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Osroene, also spelled Osroëne and Osrhoene (Ancient Greek: Ὀσροηνή; Syriac: ܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܕܒܝܬ ܐܘܪܗܝ‎ "Kingdom of Urhay") and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa (now Şanlıurfa, Turkey), was a historical kingdom located in Upper Mesopotamia,[1] which enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 244,[2][3] and a Roman province from 244–608 CE, and from 318 a part of the Diocese of the East.

Kingdom of Osroene
ܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܕܒܝܬ ܐܘܪܗܝ
Vassal of the Parthian Empire (63 BC–114 AD) and the Roman Empire (114–244)
132 BC–AD 244
Map includes Osroene as a tributary kingdom of the Armenian Empire under Tigranes the Great
Capital Edessa
Languages Syriac, Greek
Government Monarchy
Historical era Hellenistic Age
 •  Established 132 BC
 •  Disestablished AD 244
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Seleucid Empire
Diocese of the East
Anatolia in the early 1st century with Osroëne as a client state of the Parthian Empire
Roman dependency of Osroëne (as of 31 BC)
Roman province of Osroëne, 120, highlighted within the Roman Empire

By the 5th century Edessa had become a center of Syriac literature and learning. In 608 the Sasanian emperor, Khosrow II, took Osroëne, and in 638 it fell to Muslim conquest of Persia.

Contents

HistoryEdit

KingdomEdit

Osroene, or Edessa, acquired independence from the collapsing Seleucid Empire through a dynasty of the nomadic Nabataean Arab tribe called Orrhoei from 136 BC. The name Osroene derives from Osroes of Urhay, a Nabataean king who in 120 BC wrested control of this region from the Seleucids in Syria.[4][need quotation to verify] Most of the kings of Osroene are called Abgar or Manu and settled in urban centers.[5] Under the Nabataean dynasties, Osroëne became increasingly influenced by Syriac Christianity[6] and was a centre of national reaction against Hellenism.

Osroene was one of several kingdoms arising from the dissolution of the Seleucid Empire. The kingdom occupied an area on what is now the border between Syria and Turkey.This kingdom was established by The Nabataean tribes from Southern Canaan and North Arabia, and lasted nearly four centuries (c. 132 BC to 214 AD), under twenty-eight rulers, who sometimes called themselves "king" on their coinage.

It was in this region that the legend of Abgar V originated.

Osroene was absorbed into the Roman Empire in 114 as a semi-autonomous vassal state, after a period under the rule of the Parthian Empire, incorporated as a simple Roman province in 214. There is an apocryphal legend that Osroene was the first state to have accepted Christianity as state religion,[7][8] however there is not enough evidence to support this point of view.}}[9][10][11]

Roman provinceEdit

The independence of the state ended in 244 when it was incorporated in the Roman Empire.[12] It was a frontier province, lying close to the Persian empires with which the Romans were repeatedly at war. It was taken and retaken several times. Being a province on the frontier it had a Roman legion stationed there, Legio III Parthica and its Castrum (homebase) may have been Rhesaina, though there are some doubts on that fact.

 
Map showing the Eastern Roman provinces, including Osroene, in the 5th century.

Following Emperor Diocletian's Tetrarchy reforms during his reign 284-305 CE, it was part of the diocese of Oriens, in the praetorian prefecture of the same name. According to the late 4th-century Notitia Dignitatum, it was headed by a governor of the rank of praeses, and was also the seat of the dux Mesopotamiae, who ranked as vir illustris and commanded (c. 400) the following army units:

  • Equites Dalmatae Illyriciani, garrisoned at Ganaba.
  • Equites Promoti Illyriciani, Callinicum.
  • Equites Mauri Illyriciani, Dabana.
  • Equites Promoti indigenae, Banasam
  • Equites Promoti indigenae, Sina Iudaeorum.
  • Equites Sagittarii indigenae, Oraba.
  • Equites Sagittarii indigenae, Thillazamana.
  • Equites Sagittarii indigenae Medianenses, Mediana.
  • Equites Primi Osrhoeni, Rasin.
  • Praefectus legionis quartae Parthicae, Circesium.
  • (an illegible command, possibly Legio III Parthica), Apatna.

as well as, 'on the minor roll', apparently auxiliaries:

  • Ala Septima Valeria Praelectorum, Thillacama.
  • Ala Prima Victoriae, Tovia -contra Bintha.
  • Ala Secunda Paflagonum, Thillafica.
  • Ala Prima Parthorum, Resaia.
  • Ala Prima nova Diocletiana, inter Thannurin et Horobam.
  • Cohors Prima Gaetulorum, Thillaamana.
  • Cohors Prima Eufratensis, Maratha.
  • Ala Prima Salutaria, Duodecimo constituta.

According to Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History, "there were some very learned men who formerly flourished in Osroene, as for instance Bardaisan, who devised a heresy designated by his name, and his son Harmonius. It is related that this latter was deeply versed in Grecian erudition, and was the first to subdue his native tongue to meters and musical laws; these verses he delivered to the choirs" and that Arianism —a more successful heresy— met with opposition there.

