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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Lamber or Lambrus

  A river of Northern Italy, in Gallia Transpadana, noticed by Pliny among the affluents of the Padus which join that river on its left or northern bank. (Plin. iii. 19. s. 23.) It is still called the Lambro, and rises in a small lake called the Logo di Pusiano (the Eupilis Lacus of Pliny), from whence it flows within 3 miles of Milan, and enters the Po about midway between the Ticino and the Adda. Sidonius Apollinaris contrasts its stagnant and weedy stream (ulvosum Lambrum) with the blue waters of the Addua. (Ep. i. 5.) The Tabula as well as the Geographer of Ravenna give a town of the name of Lambrum, of which no trace is found elsewhere. It is probably a corruption of a station, Ad Lambrum, at the passage of the river of that name, though the Tabula erroneously transfers it to the S. side of the Padus. (Tab. Pent.; Geogr. Rav. iv. 30.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited July 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Eridanus (Eridanos) was the name given by the Greeks to the Padus or Po, the great river of Northern Italy. The appellation was adopted from them by the Roman poets, and hence is occasionally used even by Latin prose writers. (Virg. Georg. i. 481; Ovid. Met. ii. 324; Propert. i. 12. 4; Martial, iii. 67. 2; &c.) But there is good reason to believe that the name was not in the first instance applied to the Padus, but belonged to quite a different region of Europe, and was some time before it acquired the signification in which it was afterwards employed. The name of the Eridanus appears in the earliest Greek authorities inseparably connected with the well-known fable of the sisters of Phaethon, and the trees that wept tears of amber. This myth appears to have been already known to Hesiod (Hygin. 154; Hesiod, Fr. 184. ed. Markscheffel), who in his extant works notices the Eridanus among the Greek rivers of the world (Theog. 338): but we have no idea of the geographical position which he assigned it. The current opinion in the days of Herodotus appears to have been that the Eridanus was a river in the more westerly regions of Europe, but flowing into the sea on the north of that continent. (Herod. iii. 115.) The historian, however, rejects this notion, and treats both the name and existence of the Eridanus as a mere fiction of the Greek poets: a view adopted at a much later period by Strabo (v. p. 215). The vagueness of the notions entertained concerning its situation is farther proved by the fact that, according to Pliny, Aeschylus spoke of the Eridanus as a river of Iberia, and identified it with the Rhodanus. (Plin. xxxvii. 2. s. 11.) According to Hyginus, Pherecydes was the first who identified the Eridanus with the Padus. (Hygin. 154.) Euripides evidently adopts the same view, as he connects the former river with the shores of the Adriatic (Eur. Hipp. 737); and this opinion seems to have become gradually established among the Greeks. Scylax, writing about the middle of the 4th century B.C., distinctly places the river Eridanus in the land of the Veneti, and there is no doubt that the Padus is the river which he meant. (Scyl. p. 6. § 19.) The same view was henceforth adopted by all the geographers except Strabo, who, not choosing to admit the identity of the two rivers, rejects altogether the Eridanus as a mere fiction, as well as the islands of the Electrides, supposed to be situated at its mouth (Strab. v. p. 215; Pol. ii. 16; Scymn. Ch. 391-397; Plin. iii. 16. s. 20, xxxvii. 2. s. 11; Dionys. Per. 289-293; Diod. v. 23; Paus. i. 3. § 6, v. 14. § 3.)
  The real fact appears to be, that the name of Eridanus was originally applied by the Greeks to a great river in the north of Europe, on the shores of which amber was produced, and of which some vague report had reached them through means of the traders who brought the amber itself from the shores of the Baltic to the head of the Adriatic. It is idle to inquire what the river really meant was; whether the Oder or Vistula, at the mouths of which amber is now found in the greatest quantity, or some other river of the N. of Germany. The name Eridanus is evidently closely connected, if not identical, with that of Rhodanus, and it is probable enough that Rhenus is only another form of the same word. (Latham, Germania, p. 13.) Hence, in the vague geographical notions of the early Greeks, one great river was easily confounded with another. Aeschylus, as already mentioned, identified the Eridanus and Rhodanus: while Apollonius Rhodius, writing at a much later period, but evidently following some earlier poet, describes the two rivers as arms of the same great stream, another portion of which flowed into the ocean. (Apoll. Rhod. iv. 596, 627, 628.) Amber appears to have been brought in very early times (as it still was in the days of Pliny) overland from the shores of the Baltic to those of the Adriatic; here it was purchased by the Phoenicians and early Greek traders: whence it came to be regarded, by a very natural error, as a production of the country, and the name of the Eridanus being inseparably connected with the production of amber, the Greeks gave the name to the great river that forms so conspicuous a feature of this part of Italy. The gum. like nature of the substance itself evidently gave rise to the fable of its distilling or exuding from trees, which was afterwards applied by the poets and mythographers to the poplars that adorned the banks of the Padus, now assumed to be the true Eridanus. (Cluver. Ital. pp. 390-393; Wernsdorf, Exc. ii. ad Avien. Or. Marit.)
  The origin and history of the connection between the Eridanus and Padus have been given at some length, on account of its important bearing on the progress of ancient geography: the geographical account of the latter river and its tributaries is given under the head of Padus.
  Several ancient writers placed near the mouth of the mythical Eridanus certain islands which they called the Electrides Insulae (Elektrides uesoi), on the shores of which it was said that much amber was found, from whence their name was derived. But as there are in fact no islands in this part of the Adriatic, except those actually formed by the mouths of the Padus, Strabo and Pliny reject altogether the existence of the Electrides as fabulous, while other writers seem to have sought them among the numerous groups of islands which line the opposite shore of the Adriatic. (Strab. v. p. 215; Plin. xxxvii. 2. s. 11.) As much of the amber collected in the Baltic is really found in the islands at the mouths of the great rivers, it is not impossible that some obscure tradition of this fact may have given rise to the name of the Electrides, which were subsequently transferred, together with the Eridanus itself from the Baltic to the Adriatic.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Padus (Pados: Po), the principal river of Northern Italy, and much the largest river in Italy altogether. Hence Virgil calls it fluviorum rex (Georg. i. 481), and Strabo even erroneously terms it the greatest river in Europe after the Danube. (Strab. iv. p. 204.) It has its sources in the Monte Viso, or Mons Vesulus, one of the highest summits of the Western Alps (Plin. iii. 16. s. 20; Mel. ii. 4. § 4). and from thence to the Adriatic has a course of above 400 miles. Pliny estimates it at 300 Roman miles without including the windings, which add about 88 more. (Plin. iii. 16. s. 20.) Both statements are beneath the truth. According to modern authorities its course, including its windings, is calculated at 380 Italian, or 475 Roman miles. (Rampoldi, Diz. Topogr. d'Italia, vol. iii. p. 284.) After a very short course through a mountain valley it descends into the plain a few miles from Saluzzo, and from thence flows without interruption through a plain or broad level valley all the way to the sea. Its course from Saluzzo, as far as Chi vasso (through the district of the ancient Vagienni and Taurini), is nearly NE ; but after rounding the hills of the Monferrat, it turns due E., and pursues this course with but little variation the whole way to the Adriatic. The great plain or valley of the Po is in fact one of the most important physical features of Italy. Bounded on the N. by the Alps, and on the S. by the Apennines, both of which ranges have in this part of their course a general direction from W. to E., it forms a gigantic trough-like basin, which receives the whole of the waters that flow from the southern slopes of the Alps and the northern ones of the Apennines. Hence, as Pliny justly observes (l. c.), there is hardly any other river which, within the same space, receives so many and such important tributaries. Those from the north, on its left bank, are the most considerable, being fed by the perpetual snows of the Alps; and many of these form extensive lakes at the points where they first reach the plain; after quitting which they are deep and navigable rivers, though in some cases still very rapid. Pliny states that the Padus receives in all thirty tributary rivers, but it is difficult to know which he reckons as such; he himself enumerates only seventeen; but this number can be increased almost indefinitely, if we include smaller streams. The principal tributaries will be here enumerated in order, beginning from the source, and proceeding alone the left bank. They are: 1. the Clusius (Chiusone), not noticed by Pliny, but the name of which is found in the Tabula; 2. the Duria commonly called Duria Minor, or Dora Riparia ; 3. the Stura (Stura); 4. the Orgus (Orco); 5. the Duria Major, or Bantica (Dora Baltea), one of the greatest of all the tributaries of the Padus ; 6. the Sesites (Sesia) ; 7. the Ticinus (Ticino), flowing from the Lacus Verbanus (Lago Maggiore); 8. the Lamber or Lambrus (Lambro), a much less considerable stream, and which does not rise in the high Alps; 9. the Addua (Adda), flowing from the Lacus Larius or Lago di Como; 10. the Ollius (Oglio), which flows from the Lacus Sebinus (Lago d'Iseo), and brings with it the tributary waters of the Mela (Mella) and Clusius (Chiese); 11. the Mincius (Mincio), flowing from the Lago di Garda, or Lacus Benacus. Below this the Po cannot be said to receive any regular tributary; for though it communicates at more than one point with the Tartareo and Adige (Athesis),the channels are all artificial and the bulk of the waters of the Adige are carried out to the sea by their own separate channel.
  On the southern or right bank of the Padus its principal tributaries are: 1. the Tanarus (Tanaro), a large river, which has itself received the important tributary streams of the Stura and Bormida, so that it brings with it almost all the waters of the Maritime Alps and adjoining tract of the Ligurian Apennines ; 2. the Scrivia, a considerable stream, but the ancient name of which is unknown; 3. the Trebia (Trebbia), flowing by Placentia; 4. the Tarus (Taro); 5. the Nicia (Enza); 6. the Gabellus of Pliny, called also Secia (Secchia); 7. the Scultenna now called the Panaro; 8. the Rhenus (Reno), flowing near Bologna. To these may be added several smaller streams, viz.: the Idex (Idice), Silarus (Sillaro), Vatrenus (Plin., now Santerno), and Sinnus (Sinno), all of which discharge themselves into the southern arm of the Po, now called the Po di Primaro, and anciently known as the Spineticum Ostium, below the point where it separates from the main stream. Several smaller tributaries of the river in the highest part of its course are noticed in the Tabula or by the Geographer of Ravenna, which are not mentioned by any ancient author; but their names are for the most part corrupt and uncertain.
  Though flowing for the most part through a great plain, the Padus thus derives the great mass of its waters directly from two great mountain ranges, and the consequence is that it is always a strong, rapid, and turbid stream, and has been in all ages subject to violent inundations. (Virg. Georg. i. 481; Plin. l. c.) The whole soil of the lower valley of the Po is indeed a pure alluvial deposit, and may be considered, like the valley of the Mississippi or the Delta of the Nile, as formed by the gradual accumulation of mud, sand, and gravel, brought down by the river itself and its tributary streams. But this process was for the most part long anterior to the historical period; and there can be no doubt that this portion of Italy had already acquired very much its present character and configuration as early as the time of the first Etruscan settlements. The valley of the Padus, as well as the river itself, are well described by Polybius (the earliest extant author in whom the Roman name of Padus is found), as well as at a later period by Strabo and Pliny. (Pol. ii. 16; Strab. iv. pp. 203, 204, v. p. 212; Plin. iii. 16. s. 20.) Considerable changes have, however, taken place in the lower part of its course, near the Adriatic sea. Here the river forms a kind of great delta, analogous in many respects to that of the Nile; and the phenomenon is complicated, as in that case, by the existence of great lagunes bordering the coast of the Adriatic, which are bounded by narrow strips or bars of sand, separating them from the sea, though leaving open occasional channels of communication, so that the lagunes are always salt and affected by the tides, which are more sensible in this part of the Adriatic than in the Mediterranean. (Strab. v. p. 212.) These lagunes, which are well described by Strabo, extended in his time from Ravenna to Altinum, both of which cities stood in the lagunes or marshes, and were; built, on piles, in the same manner as the modern Venice. But the whole of these could not be fairly considered as belonging to the Delta of the Padus; the more northerly being formed at the mouths of other rivers, the Athesis, Meduacus, &c., which had no direct or natural communication with the great river. They all, however, communicated with the Padus, and with one another, by channels or canals more or less artificial; and as this was already the case in the time of Pliny, that author distinctly reckons the mouths of the Padus to extend from Ravenna to Altinum. (Plin. l. c.) From the earliest period that this tract was occupied by a settled people, the necessity must have been felt of embanking the various arms and channels of the river, for protection against inundation, as well as of constructing artificial cuts and channels, both for carrying off its superfluous waters and for purposes of communication. The earliest works of this kind are ascribed to the Etruscans (Plin. l. c.), and from that time to the present day, they have been carried on with occasional interruptions. But in addition to these artificial changes, the river has from time to time burst its banks and forced for itself new channels, or diverted the mass of its waters into those which were previously unimportant. The most remarkable of these changes which is recorded with certainty, took place in 1152, when the main stream of the Po, which then flowed S. of Feerara, suddenly changed its course, and has ever since flowed about 3 miles N. of that city. Hence it is probable that all the principal modern mouths of the Po, front the Po di Goro to the Po di Levante, were in ancient times comparatively inconsiderable.
