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Seleucia Pieria

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Seleucia Pieria (Greek Σελεύκεια Πιερία, later Suedia 36°7′N 35°55′E / 36.117°N 35.917°E / 36.117; 35.917) was a town in antiquity, the capital of Seleucus I Nicator, in Syria Prima. It was the port of the western Seleucid capital of Antioch, lying close to the mouth of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern town of Samandağ in the Hatay province of Turkey. Seleucia, Apamea, Laodicea and Antioch formed the Syrian tetrapolis.

History

According to Pausanias and Malalas, there appears to have been a previous city here named Palaeopolis ("Old City").

Seleucia Pieria was built by Seleucus I Nicator in ca. 300 BCE. It lay near the mouth of the Orontes not far from Mount Casius, and functioned as the commercial and naval seaport of Antioch on the Orontes (now Antakya). Its first colonists were the Greeks of Antigonia and some Jews. Seleucia was of great importance in the struggle between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies; it was captured by Ptolemy Euergetes in 246 BCE. As the Ptolemies (Lagids) and Seleucids fought over the city, it changed hands several times until 219 BCE, when the Seleucid Antiochus III the Great recaptured it. Then it obtained its freedom and kept it even to the end of the Roman occupation. It had long enjoyed the right of coinage.

As the port of Antioch of Syria, "Seleucia on sea"--so called to distinguish it from other cities of the same name--is most notable as the precise point of embarkation from which the Apostle Paul [in AD 45] set forth on the first of his great missionary journeys, as chronicled in the Bible (Acts 13:4). At the end of that same journey he must have made landfall at Seleucia before going to Antioch (see Acts 14:26). His route at the beginning of the second journey was by land and probably bypassed Seleucia (see Acts 15:40-41), though on returning, he must have passed through it again (see Acts 18:22). Once more taking a land route when setting out on his third journey, Paul may have missed Seleucia (see Acts 19:1), and at that journey's end he did not return to Antioch and so missed Seleucia again (see Acts 21:7-8). This means that Paul passed through Seleucia at least three times, and probably several more on pre-missionary visits to Antioch of Syria (see Acts 11:26; 12:25).

Famous residents included Apollophanes, a physician of Antiochus I Soter (third century), and Firmus who aroused Palmyra and Egypt against Rome in 272 CE.

Seleucia became a city of great importance, and was made a "free city" by Pompey. The harbour was enlarged several times under Diocletian and Constantius.

From the 2nd to the 3rd century of the Common Era, little is known of its history. It was a city of the Byzantine Empire until occupied by the Franks, when Seleucia regained its importance; during the Crusades its port was known by the name of Saint Symeon.

In the devastating 526 Antioch earthquake Seleucia Pieria, along with other areas of the Syrian tetrapolis, was heavily damaged, including its harbor which silted up.

Church history

Paul of Tarsus and Saint Barnabas sailed from this port on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:4). The city was Christianized early. The oldest bishop known is Zenobius, present at the Council of Nicaea in 325. Other known bishops include Eusebius, an Arian, and Bizus in the fourth century, with twelve others cited by Le Quien (Oriens Christianus, II, 777-780). In the sixth century the Notitia Episcopatuum of Antioch, gives Seleucia Pieria as an autocephalous archbishopric, suffragan of Antioch (Echos d'Orient, X 144); the diocese existed until the tenth century, and its boundaries are known (Echos d'Orient, X, 97). For some Roman Catholic titularies see Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I, 468.

The city is still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Seleuciensis Pierius; the seat is vacant following the death of the last bishop in 1980.[1]

Ruins

The upper city, about 13 km in circumference, is still distinguishable. The lower city, smaller than the preceding one, was more thickly populated. Among the curiosities are a necropolis of little interest, some irrigation works, and some fortifications very much damaged. Considerable remains are still visible: the chief are those of a cutting through the solid rock nearly 1100 yards long, which Polybius describes as the road from the city to the sea; the triple line of walls; amphitheatre, cemetery, citadel, and temples.

References

  1. http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/d2s74.html
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Seleucia Pieria. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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