, a celebrated river of Asia. We find various forms of its name, both in Greek and Latin writers.
The earlier and more classical Greek form is ἡ Τίγρης, gen. Τίγρητος
; Xen. Anab. 4.1. 3
; Arr. Anab. 7.7
, &c.), whilst the form ὁ Τίγρις, gen. Τίγριδος,
and sometimes Τίγριος,
is more usual among the later writers. (Strab. ii. p.79
, xv. p. 728; Ptol. 5.13.7
; Plut. Luc. 22
, &c.) Amongst the Romans the nom.
is constantly Tigris, with the gen.
Tigris and acc.
Tigrin and Tigrim among the better writers (Virg. Eel.
1.63; Lucan 3.261
; Plin. vi. s. 9; Curt. 4.5
, &c.); but sometimes Tigridis, Tigridem (Lucan 3.256
; Eutrop. 9.18
; Amm. Marc. 23.6.20
According to Pliny, the river in the upper part of its course, where it flowed gently, was called Diglito; but lower down, where it moved with more rapidity, it bore the name of Tigris, which, in the Median language, signified an arrow (cf. Strab. xi. p.529
; Curt. 4.9
; Isid. Or.
12.100.2, &c.) Josephus (J. AJ 1.1
, sq.) and Zonaras (Ann.
1.2) mention that it bore the name of Diglad; and in its earliest course it is still called Dayhele, Didschle
According to the general testimony of the ancients the Tigris rose in Armenia (Xen. Anab. 4.1. 3
; Eratosth. ap. Strab. ii. p.80
; Plin. Nat. 6.27. s. 31
; Ptol. l.c.,
&c.). Diodorus, indeed, places its sources in the territory of the Uxii in Persia (17.67); but he has here confounded the Tigris with the Pasitigris. Herodotus (5.52
) observes that there were three rivers bearing the name of Tigris, but that they did not spring from the same source; one of them rising in Armenia, another in the country of the Matieni, whilst he does not mention the origin of the third.
These two branches, which are not mentioned by any other ancient writer, are the more western and proper sources of the Tigris in Sophene, to the NE. of the cataracts of the Euphrates.
The more eastern of them forms the little river Nymphius or Nymphaeus (now the Batman Su
or river of Miafarakin.
) The union of these two sources forms the main western arm of the Tigris, which flows for between 100 and 200 miles, first in a NE., then in a S., and lastly in an E. direction, before it joins the main eastern branch of the river, about 62 miles SE. of Tigranocerta.
The authors subsequent to Herodotus do not notice his correct account of these sources, but confine themselves entirely to the eas ern branch.
According to Strabo (xi. pp. 521, 529) this rose in Mount Niphates, at a distance of 2500 stadia from the sources of the Euphrates. But Pliny, who has written in most detail concerning this eastern branch, describes it as rising in a plain of Armenia Major, at a place called Elegosine (6.27. s. 31).
It then flowed through the nitrous lake of Arethusa, without, however, mingling its waters with those of the lake, and after losing itself at a place called Zoroanda (near the present Hazur
), under a chain of the Taurus (the Nimrud Dagh
), burst again from the earth, and flowed through a second lake, the Thospites.
After emerging from this, it again sank into the earth with much noise and foam (cf. Strab. xvi. p.746
; Prisc. Perieg.
913; Amm. Marc. 23.6.15
, &c.), and, after a subterranean passage of 25 miles, reappeared at a place called Nymphaeum (cf. Justin, 42.3
The account of Strabo, however, varies very considerably from the preceding one of Pliny.
The former writer mentions only one lake (xi. p. 529), the description of which entirely resembles Pliny's Arethusa, but which Strabo calls Arsene or Thopitis, meaning evidently the Thospites of Pliny, the present Wan
on which is situated the town of Ardschisch,
with which the Tigris is in reality quite unconnected. Subsequently the river approaches the Euphrates in the neighbourhood of Seleucia, forming in this part of its course the boundary between Assyria and Mesopotamia. Diodorus Siculus (2.11) and Curtius (5.1
) erroneously represent it as flowing through Media, which it does not even touch. Near Seleucia, it was connected with the Euphrates by means of canals (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 7.7
After this, it again retires from the Euphrates, till at last, bending its [p. 2.1209]
course to the SW., it completely unites with that river, at a place called by Pliny (l.c.
