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LYCAO´NIA

LYCAO´NIA ( Λυκαονία: Eth. Λυκαόνιος), a province of Asia Minor, bordering in the east on Cappadocia, in the south on Cilicia, in the west on Pisidia and Phrygia, and in the north on Galatia. These frontiers, however, were not always the same, but the fluctuation becomes most perplexing at the time when Asia was under the influence of the Romans, who gave portions of Lycaonia sometimes to this and sometimes to that Asiatic prince, while they incorporated the greater part with the province of Cappadocia, whence Ptolemy (5.6.16) treats of it as a part of Cappadocia. The name Lycaonia, however, continued to be applied to the country down to a late period, as we see from Hierocles (p. 675) and other Christian writers.

Lycaonia is, on the whole, a plain country, but the southern and northern parts are surrounded by high mountains; and the north, especially, was a cold and bleak country, but very well adapted as pasture-land for sheep, of which king Amyntas is said to have possessed no less than 300 flocks. Their wool was rather coarse, but still yielded considerable profit to the proprietors. The country was also rich in wild asses. Its chief mineral product was salt, the soil down to a considerable depth being impregnated with salt. In consequence of this the country had little drinking-water, which had to be obtained from very deep wells, and in some parts was sold at a high price. This account of the country, furnished by Strabo (xii. p.568), is fully confirmed by modern travellers. The streams which come down from the surrounding mountains do not form rivers of any importance, but nnite into several lakes, among which the salt lake Tatta, in the north-east, is the most important.

The Lycaonians of Lycaonia, although Eustathius (Eustath. ad Dionys. Per. 857) connects their name with the Arcadian Lycaon, according to which they would be Pelasgians, are never mentioned in history until the time of the expedition of Cyrus the Younger against his brother Artaxerxes, when Cyrus, passing through their country in five days, gave it up to plunder because they were hostile. (Xenoph. Anab. 1.2.19, comp. 3.2.23, Cyrop. 6.2.20.) Who the Lycaonians were, and to what branch of the human family they belonged, is uncertain; but from the Acts of the Apostles (14.11) it appears that they spoke a peculiar language. It is also well attested that, like the Pisidians, they were a hardy and warlike race, which owned no subjection to the Persian monarchs, and lived by plunder and foray. (Dionys. Per. 857; Prisc. 806; Avien. 1020.) Their principal towns, which are few in number, and all of which appear to have been very small, were: ICONIUM, LAODICEIA COMBUSTA, DERBE, ANTIOCHIANA, and LARANDA; the less important ones were TYRIAEUM, VASATA, SOATRA, ILISTRA, and COROPASSUS.

As to their early history, we know nothing about the Lycaonians; but they seem to have gradually advanced westward, for in the time of Croesus the Phrygians occupied the country as far as the river Halys, and Xenophon calls Iconium the easternmost town of Phrygia, so that the Lycaonians must have continued their extension towards the west even after that time, for subsequently Iconium was nearly in the centre of Lycaonia. It has already been remarked that they maintained their independence against Persia, but afterwards they shared the fate [p. 2.223]of all the other nations of Asia Minor, being successively under the rule of Alexander the Great, the Seleucidae, Antiochus, Eumenes of Pergamus, and finally under the Romans. (Liv. 27.54, 38.39, 56.) Under this change of rulers, the character of the people remained the same: daring and intractable, they still continued their wild and lawless habits, though in the course of time many Greek settlers must have taken up their abode in the Lycaonian towns. Under their chief Amyntas, however, whom Strabo even calls king, and who was his own contemporary, the country acquired a greater political consistency. [Dict. of Biogr. under AMYNTAS, Vol. I. p. 156.] After the death of Amyntas, his whole kingdom, which he had greatly extended, fell into the hands of the Romans, who constituted the greater part of Lycaonia as a part of their province of Cappadocia.

We may add, that Strabo regards Isauria as a part of Lycaonia. [ISAURIA]

[L.S]

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 39
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 38, 56
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