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beautiful story of King Robert and the Angel, and the poor gallant youth Conradin, who kissed his friend's decollated head on the scaffold, and the Sicilian Vespers (horribly so called), and the true Sicilian vespers, the gentle "Ave Maria" closing every evening, as it does still, in peace instead of blood, and ascending from blue seas into blue heavens out of white-sailed boats. Item, Bellini, and his Neapolitan neighbour Paesiello. Item, the modern Theocritus, not undeservedly so called; to wit, the Abate Giovanni Meli, possibly of Grecian stock himself, for his name is the Greek as well as Sicilian for honey.

*

Item, earthquakes, vines, convents, palm-trees, mulberries, pomegranates, aloes, citrons, rocks, gardens, banditti, pirates, huge furnaces under the sea, the most romantic landscapes and vegetation above it, guitars, lovers, serenades, and the never-to-be-too-often-mentioned blue skies and blue waters, which (on the concentrating Solomon-seal principle) appeared to be represented by our little blue jar.

Lastly, the sweetness, the melancholy, the mirth, the life, the death, the fugitive evil, the constant good, the threatening Etna making every moment of life precious, and the moment of life so precious, and breathing such a pure atmosphere as to enable fear itself to laugh at-nay, to love the threatening Etna, and play with it as with a great planetary lion to which it has become used.

Item, the Papyrus of the Nile, no longer in the lower portion of that river, yet now growing at the fountain where Alpheus mingled his streams with the fair waters of Arethusa.

After the gods, the poets unite in giving to Sicily an aboriginal race of giants, who dwelt in the caves and grottos so characteristic of the island, and from out of which Ulysses had to exercise his combined skill and courage to extricate his imprisoned companions. "When," says Palmeri, with Amari, one of the best Sicilian historians, "we speak of giants and Cyclops, Lestrygones or Lotophagi, the earliest inhabitants of the island, it is doubtful whether these names designated people of various nations, or merely different conditions of the same people. It is equally uncertain whether the island, first called, from its triangular shape, Trinacria, was afterwards called Sicania by the Sicani, and finally Sicilia by the Siculi ; since it is a question whether these are any but different appellations for the same people. Some basis of truth there may have been in the story that the oxen of the Sun pastured in the rich fields of Milazzo; that Daphnis invented pastural poetry; Polyphemus and Aristaus taught the cultivation of the olive; that Daedalus was a great architect and sculptor, and that Hercules landed on the island and erected temples."

Among so many mythical stories, some idea may be formed of the early state of Sicily. The Sicani, or Sicanians, originally from Spain, according to Dionysius Halicarnassensis (1. i. p. 17), and at first shepherds, gradually acquired some of the arts of civilisation, and erected cities: Cyclopia regna

Vomere verterunt primum nova rura Sicani,
Pyrene misit populos,

* The dwarf fan-palm (Chamaerops humilis), the only European palm, is indigenous to Sicily. Silius Italicus notices it (1. xiv. v. 200):

"Nectareis vocat ad certamen Hymetton

Audax Hybla favis, palmæque arbusta Selinûs;"

as does also Virgil (Æn. iii. v. 705), still more significantly, in connexion with Selinus, now Sciacca:

"Teque datis linquo ventis, palmosa Selinûs."

says
Silius Italicus (1. xiv. v. 33). Ôther nations, attracted by the soil
and climate, gradually visited the island. Such were the Cretans, under
their king Minos, who came over in pursuit of Dædalus, and being at
first received with hospitality by Cocalus, was treacherously stifled in the
sulphur-baths of Selinus, while his followers, their ships being burned,
were obliged to remain in the island. The wandering Trojans are also
said to have founded a city upon Mount Eryx, now Mount St. Juliano,
visited by Æneas after the fall of Troy, and whence, after the death of
his father Anchises, he repaired to Italy. The Phoenicians also established
several maritime colonies, as at Palermo, Trapani, and other spots on the
coast. The Siculi, as many believe, of Pelasgian origin, also crossed the
Straits of Messina in great numbers, and obtained a permanent footing
on the island. Silius Italicus, who brings the Sicanians from the Pyre-
nees, brings (1. xiv. v. 37) the Siculi, or Sicilians, and the Lestrygones,
from Italy:

Mox Ligurum pubes, Siculo ductore novavit
Possessis bello mutata vocabula regnis ;

and at verse 127,

Prima Leontinos vastarunt prælia campos,

Regnatam duro quondam Læstrygone terram.

The Grecian period is the most glorious in the Sicilian annals. Issuing from the narrow confines of the parent state in quest of a wider field of action, the Greeks landed at different parts of the island, as well as the neighbouring peninsula, and founded so many separate states. Some Athenians, cast on shore just below Taormina, built Naxos, the earliest of the Greek colonies. The Corinthians and Dorians, landing on the island of Ortygia, expelled the Siculi, and laid the foundations of Syracuse, Gela, Camerina, Leontium, Agrigentum, and Selinunte speedily followed. The rude inhabitants were driven into the fastnesses of the interior. Art, science, poetry, all that constituted the intellectual culture of the Greeks, became naturalised in this beautiful island. Then arose those noble temples, the ruins of which still adorn its shores. Emulation was kindled between the different states, and Syracuse and Agrigentum disputed the palm of excellence. Hiero, king of Syracuse, and Theron, tyrant of Agrigentum, are both celebrated in the immortal poems of Pindar for their victories at the Greek games: the former at the Pythian and Olympic, the latter at the Olympic games.

