: Eth. Σινωπεύς
), the most important of all the Greek colonies on the coast of the Euxine, was situated on a peninsula on the coast of Paphlagonia, at a distance of 700 stadia to the east of Cape Carambis (Strab. xii. p.546
; Marcian, p. 73; Eustath. ad Dion. Per.
It was a very ancient place, its origin being referred to the Argonauts and to Sinope, the daughter of Asopus. (Apollon. 2.947
; V. Fl. 5.108
But the Sinopians themselves referred the foundation of their city to Autolycus, a companion of Heracles, and one of the Argonauts, to whom they paid heroic honours (Strab. l.c.
But this ancient town was small and powerless, until it received colonists from Miletus. The Milesians were in their turn dispossessed by the Cimmerians, to whom Herodotus (4.12
) seems to assign the foundation of the city; but when the Cimmerians were driven from Asia Minor, the Ephesians (in B.C. 632) recovered possession of their colony. (Scymn. 204
, foll.; Anonym. Peripl. P. E.
The leader of the first Milesian colony is called Ambron, and the leaders of the second Cous and Critines; though this latter statement seems to be a mistake, as Eustathius and Stephanus B. (s. v.) call the founder Critius, a native of Cos.
After this time Sinope soon rose to great power and prosperity. About the commencement of the Peloponnesian War the Sinopians, who were then governed by a tyrant, Timesileon, received assistance from the Athenians; and after the expulsion of the tyrant, 600 Athenian colonists were sent to Sinope (Plut. Per. 20
At the time of the retreat of the Ten Thousand under Xenophon, Sinope was a wealthy and flourishing city, whose dominion extended to the river Halys, and which exercised great influence over the tribes of Paphlagonia and Cappadocia, independently of its colonies of Cerasus, Cotyora, and Trapezus.
It was mainly owing to the assistance of the Sinopians, that the returning Greeks were enabled to procure ships to convey them to Heracleia (Xenoph. Anab.
5.5.3; Arrian, Peripl. P. E.
p. 17; Diod. 14.30
; Amm. Marc. 22.8
). Strabo also acknowledges that the fleet of the Sinopians held a distinguished position among the naval powers of the Greeks; it was mistress of the Euxine as far as the entrance of the Bosporus, and divided with Byzantium the lucrative tunny fisheries in that sea.
In the time of Ptolemy Soter, Sinope was governed by a prince, Scydrothemis, to whom the Egyptian king sent an embassy. (Tac. Hist. 4.82
, foll.) Its great wealth, and above all its excellent situation, excited the cupidity of the kings of Pontus.
It was first assailed in B.C. 220, by Mithridates IV., the great-grandfather of Mithridates the Great. Polybius (4.56
), who is our principal authority for this event, describes the situation of Sinope in the following manner: It is built on a peninsula, which advances out into the sea.
The isthmus which connects the peninsula with the mainland is not more than 2 stadia in breadth, and is entirely barred by the city, which comes up close to it, but the remainder of the peninsula stretches out towards the sea.
It is quite flat and of easy access from the town; but on the side of the sea it is precipitous all around, and dangerous for vessels, and presents very few spots fit for effecting a landing.
This description is confirmed by Strabo (xii. p.545
), for he says that the city was built on the neck of the peninsula; but he adds, that the latter was girt all around with rocks hollowed out in the form of basins.
At high water these basins were filled, and rendered the shore inaccessible, especially as the rocks were everywhere so pointed that it was impossible to walk on them with bare feet. The Sinopians defended themselves bravely against Mithridates, and the timely aid of the Rhodians in the end enabled them to compel the agressor to raise the siege. Pharnaces, the successor of Mithridates IV., was more successful.
He attacked the city unexpectedly, and finding its inhabitants unprepared, easily overpowered it, B.C. 183. From this time Sinope became the chief town, and the residence of the kings of Pontus. (Strab. l.c.; Plb. 24.10
.) Mithridates, surnamed Euergetes the successor of Pharnaces, was assassinated at Sinope in B.C. 120 (Strab. x. p.477
). His son, Mithridates the Great, was born and educated at Sinope, and did much to embellish and strengthen his birthplace: he formed a harbour on each side of the isthmus, built naval arsenals, and constructed admirable reservoirs for the tunny fisheries.
After his disaster at Cyzicus, the king intrusted the command of the garrison of Sinope to Bacchides, who acted as a cruel tyrant; and Sinope, pressed both from within and from without, was at last taken by Lucullus, after a brave resistance. (Strab. l.c.; Plut. Luc. 18
; Appian, Bell. Mithr.
83; Memnon, in Phot. Cod.
p. 238, ed. Bekker.) Lucullus treated the Sinopians themselves mildly, having put the Pontian garrison to the sword; and he left them in possession of all their works of art, which embellished the city, with the exception of the statue of Autolycus, a work of Sthenis, and the sphere of Billarus. (Strab. Plut. ll. cc.; Cic. pro Leg. Man. 8
) Lucullus restored the city to its ancient freedom and independence.
But when Pharnaces, the son of Mithridates, had been routed at Zela, Caesar took Sinope under his protection, and established Roman colonies there, as we must infer from coins bearing the inscription Col. Jul. Caes. Felix Sinope.
In the time of Strabo Sinope was still a large, splendid, and well fortified city; for he describes it as surrounded by strong walls, and adorned with fine porticoes, squares, gymnasia, and other public edifices. Its commerce indeed declined, yet the tunny fisheries formed an inexhaustible [p. 2.1008]
source of revenue, which maintained the city in a tolerable state of prosperity.
It possessed extensive suburbs, and numerous villas in its vicinity (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 6.2
). From Pliny's letter's (10.91), it appears that the Sinopians suffered some inconvenience from the want of a good supply of water, which Pliny endeavoured to remedy by a grant from the emperor Trajan to build an aqueduct conveying water from a distance of 16 miles.
In the time of Arrian and Marcian, Sinope still continued te be a flourishing town.
In the middle ages it belonged to the empire of Trebizond, and fell into the hands of the Turks in A.D. 1470, in the reign of Mohammed II. Sinope is also remarkable as the birthplace of several men of eminence, such as Diogenes the Cynic, Baton, the historian of Persia, and Diphilus, the comic poet.
Near Sinope was a small island, called Scopelus, around which large vessels were obliged to sail, before they could enter the harbour; but small craft might pass between it and the land, by which means a circuit of 40 stadia was avoided (Marcian, p. 72, &c.)
The celebrated Sinopian cinnabar (Σινωπικὴ μίλτος, Σινωπὶς
or Σινωπικὴ γῆ
) was not a product of the district of Sinope, but was designated by this name only because it formed one of the chief articles of trade at Sinope. (Groskurd on Strabo,
vol. ii. p. 457, foil.)
The imperial coins of Sinope that are known, extend from Augustus to Gallienus. (Sestini, Num. Vet.
p. 63; Rasche, Lex. Num.
4.2. p. 1105, foil.)
Sinope, now called Sinab,
is still a town of some importance, but it contains only few remains of its former magnificence.
The wall across the isthmus has been built up with fragments of ancient architecture, such as columns, architraves, &c., and the same is found in several other parts of the modern town; but no distinct ruins of its temples, porticoes, or even of the great aqueduct, are to be seen. (Hamilton, Researches,
vol. i. p. 306, &c.)