Ancient Smyrna – a history of the city from the earliest times to 324 A.D., by Cecil John Cadoux, Oxford 1938


The idea of writing a history of ancient Smyrna was first suggested to me by my brother towards the end of 1909, during my days in the Civil Service, when I was trying to decide on a thesis-subject for the degree of Master of Arts in classics at the University of London. Smyrna possessed the dual advantage of having been both an important city in ancient times and our common birth-place. I caught at the proposal; and in due course the thesis was finished and submitted, and the degree secured. The essay filled 167 typed foolscap pages, and narrated the story of the city down to I80 A.D.

For several years after the completion of this effort I did little more than note additional items of information as I came across them in my general reading. But I always kept before me the prospect of being able to publish something some day: and from time to time I was able to do a little special study with that end in view. It was not, however, until 1928 that I seriously began to get my material into a form suitable for publication. In 1930 I paid a visit to the Levant with my friend Mr. John Francis Boyd, and spent three weeks in Smyrna and its neighbourhood, studying the lie of the land and seeing all I could in the way of ruins and antiques. My removal from Yorkshire to Oxford in 1933 greatly increased my opportunities of consulting the pertinent but less accessible literature.

The present volume represents the results of my researches. Needless to say, it bears little resemblance to the youthful production of 1909-1911. Its far greater size is only partly ac-counted for by the fact that it prolongs the story of Smyrna from 180 A.D. to 324 A.D. (the epoch that separates 'The Cambridge Ancient History' from 'The Cambridge Medieval History') and by the inclusion of two whole chapters (VII and VIII) which had nothing corresponding to them in my earlier sketch. The enlargement is also due to the discovery of fresh material of every kind, the range and bulk of which I little suspected when I first took the task in hand. I also found it better to treat the Jewish and Christian episodes separately from the general history, instead of interweaving them with the latter, as I had previously done.

I at first intended that my Preface should include a systematic account of the work previously done on Smyrnaian antiquities. But I came to realize that such an account would suffer from the impossibility of rationally defining its limits. For the items to be considered for inclusion occupy every grade of distinction between substantial monographs like those of Oikonomos, Lane, Storari, Mylonas, Slaars, Scherzer, and Tsakyroglou, and the briefest notices in periodicals, dictionaries, and other books. Important information lies scattered in very varying quantities over ancient histories, Church-histories, books on Homeros, books of travel, Bible-commentaries, Bible- dictionaries, general encyclopaedias, and so on. It would be an immense task to compile an intelligible bibliography including all that deserves mention and nothing more. I have therefore thought it best to forego the attempt, and to say the little that needs to be said in the form of entries in my ensuing List of Abbreviations: all works at all frequently quoted are included therein. I would, however, take the opportunity of mentioning here certain useful dictionary-articles which, in the nature of things, have not needed to be frequently quoted, but which were of value in putting me on the track of further and more strictly technical literature. I refer to J. W. Blakesley's articles m Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible' (1863), Leonhard Schmitz's in Smith's 'Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography' (1873),W. M. Ramsay's in the ninth edition of' The Encyclopaedia Britannica' (1887) and in Hastings' 'Dictionary of the Bible' (1902), W. J. Woodhouse's in the 'Encyclopaedia Biblica' (1903), W. M. Ramsay's and D. G. Hogarth's in the eleventh edition of 'The Encyclopaedia Britannica' (1911), and J. Strahan's in Hastings' 'Dictionary of the Apostolic Church'(1918).

Mr. E. A. Barber, in 'The Cambridge Ancient History' (vii. 260), writes; "Local history had always been popular in the islands and among the Greeks of Asia Minor". If this was true in the case of Smyrna, we have been singularly unfortunate in hearing so little of the popular taste to which Mr. Barber refers. Only one individual of antiquity—the physician Hermogenes, who lived probably in the first century A.D. —is known to have written on the subject of the present volume. His work is lost: and although, as we have seen, Smyrna has often filled an incidental role in studies of more absorbing subjects, she herself has rarely been in the centre of the picture. In the eighteenth century the Dutch classicist Pieter Burmann could speak of her story thus: "historiam nobis, mihi certe, inopia veterum de hac urbe monumentorum, incognitam et obscuram" 2; and early in the twentieth Sir William Ramsay has to say that "very little has been written on its history, and no proper study has ever been made of the literary and monumental evidence on the subject" (Hastings' 'Dictionary of the Bible', iv. 556a).

