A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians

By W. M. Ramsay

Part 1

Society and Religion in Central Asia Minor in the Time of St. Paul

Chapter 16

Later History of the Province Galatia

THE end of the reign of Nero marks a crisis in the history of the Province Galatia. Hitherto it occupied, as we have seen, a position of exceptional importance in the growth of the Roman East; and every stage in its history was one of increase in size and strengthening of the Roman character. But from the accession of Vespasian onwards its history was one of continual decline, of waning size and diminishing importance.

It was probably in A.D. 74 that Vespasian merged Galatia and Cappadocia in a single Province, That step was due to the growing importance of Cappadocia, hitherto so little regarded by Rome; and the weight of the joint government lay in the eastern part, where legions were stationed and the problems of administration were more pressing. At the same time Vespasian detached from Galatia almost the whole of Pisidia in the strict sense (as distinguished from Pisidian Phrygia). That mountain country, once so dangerous and unruly, and always troublesome to administer owing to slowness of communication in the higher and rougher parts of the Taurus mountains, was formed into a Province along with Lycia and Pamphylia.1 It was practically convenient to embrace these neighbouring districts under one administration. Pisidian Phrygia, i.e., Apollonia and Antioch and the territory connected with them, still formed part of Galatia.

The vast double Province of Galatia and Cappadocia continued about thirty years. It was not considered as a single Province, but as a combination of two separate Provinces; and official usage designated it in the plural as Provinciae.

It was probably in 106, or soon after, that Trajan again separated the two parts of the double Province, making Cappadocia (with Lesser Armenia) one of the great Consular Provinces of the Empire, charged with the defence of the Euphrates frontier, while Galatia was a Praetorian command, no longer charged with any foreign relations, as it was now surrounded on every side by other Provinces.2 The vigour and energy of Romanising policy seems to have died out from it. It was now more straggling and loose in its parts than ever. At the same time the old national feeling in the parts began to revive, Hadrian, the following Emperor, seems to have recognised in his general policy that it was not expedient to disregard so completely as the earlier Roman organisation had done the national lines of demarcation, by attempting to force the Roman provincial unity on diverse races and peoples. In the first energy of Roman Imperial policy, the attempt had not seemed hopeless; but experience showed that the causes of diversity were too deep seated.

The history of Iconium, classed politically for centuries to Lycaonia, yet always regarding itself as Phrygian and non-Lycaonian, shows how ineradicable the feeling was: see Section 20.

The fact that in one case the plural form, Provinciae, is applied to the Galatic Province in its later form under Hadrian, may be regarded as a sign of this growing sense of diversity in the parts.

The Province Galatia was still further diminished in size at some time about A.D. 137, when there was formed the Triple Eparchy, consisting of Cilicia, Isauria (so Cilicia Tracheia was henceforth designated) and Lycaonia. The form of name which is always used, “the Three Eparchiae,” indicates the new character of Roman policy. Three distinct Greek territories were grouped under one governor for convenience. But they were not really unified. They remained distinct even in some administrative respects: e.g., the Koinon of the Lycaones was instituted for the Lycaonian cities.

That part of Lycaonia which had bitherto belonged to Galatia was not all taken from it and included in the new Lycaonia; but it is not possible to determine exactly the bounds, for Ptolemy is self-contradictory and untrustworthy. He excludes Iconium from Galatia in its new form; and if Iconium be excluded, much more must Lystra, Derbe and Pisidian Antioch be excluded;3 yet in another place he includes Lystra and Antioch in Galatia, though elsewhere he puts Antioch in the Province Pamphylia.

Again he assigns Isaura to the Province Galatia, but inscriptions prove that Hadrian or Pius placed it in the Triple Eparchy. We have therefore no confidence as to the limits; but assuredly Derbe was in Lycaonia, while probably Iconium, Antioch, and perhaps Lystra, were in Galatia.

About 295 Diocletian divided the Province Galatia into two parts. The Province had always the appearance of two territories loosely joined; that was caused by its origin from two distinct kingdoms conferred on Amyntas. Diocletian resolved the unity into its two component halves once more. One part was now called the Province Pisidia, and included Iconium, possibly also Lystra, parts of Asian Phrygia,4 all Pisidian Phrygia, and the northern parts of Pisidia proper. The other was called Galatia, and included the “Added Land,” and a strip of Bithynian territory with the city of Juliopolis: it was nearly coextensive with the Galatia of King Deiotaros.

On this system Lycaonia was divided between the Provinces Pisidia, Galatia and Isauria; and the classification of the Bishops present at the Council of Nicaea in 325 shows that arrangement. Thus a triple partition of Lycaonia, similar to the old one, p. 65, was brought about; and the recurrence of the old division shows that it was founded on nature.

But in 372 a new Province Lycaonia was formed by taking parts from the Provinces Galatia, Isauria and Pisidia. The “Added Land” was now restored to Lycaonia; and so the Bishopric Glavama or Ekdaumana, which had been reckoned to Galatia at the Nicene Council, henceforth appears as a Lycaonian see.

It was perhaps at this time that, in compensation for the loss of the “Added Land,” there was added to Galatia a part of ‘Asian Phrygia, with the Bishoprics Amorion, Troknades and Orkistos. Orkistos belonged to the Province Phrygia in 331, when it petitioned Constantine through the Vicarius of the Asian Dioecesis; and it is hardly possible that Amorion could have been added to Galatia until Orkistos was also transferred. Hence the old Phrygian city Amorion was henceforward in official documents styled a city of Galatia.

At some date between 386 and 395 Galatia was divided into two Provinces, Prima and Secunda, with Ancyra and Pessinus as their respective capitals. The division marks the growing importance of Galatia in the Eastern Empire; and this was still more emphatically shown when Justinian elevated the governor of Galatia Prima to the rank of a Comes.

Finally in the early part of the eighth century a third Province Galatia was formed by taking some Bishoprics out of Secunda and others from Phrygia and Pisidia: the metropolis of this new Province was Amorion.

The details as to these charges are minutely stated and proved in the Historical Geography of Asia Minor.


[1] Cities and Bish. of Phrygia, I, p. 308.

[2] Cilicia Tracheia was made a Province in 72, whether by itself or united with some other is uncertain.)

[3] (Such is the view stated in the Church in the Rom. Empire, p. iii.)

[4] Especially the whole Dioecesis Lycaonia of Cicero’s time, p. 106.)

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