Amazons, the legendary founders of Ephesus

amazons-ephesus

Amazons were the female warriors that lived in Anatolia (Anatolia is the name of the region of today’s Asian part of Turkey) around 2nd millennium BC. They are believed to be the daughters of god Ares (the god of war) and Harmonia. They disappear from the historical records from Anatolia after the 7th century BC.

Amazons first appear in around the foothills of Caucasus Mountains and then move to the Black Sea coast to Themiscyra which is accepted by historians as the lands of Amazons. Themiscyra of the ancient times is referring to today’s Terme River in the black sea region of Turkey between Sinop and Ordu cities.

There are different opinions about the origin of the name ‘Amazon’. According to the most popular theory, the word ‘Mazon’ means breast and a-mazons were the females without a breast. They were cutting one of their breasts to use their weapons more efficiently. According to another point of view, the prefix ‘a’ is used to strengthen the word mazon – breast to emphasize the female warriors fighting like a man. When we look at the sculptures of Amazons from different times and geographies, the Amazon ladies are depicted with two breasts generally which supports the second theory.

Amazons were living apart from men, and using men only to proliferate by sleeping with a man they liked once a year. If they had a son, they would leave him to the father, and they only accepted females to their society.

The Amazons are seen on history stage in several different myths and stories. Hercules, the son of Zeus, was born from an affair of Zeus with a human being named Alcmene. Hera, the official wife of Zeus tried to take revenge from Hercules all the time and gave Hercules 12 tasks to complete, wishing Hercules would be dead by the end. One of the missions was to get back the golden belt from the Amazon queen Hippolyte. Hercules and Theseus went to the land of Amazons and they were welcomed very friendly. Hercules took the golden belt from the queen as a gift. But this time Hera was frustrated, she changed herself into an Amazon and caused a massive disorder which ended by the killing of queen Hippolyte by Heracles. Theseus kidnapped the Antiope, the sister of the queen, to Athens and with the leadership of Orithtya, Amazons attacked Athens to get back Antiope which takes place as a historical fact in the writings of Socrates. Following this story, according to a powerful theory, on their way to Athens or back, Amazons established Ephesus as well as many other cities around the same location.

Amazons are taking place at the famous Troy war around 1200 BC. They are believed to help Hector against Achilles. Queen Penthesilea was shot to death from her breast just after she injured Achilles. On her last moments, Achilles took of her helmet and saw the beauty of Penthesilea and fell in love with this woman that he just killed.

In all around the world, at the famous museums, one can see the sculptures of these female warriors of Anatolia made by several artists at different times. One of the beautiful reliefs of Amazons that were carved on the Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus Ancient City is now displayed at the local museum of Ephesus in Selcuk, Turkey.

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http://www.ephesus.us

Temple of Hadrian

Temple-of-Hadrian-Ephesus

It is one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street. It was built before 138 A.D by P. Quintilius and was dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, who came to visit the city from Athens in 128 A.D The facade of the temple has four Corinthian columns supporting a curved arch, in the middle of which contains a relief of Tyche, goddess of victory. The side columns are square. The pedestal with inscriptions in front of the temple, are the bases for the statues of the emperors between 293-305 CE, Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius I, and Galerius; the originals of the statues have not been found yet.

Inside the temple above the door, a human figure, probably Medusa stands with ornaments of acanthus leaves. On both sides there are friezes depicting the story of the foundation of Ephesus – Androklos shooting a boar, Dionysus in ceremonial procession and the Amazons. The fourth frieze portrays two male figures, one of which is Apollo; Athena, goddess of the moon; a female figure, Androkles, Herakles, the wife and son of Theodosius and the goddess Athena. The friezes that are seen today are copies, and the originals are displayed in Ephesus Museum.

Emperor Hadrian was one of the Five of Good Emperors. The Five Good Emperors is a term that refers to five consecutive emperors of the Roman Empire – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. The term is first coined by the political philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli in 1532. Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born on 24 January AD 76, probably at Rome, though his family lived in Italica in Baetica. Emporor Trajan was his cousin. Hadrian was schooled in various subjects particular to young aristocrats of the day, and was so fond of learning Greek literature that he was nicknamed Graeculus (“Little Greek”).Hadrian was active in the wars against the Dacians and reputedly won awards from Trajan for his successes. Due to an absence of military action in his reign, Hadrian’s military skill is not well attested, however his keen interest and knowledge of the army and his demonstrated skill of administration show possible strategic talent.

Hadrian appears to have been a man of mixed sexual interests. The Historia Augusta criticizes both his liking of goodlooking young men as well as his adulteries with married women.It is belived that he tried to poison his wife. When it comes to Hadrian’s homosexuality, then the accounts remain vague and unclear. Most of the attention centres on the young Antinous, whom Hadrian grew very fond of. Statues of Antinous have survived, showing that imperial patronage of this youth extended to having sculptures made of him. In AD 130 Antinous accompanied Hadrian to Egypt. It was on a trip on the Nile when Antinous met with an early and somewhat mysterious death. Officially, he fell from the boat and drowned.

Hadrian died in 138 on the tenth day of July, in his villa at Baiae at age 62. However, the man who had spent so much of his life traveling had not yet reached his journey’s end. He was buried first at Puteoli, near Baiae, on an estate which had once belonged to Cicero. Soon after, his remains were transferred to Rome and buried in the Gardens of Domitia, close by the almost-complete mausoleum. Upon the completion of the Tomb of Hadrian in Rome in 139 by his successor Antoninus Pius, his body was cremated, and his ashes were placed there together with those of his wife Vibia Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Antoninus also had him deified in 139 and given a temple on the Campus Martius.

Poem by Hadrian
According to the Historia Augusta Hadrian wrote shortly before his death the following poem:

Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos…
P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp.
Little soul, roamer and charmer
Body’s guest and companion
Who soon will depart to places
Darkish, chilly and misty
An end to all your jokes…

Judaism in Rome and Ephesus

judaism-in-ephesus

When St Paul visited Ephesus around 53 AD, there was a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years.

At 1st century AD, Jews had spread from their homeland to the Mediterranean and some other places. The oldest Jewish community in Europe is the one in Rome. They were practicing very different religion than their neighbors and as a result of this, Jews were mostly close-knit to protect their faiths and themselves. In Rome, Augustus and Julius Cesar supported Jews to help them to worship as they like and Julius Cesar allowed them to settle anywhere in the Roman Empire. Although they were generally treated with respect, trouble did occur and during the reign of Claudius, Jews had been exiled from Rome two times but than they were allowed to return and continue their independent existence. Each Jewish community worshipped at its own synagogue but the center of their worship is in Jerusalem.

It is known that there have been a substantial Jewish community in Asia Minor since at least the 5th century BC and when St Paul visited Ephesus around 53 AD there was a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years, but the exact date of the establishment of Jewish community in Ephesus is not known.

Unfortunately there is a little inscriptional evidence for the Jewish community in the ancient city but Ephesus is mentioned as having a synagogue in Acts 19:1 of New Testament. Synagogue hasn’t been found in and around Ephesus but there is a menorah carving on the step of Celsus library.

Source : Ephesus – History, information and pictures of Ephesus Ancient city

St John in Ephesus

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The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St. John.

John was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and he was called “the Son of Thunder” by Jesus himself.

According to apostles big cities like Ephesus, Smyrna and Laodicea would help them to spread the new religion in the Western World. It is accepted that John came to Ephesus together with Virgin Mary who had been entrusted to him, for the first time. John’s Gospel says that “When on the cross, Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son’ then he said to the disciple, ‘here is your mother’. From that hour the disciple took her into his own home and never separated again. (John 19:26-27)

The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St. John. In 64, after St Paul was decapitated outside the city wall of Rome, John again became the leader of the Ephesians church community.

In spite of his old age, St John went around Asia Minor together with St Peter to spread Christianity. He was tried to be killed two times; a glass of poisonous drink was given him but with a miracle poison came out in the form of a snake when St John was ready to drink it and also he was exiled to Island of Patmos where he wrote his Apocalypse. In 95 CE he returned to Ephesus and started writing his Gospel. St John died in Ephesus and according to his will, he was buried nearby Ephesus. His all words and Gospel still live today.

Fountain of Pollio

 

The Pollio Fountain was located to the south of the State Agora, across the Odeion. It was built in 97 A.D by the rich Ephesian C.S.Pollio and his family.

The water was brought to the fountains of Ephesus from three main sources through aqueducts and distributed from fountains by a branching system of baked clay pipes. The sources were Kencherios (42km) at Kuşadası, Çamlık village stream of Marnas (15km), and the Cayster River (20km).Water was free of charge by the city in the public fountains. Also they provided refreshment in hot summer days for the streets.

It has a high arch facing the temple of Domitian. It is known to be decorated with a number of statues. One of these statues is the Head of Zeus which is on display in the Ephesus Museum today. Some of these statues were thought to be taken from the Isis Temple, probably after an earthquake, to repair the fountain. The statue group of Odysseus and Polyphemus , that once were on the basin, are now displayed also in Ephesus Museum.