IN PONTUS (Κόμανα τὰ ἐν τῷ Πόντῳ
or Κόμανα τὰ Ποντικά
), a place in Pontus above Phanoroea, as Strabo says(p. 557), who has a long notice of this place. Ptolemy (5.6
) fixes it in Pontus Galaticus, but it afterwards belonged to Pontus Polemoniacus. Justinian placed it in one of the four divisions of Armenia, which division he called the Second Armenia, as appears from one of his Novellae (Nov.
31. 100.1). The Table places Comana on a road that runs east from Tavium, but it is not possible to make much of this route. Strabo (p. 547) describing the course of the river Iris says, that it flows from the country called Phanaroea, and has its sources in Pontus itself: its course is through Comana Pontica, and through the fertile plain Daximonitis to the west: it then turns to the north at Gaziura. We thus learn that it was in the upper valley of the Iris, and we know from Gregorius of Nyssa that it was near Neocaesarea (Niksar
In the book on the Alexandrine War (100.35), a lofty range of hills, covered with forests, is said to extend from Pontic Comana to Armenia Minor, which range divides Cappadocia from Armenia. Hamilton (Researches, &c.,
vol. i. p. 450) discovered at a place called Gumenek
on the Tocat-su,
the modern name of the Iris, some remains of an ancient town, and part of a bridge apparently of Roman construction.
There seems no doubt that Gumenek
is the site of Comana Pontica.
It is about seven miles north-east of Tocat.
Pliny simply speaks of Comana as a Manteium, or the seat of an oracle (6.3).
It is stated that it appears from inscriptions to have got the name of Hierocaesarea under the Romans (Forbiger, vol. ii. p. 428, note), the prefix Hiero or “sacred,” indicating the character of the place.
The position of Comana made it a great mart (ἐμπορεῖον
) for the merchants that came from Armenia.
Comana was dedicated to the same goddess as Comana in Cappadocia, and was said to be a colony or settlement from the Cappadocian city.
The religious ceremonial was nearly the same in both places, and the priests had like privileges. Under the early kings of Pontus, there were annually two great processions in honour of the goddess, on which occasions the chief priest wore a diadem, and he was next in dignity to the king. Dorylaus, the son of a sister of the Dorylaus who was an ancestor of Strabo's mother, once held the high-priesthood of Comana, which Mithridates the Great gave him. After Cn. Pompeius succeeded L. Lucullus in the command in these parts, he gave the high-priesthood to Archelaus, and he added to the lands of the temple a district of 60 stadia, by which expression Strabo probably means all the country round the temple within 60 stadia. Archelaus was sovereign of the people within these limits, and he was the owner of all the hieroduli, or temple slaves, within the city of Comana; but he had not the power of selling them.
These slaves seem to have been attached to the soil. Their number was not less than 6000. This Archelaus was the son of the Archelaus who was honoured by L. Sulla and the Roman senate, as Strabo has it, and he was the friend of A. Gabinius. His father was, in fact, the best commander that Mithridates ever had.
The son Archelaus, the priest, contrived to marry Berenice, the elder sister of Cleopatra, whose father, Ptolemaeus Auletes, had been driven out of Egypt; and Archelaus had a six months' reign with her.
He fell in battle against Gabinius, who restored Auletes (B.C. 55). Archelaus was succeeded in the priesthood by his son Archelaus (Strabo, pp. 558, 796), but C. Julius Caesar, who came into Pontus after defeating Pharnaces, gave the priesthood to Lycomedes (Appian, App. Mith. ch. 121
), who received an addition of territory, as Strabo says.
The author of the Alexandrine War (100.61) says, that it was the priesthood of Comana in Cappadocia that Caesar gave to Lycomedes.
It seems that he is perhaps mistaken as to the Comana, but it is clear that he means the Comana in Cappadocia.
In a previous chapter (100.35) he had spoken of Comana in Pontus.
He knew that there were two places of the name; and in 100.66 it is certain, both from his description of the place, and the rest of the narrative, that he [p. 1.650]
means the Cappadocian Comana. Cleon, a robber on Olympus, a friend of M. Antonius, deserted him in the war that ended in the battle of Actium, and went over to Octavianus Caesar, who made a prince and a priest of him.
In addition to the priesthood of Zeus Abrettenus, Caesar gave him the rich place at Comana.
But he only held this preferment one month, having died of an acute disease, brought on by excess, or the anger of the goddess, it is not certain which, though the ministers of the temple attributed it to the goddess. Within the circuit of the sacred ground (τέμενος
) were the residences of the priest and the priestess, and among other rules for securing the purity of the place, it was forbidden to eat swine's flesh within the sacred enclosure: indeed, no pig was allowed to come within the city.
