1902 Encyclopedia > Cappadocia


CAPPADOCIA, an extensive province of Asia Minor, that for a considerable period constituted an independent kingdom. It was originally a country of much greater extent; in the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians occupied the whole region from the chain of Mount Taurus on the south to the shores of the Euxine. That author tells us that the name of Cappadocians was that applied to them by the Persians, while they were termed. by the Greeks Syrians, or White Syrians (Leucosyri). The fact that they were a branch of the same race with the Syrians appears indeed to admit of no doubt. Under the Persian empire they were divided into two separate satrapies or governments, the one comprising the central and inland portion of the country, to which the name of Cappadocia continued to be applied, while the other was called Cap-padocia ad Pontum, and gradually came to be known simply as Pontus. As after the fall of the Persian government the two provinces continued to be subject to separate rulers, this distinction was perpetuated, and the name of Cappadocia came to be restricted to the inland province (sometimes called Great Cappadocia), which alone will be considered in the present article. The history and geography of the region bordering on the Euxine will be found under PONTUS.

Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded on the S. by the chain of Mount Taurus, on the E. by the prolongation of that ridge and the Euphrates, on the N. by Pontus, and on the W. by Galatia and Lycaonia. But it had no natural boundaries except on the south and east, so that it is impossible to define its limits with accuracy on the other sides. Strabo is the only ancient author who gives any circumstantial account of the country, but he has greatly exaggerated its dimensions; it was in reality about 250 miles in length by less than 150 in breadth. With the exception of a narrow strip of the district called Melitene, on the east, which forms part of the valley of the Euphrates, the whole of this extensive region is a high upland tract, attaining to the level of more than 3000 feet above the sea, and constituting the. central and most elevated portion of the great table-land of Asia Minor. (See ASIA MINOR.) The western parts of the province, where it adjoins Lycaonia, and extending thence to the foot of Mount Taurus, are open treeless plains, affording pasture in modern as well as ancient times to numerous flocks of Bheep, but almost wholly desolate and uncultivated. But out of the midst of this great upland level rise detached groups or masses of mountains, mostly of volcanic origin, of which the loftiest is Mount Argseus (still called by the Turks Erdjish Dagh), which attains to a height of 13,000 feet above the sea, while that of Hassan Dagh to the south-west of it rises to about 8000 feet.

The eastern portion of the province is of a more varied and broken character, being traversed by the mountain-chain called by the Greeks Anti-Taurus, as well as by several subordinate ridges, some of them parallel with it, others extending eastwards from thence towards the Euphrates. Between these mountains and the southern chain of Taurus properly so called lies the region called in ancient times Cataonia, occupying an upland plain in a basin surrounded on all sides by mountains. This district in the time of Strabo formed a portion of Cappadocia, and though several ancient writers had regarded the Cataonians as a distinct people from the Cappadocians, Strabo, who had himself visited the country, could find no distinction between them either in language or manners.

The River Pyramus (now called the Jihun) rises in the table-land of Cataonia, and forces its way through narrow and rocky defiles across the chain of Taurus to the plains of Cilicia. The Sarus. or Sihun, rises much farther north, in the Anti-Taurus, near the frontiers of Pontus, and flows through a deep and narrow valley between two parallel ridges of mountains, for a distance of more than 150 miles, till it in like manner forces its way through the main range of the Taurus, and emerges into the plains of Cilicia. The Halys, or Kizil Irmak, which has its sources within the confines of Pontus, traverses the northern part of Cappadocia throughout its whole extent, passing within about 20 miles of the capital city of Kaisariyeh. The other rivers of Cappadocia are of little importance.

