Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ancient city of Cyrene in Libya

The region known as Cyrenaica (and in Roman times also as the Pentapolis) comprised an important group of cities: notably Cyrene, Apollonia, Euesperides/Berenice, Barke, Ptolemais and Taucheira. It was successively a center for Greek colonization in Libya, a kingdom based around the power and wealth of Cyrene, a satellite of the Hellenistic kingdom in Egypt, and a Roman province for long governed jointly with Crete.

Cyrene was important Greek city in the North of Arica lying between Alexandria and Carthage. It was founded by Battus who led a colony form the Island of Thera, and he and his descendants rule over the city of 8 generations.

The founding of Cyrene by Thera is recorded at length by Herodotus. A pilgrimage to the oracle at Delphi resulted in the advice to found a new city in Libya. The advice was ignored for seven years during which time, according to Herodotus, “not a drop of rain fell in Thera.” The drought had worsened and the people were in great distress. A committee was appointed to go to the oracle, again. The priestess repeated the same message, that they must found a colony in Libya for their fortunes to mend.

The Greek conscripts sailed to the coast of North Africa, where they were eventually led to a place where “the sky leaked through a hole in the heavens.” It rained often – glorious to the Therans. They established their new city-state, Cyrene, on the fertile highland ground in 631 BC.

Son of Ptolemy VIII, Euergetes II (Physcin) (d, 116 BC), by a concubine he became ruler of Cyrene before the end of the second century. And when he died in 96 BC, he bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Cyrene became subject to the Egyptian Ptolemies and was eventually formed with the Island of Crete, into a Roman province.
Ancient city of Cyrene in Libya


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