Lycia, an ancient country on the southern coast of Asia Minor, S. E. of Caria, and S. of Phrygia, Pisidia, and Pamphylia. The Solyma range borders its E. coast, and TV. of it are the Massicytus and Cragus mountains. The principal rivers were the Xanthus and Glaucus. The slopes of the mountains were covered with beautiful woods and traversed by numerous brooks. The extreme fertility of the land and the excellence of its harbors raised the country at an early date into a flourishing condition. Its early history cannot be clearly traced. Herodotus states that this territory was anciently known by the name of Milyas, and that the Lycians, originally known as Ter-milae, had come from Crete, where Sarpedon and Minos had disputed the sovereignty, and, Minos having been successful, Sarpedon had emigrated with his people. Lycus, son of the Attic king Pandion, took refuge in the land of the Termilae to escape the persecutions of his brother AEgaeus, and Sarpedon receiving him well, his people came to be called Lycians. Homer connects the Solymi of Lycia with the story of Bellerophon (see Bellerophon), and mentions Lycians under Glaucus and Sarpedon among the defenders of Troy. The Lycians, according to Egyptian inscriptions, in which they are called Leka, assisted the Khitas in the fourth year of the reign of Rameses II., about 1400 B. C. They fought against Croesus, succumbed to Cyrus, and furnished 50 ships to the army of Xerxes on his invasion of Greece. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander, Lycia belonged for more than a century to the Syrian monarchy.
The Romans gave it to the Rhodians after their victory over Antiochus the Great. Soon afterward it became independent again, and formed a flourishing republican confederation of cities, which was finally overthrown by internal dissensions. The emperor Claudius united it with Pamphylia, and toward the close of the 4th century it became a separate Roman province, with Myra as its capital. The principal cities of Lycia whose names have come down to us are Xanthus, Patara, Pegasa, Pinara, Olympus, Phellus, Tlos, Telmissus, Arycanda, Limyra, and Pha-selis. - The Lycian language has been preserved in inscriptions on the numerous monuments extant. The alphabet is closely related to the Greek, and contains 10 vowels and diphthongs and 20 consonants. The Lycians according to their own language called themselves Tra-meles; their city Xanthus was called Tramele Arna, Patara Pttarazu, and Pegasa Begssere. As the monuments are mostly of a Phrygian style, it is supposed that the Lycians were a branch of the Phrygians. But as far as the remains of the Lycian language have been investigated, it was certainly different from the Phrygian. Blau, in the Zeitsclirift cler deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft (1863), considers it an Indo-European language, like the Phrygian and Thracian, and chiefly related to Albanese, or the present representative of the language of the ancient Illyrians. According to this view, the Phrygians, Thracians, and Illyrians once entered Asia Minor together from a N. E. direction.
M. Schmidt, in his excellent work on the Lycian inscriptions, does not share this opinion. - The remains of Xanthus, Phellus, Myra, Telmissus, Patara, Pinara, and Tlos, so well known through the indefatigable labors of Sir Charles Fellows, show that these cities were surrounded by walls of a Cyclopean style, and that the Lycians possessed great skill in quarrying. The magnificent ruins of Xanthus, near the embouchure of the river of the same name, are of considerable height. The reliefs show the Chimaera as depicted in the Homeric poems. The Lycians themselves are represented as clad in long garments. There are also representations of battles, and of diverse employments in agriculture and cattle raising. As far as the inscriptions have been deciphered, nothing has been found to corroborate the statement of Herodotus that the Lycians received their names not from their fathers, but from their mothers. Herodotus says also that the son of a free woman and a slave was considered free and well born, but the son of a free man and a stranger or concubine was illegitimate. Heraclides of Pontus enlarged tins account, stating that the Lycians had anciently been ruled by women. The ruins of tombs testify to the great care which the Lycians bestowed upon the dead.
They are found inside of the city walls, surrounded by the remains of other buildings, and on the summits of mountains, and hewn into the sides of rocks. They are generally highly ornamented, covered with reliefs representative of various occupations of ordinary life, and some of them are painted. Lycian art, though not under the influence of that of the Persians, soon succumbed to that of the Greeks; and the most beautiful Lycian monument, the tomb of the Persian governor Har-pagus, of the first half of the 4th century B. C, is mainly in the Grecian style. - Besides the works of Sir Charles Fellows, see Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums (4th ed., Leipsic, 1874 et seq.).