Cytorus (Greek Κύτωρος, Kytoros;[1] also Cytorum, Κύτωρον, Kytoron) was a settlement on the northern coast of Asia Minor. Mentioned by Homer, Cytorus survives in the name of Gideros, which is both

Gideros is 12 km west of the town of Cide, 15 km east of Kurucaşile.[2] Possibly the name of Cide itself is derived from Cytorus.[3]

In giving the Trojan battle order in Book 2 of the Iliad, Homer mentions Cytorus and Sesamon as Paphlagonian settlements, along with others around the river Parthenius, today's Bartın River.[4] Sesamon is today's Amasra. This town was Amastris for Strabo, who writes of its founding through a union of Cytorus, Sesamon, and two other settlements. He reports that Cytorus was the marketplace of Sinope and was a source for boxwood. He derives the name of Cytorus (he uses the neuter Cytorum) from Cytorus, a son of Phryxus and therefore one of the Argonauts.[5]

In the Argonautica, Apollonius of Rhodes mentions the settlement of Cytorus and related places in describing the voyage of the Argo. Unlike Strabo, he does not mention Cytorus as a son of Phryxus. Apollonius does apparently place Cytorus where Gideros Bay is today, between the Bartın River and the city of Sinop.[6]

Apollonius applies the epithet "woody" to Cytorus, alluding to the boxwood that Strabo mentions. In the 4th of the Carmina, Catullus addresses "Box-tree-clad Cytórus",[7] while in the Georgics, Virgil says, "Fain would I gaze on Cytorus billowy with boxwood".[8] The Homeric commentator Eustathius of Thessalonica mentions a saying, "carry boxwood to Cytorus," with the meaning of "carry coals to Newcastle".[9]

Strabo's etymology notwithstanding, Bilge Umar finds the origin of the name Cytorus in the Luwian for "Big wall".[3]

There is also reported a folk etymology for the modern name of Gideros, based on its resemblance to the Turkish gideriz (we go). Villagers say that Roman ships once sought shelter from a storm at Gideros Bay, and when the villagers asked the sailors if they would stay, the sailors replied, "Kalamazsak, gideros"If we can't stay, we go. Pleased at the prospect of not having the Romans around, the villagers called the bay Gideros.[10]


  1. In the passage cited below, Homer uses the accusative case form Κύτωρον. Murray and also Richmond Lattimore translate this as if it is from the masculine Κύτωρος rather than the neuter Κύτωρον. Apollonius of Rhodes also uses only the ambiguous accusative case; but Strabo uses the nominative form τὸ Κύτωρον. The EUSTATHIUS THESSALONICENSIS EPISCOPUS INDEX IN EUSTATHII COMMENTARIOS IN HOMERII ILIADEM ET ODYSSEAM gives both Κύτωρος and Κύτωρον. In line 13 of the 4th carmen, Catullus addresses Cytore buxifer, using the vocative case of Cytorus. (The text is available from the Perseus Project.)
  2. Article "Gideros" in Umar, Bilge (1993). Türkiye'deki Tarihsel Adlar [historical names in Turkey]. Istanbul: İnkılâp. ISBN 975-10-0539-6.
  3. 1 2 Article "Cide" in the cited work of Umar.
  4. In the Loeb Classical Library translation of Homer's Iliad by A. T. Murray (first published 1924), lines 2.8515, available from the Perseus Project, read thus:
    And the Paphlagonians did Pylaemenes of the shaggy heart lead from the land of the Eneti, whence is the race of wild she-mules. These were they that held Cytorus and dwelt about Sesamon, and had their famed dwellings around the river Parthenius and Cromna and Aegialus and lofty Erythini.
    The reference, along with the references below to Strabo and Apollonius of Rhodes, is given in the cited work of Umar.
  5. In the 1924 translation by H. L. Jones of the Geography of Strabo, apparently from the Loeb Classical Library and available from the Perseus Project, paragraph 12.3.10 reads:
    After the Parthenius River, then, one comes to Amastris, a city bearing the same name as the woman who founded it. It is situated on a peninsula and has harbors on either side of the isthmus. Amastris was the wife of Dionysius the tyrant of Heracleia and the daughter of Oxyathres, the brother of the Dareius whom Alexander fought. Now she formed the city out of four settlements, Sesamus and Cytorum and Cromna (which Homer mentions in his marshalling of the Paphlagonian ships) and, fourth, Tieium. This part, however, soon revolted from the united city, but the other three remained together; and, of these three, Sesamus is called the acropolis of Amastris. Cytorum was once the emporium of the Sinopeans; it was named after Cytorus, the son of Phryxus, as Ephorus says. The most and the best box-wood grows in the territory of Amastris, and particularly round Cytorum.
  6. In the (presumably Loeb) 1912 translation of the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius by R. C. Seaton, available from Project Gutenberg, lines 2.93065 include:
    And lo, they passed by the stream of Parthenius as it flows into the sea, a most gentle river, where the maid, daughter of Leto, when she mounts to heaven after the chase, cools her limbs in its much-desired waters. Then they sped onward in the night without ceasing, and passed Sesamus and lofty Erythini, Crobialus, Cromna and woody Cytorus. Next they swept round Carambis at the rising of the sun, and plied the oars past long Aegialus, all day and on through the night. And straightway they landed on the Assyrian shore where Zeus himself gave a home to Sinope, daughter of Asopus, and granted her virginity, beguiled by his own promises.
  7. Line 4.13, translated by Richard Francis Burton (1894), available from the Perseus Project. This example from Catullus, as well as the ensuing example from Virgil, are given by George W. Mooney in the note to line 2.942 in his 1912 edition of the Argonautica of Apollonius, available from the Perseus Project.
  8. Line 2.437 of the Georgics, in Virgil; J. W. MacKail (1950). Virgil's Works. New York: The Modern Library. p. 320.
  9. Mooney, in the work cited, mentions the saying without giving a reference. The LiddellScottJones lexicon gives the reference to Eustathius under πύξος.
  10. "Küçük bir Gideros Şakası" [a little Gideros joke], Mutluay, Gündüz (2006). Köşe Bucak Karadeniz [the Black Sea: every nook and cranny]. Istanbul: Ekin grubu. p. 63. ISBN 975-9132-10-9.
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