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  Region of Asia Minor in what is today's central Turkey.
  After being part of the Median empire, Cappadocia had become part of the Persian empire in the time of Cyrus the Great toward the middle of the VIth century B. C. It was populated by Hittites that the Greeks called Syrians. In his attempt to overthrow Cyus, Croesus, king of Lydia, tried unsucessfully to invade Cappadocia before being defeated by Cyrus. In this attempt, he was helped by Thales of Miletus who was said to have devised a way to make his army cross the Halys river, then at the border between Lydia and Cappadocia, by rerouting it through a channel behind the army.

Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
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Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   A district of Asia Minor, to which different boundaries were assigned at different times. Under the Persian Empire it included the whole country inhabited by a people of Syrian origin, who were called (from their complexion) White Syrians (Leucosyri), and also Cappadoces. Their country embraced the whole northeast part of Asia Minor, east of the river Halys and north of Mount Taurus, which was afterwards divided into Pontus and Cappadocia proper. When this division took place is uncertain; but we find that under the Persian Empire the whole country was governed by a line of hereditary satraps, who eventually became independent kings. At a later period Cappadocia proper was governed by a line of independent monarchs. In A.D. 17, Archelaus, the last king, died at Rome, and Tiberius made Cappadocia a Roman province. Cappadocia was a rough and mountainous region. Its fine pastures supported an abundance of good horses and mules.

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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Cappadocia (Kappadokia: Eth. Kappadokes, Kappadox, -dokos). This extensive province of Asia lies west of the Euphrates, and north of Cilicia: its limits can only be defined more exactly by briefly tracing its history.
  The names Cappadox and Cappadocia doubtless are purely Asiatic, and probably Syrian names, or names that belong to the Aramaic languages. The Syri in the army of Xerxes, who were armed like the Paphlagones, were called Cappadocae by the Persians, as Herodotus says (vii. 72); but this will not prove that the name Cappadocae is Persian. These Cappadocae (Herod. i. 72) were called Syri or Syrii by the Greeks, and they were first subject to the Medi and then to the Persians. The boundary between the Lydian and the Median empires was the Halys, and this river in that part of its course where it flows northward, separated the Syrii Cappadocae on the east of it from the Paphlagones on the west of it. We may collect from Herodotus confused description of the Halys, that the Cappadocae were immediately east of that part of the river which has a northern course, and that they extended to the Euxine. In another passage (v. 49) the Cappadocae are mentioned as the neighbours of the Phrygians on the west, and of the Cilicians on the south, who extended to the sea in which Cyprus is, that is to the Mediterranean. Again (v. 52) Herodotus, who is describing the road from Sardes to Susa, makes the Halys the boundary between Phrygia and Cappadocia. But in another passage he places Syrians on the Thermodon and the Parthenius (ii. 104), though we may reasonably doubt if there is not some error about the Parthenius, when we carefully examine this passage. It does not seem possible to deduce anything further from his text as to the extent of the country of the Cappadocians as he conceived it. The limits were clearly much less than those of the later Cappadocia, and the limits of Cilicia were much wider, for his Cilicia extended north of the Taurus, and eastward to the Euphrates. The Syrii then who were included in the third nome of Darius (Herod. iii. 90) with the Paphlagones and Mariandyni were Cappadocae. The name Syri seems to have extended of old from Babylonia to the gulf of Issus, and from the gulf of Issus to the Euxine (Strab. p. 737). Strabo also says that even in his time both the Cappadocian peoples, both those who were situated about the Taurus and those on the Euxine, were called Leucosyri or White Syrians, as if there were also some Syrians who were black; and these black or dark Syrians are those who are east of the Amanus. (See also Strab. p. 542.) The name Syria, and Assyria, which often means the same in the Greek writers, was the name by which the country along the Pontus and east of the Halys was first known to the Greeks, and it was not forgotten (Apoll. Argon. ii. 948, 964; Dionys. Perieg. v. 772, and the comment of Eustathius).
  Under the Persians the country called Cappadocia in its greatest extent, was divided into two satrapies; but when the Macedonians got possession of it, they allowed these satrapies to become kingdoms, partly with their consent, and partly, against it, to one of which they gave the name of Cappadocia, properly so called, which is the country bordering on Taurus; and to the other the name of Pontus, or Cappadocia on the Pontus. (Strab. p. 534.) The satrapies of Cappadocia of course existed in the time of Xenophon, from whom it appears that Cappadocia had Lycaonia on the west (Anab. i. 2. § 20); but Lycaonia and Cappadocia were under one satrap, and Xenophon mentions only one satrapy called Cappadocia, if the list at the end of the seventh book is genuine.
  Cappadocia, in its widest extent, consisted of many parts and peoples, and underwent many changes; but those who spoke one language, or nearly the same, and, we may assume, were one people, the Syri, were bounded on the south by the Cilician Taurus, the great mountain range that separates the table land of Cappadocia from the tract along the Mediterranean; on the east they were bounded by Armenia and Colchis, and by the intermediate tribes that spoke various languages, and these tribes were numerous in the mountain regions south of the Black Sea; on the north they were bounded by the Euxine as far as the mouth of the Halys; and on the west by the nation of the Paphlagones, and of the Galatae who settled in Phrygia as far as the borders of the Lycaonians, and the Cilicians who occupy the mountainous (tracheia) Cilicia. (Strab. p. 533.) The boundaries which Strabo here assigns to the Cappadocian nation agree very well with the loose description of Herodotus, and the only difference is that Strabo introduces the name of the Galatae, a body of adventurers from Gaul who fixed themselves in Asia Minor after the time of Herodotus. The ancients, however (hoi palaioi), distinguished the Cataones from the Cappadocians as a different people, though they spoke the same language; and in the enumeration of the nations, they placed Cataonia after Cappadocia, and then came the Euphrates and the nations east of the Euphrates, so that they placed even Melitene under Cataonia, which Melitene lies between Cataonia and the Euphrates, and borders on Commagene. Ariarathes, the first man who had the title of king of the Cappadocians, attached Cataonia to Cappadocia. (Strab. p. 534, in whose text there is some little confusion, but it does not affect the general meaning; Groskurd's note on the passage is not satisfactory.) The kings of Cappadocia traced their descent from one of the seven who assassinated the usurper Smerdis, B.C. 521. The Persian satraps who held this province are called kings by Diodorus; but their power must have been very insecure until the death of Seleucus, the last of the successors of Alexander, B.C. 281. Ariarathes I., as he is called, died in B.C. 322. He was defeated by Perdiccas, who hanged or impaled him. Ariarathes II., a son of Holophernes, brother of Ariarathes I., expelled the Macedonians from Cappadocia, and left it to Ariamnes, one of his sons, called the second; for the father of Ariarathes I. was called Ariamnes, and he had Cappadocia as a satrapy. Ariamnes II. was followed by Ariarathes III., and he was succeeded by Ariarathes IV., who joined King Antiochus in his war against the Romans, who afterwards acknowledged him as an ally. He died B.C. 162. His successors were Ariarathes V. and VI., and with Ariarathes VI. the royal family of Cappadocia became extinct, about B.C. 93. Upon this the Romans gave the Cappadocians permission to govern themselves as they liked, but they sent a deputation to Rome to say that they were not able to bear liberty, by which they probably meant that nothing but kingly government could secure tranquillity; upon which the Romans allowed them to choose a king from among them-selves, and they chose Ariobarzanes I., called Philoromaeus on his coins. (Strab. p. 540; Justin. xxxviii. 2.) The new king was driven out of his country by Mithridates the Great, but he was restored by L. Sulla (B.C. 92). Ag ain he was expelled (B.C. 88), and again restored, B.C. 84. But this king had no rest. In B.C. 66, this socius populi Romani atque amicus (Cic. pro Leg. Manil. 