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PHASIS

PHASIS (Φᾶσις), a navigable river in Colchis, on the east of the Euxine, which was regarded in ancient times as forming the boundary between Europe and Asia, and as the remotest point in the east to which a sailer on the Euxine could proceed. (Strab. xi. p.497; Eustath. ad Dionys. Per. 687; Arrian, Peripl. Pont. Eux. p. 19; Hdt. 4.40; Plat. Phaed. p. 109; Anonym. Peripl. Pont. p. 1; Procop. Bell. Goth. 4.2, 6.) Subsequently it came to be looked upon as forming the boundary line between Asia Minor and Colchis. Its sources are in the southernmost part of the Montes Moschici (Plin. Nat. 6.4; Solin. 20); and as these mountains were sometimes regarded as a part of Mount Caucasus, Aristotle and others place its sources in the Caucasus. (Strab. xi. p.492, xii. p. 548; Aristot. Met. 1.13; Procop. l.c.; Geogr. Rav. 4.20.) Strabo (xi. p.497; comp. Dionys. Per. 694; Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. 2.401) makes the Phasis in a general way flow from the mountains of Armenia, and Apollonius specifies its sources as existing in the country of the Amaranti, in Colchis. For the first part of its course westward it bore the name Boas (Procop. Bell. Pers. 2.29), and after receiving the waters of its tributaries Rhion, Glaucus, and Hippus, it discharges itself as a navigable river into the Euxine, near the town of Phasis. (Strab. xi. pp. 498, 500; Plin. l.c.) Some of the most ancient writers believed, [p. 2.593]that the Phasis was connected with the Northern Ocean. (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. 4.259; Pind. P. 4.376, Isthm. 2.61.) The length of its course was also erroneously estimated by some at 800 Roman miles (Jul. Honor. p. 697, ed. Gronov.), but Aethicus (Cosmogr. p. 719) states it more correctly to be only 305 miles. The fact is that its course is by no means very long, but rapid, and of such a nature as to form almost a semicircle; whence Agathemerus (2.10) states that its mouth was not far from its sources. (Comp. Strab. xi. p.500; Apollon. 2.401; Ov. Met. 7.6; Amm. Marc. 22.8; Prise. 673.) The water of the Phasis is described as very cold, and as so light that it swam like oil on the Euxine. (Arrian, Peripl. Pont. Eux. p. 7, &c.; Procop. Bell. Pers. ii. 30; comp. Hesiod. Theog. 340; Hecat. Fragm. 187; Hdt. 4.37, 45, 86; Scylax, p. 25; Plb. 4.56, 5.55; Ptol. 5.10. § § 1, 2.) The different statements of the ancients respecting the sources and the course of this river probably arose from the fact that different rivers were understood by the name Phasis; but the one which in later times was commonly designated by it, is undoubtedly the modern Rioni or Rion, which is sometimes also mentioned under the name Fachs, a corruption of Phasis. It has been conjectured with great probability that the river called Phasis by Aeschylus (ap. Arrian, l.c.) is the Hypanis; and that the Phasis of Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 4.6.4) is no other than the Araxes, which is actually mentioned by Constantine Porphyr. (de Admin. Imp. 45) under the two names Erax and Phasis.

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