TANAIS is a river of Scythia, formerly called the Amazonian river, because the Amazons bathed themselves
therein; but it altered its name upon this occasion. Tanais, the son of Berossus and Lysippe, one of the Amazons, became a vehement hater of the female sex, and
looking upon marriage as ignominious and dishonorable,
applied himself wholly to martial affairs. This so offended
Venus, that she caused him to fall passionately in love
with his own mother. True it is, at first he withstood the
force of his passion; but finding he could not vanquish the
fatal necessity of yielding to divine impulse, and yet desirous to preserve his respect and piety towards his mother,
he flung himself into the Amazonian river, which was afterwards called Tanais, from the name of the young man.
In this river grows a plant which is called halinda, resembling a colewort; which the inhabitants bruising, and
anointing their bodies with the juice of it, find themselves
in a condition better able to endure the extremity of the
cold; and for that reason, in their own language they call
it Berossus's oil.
In this river grows a stone not unlike to crystal, resembling the shape of a man with a crown upon his head.
Whoever finds the stone when the king dies, and has it
ready against the time that the people meet upon the
banks of the river to choose a new sovereign, is presently
elected king, and receives the sceptre of the deceased
prince;—as Ctesiphon relates in his Third Book of
Plants; and Aristobulus gives us the same account in his
First Book of Stones.
Near to this river also lies a mountain, in the language
of the natives called Brixaba, which signifies the forehead
of a ram.
And it was so called upon this occasion.
Phryxus having lost his sister Helle near the Euxine Sea,
and; as Nature in justice required, being extremely troubled for his loss, retired to the top of a certain hill to disburden himself of his sorrow. At which time certain
barbarians espying him, and mounting up the hill with
their arms in their hands, a gold-fleeced ram leaping out
of a thicket, and seeing the multitude coming, with articulate language and the voice of a man, awakened Phryxus,
who was fast asleep, and taking him upon his back, carried him to Colchis. From this accident it was that the
mountainous promontory was called the ram's forehead.
In this mountain grows an herb, by the barbarians called
phryxa (which being interpreted signifies hating the
), not unlike our common rue. If the son of a former mother have it in his possession, he can never be injured by his step-dame. It chiefly grows near the place
which is called Boreas's Den, and being gathered, is colder
than snow. But if any step-dame be forming a design
against her son-in-law, it sets itself on fire and sends forth
a bright flame. By which means they who are thus warned
avoid the danger they are in;—as Agatho the Samian
testifies in his Second Book of Scythian Relations.