2, 5) was again expelled by his old enemy Mithridates. He was restored by Cn. Pompeius, and resigned his troublesome throne to his son Ariobarzanes II. in B.C. 63. This Ariobarzanes II. was king of Cappadocia when Cicero was proconsul of Cilicia, B.C. 51. Cicero gave him his support (ad Att. v. 20). It seems, however, that the king whom Cicero protected may have been not Ariobarzanes II., but Ariobarzanes III. If this be so, Ariobarzanes II. died before Cicero was proconsul of Cilicia, and the reigning king in B.C. 51 was a third Ariobarzanes. (Dict. of Biogr. vol. i. p. 286.) Cicero had some very unpleasant business to transact with this king, who was a debtor to Cn. Pompeius the Great and M. Junius Brutus, the patriot. The proconsul, much against his will, had to dun the king for his greedy Roman creditors. The king was very poor; he had no treasury, no regular taxes. Cicero got out of him about 100 talents for Brutus, and the king's six months' note for 200 talents to Pompeius (ad Att. vi. 1. 3). This Ariobarzanes joined Pompeins against Caesar, who, however, pardoned him, and added to his dominions part of Armenia. (Dion Cass. xli. 63.) When L. Cassius was in Asia (B.C. 42) raising troops for the war against Antonius and Octavius, he sent some horsemen, who assassinated Ariobarzanes, on the pretext that he was conspiring against Cassius. (Appian, B.C. iv. 63.) The assassins robbed the dead king, and carried off his money and whatever else was loveable. This king was succeeded by Ariarathes, VII.; but Sisinnas disputed the title with him, and M. Antonius, while passing through Asia after the battle of Philippi, gave a judgment in favour of Sisinnas, on account of the beauty of his mother Glaphyre. In B.C. 36, Antonius expelled and murdered Ariarathes, and gave the kingdom to Archelaus, a descendant of the Archelaus who was a general of Mithridates (in B.C. 88). All the kings of Cappadocia up to this Archelaus have Persian names, and probably were of Persian stock. (See Clinton, Fasti, on the kings of Cappadocia; Dict. of Biogr. vol. i. pp. 284, 285.)
  Archelaus received from Augustus (B.C. 20) some parts of Cilicia on the coast, and the Lesser Armenia. (Dion Cass. liv. 9.) In A.D. 15, Tiberius treacherously invited him to Rome, and kept him there. He died probably about A.D. 17, and his kingdom was made a Roman province. (Tac. Ann. ii. 42; Dion Cass. lvii. 17; Strab. p. 534.) When Strabo wrote his description of Cappadocia, Archelaus was dead, and Cappadocia was a Roman province. It was governed by a Procurator. (Tac. Ann. xii. 49.)
  Cappadocia, in its widest extent, is considered by Strabo to be what he calls an isthmus of a great peninsula, this isthmus being contracted by the Gulf of Issus on the south--as far west as Cilicia Trachea or Mountainous Cilicia,--and by the Euxine on the north, between Sinope and the sea-coast of the Tibareni who were about the river Thermodon. The part west of this isthmus is called the Chersonesus, which corresponds to the country which Herodotus calls within (Entos), that is, west of, the Halys. But in Strabo's time it was the fashion to designate this western tract as Asia within Taurus, in which he even includes Lycia (p. 534). This isthmus is called a neck (auchen) by Herodotus; but the dimensions which he assigns to it, as they stand in our texts, are very inexact, being only five days' journey to an active man (i. 72). He reckons a day's journey at 200 stadia (iv. 101), and at 150 stadia in another place (v. 53).
  The dimensions of Cappadocia from the Pontus, that is, the province of Pontus, to the Taurus, its southern limit, are stated by Strabo to be 1800 stadia; and the length from Phrygia, its western boundary, to the Euphrates and Armenia, the eastern boundary, about 3000 stadia. These dimensions are too large. The boundary between Pontus and Cappadocia is a mountain tract parallel to the Taurus, which commences at the western extremity of Cammanene, where the hill fort Dasmenda stands (it is incorrectly printed Commagene in Casaubon's Strab. p. 540), to the eastern extremity of Laviniasene. Commagene and Laviniasene are divisions of Cappadocia. These limits do not include Cilicia Trachea, which was attached to Cappadocia; and Strabo describes this division of Cilicia under Cilicia.
