previous next


THE Euxine1 Sea, which in former times had the name of Axenus,2 from the savage and inhospitable character of the nations living on its borders, by a peculiar whim of nature, which is continually giving way before the greedy inroads of the sea, lies between Europe and Asia. It was not enough for the ocean to have surrounded the earth, and then deprived us of a considerable portion of it, thus rendering still greater its uninhabitable proportion; it was not enough for it to have forced a passage through the mountains, to have torn away Calpe from Africa, and to have swallowed up a much larger space than it left untouched; it was not enough for it to have poured its tide into the Propontis through the Hellespont, after swallowing up still more of the dry land —for beyond the Bosporus, as well, it opens with its insatiate appetite upon another space of immense extent, until the Mæotian lakes3 unite their ravening waters with it as it ranges far and wide.

That all this has taken place in spite, as it were, of the earth, is manifested by the existence of so many straits and such numbers of narrow passages formed against the will of Nature—that of the Hellespont,4 being only eight hundred and seventy-five paces in width, while at the two Bospori5 the passage across may be effected by oxen6 swimming, a fact from which they have both derived their name. And then besides,7 although they are thus severed, there are certain points on which these coasts stand in the relation of brotherhood towards each other—the singing of birds and the barking of dogs on the one side can be heard on the other, and an intercourse can be maintained between these two worlds by the medium even of the human voice,8 if the winds should not happen to carry away the sound thereof.

The length of the borders of the Euxine from the Bosporus to the Lake Mæotis has been reckoned by some writers at fourteen hundred and thirty-eight miles; Eratosthenes, however, says that it is one hundred less. According to Agrippa, the distance from Chalcedon to the Phasis is one thousand miles, and from that river to the Cimmerian Bosporus three hundred and sixty. We will here give in a general form the distances as they have been ascertained in our own times; for our arms have even penetrated to the very mouth of the Cimmerian Straits.

After passing the mouth of the Bosporus we come to the river Rhebas,9 by some writers called the Rhesus. We next come to Psillis,10 the port of Calpas,11 and the Sagaris,12 a famous river, which rises in Phrygia and receives the waters of other rivers of vast magnitude, among which are the Tembrogius13 and the Gallus,14 the last of which is by many called the Sangarius. After leaving the Sagaris the Gulf of the Mariandyni15 begins, and we come to the town of Heraclea,16 on the river Lycus;17 this place is distant from the mouth of the Euxine two hundred miles. The sea-port of Acone18 comes next, which has a fearful notoriety for its aconite or wolf's-bane, a deadly poison, and then the cavern of Acherusia,19 the rivers Pædopides, Callichorus, and Sonautes, the town of Tium,20 distant from Heraclea thirty-eight miles, and the river Billis.

1 Or the "Hospitable" Sea, now the Black Sea.

2 Or the "Inhospitable."

3 The streams which discharge their waters into the Palus Mæotis, or Sea of Azof.

4 Straits of the Dardanelles or of Gallipoli, spoken of in B. iv. c. 18, as seven stadia in width.

5 The Thracian Bosporus, now the Channel or Straits of Constantinople, and the Cimmerian Bosporus or Straits of Kaffa, or Yeni Kale.

6 From βοῦς, an ox, andπορός, "a passage." According to the legend, it was at the Thracian Bosporus that the cow Io made her passage from one continent to the other, and hence the name, in all probability, celebrated alike in the fables and the history of antiquity. The Cimmerian Bosporus not improbably borrowed its name from the Thracian. See Æsch. Prom. Vine. 1. 733.

7 This sentence seems to bear reference to the one that follows, and not, as punctuated in the Latin, to the one immediately preceding it.

8 It is not probable that this is the case at the Straits of Kaffa, which are nearly four miles in width at the narrowest part.

9 Now the Riva, a river of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, falling into the Euxine north-east of Chalcedon.

10 Probably an obscure town.

11 On the river Calpas or Calpe, in Bithynia. Xenophon, in the Anabasis, describes it as about half way between Byzantium and Heraclea. The spot is identified in some of the maps as Kirpeh Limán, and the promontory as Cape Kirpeh.

12 Still known as the Sakaria.

13 Now called the Sursak, according to Parisot.

14 Now the Lef-ke. See the end of c. 42 of the last Book.

15 The modern Gulf of Sakaria. Of the Mariandyni, who gave the ancient name to it, little or nothing is known.

16 Its site is now known as Harakli or Eregli. By Strabo it is erroneously called a colony of Miletus. It was situate a few miles to the north of the river Lycus.

17 Now called the Kilij.

18 Stephanus Byzantinus speaks of this place as producing whetstones, or ἀκοναὶ, as well as the plant aconite.

19 This name was given to the cavern in common with several other lakes or caverns in various parts of the world, which, like the various rivers of the name of Acheron, were at some time supposed to be connected with the lower world.

20 Now called Falios (or more properly Filiyos), according to D'Anville, from the river of that name in its vicinity, supposed by him and other geographers to be the same as the ancient Billis, here mentioned by Pliny. By others of the ancient writers it is called Billæus.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (19 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (16):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), BO´SPORUS THRA´CIUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CALLI´CHORUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), EUXI´NUS PONTUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GALLUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HELLESPONTUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HERACLEIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LI´BYA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LYCUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MARIANDY´NI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PSILLIS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), RHEBAS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SANGA´RIUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SONAUTES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), THYMBRES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TIUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TYMBRES
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: