1902 Encyclopedia > Paphlagonia

Asia Minor

PAPHLAGONIA, in ancient geography, was the name given to a province of Asia Minor, situated on the Euxine Sea, and adjoining Bithynia on the west and Pontus on the east, while towards the south it was separated from Galatia by a range of mountains which may be considered as a prolongation to the east of the Bithynian Olympus. According to Strabo, whose authority is generally followed upon this point, the river Parthenius formed the western limit of the region so-called, and it was bounded on the east by the much more important river Halys. Although the Paphlagonians play scarcely any part in history, they were one of the most ancient nations of Asia Minor, as their name appears in the Homeric catalogue of the allies of Priam during the Trojan War (II., ii. 851). They are after-wards mentioned by Herodotus among the races reduced to subjection by Croesus, and they sent an important con-tingent to the army of Xerxes in 480 B.C. They seem, however, to have enjoyed a state of at least semi-independ-ence, as Xenophon speaks of them as being governed by a prince of their own, without any reference to the satraps of the neighbouring parts of Asia. The rugged and difficult nature of their country, which is described by Xenophon as containing fertile and beautiful plains, but traversed by lofty ranges of mountains, which could only be crossed by narrow and difficult passes, doubtless contri-buted to this result. At a later period Paphlagonia passed under the yoke of the Macedonian kings, and we find it after the death of Alexander the Great assigned, together with Cappadocia, to Eumenes. It continued, however, to be governed by native princes until it was absorbed by the encroaching power of the neighbouring kingdom of Pontus. The rulers of that dynasty became masters of the greater part of Paphlagonia as early as the reign of Mithradates III. (302-266 B.C.), but it was not till that of Pharnaces I. that the important city of Sinope fell into their hands (183 B.C.). From this time the whole province was incorporated with the kingdom of Pontus until the fall of the great Mithradates (65 B.C.). In the settlement of Asia which followed that event, Pompey united the coast districts of Paphlagonia with the province of Bithynia, but left the interior of the country under one of the native princes, two or three of whom followed in succession until the dynasty became extinct and the whole country was incorporated in the Roman empire. All these petty native rulers appear to have borne the name or surname of Pylasmenes, as a token that they claimed descent from the chieftain of that name who figures in the Iliad as the leader of the Paphlagonians. Under the Roman empire Paphlagonia, with the greater part of Pontus, was united into one province with Bithynia, as wye find to have been the case in the time of the younger Pliny; but the name was still retained by geographers, though its boundaries are not distinctly defined by Ptolemy. It reappears as a separate province in the 5th century (Hierocles, Synecd., c. 33).

The ethnic relations of the Paphlagoniano are very uncertain. It seems perhaps most probable that they belonged to the same race with the Cappadocians, who held the adjoining province of Pontus, and who were undoubtedly a Semitic race. Their language, however, would appear from the testimony of Strabo to have been distinct from that of their neighbours. Equally obscure is the relation between the Paphlagonians and the Eneti, or Heneti, who are mentioned in connexion with them in the Homeric catalogue, and who were supposed in tha mythical fictions of antiquity to be the ancestors of the Veneti, who dwelt at the head of the Adriatic. But no trace is found in historical times of any tribe of that name in Asia Minor.

The greater part of Paphlagonia is a rugged and mountainous country, but it contains fertile valleys, and produces great abundance of fruit. The mountains also are clothed with dense forests, which are conspicuous for the quantity of boxwood which they furnish. Hence its coasts were from an early period occupied by Greek colonies, among which the flourishing city of Sinope, a colony from Miletus, founded about 630 B.C., stood pre-eminent. Amastris, a few miles east of the Parthenius, became an important town under the Macedonian monarchs; while Amisus, a colony of Sinope, which was situated a short distance east of the Halys, and therefore did not fall strictly within the limits of Paphlagonia as defined by Strabo, though often considered as belonging to that pro-vince, rose to be almost a rival of its parent city. The other towns along the coast of the Euxine were of little consequence, and none of those in the interior ever rose to any importance. The most considerable were Gangra, in ancient times the capital of the Paphlagonian kings, after-wards called Germanicopolis, and situated near the frontier of Galatia, and Pompeiopolis, in the valley of the Amnias (a tributary of the Halys), near which were extensive mines of the mineral called by Strabo sandarake (red arsenic), which was largely exported from Sinope. (E. H. B.)

The above article was written by: E. H. Bunbury, M.A., author of History of Ancient Geography.

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