In the eighth century BC the Greek sailors avoided landing at the sicilian
coasts, because they were afraid of encountering with siculians, considered cruel and
dangerous. However it seems that the Athenian sailor Theokles, been shipwrecked on the Oriental coasts of
Sicily, ascertained the favorable climate and fertility of the earth. Come back in
Athen, he prepared an expedition of Dorians, Ionians, Chalcedons. Then he returned to the
island. This is, at least, the story taled by the Greek historian Eforo, transmitted by the geographer Strabon. Putting aside from the truthfulness of this
episode, is sure that Greeks, prevented to expand toward the powerful empires of Asia Minor, they were forced to look for the colonial expansion in Sicily and subsequently in southern Italy, strong also for their advanced naval art.
In 735 BC groups of greek colonists, with Achaeans from the northern
Peloponnese, Dorians and Chalcedons, land at the Oriental Sicilian
Probably the first founded colony had the name of Naxos because many of them originated from the island of Naxos in the Egeo.
They called, besides, Tauro Mount the rocky high ground which overhangs the
lowland, finding it similar to those of the Tauro in Asia Minor.
Siculians, who lived in that lowland, were forced to retire on the mountain. The proof of the Siculians existence on the Tauro Mount was given from the necropolis of Cocolonazzo in
Castelmola, discovered in 1919.
While the Greek colonization initially contained itself in some zones of the
shore, with Dionysus senior (432-367 BC), tyrant of Syracuse, it was carried to the whole
Sicily. The expansionistic design carried Dionisio to fight against Siculians and
Carthaginians, who occupied the western Sicily.
The Tauro Mount, for its natural position, constituted a strong obstacle to this colonialistic plan. In
fact, the Siculians who garrisoned the Mountain prevented from passing the troops of Dionysus directed to Messina and,
beyond, to Reggio, Croton, Metaponto, Sibari.
Not succeeding in getting the possession of the stronghold pacifically, the tyrant tried to occupy it with the
In 403 BC he besieged Naxos and with the complicity of a traitor, Prokles, he was able to conquer it. The town, which for more than three
centuries, exactly for 332 years, had developed pacifically with the
agriculture, sheeprearing and trade, was set on fire and destroyed. The historian Pausania
(second century Anno Domini) writes that the destruction of Naxos was so total
that, in his times, neither the ruins existed more.
After the conquest of Naxos, Dionysus encircled the Mountain with siege. In one night without
moon, raving a snow and wind storm, his troops, climbing up the precipices of the Mountain, succeeded to take possession of the
acropolis, placed where the greek theater rises. But Siculians, roused by the shouts of alarm of the
look-outs, came all together and succeeded in chasing away again
Syracusans. Dionysus, defeated, removed the siege and returned to
Syracuse. But, as a treatise stipulated with Carthaginians some time after, exactly in 392
BC, he succeeded equally in possession of the Mountain.
People retain Andromacus, father of the famous historian Timeus, who engaged the government of the town, founder of
The town, placed upon a high ground, 205 metres above sea level, was an impregnable
place, above all because three of its sides were consituted by dreadful
canyons, which threw headlong directly to sea. Despite that, for a surer defense of the polis, Tauromeniti added mighty walls on the northen and southern
sides, according to the Hellenic defensive system, which provided for a triplex curtain of walls and only two entries to the town. The walls are visible up to now and the ancient gates of the town still
In the most rich period, the population of Tauromenium counted 12 thousand
inhabitants. The dominant language was the doric dialect. The first arrangement of the polis was elaborated by Andromaco and it was affected on marble
tables. Fourteen of these tables are still guarded in the little ancient Theater
Museum. The leader of the polis was the Eponymous. He continued in office during one year and
couldn't be elected again. Other public magistrates were the Strategists,
"Ginnasiarchi" and "Proagori". People reunited to elect the magistrates in the agora, placed in the actual Square
Tauromenium entrusted the military order for the duration of ten years to a hellenic patriot named
Tindarione, because it had to defend from the dangerous raids of Mamertines
(mercenaries in the pay of Syracuse), so called for the Mamerte god.
Mamertines, in 288 BC, after having conquered Messina, they pushed forward as far as under the wall of the Tauromenium polis, but Tindarione was able to defend it and save it. Worried by the danger of new raids of Mamertines and above all for the hostile intentions of
Syracusans, in 278 Tindarione asked for help to Pyrrho, king of the
Epirus. The latter reached Tauromenium, greeted with enthusiasm by Tindarione
himself, but he didn't succeeded in the enterprise.
Agatocle, tyrant of Syracuse, succeeded in fact in subduing the town. The historian Timèo, son of
Andromaco, founder of Tauromenium, cause of his opposition to the tyrant was exiled in
Athen, where he lived during 50 years and died, in 261 BC, at the age of 90
years. After the Agatocle death, Syracuse was led by Geron II, who recognized to the Tauromeniti the
autonomy, but he subdued them to the payment of the tithe, a tax which subtracted part of the wealth producted during the
However it was for the polis a period of shine and of economic comfort. Tauromeniti could devote themselves to the construction of the
Theater, Naumachy, aqueducts.
Nevertheless there was the danger of Carthaginians for Tauromenium, cause they had tried to expand from Western Sicily to the Oriental part occupied by the greek-sicilian
colonies. They had already, with their mighty army, devastated and destroyed different
cities, among which Selinus, Imera, Agrigento, Camerina and Gela. Another more serious danger
appeared, still, not only for Tauromenium, but for the whole Sicily: the
In 264 BC the romans arrived in Sicily called for help by Mamertines from Messina.
Syracuse, which after the death of Gerone II had stopped the politics of alliance with
Rome, was attached and razed to the ground by the Roman army, leaded by the Consul Marcus Claudius
Marcellus. Population was massacred and died then the great Archimedes