A country on the coast of Syria, bounded on the E. by Mount Lebanon.
Its Greek name was Φοινίκη
(Hom. Od. 4.83
; Hdt. 3.5
; Thuc. 2.69
; Strab. p. 756; Ptol. 5.15.21
, &c.), Eth. Φοῖνιξ
, which in the best Latin writers is literally rendered Phoenice (Cic. Ac. 2.2. 0
; Tac. H. 5.6
; Mela, 1.12; Plin. Nat. 5.13
, &c.), and in later authors Phoenicia (Serv. ad Virg. Aen.
1.446; Mart. Capell. 6.219; &c.), and once in a suspected passage of Cicero. (Fin.
The latter form has, however, prevailed among the moderns.
By the Phoenicians themselves, and by the Israelites, their land was called Canaan, or Chna; an appellation which embraced the whole district between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean. In Genesis the name of Canaan occurs only as that of a person, and the country is described as “the land of Canaan.” In the tenth chapter of that book the following tribes are mentioned; the Arvadites, Sinites, Arkites, and Zemarites, whose sites may be identified with Aradus, Sinna, Arca, and Simyra; whilst the name of Sidon, described as the firstborn of Canna, marks one of the most important of the Phoencian towns.
The abbreviated form Chna (Χνᾶ
) occurs in a fragment of Hecataeus (Fragm. Histor. Graec.
p. 17, Paris, 1841), and in Stephanus Byzantinus (s. v.); and the translation of Sanconiatho by Philo, quoted by Eusebius (Praep. Evang.
i. p. 87, ed. Gaisford) records the change of this appellation into Phoenix. The Septuagint frequently renders the Hebrew Canaan and Canaanite by Phoenicia and Phoenician. In Hebrew, Chna or Canaan signifies a low or flat land, from HEBREW, “to be low,” in allusion to the low land of the coast. Its Greek name Φοίνιξ
has been variously deduced from the brother of Cadmus, from the palm-tree, from the purple or blood-red dye, Φοινός,
which formed the staple of Phoencian commerce, and from the Red Sea, or Mare Erythraeum, where the Phoenicians are supposed to have originally dwelt. (Steph. B. sub voce Sil. Ital. 1.89
; Hesych. sub voce Φοινόν;
Ach. Tatius, 2.4; Strab. i. p.42
, &c.) Of all these etymologies the second is the most probable, as it accords with the practice of antiquity in many other instances.
II. PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY.
The boundaries of Phoenicia are not very clearly laid down in ancient writers. The Mediterranean sea on the W. and Lebanon on the E. form natural limits; but on the N. and S. they are variously fixed.
According to Herodotus the N. boundary of Phoenicia was the bay of Myriandrus, whilst on the S. it terminated a little below Mount Carmel, or where the territory of Judaea touched the sea (3.5, 4.38, 7.89). Strabo makes it extend from Orthosia on the N., to Pelusium in Egypt on the S. (xvi. pp. 753, 756). But Phoenitica, considered as a political confederation, neither reached so far N. as the boundary of Herodotus, nor so far S. as that of Strabo. Myriandrus was indeed inhabited by Phoenicians; but it appears to have been only a colony, and was separated from Phoenicia, properly so called, by an intervening tract of the Syrian coast. (Xenoph. Anab.
The more accurate boundaries of Phoenicia, and which will be adopted here, are those laid down by Pliny (5.17
), which include it between Aradus on the N., and the river Chorseas or Crocodilon on the S.
The same limits are given in Ptolemy (5.15.4
), except [p. 2.606]
that he makes the river Eleutherus the N. boundary, and does not mention Aradus, which lay a little to the N. of that stream.
There can be no question, however, that Aradus belonged to Phoenicia. So, too, at the southern extremity, the town of Dora was unquestionably Phoenician, whilst Caesarea, the first town S. of the Chorseus, belonged to Palestine.
Phoenicia, as thus defined, lies between lat. 32° 38′ and 34° 52′ N., and long. 35-36° E.
It forms a narrow slip of land about 120 miles in length, and seldom more, but frequently less, than 12 miles broad.
The range of Libanus, which skirts the greater part of its eastern side, throws out spurs which form promontories on the coast, the most remarkable of which are Theou-prosopon (Θεοῦ πρόσωπον
) between the towns of Trieris and Botrys, and the Promontorium Album between Tyre and Ecdippa. Farther to the S. Mount Carmel forms another bold promontory.
The whole of Phoenicia presents a succession of hills and valleys, and is traversed by numerous small rivers which descend from the mountains and render it well watered and fruitful.
The coast-line trends in a south-westerly direction; so that whilst its northern extremity lies nearly under long. 36°, its southern one is about under 35°. Aradus, its most northerly town, lies on an island of the same name, between 2 and 3 miles from the mainland, and nearly opposite to the southern extremity of Mount Bargylus. On the coast over against it lay Antaradus. From this point to Tripolis the coast forms an extensive bay, into which several rivers fall, the principal being the Eleutherus (Nahr-el-Kebir
), which flows through the valley between Mount Bargylus and Libanus. To the N. of the Eleutherus lie the towns of Simyra and Marathus; to the S. the principal town before arriving at Tripolis was Orthosia, close to the seashore. Tripolis stands on a promontory about half a mile broad, and running a mile into the sea.
It is washed by a little river now called El-Kadisha,
“the holy.” Tripolis derived its name from being the federal town of the three leading Phoenician cities, Tyre, Sidon, and Aradus, each of which had here its separate quarter. To the S. of Tripolis the country rises into chalk hills, which press so closely on the sea as to leave no room for cultivation, and scarcely even for a road, and which form the bold promontory already mentioned of Theuprosopon. (Ras-es-Shekah.
) The chief towns of this district are Calamos and Trieris. To the S. of Theuprosopon the hills recede a little from the sea, but at a distance of between 20 and 30 miles form another lofty promontory called Climax (Ras Walta Sillan
), from the circumstance that the steepness of the cliffs rendered it necessary to cut steps in them. Along this tract several rivers descend into the sea, the principal of which is the Adonis (Nahr el-Ibrahim
The chief towns are Botrys, 7 miles S. of Theuprosopon, and Byblus, a little S. of the Adonis. Palai-byblus lay still further S., but its site is unknown. Aphaca, noted for its licentious worship of Venus, was seated in the interior, at the source of the river Adonis in Libanus.
The promontory of Climax formed the N. point of the bay, now called Kesruan,
the S. extremity of which, at a distance of about 12 miles, is formed by the headland Ras-en-Nahr-el-Kelb,
on which the town of Berytus formerly stood.
At about the middle of this bay the river Lycus (Nahr-el-Kelb
) discharges itself into the sea through a narrow chasm the nearly perpendicular cliffs of which are 200 feet in height.
At the eastern extremity of the valley of the Lycus rises the Gebel-el-Sannia,
the highest summit of Libanus.
The southern side of this valley is enclosed by steep and almost inaccessible cliffs, up the face of which traces of a road are still visible, made probably by the Egyptians during their wars in Palestine.
A lower and broader road of more gradual ascent was constructed by the emperor M. Aurelius. To the S. of this spot, the plain between Libanus and the sea at Berytus is of greater length than in any other part of Phoenicia.
The land, which consists of gentle undulations, is very fertile, and produces orange and mulberry trees in abundance.
This plain extends southwards as far as the river Tamyras, a distance of about 10 miles. Berytus (Beirout
) is washed by the river Magoras. From the headland on which it stands--the most projecting point in Phoenicia--the coast again forms a long curve down to Sidon. On this part of the coast stand the towns of Platanus and Porphyrium.
A little to the N. of Platanus is the river Tamyras (Damour
), already mentioned, and between Porphyrium and Sidon the river Bostrenus (Auwaleh
). To the S. of the Tamyras the country again becomes rugged and barren, and the hills press closely upon the sea.
The narrow plain of the Bostrenus, however, about 2 miles broad, is of the highest fertility, and produces the finest fruits in Syria. Sidon stands on a small promontory about 2 miles S. of the Bostrenus. From Sidon a plain extends to a distance of about 8 miles S., as far as Sarepta, the Zarepthah of the Book of Kings (1 Kings,
17.9), which stands on an eminence near the sea. From Sarepta to Tyre is about 20 miles. Nine miles to the N. of Tyre the site of the ancient Ornithonopolis is supposed to be marked by a place called Adnon or Adloun.
At this place the plain, which had expanded after passing Sarepta, again contracts to about 2 miles, and runs along the coast in gentle undulations to Tyre, where it expands to a width of about 5 miles.
The hills which bound it are, however, of no great height, and are cultivated to the summit.
At about 5 miles N. of Tyre this plain is crossed by the river Kasimieh,
supposed to be the ancient Leontes, the most considerable of Phoenicia, and the only one which makes its way through the barrier of the mountains.
It rises in the valley of Bekaa, between Libanus and Antilibanus, at a height of 4000 feet above the level of the sea.
The upper part of its course, in which it is known by the name of El-Litani,
is consequently precipitous and romantic, till it forces its way through the defiles at the southern extremity of Libanus. Sudden and violent gusts of wind frequently rush down its valley, rendering the navigation of this part of the coast very dangerous. From Tyre, the site of which will be found described under its proper head, the coast runs in a westerly direction for a distance of about 8 miles, to the Promontorium Album (Ras-el-Abiad
), before mentioned,--a bluff headland consisting of white perpendicular cliffs 300 feet high.
The road from Tyre to its summit seems originally to have consisted of a series of steps, whence it was called Climax Tyriorum, or the Tyrian staircase; but subsequently a road was laboriously cut through the rock, it is said, by Alexander the Great. From this promontory the coast proceeds in a straight and almost southerly direction to Ptolemais or Acco (Acre
), a distance of between 20 and 30 miles. About midway lay [p. 2.607]
Ecdippa, now Zeb,
the Achzib of Scripture (Josh.
19.29), regarded by the Jews after the captivity as the northern boundary of Judaea. Ptolemais stands on the right bank of the river Belus (Naaman),
but at a little distance from it. To the SE. a fertile plain stretches itself out as far as the hills of Galilee. From Ptolemais the coast forms a deep bay, about 8 miles across, the further extremity of which is formed by the promontory of Carmel.
It is now called the bay or gulf of Khaifa.
The bold and lofty headland of Carmel is only a continuation or spur of the mountain of the same name, a range of no great height, from 1200 to 1500 feet, which runs for 18 riles in a direction from SE. to NW., gradually sinking as it approaches the coast.
A convent near the cape or promontory is about 582 feet above the sea. On its NE. side flows the Kishon of Scripture, which, when not swollen by rains, is a small stream finding its way through the sand into the sea. Towards the bay the sides of Carmel are steep and rugged, but on the south they slope gently and are more fertile. Carmel was celebrated in Hebrew song for its beauty and fertility; and though its orchards and vineyards no longer exist, the richness of the soil is still marked by the profusion of its shrubs and the luxuriance of its wild-flowers. From the promontory of Carmel the coast gradually sinks, and at its lowest point stands Dora, a town celebrated in ancient times for the manufacture of the Phoenician purple. Beyond this point we shall not pursue the description of the coast; for although between Dora and Egypt some towns are found which were inhabited by Phoenicians, yet in their geographical distribution they belong more-properly to Palestine.
