Knidos or Cnidus (/ˈnaɪdəs/; Greek: Κνίδος, Greek
pronunciation: [knídos]) was an ancient Greek city of
part of the Dorian Hexapolis, in south-western Asia Minor, modern-day
Turkey. It was situated on the Datça peninsula, which forms the
southern side of the Sinus Ceramicus, now known as Gulf of Gökova. By
the 4th century BC,
Knidos was located at the site of modern Tekir,
opposite Triopion Island. But earlier, it was probably at the site of
modern Datça (at the half-way point of the peninsula).
It was built partly on the mainland and partly on the Island of
Triopion or Cape Krio. The debate about it being an island or cape is
caused by the fact that in ancient times it was connected to the
mainland by a causeway and bridge. Today the connection is formed by a
narrow sandy isthmus. By means of the causeway the channel between
island and mainland was formed into two harbours, of which the larger,
or southern, was further enclosed by two strongly built moles that are
still in good part entire.
The extreme length of the city was little less than a mile, and the
whole intramural area is still thickly strewn with architectural
remains. The walls, both of the island and on the mainland, can be
traced throughout their whole circuit; and in many places, especially
round the acropolis, at the northeast corner of the city, they are
2 Excavation history
5 External links
Gold vase found off the sea near
Knidos dating to 25BC- 50AD now in
the British Museum
Knidos was a Hellenic city of high antiquity. According to Herodotus'
Histories) (I.174), the Cnidians were
however, the presence of demiurges there argues for foundation or
later influence by other Doric Greeks, possibly Argives. Diodorus
Bibliotheca Historica 5.53) claimed that Cnidus was founded
by both Lacedaemonians and Argives. Along with Halicarnassus
(present day Bodrum, Turkey) and Kos, and the Rhodian cities of
Ialyssos it formed the Dorian Hexapolis, which
held its confederate assemblies on the Triopian headland, and there
celebrated games in honour of Apollo,
Poseidon and the nymphs.
The city was at first governed by an oligarchic senate, composed of
sixty members, and presided over by a magistrate; but, though it is
proved by inscriptions that the old names continued to a very late
period, the constitution underwent a popular transformation. The
situation of the city was favourable for commerce, and the Knidians
acquired considerable wealth, and were able to colonize the island of
Lipara, and founded a city on Corcyra Nigra in the Adriatic. They
ultimately submitted to Cyrus, and from the battle of Eurymedon to the
latter part of the
Peloponnesian War they were subject to Athens.
During the hellenistic age,
Knidos boasted a medical school; however,
the theory that this school already existed at the beginning of the
classical age is an unwarranted extrapolation.
In their expansion into the region, the Romans easily obtained the
allegiance of Knidians, and rewarded them for help given against
Antiochus III the Great
Antiochus III the Great by leaving them the freedom of their city.
During the Byzantine period there must still have been a considerable
population: for the ruins contain a large number of buildings
belonging to the Byzantine style, and Christian sepulchres are common
in the neighbourhood.
Eudoxus, the astronomer, Ctesias, the writer on Persian history, and
Sostratus, the builder of the celebrated Pharos at Alexandria, are the
most remarkable of the Knidians mentioned in history. Artemidorus,
a minor character in the
Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar”, was
also from Knidos.
Bishop Ioannes of Cnidus took part in the
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon in 451
and was one of the signatories of the letter that in 458 the bishops
Roman province of Caria, to which Cnidus belonged, wrote to
Leo I the Thracian
Leo I the Thracian after the murder of Proterius of
Alexandria. Bishop Evander was at the Second Council of Constantinople
in 553 and Bishop Stauratius at the
Second Council of Nicaea
Second Council of Nicaea in
787. No longer a residential bishopric, Cnidus is today listed
Catholic Church as a titular see.
The first Western knowledge of the site was due to the mission of the
Dilettante Society in 1812, and the excavations executed by C. T.
Newton in 1857–1858.
The agora, the theatre, an odeum, a temple of Dionysus, a temple of
the Muses, a temple of
Aphrodite and a great number of minor buildings
have been identified, and the general plan of the city has been very
clearly made out. The most famous statue by Praxiteles, the Aphrodite
of Knidos, was made for Cnidus. It has perished, but late copies
exist, of which the most faithful is in the Vatican Museums.
Lion of Knidos
Lion of Knidos on display in the British Museum, London
In a temple enclosure Newton discovered the fine seated statue of
Demeter of Knidos, which he sent back to the British Museum, and about
three miles south-east of the city he came upon the ruins of a
splendid tomb, and a colossal figure of a lion carved out of one block
of Pentelic marble, ten feet in length and six in height, which has
been supposed to commemorate the great naval victory, the Battle of
Cnidus in which
Conon defeated the Lacedaemonians in 394 BC.
Knidos Lion is now displayed under the roof of the Great Court in
the British Museum.
Engraving of a Knidian coin showing the Aphrodite, by Praxiteles
^ EB 1878, p. 44.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k EB 1911, pp. 573–374.
^ Simon Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides 3:849, 2009.
ISBN 0-19-927648-X cited text
British Museum Collection
^ Duncker, Maximillian Wolfgang, History of Greece: From the Earliest
Times to the End of the Persian War, S.F. Alleyne, trans., London:
Richard Bentley & Son, 1883.
^ Vincenzo Di Benedetto: Cos e Cnido, in: Hippocratica - Actes du
Colloque hippocratique de
Paris 4-9 septembre 1978, ed. M. D. Grmek,
Paris 1980, 97-111, see also Antoine Thivel: Cnide et
Cos ? : essai sur les doctrines médicales dans la
Paris 1981 (passim),
ISBN 22-51-62021-4; cf. the review by
Otta Wenskus (on JSTOR).
^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus
Paris 1740, Vol. I, coll. 917-918
^ Raymond Janin, v. Cnide, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de
Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. XIII,
Paris 1956, col. 179
^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 872
Baynes, T.S., ed. (1878), "Cnidus", Encyclopædia Britannica, 6
(9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 44
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Cnidus",
Encyclopædia Britannica, 6 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press,
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