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The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity
Stephen MitchellStephen Mitchell


Province belonging to the Dioecesis Pontica, and stretching from central Anatolia to the Euphrates. In 314 Cappadocia was the largest province of the Roman Empire. The western part was divided in 371 into Cappadocia Prima (capital Caesarea), and Cappadocia Secunda (capital Tyana). By 386 a province of Armenia Secunda had been created in the region east of Caesarea, and Armenia Prima to the north-east also existed by this date. All these provinces were governed by a Praeses.

Apart from Caesarea and Tyana there were few cities in Cappadocia, a highland region traversed by the Pilgrims’ Road and largely divided into huge estates owned by the emperors, or by wealthy local families. The Cappadocian imperial properties were known collectively as the Domus Divina per Cappadociam which was controlled by the Comes Domorum, answerable under Theodosius I to the Comes Rei Privatae, but subsequently to the Praepositus Sacri Cubiculi. In 535/6 the duties of the Comes Domorum were fused with those of the Praeses of Cappadocia Prima, which was now governed by a Proconsul.

There were important imperial ranches in Cappadocia Secunda, previously the property of the senator Flavius Palmatius, which supplied horses for the Circus (Hippodrome) at Constantinople. The Cappadocian provinces became a focus for imperial attention in the later 4th century, as the Roman Empire first confronted and around 387 reached a stable settlement with the Persian Empire concerning control of Mesopotamia and Armenia beyond the Euphrates. Many inhabitants of Cappadocia were of Persian descent and Iranian fire worship is attested as late as 465 (Priscus fr. 41).

From the 350s to the 380s an extraordinary group of theologians from leading local families, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus, ‘the Cappadocian fathers’, came to prominence as ecclesiastical leaders and shapers of Christian doctrine. Basil in particular was also active in politics. During the 5th century Cappadocia retreated into obscurity.

Stephen Mitchell


TIB 2 Kappadokien (1981).

S. Métivier, La Cappadoce (IVe–VIe siècle): une histoire provinciale de l’Empire romain d’Orient (Byzantina Sorbonensia 22, 2005).Find this resource:

    Van Dam, Kingdom of Snow.Find this resource:

      Mitchell, Anatolia, II, 67–84.Find this resource: