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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


ADRANON (Ancient city) SICILY
  Adranum or Hadranum (Adranon, Diod. Steph. B. Haitranum, Sil. Ital.: Eth. Adranites, Hadranitanus: Aderno), a city of the interior of Sicily, situated at the foot of the western slope of Mt. Aetna above the valley of the Simeto, and about 7 miles from Centuripi. We learn from Diodorus (xiv. 37) that there existed here from very ancient times a temple of a local deity named Adranus, whose worship was extensively spread through Sicily, and appears to have been connected with that of the Palici. (Hesych. s. v. Palikoi.) But there was no city of the name until the year 400 B.C. when it was founded by the elder Dionysius, with a view to extend his power and influence in the interior of the island. (Diod. l. c.) It probably continued to be a dependency of Syracuse; but in 345 B.C. it fell into the hands of Timoleon. (Id. xvi. 68; Plut. Timol. 12.) It was one of the cities taken by the Romans at the commencement of the First Punic War (Diod. xxiii. Exc. Hoesch. p. 501), and probably on this account continued afterwards in a relation to Rome inferior to that of most other Sicilian cities. This may perhaps account for the circumstance that its name is not once mentioned by Cicero (see Zumpt ad Cic. Verr. iii. 6, p. 437); but we learn from Pliny that it was in his time included in the class of the stipendiariae civitates of Sicily. (H. N. iii. 8.)
  Both Diodorus and Plutarch speak of it as a small town owing its importance chiefly to the sanctity of its temple; but existing remains prove that it must have been at one time a place of some consideration. These consist of portions of the ancient walls and towers, built in a massive style of large squared blocks of lava; of massive substructions, supposed to have been those of the temple of Adranus; and the ruins of a large building which appears to have belonged to Roman Thermae. Numerous sepulchres also have been discovered and excavated in the immediate neighbourhood. The modem town of Aderno retains the ancient site as well as name: it is a considerable place, with above 6000 inhabitants. (Biscari, Viaggio in Sicilia, pp. 57-60; Ortolani, Diz. Geogr. della Sicilia, p. 13; Bull. dell. Inst. Arch. 1843, p. 129.)
  Stephanus Byzantinus speaks of the city as situated on a river of the same name: this was evidently no other than the northern branch of the Simeto (Symaethus) which is still often called the Finme d'Aderno.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Aetna town

  Aetna (Aitne: Eth. Aitnaioi, Aetnensis), a city of Sicily, situated at the foot of the mountain of the same name, on its southern declivity. It was originally a Sicelian city, and was called Inessa or Inessum (*+inedda, Thuc. Strab.; +Ineddon, Steph. Byz. v. Aitne; Diodorus has the corrupt form Ennedhia): but after the death of Hieron I. and the expulsion of the colonists whom he had established at Catana, the latter withdrew to Inessa, a place of great natural strength, which they occupied, and transferred to it the name of Aetna, previously given by Hieron to his new colony at Catana. In consequence of this they continued to regard Hieron as their oekist or founder. (Diod. xi. 76; Strab. vi. p. 268.) The new name, however, appears not to have been universally adopted, and we find Thucydides at a later period still employing the old appellation of Inessa. It seems to have fallen into the power of the Syracusans, and was occupied by them with a strong garrison; and in B.C. 426 we find the Athenians under Laches in vain attempting to wrest it from their hands. (Thuc. iii. 103.) During the great Athenian expedition, Inessa, as well as the neighbouring city of Hybla, continued steadfast in the alliance of Syracuse, on which account their lands were ravaged by the Athenians. (Id. vi. 96.) At a subsequent period the strength of its position as a fortress, rendered it a place of importance in the civil dissensions of Sicily, and it became the refuge of the Syracusan knights who had opposed the elevation of Dionysius. But in B.C. 403, that despot made himself master of Aetna, where he soon after established a body of Campanian mercenaries, who had previously been settled at Catana. These continued faithful to Dionysius, notwithstanding the general defection of his allies, during the Carthaginian invasion in B.C. 396, and retained possession of the city till B.C. 339, when it was taken by Timoleon, and its Campanian occupants put to the sword. (Diod. xiii. 113, xiv. 7, 8, 9, 14, 58, 61, xvi. 67, 82.) We find no mention of it from this time till the days of Cicero, who repeatedly speaks of it as a municipal town of considerable importance; its territory being one of the most fertile in corn of all Sicily. Its citizens suffered severely from the exactions of Verres and his agents. (Cic. Verr. iii. 2. 3, 44, 45, iv. 51.) The Aetnenses are also mentioned by Pliny among the populi stipendiarii of Sicily; and the name of the city is found both in Ptolemy and the Itineraries, but its subsequent history and the period of its destruction are unknown.
  Great doubt exists as to the site of Aetna. Strabo tells us (vi. p. 273) that it was near Centuripi, and was the place from whence travellers usually ascended the mountain. But in another passage (ib. p. 268) he expressly says that it was only 80 stadia from Catana. The Itin. Ant. places it at 12 M. P. from Catana, and the same distance from Centuripi; its position between these two cities is further confirmed by Thucydides (vi. 96). But notwithstanding these unusually precise data, its exact situation cannot be fixed with certainty. Sicilian antiquaries generally place it at Sta Maria di Licodia, which agrees well with the strong position of the city, but is certainly too distant from Catana. On the other hand S. Nicolo dell' Arena, a convent just above Nicolosi, which is regarded by Cluverius as the site, is too high up the mountain to have ever been on the high road from Catana to Centuripi. Manner, however, speaks of ruins at a place called Castro, about 2 1/2 miles N. E. from Paterno, on a hill projecting from the foot of the mountain, which he regards as the site of Aetna, and which would certainly agree well with the requisite conditions. He does not cite his authority, and the spot is not described by any recent traveller. (Cluver. Sicil. p. 123; Amic. Lex. Topogr. Sic. vol. iii. p. 50; Mannert, Ital. vol. ii. p. 293.)
  There exist coins of Aetna in considerable numbers, but principally of copper; they bear the name of the people at full, Aitnaion. Those of silver, which are very rare, are similar to some of Catana, but bear only the abbreviated legend Aitn.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Aetna mountain

  Aetna (Aitne), a celebrated volcanic mountain of Sicily, situated in the NE. part of the island, adjoining the sea-coast between Tauromenium and Catana. It is now called by the peasantry of Sicily Mongibello, a name compounded of the Italian Monte, and the Arabic Jibel, a mountain; but is still well-known by the name of Etna. It is by far the loftiest mountain in Sicily, rising to a height of 10,874 feet above the level of the sea, while its base is not less than 90 miles in circumference. Like most volcanic mountains it forms a distinct and isolated mass, having no real connection with the mountain groups to the N. of it, from which it is separated by the valley of the Acesines, or Alcantara; while its limits on the W. and S. are defined by the river Symaethus (the Simeto or Giarretta), and on the E. by the sea. The volcanic phenomena which it presents on a far greater scale than is seen elsewhere in Europe, early attracted the attention of the ancients, and there is scarcely any object of physical geography of which we find more numerous and ample notices.
  It is certain from geological considerations, that the first eruptions of Aetna must have long preceded the historical era; and if any reliance could be placed on the fact recorded by Diodorus (v. 6), that the Sicanians were compelled to abandon their original settlements in the E. part of the island in consequence of the frequency and violence of these outbursts, we should have sufficient evidence that it was in a state of active operation at the earliest period at which Sicily was inhabited. It is difficult, however, to believe that any such tradition was really preserved; and it is far more probable, as related by Thucydides (vi. 2), that the Sicanians were driven to the W. portion of the island by the invasion of the Sicelians, or Siculi: on the other hand, the silence of Homer concerning Aetna has been frequently urged as a proof that the mountain was not then in a state of volcanic activity, and though it would be absurd to infer from thence (as has been done by some authors) that there had been no previous eruptions, it may fairly be assumed that these phenomena were not very frequent or violent in the days of the poet, otherwise some vague rumour of them must have reached him among the other marvels of the far west. But the name at least of Aetna, and probably its volcanic character, was known to Hesiod (Eratosth. ap. Strab. i. p. 23), and from the time of the Greek settlements in Sicily, it attracted general attention. Pindar describes the phenomena of the mountain in a manner equally accurate and poetical--the streams of fire that were vomited forth from its inmost recesses, and the rivers (of lava) that gave forth only smoke in the daytime, but in the darkness assumed the appearance of sheets of crimson fire rolling down into the deep sea. (Pyth. i. 40.) Aeschylus also alludes distinctly to the rivers of fire, devouring with their fierce jaws the smooth fields of the fertile Sicily. (Prom. V. 368.) Great eruptions, accompanied with streams of lava, were not, however, frequent. We learn from Thucydides (iii. 116) that the one which he records in the sixth year of the Peloponnesian war (B.C. 425) was only the third which had taken place since the establishment of the Greeks in the island. The date of the earliest is not mentioned; the second (which is evidently the one more particularly referred to by Pindar and Aeschylus) took place, according to Thucydides, 50 years before the above date, or B.C. 475; but it is placed by the Parian Chronicle in the same year with the battle of Plataea, B.C. 479. (Marm.Par.68, ed. C. Muller.) The next after that of B.C. 425 is the one recorded by Diodorus in B.C. 396, as having occurred shortly before that date, which had laid waste so considerable a part of the tract between Tauromenium and Catana, as to render it impossible for the Carthaginian general Mago to advance with his army along the coast. (Diod. xiv. 59; the same eruption is noticed by Orosius, ii. 18.) From this time we have no account of any great outbreak till B.C. 140, when the mountain seems to have suddenly assumed a condition of extraordinary activity, and we find no less than four violent eruptions recorded within 20 years, viz. in B.C. 140, 135, 126, 121; the last of which inflicted the most serious damage, not only on the territory but the city of Catana. (Oros. v. 6, 10, 13; Jul. Obseq. 82, 85, 89.) Other eruptions are also mentioned as accompanying the outbreak of the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, B.C. 49, and immediately preceding the death of the latter, B.C. 44 (Virg. G. i. 471; Liv. ap. Serv. ad Virg. l. c.; Petron. de B.C. 135; Lucan i.545), and these successive outbursts appear to have so completely devastated the whole tract on the eastern side of the mountain, as to have rendered it uninhabitable and almost impassable from want of water. (Appian, B.C. v. 114.) Again, in B.C. 38, the volcano appears to have been in at least a partial state of eruption (Id. v. 117), and 6 years afterwards, just before the outbreak of the civil war between Octavian and Antony, Dion Cassius records a more serious outburst, accompanied with a stream of lava which did great damage to the adjoining country. (Dion Cass. l. 8.) But from this time forth the volcanic agency appears to have been comparatively quiescent; the smoke and noises which terrified the emperor Caligula (Suet. Cal. 51) were probably nothing very extraordinary, and with this exception we hear only of two eruptions during the period of the Roman empire, one in the reign of Vespasian, A.D. 70, and the other in that of Decius, A.D. 251, neither of which is noticed by contemporary writers, and may therefore be presumed to have been of no very formidable character. Orosius, writing in the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of Aetna as having then become harmless, and only smoking enough to give credit to the stories of its past violence. (Idat. Chron. ad ann. 70; Vita St. Agathae, ap. Cluver. Sicil. p. 106; Oros. ii. 14.)