Osroene in Roman SourcesEdit

In his writings, Pliny the Elder refers to the natives of Osroene and the Kingdom of Commagene as Arabs and the region as Arabia.[13] According to Pliny, a nomadic Arab tribe called Orrhoei occupied Edessa about 130 BC.[14] Orrhoei founded a small state ruled by their chieftains with the title of kings and the district was called after them Orrhoene. This name eventually changed into Osroene, in assimilation to the Parthian name Osroes or Chosroes (Khosrau).[15]

The area of the kingdom was perhaps roughly coterminous with that of the Roman province of Osrhoene. The great loop of the Euphrates was a natural frontier to the north and west. In the south Batnae was capital of the semi-autonomous principality of Anthemusia until its annexation by Rome in A.D. 115. The eastern boundary is uncertain; it may have extended to Nisibis or even to Adiabene in the first century A.D. Ḥarrān, however, only 40 km south of Edessa, always maintained its independent status as a Roman colonia.[16]

Edessa, capital of the ancient kingdom, was a fortress of considerable strength, and a staging post both large and nearest to the Euphrates. It was an important road junction; an ancient highway, along which caravans carried merchandise from China and India to the West, met there a north-south road connecting the Armenian highlands with Antioch. Inevitably Edessa figured prominently on the international stage. [17]

In 64 B.C, as Pompey waged war on the Parthian Empire, Abgar II of Osrhoene had sided with the Romans when Lucius Afranius occupied Upper Mesopotamia. The king was initially an ally of the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus in his campaign against the Parthians in 53 B.C., but Roman historians allege that he betrayed Crassus by leading him to deviate from his safe route along the river and instead into an open desert, where the troops suffered from the barrenness and were thus vulnerable to cavalry attack. Abgar is said to have met with Surenas, the Parthian general, and informed him of the Roman movements. The Battle of Carrhae followed, an infamous battle which destroyed the entire Roman army. Just prior to the battle, Abgar made a pretext to ride away. However, modern historians have questioned whether Abgar intended to betray the Romans, and instead may have simply been leading them along an old Arab trade route.[18] According to a Syriac source, Abgar died later the same year.[19]

In the early second century A.D., King Abgar VII joined the Emperor Trajan's campaign into Mesopotamia and entertained him at court. The king later rebelled against the Romans, however, which led to the Roman general Lucius Quietus sacking Edessa and putting an end to Osrhoene's independence in 116 A.D. In 123 A.D., during the reign of Hadrian, the Abgarid dynasty was restored with the installation of Ma'nu VII, and Osroene was established as a client kingdom of the Empire.[20] After the Roman–Parthian War of 161–166 under Marcus Aurelius, forts were built and a Roman garrison was stationed in Nisibis (now Nusaybin. In 195 A.D, following a civil war in which the kingdom had supported his rival Pescennius Niger, Septimius Severus mounted an invasion and annexed the territory as a new province, making Nisibis the capital. [21]However, the emperor did allow the king, Abgar XI, to retain the city of Edessa and a small territory surrounding it. [22] In 213 A.D, the reigning king was deposed by Caracalla and the remaining territory incorporated into the Roman province of Osroene. [23]

Following Trajan's conquest, Christianity spread in Edessa. Abgar IX (179-186 AD) was the first Christian King of Edessa. It is believed that the Gospel of Thomas emanated from Edessa around 140 AD. Prominent early Christian figures have lived in and emerged from this region such as Tatian the Assyrian, who came to Edessa from Hadiab (Adiabene). He made a trip to Rome and returned to Edessa around 172-173. Tatian was the editor of the Diatessaron, which was the primary sacred text of Syriac-speaking Christianity until in the 5th century the bishops Rabbula and Theodoret suppressed it and substituted a revision of the Old Syriac Canonical Gospels (as in the Syriac Sinaiticus and Curetonian Gospels).[24]

After this, Edessa was again brought under Roman control by Decius and it was made a center of Roman operations against the Sasanian Empire. Amru, possibly a descendant of Abgar, is mentioned as king in the Paikuli inscription, recording the victory of Narseh in the Sassanid civil war of 293. Historians identify this Amru as Amru ibn Adi, the fourth king of the Lakhmids, which was at that time still based in Harran, not yet moved to al-Hirah in southern Mesopotamia.[25]

Many centuries later, Dagalaiphus and Secundinus duke of Osrhoene, accompanied Julian in his war against the Sasanian emperor Shapur II in the 4th century.[26]

