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Map of Sicily

Map of Sicily

Sicily was colonized in the 8th century BC by Phoenicians, Punic settlers from Carthage and by Greeks. The most important colony was established at Syracuse in 734 BC. Other important Greek colonies were Gela, Acragas, Selinunte, Himera, and Messene. These city states were an important part of classical Greek civilization, which included Sicily as part of Magna Graecia.

Sicily was for six centuries a province of the Roman Empire. It was something of a rural backwater and a mainstay of the food supply of the city of Rome. The empire did not make much effort to Romanize the island, which remained largely Greek. The most notable event of this period was the notorious misgovernment of Verres.

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