Syrtis Major And Syrtis Minor, the ancient names of two large gulfs on the N. coast of Africa, now called respectively the gulf of Sidra and the gulf of Cabes or Gabes. These gulfs were dangerous on account of their shallowness, the number of quicksands, and the uncertainty of the tides. The Greater Syrtis, or gulf of Sidra, is on the N. coast of Tripoli, and extends from the promontory of Boreum (now Ras Teyonas) on the E. side to that of Cephalae (Ras Kasr Hamet) on the W. The distance between the two promontories is about 270 m., and the greatest extension of the gulf inland is 110 m. The Lesser Syrtis, or gulf of Cabes, indents the E. coast of Tunis, between the island of Jerbah on the south and Caput Vadorum (Ras Kapudiah) on the north; its width is about 100 m., measuring from these points. The region between the two gulfs, formerly called Syrtica, is mostly a narrow sandy or marshy strip of land, now belonging to Tripoli. In ancient times it was peopled by the Lothophagi, Macse, Psylli, Nasamones, and other Libyan tribes, besides Egyptians and Phoenicians on the coast.

Cy-rene and Carthage contended for it, the latter winning, it is said, through the self-sacrifice of two brothers, the Philaeni.