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BYZANTION or BYZANTIUM (/bᵻˈzæntiəm, bᵻˈzænʃəm/ ; Greek : Βυζάντιον _Byzántion_) was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople
Constantinople
, and later Istanbul
Istanbul
. Byzantium
Byzantium
was colonized by the Greeks
Greeks
from Megara in c. 657 BC.

CONTENTS

* 1 Name

* 2 History

* 2.1 Emblem

* 3 Notable people * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Sources * 7 External links

NAME

The etymology of _Byzantion_ is unknown. It has been suggested that the name is of Thraco -Illyrian origin. It may be derived from a Thracian or Illyrian personal name, _ Byzas
Byzas
_. Ancient Greek legend refers to a king Byzas
Byzas
, the leader of the Megarian colonists and founder of the city. The form _Byzantium_ is a Latinisation of the original name. Much later, the name _Byzantium_ became common in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire , the _"Byzantine" Empire_, whose capital Constantinople
Constantinople
stood on the site of ancient Byzantium. This usage was introduced only in 1555 by the historian Hieronymus Wolf , a century after the empire had ceased to exist. During the time of the empire, the term _Byzantium_ was restricted to just the city, rather than the empire it ruled.

HISTORY

O: Head of Alexander the Great with Amun\'s horns . R: Seated Athena
Athena
holding Nike with wreath , ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ / ΛΥΣΙΜΑΧΟΥ ; monogram (ΠΩΛΥΒ) to left; ΒΥ below throne ; trident in exergue

Silver
Silver
tetradrachm struck in Byzantion 150–±100 BC. There were struck coins in the name of Lysimachus nearly 200 years after his death.

At Seraglio Point on the European side two fishing settlements, Lygos and Semistra , were situated. The origins of Byzantium
Byzantium
are shrouded in legend. Traditional legend says Byzas
Byzas
from Megara (a city-state near Athens
Athens
) founded Byzantium
Byzantium
in 667 BC when he sailed northeast across the Aegean Sea . The tradition tells that Byzas, son of King Nisos (Νίσος), planned to found a colony of the Dorian Greek city of Megara . Byzas
Byzas
consulted the oracle of Apollo
Apollo
at Delphi
Delphi
, which instructed Byzas
Byzas
to settle opposite the "Land of the Blind". Leading a group of Megarian colonists, Byzas
Byzas
found a location where the Golden Horn , a great natural harbor, meets the Bosporus
Bosporus
and flows into the Sea of Marmara , opposite Chalcedon (modern day Kadıköy ). He adjudged the Chalcedonians blind not to have recognized the advantages the land on the European side of the Bosporus
Bosporus
had over the Asiatic side. In 667 BC he founded Byzantium
Byzantium
at their location, thus fulfilling the oracle's requirement. Cape Moda in Chalcedon was the first location the Greek settlers from Megara chose to colonize in 685 BC, prior to colonizing Byzantion on the European side of the Bosporus under the command of King Byzas
Byzas
in 667 BC.

It was mainly a trading city due to its location at the Black Sea
Black Sea
's only entrance. Byzantium
Byzantium
later conquered Chalcedon, across the Bosporus
Bosporus
on the Asiatic side.

The city was taken by the Persian Empire at the time of king Darius I (r. 522-586 BC) Scythian campaign (513 BC), and was added to the administrative province of Skudra . Though Achaemenid control of the city was never as stable as compared to other cities in Thrace
Thrace
, it was considered, alongside Sestos , to be one of the foremost Achaemenid ports on the European coast of the Bosporus
Bosporus
and the Hellespont .

Byzantium
Byzantium
was besieged by Greek forces during the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
. As part of Sparta
Sparta
's strategy for cutting off grain supplies to Athens, Sparta
Sparta
took the city in 411 BC. The Athenian military later took the city in 408 BC.

