/suy ree"nee/, n.an ancient Greek city and colony in N Africa, in Cyrenaica.
* * *Ancient city, North Africa.Located in modern-day Libya, it was founded с 630 BC by a group of emigrants from the Aegean island of Thíra. Their leader, Battus, became the first king; his dynasty ruled until с 440 BC. Under the aegis of Ptolemaic Egypt (from 323 BC), Cyrene became one of the great intellectual centres of the Classical world, boasting such scholars as Eratosthenes and Aristippus, founder of the Cyrenaics. Taken by the Romans in 96 BC, it later declined and, with the Arab conquest of AD 642, ceased to exist. Areas of the old city have been excavated, revealing impressive ruins.Sanctuary of Apollo, CyreneJosephine Powell, Rome
* * *in Greek mythology, a nymph, daughter of Hypseus (king of the Lapiths) and Chlidanope (a Naiad). One day Cyrene wrestled a lion that had attacked her father's flocks. Apollo, who was watching, fell in love with her and carried her off from Mount Pelion, in Thessaly, to Libya. There he founded the city of Cyrene and made her its queen. The story is told by the 5th-century-BC lyric poet Pindar (Pythian Ode 9). Cyrene was the mother by Apollo of Aristaeus and Idmon the seer and by Ares of Diomedes of Thrace.▪ ancient Greek colony, Libyaancient Greek colony in Libya, founded c. 631 BC by a group of emigrants from the island of Thera in the Aegean. Their leader, Battus, became the first king, founding the dynasty of the Battiads, whose members, named alternately Battus and Arcesilaus, ruled Cyrene for eight generations (until c. 440 BC). Under their rule, the city prospered economically and expanded, establishing its port of Apollonia (Marsa Sūsah) and the towns of Barce (al-Marj) and Euhesperides, or Berenice (Banghāzī).After a further influx of Greek colonists c. 570 BC, Greek–Libyan relations broke down; the new constitution granted under Battus III failed to allay dissension among the rival domestic factions, and c. 525 Cyrene was subjected to a short-lived Persian invasion.The republic that followed was politically undistinguished. Then, under the aegis of Ptolemaic Egypt (from 323 BC), Cyrene became one of the great intellectual centres of the classical world, boasting a medical school and such scholars as the geographer Eratosthenes and the philosopher Aristippus, founder of the Cyrenaics. In 96 BC Cyrenaica came under Roman rule and in 67 BC was united with Crete to form a senatorial province, with Cyrene as local capital. The two centuries of relative prosperity under the Romans—broken by a revolt of the Cyrenian Jews (AD 115)—were followed by steady decline. With the Arab conquest (AD 642), the city ceased to exist.The site of ancient Cyrene is partly occupied by the modern village of Shaḥḥāt in al-Jabal al-Akhḍar, eight miles southwest of Marsa Sūsah. Three main areas of the city have been excavated: the fountain and sanctuary of Apollo, where the Venus of Cyrene and a colossal statue of Apollo were found; the upper city, site of a forum and basilica modelled on the Kaisareion of Alexandria, and a large 2nd-century house with fine mosaics; and the centre of the Roman town, in which stands a huge Doric column marking the site of the temple of Zeus, a gigantic Doric building of the late 6th century BC.Additional ReadingF. Chamoux, Cyrene sous la monarchie des Battiades (1953); R.G. Goodchild, Cyrene and Apollonia (1959).
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