SELINUS, an ancient city on the south coast of Sicily (X€Xtvoi)s), 27 m. S.E. direct from Lilybaeum (the modern Mar sala) and 8 m. S.E. of Castel Vetrano which is 74 m. S.S.W. of Palermo by rail. It was founded, in 651 or in 628 B.C., by colonists from Megara Hyblaea, and from the parent city of Megara (see SICILY : History). The name, which belonged both to the city and to the river on the west of it, was derived from the wild celery which grows there abundantly, and which appears on some of its coins (see NUMISMATICS, Greek, § "Sicily"). We hear of boundary disputes with Segesta as early as 58o B.C. Selinus soon grew in importance, and extended its borders from the Mazarus to the Halycus. Its government was at first oligarchical, but about 510 B.c. a short-lived despotism was maintained by Peithagoras and, after him, Euryleon. In 48o B.C. Selinus took the Cartha ginian side. Thucydides speaks of its wealth and of the treasures in its temples, and the city had a treasury of its own at Olympia.
A dispute between Selinus and Segesta was one of the causes of the Athenian expedition of 415 B.C. At its close the former seemed to have the latter at its mercy, but an appeal to Carthage was responded to, and an overwhelming force under Hannibal took and destroyed the city in 409 B.C. the walls were razed to the ground and only 2,600 inhabitants escaped to Agrigentum (Acragas). In 408 Hermocrates, returning from exile, occupied Selinus and rebuilt the walls ; and it is to him that the fine fort on the neck of the acropolis must be attributed. He fell, however, in 407 in an attempt to enter Syracuse, and, as a result of the treaty of 405 B.C., Selinus became absolutely subject to Carthage, and remained a mere village until its inhabitants were transferred to Lilybaeum (250 B.c.). It was never afterwards rebuilt, and Strabo mentions it as one of the extinct cities of Sicily. There are traces of habitation in the early Middle Ages, and during the Islamic period there was a village there : but an earthquake in the loth or 11th century ruined it completely, and it has been covered by shifting sand.
The ancient city occupied a sand-hill running north and south; the south portion, overlooking the sea, which was the acropolis, is surrounded by fine walls of masonry of rectangular blocks of stone, which show traces of the reconstruction of 408 B.C. It is traversed by two main streets, running north and south and east and west, from which others diverged at right angles. There are, however, some traces of earlier buildings at a different orientation. Only the south-east portion of the acropolis, which contains sev eral temples, has been excavated : in the rest private houses seem to predominate. The deities to whom the temples were dedicated not being known, they are indicated by letters. In all the large temples the cella is divided into two parts, the smaller and inner of which (the adytum) was intended for the cult image. The opisthodomus is sometimes omitted. From the disposition of the drums of the columns, it is impossible to suppose that their fall was due to any other cause than an earthquake. Temple C is the earliest of those on the acropolis. It had six columns at each end (a double row in the front) and seventeen on each long side. Twelve of those on the north have been reerected. From it came the three archaic metopes now in the museum at Palermo. Por tions of the coloured terra-cotta slabs which decorated the cornice and other architectural members have also been discovered, in cluding the fragments of an enormous Gorgon mask, over 8 ft. high, from the centre of one of its pediments. In front of it stood a large altar over 6o ft. long. Next to it on the north lies temple D, both having been included in one temenos, with other buildings of less importance : to the east of D is a large altar. B is a small temple of comparatively late date ; while A and 0 lie on the south side of the main street from east to west in another pen bolos.