). A city of Ionia, near the mouth of the river
Caÿster, called by Pliny (Pliny H. N. v.
) alterum lumen Asiae.
Mythology assigns, as its founders, Ephesus,
the son of the river Caÿster, and Cresus (Κρῆσος
a native of the soil (Pausan. vii. 2). Another account makes it to have been settled by
Ephesus, one of the Amazons (Steph. Byzant. s. v.; Etymol. Mag.
According to a third tradition, the place owed its origin to the Amazons. If we follow the
better authority of Strabo, we will find a settlement to have been
Bronze Coin of Ephesus.
first made in this quarter by the Carians and Leleges. Androclus, the son of Codrus,
came subsequently with a body of Ionian colonists (Pausan. vii. 2). He protected the natives
who had settled from devotion about the Temple of Artemis and incorporated them with his
followers, but expelled those who inhabited the town above, which the Carians and Leleges had
built on Mount Prion (Pausan. l. c.). Pliny enumerates other names for the city, such as
Alopé, Morges, Ortygia, Ptelea, Samornia, Smyrna, Trachea, etc.
Lysimachus, wishing to protect Ephesus from the inundations to which it was yearly exposed
by the overflowings of the Caÿster, built a city upon the mountain and surrounded it
with walls. The inhabitants were unwilling to remove into this, but a heavy rain falling, and
Lysimachus stopping the drains and flooding their houses, they were glad to exchange. The port
of Ephesus had originally a wide mouth, but foul with the mud lodging in it from the
Caÿster. Attalus Philadelphus and his architect were of opinion that if the entrance
were contracted, it would become deeper and in time be capable of receiving ships of burden.
But the slime, which had before been moved by the flux and reflux of the tide and carried off,
being stopped, the whole basin, quite to the mouth, was rendered shallow. The situation,
however, was so advantageous as to overbalance the inconveniences attending the port. The town
increased daily, and under the Romans was considered the chief emporium of Asia this side of
Taurus. In the arrangement of the provinces under the Eastern emperors it became the capital
of the province of Asia. Towards the end of the eleventh century Ephesus experienced the same
fate as Smyrna
(q.v.). A Turkish pirate, named
Tangripanes, settled here; but the Greek admiral, Ioannes Ducas, defeated him in a bloody
battle and pursued the flying Turks up the Maeander to Polybotum. In 1306, it was among
the places which suffered from the exactions of the Grand Duke Roger; and two years after it
surrendered to the sultan Saysan, who, to prevent future insurrections, removed most of the
inhabitants to Tyriaeum, where they were massacred. In the conflicts which desolated Asia
Minor at a subsequent period, Ephesus was again a sufferer, and the city became at length
reduced to a heap of ruins.
Ephesus was famed for its splendid temple of Artemis or Diana. The statue of the goddess was
regarded with peculiar veneration and was believed by the people to have fallen from the
skies. It was never changed, though the temple had been more than once restored. This rude
object of primeval worship was a block of wood, said by some to be of beech or elm, by others
cedar, ebony, or vine, and attesting its very great antiquity by the fashion in which it had
been formed. It was carved into the similitude of Artemis, not as the graceful huntress, but
an allegorical figure which we may call the goddess of nature, with many breasts, and the
lower parts formed into an Hermaean statue, grotesquely ornamented, and discovering the feet
beneath. (See illustration on p. 137). It was gorgeously apparelled, the vest embroidered with
emblems and symbolical devices, and to prevent its tottering a bar of metal was placed under
each hand. A veil or curtain, which was drawn up from the floor to the ceiling, hid it from
view, except while service was in progress in the temple. This image was preserved till the
later ages in a shrine, on the embellishment of which mines of wealth were consumed. The
priests of Artemis suffered emasculation, and virgins were devoted to inviolable chastity.
They were eligible only from the superior ranks, and enjoyed a great revenue with privileges,
the eventual abuse of which induced Augustus to restrict them.
The reputation and the riches of their goddess had made the Ephesians desirous of providing
for her a magnificent temple. The fortunate discovery of marble in Mount Prion gave them new
vigour. The cities of Asia contributed largely, and Croesus defrayed the expense of many of
the columns. The spot chosen for it was a marsh, as most likely to preserve the structure free
from gaps and uninjured by earthquakes. The foundation was made with charcoal rammed down and
with fleeces. The base consumed immense quantities of marble. The edifice was erected on a
basement with ten steps. The architects were Chersiphron of Crete and his son Metagenes (B.C.
