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Sicily

SICILY (sĭs'ĭ-lē). The triangular island lying off the toe of Italy was colonized by a tribe closely related to those from the region of the Tiber who became the Roman people. The west and south of the island was colonized from the eighth century b.c. onward by the Carthaginians (themselves Phoenician colonists from Tyre), and the east and north by the Greeks. Colonization in both cases was by the building of “emporia,” or seacoast towns, designed to exploit the hinterland. Centuries of tension and strife between the Greeks and Carthaginians ended with the intervention of Rome in the middle of the third century b.c. The western Mediterranean was too small for two first-class powers, and Rome and Carthage both looked on Sicily as a bridgehead. Hence the firmness with which Rome took advantage of factional strife at Messana to invade the island. The end of the Punic wars saw Sicily a Roman province.