or. EMISSA (Ἔμισσα
: Eth. Ἐμισηνοί
), a city of Syria, reckoned by Ptolemy to that part of the district of Apamene, on the right or eastern bank of the Orontes (5.15.19), to which Pliny assigns a desert district beyond Palmyra (5.26).
It is chiefly celebrated in ancient times for its magnificent temple of the Sun; and the appointment of its young priest Bassianus, otherwise called Elagabalus or Heliogabalus, to the imperial dignity, in his fourteenth year, by the Roman legionaries of Syria (A.D. 218; Dict. of Biogr. s. v.
It was in the neighbourhood of Emesa that Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, was defeated by the emperor Aurelian, A.D. 272. (Vopisc. Aurel.
It was originally governed by independent chiefs, of whom the names of Sampsiceramus and lamblichus are preserved. (Strab. xvi. p.753
It was made a colony with the Jus Italicum by Caracalla (Ulpian, ap. Dig. 50. tit. 15. s. 1), and afterwards became the capital of Phoenicia Libanesia. (Hierocl.; Malal. xii. p. 296, ed. Bonn.)
There are still extant coins of Caracalla and Elagabalus, in which it is called a metropolis. On the coins of Caracalla it is called a colony, and on those of Elagabalus a metropolis, to which dignity it was no doubt elevated by the latter emperor.
The annexed coin of Caracalla represents on the reverse the temple of the Sun. (Eckhel, vol.
|COIN OF EMESA.|
iii. p. 311.).
The present name of Emesa is Hems.