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AMA´NIDES PYLAE (Ἀμανίδες or Ἀμανικαζ Πν́λαι), or Amanicae Pylae (Curtius, 3.18), or Portae Amani Montis (Plin. Nat. 5.27. s.22). “There are,” says Cicero (Cic. Fam. 15.4), “two passes from Syria into Cilicia, each of which can be held with a small force owing to their narrowness.” These are the passes in the Amanus or mountain range which runs northward from Rás el Khánzir, which promontory is at the southern entrance of the gulf of Iskenderun (gulf of Issus). This range of Amanus runs along the bay of Iskenderun, and joins the great mass of Taurus, forming a wall between Syria and Cilicia. “There is nothing,” says Cicero, speaking of this range of Amanus, “which is better protected against Syria than Cilicia.” Of the two passes meant by Cicero, the southern seems to be the pass of Beilan, by which a man can go from Iskenderun to Antioch; this may be called the lower Amanian pass. The other pass, to which Cicero refers, appears to be NNE. of Issus, in the same range of mountains (Amanus), over which there is still a road from Bayas on the east side of the bay of Issus, to Marash: this northern pass seems to be the Amnanides Pylae of Arrian and Curtius. It was by the Amanides Pylae (Arrian. Anab. 2.7) that Darius crossed the mountains into Cilicia and came upon Issus, which Alexander had left shortly before. Darius was thus in the rear of Alexander, who had advanced as far as Myriandrus, the site of which is near Iskenderun. Alexander turned back and met the Persian king at the river [p. 1.114]Pinarus, between Issus and Myriandrus, where was fought the battle called the battle of Issus. The narrative of Arrian may be compared with the commentary of Polybius (12.17, 19).

Strabo's description of the Amanides (p. 676) is this: “after Mallus is Aegaeae, which has a small fort; then the Amanides Pylae, having an anchorage for ships, at which (pylae) terminate the Amanus mountains, extending down from the Taurus--and after Aegaeae is Issus, a small fort having an anchorage, and the river Pinarus.” Strabo therefore places the Amanides Pylae between Aegae and Issus, and near the coast; and the Stadiasmus and Ptolemy give the same position to the Amanides. This pass is represented by a place now called Kara Kapu on the road between Mallus on the Pyramus (Jehan) and Issus. But there was another pass “which” (as Major Rennell observes, and Leake agrees with him) “crossing Mount Amanus from the eastward, descended upon the centre of the head of the gulf, near Issus. By this pass it was that Darius marched from Sochus, and took up his position on the banks of the Pinarus; by which movement Alexander, who had just before marched from Mallus to Myriandrus, through the two maritime pylae, was placed between the Persians and Syria.” (Leake, Journal of a Tour in Asia Minor, p. 210.) This is the pass which has been assumed to be the Amanides of Arrian and Curtius, about NNE. of Issus. It follows from this that the Amanicae Pylae of Arrian (Arr. Anab. 2.7) are not the Amanides of Strabo. Q. Curtius speaks of a pass which Alexander had to go through in marching from the Pyramus to Issus, and this pass must be Kara Kapu. Kara Kapu is not on the coast, but it is not far from it. If Strabo called this the Amanides Pylae, as he seems to have done, he certainly gave the name to a different pass from that by which Darius descended on Issus. There is another passage of Strabo (p. 751) in which he says: “adjacent to Gindarus is Pagrae in the territory of Antioch, a strong post lying in the line of the pass over the Amanus, I mean that pass which leads from the Amanides Pylae into Syria.” Leake is clearly right in not adopting Major Rennell's supposition that Strabo by this pass means the Amanides. He evidently means another pass, that of Beilan, which leads from Iskenderun to Bakras or Pagras, which is the modern name of Pagrae; and Strabo is so far consistent that he describes this pass of Pagrae as leading from the pass which he has called Amanicae. Leake shows that the Amanides Pylae of Strabo are between Aegaeae and Issus, but he has not sufficiently noticed the difference between Strabo and Arrian, as Cramer observes (Asia Minor, vol. ii. p. 359). The map which illustrates Mr. Ainsworth's paper on the Cilician and Syrian Gates (London Geog. Journal, vol. viii. p. 185), and which is copied on the opposite page, enables us to form a more correct judgment of the text of the ancient writers; and we may now consider it certain that the Amanicae Pylae of the historians of Alexander is the pass NNE. of Issus, and that Strabo has given the name Amanides to a different pass.


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 15.4
    • Polybius, Histories, 12.17
    • Polybius, Histories, 12.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.27
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 2.7
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