(Lat., Agrigentum; Grk., Akragas), city in southern Sicily, capital of Agrigento Province, on the Mediterranean Sea.
The recorded history of Sicily began with the establishment of Greek and Phoenician colonies. The earliest Greek colony, Naxos, was founded in 735 BC. Agrigentum (then known as Akragas) was founded by Greeks from the city of Gela about 582 BC and became an important trading and cultural centre with a population of about 200,000. Under the rule of Phalaris, Agrigentum became for a short time probably the most powerful colony in Sicily. Gela, under a succession of able tyrants such as Gelon, forced most of the other Greek cities on the island into subjugation.
The Carthaginians first arrived on the island in 536 BC, but because of the growing wealth and power of the Greek cities, they were long confined to the northwest; the principal Carthaginian colonies were Panormus, Motya, and Solois. In a battle at Himera in 480 BC the Carthaginian army was completely routed by Gelon, and the Carthaginian leader, Hamilcar, was slain. The Gelonian dynasty at Syracuse fell in 466 BC, and for 50 years Sicily had peace. In 410 BC war was renewed between Carthaginians and Greeks for possession of the island. Agrigentum was beseiged for 8 months in 406* B.C.before being destroyed by the Carthaginians. The city declined in importance, although it remained a substantial town. In 262 BC it was incorporated into the Roman Empire and became known as Agrigentum. The vigorous reign (405-367 BC) of the tyrant Dionysius the Elder at Syracuse put a check to Carthaginian conquest. In 246 BC Carthaginian Sicily became a Roman province during the first Punic War, as did the rest of the island in 210 BC, when Akragas became known as Agrigentum. Agrigentum was called Girgenti from the early Middle Ages until 1927, when the name was officially changed to Agrigento.