1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Antioch
ANTIOCH. There were sixteen cities known to have been founded under this name by Hellenistic monarchs; and at least twelve others were renamed Antioch. But by far the most famous and important in the list was Άντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ (mod. Antakia), situated on the left bank of the Orontes, about 20 m. from the sea and its port, Seleucia of Pieria (Suedia). Founded as a Greek city in 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator, as soon as he had assured his grip upon western Asia by the victory of Ipsus (301), it was destined to rival Alexandria in Egypt as the chief city of the nearer East, and to be the cradle of gentile Christianity. The geographical character of the district north and north-east of the elbow of Orontes makes it the natural centre of Syria, so long as that country is held by a western power; and only Asiatic, and especially Arab, dynasties have neglected it for the oasis of Damascus. The two easiest routes from the Mediterranean, lying through the Orontes gorge and the Beilan Pass, converge in the plain of the Antioch Lake (Balük Geul or El Bahr) and are met there by (1) the road from the Amanic Gates (Baghche Pass) and western Commagene, which descends the valley of the Kara Su, (2) the roads from eastern Commagene and the Euphratean crossings at Samosata (Samsat) and Apamea Zeugma (Birejik), which descend the valleys of the Afrin and the Kuwaik, and (3) the road from the Euphratean ford at Thapsacus, which skirts the fringe of the Syrian steppe. Travellers by all these roads must proceed south by the single route of the Orontes valley. Alexander is said to have camped on the site of Antioch, and dedicated an altar to Zeus Bottiaeus, which lay in the north-west of the future city. But the first western sovereign practically to recognize the importance of the district was Antigonus, who began to build a city, Antigonia, on the Kara Su a few miles north of the situation of Antioch; but, on his defeat, he left it to serve as a quarry for his rival Seleucus. The latter is said to have appealed to augury to determine the exact site of his projected foundation; but less fantastic considerations went far to settle it. To build south of the river, and on and under the last east spur of Casius, was to have security against invasion from the north, and command of the abundant waters of the mountain. One torrent, the Onopniktes (“donkey-drowner”), flowed through the new city, and many other streams came down a few miles west into the beautiful suburb of Daphne. The site appears not to have been found wholly uninhabited. A settlement, Meroe, boasting a shrine of Anait, called by the Greeks the “Persian Artemis,” had long been located there, and was ultimately included in the eastern suburbs of the new city; and there seems to have been a village on the spur (Mt. Silpius), of which we hear in late authors under the name Io, or Iopolis. This name was always adduced as evidence by Antiochenes (e.g. Libanius) anxious to affiliate themselves to the Attic Ionians—an anxiety which is illustrated by the Athenian types used on the city’s coins. At any rate, Io may have been a small early colony of trading Greeks (Javan). John Malalas mentions also a village, Bottia, in the plain by the river.
The original city of Seleucus was laid out in imitation of the “gridiron” plan of Alexandria by the architect, Xenarius. Libanius describes the first building and arrangement of this city (i. p. 300. 17). The citadel was on Mt. Silpius and the city lay mainly on the low ground to the north, fringing the river. Two great colonnaded streets intersected in the centre. Shortly afterwards a second quarter was laid out, probably on the east and by Antiochus I., which, from an expression of Strabo, appears to have been the native, as contrasted with the Greek, town. It was enclosed by a wall of its own. In the Orontes, north of the city, lay a large island, and on this Seleucus II. Callinicus began a third walled “city,” which was finished by Antiochus III. A fourth and last quarter was added by Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (175–164 B.C.); and thenceforth Antioch was known as Tetrapolis. From west to east the whole was about 4 m. in diameter and little less from north to south, this area including many large gardens. Of its population in the Greek period we know nothing. In the 4th century A.D. it was about 200,000 according to Chrysostom, who probably did not reckon slaves. About 4 m. west and beyond the suburb, Heraclea, lay the paradise of Daphne, a park of woods and waters, in the midst of which rose a great temple to the Pythian Apollo, founded by Seleucus I. and enriched with a cult-statue of the god, as Musagetes, by Bryaxis. A companion sanctuary of Hecate was constructed underground by Diocletian. The beauty and the lax morals of Daphne were celebrated all over the western world; and indeed Antioch as a whole shared in both these titles to fame. Its amenities awoke both the enthusiasm and the scorn of many writers of antiquity.
Antioch became the capital and court-city of the western Seleucid empire under Antiochus I., its counterpart in the east being Seleucia-on-Tigris; but its paramount importance dates from the battle of Ancyra (240 B.C.), which shifted the Seleucid centre of gravity from Asia Minor, and led indirectly to the rise of Pergamum. Thenceforward the Seleucids resided at Antioch and treated it as their capital par excellence. We know little of it in the Greek period, apart from Syria (q.v.), all our information coming from authors of the late Roman time. Among its great Greek buildings we hear only of the theatre, of which substructures still remain on the flank of Silpius, and of the royal palace, probably situated on the island. It enjoyed a great reputation for letters and the arts (Cicero pro Archia, 3); but the only names of distinction in these pursuits during the Seleucid period, that have come down to us, are Apollophanes, the Stoic, and one Phoebus, a writer on dreams. The mass of the population seems to have been only superficially Hellenic, and to have spoken Aramaic in non-official life. The nicknames which they gave to their later kings were Aramaic; and, except Apollo and Daphne, the great divinities of north Syria seem to have remained essentially native, such as the “Persian Artemis” of Meroe and Atargatis of Hierapolis Bambyce. We may infer, from its epithet, “Golden,” that the external appearance of Antioch was magnificent; but the city needed constant restoration owing to the seismic disturbances to which the district has always been peculiarly liable. The first great earthquake is said by the native chronicler John Malalas, who tells us most that we know of the city, to have occurred in 148 B.C., and to have done immense damage. The inhabitants were turbulent, fickle and notoriously dissolute. In the many dissensions of the Seleucid house they took violent part, and frequently rose in rebellion, for example against Alexander Balas in 147 B.C., and Demetrius II. in 129. The latter, enlisting a body of Jews, punished his capital with fire and sword. In the last struggles of the Seleucid house, Antioch turned definitely against its feeble rulers, invited Tigranes of Armenia to occupy the city in 83, tried to unseat Antiochus XIII. in 65, and petitioned Rome against his restoration in the following year. Its wish prevailed, and it passed with Syria to the Roman Republic in 64 B.C., but remained a civitas libera.
The Romans both felt and expressed boundless contempt for the hybrid Antiochenes; but their emperors favoured the city from the first, seeing in it a more suitable capital for the eastern part of the empire than Alexandria could ever be, thanks to the isolated position of Egypt. To a certain extent they tried to make it an eastern Rome. Caesar visited it in 47 B.C., and confirmed its freedom. A great temple to Jupiter Capitolinus rose on Silpius, probably at the instance of Octavian, whose cause the city had espoused. A forum of Roman type was laid out. Tiberius built two long colonnades on the south towards Silpius. Agrippa and Tiberius enlarged the theatre, and Trajan finished their work. Antoninus Pius paved the great east to west artery with granite. A circus, other colonnades and great numbers of baths were built, and new aqueducts to supply them bore the names of Caesars, the finest being the work of Hadrian. The Roman client, King Herod, erected a long stoa on the east, and Agrippa encouraged the growth of a new suburb south of this. Under the empire we chiefly hear of the earthquakes which shook Antioch. One, in A.D. 37, caused the emperor Caligula to send two senators to report on the condition of the city. Another followed in the next reign; and in 115, during Trajan’s sojourn in the place with his army of Parthia, the whole site was convulsed, the landscape altered, and the emperor himself forced to take shelter in the circus for several days. He and his successor restored the city; but in 526, after minor shocks, the calamity returned in a terrible form, and thousands of lives were lost, largely those of Christians gathered to a great church assembly. We hear also of especially terrific earthquakes on the 29th of November 528 and the 31st of October 588.
At Antioch Germanicus died in A.D. 19, and his body was burnt in the forum. Titus set up the Cherubim, captured from the Jewish temple, over one of the gates. Commodus had Olympic games celebrated at Antioch, and in A.D. 266 the town was suddenly raided by the Persians, who slew many in the theatre. In 387 there was a great sedition caused by a new tax levied by order of Theodosius, and the city was punished by the loss of its metropolitan status. Zeno, who renamed it Theopolis, restored many of its public buildings just before the great earthquake of 526, whose destructive work was completed by the Persian Chosroes twelve years later. Justinian made an effort to revive it, and Procopius describes his repairing of the walls; but its glory was past.
