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Seleucīa

and rarely Seleucēa (Σελεύκεια). The name of several cities in Asia, built by Seleucus I., king of Syria.


1.

Seleucia ad Tigrin ( ἐπὶ τοῦ Τίγρητος ποταμοῦ, πρὸς Τίγρει, ἀπὸ Τίγριος), also called Seleucia Babylonia (Σ. ἐν Βαβυλῶνι), Seleucia Assyriae, and Seleucia Parthōrum. A great city on the confines of Assyria and Babylonia, and for a long time the capital of Western Asia, until it was eclipsed by Ctesiphon. Its exact site has been disputed; but the most probable opinion is that it stood on the western bank of the Tigris, north of its junction with the Royal Canal, opposite to the mouth of the river Delas or Silla (Diala), and to the spot where Ctesiphon was afterwards built by the Parthians. It was a little to the south of the modern city of Bagdad. Perhaps a better site could not be found in Western Asia. It commanded the navigation of the Tigris and Euphrates, and the whole plain of those two rivers; and it stood at the junction of all the chief caravan roads by which the traffic between Eastern and Western Asia was carried on. In addition to these advantages, its people had, by the gift of Seleucus, the government of their own affairs. It was built in the form of an eagle with expanded wings, and was peopled by settlers from Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Syria, and Iudaea. It rapidly rose, and eclipsed Babylon in wealth and splendour. Even after the Parthian kings had become masters of the banks of the Tigris, and had fixed their residence at Ctesiphon, Seleucia, though deprived of much of its importance, remained a very considerable city. In the reign of Titus, it had, according to Pliny, 600,000 inhabitants. It was burned by Trajan in his Parthian expedition, and again by L. Verus, the colleague of M. Aurelius Antoninus, when its population is given by different authorities as 300,000 or 400,000. It was again taken by Severus, and from this blow it never recovered. In Julian's expedition it was found entirely deserted. See Fabian, De Seleucia Babylonia (1869); and Schneiderwirth, Seleucia am Tigris (1874).


2.

Seleucia Pieria (Σ. Πιερία, ἐν Πιερία, πρὸς Ἀντιοχείᾳ, πρὸς θαλάσσᾳ, ἐπιθαλλασσία, called Seleukeh or Kepse, near Suadeiah). A great city and fortress of Syria, founded by Seleucus in April, B.C. 300, one month before the foundation of Antioch. It stood on the site of an ancient fortress, on the rocks overhanging the sea, at the foot of Mount Pieria, about four miles north of the Orontes, and twelve miles west of Antioch. Its natural strength was improved by every known art of fortification, to which were added all the works of architecture and engineering required to make it a splendid city and a great seaport, while it obtained abundant supplies from the fertile plain between the city and The remains of Seleucus I. were interred at Seleucia, in a mausoleum surrounded by a grove. In the war with Egypt, which ensued upon the murder of Antiochus II., Seleucia surrendered to Ptolemy III. Euergetes (B.C. 246). It was afterwards recovered by Antiochus the Great (219 B.C.). In the war between Antiochus VIII. and IX. the people of Seleucia made themselves independent (109 or 108). Afterwards, having successfully resisted the attacks of Tigranes for fourteen years (B.C. 84-70), they were confirmed in their freedom by Pompey. The city had fallen entirely into decay by the sixth century of our era. There are considerable ruins of the harbour and mole, of the walls of the city, and of its necropolis. The surrounding district was called Seleucis.


3.

Seleucia ad Belum, a city of Syria, in the valley of the Orontes, near Apamea. Its site is doubtful.


4.

Seleucia Tracheōtis (Selefkeh), an important city of Cilicia Aspera, built by Seleucus I. on the western bank of the river Calycadnus, about four miles from its mouth, and peopled with the inhabitants of several neighbouring cities. It had an oracle of Apollo, and annual games in honour of Zeus Olympius. It vied with Tarsus in power and splendour, and was a free city under the Romans. It has remarkable claims to renown both in political and literary history—in the former as the place where Trajan and Frederick Barbarossa died; in the latter as the birthplace of the philosophers Athenaeus and Xenarchus, of the sophist Alexander, the secretary of M. Aurelius Antoninus, and of other learned men. On its site are still seen the ruins of temples, porticoes, aqueducts, and tombs.


5.

Seleucia in Mesopotamia (Bir), on the left bank of the Euphrates, opposite to the ford of Zeugma, was a fortress of considerable importance in ancient military history.


6.

A considerable city of Margiana, built by Alexander the Great, in a beautiful situation, and called Alexandria. It was destroyed by the barbarians and rebuilt by Antiochus I., who named it Seleucia after his father Seleucus I. The Roman prisoners taken at the defeat of Crassus by the Parthians were settled here by king Orodes.


7.

Seleucia in Caria. See Tralles.

There were other cities of the name of less importance in Pisidia, Pamphylia, Palestine, and Elymaïs.

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