1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Paphos
PAPHOS, an ancient city and sanctuary on the west coast of Cyprus. The sanctuary and older town (Palaepaphos) lie at Kouklia, about 20 m. west of Limasol, about a mile inland on the left bank of the Diorizo River (anc. Bocarus), the mouth of which formed its harbour. New Paphos (Papho or Baffo), which had already superseded Old Paphos in Roman times, lies 10 m. farther west, and 1 m. south of modern Ktima, at the other end of a fertile coast-plain. Paphos was believed to have been founded either by the Arcadian Agapenor, returning from the Trojan War (c. 1180 B.C.), or by his reputed contemporary Cinyras, whose clan retained royal privileges down to the Ptolemaic conquest of Cyprus in 295 B.C., and held the Paphian priesthood till the Roman occupation in 58 B.C. The town certainly dates back to the close of the Mycenaean Bronze age, and had a king Eteandros among the allies of Assur-bani-pal of Assyria in 668 B.C. A later king of the same name is commemorated by two inscribed bracelets of gold now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. In Hellenic times the kingdom of Paphos was only second to Salamis in extent and influence, and bordered on those of Soli and Curium.
Paphos owes its ancient fame to the cult of the "Paphian goddess" (ή Παφία Γάνασσα, or ή Παφία, in inscriptions, or simply ή θεά), a nature-worship of the same type as the cults of Phoenician Astarte, maintained by a college of orgiastic ministers, practising sensual excess and self-mutilation. The Greeks identified both this and a similar cult at Ascalon with their own worship of Aphrodite, and localized at Paphos the legend of her birth from the sea foam, which is in fact accumulated here, on certain winds, in masses more than a foot deep. Her grave also was shown in this city. She was worshipped, under the form of a conical stone, in an open-air sanctuary of the usual Cypriote type (not unlike those of Mycenaean Greece), the general form of which is known from representations on late gems, and on Roman imperial coins; its ground plan was discovered by excavations in 1888. It suffered repeatedly from earthquakes, and was rebuilt more than once; in Roman times it consisted of an open court, irregularly quadrangular, with porticos and chambers on three sides, and a gateway through them on the east. The position of the sacred stone, and the interpretation of many details shown on the gems and coins, remain uncertain. South of the main court lie the remains of what may be either an earlier temple, or the traditional tomb of Cinyras, almost wholly destroyed except its west wall of gigantic stone slabs.
After the foundation of New Paphos and the extinction of the Cinyrad and Ptolemaic dynasties, the importance of the Old Town declined rapidly. Though restored by Augustus and renamed Sebaste, after the great earthquake of 15 B.C., and visited in state by Titus before his Jewish War in 79 B.C., it was ruinous and desolate by Jerome's time; but the prestige of its priest-kings partly lingers in the exceptional privileges of the patriarch of the Cypriote Church (see Cyprus, Church of).
New Paphos became the administrative capital of the whole island in Ptolemaic and Roman days, as well as the head of one of the four Roman districts; it was also a flourishing commercial city in the time of Strabo, and famous for its oil, and for "diamonds" of medicinal power. There was a festal procession thence annually to the ancient temple. In A.D. 960 it was attacked and destroyed by the Saracens. The site shows a Roman theatre, amphitheatre, temple and other ruins, with part of the city wall, and the moles of the Roman harbour, with a ruined Greek cathedral and other medieval buildings. Outside the walls lies another columnar building. Some rock tombs hard by may be of earlier than Roman date.
(J. L. M.)
- E. Schradcr, Abh. k. Preuss. Ak. Wiss. (1879), pp. 31-36; Sitzb. k. Preuss. Ak. Wiss. (1890), pp. 337-344.
- Athan. c. graecos, 10. On all these cults see J. G. Frazer, Adonis, Atlis, Osiris (London, 1906).
- Herod, i. 105; see further Astarte, Aphrodite.
- Oberhummer, Die Insel Cypern (Munich, 1903), pp. 108-110.
- G. F. Hill, Brit. Mus. Cat. Coins of Cyprus (London, 1904), pis. xv.-xvm. (coins of Paphos), pi. xxvi. (other coins and gems).
- M. R. James, E. A. Gardner, and others, Journ. Hellenic Stjidies, IX. 334. 147 sqq.
- Dio Cass. hv. 23, 7; Strabo 683; Tac. Hist. 2, 2 sqq.; Jerome, Vit. Hilarioms. For the " Paphian Diamonds " (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvii. 58), see E. Oberhummer, loc. cit., p. 185. For the fame of Paphian oil see Horn. Od. viii. 362 sqq.; Hymn Aphr. 58 sqq.; Isidore, Origines, xvii. 7, 64.