The chief interest of Antioch under the empire lies in its relation to Christianity. Evangelized perhaps by Peter, according to the tradition upon which the Antiochene patriarchate still rests its claim for primacy (cf. Acts xi.), and certainly by Barnabas and Saul, its converts were the first to be called “Christians.” They multiplied exceedingly, and by the time of Theodosius were reckoned by Chrysostom at about 100,000 souls. Between 252 and 300 A.D. ten assemblies of the church were held at Antioch and it became the residence of the patriarch of Asia. When Julian visited the place in 362 the impudent population railed at him for his favour to Jewish and pagan rites, and to revenge itself for the closing of its great church of Constantine, burned down the temple of Apollo in Daphne. The emperor’s rough and severe habits and his rigid administration prompted Antiochene lampoons, to which he replied in the curious satiric apologia, still extant, which he called Misopogon. His successor, Valens, who endowed Antioch with a new forum having a statue of Valentinian on a central column, reopened the great church, which stood till the sack of Chosroes in 538. Antioch gave its name to a certain school of Christian thought, distinguished by literal interpretation of the Scriptures and insistence on the human limitations of Jesus. Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia were the leaders of this school. The principal local saint was Simeon Stylites, who performed his penance on a hill some 40 m. east. His body was brought to the city and buried in a building erected under the emperor Leo. In A.D. 635, during the reign of Heraclius, Antioch passed into Saracen hands, and decayed apace for more than 300 years; but in 969 it was recovered for Byzantium by Michael Burza and Peter the Eunuch. In 1084 the Seljuk Turks captured it but held it only fourteen years, yielding place to the crusaders, who besieged it for nine months, enduring frightful sufferings. Being at last betrayed, it was given to Bohemund, prince of Tarentum, and it remained the capital of a Latin principality for nearly two centuries. It fell at last to the Egyptian, Bibars, in 1268, after a great destruction and slaughter, from which it never revived. Little remains now of the ancient city, except colossal ruins of aqueducts and part of the Roman walls, which are used as quarries for modern Antakia; but no scientific examination of the site has been made. A statue in the Vatican and a silver statuette in the British Museum perpetuate the type of its great effigy of the civic Fortune of Antioch—a majestic seated figure, with Orontes as a youth issuing from under her feet.
Antakia, the modern town, is still of considerable importance. Pop. about 25,000, including Ansarieh, Jews, and a large body of Christians of several denominations about 8000 strong. Though superseded by Aleppo (q.v.) as capital of N. Syria, it is still the centre of a large district, growing in wealth and productiveness with the draining of its central lake, undertaken by a French company. The principal cultures are tobacco, maize and cotton, and the mulberry for silk production. Liquorice also is collected and exported. In 1822 (as in 1872) Antakia suffered by earthquake, and when Ibrahim Pasha made it his headquarters in 1835, it had only some 5000 inhabitants. Its hopes, based on a Euphrates valley railway, which was to have started from its port of Suedia (Seleucia), were doomed to disappointment, and it has suffered repeatedly from visitations of cholera; but it has nevertheless grown rapidly and will resume much of its old importance when a railway is made down the lower Orontes valley. It is a centre of American mission enterprise, and has a British vice-consul.
Synods of Antioch. Beginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arian and of the Christological controversies. The most celebrated took place in the summer of 341 at the dedication of the golden Basilica, and is therefore called in encaeniis (ἐν ἐγκαινίοις), in dedicatione. Nearly a hundred bishops were present, all from the Orient, but the bishop of Rome was not represented. The emperor Constantius attended in person. The council approved three creeds (Hahn, §§ 153-155). Whether or no the so-called “fourth formula” (Hahn, § 156) is to be ascribed to a continuation of this synod or to a subsequent but distinct assembly of the same year, its aim is like that of the first three; while repudiating certain Arian formulas it avoids the Athanasian shibboleth “homoousios.” The somewhat colourless compromise doubtless proceeded from the party of Eusebius of Nicomedia, and proved not inacceptable to the more nearly orthodox members of the synod. The twenty-five canons adopted regulate the so-called metropolitan constitution of the church. Ecclesiastical power is vested chiefly in the metropolitan (later called archbishop), and the semi-annual provincial synod (cf. Nicaea, canon 5), which he summons and over which he presides. Consequently the powers of country bishops (chorepiscopi) are curtailed, and direct recourse to the emperor is forbidden. The sentence of one judicatory is to be respected by other judicatories of equal rank; re-trial may take place only before that authority to whom appeal regularly lies (see canons 3, 4, 6). Without due invitation, a bishop may not ordain, or in any other way interfere with affairs lying outside his proper territory; nor may he appoint his own successor. Penalties are set on the refusal to celebrate Easter in accordance with the Nicene decree, as well as on leaving a church before the service of the Eucharist is completed. The numerous objections made by eminent scholars in past centuries to the ascription of these twenty-five canons to the synod in encaeniis have been elaborately stated and probably refuted by Hefele. The canons formed part of the Codex canonum used at Chalcedon in 451 and passed over into the later collections of East and West.