Sicilia was the first province acquired by the Roman Republic, organized in 241 BC as a proconsular governed territory, in the aftermath of the First Punic War with Carthage. It included Sicily and Malta. Very important during the republican period for its role in supplying grain to the city of Rome, the island started to lose importance with the conquest of Africa and especially with the annexation of the Ptolemaic kingdom. Nevertheless the province was to regain its importance centuries later, when Rome lost control over these areas and was forced to turn back to Sicily for her needs.
The province was where the first two slave rebellions, the first and second, both of which were defeated after four year conflicts.
Sicilia remained a province of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire for six centuries. It was regarded as something of a rural backwater, important chiefly for its grainfields which were a mainstay of the food supply of the city of Rome. The empire did not make much effort to Romanize the region, which remained largely Greek. A notable event affecting Sicilia in the Late Republic was the notorious misgovernment of Verres, as prosecuted by Cicero in 70 BC in his speech In Verrem.