Abydos is mentioned in the Iliad as a Trojan
ally, and, according to Strabo, was occupied by Bebryces and later Thracians
after the Trojan War.
It has been suggested that the city was originally a Phoenician colony as there
was a temple of Aphrodite Porne (Aphrodite the Harlot) within Abydos.
Abydos was settled by Milesian colonists contemporaneously with the foundation
of the cities of Priapos and Prokonnesos in c.?670. Strabo related that Gyges,
King of Lydia, granted his consent to the Milesians to settle Abydos; it is
argued that this was carried out by Milesian mercenaries to act as a garrison
to prevent Thracian raids into Asia Minor.
The city became a thriving centre for tuna exportation as a result of the high
yield of tuna in the Hellespont. Abydos was ruled by Daphnis, a pro-Persian
tyrant, in the 520s, but was occupied by the Persian Empire in 514.
Darius I destroyed the city following his Scythian campaign in 512.
Abydos participated in the Ionian Revolt in the early 5th century BC, however,
the city returned briefly to Persian control as, in 480, at the onset of the
Second Persian invasion of Greece, Xerxes I and the Persian army passed through
Abydos on their march to Greece.
After the failed Persian invasion, Abydos became a member of the Athenian-led
Delian League, and was part of the Hellespontine district. Ostensibly an ally,
Abydos was hostile to Athens throughout this time, and contributed a phoros of
Xenophon documented that Abydos possessed gold mines at Astyra or Kremaste at
the time of his writing.
During the Second Peloponnesian War, a Spartan expedition led by Dercylidas
arrived at Abydos in early May 411 and successfully convinced the city to
defect from the Delian League and fight against Athens, at which time he was
made harmost (commander/governor) of Abydos.
A Spartan fleet was defeated by Athens at Abydos in the autumn of 411.
Abydos was attacked by the Athenians in the winter of 409/408, but was repelled
by a Persian force led by Pharnabazus, satrap (governor) of Hellespontine
Phrygia. Dercylidas held the office of harmost of Abydos until at least c.?407.
According to Aristotle, Abydos had an oligarchic constitution at this time.
At the beginning of the Corinthian War in 394, Agesilaus II, King of Sparta,
passed through Abydos into Thrace.
Abydos remained an ally of Sparta throughout the war and Dercylidas served as
harmost of the city from 394 until he was replaced by Anaxibius in c.?390; the
latter was killed in an ambush near Abydos by the Athenian general Iphicrates
At the conclusion of the Corinthian War, under the terms of the Peace of
Antalcidas in 387, Abydos was annexed to the Persian Empire. Within the Persian
Empire, Abydos was administered as part of the satrapy of Hellespontine
Phrygia, and was ruled by the tyrant Philiscus in 368. In c.?360, the city came
under the control of the tyrant Iphiades.
Abydos remained under Persian control until it was seized by a Macedonian army
led by Parmenion, a general of Philip II, in the spring of 336.
In 335, whilst Parmenion besieged the city of Pitane, Abydos was besieged by a
Persian army led by Memnon of Rhodes, forcing Parmenion to abandon his siege of
Pitane and march north to relieve Abydos. Alexander ferried across from Sestos
to Abydos in 334 and travelled south to the city of Troy, after which he
returned to Abydos.
The following day, Alexander left Abydos and led his army north to Percote.
Alexander later established a royal mint at Abydos, as well as at other cities
in Asia Minor.
After the death of Alexander the Great in 323, Abydos, as part of the satrapy
of Hellespontine Phrygia, came under the control of Leonnatus as a result of
the Partition of Babylon. At the Partition of Triparadisus in 321, Arrhidaeus
succeeded Leonnatus as satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia.
In 302, during the Fourth War of the Diadochi, Lysimachus, King of Thrace,
crossed over into Asia Minor and invaded the kingdom of Antigonus I. Unlike the
neighbouring cities of Parium and Lampsacus which surrendered, Abydos resisted
Lysimachus and was besieged. Lysimachus was forced to abandon the siege,
however, after the arrival of a relief force sent by Demetrius, son of King
Antigonus I. According to Polybius, by the third century, the neighbouring city
of Arisbe had become subordinate to Abydos.
The city of Dardanus also came under the control of Abydos at some point in the
Hellenistic period. Abydos became part of the Seleucid Empire after 281.
The city was conquered by Ptolemy III Euergetes, King of Egypt, in 245, and
remained under Ptolemaic control until at least 241, as Abydos had become part
of the Kingdom of Pergamon by c. 200.
During the Second Macedonian War, Abydos was besieged by Philip V, King of
Macedonia, in 200, during which many of its citizens chose to commit suicide
rather than surrender.
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus met with Philip V during the siege to deliver an
ultimatum on behalf of the Roman senate.
Ultimately, the city was forced to surrender to Philip V due to a lack of
reinforcements. The Macedonian occupation ended after the Peace of Flamininus
at the end of the war in 196. At this time, Abydos was substantially
depopulated and partially ruined as a result of the Macedonian occupation. In
the spring of 196, Abydos was seized by Antiochus III, Megas Basileus of the
Seleucid Empire, who refortified the city in 192/191.
Antiochus III later withdrew from Abydos during the Roman-Seleucid War, thus
allowing for the transportation of the Roman army into Asia Minor by October
190. Dardanus was subsequently liberated from Abydene control, and the Treaty
of Apamea of 188 returned Abydos to the Kingdom of Pergamon.