Daphne

DAPHNE dăf’ nĭ (Δάφνη). A park or pleasure resort in a suburb of Syrian Antioch, consecrated by Seleucus I to the royal gods and esp. to Apollo (Apoc., 2 Macc 4:33). It was a beautiful precinct of temples and gardens with associated theaters and stadia, similar to Delphi and all other religious centers of the Greeks in which worship of the Olympian gods, ritual, drama, and sport were inevitably linked. Daphne became a haunt of pleasure seekers and merry-making Antiochenes and tourists, winning a worldwide reputation for vice and carnality. Gibbon gave a description of the place in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (II, ch. 23, pp. 395, 396, J. B. Bury, ed., Everyman’s Ed).

Bibliography

R. Stillwell, Antioch on the Orontes (1934).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A suburb of Antioch on the Orontes, according to Strabo and the Jerusalem itinerary, about 40 furlongs, or 5 miles distant. It is identified with Beit el-Ma’ on the left bank of the river, to the Southwest of the city. Here were the famous grove and sanctuary of Apollo. The grove and shrine owed their origin to Seleucus Nicator. It was a place of great natural beauty, and the Seleucid kings spared no outlay in adding to its attractions. The precincts enjoyed the right of asylum. Hither fled Onias the high priest (171 BC) from the wrath of Menelaus whom he had offended by plain speech. To the disgust and indignation of Jew and Gentile alike, he was lured from the sanctuary by Andronicus and basely put to death (2 Macc 4:33-38). It sheltered fugitives dyed with villainy of every shade. It was the great pleasure resort of the citizens of Antioch; and it gained an evil repute for immorality, as witnessed by the proverbial Daphnici mores. In Tiberim defluxit Orontes, says Juvenal (iii.62), indicating one main source of the corruption that demoralized the imperial city. The decline of Daphne dates from the days of Christian ascendancy in the reign of Julian. The place is still musical with fountains and luxuriant with wild vegetation; but nothing now remains to suggest its former splendor. See Antioch; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chapter xxiii.