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Corycus



Corycus (Greek: Κώρυκος; also transliterated Corycos or Korykos) was an ancient city in Cilicia Trachaea, Anatolia, located at the mouth of the Calycadnus (now Göksu); the site is now occupied by the town of Kızkalesi (formerly Ghorgos), Mersin Province, Turkey.


The city

Strabo does not mention a town of Corycus, but reports a promontory so called at the location, but a town Corycus is mentioned by Livy (xxxiii. 20), and by Pliny (v. 27), and Pomponius Mela (i. 13), and Stephanus of Byzantium (s. v. Κώρυκος). In antiquity Corycus was an important harbor and commercial town. It was the port of Seleucia, where, in 191 BCE, the fleet of Antiochus the Great was defeated by the Romans. In the Roman times it preserved its ancient laws; the emperors usually kept a fleet there to watch over the pirates. Corycus was also a mint in antiquity and some of itscoins survive.

Corycus was controlled by the Byzantine Empire. Justinian I restored the public baths and a hospital. Alexios I Komnenos re-equipped the fortress, which had been dismantled. At the beginning of the 12th century the Byzantines built a supplementary castle on a small island. This castle was later called "maidens castle" (Turkish: Kız kalesi), because it was told that a king held his daughter here in captivity until she was killed by a venomous snake. Soon after Corycus was conquered by the Armenians, who held it till the middle of the 14th century, as part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. In the 14th century, the city was occupied temporarily by the Turks, and for a time played an important part. The city fell to the Lusignans of Cyprus. It was taken by the Mamelukes, and again by Peter I of Cyprus in 1361. In the late 14th century it fell again to the Turks. From 1448 or 1454 it belonged alternately to the Karamanlis, the Egyptians, the Karamanlis a second time, and finally to the Osmanlis.

The ruins of the city are extensive. Among them are a triumphal arch, a necropolis with a beautiful Christian tomb, sarcophagi, etc. The two medieval castles, one on the shore, the other in an islet, connected by a ruined pier, are partially preserved; the former was reputed impregnable. The walls of the castle on the mainland contain many pieces of columns; and a mole of great unhewn rocks projects from one angle of the fortress about a hundred yards across the bay. Three churches are also found, one decorated with frescoes. The walls of the ancient city may still be traced, and there appear to be sufficient remains to invite a careful examination of the spot.

The city figures in the Synecdemus of Hierocles, and about 840 in Gustav Parthey's Notitia Prima. Ecclesiastically, it was a see, suffragan of Tarsus. Lequien (II, 879) mentions five Greek Orthodox bishops from 381 to 680; another is known from an inscription (Waddington, Inscriptions ... d'Asie mineure, 341). One Latin Bishop, Gerardus, was present at a Council of Antioch about 1136; four are known in the fourteenth century (Lequien, III, 1197; Eubel, I, 218). Corycus remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Coryciensis; the seat is vacant since the death of the last bishop in 1967.

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