Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF THE NAMES OF RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS, AND OF SUCH THINGS AS ARE TO BE FOUND THEREIN. * - The Morals, vol. 5
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OF THE NAMES OF RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS, AND OF SUCH THINGS AS ARE TO BE FOUND THEREIN. * - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 5 
Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 5.
Part of: Plutarch’s Morals, 5 vols.
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OF THE NAMES OF RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS, AND OF SUCH THINGS AS ARE TO BE FOUND THEREIN.*
This is a river of India, which falls with an extraordinary swift stream into the Saronitic Syrtis. Chrysippe, by the impulse of Venus, whom she had offended, fell in love with her father Hydaspes, and not being able to curb her preternatural desires, by the help of her nurse, in the dead of the night got to his bed and received his caresses; after which, the king proving unfortunate in his affairs, he buried alive the old bawd that had betrayed him, and crucified his daughter. Nevertheless such was the excess of his grief for the loss of Chrysippe, that he threw himself into the river Indus, which was afterwards called by his name Hydaspes.
Moreover in this river there grows a stone, which is called lychnis, which resembles the color of oil, and is very bright in appearance. And when they are searching after it, which they do when the moon increases, the pipers play all the while. Nor is it to be worn by any but the richer sort. Also near that part of the river which is called Pylae, there grows an herb which is very like a heliotrope, with the juice of which the people anoint their skins to prevent sunburning, and to secure them against the scorching of the excessive heat.
The natives whenever they take their virgins tardy, nail them to a wooden cross, and fling them into this river, singing at the same time in their own language a hymn to Venus. Every year also they bury a condemned old woman near the top of the hill called Therogonos; at which time an infinite multitude of creeping creatures come down from the top of the hill, and devour the insects that hover about the buried carcass. This Chrysermus relates in his History of India, though Archelaus gives a more exact account of these things in his Treatise of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Elephas, so called upon this occasion. When Alexander the Macedonian advanced with his army into India, and the natives were resolved to withstand him with all their force, the elephant upon which Porus, king of that region, was wont to ride, being of a sudden stung with a gad-bee, ran up to the top of the mountain of the sun, and there uttered these words distinctly in human speech: “O king, my lord, descended from the race of Gegasius, forbear to attempt any thing against Alexander, for he is descended from Jupiter.” And having so said, he presently died. Which when Porus understood, afraid of Alexander, he fell at his feet and sued for peace. Which when he had obtained, he called the mountain Elephas; — as Dercyllus testifies in his Third Book of Mountains.
Ismenus is a river of Boeotia, that washes the walls of Thebes. It was formerly called the foot of Cadmus, upon this occasion. When Cadmus had slain the dragon which kept the fountain of Mars, he was afraid to taste of the water, believing it was poisoned; which forced him to wander about in search of another fountain to allay his thirst. At length, by the help of Minerva, he came to the Corycian den, where his right leg stuck deep in the mire. And from that hole it was that, after he had pulled his leg out again, sprung a fair river, which the hero, after the solemnity of his sacrifices performed, called by the name of Cadmus’s foot.
Some time after, Ismenus, the son of Amphion and Niobe, being wounded by Apollo and in great pain, threw himself into the said river, which was then from his name called Ismenus; — as Sostratus relates in his Second Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Cithaeron, formerly called Asterion for this reason. Boeotus the son of Neptune was desirous, of two noble ladies, to marry her that should be most beneficial to him; and while he tarried for both in the night-time upon the top of a certain nameless mountain, of a sudden a star fell from heaven upon the shoulders of Eurythemiste, and immediately vanished. Upon which Boeotus, understanding the meaning of the prodigy, married the virgin, and called the mountain Asterion from the accident that befell him. Afterwards it was called Cithaeron upon this occasion. Tisiphone, one of the Furies, falling in love with a most beautiful youth whose name was Cithaeron, and not being able to curb the impatience of her desires, declared her affection to him in a letter, to which he would not return any answer. Whereupon the Fury, missing her design, pulled one of the serpents from her locks, and flung it upon the young lad as he was keeping his sheep on the top of the mountain Asterion; where the serpent twining about his neck choked him to death. And thereupon by the will of the Gods the mountain was called Cithaeron; — as Leo of Byzantium writes in his History of Boeotia.
But Hermesianax of Cyprus tells the story quite otherwise. For he says, that Helicon and Cithaeron were two brothers, quite different in their dispositions. For Helicon was affable and mild, and cherished his aged parents. But Cithaeron, being covetous and greedily gaping after the estate, first killed his father, and then treacherously threw his brother down from a steep precipice, but in striving together, fell himself along with him. Whence, by the providence of the Gods, the names of both the mountains were changed. Cithaeron, by reason of his impiety, became the haunt of the Furies. Helicon, for the young man’s love to his parents, became the habitation of the Muses.
Hebrus is a river of Thrace, deriving its former name of Rhombus from the many gulfs and whirlpools in the water.
Cassander, king of that region, having married Crotonice, had by her a son whom he named Hebrus. But then being divorced from his first wife, he married Damasippe, the daughter of Atrax, and brought her home over his son’s head; with whom the mother-in-law falling in love, invited him by letters to her embraces. But he, avoiding his mother-in-law as a Fury, gave himself over to the sport of hunting. On the other side the impious woman, missing her purpose, belied the chaste youth, and accused him of attempting to ravish her. Upon this Cassander, raging with jealousy, flew to the wood in a wild fury, and with his sword drawn pursued his son, as one that treacherously sought to defile his father’s bed. Upon which the son, finding he could no way escape his father’s wrath, threw himself into the river Rhombus, which was afterwards called Hebrus from the name of the young man; — as Timotheus testifies in his Eleventh Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Pangaeus, so called upon this occasion. Pangaeus, the son of Mars and Critobule, by a mistake lay with his own daughter; which perplexed him to that degree that he fled to the Carmanian mountain, where, overwhelmed with a sorrow that he could not master, he drew his sword and slew himself. Whence, by the providence of the Gods, the place was called Pangaeus.
In the river before mentioned, grows an herb not much unlike to origanum; the tops of which the Thracians cropping off burn upon a fire, and after they are filled with the fruits of Ceres, they hold their heads over the smoke, and snuff it up into their nostrils, letting it go down their throats, till at last they fall into a profound sleep.
Also upon the mountain Pangaeus grows an herb, which is called the harp upon this occasion. The women that tore Orpheus in pieces cast his limbs into the river Hebrus; and his head being changed, the whole body was turned into the shape of a dragon. But as for his harp, such was the will of Apollo, it remained in the same form. And from the streaming blood grew up the herb which was called the harp; which, during the solemnity of the sacrifices to Bacchus, sends forth a sound like that of an harp when played upon. At which time the natives, being covered with the skins of young hinds and waving their thyrsuses in their hands, sing a hymn, of which these are part of the words,
as Clitonymus reports, in his Third Book of Thracian Relations.
Ganges is a river in India, so called for this reason. A certain Calaurian nymph had by Indus a son called Ganges, conspicuous for his beauty. Who growing up to manhood, being once desperately overcome with wine, in the heat of his intoxication lay with his mother. The next day he was informed by the nurse of what he had done; and such was the excess of his sorrow, that he threw himself into a river called Chliarus, afterwards called Ganges from his own name.
In this river grows an herb resembling bugloss, which the natives bruise, and keep the juice very charily. With this juice in the dead of the night they go and besprinkle the tigers’ dens; the virtue of which is such, that the tigers, not being able to stir forth by reason of the strong scent of the juice, are starved to death; — as Callisthenes reports in his Third Book of Hunting.
Upon the banks of this river lies the mountain called the Anatole for this reason. The Sun, beholding the nymph Anaxibia innocently spending her time in dancing, fell passionately in love with her, and not able to curb his loose amours, pursued her with a purpose to ravish her. She therefore, finding no other way to escape him, fled to the temple of Orthian Diana, which was seated upon the mountain called Coryphe, and there immediately vanished away. Upon which the Sun, that followed her close at the heels, not knowing what was become of his beloved, overwhelmed with grief, rose in that very place. And from this accident it was that the natives called the top of that mountain Anatole, or the rising of the Sun; — as Caemaron reports in his Tenth Book of the Affairs of India.
Phasis is a river of Scythia, running by a city of the same name. It was formerly called Arcturus, deriving its name from the situation of the cold regions through which it runs. But the name of it was altered upon this occasion.
Phasis, the child of the Sun and Ocyrrhoe daughter of Oceanus, slew his mother, whom he took in the very act of adultery. For which being tormented by the Furies appearing to him, he threw himself into the river Arcturus, which was afterwards called by his own name Phasis.
In this river grows a reed, which is called leucophyllus, or the reed with the white leaf. This reed is found at the dawning of the morning light, at what time the sacrifices are offered to Hecate, at the time when the divinely inspired paean is chanted, at the beginning of the spring; when they who are troubled with jealous heads gather this reed, and strew it in their wives’ chambers to keep them chaste. And the nature of the reed is such, that if any wild extravagant person happens to come rashly in drink into the room where it lies, he presently becomes deprived of his rational thoughts, and immediately confesses whatever he has wickedly done and intended to do. At what time they that are present to hear him lay hold of him, sew him up in a sack, and throw him into a hole called the Mouth of the Wicked, which is round like the mouth of a well. This after thirty days empties the body into the Lake Maeotis, that is full of worms; where of a sudden the body is seized and torn to pieces by several vultures unseen before, nor is it known from whence they come; — as Ctesippus relates in his Second Book of Scythian Relations.
Near to this river lies the mountain Caucasus, which was before called Boreas’s Bed, upon this occasion. Boreas in the heat of his amorous passion ravished away by force Chione, the daughter of Arcturus, and carried her to a certain hill which was called Niphantes, and upon her begot a son whom he called Hyrpax, who succeeded Heniochus in his kingdom. For which reason the mountain was first called Boreas’s Bed; but afterwards Caucasus upon this occasion. After the fight of the Giants, Saturn, to avoid the menaces of Jupiter, fled to the top of Boreas’s Bed, and there being turned into a crocodile [lay concealed. But Prometheus] slew Caucasus one of the shepherds inhabiting that place; and cutting him up and observing the disposition of his entrails, he foresaw that his enemies were not far off. Presently Jupiter appearing, and binding his father with a woollen list, threw him down to hell. Then changing the name of the mountain in honor of the shepherd Caucasus, he chained Prometheus to it, and caused him to be tormented by an eagle that fed upon his entrails, because he was the first that found out the inspection of bowels, which Jupiter deemed a great cruelty; — as Cleanthes relates in his Third Book of the Wars of the Gods.
Upon this mountain grows an herb which is called Prometheus, which Medea gathering and bruising made use of to protect Jason against her father’s obstinacy.
Arar is a river in Gallia Celtica, deriving the name from its being mixed with the river Rhone. For it falls into the Rhone within the country of the Allobroges. It was formerly called Brigulus, but afterwards changed its name upon this occasion. Arar, as he was a hunting, entering into the wood, and there finding his brother Celtiber torn in pieces by the wild beasts, mortally wounded himself for grief, and fell into the river Brigulus; which from that accident was afterwards called by his own name Arar.
