previous next


CYRUS (Κῦρος).


A large river, which flowed into the Caspian in a course nearly SE. There is some difference among ancient writers whence it rose, and what was its actual course. Thus Mela (3.5) and Pliny (6.10) state that it rises in the Montes Coraxici, and flowed to the Caspian through Albania, Iberia, and Hyrcania. Plutarch (Plut. Pomp. 34) places its source in the mountains of Iberia. Strabo (xi. pp. 491, 500) seems to consider it as the greatest of the rivers of Albania; and Dio Cassius (36.36) and Ptolemy (5.12) as dividing Armenia and Albania. In other places Ptolemy and Strabo speak as though they considered it the boundary between Armenia and Iberia (Ptol. 5.12; Strab. i. p.61, xi. p. 491). Modern maps demonstrate that Pliny and Mela were the more correct in attributing its source to the Coraxici Montes, or main chain of the Caucasus, as its course is almost wholly SE. from those mountains to the sea. It has preserved its ancient name little, if at all, changed into Kûr. In its course it received several other and two rivers; the one called the Cambyses (Yori or Gori), and the other the Araxes (Eraskh or Aras), a river hardly inferior to itself in size. [CAMBYSES; ARAXES.] It fell into the Caspian by many mouths, the traditional number being said to be twelve; some of them, as indeed Strabo remarks, being much blocked up by sand and mud. (Ptol. 5.13; Appian, App. Mith. ch. 103; Strab. xi. pp. 491 and 501; Agathem. 2.10, 14.) It may be observed that Mela (3.5) gives to the Cyrus and Cambyses separate outlets into the Caspian, and that both Ptolemy and Strabo imagined that the Araxes flowed independently into the sea. It is quite possible that formerly the Araxes may have had a separate mouth. At present, however, it flows into the Kur, at no great distance from the sea, as Pliny and Plutarch believed. The name Cyrus is no doubt of Persian origin.


A river of Media Atropatene, mentioned only by Ptolemy (6.2.1) and Ammianus (23.6), who determine its situation by placing it between the mouth of the Araxes (Arás or Kúr) and the Amardus (Sefíd Rúd). Modern maps indicate several small rivers which flow into the Caspian, agreeably with this determination; yet we think it may be doubted whether these ancient geographers were not in error, and attributed to the small stream what was true of the Cyrus of Armenia. (See below.) The passage in Mela (3.5), which has been claimed for the Median river, belongs, in our opinion, to the Armenian.


A river of Persia, described by Strabo (xv. p.729) as flowing through that part of the province which was called Κοίλη Πέρσις near Pasargadae. It was one of the tributaries of the Araxes (Bendamir), which flowed into the Salt Lake, now called Bakhtegan. Strabo (xv. p.729) states, if the present text be right (and that it is so is rendered probable by the consent of all the MSS.), that Cyrus derived his name from this river, his earlier appellation having been Agradates. Casaubon, in his edition, changed one word in the text, and deduced the contrary and perhaps more probable meaning, that the river was called after the king, and not the king after the river. The Arabian geographers, Ibn Haukal (p. 98) and Al Edrisi (p. 124), recognise the name Kur or Kur-áb as that of a river which falls into Lake Bakhtegan. If the modern maps are correct, it would seem certain that the larger river Araxes is that now called the Bendamir Kúm-Firúz or Kur-áb, while the smaller one, which was the proper Cyrus, is called the Pulwan. (De Bode, Luristan, vol. i. p. 75; Fergusson, Nineveh Restored, p. 90.) It has been supposed by some geographers that the Κόριος of Ptolemy (6.8.4) is the same river; but it is much more likely that Ptolemy was correct in placing it in Carmania. [p. 1.738]

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 15.103
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.10
    • Plutarch, Pompey, 34
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: