), one of the great mountain ranges of Asia, the name of which is believed to be derived from the Aramaic Tur or Tura, i. e., a high mountain or Alp, and accordingly is in reality a common noun applied to all the high mountains of Asia.
The name has even been transferred to Europe, for the Taurian Chersonesus in Sarmatia and the Taurisci in the Norican Alps appear to owe their name to the same origin. We cannot wonder therefore when we find that Eratosthenes (ap. Strab. 15.689) and Strabo (ii. pp. 68, 129, x. p. 490) apply the name to the whole range of mountains extending from the Mediterranean to the eastern ocean, although their connection is often broken.
This extent of mountains is, according to Strabo's calculation (xi. p. 490), 45,000 stadia in length, and 3000 in breadth.
But in the narrower and common acceptation Mount Taurus is the range of mountains in Asia Minor which begins at Cape Sacrum or Chelidonium on the coast of Lycia, Which for this reason is called by Mela (1.15) and Pliny (5.28
) Promontorium Tauri.
It was, however, well known to the ancients that this promontory was not the real commencement, but that in fact the range extended to the south-western extremity of Asia Minor. (Strab. ii. p.129
, xi. p. 520, xiv. pp. 651, 666.)
This range rises in the W. as a lofty and precipitous mountain, and runs without any interruptions, first in a northern direction between Lycia and Pamphylia, then in an eastern direction through Pisidia and Isauria as far as the frontiers of Cilicia and Lycaonia.
There it separates into two main branches.
The one proceeds north-eastward under the name of Antitaurus (Ἀντίταυρος
), and surpasses the other in height.
It runs through Cappadocia, where it forms Mount Argaeus (Ἀργαῖος
), and Armenia, where it is called Mons Capotes, and through the Montes Moschici it is connected with the Caucasus, while a more southerly branch, under the names of Abus and Macis or Massis, runs through Armenia towards the Caspian sea.
The second branch, which separates itself on the frontiers of Cilicia and Lycaonia, retains the name of Taurus, and proceeds from Cilicia, where it forms the Portae Ciliciae, and sends forth Mons Amanus in a southern direction, while the main branch proceeds through Cappadocia.
After being broken through by the Euphrates, it again sends forth a southern branch under the name of Mons Masius.
The name Taurus ceases in the neighbourhood of Lake Arsissa, the mountains further east having other names, such as Niphates, Zagrus, &c. Most parts of Mount Taurus, which still bears its ancient name, were well wooded, and furnished abundance of timber to the maritime cities on the south coast of Asia Minor.