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CNIDUS (Κνίδος, Cnidus: Eth. Κνίδιος), a city in Caria, at the western extremity of a long peninsula, which forms the southern side of the bay called Ceramicus. Strabo (p. 656) describes Cnidus accurately: “it has two ports, one of which can be closed, and is intended for triremes, and it has a station for twenty ships; there lies in front of the city an island about seven stadia in circuit, lofty, in the form of a theatre, joined by a causeway to the mainland, and making Cnidus in a manner two cities, for a large part of Cnidus is on the island, which covers both the harbours.” This island, now called Cape Krio, is united to the main by a sandy isthmus. The island is about 600 yards long, with an average width of about 150 yards. Strabo's dimensions are pretty near the mark. On the west side towards the sea the island is steep in some parts, and it slopes down eastward towards the two harbours, which gives it the appearance that Strabo mentions. “On each side of the isthmus there is an artificial harbour; the smallest (on the north side) has a narrow entrance between high piers, and was evidently the closed basin for triremes which Strabo mentions. The southern and largest port is formed by two transverse moles; these noble works were carried into the sea to the depth of nearly a hundred feet; one of them is almost perfect; the other, which is more exposed to the south-west swell, can only be seen under water.” (Beaufort, Karamania, p. 81.) A few yards from the end of the west pier there is very deep water at the entrance of the-southern harbour: it is marked 17 fathoms in Beaufort's plan. The water shoals from the entrance of each harbour to the sandy isthmus which connects Cape Krio with the mainland, and the Cnidians doubtless found no great depth of water between the island and the main when they constructed their causeway. Pausanias, who wrote after Strabo, in two different passages (8.30.2; 5.24.7), says that the island of Cnidus was separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, which he calls Euripus; and in one of the passages he says that there was a bridge over it. He adds that the chief part of the city is on the mainland of Caria, as he calls it, and most of the chief buildings. There is perhaps no inconsistency between Strabo and Pausanias, for if there was a bridge, there was probably a causeway too.

The site of Cnidus is covered with ruins “in every direction, particularly on the NE. side of the harbour. To the SW. are the remains of an ancient quay, supported by Cyclopian walls, and in some places cut out of the steep limestone rocks, which rise abruptly from the water's edge.” (Hamilton; Researches, &c. vol. ii. p. 39.). Hamilton found the walls of Cnidus very perfect, and traced them throughout their whole extent to the east of the harbour. “The city is enclosed by two walls, one running east and west, the other almost north and south, and united at the summit of the hill to the NE. of the town; the former is partly Cyclopian, and partly pseudisodomous, but the style improves as it ascends. The northern part of the wall is very perfect, and contains two or three towers in a state of great preservation; it is also the best constructed, being probably of a later date and purely isodomous.--The walls in the peninsula are also well preserved, containing a round tower of great beauty at the extremity, near the northern harbour.” (Hamilton.) No ancient city has been more mercilessly plundered than Cnidus; its proximity to the sea may account for its present condition. There are two theatres, one of which had a diameter of 400 feet, both in a: ruined condition, a Doric stoa, and the basement of a large building which may have been a temple. The two theatres were on the mainland side. On the site of the town there are circular or pear-shaped holes in the ground covered with cement, which must have been cisterns, as Hamilton supposes, for holding rain water; “for there is neither stream nor fountain anywhere near.” Cnidus contains examples of Greek architecture of different kinds, both Doric and Ionic. The drawings of the most important remains are published in the Ionian Antiquities of the Dilettanti Society.


(From Beaufort's Karamania.) [p. 1.639]

About a mile or more from the eastern gate of Cnidus are numerous tombs, some of which are buildings of considerable extent. “One of the largest is a square of 120 feet, with walls of beautiful polygonal construction and a regular coping of flat slabs; within this space are two or three small buildings, apparently tombs.” (Hamilton.) The front wall of these tombs is in some few cases built in horizontal courses, but the polygonal blocks are most frequent. In the interior there are either “arched vaults or narrow passages covered with flat stones; the vaults are either formed of large Cyclopian blocks, or of small stones firmly cemented together.” (Hamilton.) “The existence of Cyclopian masonry,” Mr. Hamilton observes, “thus intimately connected with regular arches, seems to prove that the polygonal style must have been in use at a much later period than is usually believed.” He further says, that this Cyclopian masonry, as it is called, is not decisive evidence of the great antiquity of a building; and few good critics will dispute the truth of this remark now. An inscription was found among these Cyclopian tombs which belongs to the Roman period.

The extreme western point of the Cnidian peninsula was the Triopium Promontorium, as Scylax calls it, now Cape Krio, and perhaps Herodotus (1.174) limits the name Triopium to this promontory. But the territory of Cnidus ( Κνιδία) extended eastward to Bubassus at the head of the gulf of Syme, and here is the narrow isthmus which the Cnidians attempted to cut through in the time of Cyrus the Persian. [BUBASSUS] This long narrow peninsula is about 40 miles in length, and its greatest width about 10 miles. It does not seem to have been accurately examined by any modern traveller, but we know its form now from the late British survey. Herodotus certainly calls all this peninsula the Cnidia, and he describes it more clearly than any other writer. Pliny (5.28) is very brief and confused; perhaps he gives the name Triopia to the small peninsula, or he may include in this term the western part of the whole peninsula. His term Doris may perhaps include the whole peninsula. Pausanias (1.1.3) has no name for it, unless it be the Carian Chersonesus, for he speaks of Cnidus as being in the Carian Chersonesus; but in another passage (5.24.7) he clearly gives the name Chersonesus only to the island,which is now Cape Krio, and he says that the chief part of Cnidus is built on the Carian mainland. [Compare BUBASSUS and CARIA] As the narrow isthmus which the Cnidians attempted to cut through is at the eastern extremity of the peninsula, it is a fair conclusion that all the part west of the isthmus belonged to the Cnidii; and as there is no other city to whose territory it could conveniently be attached, it seems a certain conclusion that they had the whole of the peninsula. Cnidus is mentioned in one of the so-called Homeric hymns, but we can conclude nothing from this. It was a Lacedaemonian colony, and the leader of the colony according to tradition was Triopas. (Paus. 10.11.1.) It was one of the members of the Dorian Hexapolis, which was reduced to five cities after the exclusion of Halicarnassus. (Hdt. 1.144.) These Dorian colonies, Cnidus, Cos, and Lindus, Ialysus and Camirus in Rhodes, formed a confederation. Their place of meeting was at the temple of the Triopian Apollo, where they had games, and bronze tripods for prizes. The site of the Triopian temple was on the island, now Cape Krio. (Thuc. 8.35.) The Cnidians traded to Egypt at an early period (Hdt. 2.178); and they had a treasury at Delphi (Paus. 10.11.5). The position of the place was favourable for trade, and. Cnidus acquired wealth. They colonised Lipara, one of the Aeolian islands off the north coast of Sicily. After their unsuccessful attempt to cut. across their isthmus [BUBASSUS], the Cnidians surrendered to Harpagus, the general of Cyrus the. Persian, and so far as we know they remained quiet.. At the commencement of the Peloponnesian War they were dependents on Athens, for we must suppose that Thucydides (2.9) includes them in the term “Dorians dwelling close to the Carians.” Cnidus deserted the Athenians after their losses in Sicily, and the Athenians made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the place. Thucydides (8.35), after speaking, of the Athenians surprising some vessels at the. Triopian promontory, says that they then sailed down upon Cnidus, and attacking the city, which was unwalled, nearly took it. The city is evidently the town on the mainland, and as this city was then unwalled, the walls which Hamilton describes must be of later date than the Peloponnesian War. In B.C. 394 Conon, who commanded a Persian and. Hellenic fleet, defeated the Lacedaemonians under Pisander off Cnidus and destroyed the supremacy of Sparta. (Xen. Hell. 4.3. 10; Isocrates, Panegyr. 100.39.)

In the war of the Romans with Antiochus the Cnidii readily obeyed the orders of the Romans. (Liv. 37.16.) One of the very few occasions on which anything is recorded of the military operations of the Cnidii is their sending relief to Calynda, when it had revolted from Caunus (Plb. 31.17),. about B.C. 163. On the settlement of the province of Asia they were included in it, and in Pliny's time Cnidus was “Libera,” and probably at an earlier time. It was taken by the pirates who infested these seas before they were cleared out by Cn. Pompeius B.C. 67 (Cic. Pro Lege Manilia, 100.12), at the, same time that Samos, Colophon and other places on the coast were plundered.

Hamilton (Researches and Appendix, vol. ii.) copied several inscriptions at Cnidus. None of them are ancient, and most of them belong to the Roman period. The Doric form appears in δαμος and other words. The name of Apollo Carneius occurs in one inscription; and Apollo was worshipped under this name at Corinth, and by all the Dorians (Paus. 3.13.4). This inscription is a memorial in honour of Caius Julius Theopompus (Theupompus in the inscription) the son of Artemidorus (as it stands in Hamilton's copy), and it was erected by his friend Marcus Aephicius Apollonius, the son of Marcus. There was a Theopompus, a native of Cnidus, an historical writer and friend of the dictator Caesar (Strab. p. 656); and Theopompus had a son Artemidorus, but according to this inscription Theopompus, was the son of Artemidorus. An Artemidorus informed Caesar of the conspiracy against him. (Plut.. Caes. 100.65.) The inscription shows that Theopompus was a Greek who had after Greek fashion taken the, praenomen and nomen of his patron, and this Theopompus may have been the man whom the dictator patronised. Hamilton conjectures that Apollonius may be Molon, the rhetorician, the teacher of Caesar, and Cicero; but if that is so, his father must have received the Roman citizenship, for he is called: Marcus in the inscription.

Eudoxus the mathematician, as Strabo calls him, one of the friends of Plato, was a native of Cnidus;. but he is chiefly known as an astronomer. Strabo [p. 1.640](p. 119, 806) speaks of his observatory (σκοπή) at Cnidus, from which he saw the star Canopus: his observatory was not much higher than the houses. Ctesias, a physician, and the author of a Persian history, was a native of Cnidus; and also Agatharchides, who wrote a treatise on the Erythraean sea and other works. The Cnidians were fond of art, though the city did not produce artists. They placed a statue of Jupiter at Olympia, with a statue of Pelops on one side of it, and the river Alpheius on the other. (Paus. 5.24.7.) They also set up at Delphi a statue of Triopas, the so-called founder of their city, a figure of a man standing by a horse; and a Leto, and Apollo and Artemis, shooting their arrows at Tityus. (Paus. 10.11.1.) The painting of Polygnotus, at Delphi, called Lesche, was an offering of the Cnidii. (Paus. 10.25.1.) Aphrodite was worshipped at Cnidus, and the place was supposed to be one of her favourite abodes. (Hor. Od. 1.30; 3.28.) Pausanias mentions three temples of Aphrodite at Cnidus; in the oldest she was worshipped as Doritis, in a second as Acraea, and in the third and most recent as Cnidia, or, as the Cnidians called her, Euploea, the deity of mariners (1.1.3). Cnidus possessed the statue of the naked Aphrodite of Praxiteles, of Parian marble, one of the great works of Grecian genius. The statue stood in a chamber with two doors, so that the figure could be seen on both sides. People used to visit Cnidus to see the beautiful goddess. (Plin. Nat. 37.5.) Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, offered to buy this precious work from the Cnidians by paying the whole of the public debt of Cnidus, which was large, but the Cnidians preferred to keep their goddess and their debt. Lucian, (Amor. 100.11, &c.), or the author of the little piece that is printed in Lucian's works, has described the statue with the feeling of an artist. (Dict. of Biogr. art. Praxiteles, where the various passages are referred to.)

The coins of Cnidus have the epigraph κνι and κνιδιαν



hide References (18 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (18):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.178
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.144
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.174
    • Homer, Odyssey, 3.28
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.25.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.11.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.11.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.1.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.13.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.24.7
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.9
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 4.3.10
    • Homer, Odyssey, 1.30
    • Polybius, Histories, 31.17
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 37.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.28
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 37, 16
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.35
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