  The ten divisions of Cappadocia (Strab. p. 534) are, Melitene, Cataonia, Cilicia, Tyanitis, and Garsauritis, which is incorrectly written Isauritis in Casaubon's text. He calls these the divisions at or about Taurus (hai pros toi Tauroi); and he enumerates them from east to west. For Melitene was on the west bank of the Euphrates, which separated it from Sophene on the east of the river. South-west of Melitene is the basin of Cataonia, which lies between the range of Amranus on the south, and the Antitaurus on the north. The district of Cilicia bordered on Cataonia, and it contained the town of Mazaca, afterwards Caesareia, and the lofty mountain Argaeus, the highest point of Cappadocia. The Tyanitis, so called from Tyana, is south-west of Cilicia. Tyana was at the northern base of Taurus, and near the pass into Cilicia, called the Cilician gates. Cilicia and Tyanitis, according to Strabo, were the only divisions of Cappadocia that contained cities. Garsauritis was on the west, on the borders of Phrygia. The other five districts named by Strabo are, Laviniasene, Sargarausene, Saravene, Cammanene, and Morimene; and he names them also from east to west, or nearly so. They occupied the northern part of Cappadocia, bordering on Pontus. The position of Laviniasene is not easy to fix; but, according to Strabo's words, already cited, it must be in the north-east part of Cappadocia. It is wrongly placed in some maps. To these ten divisions were added by the Romans an eleventh, which comprised the country to the southwest about Cybistra and Castabala, and as far as Derbe, which is in Lycaonia.
  Armenia Minor did not originally belong to the Roman province of Cappadocia, the limits of which Strabo has described. The Greek geographer fixes the position of Armenia Minor (p. 555) thus. South of Pharnacia and Trapezus, on the Euxine, are the Tibarerni and Chaldaei, as he calls them, who extend as far south as Armenia the Less, which is a tolerably fertile country. The people of this Armenia were governed by a king, like the people of Sophene; and these kings of the small Armenia were sometimes in league with the other Armenians, and sometimes they were not. They extended their dominions even to Pharnacia and Trapezus, but the last of them surrendered to Mithridates the Great. Some time after the defeat of Mithridates this Armenia was attached to the Cappadocian kingdom of Ariobarzanes, as stated above. The Euphrates was the eastern boundary of this Armenia, and separated it from Acilisene.
  This boundary seems to have begun about the point where the Euphrates takes a southern course. The northern boundary of Armenia Minor extended to the Paryadres range, and the upper part of the basin of the Halys, and even comprised part of that of the Lycus; for Nicopolis was probably on the Lycus, though it is not certain. Melitene was south of Armenia Minor, and also on the west side of the Euphrates. Ptolemy (v. 7) includes both Melitene and Cataonia in Armenia Minor. It is very difficult to fix any boundary of this Armenia, except that on the side of the Euphrates; and the modern writers on ancient geography do not help us much. Armenia Minor was given by Caligula to Cotys in A.D. 38, and by Nero in A.D. 54 to Aristobulus. It was afterwards attached to the province of Cappadocia, but it is not certain at what time; by Vespasian, as some suppose, or at the latest by Trajan. Its position on the north-east border of Cappadocia, and west of the Euphrates, made it a necessary addition to the province for defence. Melitene was now reckoned a part of Armenia Minor, which had, for the metropolis of the northern part, Nicopolis, the probable position of which has been mentioned; and for the southern part, the town of Melitene, near the west bank of the Euphrates. Cappadocia Proper, so poor in towns, was enriched with the addition of Archelais in Garsauritis, near the western frontier of Cappadocia, by the emperor Claudius; and with Faustinopolis, in the southwestern part of Cappadocia, by M. Aurelius.
  Pliny's (vi. 3) divisions of Cappadocia do not agree with Strabo; nor can we understand easily whether he is describing Cappadocia as a Roman province or not. He correctly places Melitene as lying in front of Armenia Minor, and Cataonia as bordering on Commagene. He makes Garsauritis, Sargarausene, and Cammanene border on Phrygia. He places Morimene in the NW., bordering on Galatia, where the river Cappadox separates them (the Galatians and Cappadocians), from which they derived their name, being before called Leucosyri. If the position of the Cappadox can be determined, it fixes the boundary of Cappadocia on this side. Ainsworth (London Geog. Journal, vol. x. p. 290) supposes it to be the small river of Kir-Shehr, or the Kalichi-Su, which joins the Halys on the right bank, a little north of 39° N. lat. Mojur, which is in N. lat. 39° 5?, and at an elevation of 3140 feet above the sea, may be Mocissus (Ainsworth). Some geographers place Mocissus at Kir-Shehr, which is NW. of Mojur.
