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Reference: Myra


MYRA was a city of Lycia situated 2/2 miles from the coast, but the same name is often applied to its harbour of Andriaca. In Greek times Patara surpassed it, but in Roman times Myra became the chief seaport of Lycia, and was recognized by Theodoslus as the capital. It grew especially through the Alexandrian corn-trade with Italy. The Alexandrian ships did not coast round the Levant, but took advantage of the steady west winds to cross direct between Lycia and Egypt. These winds made it easier for a ship sailing from Egypt to make for Myra, but a ship sailing to Egypt would be sailing more before the wind by taking a line from Patara. Doubtless this was the usual custom. In Ac 27:6 we read that the centurion in charge of St. Paul found at Myra 'a ship of Alexandria sailing to Italy'; whereas in Ac 21:1 Samt. Paul took ship direct from Patara to Tyre (though the Bezan text makes this ship touch at Myra). Myra retained its importance into the Middle Ages. Its bishop in the time of Constantine was St. Nicolas, and he became the patron saint of sailors in the E. Mediterranean, doubtless taking the place of a Lycian god to whom the sailors paid their vows on landing at Myra. There are splendid ruins on the site of Myra.

A. E. Hillard.

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