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ACRAE

ACRAE (Ἄκραι, Thuc. et alii; Ἄκρα, Steph. B. sub voce Ἄκραιαι, Ptol.; Ἀκραιοὶ, Steph. B. sub voce Acrenses, Plin.; Palazzolo), a city of Sicily, situated in the southern portion of the island, on a lofty hill, nearly due W. of Syracuse, from which it was distant, according to the Itineraries, 24 Roman miles (Itin. Ant. p. 87; Tab. Peut.). It was a colony of Syracuse, founded, as we learn from Thucydides, seventy years after its parent city, i. e. 663 B.C. (Thuc. 6.5), but it did not rise to any great importance, and continued almost always in a state of dependence on Syracuse. Its position must, however, have always given it some consequence in a military point of view; and we find Dion, when marching upon Syracuse, halting at Acrae to watch the effect of his proceedings. (Plut. Dio 27, where we should certainly read Ἄκρας for Μακράς.) By the treaty concluded by the Romans with Hieron, king of Syracuse, Acrae was included in the dominions of that monarch (Diod. xxiii. Exc. p. 502), and this was probably the period of its greatest prosperity. During the Second Punic War it followed the fortunes of Syracuse, and afforded a place of refuge to Hippocrates, after his defeat by Marcellus at Acrillae, B.C. 214. (Liv. 24.36.) This is the last mention of it in history, and its name is not once noticed by Cicero. It was probably in his time a mere dependency of Syracuse, though it is found in Pliny's list of the “stipendiariae civitates,” so that it must then have possessed a separate municipal existence. (Plin. Nat. 3.8; Ptol. 3.4.14.) The site of Acrae was correctly fixed by Fazello at the modern Palazzolo, lofty and bleak situation of which corresponds. with the description of Silius Italicus ( “tumulis glacialibus Acrae,” 14.206), and its distance from Syracuse with that assigned by the Itineraries. The summit of the hill occupied by the modern town is said to be still called Acremonte. Fazello speaks of the ruins visible there as “egregium urbis cadaver,” and the recent researches and excavations carried on by the Baron Judica have brought to light ancient remains of much interest. The most considerable of these are two theatres, both in very fair preservation, of which the largest is turned towards the N., while immediately adjacent to it on the W. is a much smaller one, hollowed out in great part from the rock, and supposed from some peculiarities in its construction to have been intended to [p. 1.22]serve as an Odeum, or theatre for music. Numerous other architectural fragments, attesting the existence of temples and other buildings, have also been brought to light, as well as statues, pedestals, inscriptions, and other minor relics. On an adjoining hill are great numbers of tombs excavated in the rock, while on the hill of Acremonte itself are some monuments of a singular character; figures as large as life, hewn in relief in shallow niches on the surface of the native rock. As the principal figure in all these sculptures appears to be that of the goddess Isis, they must belong to a late period. (Fazell. de Reb. Sic. vol. i. p. 452; Serra di Falco, Antichità di Sicilia, vol. iv. p. 158, seq.; Judica, Antichità di Acre.)

[E.H.B]

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