  From these accounts it is evident that the volcanic action of Aetna was in ancient, as it still continues in modern times, of a very irregular and intermittent character, and that no dependence can be placed upon those passages, whether of poets or prose writers, which apparently describe it as in constant and active operation. But with every allowance for exaggeration, it seems probable that the ordinary volcanic phenomena which it exhibited were more striking and conspicuous in the age of Strabo and Pliny than at the present day. The expressions, however, of the latter writer, that its noise was heard in the more distant parts of Sicily, and that its ashes were carried not only to Tauromenium and Catana, but to a distance of 150 miles, of course refer only to times of violent eruption. Livy also records that in the year B.C. 44, the hot sand and ashes were carried as far as Rhegium. (Plin. H. N. ii. 103. 106, iii. 8. 14; Liv. ap. Serv. ad Geory. i. 471.) It is unnecessary to do more than allude to the well-known description of the eruptions of Aetna in Virgil, which has been imitated both by Silius Italicus and Claudian. (Virg. Aen. iii. 570--577; Sil. Ital. xiv. 58--69; Claudian de Rapt. Proserp. i. 161.)
  The general appearance of the mountain is well described by Strabo, who tells us that the upper parts were bare and covered with ashes, but with snow in the winter, while the lower slopes were clothed with forests, and with planted grounds, the volcanic ashes, which were at first so destructive, ultimately producing a soil of great fertility, especially adapted for the growth of vines. The summit of the mountain, as described to him by those who had lately ascended it, was a level plain of about 20 stadia in circumference, surrounded by a brow or ridge like a wall. In the midst of this plain, which consisted of deep and hot sand, rose a small hillock of similar aspect, over which hung a cloud of smoke rising to a height of about 200 feet. He, however, justly adds, that these appearances were subject to constant variations, and that there was sometimes only one crater, sometimes more. (Strab. vi. pp. 269, 273, 274.) It is evident from this account that the ascent of the mountain was in his time a common enterprise. Lucilius also speaks of it as not unusual for people to ascend to the very edge of the crater, and offer incense to the tutelary gods of the mountain (Lucil. Aetna, 336; see also Seneca, Ep. 79), and we are told that the emperor Hadrian, when he visited Sicily, made the ascent for the purpose of seeing the sun rise from thence. (Spart. Hadr. 13.) It is therefore a strange mistake in Claudian (de Rapt. Proserp. i. 158) to represent the summit as inaccessible. At a distance of less than 1400 feet from the highest point are some remains of a brick building, clearly of Roman work, commonly known by the name of the Torre del Filosofo, from a vulgar tradition connecting it with Empedocles: this has been supposed, with far more plausibility, to derive its origin from the visit of Hadrian. (Smyth's Sicily, p. 149; Ferrara, Descriz. dell' Etna, p. 28.)
  Many ancient writers describe the upper part of Aetna as clothed with perpetual snow. Pindar calls it the nurse of the keen snow all the year long (Pyth. i. 36), and the apparent contradiction of its perpetual fires and everlasting snows is a favourite subject of declamation with the rhetorical poets and prose writers of a later period. (Sil. Ital. xiv. 58--69; Claudian. de Rapt. Pros. i. 164; Solin. 5. § 9.) Strabo and Pliny more reasonably state that it was covered with snow in the winter; and there is no reason to believe that its condition in early ages differed from its present state in this respect. The highest parts of the mountain are still covered with snow for seven or eight months in the year, and occasionally patches of it will lie in hollows and rifts throughout the whole summer. The forests which clothe the middle regions of the mountain are alluded to by many writers (Strab. vi. p. 273; Claud. l. c. 159); and Diodorus tells us that Dionysius of Syracuse derived from thence great part of the materials for the construction of his fleet in B.C. 399. (Diod. xiv. 42.)
  It was natural that speculations should early be directed to the causes of the remarkable phenomena exhibited by Aetna. A mythological fable, adopted by almost all the poets from Pindar downwards, ascribed them to the struggle of the giant Typhoeus (or Enceladus according to others), who had been buried under the lofty pile by Zeus after the defeat of the giants. (Pind. Pyth. i. 35; Aesch. Prom. 365; Virg. Aen. iii. 578; Ovid. Met. v. 346; Claud. l.c. 152; Lucil. Aetna, 41--71.) Others assigned it as the workshop of Vulcan, though this was placed by the more ordinary tradition in the Aeolian islands. Later and more philosophical writers ascribed the eruptions to the violence of the winds, pent up in subteranean caverns, abounding with sulphur and other inflammable substances; while others conceived them to originate from the action of the waters of the sea upon the same materials. Both these theories are discussed and developed by Lucretius, but at much greater length by the author of a separate poem entitled Aetna, which was for a long time ascribed to Cornelius Severus, but has been attributed by its more recent editors, Wernsdorf and Jacob, to the younger Lucilius, the friend and contemporary of Seneca.2 It contains some powerful passages, but is disfigured by obscurity, and adds little to our [p. 63] knowledge of the history or phenomena of the mountain. (Lucret. vi. 640--703; Lucil. Aetna, 92, et seq; Justin, iv. 1; Seneca, Epist. 79; Claudian, l. c. 169--176.) The connection of these volcanic phenomena with the earthquakes by which the island was frequently agitated, was too obvious to escape notice, and was indeed implied in the popular tradition. Some writers also asserted that there was a subterranean communication between Aetna and the Aeolian islands, and that the eruptions of the former were observed to alternate with those of Hiera and Strongyle. (Diod. v. 7.)
  The name of Aetna was evidently derived from its fiery character, and has the same root as aitho, to burn. But in later times a mythological origin was found for it, and the mountain was supposed to have received its name from a nymph, Aetna, the daughter of Uranus and Gaea, or, according to others, of Briareus. (Schol. ad Theocr. Id. i. 65.) The mountain itself is spoken of by Pindar (Pyth. i. 57) as consecrated to Zeus; but at a later period Solinus calls it sacred to Vulcan; and we learn that there existed on it a temple of that deity. This was not, however, as supposed by some writers, near the summit of the mountain, but in the middle or forest region, as we are told that it was surrounded by a grove of sacred trees. (Solin. 5. § 9; Aelian, H. A. xi. 3.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


