Syracuse (Sir'a-kyooz), anciently a famous city of Sicily, on the E. coast, 80 miles SSW. of Messina, was founded by Corinthian settlers about 733 b.c. The colonists seem to have occupied the little isle of Ortygia, stretching south-east from the shore; but later the city extended to the mainland. The seat successively of 'tyranny' and democracy, Syracuse was involved in a great struggle with Athens (415-414 b.c.), and the celebrated siege in which it came off victorious. Dionysius' fierce war with Carthage (397 b.c.) raised the renown of Syracuse still higher. In 212 b.c. the city was conquered by the Romans after a two years' siege, it having sided with the Carthaginians. Under the Romans Syracuse slowly declined, though with its handsome public buildings and its artistic and intellectual culture, it always continued to be the first city of Sicily. It was captured and burned by the Saracens in 878 a.d., and after that sunk into complete decay. The modern city (Siracusa) is confined to the original limits, Ortygia, which, however, is no longer an island, but a peninsula. The streets, which are defended by walls and a citadel, are mostly narrow and dirty. Syracuse has a cathedral (the ancient temple of Minerva), a museum of antiquities, a public library, the fountain of Arethusa (its waters mingled with sea-water since the earthquake of 1170), and remains of temples, aqueducts, the citadel Euryalus, a theatre, an amphitheatre, and quarries, besides ancient Christian catacombs. Pop. 32,100.
Syracuse, an important city of central New York, lies in the beautiful Onondaga valley, stretching along Onondaga Creek to the head of Onondaga Lake. It is on the Erie Canal, and is a terminus of the Oswego Canal; by rail it is 148 1/2 miles E. of Buffalo and 147 1/2 W. of Albany. Syra. cuse is the seat of a Methodist Episcopal university (1870). Salt is the chief manufacture, and there are also rolling-mills, Bessemer steel-works, foundries, blast-furnaces, boiler-factories, and manufactories of engines, farming implements, furniture, silver-ware, saddlery, boots, flour, beer, etc. The salt-springs were visited by French missionaries in 1654, and began to be worked by white men in 1789; the city was incorporated in 1847. Pop. (1880) 51,792; (1900) 108,374.