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SCAMANDER (Σκάμανδρος: Mendere Su, or the river of Bunarbaschi), a famous little stream in the plain of Troy, which according to Homer (II. 20.74) was called Xanthus by the gods and Scamander by men; though it probably owed the [p. 2.927]name Xanthus to the yellow or brownish colour of its water (comp. Il. 6.4, 21.8). Notwithstanding this distinct declaration of the poet that the two names belonged to the same river, Pliny (5.33) mentions the Xanthus and Scamander as two distinct rivers, and describes the former as flowing into the Portus Achaeorum, after having joined the Simoeis. In regard to the colour of the water, it was believed to have even the power of dyeing the wool of sheep which drank of it. (Aristot. HA 3.12; Aelian, Ael. NA 8.21; Plin. Nat. 2.106; Vitr. 8.3,14.) Homer (Hom. Il. 22.147, &c.) states that the river had two sources close to the city of Ilion, one sending forth hot water and the other cold, and that near these springs the Trojan women used to wash their clothes. Strabo (xiii. p.602) remarks that in his time no hot spring existed in those districts; he further asserts that the river had only one source; that this was far away from Troy in Mount Ida; and lastly that the notion of its rising near Troy arose from the circumstance of its flowing for some time under ground and reappearing in the neighbourhood of Ilion. Homer describes the Scamander as a large and deep river (Il. 20.73, 21.15, 22.148), and states that the Sirmoeis flowed into the Scamander, which after the junction still retained the name of Scamander (Il. 5.774, 21.124; comp. Plin. Nat. 2.106; Hdt. 5.65; Strab. xiii. p.595). Although Homer describes the river as large and deep, Herodotus (7.42) states that its waters were not sufficient to afford drink to the army of Xerxes. The Scamander after being joined by the Simoeis has still a course of about 20 stadia eastward, before it reaches the sea, on the east of Cape Sigeum, the modern Kum Kale. Ptolemy (5.2.3), and apparently Pomp. Mela (1.18), assign to each river its own mouth, the Siinoeis discharging itself into the sea at a point north of the mouth of the Scamander. To account for these discrepancies, it must be assumed that even at that time the physical changes in the aspect of the country arising from the muddy deposits of the Scamander had produced these effects, or else that Ptolemy mistook a canal for the Scamander. Even in the time of Strabo the Scamander reached the sea only at those seasons when it was swollen byrains, and at other times it was lost in marshes and sand. It was from this circumstance, that, even before its junction with the Simoeis, a canal was dug, which flowed in a western direction into the sea, south of Sigeum, so that the two rivers joined each other only at times when their waters were high. Pliny, who calls the Scamander a navigable river, is in all probability thinking of the same canal, which is still navigable for small barges. The point at which the two rivers reach the sea is now greatly changed, for owing to the deposits at the mouth, the coast has made great advances into the sea, and the Portus Achaeorum, probably a considerable bay, has altogether disappeared. (Comp. Leake, Asia Minor, p. 289, foll., and the various works and treatises on the site and plain of ancient Troy.)


hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.65
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.42
    • Homer, Iliad, 21.8
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.148
    • Homer, Iliad, 6.4
    • Homer, Iliad, 21.124
    • Homer, Iliad, 20.73
    • Homer, Iliad, 21.15
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.147
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.774
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 8.3
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.33
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.106
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