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CHALCE´DON (Χαλκηδών: Eth. Χαλκηδόνιος or Eth. Χαλκιδεύς), “a city of Bithynia, at the entrance of the Pontus, opposite to Byzantium,” as Stephanus (s. v. Χαλκηδών) describes it; and a colony of the Megareis. (Thuc. 4.75.)

The tract about Chalcedon was called Chalcedonia. (Hdt. 4.85.) According to Menippus, the distance along the left-hand coast from the temple of Zeus Urius and the mouth of the Pontus to Chalcedon was 120 stadia. All the coins of Chalcedon have the name written Καλχήδων, ( Eth. Καλχηδόνιος) and this is also the way in which the name is written in the best MSS. of Herodotus, Xenophon, and other writers, by whom the place is mentioned. The distance from Chalcedon to Byzantium was reckoned seven stadia (Plin. Nat. 5.32), or as it is stated by Pliny elsewhere (9.15), one Roman mile, which is eight stadia. Polybius (4.39) makes the distance between Chalcedon and Byzantium 14 stadia; which is much nearer the mark. But it is difficult to say from what points these different measurements were made. The distance from Scutari (Chrysopolis) to the Seraglio point in Constantinople (according to a survey in the Hydrographical office of the Admiralty) is nearly one nautical mile. In the same chart a place Caledonia is marked, but probaby the indication is not worth much. Chalcedon, however, must have been at least two miles south of Scutari, perhaps more; and the distance from Chalcedon to the nearest point of the European shore is greater even than that which Polybius gives. Chrysopolis, which Strabo calls a village, and which was in the Chalcedonia (Xenophon, Xen. Anab. 6.6, 38), was really at the entrance of the Bosporus on the side of the Propontis, but Chalcedon was not. It is stated that the modern Greeks give to the site of Chalcedon the name Chalkedon, and the Turks call it Kadi-Kioi. The position of Chalcedon was not so favourable as that of the opposite city of Byzantium, in the opinion of the Persian Megabazus (Hdt. 4.144), who is reported to have said that the founders of Chalcedon must have been blind, for Chalcedon was settled seventeen years before Byzantium; and the settlers,. we must suppose, had the choice of the two places. It was at the mouth of a small river Chalcedon (Eustathius ad Dionys. Perieg. 5.803) or Chalcis. Pliny (5.32) states that Chalcedon was first named Procerastis, a name which may be derived from a point of land near it: then it was named Colpusa, from the form of the harbour probably; and finally Caecorum Oppidum, or the town of the blind. The story in Herodotus does not tell us why Megabazus condemned the judgment of the founders of Chalcedon. Strabo (p. 320) observes that the shoals of the pelamys, which pass from the Euxine through the Bosporus, are frightened from the shore of Chalcedon by a projecting white rock to the opposite side, and so are carried by the stream to Byzantium, the people of which place derive a great profit from them. He also reports a story that Apollo advised the founders of Byzantium to choose a position opposite to the blind; the blind being the settlers from Megara, who chose Chalcedon as the site of their city, when there was a better place opposite. Pliny (9.15) has a like story about the pelamys being frightened from the Asiatic shore; and Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 12.63) has the same story as Strabo. The remarks of Polybius on the position of Byzantium and Chalcedon are in his fourth book (100.39, &c.).

Chalcedon, however, was a place of considerable trade, and a flourishing town. It contained many temples, and one of Apollo, which had en oracle. Strabo reckons his distances along the coast of Bithynia from the temple of the Chalcedonii (p. 643, and p. 546). When Darius had his bridge of boats made for crossing over to Europe in his Scythian expedition, the architect constructed it, as Herodotus supposes, half way between Byzantium and the temple at the entrance of the Pontus, and on the Asiatic side it was within the territory of Chalcedon (Hdt. 4.85, 87). But the Chalcedonia extended to the Euxine, if the temple of the Chalcedonii of Strabo (pp. 319,563) is the temple of Zeus Urius as it seems to be. The territory of Chalcedon therefore occupied the Asiatic side of the Bosporus. Strabo, after [p. 1.597]speaking of Chalcedon and Chrysopolis and the temple of the Chalcedonii, adds, “and the country has, a little above the sea, the fountain Azaritia, which contains small crocodiles: then follows the sea-coast of the Chalcedonii, named the bay of Astacus, a part of the Propontis.” According to this the Chalcedonii had once the bay of Astacus, which is very unlikely, for there was Astacus, a colony of the Megareis and of the Athenians, in this bay. The passage of Strabo is probably corrupt, and might easily be corrected. It is not likely at any rate that they had more than the north side of the bay of Astacus. Chalcedon was taken by the Persian Otanes, after the Scythian expedition of Darius (5.26). When Lamachus led his men from the river Calex in Bithynia (B.C. 424), where he lost his ships by a flood in the river, he came to Chalcedon (Thucyd 4.75), which must then have been on friendly terms with the Athenians. It afterwards changed sides, and received a Lacedaemonian Harmost (Plut. Alc. 100.29); but the Athenians soon recovered it. However, at the time of the return of the Ten Thousand, it seems to have been again in the possession of the Lacedaemonians (Xenophon, Xen. Anab. 7.1, 20). Chalcedon was the birth-place of the philosopher Xenocrates.

Chalcedon was included in the limits of the kingdom of Bithynia, and it came into the possession of the Romans under the testament of Nicomedes, B.C. 74. When Mithridates invaded Bithynia, Cotta, who was the governor at the time, fled to Chalcedon, and all the Romans in the neighbourhood crowded to the place for protection. Mithridates broke the chains that protected the fort, burnt four ships, and towed away the remaining sixty.. Three thousand Romans lost their lives in this assault on the city. (Appian. Mithrid. 71; Plut. Luc. 8.) Under the empire Chalcedon was made a free city. The situation of Chalcedon exposed it to attack in the decline of the empire. Some barbarians whom Zosimus (1.34) calls Scythians, plundered it in the reign of Valerian and Gallienus. It was taken by Chosroes the Persian in A.D. 616, and “a Persian camp was maintained above ten years in the presence of Constantinople.” (Gibbon, Decline, &c. 100.46.) But Chalcedon still existed, and its final destruction is due to the Turks, who used the materials for the mosques and other buildings of Constantinople. Chalcedon, however, seems to have contributed materials for some of the edifices of Constantinople long before the Turks laid their hands on it. (Amm. Marc. 31.1, and the notes of Valesius.)

This place is noted for a General Council, which was held here A.D. 451.



hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.144
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.85
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.87
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.75
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 7.1
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 6.6
    • Polybius, Histories, 4.39
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.63
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 9.15
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.32
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 31.1
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 8
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