CATANI (Ancient city) SICILY
  Catana or Catina (Katane: Eth. Katanaios, Catanensis or Catinensis: Catania), a city on the E. coast of Sicily, situated about midway between Tauromenium and Syracuse, and almost immediately at the foot of Mt. Aetna. All authors agree in representing it as a Greek colony, of Chalcidic origin, but founded immediately from the neighbouring city of Naxos, under the guidance of a leader named Euarchus. The exact date of its foundation is not recorded, but it appears from Thucydides to have followed shortly after that of Leontini, which he places in the fifth year after Syracuse, or 730 B.C. (Thuc. vi. 3; Strab. vi. p. 268; Scymn. Ch. 286; Scyl. § 13; Steph. B. s. v.) The only event of its early history which has been transmitted to us is the legislation of Charondas, and even of this the date is wholly uncertain. (See Dict. of Biogr. art. Charondas.) But from the fact that his legislation was extended to the other Chalcidic cities, not only of Sicily, but of Magna Graecia also, as well as to his own country (Arist, Pol. ii. 9), it is evident that Catana continued in intimate relations with these kindred cities. It seems to have retained its independence till the time of Hieron of Syracuse, but that despot, in B.C. 476, expelled all the original inhabitants, whom he established at Leontini, while he repeopled the city with a new body of colonists, amounting, it is said, to not less than 10,000 in number, and consisting partly of Syracusans, partly of Peloponnesians. He at the same time changed its name to Aetna, and caused himself to be proclaimed the Oekist or founder of the new city. As such he was celebrated by Pindar, and after his death obtained heroic honours from the citizens of his new colony. (Diod. xi. 49, in 66; Strab. l.c.; Pind. Pyth. i., and Schol. ad loc.) But this state of things was of brief duration, and a few years after the death of Hieron and the expulsion of Thrasybulus, the Syracusans combined with Ducetius, king of the Siculi, to expel the newly settled inhabitants of Catana, who were compelled to retire to the fortress of Inessa (to which they gave the name of Aetna), while the old Chalcidic citizens were reinstated in the possession of Catana, B.C. 461. (Diod. xi. 76; Strab. l. c.)
  The period which followed the settlement of affairs at this epoch, appears to have been one of great prosperity for Catana, as well as for the Sicilian cities in general: but we have no details of its history till the great Athenian expedition to Sicily. On that occasion the Catanaeans, notwithstanding their Chalcidic connections, at first refused to receive the Athenians into their city: but the latter having effected an entrance, they found themselves compelled to espouse the alliance of the invaders, and Catana became in consequence the headquarters of the Athenian armament throughout the first year of the expedition, and the base of their subsequent operations against Syracuse. (Thuc. vi. 50-52, 63, 71, 89; Diod. xiii. 4, 6, 7; Plut. Nic. 15, 16.) We have no information as to the fate of Catana after the close of this expedition: it is next mentioned in B.C. 403, when it fell into the power of Dionysius of Syracuse, who sold the inhabitants as slaves, and gave up the city to plunder; after which he established there a body of Campanian mercenaries. These, however, quitted it again in B.C. 396, and retired to Aetna, on the approach of the great Carthaginian armament under Himilco and Mago. The great sea-fight in which the latter defeated Leptines, the brother of Dionysius, was fought immediately off Catana, and that city apparently fell, in consequence, into the hands of the Carthaginians. (Diod. xiv. 15, 58, 60.) But we have no account of its subsequent fortunes, nor does it appear who constituted its new population; it is only certain that it continued to exist. Callippus, the assassin of Dion, when he was expelled from Syracuse, for a time held possession of Catana (Plut. Dion. 58); and when Timoleon landed in Sicily we find it subject to a despot named Mamercus, who at first joined the Corinthian leader but afterwards abandoned his alliance for that of the Carthaginians, and was in consequence attacked and expelled by Timoleon. (Diod. xvi. 69; Plut. Timol. 13, 30-34.) Catania was now restored to liberty, and appears to have continued to retain its independence; during the wars of Agathocles with the Carthaginians, it sided at one time with the former, at others with the latter; and when Pyrrhus landed in Sicily, was the first to open its gates to him, and received him with the greatest magnificence. (Diod. xix. 110, xxii. 8, Exc. Hoesch. p. 496.)
  In the first Punic War, Catana was one of the first among the cities of Sicily, which made their submission to the Romans, after the first successes of their arms in B.C. 263. (Eutrop. ii. 19.) The expression of Pliny (vii. 60) who represents it as having been taken by Valerius Messala, is certainly a mistake. It appears to have continued afterwards steadily to maintain its friendly relations with Rome, and though it did not enjoy the advantages of a confederate city (foederata civitas), like its neighbours Tauromenium and Messana, it rose to a position of great prosperity under the Roman rule. Cicero repeatedly mentions it as, in his time, a wealthy and flourishing city; it retained its ancient municipal institutions, its chief magistrate bearing the title of Proagorus; and appears to have been one of the principal ports of Sicily for the export of corn. (Cic. Verr. iii. 4. 3, 83, iv. 23, 45; Liv. xxvii. 8.) It subsequently suffered severely from the ravages of Sextus Pompeius, and was in consequence one of the cities to which a colony was sent by Augustus; a measure that appears to have in a great degree restored its prosperity, so that in Strabo's time it was one of the few cities in the island that was in a flourishing condition. (Strab. vi. pp. 268, 270, 272; Dion Cass. iv. 7.) It retained its colonial rank, as well as its prosperity, throughout the period of the Roman empire; so that in the fourth century Ausonius in his Ordo Nobilium Urbium, notices Catana and Syracuse alone among the cities of Sicily. In B.C. 535, it was recovered by Belisarius from the Goths, and became again, under the rule of the Byzantine empire, one of the most important cities of the island. (Plin. iii. 8. s. 14; Ptol. iii. 4. § 9; Itin. Ant. pp. 87,90, 93, 94; Procop. B. G. i. 5.) At the present day Catania still ranks as the third city of Sicily, and is little inferior to Messina in population.
  The position of Catana at the foot of Mount Aetna was the source, as Strabo remarks, both of benefits and evils to the city. For on the one hand, the violent outbursts of the volcano from time to time desolated great parts of its territory; on the other, the volcanic ashes produced a soil of great fertility, adapted especially for the growth of vines. (Strab. vi. p. 269.) One of the most serious calamities of the former class, was the eruption of B.C. 121, when great part of its territory was overwhelmed by streams of lava, and the hot ashes fell in such quantities in the city itself, as to break in the roofs of the houses. Catana was in consequence exempted, for 10 years, from its usual contributions to the Roman state. (Oros. v. 13.) The greater part of the broad tract of plain to the SW. of Catana (now called the Piano di Catania, a district of great fertility), appears to have belonged, in ancient times, to Leontini or Centuripa, but that portion of it between Catana itself and the mouth of the Symaethus, was annexed to the territory of the latter city, and must have furnished abundant supplies of corn. The port of Catana also, which is now a very small and confined one (having been in great part filled up by the eruption of 1669), appears to have been in ancient times much frequented, and was the chief place of export for the corn of the rich neighbouring plains. The little river Amenanus, or Amenas, which flowed through the city, was a very small stream, and could never have been navigable.
  Catana was the birth-place of the philosopher and legislator Charondas, already alluded to; it was also the place of residence of the poet Stesichorus, who died there, and was buried in a magnificent sepulchre outside one of the gates, which derived from thence the nam of Porta Stesichoreia. (Suid. s. v. Stesichoros.) Xenophanes, the philosopher of Elea, also spent the latter years of his life there (Diog. Laert. ix. 2. § 1), so that it was evidently, at an early period, a place of cultivation and refinement. The first introduction of dancing to accompany the flute, was also ascribed to Andron, a citizen of Catana (Athen. i. p. 22, c.); and the first sun dial that was set up in the Roman forum was carried thither by Valerius Messala from Catana, B.C. 263. (Varr. ap. Plin. vii. 60.) But few associations connected with Catana were more celebrated in ancient times than the legend of the Pii Fratres, Amphinomus and Anapias, who, on occasion of a great eruption of Aetna, abandoned all their property, and carried off their aged parents on their shoulders, the stream of lava itself was said to have parted, and flowed aside so as not to harm them. Statues were erected to their honour, and the place of their burial was known as the Campus Piorum; the Catanaeans even introduced the figures of the youths on their coins, and the legend became a favourite subject of allusion and declamation among the Latin poets, of whom the younger Lucilius and Claudian have dwelt upon it at considerable length. The occurrence is referred by Hyginus to the first eruption of Aetna, that took place after the settlement of Catana. (Strab. vi. p. 269; Paus. x. 28. § 4; Conon, Narr. 43; Philostr. Vit, Apoll. v. 17; Solin. 5. § 15; Hygin. 254; Val. Max. v. 4. Ext. § 4; Lucil. Aetn. 602-640; Claudian. Idyll. 7; Sil. Ital. xiv. 196; Auson. Ordo Nob. Urb. 11.)
  The remains of the ancient city, still visible at Catania, are numerous and important; but it is remarkable that they belong exclusively to the Roman period, the edifices of the Greek city having probably been destroyed by some of the earthquakes to which it has been in all ages subject, or so damaged as to be entirely rebuilt. The most important of these ruins are those of a theatre of large size and massive construction, the architecture of which is so similar to that of the amphitheatre, at no great distance from it, as to leave no doubt that they were erected at the same period, probably not long after the establishment of the colony by Augustus. The ruin of the latter edifice dates from the time of Theodoric, who, in A.D. 498, gave permission to the citizens of Catana to make use of its massive materials for the repair of their walls and public buildings (Cassiod. Varr. iii. 49); the theatre, on the contrary, continued almost perfect till the 11th century, when it was in great part pulled down by the Norman Count Roger, is order to adorn his new cathedral. Nearly adjoining the large theatre was a smaller one, designed apparently for an odeium or music theatre. Besides these, there are numerous remains of thermae or baths, all of Roman construction, and some massive sepulchral monuments of the same period. A few fragments only remain of a magnificent aqueduct, which was destroyed by the great eruption of Aetna in 1669. The antiquities of Catania are fully described by the Principe di Biscari (Viaggio per le Antichita della Sicilia, chap. 5) and the Duca di Serra di Falco. (Ant. della Sicilia, vol. v. pp. 3-30.)
  The coins of Catana are numerous, and many of them of very fine workmanship; some of them bear the head of the river-god Amenanus, but that of Apollo is the most frequent. We learn from Cicero that the worship of Ceres was of great antiquity here, and that she had a temple of peculiar sanctity, which was notwithstanding profaned by Verres. (Cic. Verr. iv. 4. 5)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


