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CAUNUS ( Καῦνος: Eth.Καύνιος and Eth. Καυναῖος), a city of Caria, in the Peraea. [CARIA] Strabo (p. 651) places Caunus west of Calynda. Caunus had dockyards and a closed harbour, that is, a harbour that could be closed. Above the city, on a height, was the fort Imbrus. Diodorus (20.27) mentions two forts, Persicum and Heracleium. The country was fertile, but unhealthy in summer and autumn, owing to the air and the abundance of fruit, of which we must suppose the people ate too much, as the fruit alone could not cause unhealthiness. Strabo's description of the position is not clear. After mentioning Calynda, he says, “then Caunus, and a river near it, Calbis, deep, and having a navigable entrance, and between, Pisilis;” which means that Pisilis is between the Calbis and Caunus. It is clear, then, that Caunus, according to Strabo, is not on the Calbis, as it is represented in some maps. If the Calbis, which is the Indus, or the large river Dalamon Tchy, is east of Pisilis, it is of course still further east of Caunus. Caunus is placed in some maps a little distance south of a lake on a stream which flows from it, and four or five miles from the sea; but the river is usually incorrectly marked the Calbis. The site of Caunus is said to be now Kaiguez, or some similar name. But the ancient descriptions of the site of Caunus vary. Mela (1.16) places Caunus on the Calbis. Ptolemy (5.2) places it east of the Calbis, and his description of the coast of Caria is exact. But as he mentions no other river except the Calbis till we come to the Xanthus, he has omitted the Dalamon Tchy, unless this is his Calbis. Pliny (5.28), who proceeds from east to west in his description of this part of the coast, mentions the great river Indus, supposed to be the Calbis, and then “Oppidum Caunus liberum.” This confusion in the ancient authorities cannot be satisfactorily cleared by the aid of any modern authorities. This part of the coast seems to have been very imperfectly examined. Kiepert places Caunus on the west side of the entrance of Portus Panormus.

Herodotus (1.172) says that the habits of the Caunii were very different from those of the Carians and other people. It was their fashion for men, women, and children to mingle in their entertainments. They had once some foreign deities among them, but they expelled them in singular fashion. The Caunii made a desperate resistance to the Persian general Harpagus, like their neighbours the Lycians. (Herod.1.176.) The Caunii also joined the Ionians in their revolt against the Persians after the burning of Sardis, B.C. 499. (Hdt. 5.103.) When Thucydides (1.116) speaks of the expedition of Pericles to the parts about Caunus after the seafight at the island of Tragia (B.C. 440), he says, “he went towards Caria and Caunus,” as if he did not consider Caunus to be included in Caria Proper. The place is mentioned several times in the eighth book of Thucydides, and in one passage (8.39) as a secure harbour against attack. As Caunus was in the Rhodian Peraea, it belonged to the Rhodians, but the islanders were not always able to hold it. There is a story recorded in Polybius (31.7) of the Rhodians having bought Caunus from the generals of Ptolemaeus for 200 talents; and they alleged that they had received, as a grant from Antiochus the son of Seleucus, Stratoniceia in Caria. Caunus was taken by Ptolemy in B.C. 309 (Diod. 20.27), and the Rhodians may have bought it of him. A decree of the Roman senate ordered the Rhodians to take away their garrisons from Stratoniceia and Caunus. (Plb. 30.19.) This was in B.C. 167. (Liv. 45.25.) The Romans appear to have given Caunus, with other places in Caria, to the Rhodians, after the defeat of Antiochus in Asia. (Liv. 37.56.) For Appian says that in the massacre of the Romans in Asia, which was planned by Mithridates Eupator, “the Caunii, who had been made tributary to the Rhodians after the war with Antiochus (B.C. 190), and had been set free by the Romans not long before (B.C. 167), dragged out the Italians who had fled for refuge to the Boulaea Hestia, or the hearth of Vesta, in the senate house, and after murdering the children before the eyes of their mothers, they killed the mothers and the husbands on the dead bodies.” (Appian, App. Mith. ch. 23.) This dreadful massacre happened in B.C. 88; and Sulla, after defeating Mithridates, repaid the Caunii by putting them again under their old masters the Rhodians. Strabo (p. 652) says that the Caunii once revolted from the Rhodians, and the case being heard by the Romans, they were brought back under the Rhodians; and there is an extant oration of Molo against the Rhodians. Apollonius Molo was in Rome, B.C. 81, as an ambassador from the Rhodians, and this seems to be the occasion to which Strabo refers (Cic. Brut. 90), and which is by some critics referred to the wrong time. Cicero (ad Q. Fr. 1.1.11) speaks of the Caunii as being still subject to the Rhodians in B.C. 59; but they had lately applied to the Romans to be released from the Rhodian dominion, and requested that they might pay their taxes to the Romans rather than to the Rhodians. Their prayer had not been listened to, as it seems, for they were still under the Rhodians. Though Cicero says lately (nuper) he may be speaking of the same event that Strabo mentions. When Pliny wrote, they had been released from the tyranny of the islanders, for he calls Caunus a free town.

Caunus was the birthplace of one great man, Protogenes the painter, who was a contemporary of Apelles, and therefore of the period of Alexander the Great; but he lived chiefly at Rhodes. Pliny (35.10) speaks of his birthplace as a city subject to the Rhodians; and though we cannot use this as historical evidence, Caunus may have been subject to the Rhodians at that time. Caunus was a place of considerable trade, and noted for its dried figs (Plin. Nat. 15.19), a fruit that would not contribute to the unhealthiness of the place, even if the people eat them freely. They seem to have been carried even to Italy, as we may infer from a story in Cicero (de Divin. 2.40).


hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.103
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.172
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.116
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 4.23
    • Polybius, Histories, 31.7
    • Polybius, Histories, 30.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.28
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 15.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 35.10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 25
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 37, 56
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 20.27
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