Heraclea Pontica (Greek: Ηράκλεια Ποντική; modern day Karadeniz Ereğli, in the Zonguldak Province of Turkey, on the Black Sea), an ancient city on the coast of Bithynia in Asia Minor, at the mouth of the river Lycus. It was founded by the Greek city-state of Megara c.560-558 and was named after Heracles who the Greeks believed entered the underworld at a cave on the adjoining Archerusian promontory (Cape Baba).
The colonists soon subjugated the native Mariandynians but agreed to terms that none of the latter, now helot-like serfs, be sold into slavery outside their homeland. Prospering from the rich, fertile adjacent lands and the sea-fisheries of its natural harbor, Heraclea soon extended its control along the coast as far east as Cytorus (Gideros, near Cide), eventually establishing Black Sea colonies of its own (Cytorus, Callatis and Chersonesus.)
The prosperity of the city, rudely shaken by the Galatians and the Bithynians, was utterly destroyed in the Mithridatic Wars. It was the birthplace of the philosopher Heraclides Ponticus.
The Greek historical author Memnon of Heraclea (fl. 1c. A.D.) wrote a local history of Heraclea Pontica in at least sixteen books. The work has perished, but Photius's Bibliotheca preserves a compressed account of books 9-16, seemingly the only ones extant in his day. These books run from the rule of the tyrant Clearchus (c. 364-353 B.C.) to the later years of Julius Caesar (c. 40 B.C.) and contain many colorful accounts including the Byzantine introduction of the barbarian Gauls into Asia where they first allied themselves with the Heracleans and later turned violently against them.
Memnon of Heraclea
Memnon of Heraclea (Greek: Mέμνων) (fl. c. 1st century) was a Greek historical writer, probably a native of Heraclea Pontica. He described the history of that city in a large work, known only through the Excerpta of Photius (I of Constantinople), and describing especially the various tyrants who had at times ruled Heraclea.
Memnon's history encompassed an unknown number of books, but Photius had read the ninth through the sixteenth, and made a tolerably copious abstract of that portion. The first eight books he had not read, and he speaks of other books after the sixteenth. The ninth book begins with an account of the tyrant Clearchus, the disciple of Plato and Isocrates. The thirteenth book contains a long account of the rise of Rome. The last event mentioned in the sixteenth book was the death of Brithagoras, who was sent by the Heracleians as ambassador to Julius Caesar, after the latter had obtained the supreme power (48 BC).
From this Vossius supposes that the work was written about the time of Caesar Augustus at the beginning of the 1st century AD; in the judgment of Orelli, not later than the time of Hadrian or the Antonines, in the middle of the second century; the Oxford Classical Dictionary thinks the 2nd century AD likely. It is, of course, impossible to fix the date with any precision, as we do not know at all down to what time the entire work was carried. The style of Memnon, according to Photius, was clear and simple, and the words well chosen. The Excerpta of Photius, however, contain numerous examples of rare and poetical expressions, as well as a few which indicate the decline of the Greek language. These Excerpta of Photius were first published separately, together with the remains of Ctesias and Agatharchides by Henry Estienne, Paris, 1557. The best edition is that by Johann Conrad Orelli, Leipzig, 1816, containing, together with the remains of Memnon, a few fragments of other writers on Heraclea.
Memnon's history is valuable as a continuous account of nearly all the Hellenistic period, albeit a compressed one from a local vantage point. It is also valuable as the only reasonably complete example of the Greek historical genre of local history.