ECHETLA (Ancient city) SICILY
  Echetla (Echetla: Eth. Echetlates, Steph. B.), a city or fortress of Sicily, on the confines of the Syracusan territory. It is first mentioned by Diodorus, who tells us that it was occupied in B.C. 309 (during the absence of Agathocles in Africa) by a body of troops in the Syracusan service, who from thence laid waste the territories of Leontini and Camarina. But it was soon after reduced, notwithstanding the strength of its position, by Xenodicus of Agrigentum, who restored it to liberty. (Diod. xx. 32.) It is again mentioned by Polybius (i. 15) as a place situated on the confines of the Syracusan territory (as this existed under Hieron II.), and that of the Carthaginians: it was besieged by the Romans at the outset of the First Punic War. These are the only notices found of Echetla, and the name is not mentioned by Cicero or the Geographers. But the above data point to a situation in the interior of the island, somewhere W. of Syracuse; hence Fazello and Cluver are probably correct in identifying it with a place called Occhiala or Occhula, about 2 miles from the modern town of Gran Michele, and 6 miles E. of Caltagirone, where, according to Fazello, considerable ruins were still visible in his time. The town occupied the summit of a lofty and precipitous hill (thus agreeing with the expressions of Diodorus of the strong position of Echetla), and continued tinned to be inhabited till. 1693, when it suffered severely from an earthquake; and the inhabitants consequently migrated to the plain below, where they founded the town of Gran Michele. (Fazell. x. 2, pp. 446, 450; Amic. Lex. Topog. Sic. vol. ii. p. 150; Cluver. Sicil. p. 360. )

