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Sicilia

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This page is dedicated to Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. A part of the Western Greek world, later colonized also by the Carthaginians, Siciliy finally became the first Roman province. In late Roma times, it was divided in two halves, Lilybetana (West) and Syracusana (East). Also discussed here are the islands off the Sicily's coasts, toward Italy and Africa.

Common remarks: the place-names have been put in the nominative case, an asterisk * means not attested, reconstructed form. The late place-names of probable Latin origin have not been included. The IE roots are in the form given by Pokorny's Indogermanische W÷rterbuch. The links will be active when the single pages will be published, see the main page. For any comment, suggestion, email me.

Western Sicilia (Lilybetana)

Acithius fl.

Aegitharsus pr.
  • Place: cape San Vito, province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Aegitharsus pr. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Unclear.

Agrigentum

Alabus fl.

Alicia

Bathis fl.

Camicus

Cephaloedium

Cetaria
  • Place: Scopello di Castellammare del Golfo, province Palermo, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Cetaria (Ptol.) Citaria (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Usually considered as a Greek name related to ketos 'big fish'. The Latin word cetaria is a Greek loanword with the meaning of 'place of rich fishing'.

Crastus

Drepanum

Eleutherus fl.
  • Place: river Eleuterio, province Palermo, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Eleutherus fl. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: From Greek eleutheros 'free'.

Engyum

Entella

Eryx
  • Place: Erice, province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Eryx (Plin., Liv., Verg., Ovid., Sil. It., Nep.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. The city is said to have been founded by the Elymi. The ending -uc- is considered by Villar to belong to the alteuropaeisch stratum.

Gela, Gelas fl.

Halicus fl.

Helcethium
  • Place: Alalbo di Trapani, province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Helcethium (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. The ending -thio- could be Sicanian, with th<*t.

Heraclea Minoa
  • Place: Capobianco di Cattolica Eraclea, province Agrigento, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Heraclea (Ptol., Cic., Mel.) Heraclea Minoa (Liv., Polyb.)
  • Etymology: The name Heraclea is very common in the Mediterranean basin and it is often associated with the Dorian colonization. Minoa is likely a previous name, and may recall an archaic, "Cretan" colonization.

Himera, Himera fl.

Hippana

Hyccara
  • Place: Muro di Carini, province Palermo, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Hyccara (Thuc.)
  • Etymology: The stem *huk- is found in Greek hukes 'a kind of fish'. This is the origin of the name Hyccara according to the historian Timaeus, quoted by Athenaeus.

Hypsa fl.

Iaetae
  • Place: Iato di San Giuseppe Iato, province Palermo, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Iaetia (Philistus) Iaetae (Plin.) Ietae (Sil. It., Diod., Cic., Plut.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Inicus

Isburus fl.

Lilybaeum, Lilybaeum pr.
  • Place: Marsala (Lilybaeum), cape Boeo (Lilybaeum pr.), province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Lilybaeum (Ptol., Plin., Liv., Mel., Polyb., Cic.) Lilybeum (Peut.) Lilybaeum pr. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: It is said to be of Punic origin, probably a compound with ubba 'port'.

Macella

Mactorium

Mazara, Mazara fl.
  • Place: Mazara del Vallo (Mazara), river Mazzaro (Mazara fl.), province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Mazara (Ptol., Plin.) Mazara fl. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Likely, a Punic name (UTET).

Motya

Nacona
  • Place: Valle Secco di Partanna, province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Nacona (inscr.)
  • Etymology: Unknown, maybe a corruption of an *Inacona.

Nisa

Panhormus

Phintia
  • Place: possibly Licata, province Agrigento, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Pintia (Ptol.) Phintia (Plin.)
  • Etymology: founded in the III c. by the tyrant of Akragas, Phintias.

Schera

Segesta

Selinus
  • Place: Manuzza di Castelvetrano, province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Selinuntis (Ptol.) Selinuus (Plin.) Selinus, -untos (Polyb., Thuc., Diod.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek selinon 'celery'.

Solus
  • Place: Catalfano di Santa Flavia (Solanto), province Palermo, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Solus (Ptol., Diod.) Soluus (Plin.) Soloeis (Thuc.) Soluntum (Peut.)
  • Etymology: Usually it is considered a Punic name, compared with another Soloeis pr. and thus meaning 'cape'. But the Punic name of the settlement, found on coins, was kfr (kafara) 'village'.

Thermae Himerenses

Triocala
  • Place: San Giorgio di Caltabellotta, province Agrigento, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Triocala (Ptol., Plin., Sil. It.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Maybe a compound with the numeral tri- 'three'.

Eastern Sicilia (Syracusana)

Abacaenum

Achates fl.

Acrae
  • Place: Palazzolo Acreide, province Siracusa, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Acrae (Ptol., Liv., Sil. It., Thuc.) Agrae (Peut.)
  • Etymology: Founded by the Syracusians, the name is Greek akra 'field, edge, top' (UTET).

Acrillae

Aetna m.

Agathyrnum
  • Place: Capo d'Orlando, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Agathyrnum (Ptol., Plin., Strab.) Agaturnum (Peut.)
  • Etymology: It is reported in the Greek mythology to have been founded by Agathyrnus, son of Aeolus king of the Aeolian islands and ruler of the winds, the latter said to be of Greek parentage (a descendent of Deucalion). The name seems a Greek compound with aga- 'very' or agatho- 'good, noble' and compares with the Thracian ethnic Agathyrsi. But maybe it is only an adaptation of a pre-existing placename.

Agyrium

Ameselum

Amestratus

Anapus fl.

Apollonia

Argennum pr.
  • Place: cape Sant'Alessio, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Argennum pr. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: It means 'silver cape' in Greek. Other places in the Greek islands show the same appellative.

Asines fl.

Assinarus fl.

Assorus

Bidis

Cacyparis fl.

Calacta

Camarina
  • Place: Scoglitti di Vittoria, province Ragusa, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Camarina (Ptol., Plin., Strab., Polyb., Thuc.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek kamara 'camera, arch'.

Capytium

Casmenae

Catana

Caucana

Centuripae

Chyda fl.

Cyamosorus fl.

Cyane fl.
  • Place: fiume Ciane, province Siracusa, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Cyane fl. (Sil. It., Ovid.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek kuanos 'dark blue'.

Echetla
  • Place: Terravecchia di Grammichele, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Echetla (Plin., Polyb., Diod.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek echetle 'plowshare' maybe for the shape of the ridge where the ancient town was situated.

Elorus fl., Elorum

Galaria

Hadranum
  • Place: Adrano, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Hadranum (Plin., Sil. It.)
  • Etymology: Local scholars believe that the name was given to the Greek colony for the existence in situ of a temple of a local god with the same name. But consider that probably there was at least another similar placename in ancient Sicily, today Monte Adranone, province Agrigento. Therefore, the origin of the placename is unclear. For UTET, it is related to Latin ater, Umbrian adro 'black'. But this does not explain the initial aspiration (although this could be a Greek rendering).

Halaesa

Haluntium

Helico fl.
  • Place: river Elicona, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Helicon fl. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Likely a name given by the Greeks.

Henna

Herbessus

Himera fl.

Hipparis fl.

Hybla Heraea, Hybla m.

Hybla Maior

Hyrminus fl.
  • Place: river Irmino, province Ragusa, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Hyrminus fl. (Plin.)
  • Etymology: Probably a Greek name.

Ichana

Imachara
  • Place: Mirabella ImbÓccari, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Imachara (Ptol., Cic.) Imacara (Plin.)
  • Etymology: A substratum name for UTET. The alternance c/ch could reflect an original Sicanian *ch.

Inessa

Leontini

Lissus fl.

Longum pr.

Megara Hyblaea

Menae
  • Place: Mineo, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Menae (Ptol., Plin., Sil. It.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Messana, Zancle
  • Place: Messina, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Messana (Ptol., Plin., Mel., Liv., Cic., Caes., Peut.) Zancle (Thuc.)
  • Etymology: The name Zancle, meaning 'sickle' in Greek, was given by the first Chalcidians colonists because it recalled the shape of the coast. After the city was re-populated by people from the Greek region of Messenia, it took the new name.

Motyca, Motycanus fl.

Murgentia

Mylae
  • Place: Milazzo, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Mylae (Ptol., Plin., Liv.)
  • Etymology: Unknown. Probably of Greek origin, if it compares with Mylae i. (Creta).

Naphtia lac.
  • Place: lake Naftia, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Naphtia lac. (Thuc. ?)
  • Etymology: From the Greek naphtha 'bitumen'. The lake is of volcanic origin and eas famous for its gas exhalations.

Naxos
  • Place: Schiso di Giardini-Naxos, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Naxos (Plin., Tac.)
  • Etymology: It took the name of the Aegean island of Naxos. Likely there were some Naxian Greeks from that island in the original colonists.

Nebrodes m.

Neetum

Pachynus

Palica

Pantagies fl.

Pelorus pr.

Pergus lac.

Phalacrum pr.
  • Place: region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Phalacrum pr. (Ptol., Cic.)
  • Etymology: It is the Greek phalakros 'bald', found also in Phalacrum pr. of Corcyra. An island between Sicily and Africa was also called in the late antiquity Falacron (It. Mar.). The Greek word phalos 'crest', from whence the adjective derives, seems to be rather archaic.

