Ignatius was the bishop of the Church of Antioch. Antioch was held to be the finest metropolis in the Greek East, and ranked among the best cities in the world. Josephus spoke of Antioch as "a city which, for extent and opulence, unquestionably ranks third among the cities of the Roman world"(Corwin 32). Josephus only placed Rome and Alexandria above Antioch. Other writers of the period placed Antioch as far as fourth greatest city in the Roman world. Antioch was the capital of Syria and its location on the most important trade route between the East and the Greco-Roman world brought it prosperity and culture. However, little is known about Antioch in our period because little has been found from the early second century CE. Archaeologists have found wonderful remains from as early as the fourth century CE, but have found very little prior to that date.
Some things that are known about the city are
that it had a bountiful water supply and its location 18 miles
from the sea made it close enough for easy communication, but
far enough to avoid enemy attacks. The water tasted so good that
Alexander the Great is said to have claimed it was sweeter than
his own mother's milk! The city was also rich in orchards, fields,
and forests, and its inhabitants built spectacular buildings out
of the easily harvested wood or rock from nearby mountains. The
climate in Antioch made it a favorite vacation spot of many in
the Roman world. By the time Christianity reached Antioch (a little
before the time of Ignatius) Antioch's population is estimated
to have swelled to nearly 500,000. No wonder this city was rivaled
by Rome and Alexandria.