Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – S


Metropolitan: L’Aquila.

Conference Region: Abruzzo-Molise.

Area 1,814 km˛/ mi˛):

Total Population: 83,909

Catholic Population:

Total Priests: 76 (Diocesan: 54; Religious: 22)

Permanent Deacons: 1.

Parishes: 76.


Summonte (AV): A commune in the province of Avellino. Population: 1,606 (2006e).

Supersano (LE): A commune in the province of Lecce. Population: 4,469 (2006e).

Surano (LE): A commune in the province of Lecce. Population: 1,755 (2006e).

Surbo (LE): A commune in the province of Lecce. Population: 13,842 (2006e).

surulina: A variety of bagpipe from Basilicata.

Sutera (CL): A commune in the province of Caltanissetta. Population: 1,621 (2006e).

Swabian Period: Royal dynasty from Swabia in Germany, ruling Sicily 1194-1265.

Sybaris: ancient city of Magna Graecia, S Italy, in Bruttium, on the Gulf of Tarentum (now Taranto). It was founded in 720 B.C. by Achaeans and people from Argolis, the Troezenians. It became a wealthy Greek city, and its inhabitants were reputed to live voluptuous lives, hence the word sybaritic. The Troezenians, ejected by the Achaeans, obtained the help of neighboring Croton and destroyed the city in 510 B.C. Thurii was supposedly built on the site.

Sylvia, St.: (d. AD 592). Mother of Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” (rAD 590-604). She is the patron saint of the city of Messina and of the Camaldolite Order. Feast Day: Nov. 3.

Symaethis (Gtk Symaithis): a Naiad nymph of the river Symaethos in Sicily. By the nature-god Pan-Faunus, she became the mother of the unfortunate shepherd boy Acis (see which).

Symaethus (Grk Symaithos): an ancient river-god in eastern Sicily mentioned by Ovid in his Metamorphosis. The headwaters of his river rose in the Nerodes Mountains in the NE part of the island. Its waters flowed around the foot of Aitna (Mt. Etna) and emptied into the Mediterranean Sea to the south of Katane (mod. Catania).

Symilos: an athlete of ancient Neapolis (Naples). He was victor in the Stadion at the Olympian Games in 248 BC.

Symmachos: an athlete of ancient Messene in Sicily. He was victor in the Stadion at the Olympian Games in 428 BC and 424 BC.

Symmachus, St.: Pope. (rNov 22, 498-July 19, 514).

Syracuse: The name is believed to derive from a non-Greek (perhaps Phoenician) verb serah (= to feel ill). This may reflect the fact that the original site of the city was located near a swamp.

                Ancient Syracuse was so great in size and population at its height that each of its four quarters (Ortygia, Achradina, Tyche, and Neapolis) rivaled the size of other cities.

                The city’s vast wealth derived in part from its exports which included cheese, tallow, grain, textiles, and ceramics.

Timeline of Rulers of Syracuse

Gelon I (son of Deinomenes, brother of Hieron I and Thrasybulus)

485 – 478 BC

Hieron I (son of Deinomenes, brother of Gelon I and Thrasybulus)

478 – 467 BC

Thrasybulus (son of Deinomenes, brother of Gelon I & Hieron I)

467 – 466 BC


466 – 415 BC


415 – 410 BC


410 – 407 BC


407 – 406 BC

Dionysius I

406 – 367 BC

Dionysius II (first reign)

367 – 357 BC


357 – 354 BC


354 – 352 BC


352 – 350 BC


350 – 346 BC

Dionysius II (restored)

346 – 345 BC

Hicetas I

345 – 343 BC


343 – 337 BC

Sosistratus I

337 – 322 BC


322 – 289 BC

Hicetas II

289 – 280 BC


280 – 279 BC

Sosistratus II

279-278 BC

Pyrrhus I (King of Epirus)

278 – 276 BC

Hieron II

276 – 215 BC


215 – 214 BC


214 – 213 BC


213 – 212 BC

Conquered by Rome and merged with the province of Sicily

212 BC

Syracusia: A famous ship designed in c240 BC by Archimedes and built by Archias of Corinth for King Hieron II of Syracuse. Believed to have been 55 meters (180.4 feet) in length, it would have been the largest transport vessel ever built in antiquity. The Syracusia proved to be too large to be practical for the Syracusan ruler because its great size may it impossible to fit even the great harbor of Syracuse. Hieron finally gave the ship to his ally Ptolemy III of Egypt who renamed it the Alexandria.

                The ship was a marvel even by today’s standards, built from pine and fir taken mostly from the slopes of Mt. Etna, and some secondary wood from mainland Italy. Cordage was brought from Spain, and hemp and pitch came from the Rhone valley in Gaul. In all, the equivalent of 60 conventional trireme ships went into the construction of the Syracusia. The labor of 300 shipwrights was engaged to create the ship. The planks of the ship’s hull were covered with plates of lead, and each plank was held together with brass nails. Propulsion for the ship was provided by 20 banks of oars.

                The Syracusia contained eating salons, with enough room in each for 4 to 15 couches. There was a galley, a gymnasium, walkways, gardens, a library, baths, and even a shrine dedicated to Venus. The library had walls lined with well-made bookcases and a sundial on the roof. The ship had one of Archimedes’ water-lifting screws as a bilge pump. The ship had room for 142 passengers and 400 soldiers.