sicyon

κάλλιστον μὲν ἐγὼ λείπω φάος ἠελίοιο,
δεύτερον ἄστρα φαεινὰ σεληναίης τε πρόσωπον
ἠδὲ καὶ ὡραίους σικύους καὶ μῆλα καὶ ὄγχνας·
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The loveliest thing I leave is the sunlight,
second, the shining stars and the moon’s face,
and cucumbers in season, too, and apples, and pears.
—  Praxilla of Sicyon (747 Campbell)
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Greek Stater from Sikyon, Peloponnessos, c. 350-330 BC

Obverse: Chimera advancing left, right paw raised, SE below, wreath above. Reverse: Dove flying left, N below beak; all within laurel wreath.

Numismatically, Sikyon (Sicyon) was the most productive city of Peloponnese. Its coinage appeared in the beginning of 5th century BC and greatly increased at 400 BC. Their high production continued till the times of the Roman conquest in 146 BC. On their coins they usually use the symbol of the Dove, a symbol of spirit and the Chimaera, the fire-breathing mythological monster which was killed by the hero Bellerophon and Apollo, the chief deity of the city.

Sikyon was located in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea on the territory of the present-day regional unit of Corinthia, Greece. More about ancient Sikyon…

On his way from Sicyon to Athens to claim his inheritance, the hero Theseus defeats the bandit Sciron, who would force passersby to kneel and wash his feet, then kick them off a cliff into the sea.  Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, attr. to the potter-painter Douris; ca. 480 BCE.  Found at Vulci; now in the Antikensammlung Berlin.  Photo credit: Sailko/Wikimedia Commons.

GALLIC MERCENARIES UNDER DIONYSIUS I OF SYRACUSE (r. 405–367 BCE)

This is an excerpt from my post, ‘GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 1 –  BANDITS OF THE BALKANS

While Dionysius I of Syracuse (ruled, 405-367 BCE), also known as Dionysius the Tyrant, was warring against the Greeks of Magna Graecia (“Great Greece”, southern Italy) an embassy of Gauls from northern Italy seeking friendship and allegiance spoke with him. These Gauls were probably from the Senones tribe since they are mentioned to have been the same Gauls that lived in northern Italy and sacked Rome not long ago. Some modern historians believe that said Gauls marched south against the Romans under the direction of Dionysius I of Syracuse.

The reason for this was so, with Rome preoccupied with the Gallic menace, Dionysius could freely attempt to subjugate the whole of Sicily without Roman intervention. Some of those Gauls who warred with Rome were now in southern Italy and dwelled within the “midst of his enemies”, they informed Dionysius that they could “be of great service to him, either by supporting him in the field, or by annoying his enemies in the rear when they were engaged with him” (Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, 20.5). 

In 367 BCE Dionysius I of Syracuse hired them then sent two thousand Celts and Iberians to Greece in order to aid the Spartans against the Boeotian League of Greek nations (ex. Athens, Thebes and Corinth).

From Sicily, Celts and Iberians to the number of two thousand sailed to Corinth, for they had been sent by the tyrant Dionysius to fight in an alliance with the Lacedaemonians, and had received pay for five months. The Greeks, in order to make trial of them, led them forth; and they proved their worth in hand-to-hand fighting and in battles and many both of the Boeotians and of their allies were slain by them. Accordingly, having won repute for superior dexterity and courage and rendered many kinds of service, they were given awards by the Lacedaemonians and sent back home at the close of the summer to Sicily.” – The Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, 15.70.1.

According to Xenophon, when the Spartans were about to assault the Thebans, Corinthians, and Athenians near the city of Corinth… “the expedition sent by Dionysius to aid the Lacedaemonians sailed in, numbering more than twenty triremes” arrived to aid them. While the cavalrymen on the side of the Boeotian League were too afraid to attack the larger Spartan army, the 50 horsemen (Celts and/or Iberians) sent by Dionysius advanced on the enemy. These few brave cavalrymen scattered themselves and charged toward the enemy, hurling javelins at their front ranks, retreating from their advance and then returning to again assail them with javelins.

