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MELES (Μέλης), a small river of Ionia, flowing close by the walls of Smyrna, and discharging its waters into the Hermaean gulf. (Strab. xii. p.554, xiv. p. 646.) The little stream derives its celebrity from its connection with the legends about Homer, and from a report; about the healing powers of its waters. There was a tradition that near the sources of the river Meles there was a cave in which Homer had composed his epic poems, whence he is sometimes called Μελησιγενής. (Paus. 7.5.6 ; Vit. Hom. 2 ; Stat. Silv. 3.3. 60, 7. 33 ; Tib. 4.1. 200.) The belief in the healing power of its waters is attested by an inscription quoted by Arundell (Asia Minor, vol. ii. p. 406) and Hamilton (Researches, vol. ii. Append. No. 48). These circumstances are of some importance in identifying the river. It used to be supposed that a small, dirty, and muddy stream, flowing close by the modern town of Smyrna, was the same as the ancient Meles. But there is another stream, with bright and sparkling water, which rushes over its rocky bed near Bournoubat, and is still celebrated for its agreeable and wholesome qualities. Travellers are now justly inclined to identify this river with the ancient Meles. This supposition is confirmed by our more accurate knowledge of the site of ancient Smyrna, which was on the north of the bay, while new Smyrna was on the south of it, at a distance of 20 stadia from the former; the site of the ancient place is still marked by a few ruins; and close by them flows the clear stream which we must assume to be the ancient Meles. (Comp. Hom. Hymn. 8.3; Ptol. 5.2.7; Steph. B. sub voce Μελήτου κόλπος, according to whom the river was also called Meletus; Plin. Nat. 5.31; Hamilton, Researches, vol. i. p. 51, foll.)


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 8 to Ares, 3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.5.6
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.31
    • Statius, Silvae, 3.3
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