If the lessons of history are of any avail, Sicily presented in these days of a bright aurora the same germs of ruin which have ever been fatal to the whole of Italy. The Greek colonies, owing no allegiance to the parent state, became so many independent cities, each under its own domestic institutions, and with its own foreign alliances. At first popular, the government speedily degenerated into despotism. The supreme power was artfully obtained or violently seized by the tyrants, who made it their policy, as in our times is done upon a larger scale, "to sow dissension among the people, to engage them in foreign wars, and by glorious actions and splendid public works distract them from the sense of domestic slavery." Such men were Dionysius the Elder of Syracuse, and Perillus at Agrigentum. Sometimes the democracy would regain the ascendant, but only by introducing the spirit of faction to distract the councils and

weaken the resources of the state, and bring about the reaction of absolute despotism.

The same jealous struggles for political power that divided Greece itself, not only weakened the colonies, which, united, might have constituted an almost invulnerable state or republic, but exposed the island to the machinations of foreign enemies. These colonies were at the height of splendour when the Persians, about to invade Greece, and fearing that the Sicilian Greeks would succour their parent states, instigated the Carthaginians to attack them. Carthage, which had long desired a pretext for invading Sicily, now found one by the invitation of the tyrant of Messina, who, expelled his state, had taken refuge in Africa. Hamilcar, the Carthaginian chief, landed at Panormus (Palermo) with a powerful army, but sharing the same fate at the memorable Himera as the Persians did at Salamis, he was glad to reconduct his warriors back to their own burning shores.

The Sicilians, in the mean time, cooped up in the interior, and pressed upon by the advancing Greeks, long preserved a certain rude independence, till subdued by the Syracusans, whose dominant power became for the time being the salvation of Hellenic Sicily. For ever at variance among themselves, the Carthaginians, anxious to wash out the disgrace of Himera, again invaded the island under the pretext of assisting the Segestans against their more powerful neighbours, the Selinuntes. Selinunte was destroyed, Agrigentum besieged and taken, and the whole of Sicily seemed about to fall under the Carthaginian sway, when Dionysius came to the rescue, and, after a long struggle, succeeded in expelling the invaders from the Sicilian soil.

Upon another occasion Agathocles was equally successful, but upon a third recurrence of these persevering assaults of a foreign power, the Syracusans were obliged to seek the assistance of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, who rescued Panormus from their hands, but failed before Lilybæum (Marsala), at that time the great stronghold of the Carthaginians. A new element of discord arose at this epoch in the island. The Campanians, who had aided in the war against Carthage, seized upon Messina, and founded a so-called Mamertine state or republic. Hiero, however, raising an army, defeated the Mamertines, and was in consequence saluted King of Syracuse by the grateful citizens. This elect of the people raised Syracuse to the highest pitch of glory it had ever attained. His court was the resort of the most celebrated men of Greece; Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, and Archimedes were amongst its ornaments. The latter name alone would suffice as a proof to what eminence the arts had attained, but the magnificent ship presented by Hiero to Ptolemy, King of Egypt, in which all the resources of the mechanical and ornamental arts were combined, may be also cited.

The glory of Syracuse expired with the life of one man. After the death of Hiero, anarchy resumed its sway, and the island, divided and unable to maintain her independence, became the prize for which her more powerful neighbours contended. An incident in the history of Syracusan domination, narrated at length by Thucydides, ought not to be omitted. It relates to the intervention of the Athenians under Alcibiades and Nicias in favour of the Segestans, and the successful co-operation with the Lacedemonians, under Gylippos, with the Syracusans, and by which the

Athenians ultimately experienced one of the greatest disasters that ever befel their arms at a place now supposed to be marked by the pyramid of La Pizzuta, near Cape Passaro.

The Mamertines, subdued by the Syracusans under Hiero, sought, upon the death of their great chief, a friendly alliance with Rome, who gladly availed themselves of the opportunity of adding Sicily to their conquests in Lower Italy. During the Punic wars, the island and its waters became the theatre of repeated fights between the rival powers of Rome and Carthage. The latter occupied Agrigentum, which, after a lengthened resistance, was wrested from them by the Romans. The memorable siege and capture of Syracuse, by Marcellus, terminated the independence of that great city, and Sicily became a Roman province.

Absorbed in the great Roman Empire, the wealth and prosperity of this favoured island became unfortunately a source of evil. The cupidity of the rulers was excited, and the exactions of Verres, denounced by Cicero, show to what malpractices the provinces were subjected, whilst the servile wars attest the deplorable state in which a portion of the island was placed by the revolts excited by violence among the labouring classes.

