previous next


HAEMUS or AEMUS ( Αἷμος, τὸ Αῖμον ὄρος, or Αῖμος: Balkan), a large range of mountains in the north of Thrace, which in its widest sense is. said to extend from the Adriatic in the west to the Euxine in the east. (Anonym. Peripl. Pont. Eux. p. 13); Amm. Marc. 21.10.) Herodotus (4.49) does not describe the extent of the range, though he applies the name to heights west of mount Rhodope, where the river Cius, a tributary of the Ister, is represented as dividing, mount Haemus into two halves. But most other writers apply the name Haemus, like the modern Balkan, only to the eastern part of this range from mount Scomius in the west to the Euxine, where it terminated between the towns of Naulochus and Mesembria. Its western beginning is about the sources of the rivers Isker and Maritza. (Strab. vii. pp. 319, 320; Arrian, Peripl. p. 24; Plin. Nat. 4.18.) The range of Haemus is in no part particularly high, although there was a notion among the ancients, that from its highest peak both the Adriatic and the Euxine could be seen. (Pomp. Mel. 2.2.) But even Strabo (vii. pp. 313 and 317) has refuted this error, which apparently originated with Theopompus and Polybius, though the last author admitted that a person might ascend the mountain in one day. Pliny (4.18), who estimates its height at 6000 paces, states that on its summit there existed a town called Aristaeum. The highest parts of the mountain are described as covered with snow during the greater part of the year. (Hom. Il. 14.227; Theocrit. 7.76.) Modern travellers estimate the height of the great Balkan, between Sofia and Keczanlik, at 3000 feet, and that of the little Balkan at 2000. The northern side of mount Haemus is less precipitous than the southern one. (Amm. Marc. 21.10.) The mountain has altogether six passes by which it may be crossed without much difficulty, but the principal one, which was best known to the ancients, is the westernmost, between Philippopolis and Serdica, and is called by Amm. Marcellinus the pass of Succi or Succorum angustiae (21.10, 22.2, 26.10, 27.4, 31.16); it now bears the name of Ssulu Derbend, and is sometimes called Porta Trajani.

The people dwelling on and about mount Haemus are generally called Thracians, but the following tribes are particularly mentioned: the Crobyzi (Herod. l.c.; Strab. vii. p.318), the Coralli (Strab. vii. p.301), the. Bessi, and some less known tribes. All of them were regarded by the Romans as robbers, and the Asti in particular are described as pirates infesting the coasts of the Euxine, until they were transplanted by Philip of Macedonia. The name Haemus seems to be connected with the Greek χεῖμα, χειμών, and the Sanscrit himan and héman, according to which it would signify the cold or stormy mountain; but it is possible also that the name is of Thracian origin. (Comp. Boué in Berghaus, Geogr. Almanach, 1838, pp. 26, foll., and by the same author La Turquie d'Europe, Paris, 1840, in 4 vols. 8vo.)


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.49
    • Homer, Iliad, 14.227
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.18
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 21.10
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: