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CERAU´NII MONTES (τὰ Κεραύνια ὄρη), a range of mountains belonging to the system of Caucasus, at its E. extremity; but its precise relation to the main chain is variously stated. Strabo makes it the name of the E. portion of the Caucasus, which overhangs the Caspian and forms the N. boundary of Albania, and in which he places the Amazons (xi. pp. 501, 504). Mela seems to apply the name to the whole chain which other writers call Caucasus, confining the latter term to a part of it. His Ceraunii are a chain extending from the Cimmerian Bosporus till they meet the Rhipaean mountains; overhanging, on the one side, the Euxine, the Maeotis, and the, Tanaïs, and on the other the Caspian; and containing the sources of the Rha (Volga); a statement which, however interpreted, involves the error of connecting the Caucasus and Ural chains. (Mela, 1.19.13, 3.5.14.) Pliny gives precisely the same representation, with the additional error of making the Ceraunii (i. e. the Caucasus of others) part of the great Taurus chain. (Plin. Nat. 5.27, 6.10. s. 11.) He seems to apply the name of Caucasus to the spurs which spread out both to the NE. and SE. from the main chain near its E. extremity, and which he regarded as a continuous range, bordering the W. shore of the Caspian (6.9. s. 10). Eustathius also seems to regard them as a chain running northwards from the Caucasus. (Comment. ad Dion. Perieg. 389.) Ptolemy uses the name for the E. part of the chain, calling the W. portion Caucasii M., and the [p. 1.591]part immediately above Iberia Caucasus in a narrower sense. (Ptol. 5.9. § § 14, 15, 20, 22.) On the whole, it would seem that the Greek name Ceraunius and the native Caucasus (Kawkas) were applied at first indifferently to the highest mountains in the centre of the Caucasian isthmus, and afterwards extended, in a somewhat confused manner, to the whole, or portions, of the chain; and that the more accurate writers, such as Strabo and Ptolemy, adopted a specific distinction of a somewhat arbitrary character. The Ceraunii M. of Strabo seem to be the great NE. branch which meets the Caspian at the pass of Derbend, or perhaps the whole system of NE. spurs of which that is only one. It may fairly be conjectured that Mela and Pliny were ignorant how soon these spurs meet the Caspian, and hence their error in extending to meet the Rhipaei M.


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