PHILADELPHIA (Gr. Philadelphia, brotherly love). A Lydian city founded by Attalus II Philadelphus (159-138 b.c.). The king was so named from his devotion to his brother Eumenes, and the city perpetuated his title. Philadelphia was an outpost of Hellenism in native Anatolia. It lies under Mount Tmolus, in a wide vale that opens into the Hermus Valley, and along which the post road ran. It is on a broad, low, easily defended hill, and this explains Philadelphia’s long stand against the Turks. The district is disastrously seismic, and the great earthquake of a.d. 17 ruined it completely. Placed right above the fault, Philadelphia was tormented by twenty years of recurrent quakes after the disaster of 17. Hence, says Ramsay, is derived the imagery of
PHILADELPHIA fĭl’ ə dĕl’ fĭ ə (Φιλαδελφία, Φιλαδέλφεια). A Lydian city founded by Attalus II Philadelphus (159-138 b.c.), the king of Pergamum. The ruler was called Philadelphus because of his devotion to his brother Eumenes. The Gr. name of his foundation means “brotherly love.” Some say the city was founded by Eumenes, in honor of his brother. It lay in the valley of the Cogamus, near the pass that carries the main trade route from the Maeander to the Hermus valley, a wide vale beneath Mount Tmolus. It was an outpost of Gr. culture in Anatolia, and came violently into Rom. history with the shocking earthquake that devastated the southwestern end of Asia Minor in a.d. 17. The historian Tacitus listed Philadelphia third among the cities of the province that were the recipients of earthquake relief from the Rom. senate (Tac. Ann. II. 47). Philadelphia appears to have been on the main fault line, on the edge of a scarred volcanic area called the “Burntland” (Katakekaumene) from the masses of calcined scoria and lava that covered it and indicated recent activity. The chronic instability, which began with the major seismic disturbance of a.d. 17, continued for years. Strabo, the geographer, writing in a.d. 20, noted the troubled nature of the place, and the continuous visitation of earth tremors. To escape to the open country from the menace of falling walls must have been a common and horrifying experience for the people of Philadelphia. Note, according to Ramsay, the imagery of
In gratitude for the relief given after a.d. 17 Philadelphia sought to change its name to Neocaesarea, a short-lived innovation, which also provided the apocalyptic letter with an allusion (
W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to theof Asia (1904), 391-412; E. M. Blaiklock, The Cities of the , ch. 22.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(Philadelphia: A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or "inkwells"; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Roman poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st century. AD was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, "the city of God," but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of "Little Athens" because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. One of the
Ala-shehir is still a Christian town; one-fourth of its modern population is Greek, and a Greek bishop still makes his home there. One of the chief modern industries is a liquorice factory; in the fields about the city the natives dig for the roots. On the terrace upon which the ancient city stood, the ruins of the castle and the walls may still be seen, and among them is pointed out the foundation of the early church. The place may now best be reached by rail from Smyrna.