and ἡ Σικυών
, also Σεκυών
, Bekker, Anecd
. p. 555: Eth. Σικυώνιος
, Eth. Sicyonius
: the territory Σικυωνία
Sicyon was an important city of Peloponnesus,situated upon a table-height of no great elevation, at the distance of about 2 miles from the [p. 2.990]
Chrinthian gulf. Strabo (viii. p.382
) correctly describes it as occupying a strong hill distant 20 stadia from the sea, though he adds that others made the distance 12 stadia, which may, however, have reference to the lower town built at the foot of the tableheight. Upon this height the modern village of Vasiliká
It is defended on every side by a natural wall of precipices, which can be ascended only by one or two narrow passages from the plain.
A river flows upon either side of the hill, the one on the eastern side being the Asopus, and that on the western side the Helisson. When Sicyon was at the height of its power, the city consisted of three parts, the Acropolis on the hill of Vasiliká,
the lower town at its foot, and a port-town upon the coast.
The port-town was well fortified. Σικυωνίων λιμήν, Xen. Hell. 7.3. 2
; Plb. 5.27
; Paus. 2.12.2
; Strab. l.c.
Sicyon was one of the most ancient cities of Greece, and is said to have existed under the name of AEGIALEIA
(Αἰγιάλεια, Paus. 2.5.6
) or AEGIALI (Αἰγιαλοί, Strab. viii. p.382
) long before the arrival of Pelops in Greece.
It was also called MECONE (Μηκώνη
), which was apparently its sacerdotal name, and under which it is celebrated as the “dwelling-place of the blessed,” and as the spot where Prometheus instituted the Hellenic sacrifices and deceived Zeus. (Steph. B. sub voce Σικυών; Strab. viii. p.382
; Callim. Fragm.
195, p. 513, ed. Ernesti; Hesiod. Theog.
535.) Its name TELCHINIA (Τελχινία
) has reference to its being one of the earliest seats of the workers in metal. (Steph. B. sub voce Σικυών
). Its name Aegialeia was derived from a mythical autochthon Aegialeus, and points to the time when it was the chief city upon the southern coast of the Corinthian gulf, the whole of which was also called Aegialeia. Its later name of Sicyon was said to have been derived from an Athenian of this name, who became king of the city, and who is represented as a son of either Marathon or Metion. (Paus. 2.6.5
This legend points to the fact that the early inhabitants of Sicyon were Ionians. Aegialeus is said, in some traditions, to have been the son of Inachus, the first king of Argos, and the brother of Phoroneus.
A long series of the successors of Aegialeus is given, among whom one of the most celebrated was the Argive Adrastus, who, being expelled from his own dominions, fled to Polybus, then king of Sicyon, and afterwards succeeded him on the throne. (Euseb. Chron.
p. 11, seq.; August. Civ. Dei,
18.2; Paus. 2.6
. § § 6, 7.) Homer indeed calls Adrastus first king of Sicyon (Hom. Il. 2.572
); and we know that in historical times this hero was worshipped in the city. (Hdt. 5.67
.) Sicyon was subsequently conquered by Agamemnon, who, however, left Hippolytus on the throne; but Sicyon became a tributary city to Mycenae. (Paus. 2.6
. § § 6, 7; Hom. II.
2.572, 23.299.) Hippolytus was the grandson of Phaestus, who was a son of Hercules; and in consequence of this connection, the inhabitants were not expelled or reduced to subjection upon the conquest of the city by the Dorians under Phalces, the son of Temenus; for while the Dorian conquerors, as in all other Doric states, were divided into three tribes under the names of Hylleis, Pamphyli, and Dymanatae, the original Sicyonians were formed into a fourth tribe, under the name of Aegialeis, which possessed the same political rights as the other three. (Paus. 2.6.7
; Strab. viii. p.389
; Hdt. 5.68
.) Sicyon was now a Dorian state; and from this time its real history begins.
It was at first dependent upon Argos (Paus. l.c.
), which was for some time the most powerful state in the Peloponnesus, Sparta being second to it.
In the First Messenian War the Sicyonians fought on the side of the Messenians along with the Argives and Arcadians. (Paus. 4.11.1
In the Second Messenian War, about B.C. 676, Sicyon became subject to the tyranny of the Orthagoridae, who governed the city for more than 100 years, and whose rule is praised by Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 5.9.21
) for its mildness.
The family of the Orthagoridae belonged to the non-Dorian tribe, and the continuance of their power is to be accounted for by the fact of their being supported by the original population against the Dorian conquerors. Orthagoras, the founder of the dynasty, is said to have been originally a cook. (Aristot. l.c.;
Hellad. ap. Phot. cod. 279, p. 530; Liban. vol. iii. p. 251, ed. Reiske.)
In other accounts Andreas is mentioned as the first of the Sicyonian tyrants (Hdt. 6.126
; Diod. Fragm. Vat.
14); and it is probable that he is the same person as Orthagoras, as the two names do not occur in the same author.
He was succeeded by his son Myron, who gained a chariot victory at Olympia in B.C. 648; Myron by Aristonymus; and Aristonymus by Cleisthenes. (Hdt. 6.126
; Paus. 2.8.1
The latter was celebrated for his wealth and magnificence, and was also distinguished by his bitter hatred against Argos, and his systematic endeavour to depress and dishonour the Dorian tribes.
He changed the ancient and venerable names of the three Dorian tribes into the insulting names of Hyatae, Oneatae, and Choereatae, from the three Greek words signifying the sow, the ass, and the pig; while he declared the superiority of his own tribe by giving it the designation of Archelai, or lords of the people. Cleisthenes appears to have continued despot till his death, which may be placed about B.C. 560.
The dynasty perished with him.
He left no son; but his daughter Agariste, whom so many suitors wooed, was married to the Athenian Megacles, of the great family of the Alcmaeonidae, and became the mother of Cleisthenes, the founder of the Athenian democracy after the expulsion of the Peisistratidae.
The names given to the tribes by Cleisthenes continued in use for sixty years after the death of the tyrant, when by mutual agreement the ancient names were restored. (Hdt. 6.126
; Grote, Hist. of Greece,
vol. iii. p. 43, seq.; Dict. of Biogr.
A Dorian reaction appears now to have taken place, for during a long time afterwards the Sicyonians were the steady allies of the Spartans.
In the invasion of Greece by Xerxes (B.C. 480), the Sicyonians sent a squadron of 15 ships to Salamis (Hdt. 8.43
), and a body of 3000 hoplites to Plataea. (Hdt. 9.28
In the interval between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars the territory was twice invaded and laid waste by the Athenians, first under Tolmides in B.C. 456 (Thuc. 1.108
; Paus. 1.27.5
), and a second time under Pericles, B.C. 454 (Thuc. 1.111
; Diod. 11.88
A few years later (B.C. 445) the Sicyonians supported the Megarians in their revolt from Athens. (Thuc. 1.114
In the Peloponnesian War they sided with Sparta, and sent a contingent of ships to the Peloponnesian fleet. (Thuc. 2.9
.) In B.C. 424 the Sicyonians assisted Brasidas in his operations against the Athenians in the Megarid [p. 2.991]
), and in the same year they repulsed a descent of the Athenians under Demosthenes upon their territory. (Thuc. 4.101
.). In B.C. 419 they united with the Corinthians in preventing Alcibiades from erecting a fortress upon the Achaean promontory of Rhium. (Thuc. 5.52
.) About this time a democratical revolution appears to have taken place, since we find the Lacedaemonians establishing an oligarchical government in Sicyon in B.C. 417. (Thuc. 5.82
In the wars of Lacedaemon against Corinth, B.C. 394, and against Thebes, B.C. 371, the Sicyonians espoused the side of the Lacedaemonians. (Xen. Hell. 4.2. 14
, seq. 6.4.18.)
But in B.C. 368 Sicyon was compelled by Epaminondas to join the Spartan alliance, and to admit a Theban harmost and garrison into the citadel. Euphron, a leading citizen of Sicyon, taking advantage of these circumstances, and supported by the Arcadians and Argives, succeeded in establishing a democracy, and shortly afterwards made himself tyrant of the city.
But being expelled by the Arcadians and Thebans, he retired to the harbour, which he surrendered to Sparta.
By the assistance of the Athenians he returned to Sicyon; but finding himself unable to dislodge the Theban garrison from the Acropolis, he repaired to Thebes, in hopes of obtaining, by corruption and intrigue, the banishment of his opponents and the restoration of his own power. Here, however, he was murdered by some of his enemies. (Xen. Hell. 7.1
; Diod. 15.69
; Dict. of Biogr.
art. EUPHRON.) Sicyon seems, however, to have been favorable to tyrants; for, after a short time, we again find the city in their power.
The facility with which ambitious citizens obtained the supreme power was probably owing to the antagonism between the Dorian and old Ionian inhabitants. Demosthenes mentions two Sicyonian tyrants, Aristratus and Epichares, in the pay of Philip (de Cor.
pp. 242, 324).
In the Lamian war, after the death of Alexander the Great, B.C. 323, the Sicyonians joined the other Greeks against the Macedonians. (Diod. 18.11
The city subsequently fell into the hands of Alexander, the son of Polysperchon; and after his murder in B.C. 314, his wife Cratesipolis continued to hold the town for Cassander till B.C. 308, when she was induced to betray it to Ptolenay. (Diod. 19.67
.) In B. B.C. 303, Sicyon passed out of the hands of Ptolemy, being surprised by Demetrius Poliorcetes in the night.
It appears that at this time Sicyon consisted of three distinct parts, as already mentioned, the Acropolis, on the hill of Vasiliká,
the lower city at its foot, and the port-town.
It is probable that formerly the Acropolis and the lower city were united with the port-town, by walls extending to the sea; but the three quarters were now separated from one another, and there was even a vacant space between the lower town and the citadel. Seeing the difficulty of defending so extensive a space with the diminished resources and population of the city, and anxious to secure a strongly fortified place, Demetrius compelled the inhabitants to remove to the site of the ancient Acropolis, which Diodorus describes as “a site very preferable to that of the former city, the inclosed space being an extensive plain, surrounded on every side by precipices, and so difficult of access that it would not be possible to attack the walls with machines.” This new city was called Demetrias. (Diod. 20.102
; Plut. Demetr. 25
; Paus. 2.7.1
; Strab. viii. p.382
The name Demetrias soon disappeared; but the city continued to remain upon its lofty site, which was better adapted than most mountain heights in Greece for a permanent population, since it contained a good supply of water and cultivable land. Pausanias (l.c.
) represents the lower town as the original city of Aegialeus; but Col. Leake justly remarks, it is more natural to conelude that the first establishment was made upon the hill Vasiliká,
which, by its strength and its secure distance from the sea, possesses attributes similar to those of the other chief cities of Greece. Indeed, Pausanias himself confirms the antiquity of the occupation of the hill of Vasiliká,
by describing all the most ancient monuments of the Sicyonians as standing upon it. (Leake, Morea,
vol. iii. p. 367.)
After Demetrius quitted Sicyon, it again became subject to a succession of tyrants, who quickly displaced one another. Cleon was succeeded in the tyranny by Euthydemus and Timocleides; but they were expelled by the people, who placed Cleinias, the father of Aratus, at the head of the government. Cleinias was soon afterwards murdered by Abantidas, who seized the tyranny, B.C. 264. Abantidas was murdered in his turn, and was succeeded by his father Paseas; but he again was murdered by Nicocles, who had held the sovereign power only four months, when the young Aratus surprised the citadel of Sicyon, and delivered his native city from the tyrant, B.C. 251. (Paus. 2.8
. § § 1--3; Plut, Arat.
2.) Through the influence of Aratus, Sicyon now joined the Achaean League, and was one of the most important cities of the confederacy. (Paus. 2.8.3
; Plut. Arat. 9
; Plb. 2.43
In consequence of its being a member of the league, its territory was devastated, both by Cleomenes, B. B.C. 233 (Plut. Arat. 41
19; Plb. 2.52
), and by the Aetolians, B.C. 221. (Plb. 4.13
In the Roman wars in Greece, Sicyon was favoured by Attalus, who bestowed handsome presents upon it. (Plb. 17.16
; Liv. 32.40
The conquest of Corinth by the Romans, B.C. 146, was to the advantage of Sicyon, for it obtained the greater part of the neighbouring territory and the administration of the Isthmian games. (Paus. 2.2.2
But even before Corinth was rebuilt, Sicyon again declined, and appears in an impoverished state towards the end of the Republic. (Cic. Att. 1.1. 9
After the restoration of Corinth, it still further declined, and its ruin was completed by an earthquake, which destroyed a great part of the city, so that Pausanias found it almost depopulated (2.7.1).
