Geographical sites:

  • Smyrna (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #550771)
    Pleiades_icon Naulochon/Smyrna/Palaia Smyrna settlement Description: An ancient place, cited: BAtlas 56 E5 Naulochon/Smyrna/Palaia Smyrna


Text #3130

Jerome. "Chronicle"
[p. 292]

179 AD: Smyrna, a city of Asia, was destroyed by an earthquake; for the reconstruction of which, a ten-year moratorium on its tribute was granted.

Text #3131

Dio Cassius. Roman History. Vol. 9
[DioCass. 72.32.3. Translated by Earnest Cary. Harvard University Press. 1925. (9 Vols.) p. 57]



He1 also gave gifts of money to many cities, including Smyrna, which had suffered terrible destruction by an earthquake; and he assigned the task of rebuilding that city to a senator of praetorian rank.

  1. Marcus Aurelius [nE].

Text #6337

Philostratus & Eunapius. The Lives of the Sophists
[pp. 215--217]

To say that Aristeides founded Smyrna is no mere boastful eulogy but most just and true. For when this city had been blotted out by earthquakes and chasms that opened in the ground, he lamented its fate to Marcus in such moving words that the Emperor frequently groaned at other passages in the monody1, but when he came to the words: “She is a desert through which the west winds blow” the Emperor actually shed tears over the pages, and in accordance with the impulse inspired by Aristeides, he consented to rebuild the city.

  1. i.e. the Monody for Smyrna [nE].

Text #6338

Chronicon Paschale
[p. 639]


Smyrna of Asia was thrown down by an earthquake 1.

  1. Quoted from Ambraseys. Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East [p. 134], dated with AD 178. [nE]

Text #6339

Aelius Aristides. The Complete Works. Vol. 2
[Aristid. 18.1--18.7. Translated by C. A. Behr. Brill Academic Publishers. 1981 pp. 7--8]

A Monody for Smyrna1

O Zeus, what am I to do? Am I to be silent when Smyrna has fallen? Have I such an adamantine nature or such self control? But am I to weep? What mode am I to use, how can I be so bold? For if all the voices of the Greeks and the barbarians, those still upon the earth and those of every age, I say if all came together, they would be too little for this calamity, even to undertake the task, not to mention maintaining its true proportion. […]

What springs of tears are sufficient for so great an evil? What concerts and symphonies of all the choruses will be enough to bewail the city of fair choruses, much-hymned and thrice-desired by mankind? The fall of Asia! The remaining cities! All the earth, and all the sea within and without Gadira! The orb of the stars! Sun who beholds all things! What spectacle did you endure to see!

  1. Oration 18 [nE].

Text #6340

Aelius Aristides. The Complete Works. Vol. 2
[Ch. 19 Verse 1 pp. 10--13]

A letter to the emperors concerning Smyrna1

To the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus and the Emperor Caesar Lucius Aurelius Commodus Augustus, Aelius Aristides sends greetings.

In the past, O Emperors most high, I sent you pieces from oratorical contests, lectures, and such things. But now the god of fortune has given another subject. Smyrna, the ornament of Asia, the jewel of your empire, has fallen, crushed by fire and earthquake. In the name of god offer a helping hand, and one such as befits you. Smyrna, which was the most fortunate city of present-day Greece through the efforts of the gods and you emperors past and present, as well as the Senate, has now suffered the greatest misfortune in our memory. Still even in these circumstances the god of fortune preserved one thing for it, almost like a token of salvation. You saw the city. You know the loss. Remember what you said when you viewed it on approaching, remember what you said when you viewed it on approaching, remember what you said when you entered, how you were affected, what you did. The Theoxenia was being celebrated, while you rested, as it were, in the most civilized of your possessions. Was there a view which did not make you more cheerful? Which sight did you behold in silence and not praise as befits you? These are things which even your departure you did not forget. All now lies in dust.

The harbour, which you saw, has closed its eyes, the beauty of the market place is gone, the adornments of the streets have disappeared, the gymnasiums together with the men and boys who used them are destroyed, some of the temples have fallen, some sunk beneath the ground. That which was the most beautiful city to behold and bore the title of “fair” among all mankind has been made the most unpleasant of spectacles, a hill of ruins and corpses. The west winds blow through a waste land. All that is left looks to you, all the rest of Asia joins them, now and always praying for good on your behalf and for your pity for Smyrna, if this empty ground is indeed Smyrna. […]

Perhaps you desire to hear how I myself escaped. A few days before the event the god moved me and brought me to a certain estate of mine, and ordered me to remain there. And while I was staying there, I learned what had happened. When I learned of it, I could not remain quiet. Nothing else was left for me, I think, other than to call on the gods and you. For this reason I did not wait for a public embassy, nor did I feel that I should take my cue from another’s actions. But thinking that the matter spoke to me, if to anyone at all, I appointed myself to this service, believing myself to be suitable, even if for nothing else, at least to bewail the misfortunes of the city.

Others who were powerful at the courts of kings acquired gifts for their countries in times of prosperity. But if I have any influence with you, I ask and beg that the city receive this favour, not to be thrown away like a broken utensil, condemned for uselessness, but that it live again through you. […]

You restored those cities which long ago were sick. But Smyrna, which just now was flourishing and just now collapsed, enroll again in the catalogue of cities. Formerly you adorned its temples, now preserve its whole form. […]

Whenever I consider the magnitude of the misfortune, it seems to me that no word suffices, but that everything falls short.

  1. Oration 19 [nE].

Text #6443

Aelius Aristides. The Complete Works. Vol. 2
[Ch. 20 Verse 1 pp. 14--18]

A Palinode for Smyrna1

The same thing has happened to me, O men of Greece, as to those characters in tragedy who remain silent for a long time and then when occasion permits speak out either to the chorus or to anyone at all. Formerly I restrained myself after those events, which you know, took place, and neither did I undertake to console my fellow citizens nor did I do anything else except to write to our leaders as much as was opportune and to consider the subsequent course of actions2. But now that the gods in their kindness and the Emperors, under the guidance of the will of the gods and in their own direction of human affairs, on our behalf have repulsed a fortune foreign to the city and introduced in turn the good fortune which of old was proper to it, I think that a speech by me would have been appropriate. […]

They employed the most divine and glorious instruments, when they consoled us with their works and proved, as Hesiod once predicted, how great a thing is culture joined with kingship and when they provided every resource to cure what had happened and in addition to invest us with other adornments. Nor was this enough. But as if they were engaged in the government of the city itself, they arranged for sources of money, invited the aid of men who would be ambitious through the hope of future honour, and promised the help of workmen if we wished it, but said that if we did not wish them, they would not trouble us. And if ever we had an immediate need for anything else besides, they bade us tell them so that they might gratify us. Therefore not even all the money of mankind seems to me to have a value equal to this continual generosity. If it is proper to say so,** it makes the earthquake expedient for the city**. Before this fortune befell it, it was unclear how much it was honoured, nor how others ought to feel about it. But now it is possible to repeat that saying of Themistocles, if this story must be believed about him. After he had received his gifts from the Persian, he made some such remark to his sons, “that now they were saved, when they had been lost.” […]

All the races, which comprise our Asia, displayed in regard to the city a common zeal in the restoration of the greatest of its ancient monuments. […]

O blessed are the older men who will reach that day in which they will see Smyrna with her old beauty. Blessed the boys who will suffer no loss, but will behold their country such as it was when their parents dwell in it. […]

  1. Oration 20 [nE].

  2. i.e. Oration 19 [nE].

Please view our Legal Notice before you make use of this Database.

See also our Credits page for info on data we are building upon.