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CLIMAX (Κλίμαξ, steps, or a ladder), a name equivalent to the French Echelle and Italian Scala. It was used by the Greeks to signify a narrow and difficult pass.


On the east coast of Lycia the range of Taurus comes close upon the sea, and in the part between Phaselis and Olbia the pass is between the mountains and the sea. (Strab. p. 666.) Strabo describes it accurately: “about Phaselis is the narrow pass on the coast through which Alexander led his army; a mountain called Climax hangs over the Pamphylian sea, leaving a narrow passage along the beach, which is bare when there is no wind, and passable for travellers; but when the sea is swollen, it is for the most part covered by the waves; the road over the mountain is circuitous and steep, and people use the sea-road in fine weather. Alexander happened to be here in the winter season, and, trusting to his fortune, he set out before the waters had abated, and accordingly it happened that the men had to march all day in the water, up to the middle.” Arrian (Anab. i. 26) says that Alexander made the passage easily, in consequence of the north wind having blown back the water which the south wind had brought upon the coast. He does not give any name to the pass. Mount Climax is that part of the coast which forms the eastern limit of Lycia, and the west side of the bay of Adalia. Beaufort observes (Karamania, p. 116): “the road along the coast is, however, interrupted in some places by projecting cliffs, which would have been difficult to surmount, but round which the men could readily pass by wading through the water,” [p. 1.635]He observes that Arrian “ascribes the reflux of the sea to its true cause, the influence of the wind.” Alexander himself, in his letters, which Plutarch refers to (Alex. 100.17), simply states the fact of his passing by the Climax; but it became a fine subject for embellishment in the hands of many of the historians, who describe the sea as making way for the conqueror.


Polybius (5.72) speaks of the narrow defiles about the so-called Climax (τὴν καλουνένην κλίμακα), and he says that one of the defiles leads to Saporda. It seems that the name Climax extended from the mountains on the Lycian coast northward into the interior, and that the range which formed a boundary between Milyas and Pamphylia and Pisidia was named Climax. Saporda was one of the passes that led over this range from Milyas into Pisidia. Garsyeris (Polyb, 5.72) led his troops from Milyas by a pass in the Climax to Perge. When Alexander led his men along the beach at the base of the mountains from Phaselis, he sent a part of the army by an inland route over the hills to Perge. This route was not so far north as that by which Garsyeris reached the same place. Arrian observes that the Thracians had made a road over the hills for Alexander's troops, which shows that though there was then no road in that part, it was possible to make one.


Climax is the name of a place on the coast of Paphlagonia between Cytorus and Cape Carambis. Marcian (Peripl. p. 71) places it 50 stadia east of Crobialus. Ptolemy (5.4) mentions it in his Galatia, and it is the first place after Cytorus which he mentions on this coast. [G.L]

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    • Polybius, Histories, 5.72
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