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SARDES (Σάρδεις or Σάρδις: Eth. Σαρδιανός), the ancient capital of the kingdom of Lydia, was situated at the northern foot of Mount Tmolus, in a fertile plain between this mountain and the river Hermus, from which it was about 20 stadia distant. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 1.17.) The small river Pactolus, a tributary of the Hermus, flowed through the agora of Sardes. (Hdt. 5.101.) This city was of more recent origin, as Strabo (xiii. p.625) remarks, than the Trojan times, but was nevertheless very ancient, and had a very strong acropolis on a precipitous height. The town is first mentioned by Aeschylus (Aesch. Pers. 45); and Herodotus (1.84) relates that it was fortified by a king Meles, who, according to the Chronicle of Eusebius, preceded Candaules. The city itself was, at least at first, built in a rude manner, and the houses were covered with dry reeds, in consequence of which it was repeatedly destroyed by fire; but the acropolis, which some of the ancient geographers identified with the Homeric Hyde (Strab. xiii. p.626; comp. Plin. Nat. 5.30; Eustath. ad Dion. Per. 830), was built upon an almost inaccessible rock, and surrounded with a triple wall. In the reign of Ardys, Sardes was taken by the Cimmerians, but they were unable to gain possession of the citadel. The city attained its greatest prosperity in the reign of the last Lydian king, Croesus. After the overthrow of the Lydian monarchy, Sardes became the residence of the Persian satraps of Western Asia. (Herod. v 25; Paus. 3.9.3.) On the revolt of the Ionians, excited by Aristagoras and Histiaeus, the Ionians, assisted by an Athenian force, took Sardes, except the citadel, which was defended by Artaphernes and a numerous garrison. The city then was accidentally set on fire, and burnt to the ground, as the buildings were constructed of easily combustible materials. After this event the Ionians and Athenians withdrew, but Sardes was rebuilt; and the indignation of the king of Persia, excited by this attack on one of his principal cities, determined him to wage war against Athens. Xerxes spent at Sardes the winter preceding his expedition against Greece, and it was there that Cyrus the younger assembled his forces when about to march against his brother Artaxerxes. (Xenoph. Anab. 1.2.5.) When Alexander the Great arrived in Asia, and had gained the battle of the Granicus, Sardes surrendered to him without resistance, for which he rewarded its inhabitants by restoring to them their freedom and their ancient laws and institutions. (Arrian, 1.17.) After the death of Alexander, Sardes came into the possession of Antigonus, and after his defeat at Ipsus into that of the Seleucidae of Syria. But on the murder of Seleucus Ceraunus, Achaeus set himself up as king of that portion of Asia Minor, and made Sardes his residence. (Plb. 4.48, 5.57.) Antiochus the Great besieged the usurper in his capital for a whole year, until at length Lagoras, a Cretan, scaled the ramparts at a point where they were not guarded. On this occasion, again, a great part of the city was destroyed. (Plb. 7.15, &100.8.23.) When Antiochus was defeated by the Romans in the battle of Magnesia, Sardes passed into the hands of the Romans. In the reign of Tiberius the city was reduced to a heap of ruins by an earthquake; but the emperor ordered its restoration. (Tac. Ann. 2.47; Strab. xiii. p.627.) In the book of Revelation


[p. 2.907]

(3.1, &c.), Sardes is named as one of the Seven Churches, whence it is clear that at that time its inhabitants had adopted Christianity. From Pliny (5.30) we learn that Sardes was the capital of a conventus: during the first centuries of the Christian era we hear of more than one council held there; and it continued to be a wealthy city down to the end of the Byzantine empire. (Eunap. p. 154; Hierocl. p. 669.) The Turks took possession of it in the 11th century, and two centuries later it was almost entirely destroyed by Tamerlane. (Anna Comn. p. 323; M. Ducas, p. 39.) Sardes is now little more than a village, still bearing the name of Sart, which is situated in the midst of the ruins of the ancient city. These ruins, though extending over a large space, are not of any great consequence; they consist of the remains of a stadium, a theatre, and the triple walls of the acropolis, with lofty towers.

The fertile plain of Sardes bore the name of Sardiene or Σαρδιανὸν πεδίον, and near the city was the celebrated tomb of Alyattes. Sardes was believed to be the native place of the Spartan poet Alcman, and it is well known that the two rhetoricians Diodorus and the historian Eunapius were natives of Sardes. (Chandler, Travels in Asia Minor, p. 316, foll.; Leake, Asia Minor, p. 342, foll.; Richter, Wallfahrten, p. 511, foll.; Prokesch, Denkwürdigk. vol. iii. p. 31, foll.]


hide References (10 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (10):
    • Aeschylus, Persians, 45
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.84
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.101
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.9.3
    • Polybius, Histories, 5.57
    • Polybius, Histories, 7.15
    • Polybius, Histories, 4.48
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.47
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.30
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 1.17
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