oligarchy.

409 Hermocrates is exiled from Syracuse. Carthaginians renew their efforts to conquer Sicily. Carthaginians under Hannibal Mago destroy Selinus. The Carthaginians at this battle prove the value of siege towers. Carthaginians under Hannibal Mago capture and destroy the city of Himera. Hannibal considered this revenge for the death of his uncle, Hamilcar, at the battle of Himera in 480 BC. The surviving Greeks from the city are transported 7 miles to the west, to the new city of Thermae Himeraeae (mod. Termini Imerese). The latter city was sometimes called Himera in memory of the former home of its people.

408 93rd Olympiad

407 Death of Euripides

406 Carthaginians besiege Akragas. They capture and sack the city, and continue to hold it until 392 BC (alt date 405 BC). Gela appeals for help against the Carthaginians to Syracuse. Dionysius I is slow to respond and Gela comes under Carthaginian siege. Carthaginian admiral, Nicia, establishes a fort (later called Castra Nicia) as part of Hamilcar’s siege of Syracuse. The fort eventually becomes the city of Caltanissetta. Hermocrates returns from exile and is killed at Syracuse. Mt. Etna erupts and sends a stream of lava as far as Katane (Catania). The stream blocks the course of the river Amenano, creating a lake with a diameter of about 2.5 km. (Jan 30) Death of Sophocles (alt date 405 BC).

405 Plague strikes the camp of the Carthaginian besiegers outside Akragas, claiming hundreds of lives including that of their general Hannibal. His command is taken over by his relation, Himilco. Akragas receives reinforcements from Syracuse but the Carthaginians reestablish their blockage. The Syracusans eventually escape from the city which is finally captured. Dionysius I becomes tyrant of Syracuse. Gela falls to the Carthaginians. The city is sacked. Those citizens who escape death or capture flee to Syracuse. Those Greeks who are captured by the Carthaginians are transported to Leontini. Heraclea Minoa, on the south coast of Sicily, is taken by the Carthaginians. Kamarina is destroyed by the Carthaginians. Leontini regains its independence from Syracuse and forms an alliance with Catana.

404 94th Olympiad Plague strikes Carthage killing much of the population. This was the same sickness that had laid the Carthaginian army low in Sicily.

403 Dionysius I of Syracuse destroys Naxos as punishment for its alliance with Athens. The place is rebuilt but is reduced to an unimportant village until regaining some wealth in late Roman and Byzantine times After a short period of independence, Leontini is again captured by Syracuse. Halaesa Arconidea (Alesa Arconidea) is founded on the N coast of Sicily by Archonides, tyrant of Herbita. The population is a mixture of Greeks and Sikels.

401 Syracuse contributes 3,000 hoplites, under the command of Sosis, to the Greek mercenary force (the famous Ten Thousand) in army of the Persian Cyrus the Younger.