Ancient Greek History

About Battus I of Cyrene

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Unlike Modern Greece, Ancient Greece was made up of a series of kingdoms, colonies, and city-states. Each of these places had its own leaders and historical figures. Among the interesting history that belongs to Greece is the story of Battus I. Battus I was the founder of an Ancient Greek colony in Cyrene. Here is what you should know about Battus I of Cyrene:

About Battus I of Cyrene

Battus I of Cyrene, also known as Battus Aristotle and Battus the Lacedaemonian, was the founder and the first king of Cyrene. Cyrene is located at what is Shahhat, Libya today. It was first an ancient Greek city and then a Roman city. It was the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities at the time. Cyrene is home to Cyrenaics, a philosophy school that was founded around 3 BC by Aristippus.

Battus I was born on the island of Thera in Greece, though it is unclear which village he came from. The history of his family mainly comes from the Greek historian named Herodotus. Battus’ father was called Polymnestus. Polymnestus was a nobleman of Thera. Battus’ mother was a princess from the island of Crete, Oaxus to be exact. Her name was Phronima.

How Cyrene Was Founded

Around 630 BC the Greek colony of Cyrene was founded by Battus I and fellow Greeks who accompanied him to Libya. There was a civil war in Thera and Battus I was the leader of one party and was banished. First Battus I and two ships made their way to Platea, but were unable to establish themselves there. Leaving just one man behind, they made their way back to Delphi where Battus I was told by an oracle that he should take a colony to “the continent.”

They returned to Libya and established a settlement where they lived on friendly terms with the Libyans for six years. The Libyans finally took Battus I and his people to Apollo’s Fountain where the guides told them they should establish their own settlement. Battus I took this advice to heart and called the new settlement Cyrene.

Prosperity of Cyrene

The city of Cyrene prospered during the reign of Emperor Battus IV. Cyrene would become a republic in 460 BC. It was around 96 BC that the Romans took control of Cyrene and the city would serve as their main state for about 18 years. Years later, in 115 AD, the city of Cyrene was destroyed during a Jewish revolt. In 365 AD, there was an earthquake that destroyed buildings and temples of the city.

Battus I died in 600 BC. His subjects continued to worship him as a hero. His grave lies near the marketplace where it joins the road that he had constructed, which lead to the Temple of Apollo. The subjects of Cyrene had a statue of Battus I dedicated at Delphi. This statue depicts him riding in a chariot that is driven by the nymph of Cyrene. There is also a figure that symbolizes Lybia crowning Battus I king. After his death, Battus I was succeeded by his son Arcesilaus.



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This post was written by Greek Boston

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