: Eth. Ξάνθιος
), the greatest and most celebrated city of Lycia, was situated according to Strabo (xiv. p.666
) at a distance of 70 stadia from the mouth of the river Xanthus, and according to the Stadiasmus ( § 247) only 60 stadia. Pliny (5.28
) states the distance at 15 Roman miles, [p. 2.1333]
which is much too great. (Comp. Steph. B. sub voce s. r.; Ptol. 5.3.5
; Mela, 1.15; Plb. 26.7
This famous city was twice destroyed, on each of which occasions its inhabitants defended themselves with undaunted valour.
The first catastrophe befell the city in the reign of Cyrus, when Harpagus besieged it with a Persian army. On that occasion the Xanthians buried themselves,, with all they possessed, under the ruins of their city. (Hdt. 1.176
After this event the city must have been rebuilt; for during the Roman civil wars consequent upon the murder of Caesar, Xanthus was invested by the army of Brutus, as its inhabitants refused to open their gates to him. Brutus, after a desperate struggle, took the city by assault. The Xanthians continued the fight in the streets, and perished with their wives and children in the flames, rather than submit to the Romans. (D. C. 47.34
; Appian, App. BC 4.18
After this catastrophe, the city never recovered.
The chief buildings at Xanthus were temples of Sarpedon (Appian, l.c.
), and of the Lycian Apollo. (Diod. 5.77
At a distance of 60 stadia down the river and 10 stadia from its mouth, there was a sanctuary of Leto on the bank of the Xanthus. (Strab. l.c.
) The site of Xanthus and its magnificent ruins were first discovered and described by Sir C. Fellows in his Excursion in Asia Minor,
p. 225, foll. (comp. his Lycia,
p. 164, foll.)
These ruins stand near the village of Koonik,
and consist of temples, tombs, triumphal arches, walls, and a theatre.
The site, says Sir Charles, is extremely romantic, upon beautiful hills, some crowned with rocks, others rising perpendicularly from the river.
The city does not appear to have been very large, but its remains show that it was highly ornamented, particularly the tombs.
The architecture and sculptures of the place, of which many specimens are in an excellent state of preservation, and the inscriptions in a peculiar alphabet, have opened up a page in the history of Asia Minor previously quite unknown.
The engravings in Fellows' works furnish a clear idea of the high perfection which the arts must have attained at Xanthus. (See also Spratt and Forbes, Travels in Lycia,
i. p. 5, and ii., which contains an excellent plan of the site and remains of Xanthus; E. Braun, Die Marmorwerke von Xanthos in Lykia,
Rhein. Mus. Neue Folge, vol. iii. p. 481, foll.)
A large collection of marbles, chiefly sepulchral, discovered at Xanthus by Sir C. Fellows, and brought to England in 1842 and 1843, has been arranged in the British Museum. Of these a full account is given in the Supplement to the Penny Cyclopaedia,
vol. ii. p. 713, foil.