Elymians (Greek: Ἔλυμοι; Latin: Elymi) were an ancient
people who inhabited the western part of
Sicily during the Bronze Age
and Classical antiquity.
3 Areas of settlement
4 See also
5 External links
Apart from mythological tales, there is little known about the
identity and culture of the Elymians. They are indistinguishable from
Sicani neighbours in the archaeological record of the early Iron
Age (c. 1100–c. 700 BC). Thereafter they appear to have adopted many
aspects of the culture of the Greek colonists of Sicily, erecting the
remarkable temple at
Segesta and using the
Greek alphabet to write
their own language. As yet, no one has succeeded in deciphering the
The Elymian temple at Segesta, Sicily.
Elymians maintained friendly relations (and alliances) with
Carthage but came into frequent conflict with the expansionist Greek
colonies of western Sicily, especially Selinus. Boundary disputes with
Selinus broke out into open warfare on several occasions after 580 BC.
They sought to ally first with
Athens against Selinus, provoking the
Sicilian expedition of 415 BC-413 BC. Following this
failure they encouraged the Carthaginians to attack
Selinus in 409 BC
and succeeded in obtaining the destruction of their rivals.
However, they turned on
Carthage during the
First Punic War
First Punic War and allied
with Rome instead. The
Elymians were granted a privileged status under
Roman rule and were exempted from taxes. This was said to have been in
recognition of the Elymians' claim of Trojan ancestry, which was seen
as making them cousins of the Roman people, who also claimed to have
been descended from the Trojans. The
Elymians appear to have largely
disappeared from view under Roman rule, presumably becoming
assimilated into the general Sicilian population.
Areas of settlement
Map of approximate area of Elymian settlement, showing major cities.
The Elymi shared western
Sicily with the Sicani, the Phoenicians, and
later the Greeks. Their three most important cities were Segesta, the
political centre; Eryx (the modern Erice), a religious centre; and
Entella. Other cities were Elima,
Halyciae (referred to as Alicia in
modern Italian sources), Iaitas, Hypana, and Drepanon.
Ancient peoples of Italy
Sicilian Peoples: The
Elymians by Vincenzo Salerno 
Giulia Falco: Elymoi. In: Der Neue Pauly (DNP) vol. 3, Metzler,
Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01473-8, Sp. 1003.
Simona Marchesini: "The Elymian language"' in Olga Tribulato (ed..):
Language and Linguistic Contact in Ancient Sicily. Cambridge