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SIKYON (Basiliko) Peloponnesos, Greece.

On the Corinthian Gulf about 26 km W of Corinth. Little is known of the city's earliest history except for close ties with Argos, which were broken under the Orthagorid tyrants who ruled it ca. 656-556 B.C. Under Kleisthenes the city enjoyed its greatest power and prosperity and supported a flourishing school of painting. After the removal of the tyrants by Sparta, Sikyon became a loyal member of the Peloponnesian League, until Epaminondas made it the center of Theban power in the Peloponnese after Leuktra in 371 B.C. In the 4th c. B.C. it was again the home of famous painters and sculptors, including Lysippos. Through the efforts of Aratos, the city joined the Achaian League in 251 B.C. and became a leading power in the confederacy until 146 B.C. Following the destruction of Corinth, Sikyon for a time supervised the Isthmian Games but after the Romans had exacted a large public debt in 56 B.C. and disastrous earthquakes had struck in the 2d c., the city was reduced to the half-ruined and depopulated condition in which Pausanias found it ca. A.D. 160.

Old Sikyon lay in the plain near its port on the Corinthian Gulf, at modern Kiato, but in 303 B.C. Demetrios Poliorketes moved it to the two lofty plateaus of the acropolis, which lie ca. 4 km inland. On the upper terrace was the acropolis proper, while the lower terrace, now partly occupied by the village of Basiliko, was the site of the agora, several public buildings, and private houses. The natural strength of the site, which is surrounded by deep ravines cut by the Asopos and Helisson rivers, was increased by a stone circuit wall, traces of which survive. Another massive wall separates the acropolis from the lower terrace.

On the acropolis Pausanias (2.7.5) records Sanctuaries of Tyche Akraia and the Dioskouroi. Probably to be associated with the former are some meager foundations and a colossal marble head of Tyche, in the Sikyon Museum, which is a Roman copy of the famous Tyche of Antioch by Eutychides of Sikyon. Cut into the N and NE slopes of the acropolis are the seats of a large, unexcavated stadium and the cavea of the theater, partly excavated. Built probably in the early 3d c. B.C. and repaired at least twice in Roman times, the theater is one of the largest on the Greek mainland. Of interest are its vaulted entrances to the lower diazoma and a Doric colonnade behind the stage building which faces N and terminates in a fountain-house at the W and at the E in a large, rectangular room. Slight traces of an adjacent temple, possibly that of Dionysos (Paus. 2.7.5), were seen by Leake but are no longer visible.

Excavations have revealed several important public and sacred buildings to the SE and below the theater. Here lies the gymnasium, a square structure of the 3d c. B.C., which is built on two levels. An open court on the lower level is framed on three sides by an Ionic colonnade with rooms opening off it; around three sides of the upper court is a simple Doric colonnade, repaired in Roman times. Two fountain-houses lie on the lower level, built into the retaining wall that separates the two terraces. Near the W side of the gymnasium is a spring in a small rock Sanctuary of the Nymphs.

In the agora, which lies to the SE of the gymnasium, is the bouleuterion, a square hypostyle hall of Ionic columns built in the 3d c. B.C. and later transformed into a Roman bath. It opens onto the agora on the N and is separated by a road on the E from a long Doric stoa, perhaps of the 2d c. B.C., which formed the S edge of the agora. Behind a double colonnade of 45 x 22 columns the stoa contained a row of 21 shops, only the foundations of which are preserved. The rest of the agora is still to be excavated, with the exception of the foundations of a long, narrow temple on the W side. Constructed in the archaic period, the temple was renovated in Hellenistic times and later converted into a Christian church. Its identification is uncertain: the excavators suggest Artemis, but Roux's suggestion that it was the Temple of Apollo described by Pausanias (2.7.8) as being in the agora is attractive. A colossal statue of Attalos I, who was a great favorite at Sikyon, stood beside the temple (Polyb. 17.16).

A large and well-preserved Roman bath of the 2d or 3d c. lies to the N of the agora and has been partly restored to serve as a museum and storehouse for the finds from the Greek excavations. Remains of walls running in straight lines for considerable distances and intersecting at right angles are visible on the surface of the lower terrace. They indicate that the new city of Demetrios was laid out on a grid pattern.

On the low hill of Haghia Paraskevi near the ancient port a Christian basilica has been excavated which is constructed of blocks reused from a Classical temple. It is possible that the source of this material was the Temple of Athena reported by Pausanias (2.5.6) as standing on the acropolis of the archaic city.

Attested at Sikyon by Pausanias and other authors are the shrine and grave of Aratos, Stoas of Kleisthenes and Lamia (Painted Stoa), and Sanctuaries of Apollo Lykios, Herakles, Asklepios, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Demeter; none of these has yet come to light.


N. Philadelphus, BCH 50 (1926) 175-82PI; C. H. Skalet, Ancient Sikyon (1928)PI; E. v. Fiechter, Das Theater in Sikyon (1931)PI; A. K. Orlandos, “La Fontaine de Sicyone,” AJA 38 (1934) 153-57PI; id., Praktika (1932-44 & 1951-54)PI; G. Roux, Pausanias en Corinthie (1958) 134-58PI; J. Delorme, Gymnasion (1960) 99-102P; L. Guerrini, EAA VII (1966) 276-79PI.


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