In 580 BC Agrigento was founded under the name of Akragas by Rhodium-Cretan settlers who had previously settled in Gela.
After an initial period of splendour, characterised by the expansion of the territories and the monumentalisation of the town, known throughout the Mediterranean for its beauty and prosperity, in 406 BC the city was besieged and sacked by the Carthaginians, starting the decay that characterised it for the following two centuries. In 340 BC Timoleon successfully defeated the invaders and brought new settlers to repopulate the city, but this brief period of peace was interrupted by the clashes between the Romans and the Carthaginians: Sicily, due to its strategic position at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, was an important point of interest for domination of the entire basin.
In order to achieve political and economic hegemony of the area, these two populations had a long dispute, fighting three times in battles known as the Punic Wars.
The first was provoked in 264 BC by the Campanian mercenaries who, on garrison in Messina, asked Rome for help to free themselves from Carthaginian rule.
The Romans, aware that the battles would be fought at sea because of the geographical shape of Sicily and the naval skill of the Carthaginians, as of yet without a naval fleet, equipped their ships with new instruments, the corvus , a fundamental key to victory in the battle of the Aegates in 241 BC. All of Sicily, except Syracuse, became a Roman province.