previous next


CE´RASUS (Κερασοῦς: Eth. Κερασούντιος). The Ten Thousand, in their retreat, came to Trapezus, and leaving Trapezus, “they arrive on the third day at Cerasus, an Hellenic city on the sea, a colony of the Sinopeis, in Colchis.” (Xen. Anab. 5.3. 2) As there is a place called Keresoun on this coast, west of Trebizond (Trapezus), we should be inclined to. fix Cerasus there. But it is impossible that the army could have marched through a mountainous unknown country, in three days, a direct distance of 70 miles; and we may conclude that the three days is a right reading, for Diodorus (14.30), who copies Xenophon here, also states the distance at three days. Hamilton found a river called Keresoun Dere Su, which he takes to be the river of Cerasus, though he did not see any ruins near the river. The Anonymous geographer places Cerasus 60 stadia east of Coralla, and 90 west of Hieron Oros (Yoros), and on a river of the same name.

Keresoun or Kerasunt represents Pharnacia, a town which existed before the time of Mithridates the Great. Arrian's statement that Pharnacia was originally called Cerasus, and the fact of the modern name of Pharnacia resembling Cerasus, has led some modern geographers to consider the Cerasus of Xenophon the same as Pharnacia. It seems that the Cerasus of Xenophon decayed after the foundation of Pharnacia, and if the inhabitants of Cerasus were removed to Pharnacia, the new town may have had both names. Strabo indeed (p. 548) mentions Cotyora as a town which supplied inhabitants to Pharnacia, but his words do not exclude the supposition that other towns contributed. He speaks of Cerasus as a distinct place, a small town in the same gulf as Hermonassa; and Hermonassa is near Trapezus. This is not quite consistent with Hamilton's position of Cerasus, which is in a bay between Coralla and Hieron Oros. Pliny also (6.2) distinguishes Pharnacia and Cerasus; and he places Pharnacia 100 Roman miles from Trapezus, and it may be as much by the road. Ptolemy also (5.6) has both Cerasus and Pharnacia, but wrongly placed with respect to one another, for his text makes Pharnacia east of Cerasus. Mela (1.19) only mentions Cerasus, and he styles Cerasus and Trapezus “maxime illustres;” but this can hardly be the Cerasus of Xenophon, if the author's statement applies to his own time. The confusion between Cerasus and Pharnacia is made more singular by the fact of the name Keresoun being retained at Pharnacia, for which there is no explanation except in the assumption that the town was also called Cerasus, or a quarter of the town which some Cerasuntii occupied. Thus Sesamus was the name of a part of Amrastris. [AMASTRIS]

There is a story that L. Lucullus in his Mithridatic campaign sent the cherry to Italy from Cerasus, and that the fruit was so called from the place. (Amm. Marc. 22.8; Plin. Nat. 15.25; and Harduin‘s note.) This was in B.C. 74; and in 120 years, says Pliny, it was carried to Britain, or in A.D. 46.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.30
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.3.2
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 15.25
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 22.8
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: