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PATARA (Πάταρα : Eth. Παταρεύς, Eth. Patarensis or Pataranus).


A small town in Cappadocia or Armenia Minor. (Tab. Peut.


A flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia. The place was large, possessed a good harbour, and was said to have been founded by Patarus, a son of Apollo. (Strab. xiv. p.666; Steph. B. sub voce It was situated at a distance of 60 stadia to the south-east of the mouth of the river Xanthus. (Stadiasm. Mar. Mag. § 219.) Patara was most celebrated in antiquity for its temple and oracle of Apollo, whose renown was inferior only to that of Delphi; and the god is often mentioned with the surname Patareus (Παταρεύς, Strab. l.c.; Lycoph. 920; Hor. Carm. 3.4.64; Stat. Theb. 1.696; Ov. Met. 1.515; Verg. A. 4.143; Pomp. Mela, 1.15.) Herodotus (1.182) says that the oracle of Apollo was delivered by a priestess only during a certain period of the year; and from Servius (ad Aen. l.c.) we learn that this period was the six winter months. . It has been supposed that the town was of Phoenician or Semitic origin; but whatever may be thought on this point, it seems certain that at a later period it received Dorian settlers from Crete; and the worship of Apollo was certainly Dorian. Strabo informs us that Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt, who enlarged the city, gave it the name of Arsinoë, but that it nevertheless continued to be called by its ancient name, Patara. The place is often noticed by ancient writers as one of the principal cities of Lycia, as by Livy, 33.41, 37.15--17, 38.39; Plb. 22.26; Cic. p. Flacc. 32; Appian, App. BC 4.52, 81, Mithr. 27; Plin. Nat. 2.112, 5.28; Ptol. 5.3.3, 8.17.22; Dionys. Per. 129, 507. Patara is mentioned among the Lycian bishoprics in the Acts of Councils (Hierocl. p. 684), and the name Patera is still attached to its numerous ruins. These, according to the survey of Capt. Beaufort, are situated on the sea-shore, a little to [p. 2.556]the eastward of the river Xanthus, and consist “of a theatre excavated in the northern side of a small hill, a ruined temple on the side of the same hill, and a deep circular pit, of singular appearance, which may have been the seat of the oracle. The town walls surrounded an area of considerable extent; they may easily be traced, as well as the situation of a castle which commanded the harbour, and of several towers which flanked the walls. On the outside of the walls there is a multitude of stone sarcophagi, most of them bearing inscriptions, but all open and empty; and within the walls, temples, altars, pedestals, and fragments of sculpture appear in profusion, but ruined and mutilated. The situation of the harbour is still apparent, but at present it is a swamp, choked up with sand and bushes.” (Beaufort, Karmania, pp. 2, 6.) The theatre, of which a plan is given in Leake's Asia Minor (p. 320), was built in the reign of Antoninus Pius; its diameter is 265 feet, and has about 30 rows of seats. There are also ruins of thermae, which, according to an inscription upon them, were built by Vespasian. (Comp. Sir C. Fellows, Tour in Asia Min. p. 222, foll.; Discov. in Lycia, p. 179, foil.; Texier, Descript. de l'Asie Min., which contains numerous representations of the ancient remains of Patara; Spratt and Forbes, Travels in Lycia, i. p. 31; foll.) [L.S]

hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.182
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 4.7.52
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 4.10.81
    • Cicero, For Flaccus, 32
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.515
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 4.143
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.112
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.28
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 37, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 33, 41
    • Statius, Thebias, 1
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