Priene (Ancient Greek: Πριήνη, romanizedPriēnē; Turkish: Prien) was an ancient Greek city of Ionia (and member of the Ionian League) at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of the then course of the Maeander (now called the Büyük Menderes or "Big Maeander") River, 67 kilometres (42 mi) from ancient Anthea, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from ancient Aneon and 25 kilometres (16 mi) from ancient Miletus. It was built on the sea coast, overlooking the ocean on steep slopes and terraces extending from sea level to a height of 380 metres (1,250 ft) above sea level at the top of the escarpment.[1] Today, after several centuries of changes in the landscape, it is an inland site. It is located at a short distance west of the modern village Güllübahçe Turun in the Söke district of Aydın Province, Turkey.

Priene possessed a great deal of famous Hellenistic art and architecture. The city's original position on Mount Mycale has never been discovered; however, it is believed that it was a peninsula possessing two harbours. Priene never held a great deal of political importance due to the city's size, as it is believed around 4 to 5 thousand inhabitants occupied the region. The city was arranged into four districts, firstly the political district which consisted of the bouleuterion and the prytaneion, the cultural district containing the theatre, the commercial where the agora was located and finally the religious district which contained sanctuaries dedicated to Zeus and Demeter and most importantly the Temple of Athena.

Πριήνη (in Ancient Greek)
Prien ‹See Tfd›(in Turkish)
Temple of Athena at Priene
The Temple of Athena, funded by Alexander the Great, at the foot of an escarpment of Mycale. The five columns were erected in 1965–66 from rubble and are 3 metres (9.8 ft) short of the calculated original column height.
Priene is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
Alternative nameSampson
LocationGüllübahçe, Söke, Aydın Province, Turkey
Coordinates37°39′35″N 27°17′52″E / 37.65972°N 27.29778°ECoordinates: 37°39′35″N 27°17′52″E / 37.65972°N 27.29778°E
Area37 ha (91 acres)
BuilderTheban colonists
FoundedApproximately 1000 BCE
Associated withBias, Pythius

Historical geography

Earliest cities

The city visible on the slopes and escarpment of Mycale was constructed according to plan entirely within the 4th century BCE. It was not the original Priene, which had been a port city situated at the then mouth of the Maeander River. This location caused insuperable environmental difficulties for it due to slow aggradation of the riverbed and progradation in the direction of the Aegean Sea. Typically the harbour would silt over and the population find itself living in pest-ridden swamps and marshes. The underlying causes of the problem are that the Maeander flows through a slowly subsiding rift valley creating a drowned coastline and that human use of the previously forested slopes and valley denudes the countryside and accelerates erosion. The sediments are progressively deposited in the trough at the mouth of the river, which migrates westward and more than compensates for the subsidence.

Physical remains of the original Priene have not yet been identified, because, it is supposed, they must be under many feet of sediment, the top of which is now valuable agricultural land. Knowledge of the average rate of progradation is the basis for estimating the location of the city, which was moved every few centuries to renew its utility as a port. The Greek city (there may have been unknown habitations of other ethnicities, as at Miletus) was founded by a colony from the ancient Greek city of Thebes in the vicinity of ancient Aneon at about 1000 BCE. At about 700 BCE a series of earthquakes provided the opportunity for a move to within 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) of its 4th century BCE location. At about 500 BCE the city moved again to a few km away at the port of Naulochos.[2]

4th century BCE city

At about 350 BCE the Persian-empire satrap, Mausolus (a Carian) planned a magnificent new city on the steep slopes of Mycale, where it would be, it was hoped, a permanent deep-water port (similar to the many Greek island cities, which seem to delight in being located on and up seaside escarpments). Construction had begun when the Macedonians took the region from the Persian Empire and Alexander the Great personally assumed responsibility for the move. He and Mausolus intended to make Priene a model city. He offered to pay for construction of the Temple of Athena to designs of the noted architect Pytheos, if it would be dedicated by him, which it was, in 323 BCE; the dedicatory inscription is in the British Museum.[3] The inscription translated to: "King Alexander dedicated the temple to Athena Polias".

The leading citizens were quick to follow suit: most of the public buildings were constructed at private expense and are inscribed with the names of the donors.

The ruins of the city are generally conceded to be the most spectacular surviving example of an entire ancient Greek city intact except for the ravages of time. It has been studied since at least the 18th century and still is. The city was constructed of marble from nearby quarries on Mycale and wood for such items as roofs and floors. The public area is laid out in a grid pattern up the steep slopes, drained by a system of channels. The water distribution and sewer systems survive. Foundations, paved streets, stairways, partial door frames, monuments, walls, terraces can be seen everywhere among toppled columns and blocks. No wood has survived. The city extends upward to the base of an escarpment projecting from Mycale. A narrow path leads to the acropolis above.

Later years

Priene colline colonne
The Temple of Athena with the cliff side of the acropolis in the background.

Despite the expectations of the population Priene lasted only a few more centuries as a deep-water port. In the 2nd century CE Pausanias reports that the Maeander already had silted over the inlet in which Myus stood and that the population had abandoned it for Miletus.[4] While Miletus was apparently still open then, according to recent geoarchaeological research Priene had already lost the port and open connection to the sea in about the 1st century BCE.[5] Very likely, its merchants had preceded the people of Myus to Miletus. By 300 CE the entire Bay of Miletus, except for Lake Bafa, was silted in.

Today Miletus is many miles from the sea and Priene stands at the edge of a fertile plain, now a checkerboard of privately owned fields. A Greek village remained after the population decline and was joined by a Turkish population after the 12th century CE. In the 13th century CE Priene was known as Sampson in Greek after the biblical hero Samson (Samsun Kale, "Samson's Castle" in Turkish). In 1204, Sabas Asidenos, a local magnate, established himself as the city's ruler, but soon had to recognize the rule of the Empire of Nicaea. The area remained under Byzantine control until the late 13th century.

By 1923 whatever Greek population remained was expelled in the population exchange between Greece and Turkey and shortly after the Turkish population moved to a more favourable location, which they called Güllü Bahçe, "rose garden", the old Greek settlement partly still in use, today with the name Gelebeç or Kelebeş. The tourist attraction of Priene is accessible from there.

Contemporary geography


Miletus Bay silting evolution map-en
Location of Priene at Maeander River's mouth.

In the 4th century BCE Priene was a deep-water port with two harbours overlooking the Bay of Miletus[6] and somewhat further east the marshes of the Maeander Delta. Between the ocean and steep Mycale agricultural resources were limited although Priene's territory probably did include a part of the Maeander Valley. Claiming much of Mycale it had borders on the north with Ephesus and Thebes, a small state on Mycale.

Priene was a small city-state of only 6000 persons living in a constrained space of only 15 hectares (37 acres). The walled area had an extent of 20 hectares (49 acres) to 37 hectares (91 acres). The population density of its residential district has been estimated at 166 persons per hectare living in about 33 homes per hectare (13 per acre) arranged in compact city blocks.[7] The entire space within the walls offered not much more space and privacy: the density was 108 persons per hectare. All the public buildings were within walking distance, except that walking must have been an athletic event due to the vertical components of the distances.


Priene was a wealthy city, as the plenitude of fine urban homes in marble and the private dedications of public buildings suggests, not to mention the personal attentions of Mausolus and Alexander the Great. One third of them had indoor toilets, a rarity in a society typically featuring public banks of outdoor seats in urban environments, side by side, an arrangement for which the flowing robes of the ancients were suitably functional. Indoor plumbing requires more extensive water supply and sewage systems. Priene's location was appropriate in that regard; they captured springs and streams on Mycale, brought them in by aqueduct to cisterns and piped or channeled from there to houses and fountains. Most Greek cities, such as Athens, required visits to the public fountains (the work of domestic servants), but the upper third of Prieneian society had access to indoor water.

The source of Ionian wealth was maritime activity; Ionia had a reputation among the other Greeks for being luxurious, against which practices the intellectuals, such as Heraclitus often railed.


Priene Bouleuterion 2009 04 28

Although the stereotyped equation of wealth with aristocracy may have applied early in Priene's history, in the 4th century BCE it was a democracy. State authority resided in a body called the Πριηνείς (Priēneis), "the Prieneian people", who issued all decrees and other public documents in their name. The coins minted at Priene featured the helmeted head of Athena on the obverse and a meander pattern on the reverse, one coin also displaying a dolphin and the legend ΠΡΙΗ for ΠΡΙΗΝΕΩΝ (Priēneōn), "of the Prieneians."[8] These symbols express a self-view of the Prieneians as a maritime democracy aligned with Athens but located in Asia.

The mechanism of democracy was similar to but simpler than that of the Athenians (who had a many times greater population). An assembly of citizens met periodically to render major decisions placed before them. The day-to-day legislative and executive business was conducted by a boulē, or city council, which met in a bouleuterion like a small theatre with a wooden roof. The official head of state was a prytane. He and more specialized magistrates were elected periodically. And yet, as at Athens, not all the population was franchised. For example, the property rights and tax responsibilities of a non-Prieneian section of the population living in the countryside, the pedieis, "plainsmen", were defined by law. They were perhaps, an inheritance from the days when Priene was in the valley.


