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Ancient Tarsus - Important city of Cilicia near the mouth of the river Cydnus, dating back to the Mycenaean period. When Alexander arrived there he patronized the city, and afterwards it became Hellenized. Tarsus was home of the apostle Paul, as mentioned in the Bible in Acts 9:11, 30; 11:25; 21:39; 22:3. Now Terso.

Acts 9:11 - And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for [one] called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

Acts 9:30 - [Which] when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Acts 11:25 - Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

Acts 21:39 - But Paul said, I am a man [which am] a Jew of Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

Acts 22:3 - I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Tarsus, Tarsos (Ταρσός). Now Terso; the chief city of Cilicia, standing near the centre of Cilicia Campestris, on the river Cydnus, about twelve miles above its mouth. All that can be determined with certainty as to its origin seems to be that it was a very ancient city of the Syrians, who were the earliest known inhabitants of this part of Asia Minor, and that it received Greek settlers at an early period. At the time of the Macedonian invasion it was held by the Persian troops, who were about to burn it, when they were prevented by Alexander's arrival. After playing an important part as a military post in the wars of the successors of Alexander, and under the Syrian kings, it became, by the peace between the Romans and Antiochus the Great, the frontier city of the Syrian kingdom on the northwest, and still flourishes, having a population estimated at 100,000. As the power of the Seleucidae declined it suffered much from the oppression of its governors, and from the wars between the members of the royal family. At the time of the Mithridatic War, it suffered, on the one hand, from Tigranes, who overran Cilicia, and, on the other, from the pirates, who had their strongholds in the mountains of Cilicia Aspera, and made frequent incursions into the level country. From both these enemies it was rescued by Pompey, who made it the capital of the new Roman province of Cilicia, B.C. 66. Under Augustus, the city obtained immunity from taxes, through the influence of the emperor's tutor, the Stoic Athenodorus, who was a native of the place. It enjoyed the favour and was called by the names of several of the later emperors. It was the scene of important events in the wars with the Persians, the Arabs, and the Turks, and also in the Crusades. Tarsus was the birthplace of many distinguished men, among them the Apostle Paul. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers.

Tarsus, Capital of Cilicia, on Cydmus fl., at one time near its mouth, but now 13 m. inland. Built " in one and the same day with Anchiale," by Sardanapalus. A celebrated seat of learning. The birth-place of St. Paul; of the stoics Antipater, Archedamus, and Nestor ; of Athenodorus and Cordylion ; of Nestor, the tutor of Marcellus; of Plutiades and Diogenes; of the grammarians Artemidorus and Diodorus; and of the dramatist Dionysiades. Tersoos. - Classical Gazetteer


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Tarsus, Mersin. Tarsus (Greek: Ταρσός, Armenian: Տարսոն, Tarson) is a historical city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 2.75 million. Tarsus is an administrative district in Mersin Province and lies in the core of the Çukurova region. With a history going back over 2,000 years, Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders, a focal point of many civilisations including the Roman Empire, when Tarsus was capital of the province of Cilicia, the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the birthplace of Saint Paul. Located on the mouth of the Tarsus Çay (Cydnus), which empties into the Mediterranean Sea, Tarsus is a junction point of land and sea routes connecting the Cilician plain (today called Çukurova), central Anatolia and the Mediterranean sea. The climate is typical of the Mediterranean region, summers very very hot, winters chilly and damp.

The ancient name is Tarsos, (Greek: Ταρσός) possibly derived from a pagan god, Tarku; at other times the city was named Tarsisi; Antiochia on the Cydnus (Greek: Αντιόχεια του Κύδνου, Latin: Antiochia ad Cydnum); and Juliopolis. [Տարսոն, Darson in Western Armenian and Tarson in Eastern Armenian] . The Hittites referred to Tarsus as Tarsa.[1] Pegasus the winged horse was a mortal. Because of his faithful service to Zeus the Greek god, he was honored with a constellation. On the last day of Pegasus' life, Zeus transformed him into a constellation, then a single feather fell to the earth near the city of Tarsus.

Greece and Persia History and Tarsus
In historical times, the city was first ruled by the Hittites, followed by Assyria, and then the Persian Empire. Tarsus, as the principal town of Cilicia, was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 BC onward. Indeed, Xenophon records that in 401 BC, when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch.

At this period the patron god of the city was Sandon and a large monument to Sandon existed at Tarsus at least until the 3rd century A.D. Coins showed Sandon standing on a winged and horned lion and it is now thought likely that the lion of St Mark on the pillar in the Piazzetta in Venice was in origin a winged lion-griffin from such a monument at Tarsus.[3]

Alexander the Great passed through with his armies in 333 BC and nearly met his death here after a bath in the Cydnus. By this time Tarsus was already largely influenced by Greek language and culture, and as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers, poets and linguists. The schools of Tarsus rivaled Athens and Alexandria. 2 Maccabees (4:30) records its revolt in about 171 BC against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had renamed the town Antiochia on the Cydnus. In his time the library of Tarsus held 200,000 books, including a huge collection of scientific works. The name didn't last, however, due to the confusion of so many cities named Antioch.

Roman History and Tarsus
Pompey subjected Tarsus to Rome, and it became capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, the metropolis where the governor resided. In 66 BC, the inhabitants received Roman citizenship. To flatter Julius Caesar, for a time it took the name Juliopolis. It was also here that Cleopatra and Mark Antony met and was the scene of the celebrated feasts they gave during the construction of their fleet (41 BC).

When the province of Cilicia was divided, Tarsus remained the civil and religious metropolis of Cilicia Prima, and was a grand city with palaces, marketplaces, roads and bridges, baths, fountains and waterworks, a gymnasium on the banks of the Cydnus, and a stadium. Tarsus was later eclipsed by nearby Adana, but remained important as a port and shipyard. Several Roman emperors were interred here: Marcus Claudius Tacitus, Maximinus, and Julian the Apostate, who planned to move his capital here from Antioch if he returned from his Persian expedition.[4]

Christianity and Tarsus
Tarsus was the birthplace of Saint Paul (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), who returned here after his conversion (Acts 9:30). From here Barnabas retrieved him to help with the work in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:25). Already by this time a Christian community probably existed, although the first recorded bishop, Helenus, dates only from the third century; Helenus visited Antioch several times in connection with the dispute concerning Paul of Samosata. Later bishops of Tarsus included Lupus, present at the Council of Ancyra in 314; Theodorus, at the Council of Nicaea in 325; Helladius, who was condemned at the Council of Ephesus and who appealed to the bishop of Rome in 433; above all the celebrated exegete Diodorus, teacher of Theodore of Mopsuestia and consequently one of the fathers of Nestorianism.[5] From the sixth century the metropolitan see of Tarsus had seven suffragan bishoprics;[6] the Greek archdiocese is again mentioned in the tenth century ([7]), and existed until the twentieth century upheavals, part of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Owing to the importance of Tarsus, many martyrs were put to death here, among them being Saint Pelagia, Saint Boniface, Saint Marinus, Saint Diomedes, Saint Quiricus and Saint Julitta. At about the end of the tenth century, the Armenians established a diocese of their rite; Saint Nerses of Lambroun was its most distinguished representative in the twelfth century. A cave in Tarsus is one of a number of places claiming to be the location of the legend of the Seven Sleepers, common to Christianity and Islam. - Wikipedia

