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SICYON sĭsh’ ĭ ən (Σικυών, Συκυών, Σικιών, cucumber town). An ancient Gr. city in northern Peloponnesus, c. eleven m. NW of Corinth located in a fertile plain c. two m. from the sea.

Sicyon was founded from Argos and was under its domination until it gained its independence by Orthagoras c. 660 b.c. and was ruled by tyrants for more than a cent., reaching its greatest power under Cleisthenes. In the Peloponnesian War (431-404 b.c.) it was an ally of Sparta, and in 251 b.c. it became a democracy under the leadership of Aratus and was given an important place in the Achaean Confederacy. From the 6th to the 3rd cent. Sicyon was famous for its painting, sculpture, and pottery (Pliny Natural History xxxv. 151, 152) as well as for its industrial skills in all kinds of manufacturing (Strabo viii. 6. 23). In 146 b.c., when the Romans destroyed Corinth, Sicyon inherited the Corinthian territory and the Isthmian Games. In 139 b.c. it was among the list of places (1 Macc 15:23) to which the Rom. consul Lucius wrote in behalf of the Senate begging them to be friendly to the Jews and to deliver all Jewish fugitives to Simon the High Priest. That a considerable number of Jews resided in this area is confirmed by Philo (Legatio ad Gaium, 281; cf. also In Flaccum 46).


C. H. Skalet, Ancient Sicyon (1928); A. Andrewes, The Greek Tyrants (1956), 54-61; R. and K. Cook, Southern Greece: An Archaeological Guide (1968), 107, 108.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Mentioned in 1 Macc 15:23 in the list of countries and cities to which Lucius the Roman consul (probably Lucius Calpurnius Piso, 139 BC) wrote, asking them to be friendly to the Jews. The Jewish dispersion had already taken place, and Jews were living in most of the seaports and cities of Asia Minor, Greece and Egypt (compare Sib Or 3:271, circa 140 BC, and Philo).

Sicyon was situated 18 miles West of Corinth on the south side of the Gulf of Corinth. Its antiquity and ancient importance are seen by its coins still extant, dating from the 5th century. Though not as important as Corinth in its sea trade, the burning of that city in 143 BC, and the favor shown to Sicyon by the Roman authorities in adding to its territory and assigning to it the direction of the Isthmian games, increased its wealth and influence for a time.