Seleucia Pieria, the ancient seaport for Antioch of Syria, once played a central role in the travels of the 1st-century Christian missionaries. Little remains of the city or its port. Nevertheless, one outstanding attraction still remains, and it alone is worth a visit to the site: the spectacular tunnel of Vespasian and Titus. To reach Seleucia Pieria, travel 18 miles south of Antakya (ancient Antioch) to the village of Samandağ, then proceed north along the beach road approximately 2 miles to the little settlement of Çevlik. Portions of the ancient breakwater are clearly visible from the refreshment stand above the beach. (Do not plan to swim—not that anyone would be tempted after viewing the polluted condition of the water.) The city and port of Seleucia Pieria were founded at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C.E. by one of the generals of Alexander the Great, Seleucus Nicator, who also founded Antioch. (The name Pieria was derived from Mt. Pieria, the mountain above the city.) His descendants, known as the Seleucids, battled for many years with the Ptolemies for control of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, eventually losing out entirely. Originally Seleucia Pieria served as the capital of the new kingdom of Seleucus I. After Seleucus was assassinated (281 B.C.E.), however, his son, Antiochus I, moved the capital to Antioch, and Seleucia Pieria served as its strongly fortified port. During the Roman era the port was captured by Pompey, who granted it the status of a free city. Later, it became the location of a Roman fleet. At its zenith the city had a population of some 30,000 inhabitants. Many famous persons passed through the ancient port during its history. Besides the Christian missionaries Paul and Barnabas and several of the Roman emperors, other notables included the renowned wonderworker Apollonius of Tyana, in his own way a missionary of Pythagorean reform. According to Philostratus, Apollonius, too, set sail from Seleucia Pieria to go to Cyprus at virtually the same time as the Christian missionaries (Life of Apollonius 3). Seleucia Pieria is mentioned in the New Testament only in connection with the first missionary voyage of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:4): “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.