“[21] But the horsemen sent by Dionysius, few though they were, scattering themselves here and there, would ride along the enemy’s line, charge upon them and throw javelins at them, and when the enemy began to move forth against them, would retreat, and then turn round and throw their javelins again. And while pursuing these tactics they would dismount from their horses and rest. But if anyone charged upon them while they were dismounted, they would leap easily upon their horses and retreat. On the other hand, if any pursued them far from the Theban army, they would press upon these men when they were retiring, and by throwing javelins work havoc with them, and thus they compelled the entire army, according to their own will, either to advance or to fall back.

[22] After this, however, the Thebans remained but a few days and then returned home, and the others likewise to their several homes. Then the troops sent by Dionysius invaded the territory of Sicyon, and they not only defeated the Sicyonians in battle on the plain and killed about seventy of them, but captured by storm the stronghold of Deras. After these exploits the first supporting force sent out by Dionysius sailed back to Syracuse.” – Hellenica by Xenophon, 7.1.21-22.


  • Head over to my post, ‘GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 1 – BANDITS OF THE BALKANS’, to learn more about the rarely spoken of Gauls of southeastern Europe, their invasion of Greece, employment as mercenaries under Ptolemaic Egypt, their rebellious and warlike society as well as their little known kingdom of Tylis in Thrace.
  • You can also read the sequel to the above mentioned post, ‘GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 2 – HELLENISED GALATIANS OF ASIA MINOR’. In this post I cover the Celts who migrated into Asia Minor, established a Greco-Gallic state, became renowned as warriors and mercenaries, played an integral part in the Hellenistic ‘Game of Thrones’ of the Diadochi (Alexander the Great’s successor), ravaged and terrorized the region, as well as forcing “tribute on the whole of Asia west of the Taurus” (Livy, 38.16.12). I’ll also speak about their armors, weaponry and how they may have inspired some Greek and Roman arms as well as some military units.
Epitaph for a Racing Mare

Anthologia Palatina 7.212 = Mnasalcas of Sicyon (3rd cent. BCE)

Note: “like a bird”: a pun; the mare’s name, Αἴθυια, means “diving-bird”.

Say, stranger, that this is the tomb of Aethyia
With feet as swift as the wind; the land never nurtured
A knee as light as hers.  For she completed
Lengths to equal countless ships; like a bird,
She toiled her way to the end of the lengthy racecourse.

Αἰθυίας, ξένε, τόνδε ποδηνέμου ἔννεπε τύμβον,
    τᾶς ποτ’ ἐλαφρότατον χέρσος ἔθρεψε γόνυ·
πολλαῖς γὰρ νάεσσιν ἰσόδρομον ἄνυσε μᾶκος,
    ὄρνις ὅπως δολιχὰν ἐκπονέουσα τρίβον. 

Grey Arabian Mare and Foal, with a Family, George Henry Laporte, ca. 1835

‘I mean that we hold the centre. We hold everything from Acquitart to Sicyon. Can we not call it a kingdom and rule it together? Am I such a poorer prospect than a Patran princess, or a daughter of the Empire?’

He made himself say no more than that, though the words crowded in his chest. He waited. It surprised him that it hurt to wait, and that the longer he waited, the more he felt he couldn’t bear to hear the answer, brought to him on a knife point.

When he made himself look at Laurent, Laurent’s eyes on him were very dark, his voice quiet.

‘How can you trust me, after what your own brother did to you?’

‘Because he was false,’ said Damen, ‘and you are true. I have never known a truer man.’ He said, into the stillness, ‘I think if I gave you my heart, you would treat it tenderly.’

—  CS Pacat, Kings Rising
‘I mean that we hold the centre. We hold everything from Acquitart to Sicyon. Can we
not call it a kingdom and rule it together? Am I such a poorer prospect than a Patran
princess, or a daughter of the Empire?’
— 

Laurent’s and any reader on earth’s reaction at Damen going at it strong

Originally posted by inikoline

Archaeological Museum of Ancient Sicyon:

Hellenistic mosaic with a floral motifs and griffin.

