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ARAXES (Ἀράξης).


Eraskh, Rakhsi, Aras, Ras), a large river of Armenia, which takes its rise from a number of sources in Mt. Abus (Bín Gól) (Steph. B. sub voce Strab. p. 531; Plin. Nat. 6.10; Ptol. 5.13. § § 3, 6, 9), nearly in the centre of the space between the E. and W. branches of the Euphrates. The general course may be described as E., then SE., and after flowing in a NE. direction, it resumes its SE. course, and after its junction with the Cyrus (Kur), discharges itself into the Caspian Sea. (Col. Monteith, in London Geog. Journ. vol. iii., with accompanying Map.) Of its numerous tributaries, Pliny (l.c.) only mentions one, the Musus (Mwrts). The ancient geography of this river is involved in much obscurity. Herodotus (1.202, 4.40) describes the Araxes as flowing E. from the country of the Matieni; as it approached the Caspian, it divided into 40 channels, only one of which made its way clear to the lake, the rest were choked up, and formed swamps. If this statement be compared with that of Strabo (l.c.), there can be little doubt but that the Araxes of Herodotus must be identified with the river of Armenia. If this supposition does not remove all difficulties, which it does not, we must remember that Herodotus was generally unacquainted with the countries bordering on the Caspian. (For a full discussion on this question, the reader is referred to Tzchucke, in Pomp. Mela, 3.5.5, and Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscript. vol. xxxvi. pp. 69, seq.) hitter (Erdkonde, vol. x. p. 389) identifies the Phasis of Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 4.6.4; comp. Kinneir, Travels in Armenia, p. 489) with the Araxes; on the other hand, the Araxes of the same author (Anab. 1.4.19) is held to be the Khábúr, an affluent of the Euphrates. The description of the course of the Araxes in Pomp. Mela (3.5) has much picturesque merit, and in the main agrees with the accounts of modem travellers. The “pontem indignatus Araxes” of Virgil (Aen. 8.728; comp. “Patiens Latii jam pontis Araxes” of Statius, Stat. Silv. 1.4.79) now endures four bridges; and the ruined remains of others are still found on its banks. The fall in the river of not more than six feet high, which occurs at the great break in the mountain chain, about 40 miles below Djzlfa (Erespar or Arasbar), must be the same as the cataract to which Strabo (l.c.) alludes, though the ancient author assigns to it so much larger proportions. Strabo (l.c.), in accordance with the national custom of referring foreign names to a Greek origin, connects the word Araxes with ἀράσσω, and adds that the Peneus was once called Araxes, on account of its having separated Ossa from Olympus at the gorge of Tempe. The remark in itself is of no importance; but it is curious to observe the various rivers and places in remote countries which bore this name. Besides the one in Mesopotamia already mentioned, we read of another Araxes, which flowed through mountainous Persia, and entered the lake of Bakhtegan. (See below.)

Like the Celtic Avon, Araxes was probably an appellative name. According to Rennel (Geog. Herod. p. 205) the Araxes is the Jaxartes; the Jaxartes and Oxus (Sirr and Jihon) are confounded together; and the particulars which refer to both rivers are applied to one. The account Herodotus gives of its origin and course has served to identify it with the Armenian river. Some have supposed it to be the Volga or Rha. M. de Guignes holds that the Araxes of the 4th book is indisputably the Armenian Araxes, but distinguishes it from the one mentioned in the 1st book. M. de la Nauze argues in favour of the view advocated here. Full particulars as to all the rivers bearing this name will be found in D'Anville Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscript. vol. xxxvi. p. 79; St. Martin, Mém. sur l'Armenie, vol. i. p. 38; Chesney, Exped. Euphrat. vol. i. pp. 9, 96, 210; 219. [E.B.J]


A river of Persis, which rises in the mountains of the Uxii, and flows E. in the L. Bakhtegan (the Salt Lake). Its present name is Kúm-Firúiz (De Bode, Luristan, &c., vol. i. p. 75), or Bendamír. [CYRUS] (Strab. xv. p.729; Curt. 5.4; comp. Morier, Travels in Persia, vol. i. p. 124.)


A river in Eastern Scythia, in the country of the Massagetae, another name for the Jaxartes; (Strab. xi. p.512.) 4. The Araxes of Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 1.4.19) is probably the Chaboras (Khábúr) of other writers. [V]

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.202
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.40
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.4.19
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 4.6.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.10
    • Statius, Silvae, 1.4
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 5.4
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