Thracia, or Thrace

Thra'cia, or Thrace (θρῄκη), occurs in the Bible in one passage of the Apocrypha only (2 Macc. 12:35), where a Thracian horseman (τῶν ἱππέων θρᾷῶν τις, "a horseman of Thracia" ) is incidentally mentioned, apparently one of the body-guard of Gorgias, governor of Idumsea under Antiochus Epiphanes (comp. Josephus, War, 2, 16,4; Appian, Syr. 1; Civ. 4:88). . Thrace at this period included the whole of the country within the boundary of the Strymon, the Danube, and the coasts of the AEgean, Propontis, and Euxine (Herod. 4:99; Pliny, 4:18); all the region, in fact, now comprehended in Bulgaria and Rumelia. Under the Romans, Maesia Inferior was separated from it (Ptolemy, 3, 11, 1). In the early times it was inhabited by a number of tribes, each under its own chief, having a name of its own and preserving its own customs, although the same general character of ferocity and addiction to plunder prevailed throughout (Herod. 5, 3). Thucydides (2, 97) describes the limits of the country at the period of the Peloponnesian war, when Sitalces, king of the Odrysse, who inhabited the valley of the Hebrus (Maritza), had acquired a predominant power in the country, and derived what was for those days a large revenue from it. This revenue, however, seems to have arisen mainly out of his relations with the Greek trading communities established on different points of his seaboard. Some of the clans, even within the limits of his dominion, still retained their independence; but after the establishment of a Macedonian dynasty under Lysimachus, the central authority became more powerful; and the wars on a large scale which followed the death of Alexander furnished employment for the martial tendencies of the Thracians, who found a demand for their services as mercenaries everywhere. Cavalry was the arm which they chiefly furnished (see Homer, Odyss. 9:49), the rich pastures of Rumelia abounding in horses. From that region came the greater part of Sitalces's cavalry, amounting to nearly fifty thousand (see Herod. 1, 94; 5, 3 sq.; Tacitus, Annal. 4:35; Horace, Sat. 1, 6; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 17:3, 5, 2; 18:12,1; Justin. 8:3; Mela, 2, 2; Cellarii Notitia, 2, 15; Mannert, Geogr. 7:1 sq.; Gatterer, in the Comment. Soc. Götting. 4 and 5 [Germ. by Schlickhorst, Götting. 1800]; Smith, Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v.).

The only other passage, if any, containing an allusion to Thrace to be found in the Bible is Ge 10:2, where on the hypothesis that the sons of Japhet, who are enumerated, may be regarded as the eponymous representatives of different branches of the Japetian family of nations — Tiras has by some been supposed to mean Thrace; but the only ground for this identification is a fancied similarity between the two names. A stronger likeness, however, might be urged between the name Tiras and that of the Tyrsi, or Tyrseni, the ancestors of the Italian Etruscans, whom, on the strength of a local tradition, Herodotus places in Lydia in the ante- historical times. Strabo brings forward several facts to show that in the early ages Thracians existed on the Asiatic as well as the European shore; but this circumstance furnishes very little help towards the identification referred to. SEE TIRAS.

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