Importance of the cities in Phoenicia—Their names and relative eminence—Cities of the first rank—Sidon—Tyre— Arvad or Aradus—Marathus—Gebal or Byblus—Tripolis—Cities of the second rank—Aphaca—Berytus—Arka—Ecdippa—Accho— Dor—Japho or Joppa—Ramantha or Laodicea—Fivefold division of Phoenicia.
Phoenicia, like Greece, was a country where the cities held a position of extreme importance. The nation was not a centralised one, with a single recognised capital, like Judaea, or Samaria, or Syria, or Assyria, or Babylonia. It was, like Greece, a congeries of homogeneous tribes, who had never been amalgamated into a single political entity, and who clung fondly to the idea of separate independence. Tyre and Sidon are often spoken of as if they were metropolitical cities; but it may be doubted whether there was ever a time when either of them could claim even a temporary authority over the whole country. Each, no doubt, from time to time, exercised a sort of hegemony over a certain number of the inferior cities; but there was no organised confederacy, no obligation of any one city to submit to another, and no period, as far as our knowledge extends, at which all the cities acknowledged a single one as their mistress. Between Tyre and Sidon there was especial jealousy, and the acceptance by either of the leadership of the other, even temporarily, was a rare fact in the history of the nation.
According to the geographers, the cities of Phoenicia, from Laodicea in the extreme north to Joppa at the extreme south, numbered about twenty-five. These were Laodicea, Gabala, Balanea, Paltos; Aradus, with its dependency Antaradus; Marathus; Simyra, Orthosia, and Arka; Tripolis, Calamus, Trieris, and Botrys; Byblus or Gebal; Aphaca; Berytus; Sidon, Sarepta, and Ornithonpolis; Tyre and Ecdippa; Accho and Porphyreon; Dor and Joppa. Of the twenty-five a certain number were, historically and politically, insignificant; for instance, Gabala, Balanea, Paltos, Orthosia, Calamus, Trieris, Botrys, Sarepta, Ornithonpolis, Porphyreon. Sarepta is immortalised by the memory of its pious widow, and Orthosia has a place in history from its connection with the adventures of Trypho; but the rest of the list are little more than “geographical expressions.” There remain fifteen important cities, of which six may be placed in the first rank and nine in the second—the six being Tyre, Sidon, Aradus, Byblus or Gebal, Marathus, and Tripolis; the nine, Laodicea, Simyra, Arka, Aphaca, Berytus, Ecdippa, Accho, Dor, and Joppa. It will be sufficient in the present place to give some account of these fifteen.