Rulers of OsroeneEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dupuy, Richard Ernest; Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt (1970). The Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present. Harper & Row. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-06-011139-7. 
  2. ^ Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson (eds.), The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325: Ante-Nicene Fathers vol. 8 (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 657-672. [1]
  3. ^ Fortescue, Adrian (2001). The Eastern Churches Trilogy. Gorgias Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-9715986-2-1. 
  4. ^ C. Anthon, A System of Ancient and Medieval Geography for the Use of Schools and Colleges, Harper Publishers, 1850, Digitized 2007, p.681
  5. ^ Fortescue, Adrian (1923). The uniate Eastern churches: the Byzantine rite in Italy, Sicily, Syria and Egypt. Burns, Oates & Washbourne, ltd. p. 22. 
  6. ^ Harrak, Amir (1992). "The Ancient Name of Edessa". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 51 (3): 209–214. 
  7. ^ Ball, W (2001). Rome in the East: the transformation of an empire. Routledge. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-415-24357-5. 
  8. ^ Frankfurter, David (1998). Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt. BRILL. p. 383. ISBN 90-04-11127-1. {{quote|It was around 200 c.e. that Abgar IX adopted Christianity, thus enabling Edessa to become the first Christian state in history whose ruler was officially and openly a Christian."
  9. ^ Osroene at Encyclopædia Iranica

    The fame of Edessa in history rests, however, mainly on its claim to have been the first kingdom to adopt Christianity as its official religion. According to the legend current for centuries throughout the civilized world, Abgar Ukkama wrote to Jesus, inviting him to visit him at Edessa to heal him from sickness. In return he received the blessing of Jesus and subsequently was converted by the evangelist Addai. There is, however, no factual evidence for Christianity at Edessa before the reign of Abgar the Great, 150 years later. Scholars are generally agreed that the legend has confused the two Abgars. It cannot be proved that Abgar the Great adopted Christianity; but his friend Bardaiṣan was a heterodox Christian, and there was a church at Edessa in 201. It is testimony to the personality of Abgar the Great that he is credited by tradition with a leading role in the evangelization of Edessa.

  10. ^ Young, Frances; Ayres, Lewis; Louth, Andrew (April 2004). The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-521-46083-5. 

    Modern scholars have taken basically two very different approaches to this legend (which obviously reflects the general search for apostolic origins, characteristics of the fourth century), Some would dismiss it totally, while others prefer to see it as a retrojection into the first century of the conversion of the local king at the end of the second century. In other words Abgar (V) the Black of the legend in fact represents Abgar (VIII) the Great (c. 177-212), contemporary of Badaisan. Attractive though this second approach might seem, there are serious objections to it, and the various small supportive evidence that Abgar (VIII) the Great became Christian disappears on closer examination.

  11. ^ Ball, Warwick (2000). Rome in the East: The Transformation of an Empire. Psychology Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-415-11376-2. 

    More significant than Bardaisan's conversion to Christianity was the conversion -reported by Bardaisan - of Abgar the Great himself." The conversion is controversial, but whether or not he became a Christian, Abgar had the wisdom to recognise the inherent order and stability in Christianity a century before Constantino did. Ho encouraged it as essential for maintaining Edessa's precarious balance between Rome and Iran. Thus, it is Abgar the Great who lays claim to being the world's first Christian monarch and Edessa the first Christian state. More than anything else, a major precedent had been set for the conversion of Rome itself. // The stories of the conversions of both Abgar V and Abgar VIII may not be true, and have been doubted by a number of Western authorities (with more than a hint at unwillingness to relinquish Rome's and St Peter's own primogeniture?). But whether true or not. the stories did establish Edessa as one of the more important centres for early Christendom."

  12. ^ New International Encyclopedia
  13. ^ H. I. MacAdam, N. J. Munday, "Cicero's Reference to Bostra (AD Q. FRAT. 2. 11. 3)", Classical Philology, pp.131-136, 1983.
  14. ^ Pliny vol. 85; vi. 25, 117, 129.
  15. ^ Osroene, 1911 Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica
  16. ^ J. B. Segal, “Abgar,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 210-213; http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abgar-dynasty-of-edessa-2nd-century-bc-to-3rd-century-ad
  17. ^ J. B. Segal, “Abgar,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 210-213; http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abgar-dynasty-of-edessa-2nd-century-bc-to-3rd-century-ad
  18. ^ Sheldon, Mary Rose, "Intelligence Activities in Ancient Rome: Trust in the Gods But Verify", pg. 92
  19. ^ J. B. Segal, “Abgar,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 210-213; http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abgar-dynasty-of-edessa-2nd-century-bc-to-3rd-century-ad
  20. ^ Ball, W (2001). Rome in the East: the transformation of an empire. Routledge. p. 90.
  21. ^ Southern, Pat, "The Empress Zenobia: Palmyra's Rebel Queen", 2009: pg. 36
  22. ^ Birley, Anthony, "Septimius Severus: The African Emperor", 1999: pg. 115
  23. ^ Sinclair, T.A., "Eastern Turkey: An Architectural & Archaeological Survey, Volume IV: pg. 196
  24. ^ L.W. Barnard, The Origins and Emergence of the Church in Edessa during the First Two Centuries A.D., Vigiliae Christianae, pp.161-175, 1968 (see pp. 162,165,167,169).
  25. ^ A. T. Olmstead, "The Mid-Third Century of the Christian Era. II", Classical Philology (1942): 398-420 (see p. 399)
  26. ^ E. Gibbon, The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Vol. I, Chapter XXIV [2].

SourcesEdit