sometimes called, for distinction's sake, ME´GARA HYBLAEA (τὰ Μέγαρα
: Eth. Μεγαρεύς
or Μεγαρεὺς Ὑβλαῖος,
Megarensis), a city of Sicily, situated on the E. coast of the island, between Syracuse and Catana, in the deep bay formed by the Xiphonian promontory.
It was unquestionably a Greek colony, deriving its origin from the Megara in Greece Proper; and the circumstances attending its foundation are related in detail by Thucydides.
He tells us that a colony from Megara, under the command of a leader named Lamis, arrived in Sicily about the time that Leontini was founded by the Chalcidic colonists, and settled themselves first near the mouth of the river Pantagias, at a place called Trotilus. From thence they removed to Leontini itself, where they dwelt for a time together with the Chalcidians; but were soon afterwards expelled by them, and next established themselves on the promontory or peninsula of Thapsus, near Syracuse. Hence they again removed after the death of Lamis, and, at the suggestion of Hyblon, a Sicilian chief of the surrounding country, finally settled at a place afterwards called the Hyblaean Megara. (Thuc. 6.4
.) Scymnus Chius follows a different tradition, as he describes the establishment of the Chalcidians at Naxos and that of the Megarians at Hybla as contemporary, and both preceding the foundation of Syracuse, B.C. 734. Strabo also adopts the same view of the subject, as he represents Megara as founded about the same [p. 2.311]
time with Naxos (B.C. 735), and before
Syracuse. (Scymn. Ch. 271
; Strab. vi. p.269
It is impossible to reconcile the two accounts, but that of Thucydides is probably the most trustworthy.
According to this the foundation of Megara may probably be placed about 726 B.C. Of its earlier history we have scarcely any information, but it would appear to have attained to a flourishing condition, as 100 years after its foundation it sent out, in its turn, a colony to the other end of Sicily, where it founded the city of Selinus, which was destined to rise to far greater power than its parent city. (Thuc. 6.4
; Scymn. Ch. 291
; Strab. vi. p.272
Nothing more is known of Megara till the period of its destruction by Gelon of Syracuse, who, after a long siege, made himself master of the city by a capitulation; but, notwithstanding this, caused the bulk of the inhabitants to be sold into slavery, while he established the more wealthy and noble citizens at Syracuse. (Hdt. 7.156
; Thuc. 6.4
.) Among the persons thus removed was the celebrated comic poet Epicharmus, who had received his education at Megara, though not a native of that city. (Suid. s. v. Ἐπίχαρμος
; D. L. 8.3
According to Thucydides, this event took place 245 years after the foundation of Megara, and may therefore be placed about 481 B. C.
It is certain that Megara never recovered its power and independence. Thucydides distinctly alludes to it as not existing in his time as a city, but repeatedly mentions the locality, on the sea-coast, which was at that time occupied by the Syracusans, but which the Athenian general Lamachus proposed to make the head-quarters of their fleet. (Thuc. 6.49
.) From this time we meet with repeated mention of a place named Megara or Megaris (Scyl. p. 4.6), which it seems impossible to separate from Hybla, and it is probable that the two were, in fact, identical. [These notices are discussed under HYBLA
No. 2.] The site of this later Megara or Hybla may be fixed, with little doubt, at the mouth of the river Alabus (Cantaro
); but there seems much reason to suppose that the ancient city, the original Greek colony, was situated almost close to the remarkable promontory now occupied by the city of Agosta
It is difficult to believe that this position, the port of which is at least equal to that of Syracuse, while the peninsula itself has the same advantages as that of Ortygia, should have been wholly neglected in ancient times; and such a station would have admirably served the purposes for which Lamachus urged upon his brother generals the occupation of the vacant site of Megara. (Thuc. 6.49