Hybla Gereatis

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For other ancient cities named "Hybla" in Sicily, see Hybla (disambiguation).

Hybla Gereatis (Greek: Ὕβλα ἡ Γελεᾶτις), is the name of an ancient city of Sicily, located on the southern slope of Mount Etna, not far from the river Symaethus, in the modern comune of Paternò. There were at least three (and possibly as many as five) cities[1] named "Hybla" in ancient accounts of Sicily which are often confounded with each other, and which it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish.[2]

Hybla Gereatis has been described as the largest and most considerable of the Sicilian cities called Hybla, thence equated with Hybla Major or Magna.[3][4]

Pausanias (in whose time it had ceased to be an independent city) described the city as situated in the territory of Catana (modern Catania).[5] In like manner, we find it noticed by Thucydides as a place between Catana and Centuripa (modern Centuripe), so that the Athenians, on their return from an expedition to the latter city, ravaged the corn fields of the Inessaeans and Hyblaeans.[6] It was clearly a Siculian city; and hence, at an earlier period, it is mentioned among the other towns of that people in the interior of the island which Ducetius sought to unite into a common league, a measure to which the Hyblaeans alone refused to accede.[7] It is quite clear that, in all the above passages, the Aetnaean Hybla is the one meant: and it seems probable that the city of Hybla, which was attacked by the Athenians soon after their landing in Sicily (Thuc. vi. 62), but without success, was no other, but only Thucydides distinguishes the Hybla as Hybla Geleatis (Ὕβλα ἡ Γελεᾶτις)[8]

During the Second Punic War, Livy mentions Hybla as one of the towns that were induced to revolt to the Carthaginians in 211 BCE, but were quickly recovered by the Roman praetor M. Cornelius.[disambiguation needed][9] In the time of Cicero the Hyblenses (evidently the people of the Aetnaean city) appear as a considerable municipal community, with a territory fertile in corn: [10] and Hybla is one of the few places in the interior of Sicily which Pomponius Mela thinks worthy of mention. Its name is also found both in Pliny, who reckons it among the populi stipendiarii of the island, and in Ptolemy. Hence it is strange that Pausanias appears to speak of it as in his time utterly desolate. The passage, however, is altogether so confused that it is very difficult to say of which Hybla he is there speaking.[11] We find no later notice of it, though an inscription of Christian times found at Catana appears to refer to Hybla as still existing under its ancient name.[12]

The site, as suggested by Cluverius, at Paternò (about 20 km from Catania), and derives strong confirmation from the discovery in that city of an altar dedicated Veneri Victrici Hyblensi.[13] There is much confounding of this city with that of Aetna.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The circumstance that there were so many towns called Hybla in Sicily probably arose from the fact mentioned by Pausanias, that there was a local divinity of the name. (Paus. v. 23. § 6.)
  2. ^ William Smith, Britain's foremost classicist of the 19th century, begins to describe Hybla Major with an admixture of locational and historic information from both Hybla Gereatis and Megara Hyblaea. Caution should therefore be used when assuming reference to "Hybla" in an ancient source refers to this city.
  3. ^ Ὕβλα ἡ μείζων, Steph. B.; Paus. v. 23 § 6: on coins, the name appears Ὕβλα Μεγάλη: Eckhel, vol. i. p. 216.
  4. ^ However, Smith's identification is doubtful based on his general confusion of the synonymous cities.
  5. ^ ἐν τῆ̔ Καταναίἁ l. c.
  6. ^ Thuc. vi. 96.
  7. ^ Diod. xi. 88.
  8. ^ Which Smith takes to be an epithet generally supposed to belong to Hybla Minor.
  9. ^ Livy xxvi. 21.
  10. ^ Cicero In Verrem iii. 4. 3.
  11. ^ Mel. ii. 7. § 16; Plin. iii. 8. s. 14; Ptol. iii. 4. § 14; Paus. v. 23. § 6.
  12. ^ Castell. Inscr. Sicil. p. 253, no. 42.
  13. ^ Cluverius Sicil. p. 235; Castell. Num. Vet. Sicil. p. 36.)

References[edit]