(Πάταρα, neut. plur.), a considerable town of Lycia, in Asia Minor, opposite the island of Rhodes. Patara was a very ancient city, and is said to have been founded by Patarus (Strabo, 14:3, p. 665), a son of Apollo (Steph. Byz. s.v.). It was already celebrated in the time of Herodotus for a temple and oracle of this deity (1:182), who is called by Horace on this account Patareus (lib. 3, ode 4:1. 64), and the coins of Patara bear the representation of his temple. In fact, the worship of this divinity prevailed in Lycia to an extent nearly equal to that of Diana in the neighboring province of Lydia. It appears to have been colonized by the Dorians. Strabo tells us that Ptolemy Philadelphus repaired it, and called it the Lycian Arsinoi, but its old name was retained (l.c.). Patara was situated on the south-western shore of Lycia, not far from the left bank of the river Xanthus. The coast here is very mountainous and bold. Patara was practically the seaport of the city of Xanthus, which was ten miles distant (Appian, B.C. 4:81). Its inhabitants availed themselves. of the great commercial advantages of their situation, and carried on an extensive trade with Egypt, Syria, and Cyprus. The river Xanthus was navigable beyond the city of that name for vessels of large tonnage, and the whole valley was thickly peopled by a cultivated and luxurious race. The beauty of the scenery, the fertility of the soil, and the healthiness of the climate, all tended to make the valley of the Xanthus a favorite residence, and the magnificent ideas and taste of its inhabitants are proved by the extensive remains of antiquity found along the whole course of the river. Patara derived great benefit from the independence of the country of which it was the chief seaport, and it was not reduced to the ordinary condition of a Roman province till the reign of the emperor Claudius. The coast of Lycia about this city is rocky and picturesque, and the rugged spurs of the Taurian chain terminate here in the abrupt promontories of Cragus and Anticragus, the one on the east and the other on the west of the river Xanthus. Patara preserved its importance as a seaport through all the revolutions which affected Lycia. It furnished a considerable fleet in that memorable war waged against the Greeks by Persia, of which empire Lycia formed a part. In later and more anarchical times its inhabitants addicted themselves to piracy, and acquired an unenviable reputation by their depredations. These notices of its position and maritime importance introduce us to the single mention of the place in the Bible (Ac 21:1-2). Paul was on his way to Jerusalem at the close of his third missionary journey. He had just come from Rhodes (ver. 1); and at Patara hefound a ship, Which was on the point of going to Phoenicia (ver. 2), and in which he completed his voyage (ver. 3). This illustrates the mercantile connection of Patara with both the eastern and western parts of the Levant. A good parallel to the apostle's voyage is to be found in Livy (37:16). The commercial dealings of Lycia and Phaenicia made it extremely probable that Patara would be the place from whence such a passage could be made with the most certainty, and from hence the apostle sailed to Tyre. At the time of Paul's visit it must have been a splendid as well as an influential and populous city. Some of its ruins are of great extent and beauty; and Livy, speaking of Lycia, calls Patara "caput gentis" (37:15; comp. Pomp. Mela, 1:15; Polyb. 22:26). In sailing from Rhodes to Patara, Paul had before him some of the grandest scenery in the East. Crossing the channel from the little harbor of Rhodes, the vessel would skirt for a time the bold coast, and then, passing a noble headland, it would open up the rich valley of the Xanthus, and the little plain at its mouth, which extends some eight miles along the shore, and six or seven inland. Near the eastern extremity of this plain stood Patara, close upon the beach, separated from the river Xanthus by a broad belt of loose sand, which the wind and waves have drifted up into bare mounds and hills. The site of the city is now a desert; many of its principal buildings are almost covered with sand; and its harbor, into which Paul sailed, is now a dismal, pestilential marsh. The walls of Patara can still be traced. The triple arch of one of its gates is standing; so also are the remains of a theater scooped out in the side of a hill (Leake, Asia Minor, p. 320); of baths near the sea; of an old castle commanding the harbor; and. of temples, altars, columns, and houses, now ruined and mutilated. A Greek inscription over the great city gateway mentions, "Patara the metropolis of the Lycians" (Fellows, Lycia, p. 222 sq.; Beaufort, Karmania, p. 2 sq.; Spratt and Forbes, Travels in Lycia, i, p. 30 sq.; 2:189). The desolate ruins now bear the same name. Paul did not remain long at Patara; he probably left a few hours after his arrival; yet Christianity obtained a footing in the city, and it subsequently became the seat of a bishop, and was represented in the Council of Nice (Hierocl. p. 684). See in addition to the works above cited, Conybeare and Howson, St. Paul, 2:226; Lewin, St. Paul, 2:99; Smith, Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v. SEE LYCIA.

Bible concordance for PATARA.

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