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AMA´NUS (δ̔ Ἀμανός, τὸ Ἀμανόν), is described by Strabo as a detached part (᾿απόσπασμα) of Taurus, and as forming the southern boundary of the plain of Cataonia. He supposes this range to branch off from the Taurus in Cilicia, at the same place where the Antitaurus branches off and takes a more northerly direction, farming the northern boundary of Cataonia. (Strab. p. 535.) He considers the Amanus to extend eastward to the Euphrates and Melitene, where Commagene borders on Cappadocia. Here the range is interrupted by the Euphrates, but it recommences on the east side of the river, in a larger mass, more elevated, and more irregular in form. (Strab. p. 521.) He further adds: “the mountain range of Amanus extends (p. 535) to Cilicia and the Syrian sea to the west from Cataonia and to the south; and by such a division (διαστάσει) it includes the whole gulf of Issus and the intermediate Cilician valleys towards the Taurus.” This seems to be the meaning of the description of the Amanus in Strabo. Groskurd, in his German version (vol. ii. p. 448) translates διαστάσει simply by “extent” (ausdehnung); but by attending to Strabo's words and the order of them, we seem to deduce the meaning that the double direction of the mountain includes the gulf of Issus. And this agrees with what Strabo says elsewhere, when he makes the Amanus descend to the gulf of Issus between Aegae and Issus. [AMANIDES PYLAE]

The term Amanus in Strabo then appears to be applied to the high ground which descends from the mass of Taurus to the gulf of Issus, and bounds the east side of it, and also to the highland which extends in the direction already indicated to the Euphrates, which it strikes north of Samosata (Someisát). The Jáwur Dagh appears to be the modern name of at least a part of the north-eastern course of the Amanus. The branch of the Amanus which descends to the Mediterranean on the east side of the gulf of Issus is said to attain an average elevation of 5000 feet, and it terminates abruptly in Jebel Kheserik and Rás-el-Khánzir. This cape seems to be Rhosus, or the Rhosicus Scopulus of Ptolemy. There was near it a town Rhosus, which Stephanus(s. v. Ῥῶσος) places in Cilicia. Rhosus is now Arsus. There is another short range which is connected with Amanus, and advances right to the borders of the sea, between Rás-el-Khánzir and the [p. 1.115]

  • 1. Ras-el-Khánzir.
  • 2. Beilan Pass.
  • 3. Boghras Pass.
  • 4. Pass from Bayas.
  • 5. Rhosus.
  • 6. Alexandria.
  • 7. Kersus or Merkez.
  • 8. Bayas.
  • 9. Pinarus.
  • 10. Ruins of Issus?
  • 11. Demir Kapu, or Kara Kapu.
  • 12. Aegae.
  • 13. Pyramus.
  • 14. Seleuceia.
  • 15. Orontes.
  • 16. Antiocheia.
  • 17. Pagrae. [p. 1.116]

mouth of the Orontes: this appears to be the Pieria of Strabo (p. 751). On the south-west base of this range, called Pieria, was Seleuceia, which Strabo (p. 676) considers to be the first city in Syria after leaving Cilicia. Accordingly, he considers the mountain range of Amanus, which terminates on the east side of the gulf of Issus, to mark the boundary between Cilicia and Syria; and this is a correct view of the physical geography of the country.

