Selge, Pisidia

Selge, Pisidia

Selge (in Greek Σελγη) was an important city in Pisidia, on the southern slope of Mount Taurus, at the part where the river Eurymedon River forces its way through the mountains towards the south.

The town was believed to be a Greek colony, for Strabo [Strabo, "Geographia", [ xii. 7] ] states that it was founded by Spartans, but adds the somewhat unintelligible remark that previously it had been founded by Calchas. The acropolis of Selge bore the name of Kesbedion [Polybius, "Histories", [ v. 76] ] . The district in which the town was situated was extremely fertile, producing abundance of oil and wine, but the town itself was difficult of access, being surrounded by precipices and beds of torrents flowing towards the Eurymedon and Cestrus (today Aksu), and requiring bridges to make them passable. In consequence of its excellent laws and political constitution, Selge rose to the rank of the most powerful and populous city of Pisidia, and at one time was able to send an army of 20,000 men into the field. Owing to these circumstances, and the valour of its inhabitants, for which they were regarded as worthy kinsmen of the Spartans, the Selgians were never subject to any foreign power, but remained in the enjoyment of their own freedom and independence. When Alexander the Great passed through Pisidia (333 BC), Selge sent an embassy to him and gained his favour and friendship. [Arrian, "Anabasis Alexandri", [ i. 28] ] At that time they were at war with Termessos.

At the period when Achaeus had made himself master of Western Asia, Selge were at war with Pednelissus, which was besieged by them; and Achaeus, on the invitation of Pednelissus, sent a large force against Selge (218 BC). After a long and vigorous siege, the Selgians, being betrayed and despairing of resisting Achaeus any longer, sent deputies to sue for peace, which was granted to them on the following terms: they agreed to pay immediately 400 talents, to restore the prisoners of Pednelissus, and after a time to pay 300 talents in addition. [Polybius, [ v. 72-77] ] We now have for a long time no particulars about the history of Selge; in the 5th century AD Zosimus [Zosimus, "Historia Nova", [ v. 15] ] calls it indeed a little town, but it was still strong enough to repel a body of Goths. It is strange that Pliny does not notice Selge, for we know from its coins that it was still a flourishing town in the time of Hadrian; and it is also mentioned in Ptolemy [Ptolemy, "Geographia", v. 5] and Hierocles. Independently of wine and oil, the country about Selge was rich in timber, and a variety of trees, among which the storax was much valued from its yielding a strong perfume. Selge was also celebrated for an ointment prepared from the iris root. [Strabo, ibid.; Pliny, "Naturalis Historia", [ xii. 5] , [ xxi. 19] ]

The remains of the city consist mainly of parts of the encircling wall and of the acropolis. A few traces have survived of the gymnasium, the stoa, the stadium and the basilica. There are also the outlines of two temples, but the best conserved monument is the theater, restored in the 3rd century AD.


*Smith, William (editor); "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography", [ "Selge"] , London, (1854)
*Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister (editors); " [ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites] ", [ "Selge"] , Princeton, (1976)
*"Catholic Encyclopedia", [ "Selge"] , New York, (1913)


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