previous next


This place, too, will be the most appropriate one for making some mention of the Euphrates. This river rises in Caranitis1, a præfecture of Greater Armenia, according to the statement of those who have approached the nearest to its source. Domitius Corbulo says, that it rises in Mount Aba; Licinius Mucianus, at the foot of a mountain which he calls Capotes2, twelve miles above Zimara, and that at its source it has the name of Pyxurates. It first flows past Derxene3, and then Anaitica4, shutting out5 the regions of Armenia from Cappadocia. Dascusa6 is distant from Zimara seventy-five miles; from this spot it is navigable as far as Sartona7, a distance of fifty miles, thence to Melitene8, in Cappadocia, distant seventy-four9 miles, and thence to Elegia10, in Armenia, distant ten miles ; receiving in its course the rivers Lycus11, Arsanias12, and Arsanus. At Elegia it meets the range of Mount Taurus, but no effectual resistance is offered to its course, although the chain is here twelve miles in width. At its passage13 between the mountains, the river bears the name of Omma14; but afterwards, when it has passed through, it receives that of Euphrates. Beyond this spot it is full of rocks, and runs with an impetuous tide. It then divides that part of Arabia which is called the country of the Orei15, on the left, by a channel three schœni16 in width, from the territory of the Commageni17 on the right, and it admits of a bridge being thrown across it, even where it forces a passage through the range of Taurus. At Claudiopolis18, in Cappadocia, it takes an easterly direction; and here, for the first time in this contest, Taurus turns it out of its course; though conquered before, and rent asunder by its channel, the mountain-chain now gains the victory in another way, and, breaking its career, compels it to take a southerly direction. Thus is this warfare of nature equally waged,—the river proceeding onward to the destination which it intends to reach, and the mountains forbidding it to proceed by the path which it originally intended. After passing the Cataracts19, the river again becomes navigable; and, at a distance of forty miles from thence, is Samosata20, the capital of Commagene.

1 In the western branch of the plateau of Iran, a portion of the Taurus chain. Considerable changes in the course of the lower portion of the river have taken place since the time when Pliny wrote. Caranitis is the modern Arzrum, or Erzrúm, of the Turks.

2 Now called Dujik Tagh, a mountain of Armenia.

3 It has been suggested, that the proper reading here would be Xerxene.

4 Probably the district where the goddess Anais was worshipped, who is mentioned by Pliny in B. xxxiii. c. 24.

5 From the place of confluence where the two mountain streams forming the Euphrates unite. This spot is now known as Kebban Ma'den.

6 A fortress upon the river Euphrates, in Lesser Armenia. It has been identified with the ferry and lead-mines of Kebban Ma'den, the points where the Kara Su is joined by the Myrad-Chaï, at a distance of 270 miles from its source; the two streams forming, by their confluence, the Euphrates.

7 Other readings have "Pastona" here, said by D'Anville to be the modern Pastek.

8 Called the metropolis of Lesser Armenia by Procopius. It was situate between Anti-Taurus and the Euphrates, and celebrated for its fertility, more especially in fruit-trees, oil, and wine. The site of the city Melitene is now called Malatiyah, on a tributary of the Euphrates, and near that river itself.

9 It is generally supposed that "twenty-four" would be the correct reading here.

10 There were two places of this name. The one here spoken of was a town of Lesser Armenia, on the right bank of the Euphrates, at the first, or principal curve, which takes place before the river enters Mount Taurus. It is represented by the modern Iz Oghlu.

11 No other writer is found to make mention of the Lycus, which flows into the Euphrates, though there is a river formerly so called, which flows into the Tigris below Larissa, the modern Nimroud. D'Anville is of opinion, that it is formed from the numerous springs, called by the people of the district Bing-gheul, or the "Thousand Springs."

12 Now called the Myrad-Chaï. Ritter considers it to be the south arm of the Euphrates. The Arsanus is mentioned by no writer except Pliny.

13 The defile at this place is now called the Cataract of Nachour, according to Parisot.

14 The more general reading here is "Omira." Hardouin is of opinion, that this is the district referred to in the Book of Judith, ii. 24. In the Vulgate, it appears to be twice called the river >Mambre; but in our version it is called Arbonaï.

15 Burnouf has concluded, from a cuneiform inscription which he deciphered, that the name of this people was Ayurâ, and that Hardouin is wrong in conjecturing that it was a name derived from the Greek ὄρος, "a mountain," and designating the people as a mountain tribe. If Burnouf is right, the proper reading here would seem to be Arœi, or Arrhœi.

16 The length of the schœnus has been mentioned by our author in C. 11 of the present Book. M. Saigey makes the Persian parasang to be very nearly the same length as the schœnus of Pliny.

17 Commagene was a district in the north of Syria, bounded by the Euphrates on the east, by Cilicia on the west, and by Amanus on the north. Its capital was Samosata.

18 The place here spoken of by Pliny is probably the same mentioned by Ptolemy as in Cataonia, one of the provinces of Cappadocia. According to Parisot, the site of the place is called at the present day 'Ra Claudie.'

19 Salmasius has confounded these cataracts with those of Nachour, or Elegia, previously mentioned. It is evident, however, that they are not the same.

20 Now called Someisat. In literary history, it is celebrated as being the birth-place of the satirist Lucian. Nothing remains of it but a heap of ruins, on an artificial mound.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (34 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: