“Emperor Septimius Severus thanks the valiant inhabitants of the city Siedra for their heroic struggle against the robbers and barbarians who threaten the prosperity of the Roman Empire.” This is the rough translation of the text labels on the large 2-meter stone, which is in the archaeological Museum of Alanya and dated 194 A.D. What kind of city is this, the inhabitants of which, according to the Roman Emperor, saved the Roman Empire from robbers? What was the feat of the inhabitants of Siedra, awarded the gratitude of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, expressed in 46 lines, carved in stone?
The city Siedra, the ancient ruins of which are located 10 km from Alanya, was one of the city-polis of Cilicia – the Roman province. The town was founded in VII B.C. approximately. Siedra consisted of a seaport and a fortress on a hill. The city became rich due to trade, minted its own coin with the inscription CΥΕΔΡΕΩΝ. Due to its geographical location, convenient ports and strong fortresses, Cilicia began to serve Rome as one of the important military-strategic bases for wars in the East, for the conquest and retention under its authority of Asia Minor, Armenia, Syria and other countries. Cilicia, including the seaports of side, Alanya, Siedra and Tarsa, served as a gateway for the invasion of the Roman legions in the East. But Cilicia was too complex of its geographical formation of heterogeneous parts to be quickly organized as a single Roman province. For almost 200 years Roman authorities were choosing different forms of government of this province, realizing that it was in the interests of the Roman Empire to consider the opinion of the cities’ inhabitants with strategically important ports for Rome. The possession of Cilicia gave Rome control over the important land and sea routes of the Eastern Mediterranean and restrained the growing power of Parthia. The Siedra’s inhabitants understood it perfectly and, having freedom-loving character, defended the right to independent management of the city for a long time though of course recognized the power of the Roman legate in their territory. What kind of event happened in 193-194 A.D., which allowed to strengthen its independent status of Siedra and even get rid of Roman taxes, which amounted to 12% of the value of the property per year? It all began in April 193, when Septimius Severus who was one of the three Roman generals – after the sudden death of the ruler of Rome, was invited by the Senate to take the post of Roman Emperor. But the power of Septimius Severus was fragile. he had rivals in the East and West who claimed the Roman throne, skillful generals Clodius Albinus and Niger Pescennius, who had numerous armies. First, Septimius Severus went to the East. All this half of the state from the Euphrates to Byzantium recognized the Emperor not him, but Niger. Septimius Severus was to provide a concentration of military forces and free passage through the Cilician gate and through the Cilician ports, including the port of Siedra to win this civil war and strengthen its position as the Roman Emperor. But, it turned out that the area around Siedra not so calm as it seemed to the Emperor. It turned out that in Cilicia the residents who were loyal to the Roman government lived, but also various savage gangs lived who did not recognize any power.Thus, in Cilicia were peripheral areas, inhabited by predatory tribes and pirates were also the areas with the economically developed cities, organized by the type of Greek city, where conditions are ripe for the introduction of an ordinary Roman provincial administration. According to the geographer Strabo, the inhabitants of these places built houses on trees, from where they attacked travelers, and also made devastating raids on the Cilician cities. In particular, Strabo wrote: “Some robbers of Cilicia live in the trees and in the towers… They feed on animal meat and acorns, attack travelers, jumping on them from their stage”.About one tribe of Cilician robbers — klity — Tacitus reports that when Archelaus, king of Cappadocia, in possession of whom was the part of Cilicia, tried to establish taxes, the tribe went to the Taurus Mountains and had a serious resistance to the troops of Archelaus. Later, under Claudius, the same tribes of klity, under the leadership of Trosobor strengthened in the mountains and began to attack farmers and city residents, merchants, and sailors. Thus, the problem with robbers in the area of Siedra existed more than 100 years and periodically the Roman Empire gave help to Cilicia as the province, in fight against them. But it was at that time that the Roman Empire could not allocate its troops to ensure the safety of the inhabitants of Siedra, all its forces were sent to the East to Syria, where the second main contender for the Roman throne Niger was located. It was also the capture of the robbers of Cilicia trails in the North, in the area of the Taurus mountains and the strategically important ports of Cilicia, including the port of Alanya and Siedra very disturbed Septimius Severus in promotion of his troops to the East for the war with Niger. Unexpectedly for the Roman Emperor, the inhabitants of Siedra, without waiting for the help of Rome, could mobilize their troops on the type of popular militia and develop military plans for the destruction of forest robbers throughout Cilicia. As a result, Septimius North, wasting no time and military forces quickly reached the Eastern province, where he defeated all the enemy troops, including in the passes of the Cilician mountains. The Chronicles of this civil war said very little, but it was known that it was not fast and easy, many provincial cities began to receive exemption from certain duties, others were given the rights of the Roman colonies. Siedra was among these cities in the first place because it had taken all difficulties of fighting against forest bandits, not distracting the Emperor from his main goal. Emperor Septimius Severus often provided assistance to provincial cities such as Siedra, perhaps because he was born in the province, or rather in Africa, 620 miles from Carthage and for the Romans, he always remained a barbarian, his native language was Phoenician, and Latin until the end of his life he spoke with a strong accent. And his sister never learned Latin, and Septimius sent her away so as not to spoil his reputation. To the horror of the Romans, his second wife was a foreigner – Julia Domna, who was of Syrian origin. In honor of the victories in the Eastern (Parthian) campaigns in Rome in 205, the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus was installed, which is now the largest building on the Roman forum. the arc de Triomphe says: To the Father of the Fatherland for the salvation of the state and the expansion of the possessions of the Roman people, and for outstanding services at home and outside it — the Senate and the Roman people. Therefore, walking through Rome and visiting the arc de Triomphe, we can safely remember the inhabitants of Siedra, who also helped in the victories of Septimius Severus, as we are reminded of the stone stele, located in the archaeological Museum of Alanya. All his policy Septimius Severus built on the support of the army, he said to his sons: “Please the soldiers, all the rest don’t need your attention.” That’s what he’s been doing all his life. But he didn’t forget about citizens of his Empire. At the time of his death in Rome bread was stored for seven years ahead, and oil was so much that it was enough for five years for the whole Italy.Septimius Severus lived 65 years and was so active that, even dying, whispered: “Let’s act, we still have business.” A good motto for us, those who now live in the territory of ancient Cilicia.