The kingdom of Cappadocia, which was still in existence down to the time of Strabo, as a nominally independent state, was divided, according to that geographer, into ten districts, viz., Melitene, Cataonia, Cilicia, Tyanitis, and Garsauritis in the south, or adjoining Mount Taurus; and five others, Laviniasene, Sargarausene, Saravene, Cha-manene, and Morimene, on the side of Pontus. The posi-tion and limits of these northern subdivisions cannot be determined with any certainty, but the others are better known. Cataonia has been already described, and the adjoining district of Melitene, which did not originally form part of Cappadocia at all, but was annexed to it by Ariarathes I., was a fertile tract adjoining the Euphrates, the chief town of which still retains the name of Malatiyeh. Cilicia was the name given to the district in which Caasarea, the capital of the whole country, wras situated, and in which rose the lofty and conspicuous mass of Mount Argaaus. Tyanitis, as its name shows, was the region of which Tyana was the capital,—a level tract in the extreme south of the province, extending quite to the foot of Mount Taurus. Garsauritis appears to have comprised the western or south-western districts adjoining Lycaonia; its chief town was Archelais, now Ak Serai.

The only two cities of Cappadocia in the days of Strabo which were considered by the geographer to deserve that appellation were—Mazaca, the capital of the kingdom under its native monarchs, but which, after it had passed under the Roman government, obtained the name of Caasarea, which it has ever since retained under the scarcely altered form of Kaisariyeh; and Tyana, not far from the foot of the Taurus, the site of which is marked by some ruins at a place called Kiz Hissar, about 12 miles south-west of Nigdeh. Archelais, founded by Archelaus, the last king of the country, subsequently became a Roman colony, and a place of some importance. At the present day the only considerable town in this part of Asia Minor is Kaisariyeh, which has a population of about 25,000 souls, and is an important centre of trade, and the resort of mer-chants from all parts of Asia Minor, as well as Syria and Armenia.

The ancient Cappadocians were much devoted to the practice of religious and superstitious rites, and several localities in their country were the sites of temples that enjoyed a great reputation for sanctity. Among these the most celebrated was that of Comana, dedicated to the goddess Ma., whom the Greeks identified with Enyo, the Bellona of the Romans, and the same deity who was worshipped at the Pontic Comana. The high-priest enjoyed consideration second only to the king, and exercised rule over the greater part of Cataonia, of which Comana was the chief place. It was situated on the river Sarus, but the site has not been identified. Next to him ranked the high-priest of Zeus at Venasa, in Morimene, which had not less than 3000 slaves. The temple of Artemis Perasia at Castabala also enjoyed a great reputation of sanctity. Cappadocia was remarkable for the number of slaves, which constituted indeed the principal wealth of its monarchs. They were sent in large numbers to Rome, but did not enjoy a good reputation. The province was also celebrated for the number and excellence of its horses, as well as for its vast flocks of sheep; but from its eleva-tion above the sea, and the coldness of its climate, it could never have been a rich and fertile country.

History.—Nothing is known of the history of Cappadocia before it became subject to the Persian empire. It was included in the third satrapy of that empire in the division established by Darius, but continued to be governed by satraps or rulers of its own, who apparently retained the title of kings. These derived their descent from a Persian named Anaphas, who was one of the seven conspirators that slew the false Smerdis. The first ruler who succeeded in establishing himself in a position of virtual independence was Ariarathes (hence called Ariarathes I.), who was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and maintained himself on the throne of Cappadocia after the fall of the Persian monarchy.

After the death of Alexander, Perdiccas, marching into Cappadocia with a powerful and well-disciplined army, succeeded in taking Ariarathes prisoner, and crucified him and all those of the royal blood who fell into his hands. His son Ariarathes II., however, having escaped the general slaughter, fled into Armenia, where he lay concealed till the civil dissensions which arose among the Macedonians after the death of Eumenes (to whom Perdiccas had surrendered the kingdom) gave him a favourable opportunity of recovering the throne. Having defeated Amyntas in a pitched battle, he compelled the Macedonians to abandon all the strongholds, and after a long and undisturbed reign, left his kingdom to his son Ariamnes II., under whose peaceful administration, as well as that of his successor Ariarathes III., Cappadocia made great progress.

He was succeeded by Ariarathes IV., who joined Antiochus the Great against the Romans, and after his defeat was obliged to atone for taking up arms against the people of Rome by paying a fine of two hundred talents. He afterwards assisted the republic with men and money against Perseus king of Macedon, and was honoured by the senate with the title of the friend and ally of the Roman people. He left the kingdom to his son Mithridates, who took the name of Ariarathes V.

During the reign of this prince, surnamed Philopator, the Cappadocians remained in close alliance with Rome. Notwithstanding this, he was for a time expelled from his kingdom by Orophernes, who had been set up against him by Demetrius Soter, king of Syria, as a rival claimant to the throne of Cappadocia; but Ariarathes succeeded in expelling Orophernes, and afterwards united his arms with those of Alexander Balas against Demetrius, who was defeated and killed in battle. Some years afterwards Ariarathes, having espoused the cause of the Romans in their contest with Aristonicus, a claimant of the throne of Pergamus, was slain in the same battle in which Crassus, pro-consul of Asia, was taken, and the Roman army cut to pieces (130 B.C.) He left six sons by his wife Laodice, on whom the Romans bestowed Lycaonia and Cilicia. But Laodice, fearing lest her children when they came of age should take the government out of her hands, poisoned five of them,— the youngest only having escaped her cruelty by being conveyed out of the kingdom. She was soon, however, put to death by her subjects, who rose in rebellion against her tyrannical government.

Laodice was succeeded by Ariarathes VI., who soon after his accession married Laodice, daughter of Mithridates the Great, wishing to gain the alliance of that powerful prince in his contest with Nicomedes king of Bithynia, who laid claim to part of his kingdom. Mithridates, however, instead of assisting, procured the death of Ariarathes by poison, and under pretence of maintaining the rights of the Cappadocians against Nicomedes, proclaimed himself regent till the children of Ariarathes should be competent to govern the kingdom. The Cappadocians at first acquiesced; but finding him unwilling to resign the regency in favour of the lawful king, they rose in arms, expelled the foreign garrisons, and placed Ariarathes VII., eldest son of the late king, on the throne.

The new prince found himself immediately engaged in a war with Nicomedes ; but, being assisted by Mithridates, he not only drove him out of Cappadocia, but stripped him of a great part of his hereditary dominions. On the con-clusion of the peace, the refusal of Ariarathes to recall Gordius, the murderer of his father, led to a war with Mithridates. When the two armies met on the frontiers of Cappadocia, Mithridates invited Ariarathes to a confer-ence, and openly stabbed him with a dagger which he had concealed in his dress. The terror-stricken Cappadocians immediately dispersed, and submitted to the yoke of Mithridates; but, unable to endure the tyranny of his prefects, they quickly rose in rebellion, and recalling the exiled brother of the late king they placed him on the throne. He had scarcely ascended the throne when Mithridates invaded the kingdom at the head of a numerous army, defeated the army of the Cappadocians with great slaughter, and compelled Ariarathes VIII. to abandon the kingdom. The unhappy prince soon after died of grief, and Mithridates bestowed the kingdom on his own son, a youth only eight years old, giving him also the name of Ariarathes. But Nicomedes Philopator, king of Bithynia, dreading the increase of power in a rival already so formid-able, claimed the throne for a youth who pretended to be the third son of Ariarathes, and whom he sent with Laodice to Rome to advocate his cause. Having received the declaration of Laodice that the petitioner was one of three sons which she had borne to Ariarathes, and whom she had kept concealed lest he should share the fate of his brothers, the senate assured him that they would reinstate him in his kingdom. Mithridates, receiving notice of these transactions, despatched Gordius to Rome to advocate his cause, and to persuade the senate that the youth to whom he had resigned the kingdom of Cappadocia was the lawful son of the late king, and grandson to Ariarathes, who had lost his life in the service of the Romans against Aristonicus. On receiving this embassy, the senate inquired more narrowly into the matter, discovered the whole plot, and ordered Mithridates to resign Cappadocia. The Cappado-cians enjoyed their freedom for a short time, but soon sent ambassadors to Rome, requesting the senate to appoint a king. Leave was given them to elect a king of their own nation ; and as the old royal family was now extinct, they chose Ariobarzanes, who received the sanction of the senate, and continued steadily attached to the Roman interest (93 B.C.)

Ariobarzanes had scarcely taken possession of his kingdom when he was driven out by Tigranes, king of Armenia, who resigned Cappadocia to the son of Mithridates, in terms of an alliance previously concluded between them. Ario-barzanes fled to Rome, and by the assistance of Sulla, who routed Gordius the general of Mithridates, he was quickly reinstated in his kingdom. On the return of Sulla, however, Ariobarzanes was again driven out by Ariarathes, the son of Mithridates, whom Tigranes had set up as king. By the intervention of Sulla, Ariobarzanes was again placed on the throne ; and immediately after Sulla's death he was a third time forced to abandon his kingdom, when Pompey, after defeating Mithridates near Mount Stella, restored the unfortunate monarch, and rewarded him for his services during the war with the provinces of Sophene, Gordyene, and a great part of Cilicia. Wearied with such a succession of disasters, soon after his restoration he resigned the crown to his son Ariobarzanes (63 B.C.), and spent the rest of his life in retirement.

Ariobarzanes II. proved no less faithful to the Romans than his father had been. On the breaking out of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey he sided with the latter; but after the death of Pompey he was received into favour by Csesar, who bestowed upon him a great part of Armenia. While the dictator was engaged in war with the Egyptians, Pharnaces, king of Pontus, invaded Cap-padocia and stripped Ariobarzanes of all his dominions; but Caesar, after defeating Pharnaces, restored the king of Cappadocia, and honoured him with new titles of friendship. After the murder of Caesar, Ariobarzanes, refusing to join Brutus and Cassius, was declared an enemy to the republic, and was soon afterwards taken prisoner and put to death (42 B.C.) His brother, Ariarathes IX. was then for a few years raised to the throne, but was in his turn put to death by Antony, and with him the royal family became extinct.

Archelaus, the grandson of the general of the same name who commanded against Sulla in the Mithridatic war, owed his elevation to the throne of Cappadocia solely to tho intrigues of his mother Glaphyra with Mark Antony, to whom he remained faithful in the contests with Augustus.

On the defeat of Antony, he was pardoned by the emperor at the intercession of the Cappadocians, and received Armenia Minor and Cilicia Trachea as a reward for having assisted the Romans in clearing the seas of pirates who infested the coast of Asia. He contracted a strict friend-ship with Herod the Great, king of Judea, and married his daughter Glaphyra to Alexander, Herod's son. On the accession of Tiberius (who entertained a secret hostility to Archelaus on account of his previous neglect of his merits during the lifetime of Caius Ceesar), he was decoyed to Rome by the fair promises of Livia, the emperor's mother; but being accused before the senate, and loaded with reproaches at the court, he died of grief, after a reign of fifty years.

On the death of Archelaus (17 A.D.) the kingdom of Cappadocia was reduced to a Roman province, and governed by men of the equestrian order. It continued under the Roman empire to enjoy a high state of prosperity, and its capital, Caesarea, became a great and flourishing city. But in the reign of Valerian, it was overrun by the Persian king Sapor, who took Caesarea after a long siege, and put most of the inhabitants to the sword. Cappadocia, however, continued to form part of the Byzantine empire, till it was conquered by the Seljukian Turks in 1074. It has ever since remained incorporated with the Turkish empire.

During the Roman period Cappadocia assumes rather a prominent part in ecclesiastical history. Its capital, Caesarea, was the birthplace of St Basil, who long occupied its episcopal see, while that of Nyssa was held by his brother Gregory ; and the small town of Nazianzus, in the south-west of the province, was at once the birthplace and the residence of the more celebrated Gregory, commonly known from thence as St Gregory Nazianzen. (E. H. B.)

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