Diodorus on Antigonus' siege of Tyre

Tyre (Phoenician רצṣūr, "rock"; Greek Τύρος; Latin Tyrus): port in Phoenicia and one of the main cities in the eastern Mediterranean.

In the winter of 320/319, Ptolemy captured Tyre: a violation of the Triparadisus agreement. Antigonus the One-Eyed, who ought to have been in control of the city, laid siege to the city in the early summer of 315; the city fell after a long siege. Our main source is the Greek author Diodorus of Sicily; sections 19.58.1-6 and 19.61.5 of his World History are quoted here in the translation by Russel M. Geer.

Antigonus besieges Tyre

[19.58.1] After attending to these matters, Antigonus set out for Phoenicia, hastening to organize a naval force; for it so happened that his enemies then ruled the sea with many ships, but that he had, altogether, not even a few. Camping at Old Tyre in Phoenicia and intending to besiege Tyre, he called together the kings of the Phoenicians and the viceroys of Syria.

[19.58.2] He instructed the kings to assist him in building ships, since Ptolemy was holding in Egypt all the ships from Phoenicia with their crews. He ordered the viceroys to prepare quickly four and a half million measures of wheat, for such was the annual consumption. He himself collected wood cutters, sawyers, and shipwrights from all sides, and carried wood to the sea from the Lebanon. There were eight thousand men employed in cutting and sawing the timber and one thousand pair of draught animals in transporting it. [... ]

[19.58.4] He established three shipyards in Phoenicia - at Tripolis, Byblos, and Sidon - and a fourth in Cilicia, the timber for which was brought from Mount Taurus.

[19.58.5] There was also another in Rhodes, where the state agreed to make ships from imported timber.

While Antigonus was busy with these matters and after he had established his camp near the sea, Seleucus arrived from Egypt with a hundred ships, which were royally equipped and which sailed excellently. As he sailed contemptuously along past the very camp, men from the allied cities and all who were co-operating with Antigonus were downhearted;

[19.58.6] for it was very clear that, since the enemy dominated the sea, they would plunder the lands of those who aided their opponents out of friendship for Antigonus. Antigonus, however, bade them be of good courage, affirming that in that very summer he would take the sea with five hundred vessels. [...]

[19.61.5] After summoning ships from Rhodes and equipping most of those that had been built, sailed against Tyre. Although he pressed the siege with vigour for a year and three months, controlling the sea and preventing food from being brought in, yet after he had reduced the besieged to extreme want, he permitted the soldiers who had come from Ptolemy to depart each with his own possessions; but when the city capitulated, he introduced into it a garrison to watch it closely.

This page was created in 2012; last modified on 15 July 2020.