That part of the Mediterranean which washed the boast of Phoenicia was called by the Greeks τὸ Φοινίκιον πέλαγος
(Agathem. 2.14), or Σιδονίη Θάλασσα
(Dion. Per. 5.117), and by the Latins Mare Phoenicium. (Plin. Nat. 5.13
, &c.) Its southern portion, as far as Sidon, is affected by the carrents which carry the alluvial soil brought down by the Nile to the eastward ; so that towns which were once maritime are now become inland, and the famous liarbours of Tyre and Sidon are nearly choked with sand.
The climate of Phoenicia is tempered by the vicinity of Lebanon, which is capped with snow during the greater part of the year, and retains it in its ravines even during the heats of summer. (Tac. Hist. 5.6
.) Hence the temperature is much lower than might be expected from the latitude. At Beirout,
which lies in the centre of Phoenicia, the usual: summer heat is about 90° Fahrenheit, whilst the winter temperature is rarely lower than 50°.
In the mountains, however, the winter is severe, and heavy falls of snow take place.
The rainy season commences towards the end of October, or beginning of November, from which time till March there are considerable falls of rain or snow. From May till October rain is very unusual.
As Phoenicia, though small in extent, is, from its configuration and natural features, subject to a great Variety of climate, so its vegetable productions are necessarily very various.
The sides of Lebanon are clothed with pines, firs, and cypress, besides its far-famed cedars.
The lowlands produce corn of all sorts, peaches, pomegranates, grapes, oranges, citrons, figs, dates, and other fruits.
It also yields sugar, cotton, tobacco, and silk.
The whole country is subject to earthquakes, the effect of volcanic agency; from which cause, as well as from the action of the carrents already mentioned, both Tyre and Sidon have suffered changes which render them no longer to be recognised from ancient descriptions.
In some places the coast has been depressed by earthquakes, and at the mouth of the river Lycus are traces of submerged quarries. (Bertou, Topogr. de Tyr.
In like manner, the lake Cendevia, at the foot of Carmel, in which Pliny (5.17
) describes the river Belus as rising, has now disappeared; though Shaw (Trav.
2.33) mentions some pools near its source.
The geological structure of Phoenicia is recent, and consists of chalk and sandstone, the higher mountains being formed of the Jura limestone.
The only metal found is iron, which occurs in considerable quantities in the hills above Beirout.
In the sandstone of the same district, bituminous wood and brown coal are found, but in small quantities and impregnated with sulphur.
III. ETHNOLOGICAL RELATIONS OF THE PHOENICIANS.
The Phoenicians were called by the Greeks Φοίνικες
(Hom. Od. 4.84
; Hdt. 1.1
; Thuc. 1.8
, &c.), and by the Romans Phoenices (Cic. N. D. 2.4. 1
; Mela, 1.12; Plin. Nat. 5.13
, &c.). They were a branch of the great Semitic or Aramaean race. The Scriptures give no intimation that they were not indigenous; and when the Hebrews settled in Canaan, Sidon and Tyre were already flourishing cities. (Josh.
By classing, however, the Phoenicians, or Canaanites, among the descendants of Ham (Genesis,
10.15), the Scriptures imply an immigration.
The reason of this classification, was probably their colour, the darkness of their complexion indicating a southern origin; yet their language, a safer criterion, marks them, as we have said, for a Semitic race.
This, though not strictly identical with the Hebrew, was the nearest allied to it of all the Semitic tongues. St. Jerome (Comm. in Jer.
25.21) and St. Augustine (Tract.
15 in Evang. Joan.
) testify that the Punic language resembled the Hebrew.
The fame affinity is observable in Punic words preserved in Greek and Roman writers ; as in the Poenulus
of Plautus, especially since the improvement of the text by the collation of Mai.
The similarity is also evinced by bilingual inscriptions discovered at Athens, where many Phoenicians were settled, as will be related in the sequel.
But perhaps one of the most remarkable proofs is the inscription on the Carthaginian tablet discovered at Marseilles
in 1845, of which 74 words, out of 94, occur in the Old Testament.
Profane writers describe the Phoenicians as immigrants from the borders of the Persian Gulf. Thus Herodotus (1.1
) asserts that they originally dwelt on the Erythraean sea; an appellation which, in his language, as well as in that of other ancient writers, embraces not only the present Red Sea, but also the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. To the same purpose is the testimony of Strabo (xvi. p.766
), who adds that there were in the Persian Gulf two islands, Tyrus and Aradus, the inhabitants of which had temples resembling those of the Phoenicians, and who claimed the like-named islands on the coast of the Mediterranean as their colonies. Heeren (Researches,
vol. ii. p. 56, Eng. trans.), who admits that traces of Phoenician workmanship and buildings have lately been discovered in these islands, reverses the parentage, and [p. 2.608]
makes them to be colonies of their more celebrated namesakes, in opposition to the testimony of Strabo, and without producing any counter authority.
The isle of Tylus or Tyrus is likewise mentioned by Pliny (6.32
The account given by Justin is in harmony with these authorities (18.3).
He describes the Tyrians as having been disturbed in their native seats by an earthquake, and as migrating thence, first to what he calls the “Assyrian lake,” and subsequently to the shores of the Mediterranean.
A recent writer (Kenrick, Phoenicia,
p. 47) takes this Assyrian lake to have been Gennesaret or the Dead Sea, as there was no other collection of waters in S. Assyria to which the term could be applied.
This would have formed a natural resting-place in the journey of the emigrants.
It must not, however, be concealed, that the account of these writers has been rejected by several very eminent authors, as Bochart, Hengstenberg, Heeren, Niebuhr, and others, and more recently by Movers, a writer who has paid great attention to Phoenician history, and who has discussed this question at considerable length. (Die Phönizier,
vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 23--62.) His principal arguments are, that the Phoenician traditions, which go back to the primitive chaos, represent even the gods, as well as the invention of all the arts of life, as indigenous; that the Scriptures, whose testimony is preferable, both on account of its antiquity, and because it arose out of the bosom of the people themselves, make no mention of any such immigration, though at that time its memory could not have been obliterated had it really occurred, and though it would have served the purpose of the Jews to represent the Canaanites as intruders; and that the name of the people, being derived from the character of the land, as well as the appellations of different tribes, such as the Gibli at Byblus, the Sidonians at Sidon, &c., mark them as indigenous.
But it may be observed, that the Phoenician traditions rest on the equivocal authority of the pretended Sanconiatho, and come to us in so questionable a shape that they may evidently be made to serve any purpose. Thus Movers himself quotes a passage from Sanconiatho (vol. ii. pt. i. p. 28), to the effect that the Tyrians invented shipbuilding, because it directly contradicts the statement that they were the descendants of a sea-faring people on the shores of the Persian Gulf; although he had previously cited the same passage (vol. i. p. 143) in proof of the Euhemerism of Philo-Sanco-niatho, who, it is there said, attributed the invention of navigation to the Cabiri merely because the Phoenician mariners considered themselves as sailing under the protection of their deities. Can such testimony be compared with that of the “loyalhearted and truthful Herodotus,” as Movers characterises him (vol. i. pt. ii. p. 134), who, be it observed, also founds his account on the traditions
of the Phoenicians ὡς αὐτοὶ λέγουσι,
7.89), and who could have had no possible interest in misrepresenting them? Nor could the natural vanity of the Phoenicians have found any gratification in misleading him on this point, since the tradition lessened, rather than enhanced, the splendour of their origin.
The testimony of the Scriptures on the subject is merely negative;
nor, were it otherwise, could they be taken as a certain guide in ethnological inquiries. They were not written with that view, and we have already adverted to a discrepancy in their treatment of this subject.
The question, however, is too long to be fully discussed in this place. We have merely adverted to some of the principal heads, and they who wish to pursue the inquiry further are referred to the passage in Mover's work already indicated, and to Mr. Kenrick's Phoenicia
Our knowledge of Phoenician history is only fragmentary. Its native records, both literary and monumental, have almost utterly perished; and we are thus reduced to gather from scattered notices in the Old Testament and in the Greek and Roman authors, and sometimes to supply by inference, the annals of a country which stands the second in point of antiquity, which for some thousands of years played a considerable part in the world, and to which Europe owes the germs of her civilisation.
If we accept the authority of Herodotus, the Phoenicians must have appeared upon the coasts of the Mediterranean at least twenty-seven or twenty-eight centuries before the birth of Christ.
In order to ascertain the age of Hercules, respecting which the Egyptian chronology differed very widely from the Greek, that conscientious historian resolved to inquire for himself, and accordingly sailed to Tyre, where he had heard that there was a famous temple of Hercules.
It was, therefore, expressly for the purpose of settling a chronological point that he was at the trouble of making this voyage, and it is natural to suppose that he did not adopt the information which he received from the priests without some examination. From these he learned that the temple had existed 2300 years, and that it was coeval with the foundation of Tyre (2.43, 44). Now, as Herodotus flourished about the middle of the fifth century before our aera, it follows that Tyre must have been founded about 2750 years B.C.
The high antiquity of this date is undoubtedly startling, and on that account has been rejected by several critics and historians. Yet it does not appear why it should be regarded as altogether improbable.
The chronology of the Jews is carried back more than 2000 years B.C.; yet the Jewish Scriptures uniformly intimate the much higher, and indeed immemorable, antiquity of the Canaanites. Again, if we look at Egypt, this aera would fall under the 14th dynasty of its kings1
(2750--2631 B.C.), who had had an historical existence, and to whom many conquests are attributed before this period.
This dynasty was followed by that of the Hyksos, who were probably Canaanites, and are described by Manetho as skilled in the art of war, and of fortifying camps and cities. (Sync. pp. 113, 114; Schol. in Platon. Tim.
vol. vii. p. 288, ed. Tauchn.)
If Sidon was older than Tyre, and its mother-city, as it claimed to be, this would add some difficulty to the question, by carrying back the chronology to a still higher period.
But even this objection cannot be regarded as fatal to the date assigned to Tyre. Cities at so short a distance might easily have been planted by one another within a very brief space of time from their origin; and the contest between them in ancient times for priority, not only shows that the question was a very ambiguous one, but also leads to the inference that the difference in their dates could not have been very great.
The weight of ancient evidence on either side of the question is pretty nearly balanced. On [p. 2.609]
one side it is alleged that Sidon is styled in Scripture the eldest born of Canaan (Gen.
49.13), whilst Tyre is not mentioned till the invasion of Palestine by the Israelites. (Josh.
But in the former passage there is nothing to connect the person with the city; and the second argument is at best only negative.
It is further urged that the name of Tyre does not once occur in Homer, though the Sidonians are frequently mentioned; and in one passage (Od. 13.285
) Sidonia is used as the general name of Phoenicia.
This, however, only shows that, in the time of Homer, Sidonia was the leading city, and does not prove that it was founded before Tyre.
The same remark may be applied to the silence of Scripture. That Tyre was in existence, and must have been a flourishing city in the time of Homer, is unquestionable; since, as will be seen further on, she founded the colony of Gadeira, or Cadiz,
not long after the Trojan War; and many years of commercial prosperity must have elapsed before she could have planted so distant a possession. Poets, who are not bound to historical accuracy, will often use one name in preference to another merely because it is more sonorous, or for some similar reason; and Strabo (xvi. p.756
), in commenting upon this very circumstance of Homer's silence, observes that it was only the poets who glorified Sidon, whilst the Phoenician colonists, both in Africa and Spain, gave the preference to Tyre.
This passage has been cited in proof of Strabo's own decision in favour of Sidon; but, from the ambiguous wording of it, nothing certain can be concluded. Movers (ii. pt. i. p. 118) even construes it in favour of Tyre; but it must be confessed that the opposite view is rather strengthened by another passage (i. p. 40) in which Strabo calls Sidon the metropolis of the Phoenicians (τὴν μητρόπολιν αὐτῶν
). On the other hand, it may be remarked, that all the most ancient Phoenician traditions relate to Tyre, and not to Sidon; that Tyre is called ματέρα Φοινίκων
by Meleager the epigrammatist (Anth. Graec.
7.428. 13), who lived before the time of Strabo; that an inscription to the same effect is found on a coin of Antiochus IV., B.C. 175--164 (Gesen. Mon. Phoen.
1.262); and that the later Roman and Greek writers seem unanimously to have regarded the claim of Tyre to superior antiquity as preferable. Thus the emperor Hadrian settled the ancient dispute in favour of that city (Suidas, s. v. Παῦλος Τύριος
), and other testimonies will be found in Orosius (3.16
), Ulpian (Dig.
tit. xxv.), and Eunapius (v. Porphyr.
p. 7, ed. Wytt.)
It may also be remarked that if the Phoenicians came from the Persian Gulf, the name of Tyre shows that it must have been one of their earliest settlements on the Mediterranean.
This dispute, however, was not confined to Tyre. and Sidon, and Byblus and Berytus also claimed to be regarded as the oldest of the Phoenician cities.
But however this may be, it seems certain that the latest of the Phoenician settlements in Syria, which was, perhaps, Hamath or Epiphania on the Orontes, preceded the conquest of Canaan by the Jews, which event is usually placed in the year 1450 B.C.
The expedition of Joshua into Canaan is one of the earliest events known in the history of the Phoenicians.
In order to oppose his progress, the king of Hazor organised a confederacy of the Canaanite states. (Josh.
But the allies were overthrown with great slaughter. Hazor was taken and destroyed, and the territory of the confederate kings, with the exception of a few fortresses, fell into the power of the Israelites.
The defeated host was pursued as far as Sidon; but neither that nor any other town of Phoenicia, properly so called, fell into the hands of the Jews, nor on the whole does the expedition of Joshua seem to have had much effect on its political condition. Yet there was a constant succession of hostilities between the Phoenicians and some of the Jewish tribes; and in the book of Judges (10.12) we find the Sidonians mentioned among the oppressors of Israel.
Sidon, then, must have early risen to be a powerful kingdom, as may indeed be also inferred from the Homeric poems, in which its trade and manufactures are frequently alluded to. Yet a year before the capture of Troy, the Sidonians were defeated by the king of Ascalon, and they were obliged to take refuge-or at all events a great proportion of them--at Tyre. (Justin, 18.3
.) We are ignorant how this conquest was effected.
The name of Ascalon probably represents the whole pentapolis of Philistia; and we know that shortly after this event the Philistines were powerful enough to reduce the kingdom of Israel to the condition of a tributary, and to retain it as such till the time of David. Justin, in the passage just cited, speaks of Tyre as founded
by the Sidonians (condiderunt) on this occasion.
This expression, however, by no means implies first
foundation, since in the next chapter he again uses the same word to denote the restoration
of Tyre by Alexander the Great.
It has been already said, as will appear at greater length in the account of the Phoenician colonies, that Tyre must have been a city of considerable importance before this period.
The account of Justin is corroborated by Josephus, who, in allusion no doubt to the same event, places the foundation of Tyre 240 years before that of Solomon's temple. (Ant.
8.3.) If Justin followed the computation of the Parian marble, the fall of Troy took place in the year 1209 B.C.; and if the disputed date of Solomon's temple be fixed at 969 B.C., the aera adopted by Movers (Phön.
ii. pt. i. p. 149), then 969 + 240 = 1209. Josephus, in the passage cited, uses the word οἴκησις,
“a dwelling in,” and could no more have [meant the original foundation of Tyre than Justin, since that city is mentioned in the Old Testament as in existence two centuries and a half before the building of the temple.
From the period of the Sidonian migration, Tyre must be regarded as the head of the Phoenician nation. During the headship of Sidon, the history of Phoenicia is mythical. Phoenix, who is represented as the father of Cadmus and Europa, is a mere personification of the country; Belus, the first king, is the god Baal; and Agenor, the reputed founder both of Tyre and Sidon, is nothing but a Greek epithet, perhaps of Hercules.
The history of Tyre also, before the age of Solomon, is unconnected. Solomon's relations with Hiram, king of Tyre, led Josephus to search the Tyrian histories of Dius and Menander. Hiram succeeded Abibal; and from this time to the foundation of Carthage there is a regular succession of dates and reigns.
Tyre was in fact a double city, the original town being on the continent, and the new one on an island about half a mile from the shore. When the latter was founded, the original city obtained the name of Palae-Tyrus, or Old Tyre.
The island, however, was probably used as a naval station from the very earliest times, and as a place consecrated to the [p. 2.610]
worship of the national deities Astarte, Belus, and particularly Melcarth, or the Tyrian Hercules.
According to Justin, indeed, the oldest temple of Hercules was in Palae-Tyrus (11.10; comp. Curt. 4.2
); but this assertion may have been made by the Tyrians in order to evade the request of Alexander, who wished to gain an entrance into their island city under pretence of sacrificing to that deity.
Hiram succeeded to the crown of Tyre a little before the building of Solomon's temple (B.C. 969).
He added to and improved the new city, and by means of substructions even gained space enough to build a large square or place, the eurychorus.
He maintained friendly relations with king David, which were confirmed by commerce and by intermarriages. Hiram furnished the Jewish monarch with cedarwood and workmen to construct his palace, as well as materials for his proposed temple, the building of which, however, was reserved for his son. The Phoenicians, on the other hand, imported the corn and oil of Judah. Under the reign of Solomon this intercourse was cemented by a formal treaty of commerce, by which that monarch engaged to furnish yearly 20,000 cors
, and the like quantity of oil, for the use of Hiram's household, while Hiram, in return, supplied Solomon with workmen to cut and prepare the wood for his temple, and others skilful in working metal and stone, in engraving, dyeing, and manufacturing fine linen. Solomon also ceded to Tyre a district in Galilee containing twenty towns. (1 Kings,
9.13; J. AJ 8.5
In these transactions we perceive the relations of a commercial and an agricultural people; but Hiram was also of great assistance to Solomon in his maritime and commercial enterprises, and his searches after the gold of Ophir, when his victories over the Edomites had given him the command of the Aelanitic, or eastern, gulf of the Red Sea.
The pilots and mariners for these voyages were furnished by Hiram. Except, however, in connection with the Israelites, we know little concerning the reign of this monarch.
He appears to have undertaken an expedition against Citium in Cyprus, probably a revolted colony of the Phoenicians, and to have established a festival in honour of Melcarth, or Hercules. (Joseph. l.c.
) By his great works at Tyre he entailed an enormous expense upon the people; and his splendid reign, which lasted thirty-four years, was followed at no great interval by political troubles. His dynasty was continued for seven years in the person of his son Baleazar, or Baleastartus, and nine years in that of his grandson Abdastartus.
The latter was put to death by the four sons of his nurse, the eldest of whom usurped the supreme power for a space of twelve years.
This revolution is connected by Movers (ii. pt. i. p. 342) with the account of the servile insurrection at Tyre given by Justin (18.3
), who, however, with his usual neglect of chronology, has placed it a great deal too late.
This interregnum, which, according to the account adopted, was a complete reign of terror, was terminated by a counter-revolution.
The usurper, whose name is not mentioned, either died or was deposed, and the line of Hiram was restored in the person of Astartus,--the Strato of Justin,--a son of Baleastartus.
This prince reigned twelve years, and was succeeded by his brother Astarymus, or Aserymus, who ruled nine years.
The latter was murdered by another brother, Phales, who after reigning a few months was in turn assassinated by Ithobaal, a priest of Astarte. Ithobaal is the Ethbaal of Scripture, father of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, who endeavoured to restore the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth in the kingdom of her husband. (1 Kings,
In the reign of Itohbaal Phoenicia was visited with a remarkable drought, which also prevailed in Judaea in the time of Ahab. (J. AJ 8.13.2
; 1 Kings,
100.17.7.) We know nothing further of Ithobaal's reign, except that he founded Botrys, on the coast N. of Sidon, and Auza in Numidia. (Joseph. 8.7, 13.2.)
He reigned thirty-two years, and was the founder of a new dynasty. Badezor, his son, succeeded to the throne, and after a reign of six years was followed by Matteu, or Mutto, who ruled for thirty-two years.
The reign of his successor, Pygmalion, brings us into contact with classical history and tradition, through the foundation of Carthage by his sister Elisa, or Dido, which took place not long after his accession. Probably, however, this was only a second foundation, as in the case of Tyre itself.
The whole story, which indicates a struggle between an aristocratical and sacerdotal party and the monarchical power, has been obscured by mythical traditions and the embellishments of poets; but it need not be repeated here, as it will be found in the Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, s. v.
Pygmalion occupied the throne forty-seven years, and after his reign there is a gap in the history of Tyre. When we can next trace the Phoenicians in the Scriptures, we find them at war with Israel.
The prophet Joel, who flourished about the beginning of the eighth century B.C., bitterly complains of the outrages committed by Tyre and Sidon on the coasts of Judaea, and his complaints are repeated by Amos, a contemporary prophet.
This was the chief period of the maritime ascendency of the Phoenicians, and their main offence seems to have been the carrying off of youths and maidens and selling them into slavery. Towards the end of the same century we find Isaiah prophesying the destruction of Tyre.
It was about this period that the Assyrians began to grasp at the countries towards the west, and to seek an establishment on the sea-board of the Mediterranean; a policy which was continued by the succeeding empires of the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians.
The expedition of Shalmaneser, who, after reducing the kingdom of Israel, turned his arms against Phoenicia, is recorded by Josephus from the history of Menander. (Ant.
After overrunning the whole of Phoenicia, he retired without attempting any permanent conquest.
He seems to have been assisted by several Phoenician cities, as Sidon, Ace, and even Palae-Tyrus, which were oppressed by the domination of Elulaeus, king of Tyre.
These cities furnished him with sixty ships for a second attempt upon Tyre: but this fleet was defeated by the Tyrians with only twenty vessels. Shalmaneser blockaded them on the land side for a space of five years, and prevented them from having any fresh water except what they could preserve in tanks. How this blockade ended we are not informed, but it was probably fruitless. We have no further accounts of Elulaeus, except that he had reduced to obedience the revolted town of Citium in Cyprus previously to this invasion.