In this river there breeds a certain large fish, which by the natives is called Clupaea. This fish during the increase of the moon is white; but all the while the moon is in the wane, it is altogether black; and when it grows over bulky, it is (as it were) stabbed by its own fins. In the head of it is found a stone like a corn of salt, which, being applied to the left parts of the body when the moon is in the wane, cures quartan agues; — as Callisthenes the Sybarite tells us in the Thirteenth Book of Gallic Relations, from whom Timagenes the Syrian borrowed his argument.
Near to this river stands a mountain called Lugdunum, which changed its name upon this occasion. When Momorus and Atepomarus were dethroned by Seseroneus, in pursuance of the oracle’s command they designed to build a city upon the top of the hill. But when they had laid the foundations, great numbers of crows with their wings expanded covered all the neighboring trees. Upon which Momorus, being a person well skilled in augury, called the city Lugdunum. For lugdon in their language signifies a crow, and dunum* any spacious hill. — This Clitophon reports, in his Thirteenth Book of the Building of Cities.
Pactolus is a river of Lydia, that washes the walls of Sardis, formerly called Chrysorrhoas. For Chrysorrhoas, the son of Apollo and Agathippe, being a mechanic artist, and one that only lived from hand to mouth upon his trade, one time in the middle of the night made bold to break open the treasury of Croesus; and conveying thence a good quantity of gold, he made a distribution of it to his family. But being pursued by the king’s officers, when he saw he must be taken, he threw himself into the river which was afterwards from his name called Chrysorrhoas, and afterwards changed into that of Pactolus upon this occasion.
Pactolus, the son of . . . and Leucothea, during the performance of the mysteries sacred to Venus, ravished Demodice his own sister, not knowing who she was; for which being overwhelmed with grief, he threw himself into the river Chrysorrhoas, which from that time forward was called Pactolus, from his own name. In this river is found a most pure gold sand, which the force of the stream carries into the bosom of the Happy Gulf.
Also in this river is to be found a stone which is called the preserver of the fields, resembling the color of silver, very hard to be found, in regard of its being mixed with the gold sand. The virtue of which is such, that the more wealthy Lydians buy it and lay it at the doors of their treasuries, by which means they preserve their treasure, whatever it be, safe from the seizure of pilfering hands. For upon the approach of thieves or robbers, the stone sends forth a sound like that of a trumpet. Upon which the thieves surprised, and believing themselves apprehended by officers, throw themselves headlong and break their necks; insomuch that the place where the thieves thus frighted come by their violent deaths is called Pactolus’s prison.
In this river also there grows an herb that bears a purple flower, and is called chrysopolis; by which the inhabitants of the neighboring cities try their purest gold. For just before they put their gold into the melting-pot, they touch it with this herb; at what time, if it be pure and unmixed, the leaves of the herb will be tinctured with the gold and preserve the substance of the matter; but if it be adulterated, they will not admit the discoloring moisture; — as Chrysermus relates in his Third Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Tmolus, full of all manner of wild beasts, formerly called Carmanorion, from Carmanor the son of Bacchus and Alexirrhoea, who was killed by a wild boar as he was hunting; but afterward Tmolus upon this occasion.
Tmolus, the son of Mars and Theogone, king of Lydia, while he was a hunting upon Carmanorion, chanced to see the fair virgin Arrhippe that attended upon Diana, and fell passionately in love with her. And such was the heat of his love, that not being able to gain her by fair means, he resolved to vitiate her by force. She, seeing she could by no means escape his fury otherwise, fled to the temple of Diana, where the tyrant, contemning all religion, ravished her, — an infamy which the nymph not being able to survive immediately hanged herself. But Diana would not pass by so great a crime; and therefore, to be revenged upon the king for his irreligious insolence, she set a mad bull upon him, by which the king being tossed up in the air, and falling down upon stakes and stones, ended his days in torment. But Theoclymenus his son, so soon as he had buried his father, altered the name of the mountain, and called it Tmolus after his father’s name.
Upon this mountain grows a stone not unlike a pumice-stone, which is very rare to be found. This stone changes its color four times a day; and is to be seen only by virgins that are not arrived at the years of understanding. But if marriageable virgins happen to see it, they can never receive any injury from those that attempt their chastity; — as Clitophon reports.
Lycormas is a river of Aetolia, formerly called Evenus for this reason. Idas the son of Aphareus, after he had ravished away by violence Marpessa, with whom he was passionately in love, carried her away to Pleuron, a city of Aetolia. This rape of his daughter Evenus could by no means endure, and therefore pursued after the treacherous ravisher, till he came to the river Lycormas. But then despairing to overtake the fugitive, he threw himself for madness into the river, which from his own name was called Evenus.
In this river grows an herb which is called sarissa, because it resembles a spear, of excellent use for those that are troubled with dim sight; — as Archelaus relates in his First Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies Myenus, from Myenus the son of Telestor and Alphesiboea; who, being beloved by his mother-in-law and unwilling to defile his father’s bed, retired himself to the mountain Alphius. But Telestor, being made jealous of his wife, pursued his son into the wilderness; and followed him so close, that Myenus, not being able to escape, flung himself headlong from the top of the mountain, which for that reason was afterwards called Myenus.
Upon this mountain grows a flower called the white violet, which, if you do but name the word step-dame, presently dies away; — as Dercyllus reports in his Third Book of Mountains.
Maeander is a river of Asia, formerly called the Returner. For of all rivers in the world it is the only stream which, taking its rise from its own fountain, seems to run back to its own head.
It is called Maeander from Maeander, the son of Cercaphus and Anaxibia, who, waging war with the Pessinuntines, made a vow to the Mother of the Gods, that if he obtained the victory, he would sacrifice the first that came to congratulate him for his good success. Now it happened that the first that met him were his son Archelaus, his mother, and his sister. All which, though so nearly related to him, he offered in sacrifice to the satisfaction of his vow. But then no less grieved for what he had done, he cast himself into the river, which from this accident was afterwards called by his own name Maeander; — as Timolaus tells us in his First Book of Phrygian Relations. Agathocles the Samian also makes mention of this story, in his Commonwealth of Pessinus.
But Demostratus of Apamea relates the story thus: Maeander being a second time elected general against the Pessinuntines, and obtaining the victory quite contrary to his expectation, gave to his soldiers the offerings due to the Mother of the Gods. At which the Goddess being offended, she deprived him of his reason to that degree, that in the height of his madness he slew both his wife and his son. But coming somewhat to himself and repenting of what he had done, he threw himself into the river, which by his name was called Maeander.
In this river there is a certain stone, which by Antiphrasis is called sophron, or the sober-stone; which if you drop into the bosom of any man, it presently makes him mad to that degree as to murder his nearest relations, but having once atoned the Mother of the Gods, he is presently restored to his wits; — as Damaratus testifies in his Third Book of Rivers. And Archelaus makes mention of the same in his First Book of Stones.
Near to this river lies the mountain Sipylus, so called from Sipylus the son of Agenor and Dioxippe. For he having killed his mother by mistake, and being haunted by the Furies, retired to the Ceraunian mountain, and there hanged himself for grief. After which, by the providence of the Gods, the mountain was called Sipylus.
In this mountain grows a stone that resembles a cylinder, which when children that are obedient to their parents find, they lay it up in the temple of the Mother of the Gods. Nor do they ever transgress out of impiety; but reverence their parents, and are obedient to their superior relations; — as Agatharchides the Samian relates in his Fourth Book of Stones, and Demaratus in his Fourth Book of Phrygia.
Marsyas is a river of Phrygia, flowing by the city Celaenae, and formerly called the fountain of Midas for this reason. Midas, king of Phrygia, travelling in the remoter parts of the country, and wanting water, stamped upon the ground; and there presently appeared a golden fountain. But the water proving gold, and both he and his soldiers being ready to perish for thirst, he invoked the compassion of Bacchus, who listening to his prayers supplied him with water. The Phrygians having by this means quenched their thirst, Midas named the river that issued from the spring the Fountain of Midas. Afterwards it was called Marsyas, upon this occasion.
Marsyas being overcome and flayed by Apollo, certain Satyrs are said to have sprung from the stream of his blood; as also a river bearing the name of Marsyas; — as Alexander Cornelius recites in his Third Book of Phrygian Relations.
But Euemeridas the Cnidian tells the story after this manner. It happened that the wine-bag which was made of Marsyas’s skin, being corroded by time and carried away negligently by the wind, fell at last from the land into Midas’s well; and driving along with the stream, was taken up by a fisherman. At what time Pisistratus the Lacedaemonian, being commanded by the oracle to build near the place where the relics of the Satyr were found, reflected upon the accident, and in obedience to the oracle having built a fair city, called it Noricum, which in the Phrygian language signifies a wine-bag.
In this river grows an herb called the pipe, which being moved in the wind yields a melodious sound; — as Dercyllus reports in his First Book of Satyrics.
Near to this river also lies the mountain Berecyntus, deriving its name from Berecyntus, the first priest to the Mother of the Gods. Upon this mountain is found a stone which is called machaera, very much resembling iron; which if any one happens to light upon while the solemnities of the Mother of the Gods are performing, he presently runs mad; — as Agatharchides reports in his Phrygian Relations.
Strymon is a river of Thrace, that flows along by the city Edonis. It was formerly called Palaestinus, from Palaestinus the son of Neptune. For he being at war with his neighbors, and seized with a violent sickness, sent his son Haliacmon to be general of his army; who, rashly giving battle to his enemies, was slain in the fight. The tidings of which misfortune being brought to Palaestinus, he privately withdrew himself from his guards, and in the desperation of his grief flung himself into the River Conozus, which from that accident was afterwards called Palaestinus. But as for Strymon, he was the son of Mars and Helice; and hearing that his son Rhesus was slain, he flung himself into the river Palaestinus, which was after that called Strymon, by his own name.
In this river grows a stone which is called pausilypus, or the grief-easing stone. This stone if any one find who is oppressed with grief, he shall presently be eased of his sorrow; — as Jason of Byzantium relates in his Thracian Histories.
Near to this river lie the mountains Rhodope and Haemus. These being brother and sister, and both falling in love with each other, the one was so presumptuous as to call his sister his Juno, the other to call her brother her Jupiter; which so offended the Deities, that they changed them into mountains bearing their own names.
In these two mountains grow certain stones, which are called philadelphi, or the loving brethren. These stones are of a crow-color, and resembling human shape, and if they chance to be named when they are separated one from another, they presently and separately, as they lie, dissolve and waste away; — as Thrasyllus the Mendesian testifies in his Third Book of Stones, but more accurately in his Thracian Histories.
Sagaris is a river of Phrygia, formerly called Xerobates because in the summer time it was generally dry. But it was called Sagaris for this reason: Sagaris, the son of Myndon and Alexirrhoe, contemning and slighting the mysteries of the Mother of the Gods, frequently affronted and derided her priests the Galli. At which the Goddess heinously offended, struck him with madness to that degree, that in one of his raging fits he flung himself into the river Xerobates, which from that time forward was called Sagaris.
In this river grows a stone, which is called autoglyphus, that is, naturally engraved; for it is found with the Mother of the Gods by nature engraved upon it. This stone, which is rarely to be found, if any of the Galli or gelded priests happen to light upon, he makes no wonder at it, but undauntedly brooks the sight of a preternatural action; — as Aretazes reports in his Phrygian Relations.
Near to this river lies the mountain Ballenaeus, which in the Phrygian language signifies royal; so called from Ballenaeus, the son of Ganymede and Medesigiste, who perceiving his father almost wasted with a consumption, instituted the Ballenaean festival, observed among the natives to this day.
In this river is to be found a stone called aster, which from the latter end of autumn shines at midnight like fire. It is called in the language of the natives ballen, which being interpreted signifies a king; — as Hermesianax the Cyprian affirms in his Second Book of his Phrygian Relations.
Scamander is a river of Troas, which was formerly called Xanthus, but changed its name upon this occasion. Scamander, the son of Corybas and Demodice, having suddenly beheld the ceremonies while the mysteries of Rhea were solemnizing, immediately ran mad, and being hurried away by his own fury to the River Xanthus, flung himself into the stream, which from thence was called Scamander.
In this river grows an herb like a vetch, that bears a cod with berries rattling in it when they are ripe; whence it derived the name of sistrum, or the rattle; whoever has this herb in possession fears no apparition nor the sight of any God; — as Demostratus writes in his Second Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Ida, formerly Gargarus; on the top of which stand the altars of Jupiter and of the Mother of the Gods. But it was called Ida upon this occasion. Aegesthius, who descended from Jupiter, falling passionately in love with the nymph Ida, obtained her good-will, and begat the Idaean Dactyli, or priests of the Mother of the Gods. After which, Ida running mad in the temple of Rhea, Aegesthius, in remembrance of the love which he bare her, called the mountain by her name.
In this mountain grows a stone called cryphius, as being never to be found but when the mysteries of the Gods are solemnizing; — as Heraclitus the Sicyonian writes in his Second Book of Stones.
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 wicked), 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.
Thermodon is a river of Scythia, deriving its name from this accident. It was formerly called Crystallus, as being often frozen in the summer, the situation of the place producing this effect. But that name was altered upon this occasion. . . .
The Nile is a river in Egypt, that runs by the city of Alexandria. It was formerly called Melas, from Melas the son of Neptune; but afterwards it was called Aegyptus upon this occasion. Aegyptus, the son of Vulcan and Leucippe, was formerly king of the country, between whom and his own subjects happened a civil war; on which account the river Nile not increasing, the Egyptians were oppressed with famine. Upon which the oracle made answer, that the land should be again blessed with plenty, if the king would sacrifice his daughter to atone the anger of the Gods. Upon which the king, though greatly afflicted in his mind, gave way to the public good, and suffered his daughter to be led to the altar. But so soon as she was sacrificed, the king, not able to support the burden of his grief, threw himself into the river Melas, which after that was called Aegyptus. But then it was called Nilus upon this occasion.
Garmathone, queen of Egypt, having lost her son Chrysochoas while he was yet very young, with all her servants and friends most bitterly bemoaned her loss. At what time Isis appearing to her, she surceased her sorrow for a while, and putting on the countenance of a feigned gratitude, kindly entertained the goddess. She, willing to make a suitable return to the queen for the piety which she expressed in her reception, persuaded Osiris to bring back her son from the subterranean regions. When Osiris undertook to do this, at the importunity of his wife, Cerberus — whom some call the Terrible — barked so loud, that Nilus, Garmathone’s husband, struck with a sudden frenzy, threw himself into the river Aegyptus, which from thence was afterwards called Nilus.
In this river grows a stone, not unlike to a bean, which so soon as any dog happens to see, he ceases to bark. It also expels the evil spirit out of those that are possessed, if held to the nostrils of the party afflicted.
There are other stones which are found in this river, called kollotes, which the swallows picking up against the time that Nilus overflows, build up the wall which is called the Chelidonian wall, which restrains the inundation of the water and will not suffer the country to be injured by the fury of the flood; — as Thrasyllus tells us in his Relation of Egypt.
Upon this river lies the mountain Argyllus, so called for this reason.
Jupiter in the heat of his amorous desires ravished away the Nymph Arge from Lyctus, a city of Crete, and then carried her to a mountain of Egypt called Argillus, and there begat a son, whom he named Dionysus (or Bacchus); who, growing up to years of manhood, in honor of his mother called the hill Argillus; and then mustering together an army of Pans and Satyrs, first conquered the Indians, and then subduing Spain, left Pan behind him there, the chief commander and governor of those places. Pan by his own name called that country Pania, which was afterward by his posterity called Spania; — as Sosthenes relates in the Thirteenth Book of Iberian Relations.
Himerus, the son of the Nymph Taygete and Lacedaemon, through the anger of offended Venus, at a revelling that lasted all night, deflowered his sister Cleodice, not knowing what he did. But the next day being informed of the truth of the matter, he laid it so to heart, that through excess of grief he flung himself into the river Marathon, which from thence was called Himeros; but after that Eurotas, upon this occasion.
The Lacedaemonians being at war with the Athenians, and staying for the full moon, Eurotas their captain-general, despising all religion, would needs fight his enemies, though at the same time he was warned by thunder and lightning. However, having lost his army, the ignominy of his loss so incessantly perplexed him, that he flung himself into the river Himerus, which from that accident was afterwards called Eurotas.
In this river grows a stone which is shaped like a helmet, called thrasydeilos, or rash and timorous. For if it hears a trumpet sound, it leaps toward the bank of the river; but if you do but name the Athenians, it presently sinks to the bottom of the water. Of these stones there are not a few which are consecrated and laid up in the temple of Minerva of the Brazen House; — as Nicanor the Samian relates in his Second Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Taygetus, deriving its name from the nymph Taygete, who, after Jupiter had deflowered her, being overcome by grief, ended her days by hanging at the summit of the mountain Amyclaeus, which from thence was called Taygetus.
Upon this mountain grows a plant called Charisia, which the women at the beginning of the spring tied about their necks, to make themselves more passionately beloved by men; — as Cleanthes reports in his First Book of Mountains. But Sosthenes the Cnidian is more accurate in the relation of these things, from whom Hermogenes borrowed the subject of his writing.
Inachus is a river in the territories of Argos, formerly called Carmanor. Afterwards Haliacmon, for this reason.
Haliacmon, a Tirynthian by birth, while he kept sheep upon the mountain Coccygium, happened against his will to see Jupiter and Rhea sporting together; for which being struck mad, and hurried by the violence of the frenzy, he flung himself into the river Carmanor, which after that was called Haliacmon. Afterwards it was called Inachus upon this occasion.
Inachus, the son of Oceanus, after that Jupiter had deflowered his daughter Io, pursued the Deity close at the heels, abusing and cursing him all the way as he went. Which so offended Jupiter, that he sent Tisiphone, one of the Furies, who haunted and plagued him to that degree, that he flung himself into the river Haliacmon, afterwards called by his own name Inachus.
In this river grows an herb called cynura, not unlike our common rue, which the women that desire to miscarry without any danger lay upon their navels, being first steeped in wine.
There is also found in this river a certain stone, not unlike a beryl, which in the hands of those who intend to bear false witness will grow black. Of these stones there are many laid up in the temple of Juno Prosymnaea; — as Timotheus relates in his Argolica, and Agatho the Samian in his Second Book of Rivers.
Agathocles the Milesian, in his History of Rivers, also adds, that Inachus for his impiety was thunderstruck by Jupiter, and so the river dried up.
Near to this river lie the mountains Mycenae, Apesantus, Coccygium, and Athenaeum; so called for these reasons. Apesantus was first called Selenaeus. For Juno, resolving to be revenged upon Hercules, called the moon (Selene) to her assistance, who by the help of her magical charms filled a large chest full of foam and froth, out of which sprang an immense lion; which Iris binding with her own girdle carried to the mountain Opheltium, where the lion killed and tore in pieces Apesantus, one of the shepherds belonging to that place. And from that accident, by the will of the Gods, the hill was called Apesantus; — as Demodocus writes in his First Book of the History of Hercules.
In this river grows an herb called selene, with the froth of which, being gathered in the spring, the shepherds anoint their feet, and keep them from being bit or stung by any creeping vermin.
Mycenae was formerly called Argion, from the many-eyed Argos; but afterwards the name was changed upon this occasion.
When Perseus had slain Medusa, Stheno and Euryale, sisters to her that was killed, pursued him as a murderer. But coming to this hill and despairing to overtake him, out of that extreme love which they had for their sister they made such a bellowing (μυϰηθμός), that the natives from thence called the top of the mountain Mycenae; — as Ctesias the Ephesian relates in his First Book of the Acts of Perseus. But Chrysermus the Corinthian relates the story thus in the First Book of his Peloponnesiacs. For he says that, when Perseus was carried aloft in the air and lit upon this mountain, he lost the chape of his scabbard. At what time this same Gorgophonos (or Gorgon-slayer), king of the Epidaurians, being expelled his kingdom, received this answer upon his consulting the oracle, that he should visit all the cities of the Argolic territory, and that where he found the chape of a scabbard (called in Greek μυϰής), he should build a city. Thereupon coming to the mountain Argium, and finding there an ivory scabbard, he built a city, and from the accident called it Mycenae.
In this mountain there is found a stone, which is called corybas, of a crow-color, which he that finds and wears about him shall never be afraid of any monstrous apparitions. As for the mountain Apesantus, this may be added, that Apesantus, the son of Acrisius, as he was a hunting in that place, chanced to tread upon a venomous serpent, which occasioned his death. Whom when his father had buried, in memory of his son he named the hill Apesantus, which before was called Selinuntius.
The mountain Coccygium derived its name from this accident. Jupiter falling desperately in love with his sister Juno, and having vanquished her by his importunity, begat a male child. From whence the mountain, before called Lyrceum, was named Coccygium; — as Agathonymus relates in his Persis.
In this mountain grows a tree, which is called paliurus; upon the boughs of which whatever fowl happens to perch, it is presently entangled as it were with bird-lime, and cannot stir; only the cuckoo it lets go free, without any harm; — as Ctesiphon testifies in his First Book of Trees.
As for the mountain Athenaeum, it derives its name from Minerva. For after the destruction of Troy, Diomede returning to Argos, ascended the mountain Ceraunius, and there erecting a temple to Minerva, called the mountain Athenaeum from her name Athena.
Upon the top of this mountain grows a root like to that of rue, which if any woman unwarily taste of, she presently runs mad. This root is called Adrastea; — as Plesimachus writes in his Second Book of the Returns of the Heroes.
Alpheus is a river of Arcadia, running by the walls of Pisa, a city of Olympia. It was formerly called Stymphelus, from Stymphelus the son of Mars and Dormothea; who, having lost his brother Alcmaeon, threw himself for grief into the river Nyctimus, for that reason called Stymphelus. Afterwards it was called Alpheus upon this occasion.
Alpheus, one of those that derive their descent from the Sun, contending with his brother Cercaphus about the kingdom, slew him. For which being chased away and pursued by the Furies, he flung himself into the river Nyctimus, which after that was called Alpheus.
In this river grows a plant which is called cenchritis, resembling a honey-comb, the decoction of which, being given by the physicians to those that are mad, cures them of their frenzy; — as Ctesias relates in his First Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Cronium, so called upon this occasion. After the Giants’ war, Saturn, to avoid the threats of Jupiter, fled to the mountain Cturus, and called it Cronium from his own name. Where after he had absconded for some time, he took his opportunity, and retired to Caucasus in Scythia.
In this mountain is found a stone, which is called the cylinder, upon this occasion. For as oft as Jupiter either thunders or lightens, so often this stone through fear rolls down from the top of the mountain; — as Dercyllus writes in his First Book of Stones.
Euphrates is a river of Parthia, washing the walls of Babylon, formerly called Medus from Medus the son of Artaxerxes. He, in the heat of his lust, having ravished away and deflowered Roxane, and finding he was sought after by the king, in order to be brought to punishment, threw himself into the river Xaranda, which from thenceforward was called by his name Medus. Afterwards it was called Euphrates upon this occasion.
Euphrates the son of Arandacus, finding his son Axurta abed with his mother, and thinking him to be some one of the citizens, provoked by his jealousy, drew his sword and nailed him to the bed. But perceiving himself the author of what could not be recalled, he flung himself for grief into the river Medus, which from that time forward was called by his name Euphrates.
In this river grows a stone called aetites, which midwives applying to the navels of women that are in hard labor, it causes them to bring forth with little pain.
In the same river also there grows an herb which is called axalla, which signifies heat. This herb they that are troubled with quartan-agues apply to their breasts, and are presently delivered from the fit; — as Chrysermus writes in his Thirteenth Book of Rivers.
Near this river lies the mountain Drimylus, where grows a stone not unlike a sardonyx, worn by kings and princes upon their diadems, and greatly available against dimness of sight; — as Nicias Mallotes writes in his Book of Stones.
Caicus is a river of Mysia, formerly called Astraeus, from Astraeus the son of Neptune. For he, in the height of Minerva’s nocturnal solemnities having deflowered his sister by a mistake, took a ring at the same time from her finger; by which when he understood the next day the error which he had committed, for grief he threw himself headlong into the river Adurus, which from thence was called Astraeus. Afterwards it came to be called Caicus upon this occasion.
Caicus, the son of Hermes and Ocyrrhoe the Nymph, having slain Timander one of the noblemen of the country, and fearing the revenge of his relations, flung himself into the river Astraeus, which from that accident was called Caicus.
In this river grows a sort of poppy, which instead of fruit bears stones. Of these there are some which are black and shaped like harps, which the Mysians throw upon their ploughed lands; and if the stones lie still in the place where they are thrown, it is a sign of a barren year; but if they fly away like so many locusts, they prognosticate a plentiful harvest.
In the same river also grows an herb which is called elipharmacus, which the physicians apply to such as are troubled with immoderate fluxes of blood, as having a peculiar virtue to stop the orifices of the veins; — according to the relation of Timagoras in his First Book of Rivers.
Adjoining to the banks of this river lies the mountain Teuthras, so called from Teuthras king of the Mysians; who in pursuance of his sport, as he was a hunting, ascending the hill Thrasyllus and seeing a monstrous wild boar, followed him close with the rest of his train. On the other side, the boar, to prevent the hunters, like a suppliant fled to the temple of Orthosian Diana, into which when the hunters were about to force their entrance, the boar in articulate words cried out, Spare, O king, the nursling of the Goddess. However, Teuthras, exalted with his good success, killed the poor boar. At which Diana was so highly offended, that she restored the boar to life, but struck the offender with scurf and madness. Which affliction the king not enduring betook himself to the tops of the mountains. But his mother Leucippe, understanding what had befallen her son, ran to the forest, taking along with her the soothsayer Polyidus, the son of Coeranus; by whom being informed of all the several circumstances of the matter, by many sacrifices she at last atoned the anger of the Goddess, and having quite recovered and cured her son, erected an altar to Orthosian Diana, and caused a golden boar to be made with a man’s face. Which to this day, if pursued by the hunters, enters the temple, and speaks with the voice of a man the word “spare.” Thus Teuthras, being restored to his former health, called the mountain by his own name Teuthras.
In this mountain grows a stone called antipathes (or the resister), which is of excellent virtue to cure scabs and leprosies, being powdered and mixed with wine; — as Ctesias the Cnidian tells us in his Second Book of Mountains.
Achelous is a river of Aetolia, formerly called Thestius. This Thestius was the son of Mars and Pisidice, who upon some domestic discontent travelled as far as Sicyon, where after he had resided for some time, he returned to his native home. But finding there his son Calydon and his mother both upon the bed together, believing him to be an adulterer, he slew his own child by a mistake. But when he beheld the unfortunate and unexpected fact he had committed, he threw himself into the river Axenos, which from thence was afterwards called Thestius. And after that, it was called Achelous upon this occasion.
Achelous, the son of Oceanus and the Nymph Nais, having deflowered his daughter Cletoria by mistake, flung himself for grief into the river Thestius, which then by his own name was called Achelous.
In this river grows an herb, which they call zaclon, very much resembling wool; this if you bruise and cast into wine, it becomes water, and preserves the smell but not the virtues of the wine.
In the same river also is found a certain stone of a mixed black and lead color, called linurgus from the effect; for if you throw it upon a linen cloth, by a certain affectionate union it assumes the form of the linen, and turns white; — as Antisthenes relates in the Third Book of his Meleagris, though Diocles the Rhodian more accurately tells us the same thing in his Aetolics.
Near to this river lies the mountain Calydon, so called from Calydon, the son of Mars and Astynome; for that he, by an accident having seen Diana bathing herself, was transformed into a rock; and the mountain which before was named Gyrus was afterwards by the providence of the Gods called Calydon.
Upon this mountain grows an herb called myops. This if any one steep in water and wash his face with it, he shall lose his sight, but upon his atoning Diana, he shall recover it again; — as Dercyllus writes in his Third Book of Aetolics.
Araxes is a river in Armenia, so called from Araxus the son of Pylus. For he, contending with his grandfather Arbelus for the empire, shot him with an arrow. For which being haunted by the Furies, he threw himself into the river Bactros, for that reason called Araxes; — as Ctesiphon testifies in his First Book of the Persian Affairs. Araxes, king of the Armenians, being at war with his neighbors the Persians, before they came to a battle, was told by the oracle that he should win the victory if he sacrificed to the Gods two of the most noble virgins in his kingdom. Now he, out of his paternal affection to his children, spared his own daughters, and caused two lovely virgins, the daughters of one of his nobility, to be laid upon the altar. Which Mnesalces, the father of the victims, laying to heart, for a time concealed his indignation; but afterwards, observing his opportunity, he killed both the king’s daughters, and then leaving his native soil fled into Scythia. Which when Araxes understood, for grief he threw himself into the river Halmus, which then was altered and called Araxes.
In this river grows a plant which is called araxa, which in the language of the natives signifies a virgin-hater. For that if it happen to be found by any virgin, it falls a bleeding and dies away.
In the same river there is also found a stone of a black color, called sicyonus. This stone, when the oracle advises the sacrificing of a human victim, is laid upon the altar of the mischief-diverting Gods. And then, no sooner does the priest touch it with his knife, but it sends forth a stream of blood; at what time the superstitious sacrificers retire, and with howlings and loud ohoning carry the stone to the temple; — as Dorotheus the Chaldaean relates in his Second Book of Stones.
Near to this river lies the mountain Diorphus, so called from Diorphus the son of the Earth, of whom this story is reported. Mithras desirous to have a son, yet hating woman-kind, lay with a stone, till he had heated it to that degree that the stone grew big, and at the prefixed time was delivered of a son, called Diorphus; who, growing up and contending with Mars for courage and stoutness, was by him slain, and by the providence of the Gods was transformed into the mountain which was called Diorphus by his name.
In this mountain grows a tree, not unlike a pomegranate-tree, which yields plenty of apples, in taste like grapes. Now if any one gather the ripest of this fruit, and do but name Mars while he holds it in his hand, it will presently grow green again; — as Ctesiphon witnesses in his Thirteenth Book of Trees.
Tigris is a river of Armenia flowing into Araxes and the lake of Arsacis, formerly called Sollax, which signifies running and carried downward. It was called Tigris upon this occasion.
Bacchus, through the design of Juno running mad, wandered over sea and land, desirous to be quit of his distemper. At length coming into Armenia, and not being able to pass the river before-mentioned, he called upon Jupiter; who, listening to his prayers, sent him a tiger that carried him safely over the water. In remembrance of which accident, he called the river Tigris; — as Theophilus relates in his First Book of Stones. But Hermesianax the Cyprian tells the story thus: —
Bacchus falling in love with the Nymph Alphesiboea, and being able to vanquish her neither with presents nor entreaties, turned himself into the shape of the river Tigris, and overcoming his beloved by fear, took her away, and carrying her over the river, begat a son whom he called Medus; who growing up in years, in remembrance of the accident he called the river by the name of Tigris; — as Aristonymus relates in his Third Book . . .
In this river a stone is to be found, called myndan, very white; which whoever possesses shall never be hurt by wild beasts; — as Leo of Byzantium relates in his Third Book of Rivers.
Near to this river lies the mountain Gauran; so called from Gauran the son of the satrap Roxanes; who, being extremely religious and devout towards the Gods, received this reward of his piety, that of all the Persians he only lived three hundred years; and dying at last without being ever afflicted with any disease, was buried upon the top of the mountain Gauran, where he had a sumptuous monument erected to his memory. Afterwards, by the providence of the Gods, the name of the mountain was changed to that of Mausorus.
In this mountain grows an herb, which is like to wild barley. This herb the natives heat over the fire, and anointing themselves with the oil of it, are never sick, till the necessity of dying overtakes them; — as Sostratus writes in his First Collection of Fabulous History.
Indus is a river in India, flowing with a rapid violence into the country of the fish-devourers. It was first called Mausolus, from Mausolus the son of the Sun, but changed its name for this reason.
At the time when the mysteries of Bacchus were solemnized and the people were earnest at their devotion, Indus, one of the chief of the young nobility, by force deflowered Damasalcidas, the daughter of Oxyalcus the king of the country, as she was carrying the sacred basket; for which being sought for by the tyrant, in order to bring him to condign punishment, for fear he threw himself into the river Mausolus, which from that accident was afterwards called Indus.
In this river grows a certain stone called . . . which if a virgin carry about her, she need never be afraid of being deflowered.
In the same river also grows an herb, not unlike to bugloss. Which is an excellent remedy against the king’s-evil, being administered to the patient in warm water; — as Clitophon the Rhodian reports in his First Book of Indian Relations.
Near to this mountain lies the mountain Lilaeus, so called from Lilaeus a shepherd; who, being very superstitious and a worshipper of the Moon alone, always performed her mysteries in the dead time of the night. Which the rest of the Gods taking for a great dishonor, sent two monstrous lions that tore him in pieces. Upon which the Moon turned her adorer into a mountain of the same name.
In this mountain a stone is found which is called clitoris, of a very black color, which the natives wear for ornament’s sake in their ears; — as Aristotle witnesses in his Fourth Book of Rivers.
Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son.
[* ]A very slight inspection of this strange treatise will convince the reader that it is justly placed among the Pseudoplutarchea. It is reprinted here merely because it was included in the original translation. (G.)
[* ]Whence probably our English word down.