(Details here)

Tetradrachm of Antigonus III (r. 229-221) from Amphipolis, Macedon, struck c. 228-227 BC

Obverse: The head of Poseidon wearing a seaweed wreath; dotted border. Reverse: Apollo holding a bow while seated on a ship’s prow; the inscription ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΓΟΝΟΥ on the prow and a monogram below.

Antigonus III Doson was the king of Macedon from 229 BC to 221 BC. He was a member of the Antigonid dynasty and the son of Demetrius the Fair. As king, Antigonus III proved to be as much a master of tactical diplomacy as of military strategy. In less than a decade of rule he not only secured the borders of his nation, he also reestablished Macedon as the dominant power in the region. Unlike previous Macedonian rulers who attempted direct dominion over their fiercely independent neighbors to the West and South, he formed alliances with Epirus and the Achaean League. When Sparta, under Cleomenes III, attempted to establish hegemony over the whole Peloponnese, Aratus of Sicyon - long the leader of Greek opposition to Macedonian domination - invited Antigonus to intervene (226 BC). Establishing his base on the heights above Corinth, Antigonus reconstituted a broad-based Hellenic league (224 BC) under his leadership before launching his attack on Sparta. The Spartan forces, outmatched by the larger, better equipped Macedonian army, were so overwhelmed in the battle of Sellasia (222 BC) that Cleomenes only managed to escape with a few horsemen, and ultimately had to seek refuge in Egypt. However, in a magnanimous gesture, Antigonus restrained his soldiers from plundering Sparta, saying it was Cleomenes, not Sparta, that was his enemy.

Antigonus did not long survive this victory. For, while his forces were campaigning in the southern Peloponnese, Illyrians invaded Macedonia from the north. Antigonus had to rush north to repel this new threat. On his way, Antigonus passed through Tegea and Argos, his arrival at the latter coinciding with the beginning of the Nemean Games, where he was honoured by the Achaean League and various other cities. His death occurred soon after, when he returned to Macedon and engaged the Illyian army; for though Macedonian forces were once again victorious, the commander became sick during the battle (possibly though not necessarily as a result of a ruptured blood vessel) and died.

Archaeological Museum of Ancient Sicyon:

Artemis Kynegetis with hound, seizing prey. (2nd century A.D), found in the Roman Baths. Copy οf a Hellenistic version.

The museum of Ancient Sicyon is actually housed inside the restored Roman Baths- it’s definitely one of the most beautiful “little” museums of Peloponnese.

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Sicyon (Greek: Σικυών; gen.: Σικυῶνος) was an ancient Greek city situated in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea on the territory of the present-day regional unit of Corinthia. The king-list given by Pausanias comprises twenty-four kings, beginning with the autochthonous Aegialeus. The penultimate king of the list, Agamemnon, compels the submission of Sicyon to Mycenae; after him comes the Dorian usurper Phalces. Pausanias shares his source with Castor of Rhodes, who used the king-list in compiling tables of history; the common source was convincingly identified by Felix Jacoby as a lost Sicyonica by the late 4th-century poet Menaechmus of Sicyon. William Shakespeare, in his 1606 play Antony and Cleopatra (Act I, Scene 2) notes that Marc Antony’s wife, Fulvia died in Sicyon. Historically, she died there in 40 BC while in rebellion against Octavius Caesar. The museum of Ancient Sicyon is actually housed inside the restored Roman Baths- it’s definitely one of the most beautiful “little” museums of Peloponnese. Read More | See More (pictures) | Edit

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Archaeological Museum of Ancient Sicyon:

A marble Hecataio, from the Roman baths (1st-2nd century A.D)

The museum of Ancient Sicyon is housed within the reconstructed Roman baths, so a great deal of the exhibits still inhabit the same space they did almost two milleniums ago.

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Archaeological Museum of Ancient Sicyon:

Details from a hellenistic mosaic.