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MYLAE

MYLAE (Μυλαί: Eth. Μυλαΐτης, Steph. B. sub voce Μυλαῖος, Diod.: Milazzo), a city on the N. coast of Sicily, about 30 miles from Cape Pelorus, and 20 from Tyndaris, though Strabo calls it 25 miles from each of these points. (Strab. vi. p.266.) It was situated on the narrow neck or isthmus of a projecting peninsular headland, about 5 miles in length, the furthest point of which is only about 15 miles from the island of Hiera or Vulcano, the nearest to Sicily of the Lipari islands. Mylae was undoubtedly a Greek colony founded by the Zanclaeans, and appears to have long continued subject to, or dependent on its parent city of Zancle. (Strab. vi. p.272, Scym. Ch. 288.) Hence Thucydides speaks of Himera as in his time the only Greek city on the N. coast of the island, omitting Mylae, because it was not an independent city or state. (Thuc. 6.62.) The period of its foundation is wholly uncertain. Siefert would identify it with the city called Chersonesus by Eusebius, the foundation of which that author assigns to a period as early as B.C. 716, but the identification is very questionable. (Euseb. Chron. ad Ol. 161; Siefert, Zankle-Messana, p. 4.) It is certain, however, that it was founded before Himera, B.C. 648, as, according to Strabo, the Zanclaeans at Mylae took part in the colonisation of the latter city. (Strab. vi. p.272.) Mylae itself does not appear to have ever risen to any great importance; and after the revolution which changed the name of Zancle to that of Messana, still continued in the same dependent relation to it as before. It was, however, a strong fortress, with a good port; and these advantages which it derived from its natural situation, rendered it a place of importance to the Messanisans as securing their communications with the N. coast of the island. Scylax speaks of it as a Greek city and port (Scyl. p. 4.13), and its castle or fortress is mentioned by several ancient writers. The earliest historical notice of the city is found in B.C. 427, when the Athenian fleet under Laches which was stationed at Rhegium, made an attack upon Mylae. The place was defended by the Messanians with a strong garrison, but was compelled to surrender to the Athenians and their allies, who thereupon marched against Messana itself. (Thuc. 3.90; Diod. 12.54.) After the destruction of Messana by the Carthaginian general Himilcon, Mylae appears to have for a time shaken off its dependence; and in B.C. 394, the Rhegians, becoming alarmed at the restoration of Messana by Dionysius, which they regarded as directed against themselves, proceeded to establish at Mylae the exiles from Naxos and Catana, with a view to create a countercheck to the rising power of Messana. The scheme, however, failed of effect; the Rhegians were defeated and the Messanians recovered possession of Mylae. (Diod. 14.87.) That city is again noticed during the war of Timoleon in Sicily; and in B.C. 315 it was wrested by Agathocles, from the Messanians. though he was soon after compelled to restore it to them. (Id. 19.65; Plut. Tim. 37.) It was in the immediate neighbourhood of Mylae also (ἐν τῷ Μυλαίῳ πεδίῳ) that the forces of the Mamertines were defeated in a great battle, by Hieron of Syraouse, B.C. 270 (Pol. 1.9; Diod. 22.13); though [p. 2.385]the river Longanus, on the banks of which the action was fought, cannot be identified with certainty. [LONGANUS]

It is probable that, even after the Roman conquest of Sicily, Mylae continued to be a dependency of Messana, as long as that city enjoyed its privileged condition as a “foederata civitas:” hence no mention is found of its name in the Verrine orations of Cicero; but in the time of Pliny it had acquired the ordinary municipal privileges of the Sicilian towns. (Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.2.) It never, however, seems to have been a place of importance, and was at this period wholly eclipsed by the neighbouring colony of Tyndaris. But the strength of its position as a fortress caused it in the middle ages to be an object of attention to the Norman kings of Sicily, as well as to the emperor Frederic II.; and though now much neglected, it is still a military position of importtance. The modern city of Milazzo is a tolerably flourishing place, with about 8000 inhabitants; it is built for the most part on a low sandy neck of land, connecting the peninsula, which is bold and rocky, with the mainland. But the old town, which probably occupied the same site with the ancient city, stood on a rocky hill, forming the first rise of the rocky ridge that constitutes the peninsula or headland of Capo di Milazzo. The modern castle on a hill of greater elevation, commanding both the upper and lower town, is probably the site of the ancient Acropolis. (Thuc. 3.90; Smyth's Sicily, pp. 103, 104; Hoare's Classical Tour, vol. ii. p. 215.)

The promontory of Mylae, stretching out abruptly into the sea, forms the western boundary of a bay of considerable extent, affording excellent anchorage. This bay was memorable in ancient history as the scene of two great naval actions. The first of these was the victory obtained by the Roman fleet under C. Duillius, over that of the Carthaginians in the First Punic War, B.C. 260, in which the Roman consul, by means of the engines called Corvi (then used for the first time), totally defeated the enemy's fleet, and took fifty of their ships. (Pol. 1.23.) More than two centuries later, it was in the same bay that Agrippa, who commanded the fleet of Octavian, defeated that of Sextus Pompeius, B.C. 36. Agrippa advanced from the island of Hiera, where his fleet had been before stationed, while the ships of Pompey lined the shores of the bay of Mylae. After their defeat they took refuge at the mouths of the numerous small rivers, or rather mountain torrents, which here descend into the sea. After this battle, Agrippa made himself master of Mylae as well as Tyndaris; and some time afterwards again defeated the fleet of Pompeius in a second and more decisive action, between Mylae and a place called Naulochus. The latter name is otherwise unknown, but it seems to have been situated somewhere in the neighbourhood of Cape Rasoculmo, the Phalacrian promontory of Ptolemy. (Appian, App. BC 5.105-109, 115--122; D. C. 49.2-11; Vell. 2.79; Suet. Aug. 16.)

In the account of this campaign Appian speaks of a small town named ARTEMISIUM, which is noticed also by Dio Cassius, and must have been situated a little to the E. of Mylae, but is not mentioned by any of the geographers. (Appian, App. BC 5.116; D. C. 49.8.) It is, however, obviously the same place alluded to by Silius Italicus as the “sedes Facelina Dianae” (Sil. Ital. 14.260), and called by Lucilius, in a fragment of his satires, “Facelitis templa Dianae.” (Lucil. Sat. 3.13.) Vibius Sequester also mentions a river which he calls PHACELINUS, and describes as “juxta Peloridem, confinis temple Dianae.” (Vib. Seq. p. 16.) It is, however, obvious, from Appian, that the temple was not situated in the neighbourhood of Pelorus, but at a short distance from Mylae, though the precise site cannot be determined. It was designated by popular tradition as the spot where the sacred cattle of the Sun had been kept, and were slaughtered by the companions of Ulysses. (Appian, l.c.; Plin. Nat. 2.98. s. 101.) The MONS THORAX, mentioned by Diodorus in his account of the battle of the Longanus (Diod. 22.13), must have been one of the underfalls of the Neptunian Mountains, which throughout this part of Sicily descend close to the sea-shore; but the particular mountain meant is wholly uncertain.

[E.H.B]

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