Sicyon (2)

Sic'yon (Σικιών), a city mentioned with several others SEE PHASELIS in 1 Macc. 15:23 as those to which the Romans sent a decree in favor of the Jews. The name is derived from a Punic root (sdk, sik, or sok), which always implies a periodical market; and the original settlement was probably one to which the inhabitants of the narrow strip of highly fertile soil between the mountains and the southern shore of the Corinthian Gulf brought their produce for exportation; The oldest name of the town on the coast (the Sicyon of the times before Alexander) was said to have been Αίγιάλη, or Αἰγιαλοί. This was perhaps the common native name, and Sicyon that given to it by the Phoenician traders, which would not unnaturally extrude the other as the place acquired commercial importance. It is this Sicyon, on the shore, which was the seat of the government of the Orthagorids, to which the Clisthenes celebrated by Herodotus (v, 67) belonged. The commercial connection of the Sicyon of the Orthagorids with Phoenicia is shown by the quantity of Tartessian brass in the treasury of the Orthagorid Myron at Olympia. The Phoenician (Carthaginian) treasury was next to it (Pausan. 6:19, 1). But the Sicyon referred to in the book of Maccabees is a more recent city, built on the site which served as an acropolis to the old one, and was distant from the shore from twelve to twenty stadia. Demetrius Poliorcetes, in B.C. 303, surprised the garrison which Ptolemy had five years before -placed there, and made himself master of the harbor and the lower town. The acropolis was surrendered to him, and he then persuaded the population, whom he restored to independence, to destroy the whole of the buildings adjacent to the harbor and remove thither, the site being one much more easily defensible, especially against any enemy who might attack from the sea. Diodorus describes the new town as including a large space so surrounded on every side by precipices as to be unapproachable by the machines which at that time were employed in sieges, and as possessing the great advantage of a plentiful supply of water within its circuit. Modern travellers completely confirm his account. Mr. Clark, who in 1857 descended upon Sicyon from " a ridge of hills running east and west, and commanding a splendid prospect of both the [Corinthian and Saronic] gulfs and the isthmus between," after two hours and a half of riding from the highest point, came to a ruined bridge, probably ancient, at the bottom of a ravine, and then ascended the right bank by a steep path. Along the crest of this hill he traced fragments of the western wall of Sicyon. The mountain which he had descended did-not fall towards the sea in a continuous slope,-but presented a succession of abrupt descents and level terraces, severed at intervals by deep rents and gorges, down which the mountain-torrents" make their way to the sea, spreading alluvium over. the plain, about two miles in breadth, which lies between the lowest cliffs and the shore. "B Between two such gorges, on a smooth expanse of table- land overlooking the plain," stood the city of Demetrius. "On every side are abrupt cliffs and even at the southern extremity there is a lucky transverse rent separating this from the next plateau. The ancient walls may be seen at intervals along the edge of the cliff on all sides." It is easy to conceive how .these advantages of position must at once have fixed the attention of the great engineer of antiquity-the besieger.

Demetrius established the forms of republican government in his new city; but republican government had by that time become an impossibility in Hellas. In the next half century a number of tyrants succeeded one another, maintaining themselves by the aid of mercenaries, and by temporizing with the rival sovereigns, who each endeavored to secure the hegemony of the Grecian race. This state of things received a temporary check by the efforts of Aratus, himself a native of Sicyon, of which his father Clinias for a time became dynast. In his twentieth year, being at the time in exile, he contrived to recover possession of the city and to unite, it with the Achaean league. This was in B.C. 251, and it appears that at this time the Dorian population was so preponderant as to make the addition of the town to a confederation of Achaeans a matter of remark. For the half century before the foundation of the new city, Sicyon had favored the antiLacedaemonians party in Peloponnese, taking active part with the Messenians and Argives in support of Megalopolis, which Epaminondas had founded as a countercheck to Sparta.

The Sicyonian territory is described as one of singular fertility, which was probably increased by artificial irrigation. In the changeful times which preceded the final absorption of European Hellas by the Romans it was subject to plunder by any party who had the command of the sea; and in B.C. 208 the Roman general Sulpicius, who had a squadron at Naupactus, landed between Sicyon and Corinth (probably at the mouth of the little river Nemea, which was the boundary of the two. states), and was proceeding to harass the neighborhood, when Philip, king of Macedonia, who was then at Corinth, attacked him and drove him back to his ships. But very soon after this Roman influence began to prevail in the cities of the Achaean league, which were instigated by dread of Nabis, the dynast of Lacedaemon, to seek Roman-protection. One congress of the league was held at Sicyon under the presidency of the Romans in B.C. 198, and another at the same place six years later. From this time Sicyon always appears to have adhered to the Roman side, and on the destruction of Corinth by Mummius (B.C. 146) was rewarded by the victors not only with a large portion of the Corinthian domain, but with the management of the Isthmian games. This distinction was again lost when Julius Caesar refounded Corinth and made it a Roman colony; but in the meanwhile Sicyon enjoyed for a century all the advantages of an entropy which had before accrued to Corinth from her position between the two seas. Even in the days of the Antonines the pleasure-grounds (τέμενος) of the Sicyonian tyrant' Cleon continued appropriated to the Roman governors of Achaias and at the time to which reference is made in the Maccabees it was probably the most important position of all over which the Romans exercised influence in Greece (Diodorus Siculus, 14:70; 20:37, 102; Polybius, ii, 43; Strabo, 8:7, 25; Livy, 32:15, 19; 35:25; Pausan. ii, 8; v, 14, 9; vi,- 19, 1-6; 10:11, 1). See Clark, Peloponnesus, p. 338 sq,; Smith, Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v. .

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