TARSUS (Ταρσός: Eth. Ταρσηνός or Ταρσεύς). sometimes also called Tarsi (Ταρσοί), Tersus Τερσός), Tharsus (Θαρσός), or Ταρσὸς πρὸς τῷ Κύδνῳ, to distinguish it from other places of the same name [2.1106] was the chief city of Cilicia, and one of the most important places in all Asia Minor. It was situated in a most fertile and productive plain, on both sides of the river Cydnus, which, at a distance of 70 stadia from the city, flowed into a lagoon called Rhegma or Rhegmi. This lagoon formed the port of Tarsus, and was connected with the sea. The situation of the city was most favourable, for the river was navigable up to Tarsus, and several of the most important roads of Cilicia met there. Its foundation is ascribed to Sardanapalus, the Assyrian king, and the very name of the city seems to indicate its Semitic origin. But the Greeks claimed the honour of having colonised the place at a very early period; and, among the many stories related by them about the colonisation of Tarsus, the one adopted by Strabo (xiv. p.673; comp. Steph. B. sub voce ascribes the foundation to Argives who with Triptolemus arrived there in search of Io. The first really historical mention of Tarsus occurs in the Anabasis of Xenophon, who describes it as a great and wealthy city, situated in an extensive and fertile plain at the foot of the passes of Mount Taurus leading into Cappadocia and Lycaonia. (Anab. 1.2.23, &c.) The city then contained the palace of Syennesis, king of Cilicia, but virtually a satrap of Persia, and an equivocal ally of Cyrus when he marched against his brother Artaxerxes. When Cyrus arrived at Tarsus, the city was for a time given up to plunder, the troops of Cyrus being exasperated at the loss sustained by a detachment of Cilicians in crossing the mountains. Cyrus then concluded a treaty with Syennesis, and remained at Tarsus for 20 days. In the time of Alexander we no longer hear of kings; but a Persian satrap resided at Tarsus, who fled before the young conqueror and left the city, which surrendered to the Macedonians without resistance. Alexander himself was detained there in consequence of a dangerous fever brought on by bathing in the Cydnus. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 2.4; Curt. 3.5.) After the time of Alexander, Tarsus with the rest of Cilicia belonged to the empire of the Seleucidae, except during the short period when it was connected with Egypt under the second and third Ptolemy. Pompey delivered Tarsus and Cilicia from the dominion of the eastern despots, by making the country a Roman province. Notwithstanding this, Tarsus in the war between Caesar and Pompey sided with the former, who on this account honoured it with a personal visit, in consequence of which the Tarsians changed the name of their city into Juliopolis. (Caes. B. Alex. 66; D. C. 47.24; Flor. 4.2.) Cassius afterwards punished the city for this attachment to Caesar by ordering it to be plundered, but M. Antony rewarded it with municipal freedom and exemption from taxes. It is well known how Antony received Cleopatra at Tarsus when that queen sailed up the Cydnus in a magnificent vessel in the disguise of Aphrodite. Augustus subsequently increased the favours previously bestowed upon Tarsus, which on coins is called a “libera civitas.” During the first centuries of the empire Tarsus was a place of great importance to the Romans in their campaigns against the Parthians and Persians. The emperor Tacitus, his brother Florian, and Maximinus and Julian died at Tarsus, and Julian was buried in one of its suburbs. It continued to be an opulent town until it fell into the hands of the Saracens. It was, however, taken from them in the second half of the 10th century by the emperor Nicephorus, but was soon after again restored to them, and has remained in their hands ever since. The town still exists under the name of Tersoos, and though greatly reduced, it is still the chief town of that part of Karamania. Few important remains of antiquity are now to be seen there, but the country around it is as delightful and as productive as ever.

Tarsus was not only a great commercial city, but at the same time a great seat of learning and philosophy, and Strabo (xiv. p.673, &c.) gives a long list of eminent men in philosophy and literature who added to its lustre; but none of them is more illustrious than the Apostle Paul, who belonged to one of the many Jewish families settled at Tarsus. (Acts, 10.30, 11.30, xv, 22, 41, 21.39; comp. Ptol. 5.8.7; Diod. 14.20; Hierocl. p. 704; Stadiasm. Mar. M. § 156; Leake, Asia Minor, p. 214; Russegger, Reisen in Asien, 1.1. p. 395, foll., 2. p. 639, foll.)

Another town of the name of Tarsus is said to have existed in Bithynia (Steph. B. sub voce but nothing is known about it. - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.

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