After his reign another long gap occurs in the history of Phoenicia, or rather of Tyre, its head.
This silence would seem to indicate that it was enjoying the blessings of peace, and consequently increasing in prosperity. The Phoenician alliance was courted [p. 2.611]
by the Egyptian monarchs, and an extensive commerce appears to have been carried on with the port of Naucratis.
The next wars in which we find the Phoenicians engaged were with the Babylonians; though the account of Berosus, that Nabopalassar, who reigned towards the end of the seventh century B.C., held Phoenicia in subjection, and that his son Nebuchadnezzar reduced it when in a state of revolt, must be regarded as doubtful.
At all events, however, it appears to have been in alliance with the Chaldeans at this period; since we find it related that Apries, king of Egypt, when at war with that nation, conquered Cyprus and Phoenicia. (Hdt. 2.161
; Diod. 1.68
.) When Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne, we find that, after quelling a revolt of the Jews and reducing Jerusalem (B.C. 587), he marched into Phoenicia, took Sidon apparently by assault, with dreadful carnage, and proceeded to invest Tyre. (Ezekiel,
xxvi.) For an account of this siege, one of the most memorable in ancient history, we are again indebted to Josephus (10.11 ), who extracted it from Tyrian annals.
It is said to have lasted thirteen years. Another Ithobaal was at this time king of Tyre.
The description of the siege by Ezekiel would seem to apply to Palae-Tyrus, though it is probable that insular Tyre was also attempted. (Grote, Hist. of Greece,
iii. p. 355, note.)
The result of the siege is by no means clear. Berosus, indeed, affirms (ap. Joseph. c. Apion.
1.20) that Nebuchadnezzar subdued all Syria and Phoenicia; but there is no evidence of an assault upon Tyre, and the words of Ezekiel (29.17) seem to imply that the siege was unsuccessful.
The same dynasty continued to reign. Ithobaal was succeeded by Baal; and the subsequent changes in the government indicate internal revolution, but not subjection to a foreign power.
The kings were superseded by judges or suffetes, and after a few years the royal line appears to have been restored; but whether by the spontaneous, act of the Tyrians, or by compulsion of the Babylonians, is a disputed point.
Ezekiel's description of Tyre at the breaking out of the Babylonian war exhibits it as the head of the Phoenician states. Sidon and Aradus are represented as furnishing soldiers and mariners, and the artisans of Byblus as working in its dockyards. (Ezek.
17.8, 9, 11.)
But that war was a severe blow to the power of the Tyrians, which now began to decline. Cyprus was wrested from them by Amasis, king of Egypt, though a branch of the regal family of Tyre appears to have retained the sovereignty of Salamis for some generations. (Hdt. 5.104
; Isocr. Evag.
p. 79. 1, 2, 28.) Merbalus was succeeded by his brother Eiramus, or Hiram, during whose reign Cyrus conquered Babylon (538 B.C.). When the latter monarch permitted the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem, we find Tyre and Sidon again assisting in the work (Ezra,
3.7), a proof that their commerce was still in a flourishing state. Xenophon (Cyropaed.
1.1.8) represents Cyrus as ruling over Phoenicia as well as Cyprus and Egypt; and though this is not confirmed by any collateral proof, they must at all events have very soon submitted to his son Cambyses. (Hdt. 3.19
The relations with Persia seem, however, to have been those of a voluntary alliance rather than of a forced subjection; since, though the Phoenicians assisted Cambyses against the Egyptians, they refused to serve against their colonists the Carthaginians. Their fleet was of great assistance to the Persians, and enabled Darius to make himself master of the islands off the coast of Asia Minor. (Thuc. 1.16
; Plat. Menex.
100.9.) Phoenicia, with Palestine and Cyprus, formed the fifth of the twenty nomes into which the empire of Darius was divided. (Hdt. 3.91
These nomes were, in fact, satrapies; but it does not appear that they interfered with the constitutions of the several countries in which they were established; at all events native princes continued to reign in Phoenicia. Although Sidon became a royal Persian residence, it still had its native king, and so also had Tyre. (Hdt. 8.67
.) When Darius was meditating his expedition against Greece, Sidon supplied two triremes and a storeship to enable Democedes to explore the coasts. (Ib. 3.136.) Subsequently the Phoenicians provided the Persians with a fleet wherewith to reduce not only the revolted Ionian cities, but even their own former colony of Cyprus.
In the last of these enterprises they were defeated by the Ionian fleet (Ib. 5.108, 112); but they were the chief means of reducing the island of Miletus (Ib. 6.6), by the defeat which they inflicted on the Ionians off Lade. (IB.C. 14.)
After the subjugation of the Asiatic islands, the Phoenician fleet proceeded to the Thracian Chersonese, where they captured Metiochus, the son of Miltiades (IB.C. 41), and subsequently appear to have scoured the Aegean and to have ravaged the coasts of Boeotia. (IB.C. 118.) They assisted Xerxes in his expedition against Greece, and along with the Egyptians constructed the bridge of boats across the Hellespont. (Ib. 7.34.) They helped to make the canal over the isthmus of Mount Athos, in which, as well as in other engineering works, they displayed a skill much superior to that of the other nations employed. (lB.C. 23.)
In the naval review of Xerxes in the Hellespont they carried off the prize from all competitors by the excellence of their ships and the skill of their mariners; whilst among the Phoenicians themselves the Sidonians were far the most distinguished (Ib. cc. 44, 96), and it was in a vessel belonging to the latter people that Xerxes embarked to conduct the review. (IB.C. 100.) The Phoenician ships composed nearly half of the fleet which Xerxes had collected; yet at the battle of Artemisium they do not appear to have played so distinguished a part as the Egyptians. (Ib. 8.17.) When routed by the Athenians at Salamis they complained to Xerxes, who sat overlooking the battle on his silver-footed throne, that their ships had been treacherously sunk by the Ionians. Just at this instant, however, extraordinary skill and valour were displayed by a Samothracian vessel, and the Great King, charging the Phoenicians with having falsely accused the lonians in order to screen their own cowardice and ill-conduct, caused many of them to be beheaded. (IB.C. 90.)
At the battle of the Eurymedon (B.C. 466), the Phoenician fleet was totally defeated by the Athenians under Cimon, on which occasion 100 of their vessels were captured (Diod. 11.62
), or according to Thucydides (1.100
) 200, who, however, is probably alluding to the whole number of their fleet. Subsequently the Athenians obtained such naval superiority that we find them carrying on maritime operations on the coast of Phoenicia itself; though in their unfortunate expedition to Egypt fifty of their triremes were almost entirely destroyed by the Phoenicians. (Thuc. 1.109
This disgrace was wiped out by the Athenians under Anaxicrates in a great victory gained over [p. 2.612]
the Phoenicians off Salamis in Cyprus, B.C. 449, when 100 of their ships were taken, many sunk, and the remnant pursued to their own harbours. (IB.C. 112.)
A cessation of hostilities now ensued between the Greeks and Persians. The Phoenician navy continued to be employed by the latter, but was no longer exposed to the attacks of the Athenians. In B.C. 411 the Phoenicians prepared a fleet of 147 vessels, to assist the Spartans against Athens; but after advancing as far as Aspendus in Pamphylia it was suddenly recalled, either because the demonstration was a mere ruse
on the part of Tissaphernes, or that the Phoenicians were obliged to defend their own coast, now threatened by the Egyptians. (Thuc. 8.87
; Diod. 13.38
.) They next appear as the auxiliaries of the Athenians against the Spartans, who had gained the naval supremacy by the battle of Aegospotami, a preponderance which had changed the former policy of Persia.
The allied fleet was led by Conon and Pharnabazus, and after the defeat of the Spartans the Phoenician seamen were employed in rebuilding the walls of Athens, (Diod. 14.83
; Nep. Con. 100.4
These events led to a more intimate connection between Phoenicia and Athens; Phoenician traders appear to have settled in that city, where three Phoenician inscriptions have been discovered of the date apparently of about 380 B.C. (Gesen. Mon. Pun.
A few years later, a decree was passed by the Athenian senate, establishing a proxenia
between Strato, king of Sidon, and the Athenians; whilst an immunity from the usual burthens imposed on aliens was granted to Sidonians settling at Athens. (Böckh, Corp. Inscr.
1.126.) About the same time we find the Phoenicians, as the subjects of Persia, engaged in a disastrous war with Evagoras, prince of Salamis in Cyprus, who ravaged their coasts, and, according to Isocrates (Evag.
p. 201) and Diodorus (14.98
), captured even Tyre itself.
But in 386 B.C. Evagoras was defeated in a great naval engagement, and subsequently became a tributary of Persia. (Ib. 15.9.) During all this period Sidon appears to have been the most wealthy and prosperous of the Phoenician cities. (Ib. 16.41.)
The next important event in the history of the Phoenicians is their revolt from Persia, which ended in a disastrous manner. Sidon had been oppressed by the satraps and generals of Artaxerxes Ochus; and in a general assembly of the Phoenicians at Tripolis, in B.C. 352, it was resolved to throw off the Persian yoke.
The royal residence at Sidon was destroyed and the Persians massacred. The Phoenicians then fortified Sidon, and invited Nectanebus, king of Egypt, to assist them.
In the following year Ochus made great preparations to quell this revolt, and particularly to punish Sidon; when Tennes, king of that city, alarmed at the fate which menaced him, treacherously negotiated to betray it to the Persians.
He inveigled 100 of the leading citizens into the enemy's camp, where they were put to death, and then persuaded the Egyptian mercenaries to admit the Persians into the city. The Sidonians, who had burnt their fleet in order to prevent any escape from the common danger, being thus reduced to despair, shut themselves up with their wives and children, and set fire to their houses. Including slaves, 40,000 persons are said to have perished on this occasion. Tennes, however, suffered the merited reward of his treason, and was either put to death by Ochus or committed suicide.
This calamity was a great, but not a fatal, blow to the prosperity of Sidon, which even to a much later period retained a considerable portion of her opulence. (Diod. 16.41
, sqq.; Mela, 1.12.)
The cruelty of the Persians left a lasting remembrance, and was not wholly unrequited. When about twenty years afterwards Alexander entered Phoenicia, Sidon hastened to open her gates to him.
The defeat of Darius at Issus, B.C. 333, opened the whole coast of Phoenicia to the Greeks. On his march Alexander was met by Strato, son of Gerostratus, king of Aradus, who surrendered that island to him, as well as some towns on the mainland.
As he proceeded southwards he received the submission of Byblus, and entered Sidon at the invitation of the inhabitants.
He deposed Strato, their king, a vassal of the Persians; and Abdoloninus, who was related to Strato, but who at that time followed the humble occupation of a gardener in the suburbs of the city, was nominated to the vacant throne by Alexander's general Hephaestion. (Curt. 4.4
.) The Tyrians now sent an embassy, professing submission to the Macedonians, but without any real design of giving up their city. (Arrian, 2.15.)
It was impossible, however, for Alexander to proceed on his intended expedition, whilst so important a place lay in his rear, at best a doubtful friend, and, in case of reverses, soon, perhaps, to become a declared enemy.
