Antioch (in Syria)
See also Antioch
(2).--In 301 BC, shortly after the battle of Ipsus, which made him master of Syria, Seleucus Nicator rounded the city of Antioch, naming it after his father Antiochus. Guided, it was said, by the flight of an eagle, he fixed its site on the left bank of the Orontes (the El-`Asi) about 15 miles from the sea. He also rounded and fortified Seleucia to be the port of his new capital.
The city was enlarged and embellished by successive kings of the Seleucid Dynasty, notably by Seleucus Callinicus (246-226 BC), and(175-164 BC). In 83 BC, on the collapse of the Seleucid monarchy, Antioch fell into the hands of Tigranes, king of Armenia, who held Syria until his defeat by the Romans fourteen years later. In 64 BC the country was definitely annexed to Rome by Pompey, who granted considerable privileges to Antioch, which now became the capital of the Roman province of Syria. In the civil wars which terminated in the establishment of the Roman principate, Antioch succeeded in attaching itself constantly to the winning side, declaring for Caesar after the fall of Pompey, and for Augustus after the battle of Actium. A Roman element was added to its population, and several of the emperors contributed to its adornment. Already a splendid city under the Seleucids, Antioch was made still more splendid by its Roman patrons and masters. It was the "queen of the East," the third city, after Rome and Alexandria, of the Roman world. About five miles distant from the city was the suburb of Daphne, a spot sacred to Apollo and Artemis.
This suburb, beautified by groves and fountains, and embellished by the Seleucids and the Romans with temples and baths, was the pleasure resort of the city, and "Daphnic morals" became a by-word. From its foundation Antioch was a cosmopolitan city. Though not a seaport, its situation was favorable to commercial development, and it absorbed much of the trade of the Levant. Seleucus Nicator had settled numbers of Jews in it, granting them equal rights with the Greeks (Ant., XII, iii, 1). Syrians, Greeks, Jews, and in later days, Romans, constituted the main elements of the population. The citizens were a vigorous, turbulent and pushing race, notorious for their commercial aptitude, the licentiousness of their pleasures, and the scurrility of their wit. Literature and the arts, however, were not neglected.