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Septimius Severus , the city was besieged by Roman forces and suffered extensive damage in 196 AD. Byzantium
Byzantium
was rebuilt by Septimius Severus, now emperor, and quickly regained its previous prosperity. It was bound to Perinthos during the period of Septimius Severus. The location of Byzantium
Byzantium
attracted Roman Emperor Constantine I who, in 330 AD, refounded it as an imperial residence inspired by Rome itself. (See Nova Roma .) After his death the city was called Constantinople
Constantinople
(Greek Κωνσταντινούπολις, _Konstantinoupolis_, "city of Constantine").

This combination of imperialism and location would affect Constantinople's role as the nexus between the continents of Europe and Asia
Asia
. It was a commercial, cultural, and diplomatic centre. With its strategic position, Constantinople
Constantinople
controlled the major trade routes between Asia
Asia
and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
to the Black Sea
Black Sea
. On May 29, 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Turks , and again became the capital of a powerful state, the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
. The Turks called the city "Istanbul" (although it was not officially renamed until 1930); the name derives from "eis-tin-polin" (Greek: "to-the-city"). To this day it remains the largest and most populous city in Turkey, although Ankara
Ankara
is now the national capital.

EMBLEM

Main article: Star and crescent

By the late Hellenistic or early Roman period (1st century BC), the star and crescent motif was associated to some degree with Byzantium; even though it became more widely used as the royal emblem of Mithradates VI Eupator (who for a time incorporated the city into his empire).

Some Byzantine coins of the 1st century BC and later show the head of Artemis
Artemis
with bow and quiver, and feature a crescent with what appears to be an eight-rayed star on the reverse. According to accounts which vary in some of the details, in 340 BC the Byzantines and their allies the Athenians were under siege by the troops of Philip of Macedon . On a particularly dark and wet night Philip attempted a surprise attack but was thwarted by the appearance of a bright light in the sky. This light is occasionally described by subsequent interpreters as a meteor, sometimes as the moon, and some accounts also mention the barking of dogs. However, the original accounts mention only a light in the sky, without specifying the moon. To commemorate the event the Byzantines erected a statue of Hecate
Hecate
_lampadephoros_ (light-bearer or bringer). This story survived in the works of Hesychius of Miletus , who in all probability lived in the time of Justinian I . His works survive only in fragments preserved in Photius
Photius
and the tenth century lexicographer Suidas . The tale is also related by Stephanus of Byzantium
Byzantium
, and Eustathius .

Devotion to Hecate
Hecate
was especially favored by the Byzantines for her aid in having protected them from the incursions of Philip of Macedon. Her symbols were the crescent and star, and the walls of her city were her provenance.

It is unclear precisely how the symbol Hecate/Artemis, one of many goddesses would have been transferred to the city itself, but it seems likely to have been an effect of being credited with the intervention against Philip and the subsequent honors. This was a common process in ancient Greece, as in _Athens_ where the city was named after _Athena_ in honor of such an intervention in time of war.

Later, under the Romans, cities in the empire often continued to issue their own coinage. "Of the many themes that were used on local coinage, celestial and astral symbols often appeared, mostly stars or crescent moons." The wide variety of these issues, and the varying explanations for the significance of the star and crescent on Roman coinage precludes their discussion here. It is, however, apparent that by the time of the Romans, coins featuring a star or crescent in some combination were not at all rare.

NOTABLE PEOPLE

* Homerus , tragedian, lived in the early 3rd century BC * Philo , engineer, lived ca. 280 BC–ca. 220 BC * Epigenes of Byzantium , astrologer, lived in the 3rd–2nd century BC * Aristophanes of Byzantium , a scholar who flourished in Alexandria , 3rd–2nd century BC

SEE ALSO

* Constantinople
Constantinople
details the history of the city before the Turkish conquest of 1453 . * Istanbul
Istanbul
details the history of the city from 1453 on, and describes the modern city. * Sarayburnu is the geographic location of ancient Byzantium. * Timeline of Istanbul
Istanbul
history