With a dissimulation equal to that of the Tyrians, he sought to gain possession of their town by requesting permission to enter and sacrifice to Hercules, the progenitor of the royal race of Macedon, as well as the tutelary god of Tyre.
But the Tyrians perceiving his design, directed him to another temple of Hercules at Palae-Tyrus, where he might sacrifice in all liberty and with still greater effect, as the fane, they asserted, was more ancient and venerable than that of the new city in the island. Alexander, however, still hankered after the latter, and made preparations for besieging the new town. (Arrian, 2.15, 16 ; Curt. 4.7
The means by which he succeeded in reducing Tyre will be found described in another place. [TYRUS
] It will suffice here to say, that by means of a causeway, and after a seven months' siege, the city of merchant princes yielded to the arms of Alexander, who was assisted in the enterprise by the ships of Sidon, Byblus, and Aradus.
The city was burnt, and most of the inhabitants either killed or sold into slavery. Alexander repeopled it, principally, perhaps, with Carians, who seem to have been intimately connected with the Phoenicians, since we find Caria called Phoenice by Corinna and Bacchylides. (Athen. 4.174
After the battle of Arbela, Alexander incorporated Phoenicia, Syria and Cilicia into one province.
With the true commercial spirit the Phoenicians availed themselves of his conquests to extend their trade, and their merchants, following the track of the Macedonian army, carried home myrrh and nard from the deserts of Gedrosia. (Arrian, 6.22, Indic.
18.) Alexander employed them to man the ships which were to sail down the Hydaspes to the Indian Ocean, as well as to build the vessels which were conveyed overland to Thapsacus on the Euphrates, with the view of descending to Babylon. (Ib.
) By these means he intended to colonise the islands and coasts of the Persian Gulf; but his schemes were frustrated by his death, B.C. 323.
After that event Ptolemy, to whom Egypt had fallen, annexed Phoenicia, together with Syria and Palestine, to his kingdom, [p. 2.613]
But in the year 315 B.C. Antigonus, returning victorious from Babylonia, easily expelled the garrisons of Ptolemy from all the Phoenician towns except Tyre, where he experienced an obstinate resistance. Eighteen years had sufficed to restore it in a considerable degree to its ancient wealth and power; and although the mole still remained it was almost as impregnable as before, and was not reduced till after a siege of fifteen months. From this period down to near the end of the third century B.C. there was an almost constant succession of struggles for the possession of Phoenicia between the Ptolemies on one side and the Seleucidae on the other. Ptolemy Euergetes succeeded in reducing it, and it was held by him and his son Philopator down to the year 218 B.C.; when Antiochus the Great, taking advantage of the indolent and sensual character of the latter, and the consequent disorders of his administration, undertook its recovery. Tyre and Ace were surrendered to him by the treachery of Theodotus, the lieutenant of Philopator, and the Egyptian army and fleet were defeated and driven to take refuge at Sidon.
In the following year, however, Philopator defeated Antiochus at Raphia near the frontiers of Egypt, and regained possession of Phoenicia and Syria, which he retained till his death, B.C. 205.
The reign of his infant son again tempted the ambition of Antiochus.
He succeeded in reducing Phoenicia, and after repulsing an attempt of the Egyptians to regain it in B.C. 198, firmly established his dominion, and bequeathed it to his sons.
Notwithstanding these struggles, Tyre appears to have still enjoyed a considerable share of commercial prosperity, in which, however, she had now to encounter a formidable rival in Alexandria.
At first, indeed, that city did not much interfere with her prosperity; but the foundation of Berenice on the Red Sea by Ptolemy Philadelphus, the making of a road between that place and Coptos, and the reopening of the canal which connected the gulf of Suez
with the Pelusiac branch of the Nile (Strab. p. 781) inflicted a severe blow upon her commerce, and converted Alexandria into the chief emporium for the products of the East.
The civil wars of the Seleucidae, and the sufferings which they entailed, induced the Syrians and Phoenicians to place themselves under the protection of Tigranes, king of Armenia, in the year 83 B.C. (Justin, 40.1
; Appian, App. Syr. 48
.) Ace, or Ptolemais, was the only city which, at the instigation of Selene, queen of Antigonus, refused to open its gates to Tigranes.
That monarch held Phoenicia during fourteen years, when the Seleucidae regained it for a short time in consequence of the victories of Lucullus. Four years later Pompey reduced all Syria to the condition of a Roman province. During the civil wars of Rome, Phoenicia was the scene of many struggles between the Roman generals. Just previously to the battle of Philippi, Cassius divided Syria into several small principalities, which he sold to the highest bidders; and in this way Tyre had again a king called Marion. Antony presented the whole country between Egypt and the river Eleutherus to Cleopatra, but, in spite of her intreaties to the contrary, secured Tyre and Sidon in their ancient freedom. (J. AJ 15.4.1
But when Augustus visited the East, B.C. 20, he deprived them of their liberties. (D. C. 54.7
Although the Roman dominion put an end to the political existence of Tyre and Sidon, they retained their manufactures and commerce for a considerable period. Mela, who probably wrote during the reign of Claudius, characterises Sidon as “adhuc opulenta” (1.12); and Pliny, at about the same period, adverts to the staple trade of Tyre as being still in a flourishing condition ( “nunc omnis ejus nobilitas conchylio atque purpura constat,” 5.17).
At the instance of the rhetorician Paulus, Hadrian, as we have already mentioned, granted to Tyre the title of metropolis.
It was the residence of a proconsul, and the chief naval station on the coast of Syria. During the contest of Septimius Severus and Pescennius Niger for imperial power, A.D. 193, Berytus favoured the cause of Niger, Tyre that of Septimius; in consequence of which, it was taken and burnt by the light Mauritanian troops of Niger, who committed great slaughter. (Herodian, 3.9.10.) Severus, after his success, recruited the population of Tyre from the third legion, and, as a reward for its attachment, bestowed on it the Jus Italicum
and the title of colony. (Ulpian, Dig. Leg. de Cens.
tit. 15; Eckhel, vol. iii. p. 387.)
In the time of St. Jerome, towards the end of the fourth century, it was still the first commercial city of the East (Comm. ad Ezek.
26.7, 27.2); and after the destruction of Berytus by an earthquake in the reign of Justinian, it monopolised the manufacture of imperial purple, which it had previously shared with that city. Beyond this period it is not necessary to pursue the history of Phoenicia. We shall only add that Tyre continued to flourish under the mild dominion of the caliphs, and that, in spite of all the violence which it suffered from the crusaders, its prosperity was not utterly annihilated till the conquest of Syria by the Ottoman Turks, A. D. 1516; a result, however, to which the discovery of the New World, and of a route to Asia by the Cape of Good Hope,
V. POLITICAL CONSTITUTION.
Phoenicia consisted of several small independent kingdoms, or rather cities, which were sometimes united with and sometimes opposed to one another, just as we find Canaan described at the time when it was invaded by the Israelites. (Strab. xvi. p.754
x.) We have but little information respecting the constitution of these kingdoms.
The throne was commonly hereditary, but the people seem to have possessed a right of election. (Justin, 18.4
The chief priests exercised great power, and were next in rank to the king. Thus Sicharbas, or Sichaeus, chief priest of the temple of Hercules, was the husband of Dido, and consequently the brother-in-law of king Pygmalion.
There seems also to have been a powerful aristocracy, but on what it was founded is unknown. Thus a body of nobles, who are called senators, accompanied the emigration of Dido. (Justin, l.c.
) During the interregnum at Tyre after the servile insurrection, the government was carried on by elective magistrates, called judges or suffetes. (Joseph. c. Ap.
This institution also obtained at Gades and Carthage, and probably in all the western colonies of Tyre. (Liv. 28.37
; comp. Movers, ii. pt. i. p. 534.) Kings existed in Phoenicia down to the time of Alexander the Great. (Arrian, 2.24.)
The federal constitution of Phoenicia resembled a Grecian hegemony: either Tyre or Sidon was always at the head, though Aradus and Byblus likewise had kings. During the earliest period of its history, Sidon appears to have been the leading city ; but after its capture by the king [p. 2.614]
of Ascalon, and the emigration of its inhabitants, as already related, Tyre became dominant, and retained the supremacy till the Persian conquest. Confederations among the Phoenician cities for some common object were frequent, and are mentioned by Joshua as early as the time of Moses (xi.). Subsequently, the great council of the Phoenicians assembled on these occasions at Tripolis (Diod. 16.41
), where, as we have already said, the three leading towns, Sidon, Tyre, and Aradus, had each its separate quarter; from which circumstance, the town derived its name. Aradus, however, does not appear to have obtained this privilege till a late period of Phoenician history, as in the time of Ezekiel it was subordinate to Tyre (27.8, sqq.); and Byblus, though it had its own king, and is sometimes mentioned as furnishing mariners, seems never to have had a voice in the confederate councils.
The population of Phoenicia consisted in great part of slaves. Its military force, as might be supposed from the nature of the country, was chiefly naval; and in order to defend themselves from the attacks of the Assyrians and Persians, the Phoenicians were compelled to employ mercenary troops, who were perhaps mostly Africans. (Diod. l.c.; Ezekiel,
The nature of the Phoenician religion can only be gathered from incidental allusions in the Greek and Roman writers, and in the Scriptures.
A few coins and idols have been found in Cyprus, but connected only with the local Phoenician religion in that island.
The most systematic account will be found in the Praeparatio Evangelica
of Eusebius, where there are extracts from Sanconiatho, professed to have been translated into Greek by Philo of Byblus.
It would be too long to enter here into his fanciful cosmogony, which was of an atheistic nature, and was characterised chiefly by a personification of the elements. From the wind Kol-pia,
his wife, were produced Aeon and Protogonus, the first mortals.
These had three sons, Light, Fire, and Flame, who produced a race of giants from whom the mountains were named,--as Casius, Libanus, Antilibanus and Brathy,--and who with their descendants discovered the various arts of life.
In later times a human origin was assigned to the gods, that is, they were regarded as deified men; and this new theology was absurdly grafted on the old cosmogony. Eliun and his wife Beruth are their progenitors, who dwelt near Byblus. From Eliun descends Ouranos (Heaven), who weds his sister Ge (Earth), and has by her four sons, Ilus (or Cronos), Betutus, Dagon, and Atlas; and three daughters, Astarte, Rhea, and Dione. Cronos, grown to man's estate, deposes his father, and puts to death his own son Sadid, and one of his daughters. Ouranos, returning from banishment, is treacherously put to death by Crones, who afterwards travels about the world, establishing Athena in Attica and making Taut king of Egypt. (Kenrick, Phoen.
Baal and Ashtaroth, the two chief divinities of Phoenicia, were the sun and moon.
The name of Baal was applied to Phoenician kings, and Belus is the first king of Assyria and Phoenicia.
At a later period Baal became a distinct supreme God, and the sun obtained a separate worship (2 Kings,
As the supreme god, the Greeks and Romans identified him with their Zeus, or Jupiter, and not with Apollo. Bel or Baal was also identified with the planet Saturn, We find his name prefixed to that of other deities, as Baal-Phegor, the god of licentiousness, Baal-Zebub, the god of flies, &c.; as well as to that of many places in which he had temples, as Baal-Gad, Baal-Hamon, &c. Groves on elevated places were dedicated to his worship, and human victims were sometimes offered to him as well as to Moloch. (Jerem.
He was worshipped with fanatical rites, his votaries crying aloud, and cutting themselves with knives and lancets. Ashtaroth or Astarte, the principal female divinity, was identified by the Greeks and Romans sometimes with Juno, sometimes with Venus, though properly and originally she represented the moon.
The principal seat of her worship was Sidon.
She was symbolised by a heifer, or a figure with a heifer's head, and horns resembling the crescent moon.
The name of Astarte was Phoenician (Ps. Lucian, de Dea Syr.
100.4); but she does not appear with that appellation in the early Greek writers, who regard Aphrodite, or Venus Urania, as the principal Phoenician goddess. Herodotus (1.105
) says that her worship was transferred from Ascalon, its oldest seat, to Cyprus and Cythera, and identifies her with the Babylonian Mylitta, the character of whose wore ship was unequivocal. Her orginal image or symbol, like that of many of the oldest deities, was a conical stone, as in the case of the Paphian Venus (Tac. H. 2.3.
; Max. Tyr. Diss.
38), of the Cybele of Pessinus (Liv. 29.11
), and others. In Cyprus her worship degenerated into licentiousness, but the Cyprian coins bear the primitive image of the conical stone. In Carthage, on the contrary, she appeared as a virgin, with martial attributes, and was worshipped with severe rites.
She must be distinguished from Atargatis, or Derceto, who had also a temple at Ascalon, and was represented as half woman, half fish.
It is characteristic of the religion of the Phoenicians, that though they adored false gods, they were not so much idolaters as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, since their temples had either no representation of the deity, or only a rude symbol.
The worship of Astarte seems to have been first corrupted at Babylon. Adonis, who had been wounded by the boar on Lebanon, was worshipped at Aphaca, about 7 miles E. of Byblus, near the source of the stream which bears his name, and which was said to be annually reddened with his blood. (Zosim. 1.58; Ps. Lucian, de Dea Syr.
By the Phoenicians Adonis was also regarded as the sun, and his death typified the winter. His.rites at Aphaca, when abolished by Constantine, were polluted with every species of abomination. (Euseb. V. Const.
Cronos, or Saturn, is said by the Greek and Latin writers to have been one of the principal Phoenician deities, but it is not easy to identify him. Human victims formed the most striking feature of his worship; but he was an epicure difficult to please, and the most acceptable offering was an only child. (Porphyr. de Abs.
2.56; Euseb. Laud. Const.
1.4.) His image was of bronze (Diod. 20.14
), and, according to the description of Diodorus, resembled that of Moloch or Milcom, the god of the Ammonites; but human sacrifices were offered to several Phoenician deities.
The gods hitherto described were common to all the Phoenicians; Melkarth3
, whose, name literally [p. 2.615]
denotes “king of the city,” was peculiar to the Tyrians.
He appears in Greek mythology under the slightly altered appellation of Melicertes. Cicero (N. D.
3.16) calls the Tyrian Hercules the son of Jupiter and Asteria, that is of Baal and Ashtaroth.
There was a festival at Tyre called “The Awakening of Hercules,” which seems connected with his character as a sun-god. (J. AJ 8.5
In his temple at Gades there was no image, and his symbol was an ever burning fire.
Another Phoenician deity was Dagon, who had a fish's tail, and seems to have been identical with the Oannes of Babylonia.
The Phoenician goddess Onca was identified by the Greeks with Athena. One of the gates of Thebes was named after her, and she was also wor-shipped at Corinth. (Euphor. ap. Steph. Byz. s. v.; Hesych. sub voce
Tzetz. ad Lycoph. Cass.
It is even probable that the Athena Polias of Athens was derived from Thebes. The Palladium of Troy was also of Phoenician origin.
As might be expected among a maritime people, the Phoenicians had several marine deities, as Poseidon, Nereus, and Pontus. Poseidon was wor-shipped at Berytus, and a marine Jupiter at Sidon.
The present deities of navigation were, however, the Cabiri, the seat of whose worship was also at Berytus, and whose images, under the name of Pataeci, were placed on the prows of Phoenician ships. (Hdt. 3.37
.) They were the sons of Hephaestos, or the Egyptian Phta, and were represented as ridiculous little pigmaic figures.
By the Greeks and Romans they were identified with their Anaces, Lares, and Penates. Aesculapius, Who was identified with the air, was their brother, and also had a temple at Berytus. (Paus. 7.23.6
We know but little of the religious rites and sacred festivities of the Phoenicians. They practised circumcision, which they learned from the Egpytians; but, owing to their intercourse with the Greeks, the rite does not seem to have been very strictly observed, (Herod, 2.104; Aristoph. Birds 504
.) We are unable to trace their speculative opinions; but, as far as can be observed, they seem to have been material and atheistic, and, like the other Semitic nations, the Phoenicians had no idea of a future state of existence.
VII. MANNERS, LITERATURE, AND ART.
The commercial habits of the Phoenicians did not impair their warlike spirit, and Chariton (7.2) represents the Tyrians as ambitious of military glory. Their reputation for wisdom and enterprise peeps out in the jealous and often ironical bitterness with which they are spoken of by Hebrew writers. Their wealth and power was envied by their neighhours, who made use of their services, and abused them in return. (Ezek.
38.2, 12; Isaiah,
23.18.) The Greeks expressed their opinion of Phoenician subtlety by the proverb Σύροι πρὸς Φοίκικας
(Suid.), which may be rendered by our “Set a thief to catch a thief;” and their reputation for veracity was marked by the saying ψεῦσμα Φοινικικόν,
“a Phoenician lie.” (Strab. iii. p.170
But a successful commercial nation is always liable to imputations of this description.
In common, and sometimes in confusion, with Syria, Phoenicia was denounced by the Romans for the corruption of its morals, and as the nursery of mountebanks and musicians. (Hor. Sat.
1.2. 1; Juv. 3.62
; Ath. 15.697
The mimes of Tyre and Berytus were renowned far and wide. (Exp. tot. Mundi,
Hudson, Geogr. Min.
iii. p. 6.)
Ancient authority almost unanimously attributes the invention of an alphabet to the Phoenicians. Lucan (Phars.
3.220) ascribes the use of writing to them before the invention of the papyrus in Egypt. The Phoenician Cadmus was reputed to have introduced the use of writing among the Ionians; and Herodotus says that he saw the Cadmean letters at Thebes. (Hdt. 5.58
; Plin. Nat. 7.57
; Diod. 5.24
; Tac. Ann. 11.14
; Mela, 1.12, &c.)
The inscriptions found in Thera and Melos exhibit the oldest forms of Greek letters hitherto discovered; and these islands were colonised by Phoenicians. No inscriptions have been found in Phoenicia itself; but from several discovered in Phoenician colonies--none of which, however, are older than the fourth century B.C.--the Phoenician alphabet is seen to consist, like the Hebrew, of twenty-two letters.
It was probably more scanty at first, since the Greek alphabet, which was borrowed from it, consisted originally of only sixteen letters (Plin. l.c.
); and, according to Irenaeus (adv. Haeres.
2.41), the old Hebrew alphabet had only fifteen.
The use of hieroglyphics in Egypt was, in all probability, older. (Tac. l.c.
) The connection of this Phonetic system with the Phoenician alphabet cannot be traced with any certainty; yet it is probable that the latter is only a more simple and practical adaptation of it.
The names of the Phoenician letters denote some natural object, as aleph,
an ox, beth,
a house, daleth,
a door, &c., whence it has been conjectured that the figures of these objects were taken to represent the sounds of the respective letters; but the resemblance of the forms is rather fanciful.
Babylonian bricks, inscribed with Phoenician characters, have long been known, and indicate the residence of Phoenicians at Babylon.
In the recent discoveries at Nineveh other bricks have been found with inscriptions both in the Phoenician and cuneiform character. Phoenician inscriptions have also been discovered in Egypt, but in an Aramaean dialect. (Gesen. Mon. Phoen.
lib. 2. c. 9.)
The purest examples of the Phoenician alphabet are found in the inscriptions of Malta, Athens, Cyprus, and Sardinia, and on the coins of Phoenicia and Sicily.
The original literature of the Phoenicians has wholly perished, and even in Greek translations but little has been preserved. Their earliest works seem to have been chiefly of a philosophical and theological nature. Of their two oldest writers, Sanchoniatho and Mochus, or Moschus, of Sidon, accounts will be found in the Dictionary of Biography and Mythology,
as well as a discussion of the question respecting the genuineness of the remains attributed to the former; on which subject the reader may also consult Lobeck (Aglaophamus,
ii. p. 1264, sqq.), Orelli (Sanchoniathonis Fragm.
p. xiii. sqq.), Creuzer (Symbolik,
pt. i. p. 110, 3rd edit.), Movers (Die Phönizier,
i. p. 120, sqq.; and in the Jahrbücher für Theologie u. christl. Philosophie,
1836, vol. vii. pt. i.), and Kenrick (Phoenicia,
ch. xi.). Later Phoenician writers are known only under Greek names, as Theodotus, Hypsicrates, Philostratus, &c., and blend Greek legends with their native Authorities. We learn from Josephus (c. Apion.
1.17) that there were at Tyre public records, very carefully kept, and extending through a long series of years, upon which the later histories seem to have been founded; but unfortunately these have all perished. Thus we are deprived of the [p. 2.616]
annals of one of the oldest and most remarkable people of antiquity; and, by a perverse fate, the inventors of letters have been deprived of that benefit which their discovery has bestowed on other, and often less distinguished, nations which have borrowed it.
The arithmetical system of the Phoenicians resembled that of the Egyptians.
The units were marked by simple strokes, whilst 10 was denoted either by a horizontal line or by a semicircle; 20 by the letter N; and 100 had also a special mark, with strokes for the units denoting additional hundreds. (Gesen. Mon. Phoen.
i. l.100.6.) Their weights and measures were nearly the same as those of the Jews.
The Phoenicians, and more particularly the Sidonians, excelled in the glyptic and plastic arts. Their drinking vessels, of gold and silver, are frequently mentioned in Homer: as the silver vase which Achilles proposed as the reward of the victor in the funeral games in honour of Patroclus (Iliad,
23.743), and the bowl given to Telemachus by Menelaus. (Od. 4.618
; comp. Strab. xvi. p.757
.) The Phoenicians probably also manufactured fictile and glass vases; but the origin of the vases called Phoenician, found in Southern Italy, rests on no certain authority. They particularly excelled in works in bronze. Thus the pillars which they cast for Solomon's temple were 18 cubits in height and 12 in circumference, with capitals 5 cubits high. From the nature of their country their architecture must have consisted more of wood than of stone; but they must have attained to great art in the preparation of the materials, since those designed for the temple of Solomon required no further labour, but only to be put together, when they arrived at Jerusalem.
The internal decorations were carvings in olive-wood, cedar, and gold. The Phoenicians do not appear to have excelled in sculpture.
This was probably owing to the nature of their religion. Their idols were not, like those of Greece and Rome, elaborate representations of the human form, but mere rude and shapeless stones called Baetuli;
and frequently their temples were entirely empty. Figures of the Phoenician Venus, but of very rude sculpture, have, however, been found in Cyprus. The Phoenicians brought to great perfection the art of carving and inlaying in ivory, and the manufacture of jewellery and female ornaments, which proved of such irresistible attraction to the Grecian and Jewish women, as may be seen in the story of Eumaeus in Homer (Hom. Od. 15.415
), and in the indignant denunciations of Isaiah (3.19). They likewise excelled in the art of engraving gems. (2 Chron.
2.14.) Music is said to have been an invention of the Sidonians (Sanchoniath. p. 32, ed. Orell.), and a peculiar sort of cithara was called λυροφοίνιζ.
VIII. MANUFACTURES, COMMERCE, AND NAVIGATION.
The staple manufacture of Phoenicia was the celebrated purple dye; but it was not a monopoly. Ezekiel (27.7) characterises the purple dye as coming from Greece; and Egypt and Arabia also manufactured it, but of vegetable materials.
The peculiarity of the Phoenician article was that it was obtained from fish of the genera buccinum and murex, which were almost peculiar to the Phoenician coast, and which even there were found in perfection only on the rocky part between the Tyrian Climax and the promontory of Carmel.
The liquor is contained in a little vein or canal which follows the spiral line of these molluscs, and yields but a very small drop.
The fluid, which is extracted with a pointed instrument, is of a yellowish white, or cream colour, and smells like garlic. If applied to linen, cotton, or wool, and exposed to a strong light, it successively becomes green, blue, red, and deep purple; and when washed in soap and water a bright and permanent crimson is produced.
The buccinum, which is so named from its trumpet shape, is found on rocks near the shore, but the murex must be dredged in deep water.
The latter, in its general form, resembles the buccinum, but is rougher and more spinous. The Helix ianthina,
also found on the Phoenician coast, yields a similar fluid.
The superiority of the Tyrian purple was owing to the abundance and quality of the fish, and probably also to some chemical secret.
The best accounts of these fish will be found in Aristotle (H. Anim.
lib. v.) and Pliny (9.61. s. 62
); and especially in a paper of Reaumur in the Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences,
1711; and of the manufacture of the purple in Amati, De Restitutione Purpuraum,
and Don Michaele Rosa, Dissertazione delle Porpore e delle Materie Vestiarie presso gli Antichi.
The trade seems to have been confined to Tyre, though the poets speak of Sidonian purple. (Ovid, Tr.
4.2. 27.) Tyre, under the Romans, had the exclusive privilege of manufacturing the imperial purple, and decrees were promulgated prolibiting its use by all except magistrates. (Flav. Vopisc. Aurel.
100.45 ; Suet. Nero 32
The manufacture seems to have flourished till the capture of Constantinople by the Turks.
As Tyre was famed for its purple, so Sidon was renowned for its glass, which was made from the fine sand on the coast near Mount Carmel. Pliny (36.65
) describes its discovery as accidental. Some merchants who had arrived on this coast with a cargo of natron, employed some lumps of it, instead of stones, to prop up their cauldron; and the natron being melted by the heat of the fire, produced a stream of glass on the sand.
It is probable, however, that the art was derived from Egypt, where it flourished in very ancient times. The Sidonians made use of the blowpipe, the lathe or wheel, and the graver. They also cast glass mirrors, and were probably acquainted with the art of imitating precious stones by means of glass. (Plin. l.c.
) The Phoenicians were also famous for the manufacture of cloth, fine linen, and embroidered robes, as we see in the description of those brought from Sidon by Paris (πέπλοι παμποίκιλοι, ἔργα γυναικῶν Σιδονίων, Iliad,
6.289), and in Scriptural allusions. (2 Chron.
2.14, &c.) Phoenicia was likewise celebrated for its perfumes. (Juv. 8.159
; Plin. Nat. 11.3. s. 2
Assyria and Egypt, as well as Phoenicia, had reached a high pitch of civilisation, yet the geographical position of the former, and the habits and policy of the latter, prevented them from communicating it. On the Phoenicians, therefore, devolved the beneficent task of civilising mankind by means of commerce, for which their maritime situation on the borders of Europe and Asia admirably fitted them. Their original occupation was that of mere carriers of the produce and manufactures of Assyria and Egypt (Hdt. 1.1
); but their maritime superiority led them to combine with it the profession of piracy, which in that age was not regarded as disgraceful. (Thuc. 1.5
; Hom. Od. 15.415
, &c.) They were especially noted as slave-dealers. (Herod. [p. 2.617]
2.54; Hom. Od. 14.285.
) The importation of cloths, trinkets, &c., in Phoenician ships, is constantly alluded to in the Homeric poems; but the Phoenicians are as constantly described as a crafty deceitful race, who were ever bent on entrapping the unwary. (Il. 6.290
It would be absurd, however, to suppose that they were always fraudulent in their dealings. Ezekiel (xxvii.) draws a glowing picture of their commerce and of the splendour of their vessels. From his description we may gather the following particulars.
The trade of the Phoenicians with the Erythraean sea, comprised spices, myrrh, frankincense, precious stones, and gold-sand.
The coast of Africa S. of Bab-el-Mandeb
produced frankincense and spices superior to those of Arabia.
The cotton garments mentioned by the prophet were probably Indian fabrics, and the “bright iron” Indian steel. Ezekiel mentions only linen as forming their trade with Egypt, but we know that they also drew their supplies of corn from thence. (Isaiah,
In return for these commodities, the Phoenicians supplied the Egyptians with wine, with asphalt for their embalmments, and probably with incense for their temples. (Hdt. 3.6
; Diod. 19.99
.) Their traffic with Syria and Mesopotamia, besides the indigenous products of those countries, probably included Indian articles, which came by that route. Babylon, which is called by Ezekiel (17.4) a city of merchants, must have been a place of great trade, and besides the traffic which it carried on by means of its canal communication with the Tigris, had manufactures of its own, especially embroideries. With Nineveh also, while it flourished, the Phoenicians must have had an extensive commerce.
The neighbouring Judaea furnished them with wheat, grape-honey, oil, and balm; and from the pastoral nations of Arabia they procured sheep and goats. Proceeding to more northern regions, we find Damascus supplying them with white wool and the precious wine of Helbon. Armenia and the countries bordering on the southern and eastern shores of the Euxine--the modern Georgia
--furnished horses, mules, and slaves; also copper and the tunny fish. Phoenicia had undoubtedly great commercial intercourse with Greece, as is evident from the fact that the Grecian names for the principal objects of oriental commerce, especially spices and perfumes, were derived from the Phoenicians. (Hdt. 3.111
In the time of Socrates a Phoenician vessel seems regularly to have visited the Peiraeeus. (Xenoph. Oecon.
100.8.) Tarshish, or Tartessus, the modern Andalusia,
was the source whence the Phoenicians derived their silver, iron, tin, and lead. Silver was so abundant in this country that they substituted it for the masses of lead which served as anchors.
At a later period they procured their tin from Britain. They appear also to have traded on the NW. coast of Africa as far as Senegal,
as well as to the Fortunate Islands, or Canaries.
They must also, of course, have carried on a great trade with their many colonies, which there will be occasion to enumerate in the following section.
It is remarkable that Ezekiel always describes the nations as bringing
their wares to the Phoenicians, and the latter are not mentioned as going forth to fetch them.
The caravan trade must at that time have been in the hands of the nomad Syrian and Arabian tribes by whom the Phoenicians were surrounded, and the business of the latter consisted in distributing by voyages to the various coasts of the Mediterranean the articles which had thus been brought to them overland. (Hdt. 1.1
At a later period, however, they seem to have themselves engaged in the caravan trade, and we have already mentioned their journeys in the track of Alexander. Their pedlars, or retail dealers, probably traversed Syria and Palestine from the earliest times. (Proverbs,
In some foreign towns the Phoenicians had factories, or settlements for the purposes of trade. Thus the Tyrians had a fish-market at Jerusalem (Nehemiah,
13.16), chiefly perhaps for the salted tunnies which they brought from the Euxine. They had also a settlement at Memphis (Hdt. 2.112
), and, after the close of the wars between the Greeks and Persians, at Athens, as already related, as well as in other places.
In their original seats on the Persian Gulf the Phoenicians used only rafts (Plin. Nat. 7.57
) ; but on the coasts of the Mediterranean they constructed regular vessels.
In their early voyages, which combined piracy with trade, they probably employed the penteconter,
a long and swift vessel of 50 oars. (Comp. Hdt. 1.163
The trireme, or ship of war, and gaulos,
or tub-like merchantman adapted for stowage, which took its name from a milk-pail, were later inventions. (Ibid. 3.136.)
The excellent arrangements of a Phoenician vessel are described in a passage of Xenophon before cited. (Oecon.
8 ; cf. Heliodor. 5.18 ; Isaiah,
2.16.) We have already described the Pataeci,
or figure-heads of their vessels. The Phoenicians were the first to steer by observation of the stars (Plin. Nat. 7.56
; Manil. 1.297, sqq.); and could thus venture out to sea whilst the Greeks and Romans were still creeping along the coast. Astronomy indeed had been previously studied by the Egyptians and Babylonians, but the Phoenicians were the first who applied arithmetic to it, and thus made it practically useful. (Strab. 16.757.) Herodotus (4.42
) relates a story that, at the instance of Neco, king of Egypt, a Phoenician vessel circumnavigated Africa, setting off from the Red Sea and returning by the Mediterranean; and though the father of history doubted the account himself, yet the details which he gives are in themselves so probable, and the assertion of the circumnavigators that they had the sun on their right hand, or to the N. of them, as must really have been the case, is so unlikely to have been invented, that there seems to be no good reason for doubting the achievement. (Comp. Rennell, Geogr. of Herodotus,
p. 682, sqq. ; Grote, Hist. of Greece,
iii. pp. 377, sqq.)
The foundation of colonies forms so marked a feature in Phoenician history, that it is necessary to give a general sketch of the colonial system of the Phoenicians, although an account of each settlement appears under its proper head. Their position made them a commercial and maritime people, and the nature of their country, which would not admit of a great increase of inhabitants, led them to plant colonies.
Before the rise of the maritime power of the Greeks they had the command of the sea for many centuries, and their colonisation thus proceeded without interruption. Their settlements, like those of the Greeks, were of the true nature of colonies, and not, like the Roman system, mere military occupations; that is, a portion of the population migrated to and settled in these distant possessions. Hence they resembled our own colonies in America or [p. 2.618]
Australia, as distinguished from our occupation of India.
A modern writer has, with much erudition and ingenuity, endeavoured to trace the progress of Phoenician colonisation from the threefold cycle of ancient myths respecting the wanderings of Bel or Baal--the Cronos of the Greeks, and patron god of Byblus and Berytus; of Astarte or Io (Venus-Urania), who was especially worshipped at Sidon; and of Melcarth or the Tyrian Hercules. (Movers, Phoen.
vol. ii. pt. ii. ch. 2.)
With these myths are combined the legends of the rape of Europa, of the wanderings of Cadmus and Harmonia, of Helen, Dido, &c.