Priene Theater1

Although the exact truth is not known, Priene was said to have been first settled by Ionians under Aegyptus, a son of Belus and grandson of King Codrus, in the 11th century BCE. After successive attacks by Cimmerians, Lydians under Ardys, and Persians, it survived and prospered under the direction of its "sage," Bias, during the middle of the 6th century BCE.[1] Cyrus captured it in 545 BCE; but it was able to send twelve ships to join the Ionic Revolt (499 BCE-494 BCE).

Priene was a member of the Athenian dominated Delian League in the 5th century BCE and in 387 BCE came under Persian dominance again until Alexander the Great's conquest.[9] Disputes with Samos, and the troubles after Alexander's death, brought Priene low, and Rome had to save it from the kings of Pergamon and Cappadocia in 155.

Orophernes, the rebellious brother of the Cappadocian king, who had deposited a treasure there and recovered it by Roman intervention, restored the temple of Athena as a thank-offering. Under Roman and Byzantine dominion Priene had a prosperous history. It passed into Muslim hands late in the 13th century.[10]

Archaeological excavations and current state

DSC04485a Istanbul - Museo archeol. - Afrodite - sec. III-II a.C. - da Priene - Foto G. Dall'Orto 28-5-2006
Statue of Aphrodite from Priene now in the Istanbul Museum of Archaeology (3rd or 2nd century BCE

The ruins, which lie in successive terraces, were the object of missions sent out by the English Society of Dilettanti in 1765 and 1868, and were thoroughly laid open by Theodor Wiegand (1895–1899) for the Berlin Museum. The city, as refounded at a new site in the 4th century, was laid out on a rectangular scheme. The steep area faces south, the acropolis rising nearly 200 metres (660 ft) behind it. The city was enclosed by a wall 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) thick with towers at intervals and three principal gates.

On the lower slopes of the acropolis was a sanctuary of Demeter. The town had six main streets, about 6 metres (20 ft) wide, running east and west and fifteen streets about 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide crossing at right angles, all being evenly spaced; and it was thus divided into about 80 insulae. Private houses were apportioned eight to an insula. The systems of water-supply and drainage can easily be discerned. The houses present many analogies with the earliest Pompeian. In the western half of the city, on a high terrace north of the main street and approached by a fine stairway, was the temple of Athena Polias, a hexastyle peripteral structure in the ionic order built by Pytheos, the architect of the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halikarnassos, one of the seven wonders. Under the basis of the statue of Athena were found in 1870 silver tetradrachms of Orophernes, and some jewellery, probably deposited at the time of the Cappadocian restoration.

The western part of the main street (Western Gate Street) with drainage

An ancient Priene Synagogue with carved images of the menorah has also been discovered.[11]

Around the agora, the main square crossed by the main street, is a series of halls. The municipal buildings, buleuterion and prytaneion lie north of the Agora, further in the north the Upper Gymnasium with Roman baths, and the well preserved Hellenistic theatre but all, like all the other public structures, more or less in the centre of the plan. Temples of Asclepius and the Egyptian Gods Isis, Serapis and Anubis have been laid bare. At the lowest point on the south, within the walls, was the large stadium, connected with a gymnasium of Hellenistic times.[12]

See also

  • Society of Dilettanti, Ionian Antiquities (1821), vol. ii.;
  • Th. Wiegand and H. Schrader, Priene (1904);
  • on inscriptions (360) see Hiller von Gaertringen, Inschriften von Priene (Berlin, 1907), with collection of ancient references to the city

See also


  1. ^ a b Grant, Michael (1986). A Guide to the Ancient World. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc. pp. 523–524. ISBN 0-7607-4134-4.
  2. ^ Crouch (2004) pages 199-200.
  3. ^ British Museum Highlights
  4. ^ Description of Greece Book 7 Section 2.11.
  5. ^ Marc Müllenhoff Geoarchäologische, sedimentologische und morphodynamische Untersuchungen im Mündungsgebiet des Büyük Menderes (Mäander), Westtürkei Marburg/Lahn 2005
  6. ^ This article uses this term in preference to the Gulf of Latmus, which remains as Lake Bafa. In ancient times they were continuous.
  7. ^ Hansen (2004), pages 14–16, estimates the walled area as 1.33 to 2 times a measured habitation area of 15 hectares (37 acres). Rubinstein (2004), pages 1091–1093, gives a slightly larger measure of the walled area: 37 hectares (91 acres). Hansen (2004), pages 14–16, estimates 8 persons per house for 500 counted houses and a ratio of 2:1 of urban over rural.
  8. ^ Rubinstein (2004), pages 1091–1093.
  9. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Pétridès, Sophron (1913). "Priene" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  10. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Priene". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  11. ^ Nadin Burkhardt, Mark Wilson, "The Late Antique Synagogue in Priene: Its History, Architecture, and Context", Gephyra 10 (2013), pp.166-196
  12. ^ Rumscheid, Frank (1998). Priene: A Guide to the Pompeii of Asia Minor. Turkey: Ege Yayınları. ISBN 975-8070-16-9.


  • Crouch, Dora P. (2004). Geology and Settlement: Greco-Roman Patterns. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508324-5.
  • Hansen, Mogens Herman (2004). "The Concept of the Consumption City Applied to the Greek Polis". In Nielsen, Thomas Heine (ed.). Once again: Studies in the Ancient Greek Polis: Papers from the Copenhagen Polis Centre 7. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 3-515-08438-X.
  • Rubinstein, Lene (2004). "Ionia". In Hansen, Mogens Herman; Nielsen, Thomas Heine (eds.). An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by the Danish National Research Foundation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-814099-1.

External links


In Greek mythology, the Amazons (Ancient Greek: Ἀμαζόνες Amazónes, singular Ἀμαζών Amazōn) were a tribe of warrior women related to the Scythians and Sarmatians, both of whom are considered Iranian peoples. Apollonius Rhodius, in his Argonautica, mentions that the Amazons were the daughters of Ares and Harmonia (a nymph of the Akmonian Wood), that they were brutal and aggressive, and their main concern in life was war. Lysias, Isocrates, Philostratus the Elder also say that their father was Ares.Herodotus and Strabo place them on the banks of the Thermodon River. According to Diodorus, giving the account of Dionysius of Mitylene (who in turn drew on Thymoetas), the Amazons inhabited Ancient Libya long before they settled along the Thermodon. Migrating from Libya, these Amazons passed through Egypt and Syria, and stopped at the Caïcus in Aeolis, near which they founded several cities. Later, Diodorus maintains, they established Mytilene a little way beyond the Caïcus. Aeschylus, in Prometheus Bound, places the original home of the Amazons in the country about Lake Maeotis, and from which they moved to Themiscyra on the Thermodon. Homer tells that the Amazons were sought and found somewhere near Lycia.Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea, who participated in the Trojan War, and her sister Hippolyta, whose magical girdle, given to her by her father Ares, was the object of one of the labours of Heracles. Diodorus mentions that the Amazons traveled from Libya under Queen Myrina. Amazon warriors were often depicted in battle with Greek warriors in amazonomachies in classical art.

Archaeological discoveries of burial sites with female warriors on the Eurasian Steppes suggest that the Scythian women may have inspired the Amazon myth. From the early modern period, their name has become a term for female warriors in general. Amazons were said to have founded the cities and temples of Smyrna, Sinope, Cyme, Gryne, Ephesus, Pitania, Magnesia, Clete, Pygela, Latoreria and Amastris; according to legend, the Amazons also invented the cavalry.Palaephatus, who was trying to rationalize the Greek myths in his On Unbelievable Tales (Ancient Greek: Περὶ ἀπίστων ἱστοριῶν), wrote that the Amazons were probably men who were mistaken for women by their enemies because they wore clothing which reached their feet, tied up their hair in headbands and shaved their beards, and in addition, because they did not exist during his time, most probably they did nοt exist in the past either.

Archelaus of Priene

Archelaus of Priene (Greek: Ἀρχέλαος) was a Greek sculptor who lived close to 300 BC in Priene. He is remembered for his apotheosis of Homer, a marble relief aggrandising the poet that is now preserved in the British Museum.

Bias of Priene

Bias (; Greek: Βίας ὁ Πριηνεύς; fl. 6th century BC) of Priene was a Greek sage. He is widely accepted as one of the Seven Sages of Greece and was renowned for his probity.

Calendar Inscription of Priene

The Priene Calendar Inscription is an inscription in stone recovered at Priene (an ancient Greek city sited in Western Turkey) that uses the term "gospel" in referring to Augustus Caesar. It is called the Priene "Calendar" Inscription because it refers to the birthday of Augustus Caesar as the beginning of an era - the beginning of the gospel announcing his kingdom that heralded peace and salvation for his people - and a Roman decree to start a new calendar system based on the year of Augustus Caesar's birth was published. Calendar dating of history around a ruler is the principle upon which the Julian calendar and Gregorian calendars are based.

The inscription features the term "gospel", which is the Old English translation of Greek εὐαγγέλιον, evangelion, meaning "good news". As exemplified in the Calendar Inscription of Priene, dated from 9 BC, this Koine Greek term εὐαγγέλιον was used at the time of the Roman Empire to herald the good news of the arrival of a kingdom - the reign of a king that brought a war to an end, so that all people of the world who surrendered and pledged allegiance to this king would be granted salvation from destruction. The Calendar Inscription of Priene speaks of the birthday of Caesar Augustus as the beginning of the gospel announcing his kingdom, with a Roman decree to start a new calendar system based on the year of Augustus Caesar's birth. Into this context, the words of the Gospel of Mark are striking: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1 ESV) Jesus is thus heralded as the king who ends war by conquering people's allegiance, in contrast to the Roman Caesar (title).

Carene (Mysia)

Carene or Karene (Ancient Greek: Καρήνη), also known as Carine or Karine (Καρίνη), was a town of ancient Mysia. The army of Xerxes I, on the route from Sardis to the Hellespont, marched from the Caicus through the Atarneus to Carene; and from Carene through the plain of Thebe, passing by Adramyttium and Antandrus. Carene is mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium, and also mentioned in a fragment of Ephorus as having sent some settlers to Ephesus, after the Ephesians had sustained a defeat from the people of Priene.Its site is tentatively located near Assar Kaya/Tasağıl, Asiatic Turkey.


In architecture, an exedra (plural: exedras or exedrae) is a semicircular recess, often crowned by a semi-dome, which is sometimes set into a building's façade or is free-standing. The original Greek sense (ἐξέδρα, a seat out of doors) was applied to a room that opened onto a stoa, ringed with curved high-backed stone benches, a suitable place for conversation. An exedra may also be expressed by a curved break in a colonnade, perhaps with a semicircular seat.

The exedra would typically have an apsidal podium that supported the stone bench. The free-standing (open air) exedra, often supporting bronze portrait sculpture, is a familiar Hellenistic structure, characteristically sited along sacred ways or in open places in sanctuaries, such as at Delos or Epidaurus. Some Hellenistic exedras were built in relation to a city's agora, as in Priene. Monument architects have also used this free-standing style in modern times.

Fusitriton retiolus

Fusitriton retiolus is a species of large predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Cymatiidae.

List of ancient Greek tyrants

This is a list of tyrants from Ancient Greece.


Mycale (). also Mykale and Mykali (Ancient Greek: Μυκάλη, Mykálē), called Samsun Dağı and Dilek Dağı (Dilek Peninsula) in modern Turkey, is a mountain on the west coast of central Anatolia in Turkey, north of the mouth of the Maeander and divided from the Greek island of Samos by the 1.6 km wide Mycale Strait. The mountain forms a ridge, terminating in what was known anciently as the Trogilium promontory (Ancient Greek Τρωγίλιον or Τρωγύλιον). There are several beaches on the north shore ranging from sand to pebbles. The south flank is mainly escarpment.

In classical Greece nearly the entire ridge was a promontory enclosed by the Aegean Sea. Geopolitically it was part of Ionia with Priene placed on the coast on the south flank of the mountain and Miletus on the coast opposite to the south across the deep embayment into which the Maeander River drained. Somewhat further north was Ephesus.

The ruins of the first two Ionian cities mentioned with their harbor facilities remain but today are several miles inland overlooking instead a rich agricultural plain and delta parkland created by deposition of sediments from the river, which continues to form the geological feature named after it, maeanders. The end of the former bay remains as a lake, Çamiçi Gölü (Lake Bafa). Samsun Daği does retain a promontory.

The entire ridge was made into a national park of 109.85 square kilometres (27,145 acres), Dilek Yarimadisi Milli Parki ("Dilek Peninsula National Park") in 1966, which is in part accessible to the public. The remainder is a military reservation. The park's isolation has encouraged the return of the native ecology, which is 60% maquis. It is a refuge for species that used to be more abundant in the region.

Myrina (mythology)

In Greek mythology, the name Myrina or Myrine (Ancient Greek: Μύρινα, Μυρίννη, Μυρίννα) may refer to the following individuals:

Myrina, a queen of the Amazons. According to Diodorus Siculus, she led a military expedition in Libya and won a victory over the people known as the Atlantians, destroying their city Cerne; but was less successful fighting the Gorgons (who are described by Diodorus as a warlike nation residing in close proximity to the Atlantians), failing to burn down their forests. During a later campaign, she struck a treaty of peace with Horus, ruler of Egypt, conquered several peoples, including the Syrians, the Arabians, and the Cilicians (but granted freedom to those of the latter who gave in to her of their own will). She also took possession of Greater Phrygia, from the Taurus Mountains to the Caicus River, and several Aegean islands, including Lesbos; she was also said to be the first to land on the previously uninhabited island which she named Samothrace, building the temple there. The cities of Myrina (in Lemnos), possibly another Myrina in Mysia, Mytilene, Cyme, Pitane, and Priene were believed to have been founded by her, and named after herself, her sister Mytilene, and the commanders in her army, Cyme, Pitane and Priene, respectively. Myrina's army was eventually defeated by Mopsus the Thracian and Sipylus the Scythian; she, as well as many of her fellow Amazons, fell in the final battle.

Myrina, daughter of Cretheus and wife of Thoas, another possible eponym for the city of Myrina on Lemnos.

Myrina, a person whose tomb in Troad is mentioned in the Iliad, see Batea (mythology). Was identified with Myrina the Amazon.

Naulochus (Ionia)

Naulochus or Naulochos (Ancient Greek: Ναύλοχος), also Naulochum or Naulochon (Ναύλοχον), was a town of ancient Ionia. It was supposed to be the port of Priene but perhaps it was an autonomous city at least during part of the fourth century BCE, since bronze coins from that century attributed to Naulochus have been preserved, where the legend «ΝΑΥ» appears. In a decree of Alexander the Great of the year 334 BCE, the inhabitants of Priene were granted freedom and certain privileges to reside in Naulochus. A theorodokos of Naulochus is also appointed to receive the theoros of Argos around the year 330 BCE, which again seems to be a sign of certain political autonomy but nevertheless the possibility has been pointed out that in fact the invitation to the games was made in the port to transmit it to the interior, where Priene was, to avoid loss of time of the envoy.Its site is tentatively located near Atburgazı, Asiatic Turkey.

Orophernes of Cappadocia

Orophernes Nicephorus (in Greek Oρoφέρνης Nικηφόρoς, also known as Olophernes) was one of the two sons Antiochis (the daughter of Antiochus III the Great) pretended to have had with Ariarathes IV, the king of Cappadocia because she failed to have children (the name of the other was Ariarathes). However, she then did bear a child, Mithridates, and told her husband about the fake sons. These were sent to Rome and Ionia respectively to avoid a succession dispute with the legitimate son, whose name was changed to Ariarathes and who succeeded his father as Ariarathes V in 163 BC. A few years later Orophernes deposed him with the help of Demetrius I Soter, who became the king of the Syria-based Seleucid Empire in 161 BC when he overthrew Antiochus V, an underage king, and his regent, Lysias. The reign of Orophernes was short-lived. The Romans restored Ariarathes V.

The information we have about Orophernes comes from Justin, Diodorus Siculus and Polybius, whose works have survived in fragments. Therefore, this information is incomplete. We also have very brief references to Orophernes in Appian and Zonaras.

According to Justin, when Ariarathes V refused to marry the sister of Demetrius I, the latter welcomed Orophernes, who had come to him as a suppliant, and supported his claim to the throne of Cappadocia. For Demetrius this was a pretext for war as he wanted to enlarge his kingdom and increase his power by waging war on his neighbours. However, Orophernes plotted with the disgruntled people of Antioch to expel him. The conspiracy was discovered. Demetrius spared his life so that he could still pursue the war against Ariarathes V. He captured him and imprisoned at Seleucia, in his kingdom. The people of Antioch persisted with their rebellion. They were attacked by Demetrius, but they were supported by Ptolemy VI, the king of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Attalus II, the king of Pergamon, and Ariarathes V. They sent Balas, a young man, to pretend that he was the brother of Antiochus V and claim the throne by force. They called him Alexander (see Alexander Balas). The people believed him. He defeated Demetrius, who died in battle.Justin's brief account did not mention the deposition of Ariarathes V. This is recorded in the Periochae of Livy where an entry for book 47 says that "King Ariarathes of Cappadocia, who had been expelled from his kingdom on the initiative and with troops of king Demetrius..."Appian wrote that Demetrius deposed Ariarathes V and gave the throne of Cappadocia to Olophernes, who gave Demetrius 1000 talents for this.Diodorus Siculus wrote that Orophernes overthrew Ariarathe V and did not try to gain popular support. He raised money through forced contributions. He put many people to death. He gave Timotheus a gift of 50 talents and Demetrius a gift of 70 talents in addition to having paid him 600 talents and still owing him 400 talents (this is probably the money Appian said he paid Demetrius to overthrow Ariarathes). He began to make exactions on all his subjects and to confiscate the property of men "of the highest distinction." It is at this point that Balas (Diodorus did not give his name and only says that he was a youth who resembled Antiochus V) was sent to challenge Demetrius. In this account he was from Smyrna and he was sent by Attalus II, who was aggrieved by the expulsion of Ariarathes V and also had reasons for wanting to keep Demetrius in check. He gave him royal insignia and sent him to Zenophanes, a Cilician who had had a dispute with Demetrius and had been helped by Eumenes II, Attalus' father. This man spread the word that the youth wanted to reclaim his father's throne.In Polybius's account, Ariarathes V arrived in Rome in the summer of 158 BC. After the consuls for 157 BC, Sextus Julius Caesar and Lucius Aurelius Orestes, entered office he did some lobbying. He and his retinue dressed modestly to highlight his distressed situation. Miltiades arrived as an envoy of Demetrius to defend Demetrius and speak against Ariarathes. Orophernes sent a delegation headed by Timotheus and Diogenes to plead Orophernes' case and accuse Ariarathes V. They brought a crown dedicated to Rome, which was a way of pledging allegiance to Rome, and asked to renew Cappadocia's alliance with Rome. The lobbying of this delegation made a greater impression because it outnumbered Ariarathes, it appeared more prosperous and it disregarded truth. Since there was no one to refute falsehoods, it gained the day. However, in another passage, Polybius wrote that Ariobarzanes was restored and left Italy. Orophernes and Theotimus blamed each other for this. In another passage he summarised that Ariarathes was expelled by Orophernes through "the agency of King Demetrius" and recovered his throne "by the help of Attalus." He also noted that after Attalus succeeded his brother Eumenes his policy was to restore Ariarathes to his kingdom.That Ariarathes V was setored as sole ruler of Cappadocia rather than being ordered to be a co-ruler with his alleged brother, is recorded in the Periochae: "King Ariarathes of Cappadocia... was restored by the Senate.Diodorus Siculus wrote that the envoys of Orophernes plotted against Ariarathes V, but the latter captured them and put them to death at Corfu, an island off western Greece. The henchmen of Orophernes made plans against Ariarathes at Corinth, in Greece. However, Ariarathes eluded them and reached Attalus in Pergamon safely.Unlike Polybius and Diodorus Siculus, Appian wrote the Romans "decided that as brothers both Ariarathes and Orophernes should reign together."Zonaras, too, wrote that the Romans ruled that Ariarathes VI and Orophernes were to be co-rulers. His account also has Orophernes as the only child of Antiochis and Ariarathes IV prior to the birth of Ariarathes V. Antiochis adopted Orophernes. There is no mention of another adoptive son. When Ariobarzanes V was born, the position of Orophernes was "detected and he was banished." In his brief mention of Ariarathes VI and Orophernes, Zonaras went on to write that Orophernes deposed Ariarathes V by leading an uprising and defeating him. Attalus II was an ally of Ariarathes and Demetrius was an ally of Orophernes. The Romans decided that the two brothers were to share the kingdom. Subsequently, the fact Ariarathes V had been declared an ally of Rome enabled him to overthrow Orophernes and became the sole ruler. When Attalus II succeed Eumenes II after his death, he drove Orophernes and Demetrius out of Cappadocia. Polybius related that soon after his succession to the throne in 163 BC, Ariarathes sent envoys to Rome to renew “the previously existing alliance.” This is also recorded in the Periochae.Polybius wrote that Orophernes did not hold the kingdom for long. He thought that Orophernes despised traditional Cappadocian customs and "introduced the refined debauchery of Ionia." He lost his kingdom and life because he fell victim to the passion for money and sacrificed his life for this. This view was echoed by Athenaeus, who regarded the Ionian luxury Orophernes introduced as being artificial.When Orophernes' situation became worse, he run out of funds to pay his soldiers and was worried about a mutiny. He plundered a temple of Zeus, which was considered inviolable, to pay the wage arrears.Polybius wrote that Orophernes, who had amassed a great sum, deposited 400 talents in the city of Priene for a rainy day. The town later returned the money. In another passage he wrote that after he was restored, Ariarathes V, who thought that the money belonged to the kingdom, asked Priene to return the money to him. The town refused to give it to anyone else while Orophernes was alive. Ariarathes sent a force to devastate its territory. Priene, which had sent envoys to Rhodes, now appealed to the Romans, who ignored this. Polybius commented that "[t]he Prienians had based high hopes on their command of so large a sum but the result was just the opposite. For they paid the deposit back to Orophernes, and unjustly suffered considerable damage at the hands of King Ariarathes owing to this same deposit."According to Diodorus Siculus, when Orophernes' situation worsened, he was worried about the pay for his soldiers and was afraid about a possible mutiny. Since he was without funds, he plundered a temple of Zeus, which was considered inviolable, to pay the wage arrears.Today Orophernes is mainly known for a poem written by the celebrated modern Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy in 1915. In meditating on a tetradrachm found in Priene, the poet wrote "Orophernes," on the pretender's life and his adventures.

Priene (gastropod)

Priene is a genus of predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Ranellidae, the triton snails, triton shells or tritons.

Priene Inscription

The Priene Inscription is a dedicatory inscription by Alexander the Great that was discovered at the Temple of Athena Polias, in the city of Priene in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the nineteenth century. It now forms an important part of the British Museum's Ancient Greek epigraphic collection and provides a direct link to one of the most famous persons in ancient history.

This inscription (circa 330 BC) about the dedication of a temple by Alexander to Athena Polias, which has been held at the British Museum in London, should not be confused with the Priene calendar inscription (circa 9 BC) also found at Priene in Turkey, which is about Augustus Caesar, and about redefining the calendar around the birthdate of Augustus Caesar.

Priene scabrum

Priene scabrum is a species of predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Ranellidae, the triton snails, triton shells or tritons.

Pythius of Priene

Pythius (Greek: Πύθιος), also known as Pytheos (Greek: Πυθεός) or Pythis, was a Greek architect of the 4th century BC. He built the Temple of Athena Polias cited by Vitruvius (I.1.12): "Pythius, the celebrated builder of the temple of Minerva at Priene". Pythius disparaged the Doric order, according to Vitruvius (IV.3.1), for the "faults and incongruities" caused by the inconvenient placing of triglyphs, and cultivated instead the Ionic order used extensively in Asia Minor. The dedicatory inscription, of the Temple of Athena which today is in the British Museum, records that the founder was Alexander the Great. Vitruvius (I.1.12 and VII.Introduction.12) twice mentions the lost Commentaries of Pythius, which explicated his system of proportions at Priene.

Pythius and Satyros were the co-designers of the great Mausoleum at Halicarnassus on the Aegean Sea opposite Greece, with Pythius being credited with the great marble quadriga which surmounted the mausoleum.

Satyrus the Peripatetic

Satyrus (Greek: Σάτυρος) of Callatis was a distinguished peripatetic philosopher and historian, whose biographies (Lives) of famous people are frequently referred to by Diogenes Laërtius and Athenaeus. He came from Callatis Pontica, as we learn from a Herculaneum papyrus. He lived earlier than the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (181–146 BC) when his Lives were epitomized by Heraclides Lembus, probably during the 3rd century BC. Athenaeus frequently refers to him as a Peripatetic, but his connection to the Peripatetic school is otherwise unknown. His biographies dealt with many eminent people including kings (Dionysius the Younger, Philip), statesmen (Alcibiades), orators (Demosthenes), poets (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides), and philosophers (Bias of Priene, Chilon of Sparta, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Zeno of Elea, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Diogenes, Anaxarchus, Stilpo). He also wrote on the population of Alexandria, and a work On Characters (Περὶ χαρακτήρων). Fragments of his biography of the Athenian dramatist Euripides were found at the end of a papyrus scroll discovered at Oxyrhynchus in the early twentieth century.

The Apotheosis of Homer

The Apotheosis of Homer is a common scene in classical and neo-classical art, showing the poet Homer's apotheosis or elevation to divine status.

Homer was the subject of a number of formal hero cults in classical antiquity. The earliest notable portrayal of the scene is a 3rd-century BC marble relief by Archelaus of Priene, now in the British Museum. It was found in Italy, probably in 1658, but is thought to have been sculpted in Egypt. It shows Ptolemy IV and his wife and sister Arsinoe III standing beside a seated poet, flanked by figures from the Odyssey and Iliad, with the nine Muses standing above them and a procession of worshippers approaching an altar, believed to represent the Alexandrine Homereion. Apollo, the god of music and poetry, also appears, along with a female figure tentatively identified as Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses. Zeus, the king of the gods, presides over the proceedings. The relief demonstrates vividly that the Greeks considered Homer not merely a great poet but the divinely-inspired reservoir of all literature.From the 19th and 20th centuries, treatments of the subject by Wedgewood (based on a a 5th century BC vase misidentified in the 18th century as showing this scene), Ingres and Salvador Dalí survive.

A literary treatment of this subject was given by the German poet Leopold Schefer, 1858: Homer’s Apotheose, his very last publication, itself a hexametric epos.

Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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