Piacus
  • Place: possibly Mendolito di Adrano, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Piacus (coins)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Stiela
  • Place: possibly Pedagaggi di Carlentini, province Siracusa, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Stiela or Styella (coins)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Symaethus fl.

Syracusae

Tabas

Tauromenium

Thymethus fl.

Tissa

Trinacia
  • Place: Cittavecchia di Randazzo, province Catania, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Trinacia (Diod.)
  • Etymology: The same name found in Homer's Odyssey to designate likely the whole Sicilia. The name in Greek means 'three capes'.

Tyndaris
  • Place: Tindari di Patti, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Tyndarium (Ptol.) Tyndaris (Plin.)
  • Etymology: The traditional explaination is that, since the name is identical to the appellative of the Dioscurs Tyndaridai, it was given to the city by its Messenian founders, who were worshippers of the Dioscurs.

Tyracinae

not identified

Acesta

Herbita

Hydia
  • Place: not identified, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Hydia (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Unknown.

Letum
  • Place: not identified, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Letum (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: It has been related to a hypothetical substrate word *leto- that would survive in some placenames of today's Sicily. Possibly, this word is the same as IE *leto- 'heat (zool.), warm season, day, summer' in Pokorny.

Paropus
  • Place: not identified, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Paropus (Plin., Polyb.)
  • Etymology: It seems an archaic Greek name, being -opos a common suffix in Greek placenames.

Petra
  • Place: not identified, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Petra (Ptol., Plin., Cic.)
  • Etymology: It seems to correspond to Greek word of uncertain origin petra, from whence also Latin petra.

Sergentium, Ergetium

Taurus pr.

Isles

Aegates i.

Aegusa i.

Aeoliae i.
  • Place: islands Eolie, province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Aeoliae i. (Plin., Mel., Sil. It.) Aeoli i. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek Aeolus, ruler of the winds and king of the islands, mentioned in the Odyssey.

Aethusa i.

Bucinna i., Phorbantia i.

Didyme i.

Ericodes i.

Euonymus i., Hicesia i.
  • Place: island Panarea (Eolie), province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Euonymus i. (Ptol., Plin.) Hicesia i. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: Both names are Greek. The former is from euonymos 'on the left side', on the route from Lipara to Sicily. The latter is from hikesios 'the suppliant', but the meaning is unclear.

Hieronnesos i.
  • Place: island Marettimo (Egadi), province Trapani, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Hiera i. (Ptol.) Hieronnesos i. (Plin.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek 'sacred island'.

Hiera i., Therasia i., Vulcani i.
  • Place: island Vulcano (Eolie), province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Hiera i. (Plin.) Therasia i. (Plin.) Vulcani i. (Ptol.)
  • Etymology: The first name was Therasia, the same of a small island close to Thera (Santorini) in the Aegean. Then it was called also Hiera i. 'sacred (island)', similarly to another small island of the same Aegean archipelago. Later, the island was associated to Vulcanus, a smith-god, and the name vulcanus became an appellative for 'volcano'.

Lipara, Lipara i., Meligunis i.
  • Place: island and town Lipari (Eolie), province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Lipara (Ptol., Plin., Mel., Polyb.) Liparae i. (Peut.) Meligunis i. (Plin.)
  • Etymology: According to Pliny, Meligunis is the oldest name. It is explained with the Greek melos 'sweet' and gounos 'mound'. The classical name Lipara was related to its mythical founder, and is considered a substrate word by UTET. But likely, the name is related or identical to Greek liparos 'rich, fat' and could have been originally a nickname.

Lopadusa i.

Osteodes i.

Phoenicusa i.

Strongyle i.
  • Place: island Stromboli (Eolie), province Messina, region Sicilia, Italy
  • Name: Strongyle i. (Ptol., Plin., Mel.)
  • Etymology: From the Greek strongulos 'round', because of the shape.

Ustica i.

Conclusions

Most of the cities and town on the coeast of Sicily are Greek foundations and thus have Greek names

In the interior, at least two linguistic strata may be identified. The first is characterized by a typical shift of the stop consonant, with the IE voiced aspirated becoming voiceless and the voiceless becoming voiceless aspirated, e.g., *dh>t, *t>th. Other features of this stratum can be only guessed. For the archaicity of the language and its distribution over the whole Sicily it could be attributed to the Sicani who, according to the classical sources, moved from Southern Italy.

Another stratum appears to be particularly similar to Latin, both in placenames and in the few words we know from inscription, glosses, etc. It is likely the language of the Siculi, of the Western Italic branch.

Also found in the Western part of Sicily are names of Punic origin.