🔼The name Amphipolis: Summary
- Surrounded City, Encircled City
- From (1) αμφι- (amphi-), round or around, and (2) πολις (polis), city.
🔼The name Amphipolis in the Bible
The name Amphipolis occurs only once in the Greek New Testament, namely in Acts 17:1, where we learn that Paul and Silas, after having been released from prison in Philippi and going to Lydia's house, travelled to Thessalonica by the way of Amphipolis and Apollonia.
Amphipolis was (and still is) a city in Macedonia, about 5 kilometers north from the sea, situated on the east bank of the river Strymon, on an isthmus, which is a kind of pocket or cove formed where the river briefly loops towards the west.
After the victory over the Persians in the fifth century BC, Amphipolis became the focal point of the battle for supremacy over Thrace, the area to the east, but it managed to stay independent until Philip II conquered it in 357 BC, as one of the very first steps towards the formation of the later empire of his son Alexander the Great. As part of that formation, Amphipolis came to be situated on the Macedonian royal road, which after the Roman conquest of 168 BC became part of the important Roman road called Via Egnatia, which explains why Paul and Silas passed through it.
🔼Etymology of the name Amphipolis
The name Amphipolis consists of two elements. The first part of our name comes from the inseparable prefix αμφι- (amphi-), meaning round or around:
The prefix αμφι- (amphi-) describes something round or surrounding. The prefix αμφω- (ampho-) describes a motion toward a central point of convergence from all sides.
Noun αμφιβληστρον (amphiblestron), denotes a "cast net". Verb αμφιεννυμι (amphiennumi) means to wrap (oneself) in clothes. Noun αμφοδον (amphodon) describes a place where two roads meet, or else an urban area surrounded by a circular road. Noun αμφοτερος (amphoteros) means either or each of two or more. In plural this noun means both or all.
The second part of our name is the familiar word πολις (polis), meaning city:
The noun πολις (polis) means city, i.e. the whole of human economy that goes on in one walled urban nucleus plus its supporting agricultural lands and settlements.
Noun πολιτης (polites) means citizen, which is a person who exists and operates within a so perpetuated community. Hence the verb πολιτευω (politeuo) means to live as or behave like a citizen, to be civilized, to be intertuned with others. Noun πολιευμα (politeuma) denotes whatever act can be associated with the verb πολιτευω (politeuo); whatever doings keep the city together. Noun συμπολιτης (sumpolites) means fellow-citizen.
Noun πολιτεια (politeia) denotes citizenship or city-hood, πολιταρχης (politarches) means city ruler or magistrate, κωμοπολις (komopolis) describes a medium-sized but not-walled urban center. and μητροπολις (metropolis) means mother-city.
The name Amphipolis means Surrounded City or Encircled City, and theories that explain this name have varied since antiquity. Some say the city was named such from it being partially surrounded by the river Strymon (which seems most logical), but others maintain that it was named such because most of the population lived around the city and not in it (which doesn't seem special enough to warrant devoting a name to it).