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Selinunte (TP)

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Selinunte (Trapani Province) is an archaeological park in the territory of Castelvetrano, 2 km from the sea, containing the ruins of Selinunte, the Greek colony founded by Megara Hyblaea, in 628 BC according to Thucydides, and in 650 according to Diodorus Siculus. The name of the city appears to be derived from a wild plant that grows locally, selinon, a kind of celery, or from the name of the nearby River Selinos, now known as the Modione.

The relationship between the indigenous populations and the Greek settlers was anything but peaceful.

Life at Selinunte, as amply testified in the ancient sources, was a series of conflicts and wars, particularly with its arch-enemy Segesta. But Selinunte soon became rich and powerful, and in the 6th century BC it was itself able to found a sub-colony, Heraclea Minoa, to the E, in the direction of Agrigento.

This was the period of the establishment of tyranny, of the beginning of good commercial relations with the Carthaginians, and of the creation of the urban structures, with the building of imposing works of architecture, such as the two temples on the acropolis.

The tyranny fell in the 5th century, but the pro-Carthage policy continued. This explains Selinunte's neutrality in the Greco-Punic conflict, which came to its conclusion in the Battle of Himera in 480 BC.

The passion for building that had characterized the tyranny once again began to be felt and Temples A and O were constructed, and the more prestigious areas were appropriately completed.

When the Peloponnese War shifted towards Sicily, the Selinunte was involved side by side with Siracusa, but was unable to assist its ally because of the opposition of Agrigento and other cities fighting on the side of Athens.

After the defeat of the Athenian army in Sicily, Selinunte was convinced that it could at last destroy its eternal rival Segesta, but it was stopped by the Carthaginians who, after a 9-day siege, conquered Selinunte and destroyed it (409 BC). The victors established a military garrison on the site of the ruins, and limited the town to the area of the ancient acropolis. In this area, the Punic city, as shown by numerous archaeological finds, survived until the mid-3rd BC, when the territory passed under Roman domination.

Of interest: Cave di Cusa, powerful fortifications, Malophoros Sanctuary (6th century BC)

Links to other sites about Selinunte include:

Ancient Sicily
Selinunte Photos
Sicilian Net
Sicily Web
Italian Wikipedia
Italian Towns
Italian Postal Codes

My latest book on CD is titled Sicily - A Reference for Researchers and is now available. With a file for each town (plus many other files), it relates the history of Sicily as reflected in the photos, records and festivals of its towns. It contains over 2500 text and photo files and can be ordered at CD order.

Order Italy Kathy Kirkpatrick

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© Kathy Kirkpatrick 2002-2008