  The Cappadocia of Ptolemy (vi. 1.) comprises a much larger extent of country than Cappadocia Proper. He makes it extend on the coast of the Euxine from Amisus to the mouth of the Apsarus; and this coast is distributed among Pontus Galaticus, Pontus Polemoniacus and Pontus Cappadocicus. All this is excluded from the Cappadocia of Strabo. The praefecturae Cappadocicae which Ptolemy names are seven: Chamanene, Sargarausene (Sargabrasene), Garsaouria (Gardocreta), Cilicia; Lycaonia; Antiochiana, containing Derbe, Laranda and Olbasa; and Tyanitis (Tyanis). These are the divisions as they stand in the old Latin version of Ptolemy: some of the names are corrupt. Ptolemy, as already observed, places Melitene and Cataonia under Armenia Minor, and he gives to Cataonia a greater extent than Strabo does.
  ...Cappadocia in its limited sense comprised part of the upper basin of the Halys, as far west as the river Cappadox. The country to the north of the Halys is mountainous, and the plains that lie between this northern range and the southern range of Taurus, are at a great elevation above the sea. The plain of Caesareia (Kaisariyeh) at the foot of the Argaeus is 3236 feet high, according to Ainsworth (London Geog. Journal, vol. x. p. 310). Hamilton (Researches, &c. vol. ii. p. 280) makes it 4200 feet. The difference between these two estimates is 1000 feet, aud one of them must be erroneous. However the great elevation of this part of the country is certain. The plain of Caesareia is covered with corn fields and vineyards. (Hamilton.) Strabo describes the plains around Caesareia in his time as altogether unproductive and uncultivated, though level; but they were sandy and rather stony. The level of the Halys in the longitude of Caesareia must also be at a very considerable elevation above the sea, though much less than that of the plain of Caesareia.
  Strabo observes (p. 539) that Cappadocia, though further south than Pontus, is colder; and the country which he calls Bagadania, the most southern part of Cappadocia, at the foot of Taurus, though it is level, has scarcely any fruit-bearing trees; but it is pasture land, as a large part of the rest of Cappadocia is. That part of Strabo's Cappadocia, which is not drained by the Halys, belongs to two separate physical divisions. That to the west and SW. of Caesareia belongs to the high plateaus of Lycaonia and Phrygia, the waters of which have no outlet to the sea. The other part which contains the country east and south-east of Caesareia, belongs to the basins of the Pyramus, and the Sarus, which rivers pass through the gaps of the Taurus to the plains of Cilicia.
  Cappadocia was generally deficient in wood; but it was well adapted for grain, particularly wheat. Some parts produced excellent wine. It was also a good grazing country for domesticated animals of all kinds; and it produced good horses. Some add wild asses to the list of Cappadocian animals (Groskurd, Strab. ii. p. 457), in which case they must read onagrobotos instead of agrobotos in Strab. (p. 539). But Strabo's observation would be very ridiculous if he were speaking of wild asses. The mineral products were (Strab. p. 540) plates of crystal, as he calls it; a lapis Onychites found near the border of Galatia; a white stone fitted for sword handles; and a lapis specularis, or plates of a translucent stone, which was exported. There are salt beds of great extent near the west side of the Halys, at a place called Tuz Koi, probably within the limits of the Garsauritis of Strabo. The great salt lake of Tatta is west of Tuz Koi, and within the limits of Great Phrygia, but the plateau in which it is situated is part of the high land of Cappadocia. The level of the lake is about 2500 feet above the sea. It is [p. 509] nearly dry in summer. Strabo (p. 568) places the lake immediately south of Galatia, and bordering on Great Cappadocia, and the part of Cappadocia called Morimene. This lake then must be viewed as near the common boundary of Galatia, Phrygia, and Cappadocia.
  The routes of Hamilton in Asia Minor (Researches, &c.), and of Ainsworth from Angora by Kaisariyeh to Bir (London Geog. Journal, vol. x.) contain much valuable information on the geology, and the physical geography of Cappadocia.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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