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ENGUIUM or ENGYUM (Ἔγγυον, Diod., Steph. B. sub voce Εγγύϊον, Plut.: Eth. Ἐγγυῖνος, Eth. Enguinus: Gangi Vetere), a city in the interior of Sicily, celebrated for its temple of the Magna Mater. Diodorus tells us that it was originally founded by a colony of Cretans, the survivors of the expedition of Minos, who were after the Trojan War reinforced by a fresh body of colonists from the same country under Meriones. (Diod. 4.79.) The same tradition is related by Plutarch, who mentions that relics of Meriones and Ulysses were still shown there in confirmation of it. (Plut. Marc. 20.) But it is certain that it was not in historical times a Greek colony: nor is any mention of it found in history till the time of Timoleon, when the two cities of Engyum and Apollonia were subject to a tyrant named Leptines, who was expelled by Timoleon, and the cities restored to their liberty. (Diod. 16.72.) During the Second Punic War Engyum was one of the places that had zealously espoused the cause of the Carthaginians, and was in consequence threatened with severe punishment by Marcellus, but was spared by him at the intercession of Nicias, one of its principal citizens. (Plut. Marc. 20.) No further mention of it occurs in history: it appears in the time of Cicero as a municipal town, and is found also in the lists given by Pliny and Ptolemy of the cities of Sicily: but from this time all trace of it disappears. (Cic. Ver. 3.43; Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.14.) Plutarch tells us it was not a large city, but very ancient and celebrated on account of its temple, which Cicero also calls “augustissimum et religiosissimum fanum.” Its reputation is sufficiently proved by the circumstance that Scipio Africanus had presented many offerings to it, including bronze armour and vases of beautiful workmanship, all of which were carried off by the rapacious Verres. (Cic. Ver. 4.44, 5.72.) Cicero calls the deity to whom the temple was dedicated “Mater Magna,” and distinctly identifies her with the Mater Idaea: Plutarch and Diodorus, on the contrary, mention the goddesses in the plural, αἱ Θεαὶ Ματέρες, like the Deae Matres of the Romans. It is probable that their worship was of Pelasgian origin, and the traditions that derived the foundation of the city from Crete evidently point to the same connection.

We have no clue to the precise situation of Engyum: but Cicero mentions it in conjunction with Aluntium, Apollonia, Capitium, and other cities of the NE. of Sicily; and the subjection of Apollonia and Engyum to the government of Leptines would seem to indicate that the. two places were not very far distant from each other. Hence the suggestion of Cluverius, who places Engyum at Gangi Vetere, about 2 mile S. of the modern town of Gangi, and near the sources of the Fiume Grande, though a mere conjecture, is plausible enough, and has accordingly been followed by most subsequent writers. The elevated situation of this place would correspond with the strong position assigned it by Diodorus (4.79); and Silius Italicus (14.249) also tells us it had a rocky territory. The ruins mentioned by Fazello as existing at Gangi Vetere, are however not ancient, but those of the old town of the name, now deserted. (Fazell. de Reb. Sic. 10.2; Amic. ad loc. p. 419; Cluver. Sicil. p. 367.) Ptolemy indeed seems to place Engyum in the more southern part of Sicily: but little dependence can be placed on his data for the towns of the interior.


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.72
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.8
    • Plutarch, Marcellus, 20
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 4.79
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.4
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