1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mysia

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MYSIA, the district of N.W. Asia Minor in ancient times inhabited by the Mysi. It was bounded by Lydia and Phrygia on the S., by Bithynia on the N.E., and by the Propontis and Aegean Sea on the N. and W. But its precise limits are difficult to assign, the Phrygian frontier being vague and fluctuating, while in the north-west the Troad was sometimes included in Mysia, sometimes not. Generally speaking, the northern portion was known as Mysia Minor or Hellespontica and the southern as Major or Pergamene.

The chief physical features of Mysia (considered apart from that of the Troad) are the two mountain-chains, Olympus (7600 ft.) in the north and Temnus in the south, which for some distance separates Mysia from Lydia, and is afterwards prolonged through Mysia to the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Adramyttium. The only considerable rivers are the Macestus and its tributary the Rhyndacus in the northern part of the province, both of which rise in Phrygia, and, after diverging widely through Mysia, unite their waters below the lake of Apollonia about 15 m. from the Propontis. The Caïcus in the south rises in Temnus, and from thence flows westward to the Aegean Sea, passing within a few miles of Pergamum. In the northern portion of the province are two considerable lakes, Artynia or Apolloniatis (Abulliont Geul), and Aphnitis (Maniyas Geul), which discharge their waters into the Macestus from the east and west respectively.

The most important cities were Pergamum (q.v.) in the Valley of the Caicus, and Cyzicus (q.v.) on the Propontis. But the whole sea-coast was studded with Greek towns, several of which were places of considerable importance; thus the northern portion included Parium, Lampsacus and Abydos, and the southern Assus, Adramyttium, and farther south, on the Elaitic Gulf, Elaea, Myrina and Cyme.

Ancient writers agree in describing the Mysians as a distinct people, like the Lydians and Phrygians, though they never appear in history as an independent nation. It appears from Herodotus and Strabo that they were kindred with the Lydians and Carians, a fact attested by their common participation in the sacred rites at the great temple of Zeus at Labranda, aswell as by the statement of the historian Xanthus of Lydia that their language was a mixture of Lydian and Phrygian. Strabo was of opinion that they came originally from Thrace (cf. Bithynia), and were a branch of the same people as the Mysians or Moesians (see Moesia) who dwelt on the Danube—a view not inconsistent with the preceding, as he considered the Phrygians and Lydians also as having migrated from Europe into Asia. According to a Carian tradition reported by Herodotus (i. 171) Lydus and Mysus were brothers of Car—an idea which also points to the belief in a common origin of the three nations. The Mysians appear in the list of the Trojan allies in Homer and are represented as settled in the Caicus valley at the coming of Telephus to Pergamum; but nothing else is known of their early history. The story told by Herodotus (vii. 20) of their having invaded Europe in conjunction with the Teucrians before the Trojan War is probably a fiction; and the first historical fact We learn is their subjugation, together with all the surrounding nations, by Lydian Croesus. After the fall of the Lydian monarchy they remained under the Persian Empire until its overthrow by Alexander. After his death they were annexed to the Syrian monarchy, of which they continued to form a part until the defeat of Antiochus the Great (190 B.C.), after which they were transferred by the Romans to the dominion of Eumenes of Pergamum. After the extinction of the Pergamenian dynasty (130 B.C.) Mysia became a part of the Roman province of Asia, and from this time disappears from history. The inhabitants probably became gradually Hellenized, but none of the towns of the interior, except Pergamum, ever attained to any importance.

See C. Texier, Asie mineure (Paris, 1839); W. J. Hamilton, Researches (London, 1842); J. A. R. Munro in Geogr. Journal (1897, Hellespontica); W. von Diest, Petermanns Mitth. (Ergänzungsheft 94; Gotha, 1889; Pergamene).  (F. W. Ha.)