Greek Settlement of Sicily

Greeks from various Greek city-states were relative latecomers in the settlement of Sicily, but their impact was overwhelming. The first permanent Greek settlement came in 735 BC from the city-state of Chalcis on Euboea, the island that is better known today as Negroponte (the name that the Venetians gave it almost 2,000 years later). The Chalcidians' new city, which they called Naxos, lay on the east coast of Sicily just south of present-day Taormina.

Greek towns In the following year Greeks from the city-state of Corinth established Syracuse [Siracusa] further to the south. Other cities were founded in quick succession. In 729 BC Ionians from Peleponnesus and the Ionian islands settled Catania between Naxos and Syracuse; a Dorian settlement followed in 726 BC at Megara Hyblaea along the same coast. Greeks from Crete and Rhodes launched settlement of the southern coast at Gela in 691 BC, and other settlements followed at Selinunte [Selinus], Camarina and Agrigento [Acragas]. To the north came Messina [Messana] and then Himera (648 BC).

As a result, within a period of less than 100 years Sicily had became a vibrant part of the Greek world.


1999-2000 C. I. Gable