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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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(Πάταρα, neut. pl_.)

Patara was a maritime city in the S.W. of Lycia, about 6 miles S.E. of the mouth of the Xanthus. For classical writers it had a romantic interest as a home of Apollo (Herodotus, i. 182), whose temple and oracle there were only less famous than those at Delphi: ‘Pataraean Apollo who haunts the thickets of Lycia’ (Hor. Od. III. iv. 64). Its more practical importance was two-fold; it served as a seaport for the fertile Xanthus valley, including the splendid city of that name; and it lay on the highway of ships trading between the aegean and the Levant or Egypt. St. Paul did an ordinary thing when he changed ships at Patara (Acts 21:2). The coaster in which he had sailed from Troas had either reached her destination or else was about to continue her course along the south coast, whereas larger vessels bound from Lycia for Syria struck right across the high sea, passing Cyprus on the left (Acts 21:3). Ships coming in the opposite direction usually found the straight course too difficult on account of the prevailing westerly wind, and had to keep closer to shore, passing Cyprus on the left, and making not for Patara but for Myra, about 30 miles to eastward (Acts 27:5). Patara derived an ample revenue from the vast traffic between the aegean coast and Alexandria. Ptolemy Philadelphus enlarged and improved the city, calling it ‘the Lycian Arsince’ in honour of his wife, ‘but the old name prevailed’ (Strabo, XIV. iii. 6). Patara was the reputed birthplace of St. Nicholas. The harbour is now ‘an inland marsh generating poisonous malaria’ (T. A. B. Spratt and E. Forbes, Travels in Lycia, Milyas, and the Cibyratis, 2 vols., 1847, i. 32). There are extensive and well-preserved ruins, including a triumphal arch with the inscription, ‘Patara, the metropolis of the Lycian nation.’

Literature.-F. Beaufort, Karamania, 1817; C. Fellows, Account of Discoveries in Lycia, 1841; O. Benndorf and G. Niemann, Reisen in südwestlichen Kleinasien, vol. i.: ‘Reisen in Lykien und Karien,’ 1884; Murray’s Handbook of Asia Minor, 1895.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Patara'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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