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

VRICINIE (Ancient fortress) SICILY
  Bricinniae (Brikinniai), a small town of Sicily, mentioned by Thucydides, who calls it a fortress or stronghold (eruma) in the territory of Leontini. It was occupied in B.C. 422 by a body of exiles from Leontini, who held it against the Syracusans. (Thuc. v. 4.) But no subsequent mention of the name occurs, except in Stephanus of Byzantium, who probably took it from Thucydides. It was evidently but a small place, and its site cannot now be determined with precision.

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


ADRANON (Ancient city) SICILY
(Hadranon). A town of Sicily, near Mount Aetna, having in its vicinity a river of the name of Hadranus. It was founded by Dionysius.



   A volcanic mountain in the northeast of Sicily between Tauromenium and Catana. It is said to have derived its name from Aetna, a Sicilian nymph, a daughter of Heaven and Earth. Zeus buried under it Typhon or Enceladus; and in its interior Hephaestus and the Cyclops forged the thunderbolts for Zeus. There were several eruptions of Mount Aetna in antiquity. One occurred in B.C. 475, to which Aeschylus and Pindar probably allude, and another in B.C. 425, which Thucydides says was the third on record since the Greeks had settled in Sicily.

This extract is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


CATANI (Ancient city) SICILY
   A city of Sicily, on the eastern coast, at the base of Aetna, and a short distance below the river Acis and the Cyclopum Scopuli. It was founded by a colony from Chalcis in Euboea, in B.C. 730, five years after the settlement of Syracuse. Catana, like all the other colonies of Grecian origin, soon became independent of any foreign control, and, in consequence of the fertility of the surrounding country, attained to a considerable degree of prosperity. It does not appear, however, to have been at any time a populous city; and hence Hiero of Syracuse was enabled without difficulty to transfer the inhabitants to Leontini. A new colony of Peloponnesians and Syracusans was established here by him, and the place called Aetna, from its proximity to the mountain.
    After the death of Hiero, the new colonists were driven out by the Siculi, and the old inhabitants from Leontini then came, and, recovering possession of the place, changed its name again to Catana. We find Catana after this possessed for a short time by the Athenians, and subsequently falling into the hands of Dionysius of Syracuse. This tyrant, according to Diodorus Siculus, sold the inhabitants as slaves, and gave the city to his mercenary troops, the Campani, to dwell in. It is probable, however, that he only sold those who were taken with arms in their hands, and that many of the old population remained, since Dionysius afterwards persuaded these same Campani to migrate to the city of Aetna. Catana fell into the power of the Romans during the First Punic War. The modern name is Catania, and the distance from it to the summit of Aetna is given as thirty miles.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


YVLA (Ancient city) SICILY
Maior (he megale), on the southern slope of Mount Aetna and on the river Symaethus, was originally a town of the Siculi.

Perseus Project index

The Catholic Encyclopedia


CATANI (Ancient city) SICILY

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


ADRANON (Ancient city) SICILY
  A city on the SW slopes of Mt. Aetna near the Simeto river, ca. 28 km NW of Catania. It was founded by Dionysios of Syracuse ca. 400 B.C., near the sanctuary of the ancient Sikel deity Adranos, who was connected with volcanic phenomena and was therefore traditionally assimilated to the Greek Hephaistos (Plut. Vit. Tim. 12; Ael. NA 2.3). The city was conquered by Timoleon in 343-342 B.C. and fell under Rome in 263 B.C. Pliny includes it in his list of stipendiary cities.
  The site was explored at the beginning of this century, but the first excavation was carried out in 1959. The perimeter of the wall circuit is known for long stretches. It delimits the urban area on the E and W sides. On the S side, along the Simeto, defense was provided by a steep ravine; the N side has almost entirely disappeared under modern buildings. The walls were built of isodomic blocks of lava stone and are particularly well preserved on the E side (Cartalemi district); at the NE end a rectangular tower has been incorporated into the Church of San Francesco.
  Excavation has brought to light some houses of the 4th c. containing Italiote pottery and an interesting hoard of contemporary coins. No other monument of the city is as yet known, not even the site of the Sanctuary of Adranos. The city minted coins during the time of Timoleon (among the types appears Adranos as river deity). Two excavation campaigns have investigated the wall circuit as well as part of the archaic necropolis which stretches SE of the city (Sciare Manganelli). The graves are of a type unusual in Sicily: small and crude circular structures in lava stone which vaguely recall the Mycenean tholoi.
  The finds, among which are archaic small bronzes of considerable interest, are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum located within the Norman Castle of Adrano.

P. Pelagatti, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


  A Sikel settlement between Catania and Centuripe (Thuc. 6:94.3); it was later occupied by Aitneans who changed its name into Aitna (Strab. Geog. 6.2). The identification with the district Civitli, between Paterno and S. Maria di Licodia, has been suggested by some scholars, but has been disproved by recent excavations in that district. As a result, it has been proposed that Inessa was in the Poira district, on the right bank of the river Simeto, halfway between Paterno and Centuripe; this location would be in agreement with the sources as well as with the Antonine Itinerary and the Peutinger Table, which place the site 19 km from Catania.
  In the area one can see remains of ancient walls from houses and fortifications. Recently some rock-cut chainber tombs have been discovered; they are rather irregular in shape and contain material of the 6th and 5th c. B.C., soon to be published.

C. Buscemi Indelicato, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


  A Hellenized settlement in the Heraian hills W of Syracuse; the ancient name is unknown. The site had strategic importance, for it controlled the pass between the plain of Gela to the S and the valleys of the Caltagirone and Symaithos to the NE. The earliest settlement belongs to the neolithic Stentinello culture and was located on the hill of S. Ippolito, to the NE of the modern city. During the Late Bronze Age Caltagirone was of major importance; a large necropolis of as many as 1500 chamber tombs occupied the slopes of the hill known as La Montagna to the N of town. It belongs to the Pantalica culture (ca. 1250-1000 B.C.); some of the burials are in the form of tholos tombs, suggesting Mycenaean influence, also seen in ceramic shapes. Less is known about the Early Iron Age. Greeks arrived in the early 6th c. and settled on the hill of S. Luigi, under the modern town. Only a few graves have been excavated, mostly of the 5th c. and later; the burial types are Geloan, perhaps indicating Geloan control of the site in the early 5th c. Excellent red-figure pottery of the 4th c. is also known. An archaic stele and most of the pottery from the site are in the fine local museum.

M. Bell, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


CATANI (Ancient city) SICILY
  A Greek colony founded by the Chalkidians of Naxos during the second half of the 8th c. B.C. (ca. 729). During the archaic period the city enjoyed complete autonomy and lived intensely both politically and intellectually. At the beginning of the 6th c. B.C. it adopted a law code drafted by Charondas.
  From the early 5th century B.C. the city was under Syracusan control; in 475 B.C. Hieron invaded it, expelled the Chalkidians, and repeopled the city with 10,000 Donans; the name of the town was changed to Aitne. The Chalkidians returned there in 461 B.C. During the Sicilian expedition the city favored the Athenians. It was occupied by Dionysios in 403 and remained within the sphere of Syracusan politics. It was conquered by the Romans in 263 B.C. Throughout the 2d and 1st c. B.C. it was civitas decumana; it became a Roman colony under Octavian and progressively gained an importance that it retained until the Byzantine period. At the beginning of the war against the Goths it was invaded by Belisarius. The Emperor Maurice Tiberius (582-602) established a mint there which functioned for ca. 50 years. It was one of the earliest and most important Christian communities in Sicily, as attested by rich and interesting epigraphic material.
  The first Greek colony must have settled on the hill that always remained the city's acropolis, presently occupied by the Benedictine monastery. The area has yielded proto-Corinthian sherds slightly later than the foundation date. In 1959 a chance find led to the fortunate discovery of a rich votive deposit (6th-4th c. B.C.) at the foot of the S side of the acropolis, in the Piazza di San Francesco; the deposit was probably connected with a sanctuary of Demeter.
  During the Roman period the city must have expanded considerably toward S and E into the plain. The major civic monuments belong to this phase. The theater, which together with the nearby odeion rests against the S slope of the acropolis hill, has been recently cleared of the modern structures that crowded over the cavea and the area of the stage building. Of the original Greek construction only a large wall remains under the level of the cavea; the extant portions of the building date from the Roman period. The cavea was divided into nine cunei by means of eight stairways, and its lower section rests against the slope of the hill, while the upper section is supported by three concentric corridors which give access to the seats; the uppermost corridor opens outwards into a portico with piers. In the interior, a colonnaded portico crowned the cavea; orchestra and seats were revetted with white marble, while the euripos and the stairways were built of lava.
  The odeion was joined to the W side of the theater, and its orchestra opened toward the S at the same level as the theater's uppermost corridor. The cavea, built in small blocks of lava, was supported by a structure resting on 18 radial walls sloping toward the interior of the building and connected to one another by a series of barrel vaults; two stairways divide the auditorium into three cunei. The radial walls formed 17 units opening outwards. The building, revetted by lava blocks, was crowned by a simple cornice.
  On the NE slope of the hill of the acropolis and separated from it by a narrow passage was the amphitheater; its N end is partly visible in Piazza Stesicoro, while to the S its corridors lie under the foundations of modern buildings. The preserved portion of the amphitheater is built on two concentric corridors connected by radial passageways.
  There are numerous remains of baths. Under the cathedral some units of the Achellian Baths are still visible, their vaults finely decorated with stucco reliefs; a large square hall supported by four pilasters and flanked by a corridor is still preserved; the building continues under the level of present Piazza Duomo. Not far from there other baths (Terme dell'Indirizzo) in the Piazza Curro, with ca. 15 units, both large and small, are preserved up to their original height including their vaulted ceilings. On the acropolis hill, to the N of the theater, one can see the Rotunda Baths, so called because of a large circular hall that was later transformed into a Christian church. To a bath complex belong the ruins of seven rooms in Piazza Dante, opposite the Benedictine monastery. Remains of many other buildings of this type have been identified within the city area.
  Under the level of the Via V. Emanuele, where it meets the Via Transito, lies a large rectangular podium delimited by two steps and a fine molding, which local tradition calls the Arch of Marcellus. There are numerous remains of a large aqueduct which brought the waters from S. Maria di Licodia.
  The NE border of the city must have coincided with the edges of the acropolis, and with the approximate course of the Via Plebescito and the Via Etnea (S of the Piazza Stesicoro). This is shown by the fact that within this line only structures of a civic nature have been found, while outside of it lie several funerary buildings and cemetery areas.
  In the N section, a large rectangular tomb of the Roman period is preserved near the Via Ipogeo, while another is to be found in the Modica estate, along the Viale Regina Margherita. To the NE of the amphitheater, within the present caserina Lucchese-Palli, is the so-called Tomb of Stesichoros, a funerary structure probably belonging to the Classical period. A group of graves of Roman date is preserved in the basement of the Rinascente store, and represents a portion of the cemetery complex uncovered in the Via S. Euplio and extending up to the area presently occupied by the Post Office building. A subterranean tomb with remains of inhumation and cremation can also be seen in Via Antico Corso, where it is incorporated into one room of the building erected by the Istituto delle Case Popolari.
  The most important group of graves has been uncovered along the Via Androne and in the area crossed by Via Dottor Consoli. The continuity of this burial ground is attested from the Hellenistic into the late Roman period, and offers a good example of a pagan necropolis which slowly became transformed into a Christian cemetery. It contains numerous mausolea, cist graves, hypogaean (underground) chambers; a grave with wall paintings and barrel vault is preserved under the level of Via Dottor Consoli. In some places the graves were contained within precincts surrounded by low walls and interconnected: these were mostly graves characterized by an abundance of Christian inscriptions; in some precincts the graves were built above ground level in several stories.
  In the largest precinct yet discovered, along the Via Dottor Consoli, an Early Christian funerary basilica was found superimposed on the level of the graves; a large polychrome mosaic with figured scenes covered the floor. The mosaic (20 x 10 m), which is at present in the Museo Comunale, can be dated to the middle of the 6th c. A.D., and is to be attributed to an Oriental workshop. Of the basilica only the apse is preserved, and can be seen under the Lombardo dwelling.
  To the same period can be attributed a large trichora uncovered and preserved under Via S. Barbara, and the small Basilica of Nesima.
  The finds from excavations and accidental discoveries within the city of Catania are housed in the Museum of Castello Ursino, where are also gathered the collections once in the Museo Biscari, the Benedictine Museum, and the Antiquarium Comunale.