This gap I have tried to fill, and to fill as completely as my limits of date—not to mention those of space, time, and capacity—would allow. The attempt has brought with it painful confirmation of the truth of what a former Oxford teacher once told me—that one can never really exhaust a subject. But the successive draughts I have had to take from "effort’s agonizing cup" have not been without ample compensation. There is a curious satisfaction in endeavouring to synthesize into something like a systematic whole the almost countless items of information lying scattered over the pages of classical works, Greek histories, and modern learned periodicals. The amount of historical material now dispersed and buried in a thousand places in the numerous publications of various academic societies in Europe and America is greater than any can realize who have not themselves attempted to collate completely its contributions to some one particular field of ancient history. To have come anywhere near success in such an undertaking is ample reward for many hours of strenuous toil.

What has just been said applies especially to the inscriptions. I have attempted to get access to the records not only of all the inscriptions carved and preserved at Smyrna itself, but of those preserved elsewhere in which Smyrna or Smyrnaians are mentioned. There is no single complete collection of the former group—still less of the latter. Since Boeckh completed the section on Smyrna in the great 'Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum' (1843), no comprehensive revision of his work has been published. It is understood that the University of Vienna has such a revision in preparation, but that its publication is being indefinitely held up for lack of funds. Meanwhile, enormous materials have been accumulating in the form of smaller special collections and of isolated articles. The task of adequately surveying the whole of the data is thus one of considerable difficulty. So well-equipped an authority as M. Louis Robert was complaining recently, à propos of a certain inscription he was discussing: ". . . je ne connais pas d'autre copie de cette épigraphe. Mais l’épigraphie de Smyrne est si terriblement dispersée que je puis me tromper en cela encore plus facilement qu'ailleurs" ('Revue des Études Anciennes', xxxviii [1936] 26 n.5). However, I have done my best; and I present my results for what they are worth. In quoting inscriptions, I have placed first the number (if one exists) in Boeckh's 'Corpus', and have added such references to later and better editions as I could secure.

Some of my critics may regret my method of spelling proper names as unconventional and therefore annoying. I have adopted the method of conforming as closely as English letters will permit to the way in which the persons concerned spelled their names. It is true that I have now and then bowed the knee in the house of Convention, particularly when using certain Biblical names, which because of their associations ought to be kept as far as possible out of the region of dissent and controversy. But there is no reason why the same hesitancy need be felt regarding the names of ordinary characters of classical and Christian history. At all events, I feel that a little remaining inconsistency and some fresh unfamiliarity is a small price to pay for the substantial gain in accuracy. If any be disposed to quarrel with my choice, let him reflect that it has been only by occasional willingness on the part of individuals to be un-conventional that English scholarship has been able to free itself from such abominations as "Ponce Pilate" and "Anthony Pie"— a state of things little better than the normal French usage, in which the spelling and sound of almost every classical name is systematically murdered. It is gratifying to observe that a more accurate mode of spelling is being increasingly adopted on the Continent, both by the editors of Pauly's 'Real-Encyclopädie' and by scholars generally.

In regard to my method of translating passages from original authorities which need to be quoted in extenso, I have not hesitated to sacrifice literary polish to historical exactitude. I have used "thou" and "thee" for the second person singular, in order to avoid the ambiguity of our modern "you". While avoiding absurdities of diction, 1 have kept my translations literal, and have bracketed words needed for the sense in English, but not represented in the original. This has been done in order to acquaint the reader who either does not know the language of the original, or at least cannot easily refer to it, to see as exactly as possible what it really says.

I might also here warn the reader that, except where the context clearly implies a different connotation, the word "Asia" means, not the continent extending from the Dardanelles to Japan, but the Roman province comprising the western portion of what we normally call "Asia Minor".

No one whose interest in and love for Smyrna is coloured by some acquaintance with her romantic past can think of her to-day without feeling a pang of sadness. In an evil moment in 1919, when splendid opportunities of healing the wounds of war lay within easy reach, it was decided to land a Greek army at Smyrna for the purpose of securing Ionia as a Greek province. Somewhat more than three years later—a few days after the entry of the victorious Turkish army—fire broke out, and raged until over a half of the city had been reduced to ashes. The area destroyed included some of the best streets and buildings in Smyrna: among other places, the Evangelical School-—which possessed a magnificent collection of manuscripts, inscriptions, and other antiques, and the finest library in Asia Minor—was burnt to the ground. Not only was the best built-up portion of the city ruined, but the vast bulk of her non-Turkish inhabitants (chiefly Greeks and Armenians) were compelled, under circumstances of great suffering, to leave the country with no hope of returning. It is impossible to calculate the extent of the many-sided loss to commerce and culture involved in the ill-starred Greek venture of 1919.

