Settlements > Cyrene

Cyrene

Background

Cyrene was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Libya. According to Greek tradition, Cyrene was founded in 631 BC as a settlement of Greeks from the island of Thera, traditionally led by Battus I,[3] at a site 16 kilometres (10 mi) from its associated port, Apollonia (Marsa Sousa). Traditional details concerning the founding of the city are contained in Herodotus' Histories IV.

Cyrene promptly became the chief town of Libya and established commercial relations with all the Greek cities, reaching the height of its prosperity under its own kings in the 5th century BC. Soon after 460 BC it became a republic. In 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, Cyrene supplied Spartan forces with two triremes and pilots.[4] After the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), the Cyrenian republic became subject to the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Ophellas, the general who occupied the city in the name of Ptolemy I Soter's, ruled the city almost independently until his death, when Ptolemy's son-in-law Magas received governorship of the territory. In 276 BC Magas crowned himself king and declared de facto independence, marrying the daughter of the Seleucid emperor and forming with him an alliance in order to invade the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

The invasion was unsuccessful and in 250 BC, after Magas' death, the city was reabsorbed into Ptolemaic Egypt. Cyrenaica became part of the Ptolemaic empire controlled from Alexandria, and became Roman territory in 96 BC when Ptolemy Apion bequeathed Cyrenaica to Rome. In 74 BC the territory was formally transformed into a Roman province.

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