The city, however, still continued to exist in the sixth century of the Christian era; for Hierocles (p. 646, Wess.) mentions New Sicyon (Νέα Σικυών
) among the chief cities of Achaia.
The maritime town was probably Old Sicyon. Under the Byzantine empire Sicyon was called Hellas, and the inhabitants Helladici, probably in contradistinction to the surrounding Slavonic inhabitants. (Σικυών, ἡ νῦν Ἑλλάς,
Suidas; τῶν Σικυωνίων τῶν νυνὶ λεγομένων Ἑλλαδικῶν,
Malala, iv. p. 68, Bonn.)
The name Vasiliká
) has reference to the ruins of the temples and other public buildings.
III. Art, &c.
Sicyon is more renowned in the artistic than in the political history of Greece. For a long time it was one of the chief seats of Grecian art, and was celebrated alike for its painters and sculptors.
According to one tradition painting was invented at Sicyon, where Telephanes was the first to practise the monogram, or drawing in outline [p. 2.992]
（Plin. Nat. 35.3. s. 15
); and the city long remained the home of painting ( “diu illa fruit patria picturae,” Plin. Nat. 35.11. s. 40
). Sicyon gave its name to one of the great schools of painting, which was founded by Eupompus, and which produced Pamphilus and Apelles. (Plin. Nat. 35.10. s. 36
.) Sicyon was likewise the earliest school of statuary in Greece, which was introduced into the city by Dipoenus and Scyllis from, Crete about B.C. 560 (Plin. Nat. 36.4
); but its earliest native statuary of celebrity was Canachus. Lysippus was also a native of Sicyon. (Dict. of Biogr. s. vv.
) The city was thus rich in works of art; but its most valuable paintings, which the Sicyonians had been obliged to give in pledge on account of their debts, were removed to Rome in the aedileship of M. Scaurus, to adorn his theatre. (Plin. Nat. 35.11. s. 40
Sicyon was likewise celebrated for the taste and skill displayed in the various articles of dress made by its inhabitants, among which we find mention of a particular kind of shoe, which was much prized in all parts of Greece. (Athen. 4.155
; Pollux, 7.93; Hesych. sub voce Σικυωνία;
Auctor, ad Herenn.
4.3, de Orat.
1.54; Lucret. 4.1121; Fest. s. v. Sicyonia.
IV. Topography of the City.
Few cities in Greece were more finely situated than Sicyon.
The hill on which it stood commands a most splendid view. Towards the west is seen the plain so celebrated for its fertility; towards the east the prospect is bounded by the lofty hill of the Acrocorinithus; while in front lies the sea, with the noble mountains of Parnassus, Helicon, and Cithaeron rising from the opposite coast, the whole forming a charming prospect, which cannot have been without influence in cultivating the love for the fine arts, for which the city was distinguished.
The hill of Sicyon is a tabular summit of a triangular shape, and is divided into an upper and a lower level by a low ridge of rocks stretching right across it, and forming an abrupt separation between the two levels.
The upper level, which occupies the southern point of the triangle, and is about a third of the whole, was the Acropolis in the time of Pausanias (ἡ νῦν Ἀκρόπολις,
Pausanias came to Sicyon from Corinth.
After crossing the Asopus, he noticed the Olympieium on the right, and a little farther on the left of the road the tomb of Eupolis of Athens, the comic poet.
After passing some other sepulchral monuments, he entered the city by the Corinthian gate, where was a fountain dropping down from the overhanging rocks, which was therefore called Stazusa (Στάζουσα
), or the dropping fountain.
This fountain has now disappeared in consequence of the falling in of the rocks. Upon entering the city Pausanias first crossed the ledge of rocks dividing the upper from the lower level, and passed into the Acropolis. Here he noticed temples of Tyche and the Dioscuri, of which there are still some traces. Below the Acropolis was the theatre, the remains of which are found, in conformity with the description of Pausanias, in the ledge of rocks separating the two levels On the stage of the theatre stood the statue of a man with a shield, said to have been that of Aratus. Near the theatre was the temple of Dionysus, from which a road led past the ruined temple of Artemis Limnaea to the Agora.