That some portion of historical truth may lie at the bottom of these myths can hardly be disputed; but a critical discussion of them would require more space than can be here devoted to the subject, and we must therefore content ourselves with giving a short sketch of what seems to be the most probable march of Phoenician colonisation.
Cyprus, which lay within sight of Phoenicia, was probably one of the first places colonised thence. Its name of Chittim, mentioned in Genesis (x.), is preserved in that of Citium, its chief town. (Cic. Fin.
4.20.) Paphos and Palaepaphos, at the SW. extremity of the island, and Golgos, near the SE. point, were the chief seats of the worship of Venus-Urania, the propagation of which marked the progress of Phoenician colonisation.
The origin of the colony is likewise shown by the legend of the conquest of Cyprus by Belus, king of Sidon (--“tum Belus opimum Vastabat Cyprum, et victor ditione tenebat,” Verg. A. 1.621
, et ib.
Serv.), who was the reputed founder of Citium, Lapathus, and other Cyprian towns. (Alex. Ephes. in Stephan. v. Πάπηθος.
) A great many Phoenician inscriptions have been found in this island. Hence the Phoenicians seem to have proceeded to the coast of Asia Minor, the islands of the Greek Archipelago, and the coast of Greece itself. Phoenician myths and traditions are interwoven with the earliest history of Greece, and long precede the Trojan War. Such are the legends of Agenor in Cilicia, of Europa in Rhodes and Crete, of Cadmus in Thasos, Boeotia, Euboea and Thera. Rhodes seems to have been early visited by the Phoenicians; and, if it did not actually become their colony, there are at least numerous traces that they were once predominant in the island.
It is mentioned in Genesis (10.4) in connection with Citium and Tartessus. (Comp. Epiphan. adv. Haeres.
30. 25, and Movers, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 248, note 127.) Conon, a writer who flourished in the Augustan period, mentions that the Heliades, the ruling dynasty in Rhodes, were expelled by the Phoenicians (Fab.
47, ap. Phot. p. 187), and numerous other traditions testify their occupation of the island. Traces of the Phoenicians may also be found in Crete, though they are fainter there than at Rhodes.
It is the scene of the myth of Europa, the Sidonian Astarte; and the towns of Itanos, which also bore the name of Araden (Steph. B. sub voce Ἰτανός
Hierocl. § 11; Acts,
27.12), Lebena, and Phoenice, were reputed to have been founded by them. We learn from Thucydides (1.8
) that the greater part of the Cyclades were colonised by Phoenicians.
There are traces of them in Cilicia, Lycia, and Caria. We have already alluded to their intimate connection with the last-named country, and Thucydides, in the passage just cited, mixes the Carians and Phoenicians together. Chios and Samos are also connected with the Phoenicians by ancient myths; and at Tenedos, Melicertes, worshipped with the sacrifice of infants, is the Tyrian Meclarth, also called Palaemon by the Greeks. (Lycophr. Cass.
There are traces of Phoenician colonies in Bithynia, but not more eastward in the Euxine, though it cannot be doubted that their voyages extended farther. Mythological analogies indicate their presence in Imbros and Lemnos, and there are distinct historical evidences of their settlements in the neighbouring island of Thasos. Herodotus had himself beheld the gigantic traces of their mining operations there, in which they appeared to have turned a whole mountain upside-down (6.47).
The fable ran, that they had come thither in search of Europa. (Id. 2.44.) They had also settlements for the purposes of mining at Mount Pangaeus, on the opposite coast of Thrace. (Plin. Nat. 7.57
; Strab. xiv. p.680
According to Strabo (x. p.447
), Cadmus and his Arabs
once dwelt at Chalcis in Euboea, having crossed over from Boeotia. Of the settlement of the Phoenicians in the latter country, there is historical testimony, to whatever credibility the legend of Cadmus may be entitled. (Hdt. 5.57
The name of Ὄγκα,
or Onca, by which Minerva was worshipped at Thebes, and which was also given to one of the city gates, was pure Phoenician. (Euphor. ap. Steph. B. sub voce
: cf. Paus. 9.12
.) From Thebes the Cadmeans were expelled by the Argives, and retired among the Enchelees, an Illyrian people (Hdt. 5.61
); and Illyrius, a son of Cadmus and Harmonia, was said to have given name to their country. (Apollod. 3.5.4
.) The Paphians, the ancient inhabitants of Cephallenia, were the reputed descendants of Cadmus. (Odyss.
To colonise Sicily required bolder navigation; but with the instinct of a commercial and maritime people, the Phoenicians seized its promontories and adjacent isles for the purpose of trading with the natives. (Thuc. 6.2
.) Subsequently, however, they were gradually driven form their possessions by the growing power of the Greek colonies in that island, and were ultimately confined to its NW. corner (Ib.
), which was the nearest point to Carthage. Daedalus, an epithet of Hephaestos, the father of the Phoenician Cabiri, is represented as flying from Crete to Sicily. (Diod. 4.77
.) The Venus of Mount Eryx was probably of Phoenician origin from the veneration paid to her by the Carthaginians. (Aehan, H. An.
4.2; Athen. 9.394
An inscription found at Segesta mentions a priestess of Venus-Urania, which was the Phoenician Venus. (Rhein. Mus.
vol. iv. p. 91.)
There is some difficulty, however, with regard to the temples of this deity, from the attempts which have frequently been made to connect them with the wanderings of the Trojans after the capture of their city. Thus Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ant. R.
1.20) attributes the temple of Venus at Cythera to Aeneas, whilst by Herodotus (1.105
) it is assigned to the Phoenicians.
The migration of the latter to the western side of Sicily must have taken place after the year 736 B.C., the date of the arrival of the Greek colonists.
There are no traces of the Phoenicians in Italy, but the islands between Sicily and Africa seem to have been occupied by them. Diodorus (5.12
) mentions Melite, or Malta,
as a Phoenician colony.
In later times, however, it was occupied by the Carthaginians, so that here, as in the rest of these islands, it is difficult to distinguish whether the antiquities belong to them, or to the Phoenicians. Farther westward we may track the [p. 2.619]
latter in Sardinia, where Claudian (Bell. Gild.
520) mentions Caralis as founded by the Tyrians, in contradistinction to Sulci, founded by the Carthaginians. And the coins of Aebusus (Ivica
) seem to denote the occupation of it by the Phoenicians, since they have emblems of the Cabiriac worship.
The very early intercourse between Phoenicia and the south of Spain is attested by the mention of Tarshish, or Tartessus, in the 10th chap. of Genesis. To the same purport is the legend of the expedition of Hercules against Chrysaor, the father of Geryon, which was of course naval, and which sailed from Crete. (Hdt. 4.8
; Diod. 4.17
, sqq. 5.17, &c.)
The account of Diodorus leads us to conclude that this was an earlier colony than some of the intermediately situated ones. The Phoenicians had no doubt carried on a commercial intercourse with Tartessus long before the foundation of Gadeira or Cadiz.
The date of the latter event can be ascertained with very remarkable accuracy. Velleius Paterculus (1.2) informs us that it was founded a few years before Utica; and from Aristotle (de Mirab. Auscult.
100.146) we learn that Utica was founded 287 years before Carthage. Now as the latter city must have been founded at least 800 years B.C., it follows that Gadeira must have been built about eleven centuries before our aera.
The temple of Hercules, or Melcarth, at this place retained, even down to the time of Silius Italicus, the primitive rites of Phoenician worship; the fane had no image, and the only visible symbol of a god was an ever-burning fire ; the ministering priests were barefooted and clad in linen, and the entrance of women and swine was prohibited. (Punic.
3.22, seq.) Long before this period, however, it had ceased to be a Phoenician colony; for the Phocaeans who sailed to Tartessus in the time of Cyrus, about 556 B.C., found it an independent state, governed by its own king Arganthonius. (Herod, 1.163.) Many other towns were doubtless founded in the S. of Spain by the Phoenicians; but the subsequent occupation of the country by the Carthaginians renders it difficult to determine which were Punic and which genuine Phoenician.
It is probable, however, that those in which the worship of Hercules, or of the Cabiri, can be traced, as Carteia, Malaca, Sexti, &c., were of Tyrian foundation. To this early and long continued connection with Phoenicia we may perhaps ascribe that superior civilisation and immemorable use of writing which Strabo (3.139) observed among the Turduli and Turdetani.
Farther in the Atlantic, it is possible that the Phoenicians may have had settlements in the Cassiterides, or tin districts on the coast of Cornwall
and the Scilly Islands;
and that northwards they may have extended their voyages as far as the Baltic
in search of amber. [BRITANNICAE INS. Vol. I. p. 433, seq.] (Comp. Heeren, Researches, &c.
ii. pp. 53,68.)
But these points rest principally on conjecture.
There are more decided traces of Phoenician occupation on the NW. or Atlantic coast of Africa. Abyla, like Calpe, was one of the Pillars of Hercules, and his temple at Lixus in Mauretania was said to be older even than that at Gadeira. (Plin. Nat. 19.4. s. 22
.) Tinge was founded by Antaeus, with whom Hercules is fabled to have combated (Mela, 1.5; Strab. iii. p.140
); and the Sinus Emporicus (κόλπος Ἐμπορικός,
Strab. 17.827), on the W. coast of Mauretania, seems to have been so named from the commercial settlements of the Phoenicians. Cerne was the limit of their voyages on this coast; but the situation of Cerne is still a subject of discussion. [CERNE
With regard to their colonies on the N. or Mediterranean coast of Africa, Strabo (i. p.48
) tells us that the Phoenicians occupied the middle parts of Africa soon after the Trojan War, and they were probably acquainted with it much sooner. Their earliest recorded settlement was Itace, or Utica, on the western extremity of what was afterwards called the gulf of Carthage, the date of which has been already mentioned. Pliny (16.79
) relates that the cedar beams of the temple of Apollo at Utica had lasted since its foundation, 1178 years before his time; and as Pliny wrote about 78 years after the birth of Christ, this anecdote corroborates the date before assigned to the foundation of Gades and Utica. The Phoenicians also founded other towns on this coast, as Hippo, Hadrumetum, Leptis, &c. (Sal. Jug. 100.19
), and especially Carthage, on which it is unnecessary to expatiate here. [CARTHAGO
The principal modern works on Phoenicia are, Bochart's Geographia Sacra,
a performance of unbounded learning, but the conclusions of which, from the defective state of critical and ethnographical science at the time when it was written, cannot always be accepted; Gesenius, Monumenta Phoenicia;
Movers, article Phönizien,
in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopädie,
and especially his work Die Phönizier,
of which two volumes are published, but which is still incomplete; and Mr. Kenrick's Phoenicia,
8vo. London, 1855) to which the compiler of this article is much indebted The reader may also consult with advantage Hengstenberg, De Rebus Tyriorum,
Berlin, 1832, and Beiträge zur Einleitung in das Alte Testament;
Heeren, Historical Researches, &c.
vol. ii. Oxford, 1833; Grote, History of Greece,
vol. iii. ch. 18; Forbiger, Handbuch der alten Geographie,
vol. ii. p. 659, sqq.; Russegger, Reisen;
Robinson, Biblical Researches,