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Now the Po; the chief river of Italy, identified by the Roman poets with the fabulous Eridănus, from which amber was obtained. This notion appears to have arisen from the Phœnician vessels receiving at the mouths of the Padus the amber which had been transported by land from the coasts of the Baltic to those of the Adriatic.

The name is said to be derived from the Keltic padi, “pine-tree” (Pliny , Pliny H. N. iii. 122). By the Ligurians it was called Bodencus. The Padus rises on Mount Vesula (Monte Viso), in the Alps, and flows in an easterly direction through the great plain of Cisalpine Gaul, which it divides into two parts, Gallia Cispadana and Gallia Transpadana. It receives numerous affluents, which drain the whole of this vast plain, descending from the Alps on the north and the Apennines on the south. These affluents, increased in the summer by the melting of the snow on the mountains, frequently bring down such a large body of water as to cause the Padus to overflow its banks. The whole course of the river, including its windings, is about 450 miles. About twenty miles from the sea the river divides itself into two main branches, and falls into the Adriatic Sea by several mouths (the ancients enumerated seven), between Ravenna and Altinum. Strabo believed the Padus to be the largest river in Europe after the Danube, and Vergil calls it fluviorum rex Georg. i. 482).

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