The Glory that was Greece
By Victoria De Maio
Selinunte is located in southwestern Sicily, in the province of Trapani. Once one of Greece’s most important colonies, as it has for centuries, Selinunte holds vigil as it looks out to the endless horizon of the Mediterranean Sea. Located in an archeological park that covers approximately 40 hectares (approximately 99 acres), Selinunte embodies the glory that was Greece…and the demise. In fact, here it all happened hundreds of years B.C.
Roots and Rivals
Its name derived from selinon (Greek for wild celery, which once grew wild here), Selinunte was founded and thrived in the 7th century B.C. With its beautiful buildings and harbors, it became an important trade and artistic center, only second in importance to Siracuse. And this did not go unnoticed by its enemies, the ambitious Carthaginians. Although they were able to avoid war temporarily via diplomatic efforts, constant hostilities weakened many Greek armies, leaving them in disarray. Among them were allies of Selinunte; Agrigento and Syracuse. Quick to seize an opportunity, the Carthaginians took full advantage to attack and viciously besiege and plunder Selinunte. Records indicate that, of the approximate 25,000 residents, 16,000 were brutally massacred, 7,000 taken into slavery, and a few thousand managed to escape to Agrigento. During the first Punic War, in 250 B.C., Selinunte felt the final blow when, fleeing the Romans, the vindictive Carthaginians razed Selinunte to deny Rome the spoils of victory.