It is gratifying to be able to record that the Turkish Government has, since the great disaster of 1922, and particularly during recent years, done a great deal to repair such parts of the damage as can be repaired. Extensive plans have been formed for laying out new streets and erecting new buildings throughout the ruined area; and considerable progress has been made in carrying these schemes into effect. And thought has been taken, not only for modern amenities, but also for the interests of archaeology. The former Greek church of Agio Vuklo, between Basma-Hané station and the Caravan-Bridge, was early taken over as a Museum; and a fine collection of statues, inscriptions, and other relics of antiquity, has been established there. There exists moreover an "Association des Amisdes Antiquités de Smyrne et de ses Environs", which has published a series of small treatises, including two editions (1927 and 1933) of a 'Guide du Musée de Smyrne ', and a 'Guide Panoramique d'Izmir' (1934), containing a 'Précis historique'. The inscriptions in the Museum are to be published later. And in other quarters than Smyrna, the Government has shown itself anxious to assist the labours of western archaeologists interested in the monument of Anatolia.

For this wise interest and benevolent patronage all friends of Turkey m other lands will be warmly appreciative and grateful. They will, however, be bound to regret in some measure the limitations set to this wisdom and beneficence by the over-emphasized nationalism which has infected post-war Turkey, as it has infected so many other great nations in the last twenty years. It was only right that the Turkish Government should wish to be master in its own house: it was, indeed, natural— after what had occurred—that the national feeling should be strongly roused. But fifteen years have now passed away since Turkey came into her own: and it becomes therefore pertinent to ask how she is being benefited by the absence from her soil of so many thousands of the non-Turkish inhabitants, who between 1915 and 1923 were compelled to leave the country. Both Armenians and Greeks were resident in Asia Minor for a couple of millenniums before the Turks arrived: they contributed by their industry and capacity to the wealth and prosperity of the country—indeed, western Asia Minor owed virtually all its brilliance in civilization, art, and literature to the Greek race. And while not hesitating to brand the Greek military venture of 1919 as a fatuous crime, one can without inconsistency submit that their past record has given the Greeks some real moral right to a permanent share in the life of the country.

A calamity parallel to the complete absence of a Greek stratum in the population is the effort which the Turkish Government is evidently making to obliterate from the country every trace of the once deeply-embedded Greek culture. There were in 1930, I understand, no Christian churches in Smyrna being used for the worship of the Greek Orthodox communion. A systematic attempt is apparently being made to substitute Turkish names for places that have previously had Greek ones. We are to call Constantinople "Istanbul", Cordelio "Karshiyaka", Agia Triada "Turan", Nymphaion (Ninfi or Nif) "Kemal-pasha-köi", and Smyrna— prohnefas!—"Izmir". This alteration of geographical names not only occasions difficulty to map-users (cf. Bittel, op. cit. 5), but is a needless aggravation of the nationalistic pride and aggressiveness which were generated by the Great War and its aftermath. Surely by now it ought to have been outgrown.

In the truest interests of Turkey herself it is greatly to be hoped that the adoption of a more magnanimous policy in these matters will ere long commend itself to her leaders as not only more noble, but as at the same time more advantageous. Multitudes belonging to other races besides the Greek have a deep interest in the life of Smyrna, a city which during the pre-war centuries was long the peaceful, hospitable, and prosperous home of a very cosmopolitan population; and the removal of so many of the conditions that made her such brings sorrow to this great company of well-wishers, without bringing any corresponding gain (but impoverishment rather) to the country to which she belongs. If I—to whom Smyrna is inexpressibly dear as the place where my revered parents had their home for seventeen years, and where I and most of my brothers and sisters first saw the light—have time and strength given me to produce some day a second volume, bringing the history of the city down to modern times, I cherish the hope that, when the story of the present century comes to be told, a happier day will have dawned, and a heartier hospitality to what other nations have to contribute to Smyrna's glory will in that day be awaiting the ready testimony of the chronicler's pen.

All that remains for me to do in this place is to express my cordial thanks to all whose help I have received in collecting and studying my materials. I hardly like to think how many persons I have had to worry in one way or another in the course of my researches. I owe them all great gratitude, and I gladly put my thanks to them on record here. It would be a pleasure to mention them all by name. That is impossible: but I feel bound to specify two Oxford friends who have helped me in very special ways—Mr. Marcus N. Tod, of Oriel College, for his unfailing kindness in advising me on epigraphical questions, and Dr. J. Grafton Milne, of Corpus, who has again and again given me invaluable help in connexion with the study of Smyrna's coins. My last word of thanks is owed to the friends I met in Smyrna and its neighbourhood in 1930. I shall never forget the cordial way in which I was received and assisted and served, not only by members of the European and American colony, but by the numerous Turks with whom, both officially and privately, it was my good fortune to be brought into contact.

Oxford, C. J. CADOUX.

January 1938.

A pair of maps enclosed within the Cecil Cadoux book, useful for showing ancient landmarks and their relation with more modern features such as the railways and altered coastlines.
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