), the most renowned river of Syria, used by the poet Juvenal for the country, “in Tiberim defluxit Orontes.” (Juv. iii.) Its original name, according to Strabo, was Typhon (Τυφών
), and his account both of its earlier and later names, follows his description of Antioch. “The river Orontes flows near the city. This [p. 2.495]
river rising in Coele-Syria, then sinking beneath the earth, again issues forth, and, passing through the district of Apamea to Antiocheia, after approaching the city, runs off to the sea towards Seleuceia.
It received its name from one Orontes, who built a bridge over it, having been formerly called Typhon, from a mythic dragon, who being struck with lightning, fled in quest of a hiding-place, and after marking out the course of the stream with its trail, plunged into the earth, from whence forthwith issued the fountain.” He places its embouchure 40 stadia from Seleuceia (xvi. p. 750).
He elsewhere places the source of the river more definitely near to Libanus and the Paradise, and the Egyptian wall, by the country of Apamea (p. 756). Its sources have been visited and described in later times by Mr. Barker in 1835.
The river “is called by the people El-‘A´si,
‘the rebel,’” from its refusal
to water the fields without the compulsion of water-wheels, according to Abulfeda (Tab. Syr.
p. 149), but according to Mr. Barker, “from its occasional violence and windings, during a course of about 200 miles in a northerly direction, passing through Hems
and finally discharging itself into the sea at Suwëidiah
near Antioch.” (Journal of the Geog. Soc.
vol. vii. p. 99.)
The most remote of these sources is only a few miles north of Baalbek,
near a village called Labweh,
“at the foot of the range of Anti-libanus on the top of a hillock, near which passes a small stream, which has its source in the adjoining mountains, and after flowing for several hours through the plain, falls into the basin from which springs the Orontes.” These fountains are about 12 hours north of Labweh,
near the village Kurmul,
where is a remarkable monument, “square, and solid, terminating above in a pyramid from 60 to 70 feet high. On the four sides hunting scenes are sculptured in relief, of which the drawing borders on the grotesque.” (Robinson, Journal of Geog. Soc.
vol. xxiv. p. 32.)
There can be no difficulty in connecting this monument with the Paradise or hunting park mentioned by Strabo near the source of the Orontes, similar, no doubt, in origin and character, to those with which the narrative of Xenophon abounds, within the territories of the Persian monarchs.
The rise and course of this river and its various tributaries has been detailed by Col. Chesney (Expedition,
vol. i. pp. 394--398), and the extreme beauty of its lower course between Antioch and the sea has been described in glowing terms by Captains Irby and Mangles. (Travels,
pp. 225, 226.)