, Strab. iv. p.200
, vii. p. 206; Scymn. 806
; Ptol. 3.5.28
; Arrian, Per.
p. 20; Anon. Per.
p. 8; Mela, 2.1.6; Jornand. B. Get. 5; with the affix Sabia, Σαβία
, Anon. l.c.; on coins in the Ionic form always Ὀλβίη
). Pliny (4.26
) says that it was anciently called OLBIOPOLIS, and MILFTOPOLIS: the former of these names does not occur elsewhere, and is derived probably from the ethnic name OLBIOPOLITAE (Ὀλβιοπολῖται, Hdt. 4.18
; Suid. s. v. Ποσειδώνιος
), which appears on coins as late as the date of Caracalla and Alexander Severus. (Kohler, Mém. de l'Acad. de St. Petersb.
vol. xiv. p. 106; Blaramberg, Choix des Méd. Antiques d'Olbiopolis ou d'Olbia,
Paris, 1822; Mionnet, Descr. des Méd.
vol. i. p. 349.) Although the inhabitants always called their city Olbia, strangers were in the habit of calling it by the name of the chief river of Scythia, BORYSTHENES
), and the people BORYSTHENITAE (Βορυσθενεΐται,
Dion Chrys. Orat.
xxxvi. vol. ii. p. 74; Lucian, Toxar.
61; Menand. ap. Schol. ad Dionys. Perieg. 311; Steph. B. sub voce Amm. Marc. 22.8.40
; Macr. 1.10
). A Grecian colony in Scythia, on the right bank of the Hypanis, 240 stadia (Anon. l.c.;
200 stadia, Strab. p. 200; 15 M. P., Plin. l.c.
) from its mouth, the ruins of which are now found at a place on the W. bank of the Bug,
not far from the village llginskoje,
about 12 Eng. miles below Nicholaev.
This important settlement, which was situated among the Scythian tribes of the Callipidae and Alazones, owed its origin to the Ionic Miletus in B.C. 655. (Anon. Peripl. l.c.;
) At an early period it became a point of the highest importance for the inland trade, which, issuing from thence, was carried on in an easterly and northern direction as far as Central Asia.
It was visited by Herodotus (4.17
), who obtained his valuable information about Scythia from the Greek traders of Olbia. From the important series of inscriptions in Böckh's collection (Inscr.
2058--2096), it appears that this city, although at times dependent upon the Scythian or Sarmatian princes, enjoyed the privileges of a free government, with institutions framed upon the Ionic model. Among its eminent names occur those of Poseidonius (Suidas, s. v.), a sophist and historian, and Sphaerus the stoic, a disciple of Zeno of Citium. (Plut. Cleom. 2
There has been much controversy as to the date of the famous inscription (Böckh, No. 2058) [p. 2.472]
which records the exploits of Protogenes, who, in the extreme distress of his native city, aided it both with his purse and person.
This inscription, apparently belonging to the period B.C. 218--201, mentions the Galatians and Sciri (perhaps the same as those who are afterwards found united with the Heruli and Rugii) as the worst enemies of Olbia, a clear proof that in the third century B.C. Celtic tribes had penetrated as far to the E. as the Borysthenes. Dion Chrysostom (Orat.
xxxvi. p. 76), who came to Olbia when he escaped from Domitian's edict, relates how it had been destroyed by the Getae about 150 years before the date of his arrival, or about B.C. 50, but had been restored by the old inhabitants. From the inscriptions it appears that Augustus and Tiberius conferred favours on a certain Ababus of Olbia (No. 2060), who, in gratitude, erected a portico in their honour (No. 2087), while Antoninus Pius assisted them against the Tauro-Scythians. (Jul. Capit. Anton.
The citizens erected statues to Caracalla and Geta (No. 2091).
The city was in all probability destroyed in the invasion of the Goths A.D. 250, as the name does not occur henceforth in history. For coins of Olbia, besides the works already quoted, see Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 3. (Pallas, Reise,
vol. ii. p. 507; Clarke, Trav.
vol. ii. p. 351; Murawien Apostol's Reise,
p. 27; Böckh, Inscr.
vol. ii. pp. 86--89; Niebuhr, Kleine Schrift.
p. 352; Schafarik, Slav. Alt.
vol. i. p. 397; Creuzer, Heidelberg. Jährbuch,
1822, p. 1235; Bähr, Excursus ad Herod.
|COIN OF OLBIA.|