At the entrance of the Agora was the temple of Peitho or Persuasion: and in the Agora the temple of Apollo, which appears to have been the chief sanctuary in Sicyon.
The festival of Apollo at Sicyon is celebrated in the ninth Nemean ode of Pindar; and Aratus, when he delivered his native city from its tyrant, gave as the watchword Ἀπόλλων ὑπερδέειος.
(Plut. Arat. 7
In the time of Polybius (17.16
) a brazen colossal statue of king Attalus I., 10 cubits high, stood in the Agora near the temple of Apollo; but this statue is not mentioned by Pausanias, and had therefore probably disappeared. (Paus. 2.7
. § § 2--9.) Near the temple of Peitho was a sanctuary consecrated to the Roman emperors, and formerly the house of the tyrant Cleon.
Before it stood the heroum of Aratus (Paus. 2.8.8
), and near it an altar of the Isthmian Poseidon, and statues of Zeus Meilichius and of Artemis Patroa, the former resembling a pyramid, the latter a column.
In the Agora were also the council-house (βουλευτήριον
), and a stoa built by Cleisthenes out of the spoils of Cirrha; likewise a brazen statue of Zeus, the work of Lysippus, a gilded statue of Artemis, a ruined temple of Apollo Lyceius, and statues of the daughters of Proetus, of Hercules, and of Hermes Agoraeus. (Paus. 2.9
. § § 6, 7.) The Poecile Stoa or painted stoa, was probably in the Agora, but is not mentioned by Pausanias.
It was adorned with numerous paintings, which formed the subject of a work of Polemon. (Athen. 13.577
Pausanias then proceeded to the Gymnasium, which he describes as not far from the Agora. The Gymnasium contained a marble statue of Hercules by Scopas; and in another part a temple of Hercules in a sacred inclosure, named Paedize. From thence a road led to two large inclosures, sacred to Asclepius and Aphrodite, both of which were adorned with several statues and buildings. From the Aphrodisium Pausanias went past the temple of Artemis Pheraea to the gymnasium of Cleinias, which was used for the training of the Ephebi, and which contained statues of Artemis and Hercules. (Paus. 2.10
) It is evident that this gymnasium was different from the one already described, as Pausanias continues his course towards the sea-side. From thence he turns towards the gate of the city called the Sacred, near which there formerly stood a celebrated temple of Athena, built by Epopeus, one of the mythical kings of Sicyon, but which had been burnt by lightning, and of which nothing then remained but the altar: this temple may perhaps have been [p. 2.993]
the one sacred to Athena Colocasia, mentioned by Athenaeus (iii. p. 72).
There were two adjoining temples, one sacred to Artemis and Apollo, built by Epopeus, and the other sacred to Hera, erected by Adrastus, who was himself worshipped by the people of Sicyon (Hdt. 5.68
; Pind. N. 9.20
There can be little doubt that these ancient temples stood in the original Acropolis of Sicyon; and indeed Pausanias elsewhere (2.5.6) expressly states that the ancient Acropolis occupied the site of the temple of Athena. We may place these temples near the northern edge of the hill upon the site of the modern village of Vasiliká;
and accordingly the remarkable opening in the rocks near the village may be regarded as the position of the Sacred Gate, leading into the ancient Acropolis. (Leake, Morea,
vol. iii. p. 372.)
In descending from the Heraeum, on the road to the plain, was a temple of Demeter; and close to the Heraeum were the ruins of the temple of Apollo Carneius and Hera Prodromia, of which the latter was founded by Phalces, the son of Temenus. (Paus. 2.11
. § § 1, 2.)
The walls of Sicyon followed the edge of the whole hill, and may still be traced in many parts.
The direction of the ancient streets may also still be
|PLAN OF THE RUINS OF SICYON (from the French Commission).
- A. Acropolis from the time of Demetrius.
- 1. Temple of Tyche and the Dioscuri.
- 2. Theatre.
- 3. Stadium.
- 4. Probable site of the Gymnasium.
- 5. Probable site of the Agora.
- 6. Roman Building.
