Bithynia (bĭthĭnˈēə) [key], ancient country of NW Asia Minor, in present-day Turkey. The original inhabitants were Thracians who established themselves as independent and were given some autonomy after Cyrus the Great incorporated Bithynia into the Persian Empire. After the death of Alexander the Great, the Bithynians took advantage of the wars of the Diadochi to secure freedom from the Seleucids (297 B.C.). They established a dynasty under the leadership of Zipoetes who was succeeded (c.280 B.C.) by Nicomedes I, who founded Nicomedia as the capital of his flourishing state. During his time and the following reigns of Prusias I, Prusias II, and Nicomedes II, wars continued with the Seleucids and with Pergamum. In the 1st cent. B.C., Mithradates VI of Pontus had designs on Bithynia, which was ruled by Nicomedes IV (sometimes confused with Nicomedes III), a client of Rome. When Nicomedes died (74 B.C.) he willed Bithynia to Rome. The last of the wars with Mithradates resulted. Bithynia was an important province of Rome. For some time after Pompey's rearrangement of the empire it was combined with western Pontus as a single province. Pliny the Younger (see under Pliny the Elder) was governor of the province (c.A.D. 110) under the emperor Trajan. The reign of Hadrian soon after seems to have marked the end of Bithynian prosperity. It was invaded briefly by the Goths (A.D. 298).
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