Discovered by the greeks, enhanced by the romans
In this brief study the influence of Caesar Augustus' building program on the appearance of public buildings in Syracuse is presented. Three buildings that were constructed during his reign are the focus of this discussion: the amphitheatre, the Roman gymnasium, and the honorific arch.
In the fourth century B.C. Syracuse was one of the biggest cities of the Greek Empire. Even the name is Greek: Syrakousai – named after the marshland the Greeks found at the harbor of this beautiful island. After the First Punic war (264-241 B.C.) Sicily was recruited by Rome and became a Roman province. Syracuse was the only city on the island that could remain their independency as a monarchy but after the death of their King Hieron II [bron] they also became part of the Roman Empire and in 21 B.C. Augustus [bron] even made Syracuse a colonia and started a building programme in the city. In this research we will have a look at how Augustus performed this building programme and in what way he influenced the appearance of Syracuse. Because this is a short research, we will only have a look a three buildings that were built in Syracuse during the reign of Emperor Augustus, but first we will have a look at the foundation of the city.
The Foundation of syracuse
Around 733 B.C. Syracuse was founded by the Corinthians led by Archias. They were driven by the poverty at home and wanted to establish a new, prosperous home and Syracuse was the ideal location for a new polis. With the help of Corinthian labor and architects the city was established and Syracuse grew to be the largest, most powerful and most wealthy city of all Sicilian Greek cities.
The End of greek rule
Syracuse was first reigned by oligarchs and afterwards different tyrants ruled the city. The last of them was Hieron II (270-215 B.C). During his rule Syracuse became a wealthy city with great magnificence. The economy flourished and large public buildings embellished the city, like the Greek theatre that was built around 238. At the end of the First Punic War the island of Sicily, except for Syracuse, became a province of Rome. In 215 B.C. Syracuse was the last city that was added to the province.
The Romans brought peace and prosperity to the island but when Sextus Pompeius took over the island in 42 B.C., he blocked the grain export from Sicily to Rome, which made the island to become devastated in a short period of time. Augustus defeated him in 36 B.C. and became the new master of the island. 
In 21 B.C. Augustus settled coloni at Syracuse. The foundation of a colonia was often joined with a building programme, to enjoy a new prosperity. It is hard to say which buildings are specifically from the period of Augustus, but according to the archaeological evidence we can see that the northern part of town, Neapolis, was changed significantly by Augustus. Augustus repaved the city, built an honorific arch, arranged a public gymnasium, upgraded the small harbor, made alterations to the theatre and built an amphitheatre.  Here we will only discuss the amphitheatre, the public gymnasium and the honorific arch.
the city Remodeled by the romans
In the 3rd century A.D. a large area of Neapolis was cleared so that the Romans could built an amphitheatre of 140 metres by 119 metres with an arena of 69.80 metres long and 39.70 metres wide. The notable Syracusans had their own front-row seats in the amphitheatre and their names were carved in the walls of the arena. The interest in gladiator spectacle was very high in Syracuse. We can tell by the letter that was sent in Nero’s time (58 A.D.) to Rome by the city of Syracuse to ask for an increase of the approved number of gladiators that could take part in a show. The amphitheatre was also enlarged later on in response to the great interest in spectacles. 
The Roman Gymnasium is a temple-theatre complex, a very rare structure in the Roman world. It is called a gymnasium because at its discovery in the nineteenth century, people thought it included a gymnasium, but this proved to be wrong. The buildings are made up of three features: a central temple, a small theatre adjacent to the temple that also functioned as a setting to the theatre and surrounding porticoes that surrounded the temple and the theatre. The porticoes seem to have been built earlier than the temple and the theatre. While the porticoes were probably built in the first century A.D., the theatre and temple were probably built in the second century. The temple presumably replaced an older, smaller temple. The theatre could have been used for plays and ceremonies but also as a shrine.
The honorific arch
Augustus also built a monumental arch near the amphitheatre in his reinvented quarter Neapolis. There is no trace of an inscription, but according to the layers of stone it can be traced back to the period of Augustus. The arch’s passage was 5 metres wide and was surrounded by rectangular piers on either side. There is no proof of a dedicatory inscription but when looking at the rock layering it points at an early Augustan period. In the same period Augustus presumably repaved the surrounding streets and provided it with a good drainage system.
We have seen that Augustus influenced the appearance of Syracuse by starting a building programme as part of his colonial settlement. He enriched the city with a lot of beautiful building and especially with the amphitheatre, a public gymnasium and an honorific arch. During his rule the city became Romanized and nowadays we can still enjoy the remains of these magnificent buildings.
A short video with different monuments in Syracuse just to get an impression of this beautiful city, enjoy!
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Cooley, M.G.L. and Wilson, B.W.J.G. (2008). The Age of Augustus. London: London Association of Classical Teachers.
Crouch, D.P. (2003). Geology and Settlement: Greco-Roman Patterns. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dummett, J. (2010). Syracuse: City of Legends: A Glory of Sicily. I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd.
Guido, M. (1967). Sicily: An Archaeological Guide. London: Faber and Faber Limited.
Smith, C.J and Serrati, J. (2000). Sicily from Aeneas to Augustus: New Approaches in Archaeology and History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Wilson, R.J.A. (1988). A Wandering Inscription from Rome and the So-Called Gymnasium at Syracuse. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, vol. 71 (1988), 161-166.
Wilson, R.J.A. (1990). Sicily under the Roman Empire: The archaeology of a Roman province, 36BC-AD535. Warminster: Aris and Phillips Ltd.
Roman Amphitheatre: http://www.beblesalinesiracusa.it/attraction/siracusa-parco-archeologico-neapolis/
Caesar Augustus: https://www.emaze.com/@ALFTLCFC/Augustus
Greek theatre: http://onsicilycard.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/13.jpg
Roman Amphitheatre: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-blog/tip-article/wordpress_uploads/2013/09/syracuse-Roman-amphitheatre-2.jpg
Ground plan Roman Amphitheatre: Wilson (1990), 82.
The Roman Gymnasium: http://www.sicilytourist.com/incominginsicily/syracuse/monuments.htm
Syracuse from the sky: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0b/11/f2/0b11f28ddd8abeaa6ee403bf92800ea7.jpg
 Guido (1967), 161
 Cartledge (2009), 119
 Dummett (2010), 22
 Wilson (1990), 18
Guido (1967), 161-167
 Wilson (1990), 17
Dummett (2010), 87
 Smith & Serrati (2000), 113
Cooley & Wilson (2008), 33
Crouch (2003), 95
 Wilson (1990), 38-40
Dummett (2010), 102
 Wilson (1990), 38-40
Dummett (2010), 175
 Wilson (1990), 81-83
Dummett (2010), 177-178
 Wilson (1988) 161
Wilson (1990) 106-111
 Dummett (2010) 176-177
Wilson (1988) 161
 Wilson (1990), 56-58