Echoes of Ancient Greece – Part 2
Temples of Selinunte
One of the closest Greek colonies to the Aegadian Islands was Selinunte on the West Coast of Sicily. It was likely an important city amongst the Greek colonies as can be seen through its remains, the most telling being what would have once been an Acropolis. An Acropolis was a settlement, usually that of a large citadel that was built upon a high scaling hill that was preferable for defensive purposes. They became prominent in the cities of Greece and are often now important landmarks in modern cities that have an ancient background.
Selinunte may no longer serve as a city but its ruins still tell the story of its past. It is home to the aforementioned Acropolis along with 5 other temples. The only one of these temples to have been reconstructed however is the Temple of Hera, which dates from 460-450 BCE. This temple still has four remaining metopes which depict important stories in Greek mythology. The first is picture of Heracles killing the Amazon Antiope, there is a depiction of Actaeon (a hero from Thebes) being ripped apart by the goddess of the hunt Artemis’ hunting dogs, there’s also a picture of Athena killing the giant Enceladus and the marriage of Hera and Zeus.
Ruins of Segesta
The Ruins of Segesta are a particularly interesting find and could perhaps even give us a few clues to the spreading of Greek culture amongst the Aegadian Islands. The settlement is thought to have started by a group of people called the Elymians, hailing from Asia Minor. As time went on Greeks began to integrate into their culture. There hasn’t been much left behind by these people and they remain something of a mystery to us however there are two rather remarkable pieces of history that have been left behind. Just outside what would have been the ancient city of Segesta lays a remarkably well preserved temple, it’s believed that it was never completely finished however is likely in a similar (if not worn down) condition to when it was first built. The second of Segesta’s relics is the Greek Theatre situated on a hilltop on Mount Barbaro. Art and Dramatics were very important to many Greek societies and though this may not be the biggest of its theatres its beautiful scenic placement gives an example of how serious it was even in Segesta.
It’s important to know that it is thought that the city of Segesta actually had quite a small number of Greek citizens in comparison to its majority of Elymian people. Despite this we still find that major pieces of architecture amongst its lands that still stand today. This could be a sign of the wealth of the Greek people or maybe instead it is an example of the influence their society and beliefs carried across the different cultures of the Mediterranean. Perhaps then this is the case with the Aegadian Islands too? For now there’s no way to know for sure but we certainly know that this rich culture was both present and influential for many years after.