The robber priest, who had been accustomed to eat swine's flesh in the forests of Olympus, broke the rule immediately on entering on his new office; and it was supposed that his speedy death was the consequence of it. (Strabo, p. 575.)
In Strabo's time Dyteutus was high-priest of Comana.
He was the son of Adiatorix, a Galatian chief, whom Octavianus Caesar exhibited in his triumphal procession after the battle of Actium. Adiatorix was guilty of the crime of having been on the side of M. Antonius; and accordingly Caesar, after his triumph, gave orders to put to death the chief, and his eldest son.
But the second son persisted in declaring to the executioner that he was the eldest, and the two brothers disputed which should die. Their parents induced the elder to yield, and thus the younger died in his place. Caesar, on hearing this, rewarded the eldest son with the priesthood of Comana. Thus we have a Gaul in the list of the priests of Comana.
Comana was populous.
At the processions of the goddess, her ἐξόδοι,
as Strabo calls them, there was a great concourse of people from the towns and country all around, men and women.
The population was also increased by people who resided there pursuant to their vows, and made sacrifices to the goddess.
The people were fond of good living, and their lands produced plenty of wine.
The number of prostitutes in Comana was large, most of whom belonged to the temple. So it was, says Strabo, a kind of little Corinth, where people, merchants and others, got eased of their money.
There are autonomous and imperial coins of Comana, with the legends Κομανων
|COIN OF COMANA IN PONTUS.|
IN CAPPADOCIA (τὰ Κόμανα τῆς Καππαδοκίας
), was also called Chryse, or the golden, as appears from one of the Novellae of Justinian (Nov.
31. 100.1), to distinguish it from the other Comana. Justinian calls this Comana “the other, which is also named Chryse.” It was in the division which he named the Third Armenia, and which, he observes, contained Melitene, near the Euphrates. Comana was in Cataonia in the Antitaurus (Strabo, p. 521), in a deep valley; the river Sarus flowed through the city.
It is generally supposed that the modern town of Al-Bostan,
on the Sihoon
or Sarus, is on or near the site of this Comana. Al-Bostan
is situated in a fine plain, well watered, and well cultivated; and is a town of 8000 or 9000 inhabitants. Here was the temple of Enyo, as Strabo (p. 535) names the goddess.
It contained a great number of persons devoted to the worship of the deity, and a great number of hieroduli.
The inhabitants were Cataonians. They acknowledged the supremacy of the king of Cappadocia, but were under the immediate jurisdiction of the priest.
This priest was chiefly (τὸ πλέον,
whatever that means) master of the temple and of the hieroduli, who, at the time of Strabo's visit, were above 6000, men and women.
The temple possessed large estates, the produce of which was enjoyed by the priest, who was next in rank to the king, and the priest was generally a member of the royal family.
It was too good a thing to give to any body else.
There was a tradition that Orestes, with his sister, brought from Tauric Scythia the sacred rites of this temple, which were those of Tauropolos Artemis. Here Orestes deposited the hair that he cut from his head to commemorate the end of his sufferings (ἡ πένθιμος κόμη
), and hence, according to an absurd etymology of the Greeks, came the name of the place, Comana. And in later times, to make the name suit the absurd story better, as it was supposed, it was changed to ἡ Κόμανα.
(Eustath. ad Dionys. A. R. 5.694
; Procop. Persic.
This deity of Comana is supposed to have been called Ma in the language of the country, and to be the moon-goddess, as in Caria the moon-god was worshipped under the name of Men.
The passage in Strabo, . . . τὰ Κόμανα, καὶ τὸ τῆς Ἐνυοῦς ἱερὸν ὃ ἐκεῖνοι Κόμανα ἐνομάζουσι,
--so it stands in Casaubon's text,--is certainly corrupt. We cannot suppose that Strabo means to say that they call the temple of Enyo by the name of Comana. Groskurd observes (Transl. Strabo, vol. ii. p. 449), that when Hirtius (De Bell. Alex.
100.66) says: “Venit Comana, sanctissimum in Cappadocia Bellonae templum,” he means the town; and we cannot justify Strabo's text by this passage.
It appears that most of the MSS. of Strabo have Μᾶ
in place of Κόμανα,
and Groskurd proposes to read Μᾶς
with Koray. Accordingly the latter part of the passage means, “which they call the temple of Ma.” Groskurd is, however, rather inclined to read ἣν ἐκεῖνοι Μᾶ Μᾶν ὀνομάζουσι.
The place was made a Roman colony after the time of Caracalla. Cramer assumes that it was a colony in the time of Antoninus Pius; but Caracalla was also called Antoninus, and this may be the cause of Cramer's mistake, if it is one.
The coins have the epigraphs Col. Aug. Comana; and Col. Iul. Aug. Comanenoru, or Comainoru. [G.L