541); and their plan was continued by Demetrius, a priest of Artemis; but the whole was
completed by Daphnis of Miletus and a citizen of Ephesus, the building having occupied 220
years. It was the first specimen of the Ionic style in which the fluted column and capital
with volutes were introduced. The whole length of the temple was 425 feet, and the breadth
220; with 127 columns of the Ionic order and of Parian marble, each of a single shaft and
sixty feet high. These were donations from kings, according to Pliny (Pliny H. N. xxxvi. 14
), but there is reason to
doubt the correctness of the text where this assertion is made. Of these columns thirty-six
were carved; and one of them, perhaps as a model, by Scopas. The temple had a double row of
columns, fifteen on either side; but Vitruvius has not determined if it had a roof, probably
over the cell only. The folding-doors or gates had been continued four
years in glue, and were made of cypress wood, which had been treasured up for four
generations, highly polished. These were found by Mutianus as fresh and as beautiful 400 years
after as when new. The ceiling was of cedar; and the steps for ascending the roof were of the
single stem of a vine.
The dimensions of this great temple excite ideas of uncommon grandeur from their
massiveness; but the notices of its internal ornament increase one's admiration. It was the
repository in which the great artists of antiquity dedicated their most perfect works to
posterity. Praxiteles and his son Cephisodorus adorned the shrine; Scopas contributed a statue
of Hecaté; Timareté, the daughter of Micon, the first recorded female
artist, finished a picture of the goddess, the most ancient in Ephesus; and Parrhasius and
Apelles employed their skill to embellish the walls. The excellence of these performances may
be supposed to have been proportionate to their price; and a picture of Alexander grasping a
thunderbolt, by the latter, was added to the superb collection at the expense of twenty
talents of gold. This description, however, applies chiefly to the temple as it was rebuilt,
after the earlier temple had been partially burned (perhaps the roof of timber only), by
Herostratus, who chose that method to ensure to himself an immortal name, on the very night
that Alexander the Great was born. Twenty years after, that magnificent prince, during his
expedition against Persia, offered to appropriate his spoils to the restoration of it if the
Ephesians would consent to allow him the sole honour and would place his name on the temple.
They declined the proposal, however, with the flattering remark that it was not right for one
deity to erect a temple to another; national vanity was, however, the real ground of their
refusal. The architect who superintended the erection of the new edifice was Dinocrates, of
whose aid Alexander afterwards availed himself in building Alexandria (Vitruv. ii. praef.;
Plut. Alex. 72
; Plin. H. N. vii. 37
; Solin. 40). The extreme sanctity of the temple
inspired universal awe and reverence; and it was for many ages a repository of foreign and
domestic treasure. There property, whether public or private, was secure amid all revolutions.
The conduct of Xerxes was an example to subsequent conquerors, and the impiety of sacrilege
was not suffered by the Ephesian goddess; but Nero deviated from this rule in removing many
costly offerings and images and an immense quantity of silver and gold. It was again plundered
by the Goths from beyond the Danube in the time of Gallienus—a party under Raspa
crossing the Hellespont and ravaging the country until compelled to retreat, when they carried
off a prodigious booty.
The destruction of so illustrious an edifice deserved to have been carefully recorded by
contemporary historians. We may conjecture that it followed the triumph of Christianity. The
Ephesian reformers, when authorized by the imperial edicts, rejoiced in the opportunity of
insulting Artemis, and deemed it piety to demolish the very ruin of her habitation. When,
under the auspices of Constantine and Theodosius, churches were erected, the pagan temples
were despoiled of their ornaments or accommodated to other worship. The immense dome of Saint
Sophia now rises from the columns of green jasper which were originally placed in the
Temple of Artemis, and were taken down and brought to Constantinople by order of Justinian.
Two pillars in the great church at Pisa were also transported thence. The very site of this
stupendous and celebrated edifice was long undetermined, but in 1869 was discovered by Mr. T.
Wood—an Englishman who found a clue to its situation in two letters from Antoninus
Pius to the Ephesians (A.D. 145-150); in another letter from Hadrian, dated September 27th,
A.D. 120; and in an inscription which prescribed the order of the processions to the temple.
Excavations continued until 1874 have greatly added to our knowledge of the temple. See
Falkner, Ephesus and the Temple of Diana (1862)
Discoveries at Ephesus (1877)
; and Fergusson, The Temple
of Diana at Ephesus (1883)