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HE´RBITA (Ερβιτα, Steph. B. sub voce Ptol.: Eth. Ἑρβιταῖος, Eth. Herbitensis), a city of the interior of Sicily, in the northern part of the island, and on the southern slope of the Heraean mountains. It was a city of the Siculians, and is first mentioned about 445 B.C., when it was subject to the rule of a prince, or despot, named Archonides, who co-operated with Ducetius, chief of the Siculi, in founding his new settlement at Cale Acte. (Diod. 12.8.) [CALACTE] In B.C. 403, it was besieged by Dionysius of Syracuse, but without effect; and several years after we find it still maintaining its independence against that monarch. Meanwhile Archonides, who was still ruler of the city, proceeded to extend his power by founding the colony of Alaesa, on the north coast of the island. (Diod. 14.15, 16, 78.) Diodorus tells us that the citizens of Alaesa, having subsequently attained to great prosperity [ALAESA], disdained to acknowledge their descent from so inferior a city as Herbita; but the latter seems to have been by no means an unimportant place. Its name does not again occur in history, but Cicero calls it “honesta et copiosa civitas” (Verr. 3.32); it had a fertile and extensive territory, which was cultivated with great care, and produced abundance of corn: the inhabitants were diligent and active agriculturists (summi aratores), and a quiet, frugal race. They, however, suffered severely from the exactions of Verres; so that the number of the cultivators (aratores) was reduced from 257 to 120, and their territory rendered almost desolate. (Cic. Ver. 3.18, 32--34, 51.) Herbita is still mentioned among the towns of Sicily both by Pliny and Ptolemy: but after this all trace of it disappears, and the data for fixing its position are sufficiently vague. Ptolemy appears to place it between Agyrium and Leontini, but the other towns with which it is associated by Cicero and Diodorus would point to a more northerly position: and Cluverius is probably right in placing it at Nicosia, a town about 10 miles NW. of S. Filippo d'Argirò (Agyrium), or rather at a place called Sperlinga, about 2 miles W. of it, in a more elevated situation, and now uninhabited. (Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.13; Cluver. Sicil. p. 329.)


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