Abydum, Plin. Nat. 5.32
: Eth. Ἀβυδηνός,
Abydenus), a city of Mysia on the Hellespontus, nearly opposite Sestus on the European shore.
It is mentioned as one of the towns in alliance with the Trojans. (Il. 2.836
a modern village on the Hellespont, may be the site of Abydos, though the conclusion from a name is not certain. Abydus stood at the narrowest point of the Hellespontus, where the channel is only 7 stadia wide, and it had a small port.
It was probably a Thracian town originally, but it became a Milesian colony. (Thuc. 8.61
At a point a little north of this town Xerxes placed his bridge of boats, by which his troops were conveyed across the channel to the opposite town of Sestus, B.C. 480. (Hdt. 7.33
The bridge of boats extended, according to Herodotus, from Abydus to a promontory on the European shore, between Sestus and Madytus.
The town possessed a small territory which contained some gold mines, but Strabo speaks of them as exhausted.
It was burnt by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, after his Scythian expedition, for fear that the Scythians, who were said to be in pursuit of him, should take possession of it (Strab. p. 591); but it must soon have recovered from this calamity, for it was afterwards a town of some note; and Herodotus (5.117
) states that it was captured by the Persian general, Daurises, with other cities on the Hellespont (B.C. 498), shortly after the commencement of the Ionian revolt. In B.C. 411, Abydus revolted from Athens and joined Dercyllidas, the Spartan commander in those parts. (Thuc. 8.62
.) Subsequently, Abydus made a vigorous defence against Philip II., king of Macedonia, before it surrendered. On the conclusion of the war with Philip (B.C. 196), the Romans declared Abydus, with other Asiatic cities, to be free. (Liv. 33.30
The names of Abydus and Sestus are coupled together in the old story of Hero and Leander, who is said to have swam across the channel to visit his mistress at Sestus.
The distance between Abydus and Sestus, from port to port, was about 30 stadia, according to Strabo.
|COIN OF ABYDUS.|
] [p. 1.8]
In ancient times termed THIS in Coptic Ebôt,
now Arábat el Matfoon,
was the chief town of the NOMOS THINITES, and was situated on the Bahr Yusuf,
at a short distance from the point where that water-course strikes off from the Nile, being about 7 1/2 miles to the west of the river, in lat. 26° 10′ N., long. 32° 3′ E.
It was one of the most important cities in Egypt under the native kings, and in the Thebaid ranked next to Thebes itself. Here, according to the belief generally prevalent, was the burying-place of Osiris: here Menes, the first mortal monarch, was born, and the two first dynasties in Manetho are composed of Thinite monarchs.
In the time of Strabo it had sunk to a mere village, but it was still in existence when Ammianus Marcellinus wrote, and the seat of an oracle of the god Besa.
Abydus has acquired great celebrity of late years in consequence of the important ruins, nearly buried in sand, discovered on the ancient site, and from the numerous tombs, some of them belonging to a very remote epoch, which are found in the neighbouring hills. Indeed Plutarch expressly states that men of distinction among the Egyptians frequently selected Abydus as their place of sepulture, in order that their remains might repose near those of Osiris.
The two great edifices, of which remains still exist, are:--1.
An extensive pile, called the Palace of Memnon (Μεμνόνιον Βασίλειον, Memnonis regia)
by Strabo and Pliny; and described by the former as resembling the Labyrinth in general plan, although neither so extensive nor so complicated.
It has been proved by recent investigations that this building was the work of a king belonging to the 18th dynasty, Ramses II., father of Ramses the Great. 2.
A temple of Osiris, built, or at least completed by Ramses the Great himself.
In one of the lateral apartments, Mr. Bankes discovered in 1818 the famous list of Egyptian kings, now in the British Museum, known as the Tablet of Abydos,
which is one of the most precious of all the Egyptian monuments hitherto brought to light.
It contains a double series of 26 shields of the predecessors of Ramses the Great.
It must be observed that the identity of Abydus with This cannot be demonstrated. We find frequent mention of the Thinite Nome, and of Abydus as its chief town, but no ancient geographer names This except Stephanus Byzantinus, who tells us that it was a town of Egypt in the vicinity of Abydus.
It is perfectly clear, however, that if they were distinct they must have been intimately connected, and that Abydus must have obscured and eventually taken the place of This. (Strab. p. 813, seq.; Plut. Is. et Os.
18; Plin. Nat. 5.9
; Ptol. 4.5
; Antonin. Itiner. p. 158, ed. Wessel.; Steph. B. sub voce Ξίς; Amm. Marc. 19.12.3
; Wilkinson, Topography of Thebes,
p. 397; Kenrick, Ancient Egypt,
vol. i p. 45.) [W.R