Phoenice (Roman province)

Provincia Syria Phoenice
Province of the Roman Empire (after 395 of the Byzantine Empire)



Capital Tyre
Historical era Late Antiquity
  Created by Septimius Severus c.194
  Muslim conquest of Syria 630s
Today part of  Lebanon

Phoenice was a province of the Roman Empire encompassing the historical region of Phoenicia. After ca. 400 it was divided into Phoenice proper or Phoenice Paralia, and Phoenice Libanensis, a division that persisted until the region was conquered by the Muslim Arabs in the 630s.

Administrative history

Map of the Diocese of the East with its provinces, as recorded in the Notitia Dignitatum, ca. 400

Phoenicia came under the rule of the Roman Republic in 64 BC, when Pompey created the province of Syria. With the exception of a brief period in 36–30 BC, when Mark Antony gave the region to Ptolemaic Egypt, Phoenicia remained part of the province of Syria thereafter.[1] Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117–138) is said to have considered a division of the overly large Syrian province in 123/124 AD, but it was not until shortly after ca. 194 AD that Septimius Severus (r. 193–211) actually undertook this, dividing the province into Syria Coele in the north and Syria Phoenice in the south.[1] Tyre became the capital of the new province, but Elagabalus (r. 218–222) raised his native Emesa to co-capital, and the two cities rivaled each other as the head of the province until its division in the 4th century.[1]

Diocletian (r. 284–305) separated the district of Batanaea and gave it to Arabia, while sometime before 328, when it is mentioned in the Laterculus Veronensis, Constantine the Great (r. 306–337) created the new province of Augusta Libanensis out of the eastern half of the old province, encompassing the territory east of Mount Lebanon.[2] Constantine's province was short-lived, but formed the basis of the re-division of Phoenice ca. 400 into the Phoenice I or Phoenice Paralia (Greek: Φοινίκη Παραλία, "coastal Phoenice"), and Phoenice II or Phoenice Libanensis (Φοινίκη Λιβανησία), with Tyre and Emesa as their respective capitals.[2] In the Notitia Dignitatum, written shortly after the division, Phoenice I is governed by a consularis, while Libanensis is governed by a praeses, with both provinces under the Diocese of the East.[3] This division remained intact until the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the 630s.[4] Under the Caliphate, most of the two Phoenices came under the province of Damascus, with parts in the south and north going to the provinces of Jordan and Emesa respectively.[5]

Ecclesiastical administration

The ecclesiastical administration paralleled the political, but with some differences. The bishop of Tyre emerged as the pre-eminent prelate of Phoenice by the mid-3rd century. When the province was divided ca. 400, Damascus, rather than Emesa, became the metropolis of Phoenice II. Both provinces belonged to the Patriarchate of Antioch, with Damascus initially outranking Tyre, whose position was also briefly challenged by the see of Berytus ca. 450; after 480/1, however, the Metropolitan of Tyre established himself as the first in precedence (protothronos) of all the Metropolitans subject to Antioch.[4]

Episcopal sees

Episcopal sees of Phoenice Prima (I), as they are listed in the Annuario Pontificio (today as titular sees):[6]

Episcopal sees of Phoenice Secunda (II), as they are listed in the Annuario Pontificio (today as titular sees):[6]


  1. 1 2 3 Eißfeldt 1941, p. 368.
  2. 1 2 Eißfeldt 1941, pp. 368–369.
  3. Notitia Dignitatum, in partibus Orientis, I
  4. 1 2 Eißfeldt 1941, p. 369.
  5. Blankinship 1994, pp. 47–48, 240.
  6. 1 2 Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), "Sedi titolari", pp. 819–1013


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