previous next


A´MISUS (Ἀμισός: Eth.Ἀμισηνός, Eth. Ἀμίσιος, Eth. Amisenus: Eski Samsun), a city of Pontus in Asia Minor, situated on the west side of the bay called Amisenus, about 900 stadia from Sinope according to Strabo (p. 547). The ruins of Amisus are on a promontory about a mile and a half NNW. of the modern town. On the east side of the promontory was the old port, part of which is now filled up. The pier which defended the ancient harbour may still be traced for about 300 yards, but it is chiefly under water: it consists of very large blocks of stone. On the summit of the hill where the acropolis stood there are many remains of walls of rubble and mortar, and the ground is strewed with fragments of Roman tiles and pottery. On the south end of the brow of the hill which overlooks the harbour there are traces of the real Hellenic walls. (Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor, vol. i. p. 290.)

The origin of Amisus appears to be uncertain. Hecataeus (Strab. p. 553) supposed it to be the Enete of Homer (Hom. Il. 2.852). Theopompus, quoted by Strabo, says that it was first founded by the [p. 1.123]Milesians; then settled by a Cappadocian king; and thirdly, by Athenocles and some Athenians, who changed its name to Peiraeeus. But Scymnus of Chios (Fr. 5.101) calls it a colony of Phocaea, and of prior date to Heracleia, which was probably founded about B.C. 559. Raoul-Rochette concludes, but there seems no reason for his conclusion, that this settlement by Phocaea was posterior to the Milesian settlement. (Histoire des Colonies Grecques, vol. iii. p. 334.) However this may be, Amisus became the most flourishing Greek settlement on the north coast of the Euxine after Sinope. The time when the Athenian settlement was made is uncertain. Cramer concludes that, because Amisus is not mentioned by Herodotus or Xenophon, the date of the Athenian settlement is posterior to the time of the Anabasis; a conclusion which is by no means necessary. Plutarch (Plut. Luc. 19) says that it was settled by the Athenians at the time of their greatest power, and when they were masters of the sea. The place lost the name of Peiraeeus, and became a rich trading town under the kings of Pontus. Mithridates Eupator made Amisus his residence alternately with Sinope, and he added a part to the town, which was called Eupatoria (Appian. Mithrid. 78), but it was separated from the rest by a wall, and probably contained a different population from that of old Amisus. This new quarter contained the residence of the king. The strength of the place was proved by the resistance which it made to the Roman commander L. Lucullus (B.C. 71) in the Mithridatic war. (Plut. Luc. 15, &c.) The grammarian Tyrannio was one of those who fell into the hands of Lucullus when the place was captured.

Pharnaces, the son of Mithridates, subsequently crossed over to Amisus from Bosporus, and Amisus was again taken and cruelly dealt with. (D. C. 42.46.) The dictator Caesar defeated Pharnaces in a battle near Zeleia (Appian. B.C. 2.91), and restored the place to freedom. M. Antonius, says Strabo, “gave it to kings ;” but it was again rescued from a tyrant Straton, and made free, after the battle of Actium, by Augustus Caesar; and now, adds Strabo, it is well ordered. Strabo does not state the name of the king to whom Antonius gave Amisus. It has been assumed that it was Polemon I., who had the kingdom of Pontus at least as early as B.C. 36. It does not appear who Straton was. The fact of Amisus being a free city under the empire appears from the epigraph on a coin of the city, and from a letter of the younger Pliny to Trajan (10.93), in which he calls it “libera et foederata,” and speaks of it as having its own laws by the favour of Trajan.

Amisus, in Strabo's time, possessed a good territory, which included Themiscyra, the dwelling-place of the Amazons, and Sidene.



hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.852
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 15
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 19
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: