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PAROPAMISUS ( Παροπάμισος, Strab. xv. p.689; Παροπάνισος, Ptol. 6.11.17; Παραπάμισος, Arrian, Anab. 5.4.5 ; Παροπάμισσος, Steph. B. sub voce Paropamisus, Mela, 1.15.2; Plin. Nat. 6.17. s. 20), a great chain of mountains extending from about 67° E. long. to 73° E. long., and along 35° N. lat., and forming the connecting link between the Western Caucasus and the still more eastern Imaus or Himárlaya. Their general modern name is Hindú Kúsh, but several of the most remarkable groups have their own titles: thus the great mountains W. of Cábul are now called Koh-i-Baba, and those again N. of the Cábul river in the direction of Jellalabád bear the title of Nishadha.

The altitude of these mountains, though not so great as that of the Himálaya, varies from 15,000 to 18,000 feet. It is difficult to determine whence the Greeks obtained the name whereby they have recorded these mountains, or which is the best orthography to adopt. Yet it seems not unlikely that Ptolemy is the most correct, and that in the Greek Paropanisus we have some traces of the Sanscrit Nishadha.

The ancient writers are by no means clear in their accounts of these mountains, and there is a perpetual confusion between the Taurus and the Caucasus. The reason of this no doubt is, that, till the time of Alexanders invasion they were altogether unknown to the Greeks, and that then the officers who described different portions of this celebrated expedition sometimes considered the Indian chain as a continuation of the Taurus, and sometimes of the Caucasus. Thus Strabo, in one place, states that the Macedonians called all the mountains beyond Ariana eastward, Caucasus, but that among the barbarous people they bore severally the names of Paropamisus, Emodus, and Imaus (xi. p. 511); in another, he appears to consider the range which bounded India on the north to be the extreme end of Taurus, which extended to the Eastern Sea (xv. p. 689). Arrian appears to have thought that Taurus ought to have been the true name of these, as he considers this great chain to extend across the whole of Asia from M. Mycale, which is opposite to Samos. (Anab. 5.5.) But he adds, that it was named Caucasus by the Macedonian soldiers to gratify Alexander, as though, in passing into Sogdiana through Bactriana, he had crossed the Caucasus. Under the double name of Taurus and Caucasus, he states his belief that this chain is the watershed of all the great rivers of Asia. (l.c.) Again, in another place, he coincides with the description in Strabo, and asserts that the Indian names of Paropamisus, Emodus, &c., are local titles of the extended chain of the Taurus. (Ind. 2.) Other ancient authors agree more or less with these determinations--: thus Mela gives the whole central chain from E. to W. the name of Taurus (1.15, 3.7); Curtius calls it Caucasus (7.3.19, 8.9.3); Pliny, enumerating the several groups from E. to W., gives--the name of Caucasus to that portion W. of the Hindu Kúsh which connects the chain with the Caucasus and Taurus of Western Asia (6.17. s. 21); Ptolemy appears to have considered the Paropamisus part of the Caucasus (6.18.1); lastly, Polybius, speaking of the Oxus, states that it derived its waters from the Caucasus (10.46, 11.32). It has been suggested that the present name of Hindú Kúsh is derived from Indicus Caucasus.


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