G. Rizza, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


ECHETLA (Ancient city) SICILY
  Ca. 6.4 km NW of Grammichele in the Terravecchia district are the remains of a substantial town of the 6th-3d c. B.C. The settlement lies at the very edge of the Heraian hills on four defensible hilltops, overlooking the valley of the river Caltagirone where the town's fields must have been. Early Iron Age habitation is indicated by a necropolis in the Madonna del Piano district, an elevated plateau at the foot of the four hills. The settlement belongs to an early phase of the Cassibile culture (ca. 1000-850 B.C.) and is associated with the Ausonian habitation at Lipari and Milazzo by the unusual burials (both pithos and fossa graves). The tombs contain some of the earliest iron yet found in Sicily, in the form of finger rings. Later, chamber tombs were cut into the slopes. Greek occupation of the hilltops began about 600 B.C.; the earliest remains are architectural terracottas. No buildings have been excavated. In the upper slopes of the easternmost hill (Poggio dell'Aquila) were found favissae of a Sanctuary of Persephone; they include a fine series of Severe Style terracotta busts. Another earlier favissa at Madonna del Piano contained a seated terracotta goddess and a fragmentary kouros. These finds indicate a Greek population, perhaps of Chalkidian origin; Leontinoi is the closest city. An indigenous substratum is indicated by Sikel pottery in contemporary tombs. The site has been identified on tenuous evidence as Echetla (Diod. 20.32.1; Polyb. 1.15.10); it was inhabited until 1693, when the town, called Occhiola, was destroyed by earthquake. The finds are mostly in Syracuse; the recently excavated Iron Age material is at present in Lentini.

M. Bell, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


VRICINIE (Ancient fortress) SICILY
  A fortified hilltop above the modern town of Scordia, controlling the junction of the plain of Leontinoi and the valley of Katane. The site was first occupied by a village of the Castelluccio culture (ca. 1800-1400 B.C.); oval huts have been excavated. Later Sikel occupation is indicated by rock-cut tombs. In the early 5th c. the hilltop was fortified by Greeks, probably from Leontinoi across the plain; stretches of the wall and a handsome stone cistern survive. A necropolis of the 4th-3d c. B.C. occupied the E slope; one tomb contained a bronze cuirass, weapons, and a Sikeliote amphora of ca. 340 B.C. The site (also called Monte Casale and Monte San Basilio) has been plausibly identified with the Brikinniai held by Leontinoi in 424 B.C. (Thuc. 5.4).

M. Bell, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

Hybla Geleatis

YVLA (Ancient city) SICILY
  The site lies on the slopes of a volcanic hill containing the remains of different periods, ranging from the Bronze Age to the Greek, Hellenistic-Roman, Byzantine, and Early Mediaeval periods. The identification with modern Paterno was suggested after the discovery of an altar with a dedication to Venus "Victrici Hyblensi" (CIL 10,2,7013), at present in the Museo Comunale of Catania. The altar has been connected with the sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Hyblaia mentioned by Thucydides (6.94.2). The finds were published in the first decade of this century. Other finds have been made in the cemetery discovered in the district of Castrogiacomo, to the SW of the hill of Paterno; they consist of vases, lamps, and terracottas, datable between the 5th and the 3d c. B.C. These finds, at present in the Siracusa Museum, will soon be displayed in the antiquarium which is being prepared within the old Norman Castle.

C. Buskemi Indelicato, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

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