REFERENCES

* ^ Janin, Raymond (1964). _ Constantinople
Constantinople
byzantine_. Paris: Institut Français d'Études Byzantines. p. 10f. * ^ Georgacas, Demetrius John (1947). "The Names of Constantinople". _Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association_. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 78: 347–67. JSTOR 283503 . doi :10.2307/283503 . * ^ Room, Adrian (2006). _Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features, and Historic Sites_ (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-2248-7 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Balcer 1990 , pp. 599-600. * ^ "Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean," Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2004, p. 302 * ^ _Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul_ Robert Bator, Chris Rothero p.8 * ^ Andrew G. Traver, _From Polis to Empire, The Ancient World, ca. 800 B.C.-A.D. 500_, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, p257 * ^ "In 340 BC, however, the Byzantines, with the aid of the Athenians, withstood a siege successfully, an occurrence the more remarkable as they were attacked by the greatest general of the age, Philip of Macedon. In the course of this beleaguerment, it is related, on a certain wet and moonless night the enemy attempted a surprise, but were foiled by reason of a bright light which, appearing suddenly in the heavens, startled all the dogs in the town and thus roused the garrison to a sense of their danger. To commemorate this timely phenomenon, which was attributed to Hecate
Hecate
, they erected a public statue to that goddess " William Gordon Holmes, _The Age of Justinian and Theodora_, 2003 p5-6; "If any goddess had a connection with the walls in Constantinople, it was Hecate
Hecate
. Hecate
Hecate
had a cult in Byzantium
Byzantium
from the time of its founding. Like Byzas
Byzas
in one legend, she had her origins in Thrace. Since Hecate
Hecate
was the guardian of "liminal places," in Byzantium
Byzantium
small temples in her honor were placed close to the gates of the city. Hecate
Hecate
's importance to Byzantium
Byzantium
was above all as deity of protection. When Philip of Macedon was about to attack the city, according to the legend she alerted the townspeople with her ever-present torches, and with her pack of dogs, which served as her constant companions. Her mythic qualities thenceforth forever entered the fabric of Byzantine history. A statue known as the 'Lampadephoros' was erected on the hill above the Bosphorous to commemorate Hecate
Hecate
's defensive aid." Vasiliki Limberis, _Divine Heiress_, Routledge, 1994, p126-127 * ^ Vasiliki Limberis, _Divine Heiress_, Routledge, 1994, p15 * ^ "In 324 Byzantium
Byzantium
had a number of operative cults to traditional gods and goddesses tied to its very foundation eight hundred years before. Rhea, called "the mother of the gods" by Zosimus, had a well-ensconced cult in Byzantium
Byzantium
from its very foundation. Devotion to Hecate
Hecate
was especially favored by the Byzantines Constantine would also have found Artemis-Selene and Aphrodite along with the banished Apollo
Apollo
Zeuxippus on the Acropolis in the old Greek section of the city. Other gods mentioned in the sources are Athena, Hera, Zeus, Hermes, and Demeter and Kore. Even evidence of Isis and Serapis appears from the Roman era on coins during the reign of Caracalla and from inscriptions." Vasiliki Limberis, _Divine Heiress_, Routledge, 1994, p16 * ^ Michael R. Molnar, _The Star of Bethlehem_, Rutgers University Press, 1999, p48

SOURCES

* Balcer, Jack Martin (1990). "BYZANTIUM". _Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 6_. pp. 599–600. * Harris, Jonathan, _Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium_ (Hambledon/Continuum, London, 2007). ISBN 978-1-84725-179-4 * Jeffreys, Elizabeth and Michael, and Moffatt, Ann, _Byzantine Papers: Proceedings of the First Australian Byzantine Studies Conference, Canberra, 17–19 May 1978_ (Australian National University, Canberra, 1979). * Istanbul
Istanbul
Historical Information - Istanbul