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BERYTUS (Βηρυτός, Berŷtus and Berȳtus: Eth. Βηρύτιος, Eth. Berytensis, Eth. Berytius, Steph. B. sub voce Scylax, p. 42; Dionys. Per. 5.911; Pomp. Mela, 1.12.5; Amm. Mar. 14.8.9; Tac. Hist. 2.81; Itin. Anton.; Peut. Tab.; Geogr. Rav.; Hierocles: Beirût), a town of Phoenicia, which has been identified by some with the Berotha or Berothai of the Hebrew Scriptures. (2 Sam. 8.8; Ezek. 47.16.) In the former passage Berothai is spoken of as belonging to the kingdom of Zobah (comp. 5.5), which appears to have included Hamath (comp. vv. 9, 10; 2 Chron. 8.3). In the latter passage the border of Israel is drawn in poetic vision, apparently from the Mediterranean, by Hamath and Berothan, towards Damascus and Hauran. The Berotha here meant would, as Dr. Robinson (Palestine, vol. iii. p. 442) argues, more naturally seem to have been an inland city. After its destruction by Tryphon, B.C. 140 (Strab. xvi. p.756), it was reduced by Agrippa, and colonised by the veterans of the v. Macedonica legio and viii. Augusta, and became a Roman colony under the name of Colonia Julia Augusta felix Berytus (Orelli, Inscr. n. 514, and coins in Eckhel, vol. iii. p. 356; Marquardt, Handbuch der Röm. Alt, p. 199), and was afterwards endowed with the rights of an Italian city. (Ulpian, Dig. 15. 1.1; Plin. Nat. 5.20.) It was at this city that Herod the Great held the mock trial over his two sons. (J. AJ 16.11. § § 1--6.) The elder Agrippa greatly favoured the city, and adorned it with a splendid theatre and amphitheatre, beside baths and porticoes, inaugurating them with games and spectacles of every kind, including shows of gladiators. (J. AJ 19.7.5.) Here, too, Titus celebrated the birthday of his father Vespasian by the exhibition of [p. 1.395]similar spectacles, in which many of the captive Jews perished. (Joseph. B. J. 7.3.1; comp. 5.1.) Afterwards Berytus became renowned as a school of Greek learning, particularly of law, to which scholars repaired from a distance. Its splendour may be computed to have lasted from the third to the middle of the sixth century. (Milman's Gibbon, vol. iii. p. 51.) Eusebius relates that the martyr Appian resided here for some time to pursue Greek secular learning (De Mart. Paloest. c. iv.), and Gregory Thaumaturgus repaired to Berytus to perfect himself in the civil law. (Socrates, H. E. 4.27.) A later Greek poet describes it in this respect as “the nurse of tranquil life.” (Nonnus, Dionys. xli. fin.) Under the reign of Justinian it was laid in ruins by an earthquake, and the school removed to Sidon, A.D. 551. (Milman's Gibbon, vol. vii. p. 420.) In the crusades, Beirût, which was sometimes called Baurim (Alb. Aq. 5.40, 10.8), was an object of great contention between the Christians and the Muslim, and fell successively into the hands of both. In A.D. 1110 it was captured by Baldwin I. (Wilken, Die Kreuz. vol. ii. p. 212), and in A.D. 1187 by Saláh eddín. (Wilken, vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 295.) It was in the neighbourhood of Berytus that the scene of the combat between St. George (who was so highly honoured in Syria) and the Dragon is laid. Beirût is now commercially the most important place in Syria. The town is situated on a kind of shoulder sloping towards the shore from the NNW. side of a triangular point, which runs more than two miles into the sea. The population amounts to nearly 15,000 souls. (Chesney, Exped. Euphrat. vol. i. p. 468. For coins of Berytus, both autonomous and imperial, ranging from Trajan to Antoninus, see Eckhel, vol. iii. p. 356; Rasche, Lex. Num. vol. i. p. 1492.)



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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 16.11
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 19.7.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.20
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