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Phrygia

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Map of the ancient region of Phrygia, made by User:Astrokey44, with corrections by User:Amizzoni.

Map of the ancient region of Phrygia, made by User:Astrokey44,
with corrections by User:Amizzoni.

Source of the corrections: A. Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East.

 Phrygia is a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia with its capital at Gordium.

The Trojan allies, a land of “many fortresses”,
on the banks of the Sangarius, which flows north and west to empty into the Black Sea. Priam once was there on the occasion of the war of the Phrygians
against the Amazons and reports seeing many horses and that the leaders of the
Phrygians were Otreus and Mygdon. Priam’s wife’s brother, Asios, was the son
of Dymas, a Phrygian.

Culture

The Phrygian goddess Cybele with her attributes Cybele, Nouveau Larousse Illustre 1894.

The Phrygian goddess Cybele with her attributes Cybele, Nouveau Larousse
Illustre 1894.

It Gaia worshiped in the
mountains of Phrygia, where she was known as “Mountain Mother”. In
her typical Phrygian form, she wears a long belted dress, a polos (a high cylindrical
headdress), and a veil covering the whole body.

The Phrygians also venerated Zeus 

Phrygian costumes Phrygians. Nouveau Larousse Illustre 1894 edition.

Phrygian costumes Phrygians. Nouveau Larousse Illustre 1894 edition.

Phrygian
Midas, the king of the “golden touch”, was tutored in music by Orpheus himself. Another musical invention that came from Phrygia
was the aulos, a reed instrument with two pipes. Marsyas, the satyr who first
formed the instrument using the hollowed antler of a stag, was a Phrygian follower
of Cybele. He unwisely competed in music with the Olympian Apollo and inevitably
lost, whereupon Apollo flayed Marsyas alive and provocatively hung his skin
on Cybele’s own sacred tree, a pine.

Mythic past

Gordias, Midas and Tantalus were kings of Phrygia. Gordius, a Phrygian farmer, became king, fulfilling an
oracular prophecy. The kingless Phrygians had turned for guidance to the oracle
of Zeus at Telmissus, in the part of Phrygia that
later became part of Galatia. They had been instructed by the oracle to acclaim
as their king the first man who rode up to the god’s temple in a cart. That
man was Gordias, a farmer, who dedicated the ox-cart in question,
tied to its shaft with the “Gordian Knot”. Gordias refounded a capital
at Gordium in west central Anatolia, situated on the old trackway through the
heart of Anatolia that became Darius’s Persian “Royal Road” from Pessinus
to Ancyra, and not far from the River Sangarius.

Midas connect him with
Silenus and other satyrs and with Dionysus,
who granted him the famous “golden touch”. In another episode, he
judged a musical contest between Apollo, playing
the lyre, and Ares, playing the rustic pan pipes.
Midas judged in favor of Pan, and Apollo awarded him the ears of an ass.

Midas of Thrace, accompanied
by a band of his people, traveled to Asia Minor to wash away the taint of his
unwelcome “golden touch” in the river Pactolus. Leaving the gold in
the river’s sands, Midas found himself in Phrygia, where he was adopted by the
childless king Gordias and taken under the protection of Cybele. Acting as the
visible representative of Cybele, and under her authority, it would seem, a
Phrygian king could designate his successor.

The Phrygians were Trojan
allies during the Trojan War. The Phrygia of Homer’s Iliad appears to be located
in the area that embraced the Ascanian lake and the northern flow of the Sangarius
river and so was much more limited in extent than classical Phrygia. Homer’s
Iliad also includes a reminiscence by the Trojan king Priam, who had in his
youth come to aid the Phrygians against the Amazons. During this episode (a
generation before the Trojan War), the Phrygians were said to be led by Otreus
and Mygdon. Both appear to be little more than eponyms: there was a place named
Otrea on the Ascanian Lake, in the vicinity of the later Nicaea; and the Mygdones
were a people of Asia Minor, who resided near Lake Dascylitis (there was also
a Mygdonia in Macedonia). During the Trojan War, the Phrygians sent forces to
aid Troy, led by Ascanius and Phorcys, the sons of Aretaon. Asius, son of Dymas
and brother of Hecabe, is another Phrygian noble who fought before Troy. Quintus
Smyrnaeus mentions another Phrygian prince, named Coroebus, son of Mygdon, who
fought and died at Troy; he had sued for the hand of the Trojan princess Cassandra
in marriage. King Priam’s wife Hecabe is usually said to be of Phrygian birth,
as a daughter of King Dymas.

The Phrygian Sibyl was
the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Phrygia.

Gordian

Gordium is the capital city of Phrygia. The most famous king of
Phrygia is Midas who was the first foreigner to make an offering at the sanctuary
of Apollo at Delphi.

Gordian Knot

This intricate knot joined the yoke to the pole of a Phrygian wagon that stood
on the acropolis of the city. A lprophecy has decreed that whoever could loose
the knot was destined to become the ruler of Asia.

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