CY'RENA'ICA (Lat., from Gk. Kvpnvala, liyffnaia). The name of the district whose capital was Cyrene (q.v.). It comprised the tableland on the north coast of Africa from the Great Syrtis to the promontory of Ardanis (Ras el-Nellah), though its boundaries fluctuated according to the degree of subjection in which the neighboring tribes were held. This plateau of Cyrenaica was, and still is. one of the loveli est and most agreeable regions of the world. The climate is delicious, mountains on the south sheltering the land from the scorching blasts of the Sahara, and cool sea-winds fanning it on the north. From the central plateau, whose breadth is about SO miles, the land slopes down in verdant terraces to the Mediterranean. These terraces are cut and watered by mountain streams, form ing lnxuriant ravines. The productions of Cy renaica mentioned by ancient writers are wheat, oil, wine, honey, fruits of all kinds, cucumbers, truffles, cabbage; flowers yielding the richest perfumes; and a rare plant called silplcium. The country was also celebrated for its breed of horses, but was much exposed to the ravages of locusts.
The chief cities of Cyrenaica were Cyrene, Taucheira (afterwards called Arsinoe), Hes perides (afterwards called Berenice), Barca, and Apollonia. To each of these five cities
(whence in the time of the Ptolemies Cyrenaica was named Pentapolis and Pentapolitana Regia) a certain amount of territory was attached. This favored their individual independence; and the consequence was that the dynasty of Battus, who led the first Greek colony to Cyrene (q.v.), ex ercised very little influence over Cyronaica in general. After the death of Alexander the Great, Cyrenaica became part of the Egyptian kingdom of Ptolemy Lagi, and in the second century B.C. a separate kingdom under a branch of the Ptolemaic family. In n.c. 96 it was be queathed to the Romans by Apion, the last king, and shortly after was with Crete as a Roman province. It continued to prosper for some time, but with the increasing Nveaknes of the Eastern Empire, to which it belonged, was more and more exposed to the encroachments of the desert tribes, and in A.D. 647 was overrun by the Arabs. Ancient Cyrenaica nearly corresponds to modern Larva (q.v.).