Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – T

                The influence Thomas had on the Roman Catholic Church cannot be stressed enough. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, is often considered second in importance only to the Bible itself.

                Even during his own lifetime, Thomas was considered exceptional. He refused attempts to make him archbishop of Naples and abbot of Monte Cassino, preferring his academic work.

                He was a strong believer in mysticism, especially after having his mystic experience while celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. According to later sources it was said he heard a voice speak to him from the cross complimenting him on his writing. Because of this, he ceased working on his great Summa Theologiae, believing that God was trying to tell him to leave it as it then was. It was also said that on at least one occasion, he seemed to levitate off the ground.

                In January 1274, Thomas received a directive from Pope Gregory X to attend the Second Council of Lyons. Although in poor health, he set out on the arduous journey. While enroute he realized that he was dying and attempted, without success, to reach a Dominican house. When this was found to be impossible, he was brought to the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova in Lazio, where he died a few weeks later on March 7, 1274. The monks of the monastery, seeking to take advantage of Thomas’s death, had his body quickly dismembered and the flesh boiled away. The bones could then be sold as holy relics.

                Thomas’s family connections to the Hohenstaufen dynasty brought him under suspicion when the French Charles I of Anjou seized the Sicilian throne in 1266. Dante, in his Divine Comedy (Purg. xx.69), as well as other writers, claimed that Thomas’s death was the result of poisoning, secretly ordered by Charles.

                Thomas was canonized as a saint by Pope John XXII on July 18, 1323.

Thoosa: a sea nymph of Sicily, a daughter of Phorcys. By the god Poseidon, she became the mother of the monstrous Cyclops Polyphemus. The sister of Scylla and Echidna, she was, like them, often depicted as a mermaid. Her name derives from the Greek thoôsa or thoos meaning “swift”, and it is believed that she originally was a goddess who presided over dangerous swift ocean currents.

Thrasydaeos: Ruler of Akragas (r472-470BC).

Thurii: ancient city of Magna Graecia, S Italy, in Bruttium, on the Gulf of Tarentum (now Taranto). It was founded by Pericles in 443 B.C. to replace ruined Sybaris. New Greek colonists came, among them the city planner Hippodamus, Herodotus and Lysias. Thurii became an ally of Rome and was pillaged (204 B.C.) by Hannibal. Rome revived (193 B.C.) the colony, but it did not thrive.

Thucles: the oikistos, or leader of the Greek colonists, who founded Naxos in Sicily in c734 BC.

Tiggiano (LE): A commune in the province of Lecce. Population: 2,896 (2006e).

Timaeus: (b. c.345 BC, in Tauromenium, Sicily; d. c250 BC). Historian. The son of Andromachus, tyrant of Tauromenium, he was forced to flee from his home when Agathocles captured the city in 312 BC. He resettled at Athens, remaining there for the next 50 years. In c260 BC, he returned to Sicily, residing at the court of Hiero II in Syracuse for the last decade of his life. His principal works were a History of Sicily and a History of Pyrrhus. The first work covered Sicilian history from earliest times until the death of Agathocles in 289 BC. The second work picked up where the second left off and continued to the year 272 BC.  Timaeus drew information from many of earlier historians and supplemented them with inscriptions and official records. He was the first Greek historian to create a standardized system of chronology based on the Olympiads. Although he strived for chronological accuracy, he relied almost exclusively of written records rather than first-hand information. He was also highly prejudiced in his opinions of various historical figures, praising some to excess while ruthlessly condemning others. This lack of objectivity caused later historians like Polybius to criticize his work. He showed a special contempt towards Agathocles, though this was understandable in light of his own experiences with him.