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SELEUCEIA or SELEUCIA (Σελεύκεια, Plb. 5.48; Strab. xi. p.521; Ptol. 5.18.8), a large city near the right bank of the Tigris, which, to distinguish it from several other towns of the same name, is generally known in history by the title of Σελεύκεια ἐπὶ τῷ Τίγρητι (Strab. xvi. p.738; Appian, App. Syr. 57.) It was built by Seleucus Nicator (Strab. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 6.26. s. 30; Tac. Ann. 6.42; J. AJ 18.9.8; Amm. Marc. 23.20), and appears to have been placed near the junction with the Tigris, of the great dyke which was carried across Mesopotamia from the Euphrates to the Tigris, and which bore the name of Nahar Malcha (the royal river). (Plin. l.c., and Isid. Char. p. 5.) Ptolemy states that the artificial river divided it into two parts (5.18.8). On the other hand, Theophylact states that both rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, surrounded it like a rampart--by the latter, in all probability, meaning the Nahar Malcha (5.6), It was situated about 40 miles NE. of Babylon (according to Strabo, 300 stadia, and to the Tab. Peutinger., 44 M. P.). In form, its original structure is said to have resembled an eagle with its wings outspread. (Plin. l.c.) It was mainly constructed of materials brought from Babylon, and was one principal cause of the ruin of the elder city, as Ctesiphon was (some centuries later) of Seleuceia itself. (Strab. xvi. p.738.) It was placed in a district of great fertility, and is said, in its best days, to have had a population of 600,000 persons. (Plin. l.c.) Strabo adds, that it was even larger than Antiocheia Syriae,--at his time probably the greatest commercial entrepôt in the East, with the exception of Alexandreia (xvi. p. 750). Even so late as the period of its destruction its population is still stated to have amounted to half a million. (Eutrop. 5.8; comp. Oros. 8.5.) To its commercial importance it doubtless owed the free character of its local government, which appears to have been administered by means of a senate of 300 citizens. Polybius states that, on the overthrow of Molon, the Median rebels Antiochus and Hermeias descended on Seleuceia, which had been previously taken by Molon, and, after punishing the people by torture and the infliction of a heavy fine, exiled the local magistracy, who were called Adeiganae. (Ἀδελγάναι, Plb. 5.54.) Their love of freedom and of independent government was, however, of longer duration. (Plin. l.c.; Tac. Ann. 6.42.)

Seleuceia owed its ruin to the wars of the Romans with the Parthians and other eastern nations. It is first noticed in that between Crassus and Orodes (D. C. 40.20); but it would seem [p. 2.955]that Crassus did not himself reach Seleuceia. On the advance of Trajan from Asia Minor, Seleuceia was taken by Erucius Clarus and Julius Alexander, and partially burnt to the ground (D. C. 68.30); and a few years later it was still more completely destroyed by Cassius, the general of Lucius Verus, during the war with Vologeses. (D. C. 71.2; Eutrop. 5.8; Capitol. Verus, 100.8.) When Severus, during the Parthian War, descended the Euphrates, he appears to have found Seleuceia and Babylon equally abandoned and desolate. (D. C. 75.9.) Still later, in his expedition to the East, Julian found the whole country round Seleuceia one vast marsh full of wild game, which his soldiers hunted. (Amm. Marc. 24.5.) It would seem from the indistinct notices of some authors, that Seleuceia once bore the name of Coche. [COCHE]


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.9.8
    • Appian, Syrian Wars, 9.57
    • Polybius, Histories, 5.48
    • Polybius, Histories, 5.54
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.42
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.26
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 24.5
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