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CHIMAERA

CHIMAERA (Χίμαιπα), a mountain in Lycia, in the territory of Phaselis, where there was a flame burning on a rock continually. Pliny (2.106; 5.27) quotes Ctesias as his authority, and the passage of Ctesias is also preserved by Photius (Phot. Bibl. 72). Ctesias adds, that water did not extinguish the flame, but increased it. The flame was examined by Beaufort (Karamania, p. 47, &c.), who is the modern discoverer of it. This Yanar, as it is called, is situated on the coast of Lycia, south of the great mountains of Solyma and of Phaselis (Tekrova). According to Spratt's Lycia (vol. ii. p. 181), near Adratchan, not far from the ruins of Olympus, “a number of rounded serpentine hills rise among the limestone, and some of them bear up masses of that rock: at the junction of one of these masses of scaglia with the serpentine is the Yanar, famous as the Chimaera of the ancients: it [p. 1.609]is nothing more than a stream of inflammable gas issuing from a crevice, such as is seen in several places in the Apennines.”

It is likely enough that the story of the Chimaera in the Iliad (6.179) had its origin in this phenomenon. Servius (Serv. ad Aen. 6.288, “flammisque armata Chimaera” ) gives a curious explanation of the passage in Virgil. He correctly places the fire on the top of the mountain; but adds, there are lions near it; the middle part of the mountain abounds in goats, and the lower part with serpents; which is obviously an attempt to explain the passage of Homer (comp. Ovid. Met. 9.647, &c.) Strabo connects the fable of the Chimaera with the mountain of Cragus in Lycia; and he says that there is, not far off, a ravine called Chimaera, which opens into the interior from the sea (p. 665). This is not the Chimaera of Ctesias, which is near Phaselis.

[G.L]

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