Cicero (Cic. Fam. 2.10), who was governor of Cilicia, describes the Amanus as common to him and Bibulus, who was governor of Syria; and he calls it the watershed of the streams, by which description he means the range which bounds the east side of the gulf of Issus. His description in another passage also (ad Fam. 15.4) shows that his Amanus is the range which has its termination in Ras-el-Khanzir. Cicero carried on a campaign against the mountaineers of this range during his government of Cilicia (B.C. 51), and took and destroyed several of their hill forts. He enumerates among them Erana (as the name stands in our present texts), which was the chief town of the Amanus, Sepyra, and Commores. He also took Pindenissus, a town of the Eleutherocilices, which was on a high point, and a place of great strength. The passes in the Amanus have been already enumerated. On the bay, between Iskenderun and Bayas, the Baiae of Strabo and the Itineraries, is the small river Merkez, supposed to be the Karsus or Kersus of Xenophon (Xen. Anab. 1.4). On the south side of this small stream is a stone wall, which crosses the narrow plain between the Amanus and the sea, and terminates on the coast in a tower. There are also ruins on the north side of the Kersus; and nearer to the mountain there are traces of “a double wall between which the river flowed.” (Ainsworth, London Geog. Journal, vol. viii.) At the head of the river Kersus is the steep pass of Boghras Beli, one of the passes of the Amanus. This description seems to agree with that of the Cilician and Syrian gates of Xenophon. The Cilician pass was a gateway in a wall which descended from the mountains to the sea north of the Kersus; and the Syrian pass was a gateway in the wall which extended in the same direction to the south of the river. Cyrus marched from the Syrian pass five parasangs to Myriandrus, which may be near the site of Iskenderun. We need not suppose that the present walls near the Merkez are as old as the time of Cyrus (B.C. 401); but it seems probable that this spot, having once been chosen as a strong frontier position, would be maintained as such. If the Kersus is properly identified with the Merkez, we must also consider it as the gates through which Alexander marched from Mallus to Myriandrus, and through which he returned from Myriandrus to give battle to Darius, who had descended upon Issus, and thus put himself in the rear of the Greeks. (Arrian. Anab. 2.6, 8.) From these gates Alexander retraced his march to the river Pinarus (Deli Chai), near which was fought the battle of Issus (B.C. 333). If the exact position of Issus were ascertained, we might feel more certain as to the interpretations of Arrian and Curtius. Niebuhr (Reisen durch Syrien, &c., 1837, An/hang, p. 151), who followed the road from Iskenderun along the east coast of the bay of Issus on his road to Constantinople, observes that Xenophon makes the march of Cyrus 15 parasangs from the Pyramus to Issus; and he observes that it is 15 hours by the road from Bayas to the Pyramus. Cyrus marched 5 parasangs from Issus to the Cilician and Syrian gates; and Iskenderun is 5 hours from Bayas. But still he thinks that Myriandrus is at Iskenderun, and that the Cilician and Syrian pass is at Merkez; but he adds, we must then remove Issus to Demir Kapu; and this makes a new difficulty, for it is certainly not 15 parasangs from Demir Kapu to the Pyramus. Besides, the position of Issus at Demir Kapu will not agree with the march of Alexander as described by Curtius; for Alexander made two days' march from Mallus, that is, from the Pyramus, to Castabalum; and one day's march from Castabalum to Issus. Castabalum, then, may be represented by Demir Kapu, undoubtedly the remains of a town, and Issus is somewhere east of it. The Peutinger Table places Issus next to Castabalum, and then comes Alexandreia (ad Issum). Consequently we should look for Issus somewhere on the road between Demir Kapu and Iskenderun. Now Issus, or Issi, as Xenophon calls it, was on or near the coast (Xen. Anab. 1.4; Strab. p. 676); and Darius marched from Issus to the Pinarus to meet Alexander; and Alexander returned from Myriandrus, through the Pylae, to meet Darius. It seems that as the plain about the Pinarus corresponds to Arrian's description, this river must have been that where the two armies met, and that we must look for Issus a little north of the Pinarus, and near the head of the bay of Issus. Those who have examined this district do not, however, seem to have exhausted the subject; nor has it been treated by the latest writers with sufficient exactness.

Stephanus (s. v. Σ̓́σος) says that Issus was called Nicopolis in consequence of Alexander's victory. Strabo makes Nicopolis a different place; but his description of the spots on the bay of Issus is confused. Cicero, in the description of his Cilician campaign, says that he encamped at the Arae Alexandri, near the base of the mountains. He gives no other indication of the site; but we may be sure that it was north of the Cilician Pylae, and probably it was near Issus.


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 2.10
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.4
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