As the Roman Empire declined, Sicily declined with it. Christianity, which natives fondly believe was introduced by St. Paul himself, was established, and the Sicilian cities gradually became so many episcopal sees. The disorders wrought over all Italy by the barbarian irruptions spread their baneful influence even to Sicily. The Vandals, and afterwards the Goths, ravaged the island, but after the death of Theodosius, Sicily fell in the division of empire to the Greeks. Belisarius was despatched by Justinian to the rescue; but the Byzantine emperors held the sceptre with feeble and precarious sway, and Strabo speaks in their time of Naxos, Megara, Himera, Gela, Gallipolis, Selinunte, and others, as ruined and deserted places.

The Arabs, fired by religious enthusiasm, having extended their triumphs along the shores of Africa, were invited to the conquest of Sicily by the same internal dissension which had so often introduced a foreign foe. Euphemius, general of the Byzantine forces, had stolen a beautiful nun from her cloister, and being condemned to an ignominious punishment, fled into Africa, and treacherously instigated the Muhammadans to invade the island.* The Saracens landed in A.D. 650. Syracuse was defended with heroic valour, and did not fall until its inhabitants had devoured all the domestic animals, had been reduced even to the flesh of the dead bodies, and that plague had united with famine to break down their indomitable courage. The city was delivered up to flames and pillage; the greater part of the inhabitants that survived a ten months' siege were put to death, the rest were sold as slaves and transported into Africa. Syracuse became, with the other great cities of Sicily, the seat of an Arab emir, but nigh two centuries elapsed before the whole of the island became subject of the Mussulmans. With the Arabs, however, the same superficial civilisation, the same arts and sciences, the same architecture and husbandry which adorned the Moorish kingdom in Spain, were transplanted to a soil no less congenial to their development. Cotton,

* Pictures from Sicily. By the Author of "Forty Days in the Desert."

brought by them from the fields of Syria; the sugar-cane, met with by the first Crusaders on the plains of Tripoli, and which the Arabs naturalised on the fertile soil of their new conquest; the manna-producing ash; and, lastly, the pistachio-tree, all date from the epoch of Saracenic occupation. It is probably to this epoch that we must also date the introduction from the Nile, by some Arabo-Egyptian emir, of the papyrus. But internal dissension prevented the Saracens from forming a compact and solid state, and thus they lay easily exposed to the inroads of a fresh invader.

"When the Normans," writes Henry Gally Knight,* "first made their appearance in the south of Italy, the greater part of what had constituted the Roman Empire was in that disjointed and unsettled state which enables the strong hand to grasp at and reach anything. The scenes of real life, at that time, resembled those of a melodramatic theatre, in which incidents the most improbable diversify the piece, and personages the least expected figure on the stage.

"Italy, which had been on the point of becoming one united kingdom under the Lombard sceptre, was again, and for ever (?), shattered and divided by the policy of the Lateran. The popes, perceiving that, under undisturbed kings of Italy, the successors of St. Peter would become little more than bishops of Rome, offered the empire of the West to strangers powerful enough to break down the Lombard dominion; but these foreign lords, when absent, could not restrain disorder, and when they crossed the Alps, more than once gave the popes reason to repent of having delivered themselves into their hands."

Tradition relates that in the year 1061, the Emir of Palarmo, Ibn el Thammuna, ordered, in a fit of anger and drunkenness, that the veins of his wife Maimuna should be opened. Maimuna, fainting away, was saved by her son, and taking refuge with her brother, the latter raised an army and defeated Ibn el Thammuna. This chief, to revenge himself, called in the aid of the Normans; whereupon Roger, at that time at Melito, came one evening to the tent of the Arab emir, who had provided him with a sceptre by opening the gates of Sicily to him.t

Gally Knight, however, traces the Normans after Malaterra and Leo Ostiensis, from their first landing in Italy on their return from the Crusades, till invited by Maniaces, the Byzantine general, to aid in expelling the Saracens from Sicily. They warred at one time under William Bras de Fer against the Arabs, at another against the Greeks, and finally, Count Roger was personally invited by Ben el Thennah, as the emir is called in Knight's pages, and also by the Messinese, to the conquest of Sicily. "Even," says Bartlett, "as a fugitive Greek had invited the Saracens to invade Sicily, so did a Saracen chief, deprived of his government, encourage a Norman to wrest the island from his countrymen. Roger crossed the Straits of Messina, defeated the Muhammadans in several battles, and finally subdued the entire island. His fellow-adventurers saluted him king; and thus the young knight, who had left Normandy with no possession but his sword, was crowned at Palermo, the first monarch who had ever ruled over the whole of Sicily."

When the Normans, Palmeri observes, came into possession of the

* The Normans in Sicily. By Henry Gally Knight.

Itinéraire descriptif, historique et artistique de l'Italie et de la Sicile. Par A. J. Du Pays. P. 722.

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