previous next


MARATHUS (Μάραθος: Eth. Μαραθηναῖος al. Μαραθῆνος), a city on the coast of Syria, north of Aradus, placed by Ptolemy in the district of Cassiotis, which extended as far north as Antioch. It is joined with Enydra, and was a ruin in Strabo's time. It was on the confines of Phoenice, and the district was then under the dominion of the Aradians (Strab. xvi. p.753; comp. Plin. Nat. 5.20), who had been foiled in a former attempt to reduce it to their power. The story, as given in a fragment of Diodorus (lib. xxxii. vol.x. p.76--78, ed. Bipont; vol. ii. p. 593, ed. Wess.), is as follows. The people of Aradus having [p. 2.270]seized what they considered a favourable opportunity for the destruction of the people of Marathus, sent privately to Ammonius, prime minister of Alexander Balas, the king of Syria, and bribed him with the offer of 300 talents to deliver up Marathus to them. The unfortunate inhabitants of the devoted city attempted in vain to appease their enemies. The Aradians violated the common laws of suppliants, broke the very ancient images of the local deities,--which the Maratheni had brought to add solemnity to their embassy,--stoned the ambassadors, and cast them into prison: according to another account, they murdered some, and forged letters in their names, which they sealed with their seals, promising succour to Marathus, with a view of introducing their troops into the city under this pretence. But discovering that the citizens of Marathus were informed of their design, they desisted from the attempt. The facts of its final subjugation to Aradus are not preserved. Pliny (5.20) places Marathus opposite to the island of Aradus, which he says was 200 passus (== 1000 Roman feet) from the coast. Diodorus (l.c.) states the distance between Aradus and Marathus to be 8 stadia; which need not be inconsistent with the statement of Pliny, as the latter may be supposed to measure to the point on the mainland nearest to Aradus, the former the distance between that island and the town of Marathus. The fact, however, is, that even the statement of Diodorus is too short for the nearest point on the coast; for this island is, according to Maundrell (March 7, p. 19), “about a league distant from the shore.” And Pococke, who crossed the strait, says “it is reckoned to be about two miles from the continent. (Observations on Syria, p. 201.) The 20 stadia of Strabo is therefore much more correct than either of the other authorities. He says that the island lay off an exposed coast (ῥαχιώδους καὶ ἀλιμένου), between its port (Caranus lege Carnos) and Marathus: and what was the respective situation of these towns he intimates in another passage, where, reckoning from the north, he enumerates Balanaea, Carnos, Enydra, Marathus. Pococke takes Tortosa to be” without doubt Caranus (Carnos) the port of Aradus on the continent; “and as this is two miles north of Aradus, he properly looks for Marathus to the south,--identifying Enydra with Ein-el-Hye (the Serpent's Fountain),” directly opposite to Aradus (p. 203), and suggesting that some ruins which he observed on a raised ground, at the northern extremity of a plain, about 7 miles south of Tortosa, “might possibly be Marathus” (p. 204). These conjectures may be admitted with some slight modifications. Thus, e. g., instead of identifying Tortosa with Carnos, this naval arsenal of the Arvadites must be placed about 2 1/2 miles north of Tortosa, where a late traveller has discovered “extensive ruins, called by the Arab peasants Carnoon,--the site, doubtless, of the Carnos or Caranus of the ancients. The people from Arvad still quarry stones from these ruins; and below it, on the north, is a small harbour, which appears to have been fortified like that of Tortosa.” (Thompson, in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. v. p. 254.) A fresh-water spring in the sea, is mentioned by Strabo; and a mile to the south, between Carnoos and Tortosa, “a few rods from the shore, an immense fountain, called ‘Ain Ibrahim (Abraham's fountain), boils up from the bottom.” Tortosa, then, will be, as many mediaeval writers maintained, Antaradus, which “Arabic geographers write Antartûs and Antarsûs; whence the common Arabic name Tartûs, in Italian Tortosa” (l.c. p.247, n. 1). ‘Ain-el-Hîyeh, written by Pococke Ein-el-Hye, is certainly the Enydra of Strabo; the geographer, or his informant, having in this, as in so many other instances, retained the first half of the native name, and translated the latter half,--En being the usual Greek and Latin equivalent for the Semetic ‘Ayn ==fountain, and the hydra a sufficiently close representative of the Semetic Hîyeh == serpent. South of this fountain are very extensive quarries, five or six miles to the south of Tortosa. “This neighbourhood is called by the Arabs Amreed or Maabed Amreet ‘ the fane of Amreet.’ This name the Greeks probably changed into Marathus, and the old vaults, foundations, sarcophagi, &c., near ‘Ain-el-Hîyeh (Serpent's Fountain), may mark the precise locality of ancient Marathus.” (Thompson, l.c. p. 250.) Pococke describes here a rock-hewn temple, and monolithic house and chambers; besides a kind of semicircle, which he thinks “might serve for some sports to divert the people of Aradus and Antaradus, or of the ancient Marathus, if that was near. It was probably a circus” (p. 203).

It was the more necessary to identify these sites, as D'Anville placed the ancient Marathus at the modern Marakiah, which is, doubtless, the representative of “Mutatio Maraccas” of the Jerusalem Itinerary, on the confines of Syria and Phoenice, 13 M. P. south of Balaneas (now Baneas), and 10 M. P. north of Antaradus: and this error is perpetuated in Arrowsmith's map.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: