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SCYLA´CIUM or SCYLLE´TIUM (Σκυλλήτιον, Steph. B. sub voce Strab.; Σκυλάκιον,, Ptol.: Eth. Σκυλλήτικος: Squillace), a town on the E. coast of Bruttium, situated on the shores of an extensive bay, to which it gave the name of SCYLLETICUS SINUS ( p. 261.) It is this bay, still known as the Gulf of Squillace, which indents the coast of Bruttium on the E. as deeply as that of Hipponium or Terina (the Gulf of St. Eufemia) does on the W., so that they leave but a comparatively narrow isthmus between them. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 3.10. s. 15.) [BRUTTIUM] According to a tradition generally received in ancient times, Scylletium was founded by an Athenian colony, a part of the followers who had accompanied Menestheus to the Trojan War. (Strab. l.c.; Plin. l.c.; Serv. ad Aen. 3.553.) Another tradition was, however, extant, which ascribed its foundation to Ulysses. (Cassiod. Var. 12.15; Serv. l.c.) But no historical value can be attached to such statements, and there is no trace in historical times of Scylletium having been a Greek colony, still less an Athenian one. Its name is not mentioned either by Scylax or Scymnus Chius in enumerating the Greek cities in this part of Italy, nor is there any allusion to its Athenian origin in Thucydides at the time of the Athenian expedition to Sicily. We learn from Diodorus (13.3) that it certainly did not display any friendly feeling towards the Athenians. It appears, indeed, during the historical period of the Greek colonies to have been a place of inferior consideration, and a mere dependency of Crotona, to which city it continued subject till it was wrested from its power by the elder Dionysius, who assigned it with its territory to the Loerians. (Strab. vi. p.261.) It is evident that it was still a small and unimportant place at the time of the Second Punic War, as no mention is found of its name during the operations of Hannibal in Bruttium, though he appears to have for some time had his head quarters in its immediate neighbourhood, and the place called Castra Hannibalis must have been very near to Scylacium. [CASTRA HANNIBALIS] [p. 2.935]In B.C. 124 the Romans, at the instigation of C. Gracchus, sent a colony to Scylacium, which appears to have assumed the name of Minervium or Colonia Minervia. (Vell. 1.15; Mommsen, in Berichte der Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1849, pp. 49--51.) The name is written by Velleius “Scolatium;” and the form “Scolacium” is found also in an inscription of the reign of Antoninus Pius, from which it appears that the place must have received a fresh colony under Nerva. (Orell. Inscr. 136; Mommsen, l.c.). Scylacium appears to have become a considerable town after it received the Roman colony, and continued such throughout the Roman Empire. (Mel. 2.4.8; Plin. Nat. 3.10. s. 15; Ptol. 3.1.11.) Towards the close of this period it was distinguished as the birthplace of Cassiodorus, who has left us a detailed but rhetorical description of the beauty of its situation, and fertility of its territory. (Cassiod. Var. 12.15.)

The modern city of Squillace is a poor place, with only about 4000 inhabitants, though retaining its episcopal see. It stands upon a hill about 3 miles from the sea, a position according with the description given by Cassiodorus of the ancient city, but it is probable that this occupied a site nearer the sea, where considerable ruins are said still to exist, though they have not been described by any modern traveller.

The SCYLLETICUS SINUS (Σκυλλητικὸς κόλπος), or Gulf of Squillace, was always regarded as dangerous to mariners; hence Virgil calls it “navifragum Scylaceum.” (Aen. 3.553.) There is no natural port throughout its whole extent, and it still bears an evil reputation for shipwrecks. The name is found in Aristotle as well as Antiochus of Syracuse, but would seem to have been unknown to Thucydides; at least it is difficult to explain otherwise the peculiar manner in which he speaks of the Terinaean gulf, while relating the voyage of Gylippus along the E. coast of Bruttium. (Thuc. 6.104; Arist. Pol. 7.10; Antioch. ap. Strab. vi. p.254.)


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 13.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.104
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.10
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
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