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Sicyonia

Σικυωνία). A small district in the northeast of the Peloponnesus, whose area was probably somewhat less than one hundred square miles. It consisted of a plain near the sea with mountains in the interior. Its rivers, which ran in a northeasterly direction, were Sythas on the frontier of Achaia, Helisson, Selleïs, and Asopus in the interior, and Nemea on the frontier of the territory of Corinth. The land was fertile, and produced excellent oil. Its almonds and its fish were also much prized.

Its chief town was Sicyon (Σικυών, “cucumbertown”), which was situated a little to the west of the river Asopus. The ancient city, which was situated in the plain, was destroyed by Demetrius Poliorcetes, and a new city, which bore for a short time the name of Demetrius, was built by him on the high ground close to the Acropolis. The harbour, which, according to some, was connected with the city by means of long walls, was well fortified, and formed a town of itself. Sicyon was one of the most ancient cities of Greece. It is said to have been originally called Aegialēa or Aegiăli (Αἰγιάλεια, Αἰγιαλοί), after an ancient king, Aegialeus; to have been subsequently named Mecōné (Μηκώνη, “poppy-town”), and to have been finally called Sicyon from an Athenian of that name. Sicyon is represented by Homer as forming part of the empire of Agamemnon; but on the invasion of Peloponnesus it became subject to Phalces, the son of Temenus, and was henceforward a Dorian State. The ancient inhabitants, however, were formed into a fourth tribe called Aegialeis, which possessed equal rights with the three tribes of the Hylleis, Pamphyli, and Dymanatae, into which the Dorian conquerors were divided. (See Doris.) Sicyon, on account of the small extent of its territory, never attained much political importance, and was generally dependent either on Argos or Sparta. At the time of the Second Messenian War it became subject to a succession of tyrants, who administered their power with moderation and justice for a hundred years. The first of these tyrants was Andreas, who began to rule B.C. 676. He was followed in succession by Myron, Aristonymus, and Clisthenes, on whose death, about 576, a republican form of government was established. Clisthenes had no male children, but only a daughter, Agaristé, who was married to the Athenian Megacles. In the Persian Wars the Sicyonians sent fifteen ships to the battle of Salamis, and three hundred hoplites to the battle of Plataea. In the interval between the Persian and the Peloponnesian Wars the Sicyonians were twice defeated and their country laid waste by the Athenians, first under Tolmides in 456, and again under Pericles in 454. In the Peloponnesian War they took part with the Spartans. From this time till the Macedonian supremacy their history requires no special mention; but in the middle of the third century Sicyon took an active part in public affairs in consequence of its being the native town of Aratus, who united it to the Achaean League in 251. Under the Romans it gradually declined; and in the time of Pausanias, in the second century of the Christian era, many of its public buildings were in ruins. These ruins have been of late carefully studied by the members of the American School at Athens, who have excavated the tiers of seats and supports of the stage of a theatre. The position of the Acropolis, the temple of the Dioscuri, and the Stadium can also still be traced. (See the reports of the American School in Papers of the American School at Athens, vol. v.

Sicyon was for a long time the chief seat of Grecian art. It gave its name to one of the great schools of painting, which was founded by Eupompus, and which produced Pamphilus and Apelles. It is also said to have been the earliest school of statuary in Greece, which was introduced into Sicyon by Dipoenus and Scyllis from Crete about 560; but its earliest native artist of celebrity was Canachus. Lysippus was also a native of Sicyon.

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