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Tarsus

TARSUS (tar’sŭs, Gr. Tarsos). A city of Cilicia, the capital of the province from a.d. 72. It was the birthplace and early residence of the apostle Paul, a fact that he himself notes with civic pride in Acts.21.39, echoing a line of Euripides applied to Athens, which the Tarsians appear to have appropriated. The city stood on the Cilician Plain, a little above sea level and some ten miles (seventeen km.) inland. The Cydnus River provided an exit to the sea, and in ancient times the river course was equipped with dock and harbor facilities. Tarsus was an ancient city, the seat of a provincial governor when Persia ruled, and, in the days of the Greek Syrian kings, the center of a lumbering and linen industry. During the first century before Christ the city was the home of a philosophical school, a university town, where the intellectual atmosphere was colored by Greek thought.