The Greeks in Sicily, domination or colonnization

The arrival of the Greeks in Sicily can be dated around the 8th century B.C. Generally people think that the Greeks came to colonize but it could be also that they migrate to Sicily. In fact, they did not come to the island with the main purpose od conquering, but more likely with the intend of finding new land to inhabit. There is very little information about that period, for the simple reason that writing was not yet in common use. Because the lack of written tradition, there are many doubts about this period, the only source is provided by the Greek mythology, which however is not representative of the facts that actually happened. Probably the first Greek in Sicily were merchants, who opened their doors to the largest migration current. The first outpost on the island were in time order: Nasso, Lenten, Catania. Soon other places born as: Syracuse, Zancle and Mega Ilea. The foundation of Gela marks the end of the first Greek migration in Sicily.

Which Greeks have arrived to Sicily

Each settlement was made by Greeks from different areas of the motherland. The northernmost settlements were Greeks From Eubea and Calcidesi, while in Megara Ilea they came from Megaresi, those from Syracuse were the Corinthians and those from Gela were divided between Rhodes and Crete.

Different behavior of the Greeks

These cultural differences were the main factor of the different behavior of these new settled, the Sicels. The northernmost colonies didn’t have major conflicts with the Sicilians, they were first left to live in the confined territories, then, with the passing of the time, they were probably integrated.

Archeology proves a mercantile exchange between the Calcidesi and the Sicilians. There is even evidence that, during the 6th century B.C, there were Greek settlements within the Sicule community (Grammichele and Morgantina).

Thanks to this cultural sharing, and almost “Hellenization” of the Sicels arrived in the East areas of Enna as early as the 5th century B.C.. Big difference instead between the people from Syracuse and the Sicels. Here in fact, the new settlers enslaved the Sicilian populations who inhabited those areas by binding the others to the Ragusa area.

Akragas (today known as Agrigento) was founded in the 6th century, officially closing the Greek migratory wave. Different history concerns the settlements of Akragas, Selinunte and Imera as these brought the Greeks into areas inhabited by Sicani and Elimi.

These settlements were much more complex because these populations, especially the Elimi, were much more tenacious in resisting the Greek domination.

Phoenicians in Sicily

The north-east area of Sicily was for a long period settled by the Phoenicians. Almost certainly the Phoenicians used their settlements on the island only as point of trade. There were no conflict with the Greeks for many years, indeed, there is evidence of trade between these two populations. The first scraps start coming after the 6th century.

Syracusa, Greek Capital in Sicily

The Greek history in Sicily is linked to Syracuse, in fact form the first period, up to the Roman era, it was the history of this province and its tyrants that has affected the whole Greek period on the island.

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