sir'-a-kus, sir-a-kus' (Surakousai; Latin Syracusae, Ital. Siracusa): Situated on the east coast of Sicily, about midway between Catania and the southeastern extremity of the island.
The design of the present work scarcely permits more than a passing allusion to Syracuse, the most brilliant Greek colony on the shores of the Western Mediterranean, where Paul halted three days, on his way from Melita to Rome (Ac 28:12). The original Corinthian colony rounded in 734 BC (Thucydides vi.3) was confined to the islet Ortygia, which separates the Great Harbor from the sea. Later the city spread over the promontory lying northward of Ortygia and the harbor.
Syracuse assumed a pre-eminent position in the affairs of Sicily under the rule of the tyrants Gelon (485-478 BC; compare Herodotus vii.154-55) and Hieron (478-467 BC). It nourisher greatly after the establishment of popular government in 466 BC (Diodorus xi.68-72). The Syracusans successfully withstood the famous siege by the Athenians in 414 BC, the narrative of which is the most thrilling part of the work of Thucydides (vi, vii).
Dionysius took advantage of the fear inspired by the Carthaginians to elevate himself to despotic power in 405 BC, and he was followed, after a reign of 38 years, by his son of the same name. Although democratic government was restored by Timoleon after a period of civil dissensions in 344 BC (Plutarch, Timoleon), popular rule was not of long duration.
The most famous of the later rulers was the wise Hieron (275-216 BC), who was the steady ally of the Romans. His grandson and successor Hieronymus deserted the alliance of Rome for that of Carthage, which led to the celebrated siege of the city by the Romans under Marcellus and its fall in 212 (Livy xxiv.21-33). Henceforth Syracuse was the capital of the Roman province of Sicily. Cicero calls it "the greatest of Greek cities and the most beautiful of all cities" (Cicero Verr. iv.52).
George H. Allen