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CANIS FLUMEN

CANIS FLUMEN a river of Arabia mentioned by Pliny (6.28. s. 32), supposed by Forster to be identical with the “Lar fluvius” of Ptolemy in the country of the Nariti, at the south of the Persian Gulf, now called the Zar, which he takes to be equivalent to Dog River. (Geog. of Arab. vol. ii. pp.222, 236.) One great difficulty of identifying the places mentioned by the classical geographers arises from the fact, that they sometimes translate the native name, and sometimes transcribe it, especially if it resembled in sound any name or word with which they were familiar; nor did they scruple to change the orthographyin order to form a more pronounceable name than the original. The inconvenience of representing the Semitic names in Greek characters deterred Strabo (xv. p.1104) from a minute description of the geography of Arabia, and involves endless difficulty in a comparison of the ancient and modern geography of the peninsula, particularly as the sites are not at all clearly defined, and even Ptolemy, the best informed of the ancient geographers, had a very indistinct notion of the outline of the coast. To illustrate this in the name before us. On the south coast of Arabia are two promontories Ras Kelb (i. e. Cape Dog) a little east of Hissan Ghorab; and Ras Akanis a little west of Ras-el-Hadd. Either of these names might be represented by Pliny as Canis Promontorium. So with Canis flumen. There can be little doubt that he thought its name was “Dog river,” for he also calls it by its Greek equivalent “Cynos flumen” (κύνος πόταμος). But, perhaps, a more probable conjecture can be offered than that of Mr. Forster, as it seems very doubtful whether Lar or Zar can mean Dog. Near the “Canis flumen” Pliny places the “Bergodi” and the “Catharrei ;” the former have been already found (s. v.) to the west of the Zar river, and the latter are doubtless identical with the Kadara of Ptolemy in the same situation, between which and the river Lar Ptolemy places “Canipsa civitas.” (Κάνιψα πόλις) next to the river's sources. There can be little doubt that the “Canis flumen” was named by Pliny, from Canipsa, which stood near it.

[G.W]

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