- a a Road from the lake of Stymphalus to Vasiliká and Corinth.
followed by the existing foundations of the houses: they run with mathematical precision from NE. to SW., and from NW. to SE., thus following the rule of Vitruvius. Few of the ruins rise above the ground but there is a Roman building better preserved, and containing several chambers, which lies near the ridge separating the two levels of the hill. Leake supposes that this building was probably the praetorium of the Roman governor during the period between the destruction of Corinth by Mummius and its restoration by Julius Caesar, when Sicyon was the capital of the surrounding country; but more recent observers are inclined to think that the ruins are those of baths. West of this building are the theatre and the stadium; and the modern road which leads from Vasiliká
to Stymphalus runs between this Roman building and the theatre and then through a portion of the stadium.
The theatre was cut out of the rock, separating the two levels of the hill, as already described; its total diameter was about 400 feet, and that of the orchestra 100. Each wing was supported by a mass of masonry, penetrated by an arched passage. To the NW. of the theatre are the remains of the stadium, of which the total length, including the seats at the circular end, is about 680 feet. Col. Leake remarks that “the stadium resembles that of Messene, in having had seats which were not continued through the whole length of the sides. About 80 feet of the rectilinear extremity had no seats; and this part, instead of being excavated out of the hill like the rest, is formed of factitious ground, supported at the end by a wall of polygonal masonry, which still exists.” There are also, in various parts of the hill, remains of several subterraneous aqueducts, which supplied the town with water.
The opening of one of them is seen on the SE. side of the theatre; and there is another opening now walled up W. of the modern village.
The tyrant Nicocles escaped through these subterraneous passages when Sicyon was taken by Aratus. (Plut. Arat. 9
V. Topography of the Sicyonia.
The territory of Sicyon was very small, and, in fact, was little more than the valley of the Asopus.
In the upper part of its course the valley of the Asopus is confined between mountains, but near the sea it opens out into a wide plain, which was called ASOPIA
(Ἀσωπία, Strab. viii. p.382
, ix. p. 408; Paus. 2.1.1
This plain was celebrated for its fertility (μέγα φρονεῖν ἐπὶ τῷ τὸ Σικυώνιον πεδίον γεωργεῖν,
Lucian, Icarom. c.
18), and was especially adapted for the cultivation of the olive. ( “Sicyonia bacca,” Verg. G. 2.519
; Ov. Ep. ex Pont. 4.15
10; Stat. Theb. 4.50
The neighbouring sea supplied an abundance of excellent fish. (Athen. 1.27
It was separated from the Corinthia on the E. by the river Nemea, and from the territory of Pellene on the W. by the Sythas; and on the S. it was bounded by the territories of Phlius and Cleonae.
At one time the territory of Sicyon must have extended even beyond the Sythas, since GONUSSA or DONUSSA, which lay W. of this river, is described by Pausanias as belonging to the Sicyonians. [PELLENE
p. 571a.] Between the Helisson and the Sythas was probably the river Selleeis, with the neighbouring village of Ephyra, mentioned by Strabo (viii. p.338
No. 3.] Sixty stadia S. of Sicyon, and near the frontiers of Phliasia, was Titane or Titana, the most important of the dependencies of Sicyon. [TITANE
] Forty stadia beyond Titane was Phlius; but this road, which was too narrow for carriages, was not the direct road from Sicyon to Phlius.
The direct road was to the right of the Asopus; and the circuitous road through Titane to the left of that river. Between these two roads at the distance of 20 stadia from Sicyon, was a sacred grove, containing a temple of the Eumenides. (Paus. 2.11. 3
, seq.) East of Sicyon was Epieicia, on the river Nemea. [EPIEICIA
] In the same direction was the fortress DERAE
(Δέραι, Xen. Hell. 7.1. 22
) There was also a fortress Phoebia, taken by Epaminondas in his march through the valley of the Asopus: it is probably the same place as Buphia. BUPHIA
] Strabo (ix. p.412
) mentions a demus Plataeae in the Sicyonia. (Hagen, Sicyonia,
Regimont. 1831; Gompf, Sicyoniacorum Spec.
Berol. 1832, Torg. 1834; Bobrik, De Sicyoniae Topographia,
Regimont. 1839; Leake, Morea,
vol. iii. p. 351, seq.; Boblaye, Recherches, &e.
p. 30, seq.; Ross, Reisen im Peloponnes,
p. 39, seq.; Curtius, Peloponnesos,
vol. ii. p. 482, seq.; Beulé, Etudes sur le Péloponèse,
p. 343, seq.)
|COIN OF SICYON.|