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ANTIOCH, town in northern Syria situated at the foot of Mount Silpius on the left bank of the Orontes (ʿĀṣī) near the Mediterranean coast. Known also as Antioch of Daphne, it was founded in 300 B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, who named it Antiocheia (Ar. Anṭākīya) in honor of his father Antiochus. It was the capital of the Seleucids and became one of the main centers of caravan routes in the Middle East.

Ancient period. Syria had been a part of the Persian empire under the Achaemenids (546-330 B.C.). Although Antioch did not then exist, Libanius, who wrote in the 4th century A.D., mentions a local tradition that Cambyses (r. 529-22) on his way to Egypt in 525 B.C. had visited the site in the company of his wife Meroe, and at her request had restored a ruined temple of Artemis originally built by Semiramis (Libanius Orationes 11.59-68, ed. and tr. R. Förster, Libanii Opera I, pp. 455-57). An annual festival, said to have been first instituted in Meroe’s honor, was still celebrated in the time of Libanius (5.42, ed. Förster, I, p. 317. See also G. Downey, A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest, Princeton, 1961, p. 49; Pauly-Wissowa, X, cols. 1812-13, XV, col. 1048). Another Antiochene, the chronicler Malalas (Chronographia 2, ed. Dindorf, pp. 37-38), mistakenly makes the mythical Perseus a Persian king and founder of a temple dedicated to “the eternal life” that was said to have once existed at Iopolis on Mount Silpius (see Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 50 n. 18, 75-76, 213 n. 58). In any case it can he taken for certain that fire worship had been implanted in Syria during the Achaemenid occupation. It can be argued that it was to some extent the memory of Syria’s former attachment to the Achaemenid empire that prompted Parthian and particularly Sasanian designs on Syria and its capital, Antioch.

Armenian period. Strife within the Seleucid royal family prompted the Parthians to make an incursion into Syria about 93 or 92 B.C. They reappeared in 88, but following the death of Mithridates II (in 87?) the Arsacid monarchy entered a phase of eclipse. The king of Armenia, Tigranes the Great, who was of Persian descent, took the opportunity to extend his rule to Syria, apparently with the good will of its inhabitants (Justin Historiarum Philippicarum 40.1.1-4). He gave the governorship of Syria to Megadates (Bagadad), who was to reside at Antioch, and himself used the city as his base for expeditions to Phoenicia and Judea. During his frequent stays at Antioch, Tigranes, a self-styled king of kings, maintained a sumptuous court with a ceremonial of Achaemenid origin that Plutarch has described (Lucullus 21.3-5). Plutarch’s source was the report of a Roman envoy, Appius Claudius, who was received by Tigranes in 70 B.C.

Tigranes held Syria until 69 B.C. His regime appears to have been marked by a sort of compromise between Iranian and Hellenic traditions. Evidence of this is to be seen in numerous coins of Tigranes minted at Antioch; on the obverse they show the royal effigy capped with the Armenian tiara and the diadem, and on the reverse figures representing the Fortune of Antioch (a statue by a famous Greek sculptor) and the Orontes river at her feet (P. Z. Bedoukian, Coinage of the Artaxiads of Armenia, London, 1978, pp. 12-24, 47-68. On Antioch under Tigranes the Great, see Pauly-Wissowa, IVA/2, cols. 1919-22; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 136-39; D. Magie, The Roman Rule in Asia Minor I, Princeton, 1950, pp. 339-40; H. A. Manandian, Tigrane II et Rome, tr. Thorossian, Lisbon, 1963, pp. 43-45, 51, 75-78).

Antioch and the Parthians. In 70-69 the Roman invasion of Armenia forced Tigranes to abandon Syria and in 64 Pompey, by virtue of an agreement made with Tigranes in 66, took control of Syria, which became a Roman province with Antioch as its capital. However, the crushing defeat of Crassus by the Parthians at Carrhae (Ḥarrān) in 53 B.C. greatly weakened the Roman position in the East. In summer 51 a Parthian army under the command of the crown prince Pacorus (Pakur), son of Orodes, and a leading general, Osaces, crossed the Euphrates and marched on Antioch, where the Roman governor, Cassius, prepared to make a stand. According to the historian Dio Cassius (Historia romana 40.28.4, ed. and tr. E. Cary, III, p. 448), the Antiochenes inclined toward the Parthians as “neighbors and kinsfolk,” suggesting that they were favored by a large part of the population. Even so, Pacorus’s army, composed mainly of cavalry, was unable to besiege be city and had to withdraw. In September, 51, the Parthians suffered a defeat at Antigoneia, where Osaces was killed. Pacorus stayed in Syria and again threatened Antioch in the spring of 50 before his recall by his father (Dio Cassius 40.30, ed. and tr. Cary, III, p. 450; cf. Pauly-Wissowa, IVA/2, col. 1624; N. C. Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia, Chicago, 1938, pp. 100-101; Downey, History of Antioch, p. 150 and n. 34)

Ten years later, the same Pacorus, on the advice of the Roman defector Labienus and in hopes of profiting from the internal strife of the Romans and the temporary absence of their commander Mark Anthony, launched a new invasion and crossed the Euphrates in spring 40. After the defeat of the Roman governor Decidius Saxa, Antioch surrendered, and most of Syria and Phoenicia came under Parthian occupation (Dio Cassius 48.25.3, ed. Cary, IV, p. 272; Debevoise, Political History, pp. 109-11). Pacorus, through his justice and moderation, won a unique popular esteem (Dio Cassius 49.20.4, ed. Cary, V. p. 232). On coins struck at Antioch in that time, the city’s title “autonomous” is replaced by the less politically significant “sacred and inviolable.” But The Parthian occupation probably did not cause much change in Antiochene life because it did not last long. During the summer of 39, Mark Antony’s legate, Ventidius Bassus, attacked the Parthians and drove them out of Syria, forcing them back beyond the Euphrates. In a new push into Syria, Pacorus was defeated and killed near Gindarus on 9 July 38 B.C. (Pauly-Wissowa, IVA/2, cols. 1625-26; Debevoise, Political History, pp. 116-18; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 159-60; H. Bengtson, Marcus Antonius, Triumvir und Herrscher des Orontes, Munich, 1977, pp. 180f.).

It was at Antioch that the Parthian king of Armenia Vonones, who for a time had held the Parthian throne, received shelter about A.D. 15; he was placed under the protection of the governor of Syria, Creticus Silanus, and allowed to retain the title of king (Tacitus Annals 2.4; Flavius Josephus Antiquae Judaeorum 18.50-52). Before long he escaped from his gilded prison, but only to lose his life (Pauly-Wissowa, suppl. IX, cols. 1866f.; Debevoise, Political History, pp. 151-53; Camb. Hist. Iran III/1, pp. 67-69).

Philostratus (Life of Apollonius 2.31.37) states that Megabates (Bagabad), a brother of the Arsacid king Vardanes, met the philosopher Apollonius of Tyana at Antioch in A.D. 42. The authenticity of the report is doubtful (see A. von Gutschmid, Kleine Schriften, ed. F. Rühl, III, Leipzig, 1892, p. 48; Pauly-Wissowa, VIIA, col. 1975).

According to Malalas (Chronographia 11, ed. Dindorf, pp. 269f.) the Persian, i.e. Parthian, king Sanatrucius (Sanatruk) seized Antioch with the help of his brother Parthamaspates and the complicity of the notables, but the people, on a signal from Trajan, one night massacred the Persian garrison and the two barsamanatas or barzamaratas (faulty transcriptions of the title marzbān; Hemmerdinger, “158 noms communs grecs d’origine Iranienne, d’Eschyle au grec modern,” Byzantinoslavica 30, 1969, p. 25). Despite the arguments of A. Schenk von Stauffenberg (ed., Die Römische Kaisergeschichte bei Malalas, Stuttgart, 1931, pp. 273f.), this statement is clearly false. Antioch was not occupied by the Parthians at anytime in Trajan’s reign (J. Guey, Essai sur la guerre parthique de Trajan, Bucharest, 1937, pp. 44f., 123f., 131-33; J. Gagé, “Les Perses à Antioche et les courses de l’hippodrome au milieu de IIIe siècle,” Bulletin des lettres de Strasbourg 31, 1935, p. 319; Downey, History of Antioch, p. 213 n. 58). Moreover, Sanatrucius was a king of Armenia, not of Persia. Possibly the story is a romantic version of episodes in Šāpūr I’s occupation of Antioch erroneously transposed into Trajan’s reign (A. von Gutschmid, apud M. Dieraver, “Beiträge zu einer krititischen Geschichte Trajans,” in M. Büdinger, ed., Untersuchungen zur römischen Kaisergeschichte, Leipzig, 1868, I, p. 157 n.).

Malalas (Chronographia 12, ed. Dindorf, p. 285) mentions a certain Artabanius (Artaban) as having been the first Syriarch, or chairman of the provincial assembly in the reign of Commodus, and a little further on (p. 289) names Artabanes (Artaban) as the Alytarch, or head of the Olympic games apparently meaning the same person (Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 232f.). The name points to Parthian influence in the Antiochene upper class.

Antioch and the Sasanians. 1. Šāpūr I and Antioch. Persian claims on Rome’s eastern territories became more insistent under Sasanian rule. Šāpūr I (240-72) strove to implement plans laid by his father Ardašīr and waged three wars against Rome. One of his main objectives was Antioch, the metropolis of the Roman East, which could he reached by routes along either the Euphrates or the Tigris (R. Mouterde and A. Poidebard, Le Limes de Chalcis, Paris, 1945, pp. 18-20, 127f.).

The first campaign in 240-41 was evidently limited to Upper Mesopotamia, despite R. Ghirshman’s statement (Bîchâpour I, Paris, 1971, pp. 133f.) that the Persian, held Antioch from 241 to 243. It was only on the second campaign that Šāpūr, thanks to his victory over the Roman army at Barbalissus on the left bank of the Euphrates, was able to push into Syria and take Antioch (trilingual inscription of Šāpūr I, Parthian 1.6, Greek 1.15; see A. Maricq, Classica et Orientalia, Paris, 1965, pp. 53, 80). In this venture, the complicity of an Antiochene notable, Mariades (Māryāḍʿa, a Syrian name wrongly transcribed in some sources as Kyriades), was apparently a great help to Šāpūr (Petrus Patricius, fragment 1, in C. Müller, ed., Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum IV, p. 192; Scriptores historiae Augustae Trig. Tyr., 2; Ammianus Marcellinus 23.5.3; Malalas Chronographia 12, ed., Dindorf, pp. 295-96). Mariades appears to have been the leader of a faction drawn from the ethnically Syrian part of the population (Gagé, “Les Perses à Antioche,” p. 303; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 254f.). According to the Historiae Augustae, Šāpūr made this man a sort of emperor of the east by giving him the title Caesar; but the story seems improbable. The circ*mstances of the city’s fall and the role of Mariades have been thoroughly studied by J. Gagé (pp. 301 f.). A Christian source, the Chronicle of Seert (pt. 1, tr., pp. 220-21) speaks of the capture and deportation of a large number of the inhabitants headed by the archbishop Demetrianus (see P. Peeters, “S. Démétrianus, évêque d’Antioche?” Analecta Bollandiana 42, 1924, pp. 288-314). As for the date of Šāpūr I’s first occupation of Antioch, the weight of the evidence points to 256 rather than 253 (see W. Ensslin, “Zu den Kriegen des Schapur I,” Sb. Bayerisch. Ak. Wiss, Phil.-hist. Kl., 147/5, 1949, pp. 18f.; E. Honigmann and A. Maricq, “Recherches sur les Res Gestae Divi Saporis,” = Mémoires Académie Royale de Belgique 47, 1953, pp. 131f.; R. N, Frye, in Bibliotheca Orientalis 8, 1951, pp. 105-06; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 594-95). There is no firm evidence in support of R. Ghirshman’s opinion (Bîchâpour I, pp. 124-25) that the Persian occupation lasted from 253 to 256.

Šāpūr I’s third campaign against the Romans, which is to be placed in 260 rather than 259, began with his capture of the emperor Valerian. This exploit opened the way for his second invasion of Syria and occupation of Antioch (Inscription of Šāpūr I, Parthian, 1.14, Greek 1.31, see A. Maricq, Classica et Orientalia, pp. 55, 82). Once again numerous Antiochenes were taken prisoner and removed to Iran (Chronicle of Seert, pt. 1, tr., p. 221; W. B. Henning, “The Great Inscription of Šāpūr I,” BSOAS 9, 1939, p. 843).

In the inscriptions of Kartīr, the Magian chief priest under Šāpūr I, Antioch and Syria stand at the head of lists of conquered territories in which Kartīr proudly claims to have restored Mazdaism and to have brought the local Magians (i.e., priests corrupted by Hellenism) back onto the right path (inscription on Kaʿba-ye Zardošt, 1.12f., see W. Hinz, “Die Inschrift des Hohenpriesters Kardēr am Turm von Naqsh-e Rostam,” AMI, N.S. 3, 1970, p. 259). It seems most unlikely, however, that he had time for effective action in the city and district of Antioch during the two brief occupations in 256 and 260.

2. Results of Šāpūr I’s deportations. (a) Use of prisoners to build new towns. Šāpūr I’s purpose in deporting a huge number of people from the city and district of Antioch was to obtain skilled manpower and to implant the craft techniques and urban patterns of Roman Syria in his own empire. The deportees were settled in Asōrestān (Babylonia), Mēšān (Mesene, southern Iraq), Ḵūzestān, Fārs, and Parthia. Evidently they provided much of the labor for the building of new towns, which are listed in the Chronicle of Seert as Šāḏ-Šāpūr and Wuzurg-Šāpūr (ʿOkbarā) in Mēšān, Ḵosrow-Šāpūr in the district of Kaškar (the south of Asōrestān), Rēv-Ardašīr (Rēšahr) and Wēh-Šāpūr (Bīšāpūr) in Fārs, and finally Wēh-Andiok-Šāpūr, which was contracted to Gundēšāpūr, in Ḵūzestān (p. 221; see also Ṭabarī, I, pp. 830-31, 839; Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, p. 7; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 494; Dīnavarī, pp. 48-49; Yaʿqūbī, I, p. 180; Masʿūdī, Tanbīh, p. 38; Ebn Rosta, p. 104; Yāqūt, I, p. 604, II, pp. 130, 442, 887, III, p. 227; Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 40-42; Markwart, Ērānšahr, pp. 27, 41, 145, 146; P. Peeters, “S. Démétrianus,” p. 288-314). The last town’s name, which means “Better Antioch of Šāpūr,” indicates the founder’s wish that it should outrival the Syrian metropolis. For Šāpūr I and his successors, Gundēšāpūr was to be a second capital. The town (near the present village of Šahābād) was built to a rectangular plan in imitation of a Roman camp (see L. Vanden Berghe, Archéologie de l’Iran ancien, Leiden, 1959, p. 66). According to a description by the 10th-century author Ḥamza Eṣfahānī (p. 49), Gondēšāpūr was intersected by eight, longitudinal and lateral streets and thus had the form of a chessboard. Wēh-šāpūr, better known as Bīšāpūr or Šāpūr (near the present-day Kāzerūn), was built on a similar plan. In the systematic excavation carried out at Bīšāpūr over several decades, various remains bearing marks of the Roman East have been unearthed: a votive monument with two columns in the Syro-Roman style and a bilingual inscription in Parthian and Pahlavi (R. Ghirshman, “Inscription du monument de Châpour I, à Châpour, Revue des arts asiatiques 10, 1936, pp. 123-29; idem, Iran, Parthes et Sassanides, Paris, 1962, fig. 194); wall decoration of the great hall of Palace A (Vanden Berghe, Archéologie, p. 54; Ghirshman, Parthes et Sassanides, p. 140, figs. 178 and 179); and, above all, mosaic pavements, which in the main reflect themes and techniques of Antiochene mosaicists, though the hand of local craftsmen can be detected in certain details (Ghirshman, Parthes et Sassanides, p. 140; idem, Bîchâpour II. Les mosaiques sassanides, Paris, 1956; H. von Gall, “Die Mosaiken von Bischapur,” AMI, N.S., 4, 1971, pp. 193-205).

(b) The Spread of Christianity in the Sasanian empire. Christianity had apparently been preached from the 2nd century onward in parts of the Parthian empire by missionaries who came from Edessa. It received a great impetus with the arrival of the Antiochene prisoners of Šāpūr, at least half of whom must have been Christians. In all the regions where they were settled—Ḵūzestān, Mēšān, Fārs, the Kaškar district, and perhaps also the outskirts of Seleucia-Ctesiphon—new and undoubtedly quite large Christian communities took shape. According to the Chronicle of Seert (p. 221), which probably echoes reliable early sources, the prisoners, receiving generous land grants and prospering under Sasanian rule, suffered no serious trouble until persecution began in the reign of Bahrām II (276-93). (On the good will of Šāpūr I and the spread of Christianity in Iran, cf. F. Decret, “Les conséquences sur le christianisme en Perse de l’affrontement des empires romain et sassanide. De Shapur Ier à Yazdgard Ier,” Recherches Augustiniennes 14, 1979, pp. 110f.) At Rēv-Ardašīr, which was to become the archiepiscopal see of Fārs, the Greek-speaking and Syriac-speaking deportees formed two distinct groups, each having its own liturgy. The influence of the church appears to have been strongest at Gondēšāpūr. According to a tradition probably based on historical fact, the bishop Demetrianus (see above) was the founder of the see of Gondēšāpūr, which bore the Syriac name Bēth Lapat and came to rank second in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. After the death of Demetrianus sometime before 260, an Antiochene priest named Azdaq or Ardaq was appointed his successor (ibid.; Mārī b. Solaymān apud P. Peeters, “De S. Demetriano Antiochiae episcopo,” Acta Sanctorum 4, p. 390; idem, “S. Démétrianus, évêque d’Antioche?” pp. 309-14; F. Tisserand, “Eglise nestorienne,” Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. M. Villier et al., XIV/2, Paris, 1941, col. 164; M. L. Chaumont, “Les Sassanides et la christianisation de l’Empire iranien au IIIe siècle de notre ère,” RHR 165, 1964, pp. 176-77; J. M. Fiey, Jalons pour l’histoire d’une Eglise en Iraq, Louvain, 1971, pp. 53, 57; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 258-59, 309-10, 592-93). J. Labourt (Le christianisme dans l’empire perse, Paris, 1904, pp. 19-20) thinks it doubtful that the bishop Demetrianus came to Gondēšāpūr.

If certain texts are to be believed, the Persian church’s connection with Antioch was of a much more organic nature, because they state that the see of Seleucia-Ctesiphon was under the jurisdiction of the patriarchate of Antioch. Such reports in later writings are somewhat suspect, particularly when they make the links go back to the 2nd century or the beginning of the 3rd century (see J. M. Fiey, L’Orient Chrétien, 12, 1967, pp. 3f.). On the other hand, any dependency of Seleucia-Ctesiphon on Antioch is questioned by some scholars (Cf. W. De Vries, Mélanges E. Tisserand III, especially pp. 449-50). Nevertheless, it seems inherently probable that the church of Persia was to some extent under the tutelage of Antioch in the period before the adoption of Nestorianism.

3. Antioch and the Persians in the 4th century: St. Aphraates. Toward the end of Constantine I’s reign, Antioch again became important as the Roman base for military operations against the Persians. It was the starting point for all the expeditions that Constantius II (emperor of the East after his Father Constantine’s death in 337) led almost annually into Mesopotamia (Pauly-Wissowa, IV, cols. 1044-94; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 355f.; J. Lassus, “La ville d’Antioche à l’époque romaine d’après l’archéologie,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt 2/8, 1977, pp. 94-95). When peace negotiations began in 356, they were conducted mainly at Antioch. The rhetorician Themistius (Orationes 4.57B) mentions the presence of envoys from Susa and Ecbatana in the city. Spectatus, an Antiochene and a kinsman of Libanius, apparently played a part in the talks (Libanius Epistolae 468, 505, ed. R. Förster, Libanii opera X, Leipzig, 1921, pp. 450, 481). In 358 the same Spectatus earned distinction as leader of a Roman mission to Ctesiphon; one of the other envoys the philosopher Eustathius, who had been appointed at Libanius’s request (Ammianus Marcellinus 17.5, 14.1-2 ; Libanius Epistolae 331, 333, 352, 513, ed. Förster, X, pp. 310-12, 316, 333-34, 488-89). Libanius notes that the announcement of the failure of the negotiations caused alarm among his fellow citizens (Epistolae 49, ed. Förster, X, pp. 41-48; Downey, History of Antioch, p. 371).

In 362 and early 363 the emperor Julian stayed at Antioch for several months to complete his war preparations. In his entourage was Šāpūr II’s brother, the prince Hormizd, who had taken refuge with Constantine after being debarred from the succession on the death of his father Hormizd II, in 309 (Pauly-Wissowa, VIII, col. 2410; Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 51 n. 3); under Julian’s plan he was to be placed on the Sasanian throne in the event of victory (Libanius Epistolae 1402, ed. Förster, I, pp. 444-46; Acta Sanctorum 4, Paris, 1867, p. 431). On 5 March 363 the emperor Julian left Antioch at the start of his march to Asōrestān, where defeat and death awaited him (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 60f.; Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 238; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 391, 395).

The mission of an envoy named Anthemius to Persia is mentioned only by the 5th-century ecclesiastical historian Theodoret of Cyrrhus (Religiosa historia 8, in Patrologia Graeca 82, col. 1369; Pauly-Wissowa, I/2, col. 2365) and cannot be precisely dated, though A. G. Festugière (Antioche païenne et chrétienne, Paris, 1959, p. 208) would place it between 375 and 378, when negotiations were in progress. It is known that Valens, the emperor of the East, before his departure from Antioch early in 378, sent a general named Victor to negotiate with Šāpūr II on Armenia (Ammianus Marcellinus 31.7.1). Libanius (Orationes 19, ed. Förster, II, p. 415) mentions the arrival of a Persian delegation at Antioch a few years later, during the reign of Theodosius I.

Neither the historian Ammianus Marcellinus nor the philosopher-rhetorician Libanius, both of whom were Antiochenes, shows any sympathy for the Persians and their king or respect for their country. Nor is there evidence of Persophile tendencies among the city’s cosmopolitan population comparable with the support for Mariades in the preceding century. Persia was now the enemy to be feared and fought (e.g. Libanius Orationes 11.157-63, 20.19, 47-48, ed. Förster, I, pp. 489-91; P. Petit, Libanius et la vie municipale à Antioche au IVe siècle après J. C., Paris, 1955, p. 182). The only surviving bond was between the Christians on both sides.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (Religiosa historia 8, Patrologia Graeca 82, cols. 1175-88, and Ecclesiasticae historiae 4.23, ibid., 1004) tells the story of a Persian monk, Aphraates (not identical with a “Persian sage” of the same name), who became a saint. After a Magian upbringing, he was converted to Christianity, and toward the end of the reign of Constantius II (337-61), he moved to Antioch, where he led a hermit’s life until his death. He did not speak Greek correctly. He was credited with numerous miracles and with the giving of a rebuke to the emperor Valens, to whom he was presented. According to Theodoret, he refused to accept a tunic “woven by the Persians” which the ambassador Anthemius brought back for him from his native country. He died early in late 5th century and was buried in the church of St. Julian in a suburb of Antioch (see A. Festugière, Antiochepaïenneetchrétienne, pp. 267-76; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 411, 545 n. 180, 643 n. 10).

4. The capture and sack of Antioch by Ḵosrow I; the foundation of Wēh-Andiok Ḵosrow in Asōrestān. For a long time Syria lay beyond the range of immediate Sasanian designs. It was not until 528 that fighting resumed and in March, 529 the Arab king of Ḥīra, Monḏer III, acting for his suzerain Qobād (Kawād) I, began to raid and plunder in Syria, where he reached Apamea and the outskirts of Antioch killing and seizing a great many people (Zacharias Rhetor Historia ecclesiastica 8.5, tr. K. Ahrens and G. Krüger, Kirchengeschichte, Scriptores sacri et profani III, Leipzig, 1899, p. 158; Malalas Chronographia 18, ed. Dindorf, p. 445; Theophanes Chronographia, a. 6021, ed. De Boor, p. 178; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 530f.).

In the spring of 540, Qobād’s successor, Ḵosrow I Anōšīravān, marched up the Euphrates and via Hierapolis (Manbeǰ) to Antioch. The available forces at Antioch were insufficient to meet this threat, and the fortifications were in bad repair and vulnerable from the side of Mount Silpius. The citizens therefore decided to negotiate a price in gold for withdrawal of the Persian troops. Their chosen spokesman Magas, the bishop of Beroea (Aleppo), gained access to Ḵosrow in his camp new Hierapolis. The king agreed to withdraw in return for a payment of 1,000 pounds of gold. This deal conflicted with the instructions of Justinian’s envoys, who had arrived in the meantime and were expressly forbidden to negotiate ransoms of Roman towns. Ḵosrow, on learning of the decision, marched through Beroea up to Antioch and, after camping on the banks of the Orontes, sent an Antiochene deserter named Paul with a message that he was still ready to withdraw in return for the gold. At the same time he gave an audience to the imperial envoys, but obtained no satisfaction from them. The arrival of 6,000 reinforcements emboldened the Antiochenes, who shouted insults at the Persian king from their side of the wall and nearly did away with the interpreter Paul. Angered by their behavior, Ḵosrow ordered his troops to storm the city, and despite tough resistance from the Roman soldiers, they soon took it. Soldiers and civilians alike were then put to the sword until Ḵosrow finally ordered that fugitives should be spared and taken prisoner. The booty seized by the Persians was immense and of great value. The Sasanian ruler went in person to the Great Church to remove the gold and silver offerings and the panels of marble and mosaic. The city was set on fire. Ḵosrow spared the church of St. Julian because it was being used to house the Roman envoys, and at their request left the great church standing. Before his departure he gave the envoys notice of his peace terms: a ransom of 5,000 pounds of gold and an annual tribute of 500 pounds. A detailed account of the event has been left by the historian Procopius of Caesarea (De Bello Persico 2.6.1-9.7, 9.14-18, ed. and tr. H. B. Dewing, Loeb Classical Library, 1921, I, pp. 304-36, 341-42). (For the date, see Malalas Chronographia 21, ed. Dindorf, pp. 479-80; see also J. H. Bury, Late Roman Empire, London, 1923, New York, 1958, II, pp. 93-100; E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire II, Paris, 1959, pp. 485-92; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 533-45; idem, “The Persian Campaign in Syria in A.D. 540,” Speculum 28, 1953, pp. 340-48; J. Lassus, “Antioche à l’époque romaine,” p. 96).

Subsequently Antioch was rebuilt and its fortifications were strengthened. The prisoners were taken to Ctesiphon and eventually housed in a new town that Ḵosrow I, on the model of his ancestor Šāpūr I, ordered built for them. It was officially named Wēh-Andiok-Ḵosrow (Ḵosrow’s Better Antioch) and commonly known as Rūmagān (Arabic: Rūmīya, i.e., the Roman town); in the Syriac sources it is called “The New Māḥōzē” (Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, p. 165 n. 4; Christensen, Iran Sass., pp. 386-87; Pauly-Wissowa, Suppl. IV, cols. 115-16). The new town was meant to be an exact copy of its forerunner. By building edifices adorned with marble and mosaic, a public bath, and a hippodrome with charioteers and musicians specially brought from Syria, Ḵosrow hoped to give the exiles the living conditions to which they had been accustomed, and by granting them the status of “king’s men,” he gave them the unique privilege of accountability to himself alone and not to any other jurisdiction. Furthermore he made this New Antioch an asylum for fugitive Roman slaves; any individual taking refuge in the town and acknowledged as a relative by one of its inhabitants was assured of immunity. Ḵosrow I entrusted the town’s administration to Warāz, a Christian from Ḵūzestān who had been head of the artisans of the royal workshops. According to Ṭabarī (Nöldeke, GeschichtederPerser, pp. 239-40), the king acted out of compassion for the exiles and in the hope of conciliating them. He created a special district for them consisting of five wards: Upper, Middle, and Lower Nahrawān, Bādarāyā, and Bākosāyā. The Chronicle of Seert (p. 197) states that when Ḵosrow I died, the Christian deportees at Wēh-Andiok-Ḵosrow gathered to honor his memory and accompanied his remains to the place of burial. Wēh-Andiok-Ḵosrow was situated on the left bank of the Tigris in the southeastern part of the urban complex of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, probably at the place, called Bostān-e Kesrā (Christensen, Iran Sass., p. 386; information on Wēh-Andiok-Ḵosrow and its inhabitants is to be found in Procopius De Bello Persico 2.14; Theophylactus Simocatta Historiae 5.7, ed. G. de Boor, Leipzig, 1887; Sebeos Histoire de Héraclius 23, tr. F. Macler, Paris, 1904, p. 62; Chronicle of Seert, pp. 182, 197; Ṭabarī, I, pp. 898, 959-60; Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 164, 239-40; Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 613; Masʿūdī, Morūǰ II, pp. 199-200; Dīnavarī, pp. 70-71, 376; Saʿīd b. Betrīq (Eutychius), Annales, Ar. text, ed. L. Cheikho, Beirut, 1905, p. 208; J. M. Fiey, “Topographie chrétienne de Mahoze,” L’Orient Syrien 2, 1967, pp. 400, 414f.; M. G. Morony, Iraq after the Muslim Conquest, Princeton, 1984, p. 267).

5. Antioch and Ḵosrow II. In 591 Ḵosrow II Parvēz regained his throne with the support of the emperor Maurice when he defeated Bahrām Čōbīn at Balarath. During the campaign Ḵosrow, probably persuaded by his Christian wife Šīrīn, had prayed and made a vow to St. Sergius, and after his victory he expressed his gratitude by sending to Gregory, the patriarch of Antioch, a gold cross and some precious stone which had been dedicated to St. Sergius in the church at Sergiopolis by the empress Theodora and had been removed by Ḵosrow I in 540; to these he added a second gold cross and a gold patera. Subsequently the patriarch of Antioch (Gregory or his successor Anastasius?) was invited to consecrate two churches dedicated to the Holy Virgin and St. Sergius that Ḵosrow II had caused to be built near Ctesiphon. The prelate returned to Antioch with many gifts (Agapius of Manbeǰ, Ketāb al-ʿonwān, pt. 2, in Patrologia Orientalis 8, p. 446; Evagrius Ecclesiastical History 6.18, 21; Theophylactus Simocatta Historiae 5.13.1-2, 14.2-12; P. Peeters, “Les ex-voto de Khosrau Aparwez à Saint Serge de Roṣāpha,” Mémoires de l’Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres 44, 1951, pp. 3-23; P. Goubert, Byzance avant l’Islam I, Paris, 1951, pp. 149-50; Downey, History of Antioch, p. 570; J. Nasrallah, L’Eglise melchite en Iraq, en Perse et dans l’Asie Centrale, Jerusalem, 1976, pp. 27-28).

After the overthrow of Maurice in 602, Ḵosrow II changed his attitude toward the Romans. Persian raids into Syria in 606 and 607 are mentioned by Theophanes (Chronographia a. 6098-99, ed. De Boor, Leipzig, 1883-85, pp. 293, 295). According to Sebeos (Histoire de Héraclius 23, tr., p. 62), the people of Antioch voluntarily surrendered to the Persian general Khoream Razmiozan (Šahr-Warāz) to escape from the cruelties of the emperor Phocas (see also R. Spintler, De Phoca imperatore Romanorum, Jena, 1905, p. 42; but cf. Downey, History of Antioch, p. 572 n. 37).

In 610 or 611 the Persians invaded Syria and occupied its capital (Theophanes Chronographia a. 6102, ed. De Boor, p. 299; Michael the Syrian Chronique de Michel le Syrien 10.25, tr. J. B. Chabot, Paris, 1899-1904, II, pp. 376, 400). Antioch remained under their rule throughout the campaigns of Heraclius, who according to Sebeos (24, tr. p. 67) was defeated by the Persians outside its walls (622). The pro-Nestorian policy pursued by Ḵosrow II in Syria must certainly have had repercussions in Antioch. The Sasanian occupation lasted until 628, when Kawād II Šerōye retroceded all his father’s conquests to the Romans and gave the Syrian deportees freedom to return home. In 637-38 Antioch fell to the Arabs.

Iranian influence on Antiochene art. Oriental, and particularly Sasanian Iranian, influence becomes increasingly apparent in the mosaics of Antioch from the 4th century on. This impact, expressed not only in the absence of perspective, the stylization of human figures, and the placing of decoration (see J. Lassus, “Les mosaïques d’Antioche,” Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 1936. p. 41), but also in the use of certain motifs, including the floral rosette, as on a capital at Ṭāq-e Bostān (see D. Wilber, “Iranian Motifs in Syrian Art,” Bulletin of the American Institute for Iranian Art and Archeology 5, 1937, p. 24 and fig. 4); the bursting flower (ibid., pp. 24-25 and fig. 4); the stylized tree with superposed fruits (ibid., p. 25 and fig. 5); the bird with streaming feathers (D. Levi, Antioch Mosaic Pavements, Princeton, 1947, I, p. 358; D. Wilber, “Iranian Motifs,” pp. 23-24 and fig. 2; Downy, History of Antioch, p. 35 n. 39); the lion with streaming ribbons (D. Levi, Mosaic Pavements I, pp. 313-15; Downey, History of Antioch, pp. 34-35, 49, 232-33, 391 n. 72; idem, Ancient Antioch, fig. 33). Almost without doubt the most typically Iranian motif borrowed by the Antiochene mosaic designers is the boar’s bead symbolizing royal power, or more precisely two boars’ heads surmounting a pair of wings (D. Wilber, “Iranian Motifs,” p. 26 and fig. 6; D. Levi, Mosaic Pavements I, pp. 478-79; Downey, History of Antioch, p. 35 n. 39; idem, Ancient Antioch, fig. 32).


See also: Primary sources: Ammianus Marcellinus Historia Romana 1-3, ed. and tr.

J. C. Rolfe, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1950; ed. W. Seyfarth, 1-4, 1968-72.

Dio Cassius Historia Romana 1-10, ed. and tr. E. Cary, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1954-55.

Chronicle of Seert (in Arabic) 1st pt., ed. and tr.

A. Scher and J. Perier in Patrologia Orientalis 7, 1911.

Libanius Orationes, ed. and tr.

R. Förster, Libanii opera 1-3, Teubner Collection, Leipzig, 1903-06.

Idem, Epistolae, ed. and tr.

R. Förster, Libanii opera 10-11, Teubner Collection, Leipzig, 1921-22.

Malalas Ioannis Malalae chronographia, ed. and tr.

L. Dindorf, in Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae, Bonn, 1831, repr. Bonn, 1926.

Procopius of Caesarea De Bello Persico, ed. and tr.

H. B. Dewing, I, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1914.

Sebeos, Histoire d’Héraclius par l’évêque Sébéos, tr. F. Macler, Paris, 1904.

Thimistius Orationes, ed. G. Downey and A. F. Norman, I-II, Teubner Collection, Leipzig, 1965-71.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus Ecclesiasticae historiae, in Patrologia Graeca, Migne, 8.

Idem, Religiosa historia, ibid. Theophanes Confessor Chronographia, ed. and tr.

C. De Boor, I-II, Teubner Collection, Leipzig, 1883-85.

Secondary sources: I. Benzinger, “Antiocheia,” in Pauly-Wissowa I, cols. 2442-45.

F. Decret, “Les consequences sur le christianisme en Iran dans l’affrontement des empires romain et sassanide de Shapur Ier à Yazdgard Ier, Ētudes Augustiniennes 14, 1979, pp. 92-152.

W. De Vries, “Antiochien und Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Patriarch und Katholicos,” in Mélanges E. Tisserand 3, Orient Chrétien, 2nd pt. (= Studi et Testi, 1964, pp. 429f.). Camb. Hist. Iran III, pp. 56, 125, 131, 523, 570, 758-59, 1127 and n. 1.

A. J. Festugière, Antioche païenne et chrétienne. Libanius, Chrysostome et le moines de Syrie, Bibliothèque Ēcole des Hautes Ētudes, 194, Paris, 1959.

J. M. Fiey, “Les étapes de la prise de conscience de son identité patriarcale par l’Ēglise syrienne orientale,” L’Orient Syrien 12, 1967, pp. 3-22.

C. Karalevskii, “Antioche,” Dictionnaire d’Histoire et Géographie Ecclésiastique III, 1924, pp. 563f.

H. Leclerq, “Antioche,” Diccionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. Cabrol and Leclerq, Paris, n.d., I, cols. 2359f.

(M. L. Chaumont)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 5, 2011

This article is available in print.
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