) Digba, 1000 stadia above their common embouchure in the Persian gulf. Many of the ancients were aware that the two rivers joined one another, and had a common mouth (Plin. ib.; Strab. ii. p.79
; Procop. B. P.
1.17, &c.), whilst others were of opinion that the Euphrates had a separate embouchure (Onesicritus, ap. Strab. xv. p.729
; Arrian, Anab. l.c.;
41; Nearch. p. 37, Huds.).
But even those who recognised their junction were not agreed as to which stream it was that received the other, and whether their united course, now the Shat-el-Arab,
should be called Tigris or Euphrates. Most writers adopted the former name, but Nearchus and Onesicritus preferred that of the Euphrates (cf. Arrian, Indic.
It is not impossible, however, that the Euphrates may at one time have had a separate mouth (cf. Plin. l.c.;
x. p. 27).
There was also a difference of opinion as to the number of mouths by which the united stream emptied itself into the Persian gulf. Its western mouths were entirely unknown to the ancient Greeks, as Antiochus Epiphanes was the first who caused the coast to the W. of the Tigris to be accurately surveyed; and amongst later conquerors, Trajan alone penetrated as far as this neighbourhood. Hence the ancient Greeks, as well as Pliny (l.c.
), speak of only one mouth, the breadth of which is given by the latter at 10 miles. Ptolemy, however, mentions two mouths (6.3.2) at a distance of 1 1/2 degrees apart, which is confirmed by Onesicritus (ap. Philostorg. Hist. Eccl.
3.7, 8), according to whom the island between these mouths was inhabited by the Meseni.
But probably by the eastern mouth was meant that of the river Eulaeus, the present Karún,
one arm of which unites with the Tigris, whilst the other falls into the sea by an independent mouth.
This river was also called Pasitigris by the ancients (Πασίτιγρις, Strab. xv. p.729
), that is, “the little Tigris,” from the old Persian word pas,
signifying “small;” whence also among the modern Persians it bears the name of Didjlahi-Kudak,
which means the same thing. Hence we may explain how the united stream of the Tigris and Euphrates itself was throughout its course called Pasitigris by some writers (Strab. l.c.;
); whilst others regarded the Pasitigris as quite a separate stream, rising in the territory of the Uxii, and disemboguing into the Persian gulf (Nearch. ap. Strab. l.c.; Arrian, Ind. 42
; Diod. 17.67
; Curt. 5.3
This last view would make it identical with the present Karún
(cf. Kinneir, Mem.
p. 59; Gosselin, Recherches, &c.
ii. p. 86, sqq; Vincent, Peripl.
iii. p. 67, not. &c.).
The other affluents of the Tigris were the Nicephorius or Centritis, the Zabatus or Lycus, the Bumadus, the Caprus, the Tornadotus or Torna, apparently the same as the Physcus of Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 2.4.25
), the Gyndes or Delas, the Choaspes, and the Coprates, which fell into the main stream after joining the Eulaeus. All these rivers were on the left or eastern bank of the Tigris.
The stream of the Tigris was very rapid, and according to Strabo (p. 529) from its very source; whilst Pliny (l.c.
) more correctly ascribes this quality only to its lower course.
It was, in fact, owing to the large quantity of water which the Tigris received by means of the canals which connected it with the Euphrates, none of which was returned through the same channels, owing to the bed of the Tigris being at a lower level. (Arrian, l.c.; D. C. 68.28
; Strab. l.c.;
Hor. Od. 4.14
; Lucan 3.256
In ancient times many dams had been constructed in its course from Opis to its mouth, designed to retain its waters for the purpose of irrigating the adjoining districts (cf. Heeren, Ideen,
1.2. p. 171; Tavernier, Voyages,
i. p. 185; Niebuhr, Reise,
ii. p. 243).
These, however, were all cut through by Alexander, in order to improve the navigation, which began as high up as Opis (Arrian, l.c.;
Strab. 739, sq.) Between Mosul
and the confluence of the greater Zab,
and 3 hours' journey above the latter, there still remains an ancient dam of masonry thrown across the stream (Ritter, Erdkunde,
x. p. 5, sqq.).