previous next


AMASTRIS (Ἄμαστρις: Eth. Ἀμαστριανός, Eth. Amastrianus: Amasra, or Amasserah), a city of Paphlagonia, on a small river of the same name. Amastris occupied a peninsula, and on each side of the isthmus was a harbour (Strab. p. 544): it was 90 stadia east of the river Parthenius. The original city seems to have been called Sesamus or Sesamum, and it is mentioned by Homer (Hom. Il. 2.853) in conjunction with Cytorus. Stephanus (s. v. Ἄμαστρις says that it was originally called Cromna; but in another place (s. v. Κρῶμνα), where he repeats the statement, he adds, “as it is said; but some say that Cromna is a small place in the territory of Amastris,” which is the true account. The place derived its name Amastris from Amastris, the niece of the last Persian king Darius, who was the wife of Dionysius, tyrant of Heracleia, and after his death the wife of Lysimachus. Four places, Sesamus, Cytorus, Cromna, also mentioned in the Iliad (2.855), and Teion or Ties, were combined by Amastris, after her separation from Lysimachus (Memnon, ap. Phot. Cod. ccxxiv.), to form the new community of Amastris. Teion, says Strabo, soon detached itself from the community, but the rest kept together, and Sesamus was the acropolis of Amastris. From this it appears that Amastris was really a confederation or union of three places, and that Sesamus was the name of the city on the peninsula. This may explain the fact that Mela (1.19) mentions Sesamus and Cromna as cities of Paphlagonia, and does not mention Amastris. (Comp. Plin. Nat. 6.2.) There is a coin with the epigraph Sesamum. Those of Amastris have the epigraph Ἀμαστριάνων.

The territory of Amastris produced a great quantity of boxwood, which grew on Mount Cytorus. The town was taken by L. Lucullus in the Mithridatic war. (Appian. Mithrid. 82.) The younger Pliny, when he was governor of Bithynia and Pontus, describes Amastris, in a letter to Trajan (10.99), as a handsome city, with a very long open place (platea), on one side of which extended what was called a river, but in fact was a filthy, pestilent, open drain. Pliny obtained the emperor's permission to cover over this sewer. On a coin of the time of Trajan, Amastris has the title Metropolis. It continued to be a town of some note to the seventh century of our aera.



hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.853
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.855
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.2
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: