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NISIBIS

NISIBIS (Νισιβίς).


1.

A small place in Ariana, mentioned by Ptolemy (5.18.11) and Ammianus (23.6). It would appear to have been at the foot of the chain of the Paropamisus. There are some grounds for supposing it the same place as the Nii of Isidorus [NII], and that the latter has undergone a contraction similar to that of Bitaxa into Bis.


2.

The chief city of Mygdonia, a small district in the NE. end of Mesopotamia, about 200 miles S. of Tigranocerta; it was situated in a very rich and fruitful country, and was long the centre of a very extensive trade, and the great northern emporium for the merchandise of the E. and W. It was situated on the small stream Mygdonius (Julian, Orat. i. p. 27 ; Justin. Excerpt. e. Legat. p. 173), and was distant about two days' journey from the Tigris. (Procop. Bell. Pers. 1.11.) It was a town of such great antiquity as to have been thought by some to have been one of the primeval cities of Genesis, Accad. (Hieron. Quaest. in Genes. cap. 10.5.10; and cf. Michael. Spicileg. 1.226.) It is probable, therefore, that it existed long before the Greeks came into Mesopotamia; and that the tradition that it was founded by the Macedonians, who called it Antiocheia Mygdoniae, ought rather to refer to its rebuilding, or to some of the great works erected there by some of the Seleucid princes. (Strab. xvi. p.747; Plut. Luc. 100.32 ; Plin. Nat. 6.13. s. 16.) It is first mentioned in history (under its name of Antiocheia) in the march of Antiochus against the satrap Molon (Plb. 5.51); in the later wars between the Romans and Parthians it was constantly taken and retaken. Thus it was taken by Lucullus from the brother of Tigranes, after a long siege, which lasted the whole summer (D. C. 35.6, 7), but, according to Plutarch, towards the close of the autumn, without much resistance from the enemy. (Plut. l.c.) Again it was taken by the Romans under Trajan, and was the cause of the title of "Parthicus," which the senate decreed to that emperor. (D. C. 68.23.) Subsequently to this it appears to have been besieged by the Osroeni and other tribes who had revolted, but who were subdued by the arms of Sept. Severus. Nisibis became on this occasion the head-quarters of Severus. (D. C. 75.2, 3.) From this period it appears to have remained the advanced outpost of the Romans against the East, till it was surrendered by the Persians on the treaty which was made with that people by Jovian, after the death of Julian. (Zosim. 3.33; Amm. Marc. 25.9.) Its present name is Nisibin, in the neighbourhood of which are still extensive ruins of the ancient city. (Niebuhr. vol. ii. p. 379.)

[V.]

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