CYRENE (ss•-re'ne), (Gr. Kvphim, koo-ray'nay Ghrenna, in modern Arabic), a city in Upper Libya, founded about the year B. C. 632, by a colony of Greeks from Thera (Santorini), a small island in the IEgeau sea.
Its name is generally supposed to be derived from a fountain (but according to Justin, His(. xiii, a mountain), called Bops), Cyre, near its site. It was the capital of a district, called from it Cyrenaica (Barca), which extended from the Gulf of Platea (Bombs) to the Great Syrtis (Gulf of Sidra). With its port Apollonia (Musa Soosa), about to miles distant, and the cities Barca, Teu chira. and Hesperis, which at a later period were named Ptolemais, Arsinoe, and Berenice (Strabo, xvii. vol. iii. p. 496, ed. Tatichn.), it formed the Cyrenaic Pentapolis. For above iSo years the form of government was monarchical; it then be came republican; and at last, the country became tributary to Egypt, under Ptolemy Soter. Strabo
says that in Cyrene there were four classes of persons, namely citizens, husbandmen, foreigners, and Jews, and that the latter enjoyed their own customs and laws. At the commencement of the Christian era, the Jews of Cyrene were so nu merous in Jerusalem that they had a synagogue of their own (Acts ii :to; vi :9). Some of the first Christian teachers were natives of Cyrene (Acts xi :20 xiii :m). Simeon, who was com pelled to assist in bearing the cross of the Savior, was a Cyrenian (Matt. xxvii :32; Mark xv :2t ; Luke xxiii :26).
The ruins of Cyrene and the surrounding coun try have been diligently explored within the last century ; in 1817 by Dr. Della Cella. in 1821-22 by Capt. Beechey. and in 1826 by M. Pacho. a French traveler. A very interesting account of the results of their investigations is given in the Penny Cyclopmdia, under the article Cyrenaica.