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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Samothracia, or Samothrace
(Σαμοθράκη ), a famous island in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, above the Hellespont, with a city of the same name. It was anciently called Dardana, Leucania, and also Samos; and, to distinguish it from the other Samos (q.v.), the name of Thrace was added, from its vicinity to that country. Hence, Samos of Thrace, Σάμος Θράκης, and by contraction Σαμοθράκη, Samothrace. Samothrace is about twenty miles in circumference, and about twenty miles from the coast of Thrace. The island was celebrated for the mysteries of Ceres and Proserpine, and was a sacred asylum (Diod. Sic. 3, 55; 5, 47; Ptolemy, Geog. 5, 11; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 4, 23). In ancient times it was the resort of numerous pilgrims, who regarded it as invested with peculiar sanctity. It was the seat of the worship and mysteries of the Cabiri — mysteries in which persons of the highest rank and consideration deemed it an especial honor to be initiated, and which have been a favorite subject for investigation among modern students. Samothrace is mountainous, and the central peak is the highest point in the northern part of the Aegean, and inferior only to Mount Athos on the mainland. Homer places upon it the throne of Neptune; it towers high over Imbros, and the plains of Troy are distinctly visible from its summit. Homer describes Jupiter as watching from hence the progress of the Trojan war. The traditions of Samothrace extend to the remotest antiquity; they refer to a period when the Hellespont, the Propontis, and the Bosphorus were but a series of inland lakes, and the Euxine was entirely shut away from the Aegean. It is the opinion of Niebuhr (Ancient Ethnography and Geography, 1, 182) that Samothrace was the center of the Pelasgic religion. Perseus took refuge here after his defeat by the Romans at Pydna. In later times Samothrace had, according to Pliny, the privileges of a small free state, though it was doubtless considered a dependency of the province of Macedonia. The island is now called Samothraki, frequently corrupted into Samandrichi (ἐς τὸ μανδίκι ). It is but thinly peopled, principally by fishermen, and in many parts is covered with forests. It contains only a single village. The mountain is described in the Missionary Herald for 1836, p. 246; comp. Richter, Wallfahrt, p. 438 sq.; Smith, Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v.; Conze, Reise auf d. Inseln d. Thrakischen Meers (Berl. 1859).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samothracia, or Samothrace'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/samothracia-or-samothrace.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.