  Polybius (ii. 16) describes the Padus as having only two principal mouths, which separated at a place called Trigaboli (the site of which cannot be determined); the one of these is called by him Padoa (Padoa), and the other, which was the principal channel, and the one commonly navigated, he calls Olana or Holana (Holana). This; last is in all probability the channel still called Po di Volano, which until the great inundation of 1152, above noticed, was still the principal mouth. of the Po. The other is probably the southernmost branch of the river, which separates from the preceding at. Ferrara, and is carried at the present day by a wholly artificial channel into the sea at Primaro, from whence it derives the name of Po di Primaro. Its present mouth is about 15 miles N. of Ravenna; but it seems that in the days of Pliny, and probably in those of Polybius also, it discharged itself into the lagunes which then surrounded Ravenna on all sides. Pliny terms it Padusa, but gives it also the name of Fossa Augusta, from its course having been artificially regulated, and perhaps altered, by that emperor. (Plin. iii. 16. s. 20.) The same author gives us a detailed enumeration of the mouths of the Padus as they existed in his day, but from the causes of change already adverted to, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to identify them with certainty.
  They were, according to him: 1. the Padusa or Fossa Augusta, which (he adds) was previously called Messanicus: this has now wholly ceased to exist. 2. The Portus Vatreni, evidently deriving its name from being the mouth of the river Vatrenus, which flowed from Forum Cornelii, just as the Po di Primaro is at the present day called the mouth of the Reno. This was also known as the Spineticum Ostium, from the once celebrated city of Spina, which was situated on its banks. It was probably the same with the modern Po di Primaro. 3. Ostium Caprasiae. 4. Sagis. 5. Volana, previously called Olane: this is evidently the Olana of Polybius, and the modern Po di Volano; the two preceding cannot be identified, but must have been openings communicating with the great lagunes of Comacchio. 6. The Carbonaria, perhaps the Po di Goro. 7. The Fossio Philistina, which seems to have been an artificial canal, conveying the waters of the Tartarus still called Tartaro, to the sea. This cannot be identified, the changes of the mouths of the river in this, part being too considerable. The whole of the present delta, formed by the actual mouths of the Po (from. the Po di Goro to the Po di Levante), must have been formed since the great change of 1152; its progress for some centuries back can be accurately traced; and we know that it has advanced not less than 9 miles in little more than two centuries and a half, and at least 15 miles since the 12th century. Beyond this the delta belongs rather to the Adige, and more northern streams, than to the Po; the next mouth being that of the main stream of the Adige itself, and just. beyond it the Porto. di Brondolo (the Brundulus Portus of Pliny), which at the present day is the mouth of the Brenta.1
  The changes which have taken place on this lin of coast are due not only to the pushing forward of the coast-line at the actual mouths of the rivers, but to the filling up of the lagunes. These in ancient times extended beyond Ravenna on the S.; but that city is now surrounded on all sides by dry land, and the lagunes only begin to the N. of the Po di Primaro. Here the lagunes of Comacchio extend over a space of above 20 miles in length, as far as the mouth of the Po di Volano; but from that point to the fort of Brondolo, where the Venetian lagunes begin, though the whole country is very low and marshy, it is no longer covered with water, as it obviously was at no distant period. It is now therefore, impossible to determine what were the particular lagunes designated by Pliny as the Septem Maria and indeed the passage in which he alludes to them is not very clear; but as he calls them Atrianorum Paludes, they would seem to have been in the neighbourhood of Adria, and may probably have been the extensive lagunes (now converted into marshes) S. of Ariano. At a later period the name seems to have been differently used. The Itinerary speaks of the navigation per Septem Maria [a Ravenna] Altinum usque, so that the name seems here to be applied to the whole extent of the lagunes; and it is employed in the same sense by Herodian (viii. 7); while the Tabula, on the contrary,gives the name to a particular point or station on the line of route from Ravenna to Altinum. This line, which is given in much detail, must have been by water, though not so specified, as there never could have been a road along the line in question; but it is impossible to identify with any certainty the stations or points named. (Itin. Ant. p. 126; Tab. Peut.)
  Polybius speaks of the Padus as navigable for a distance of 2000 stadia, or 250 Roman miles from the sea. (Pol. ii. 16.) Strabo notices it as navigable from Placentia downwards to Ravenna, without saying that it was not practicable higher up: and Pliny correctly describes it as beginning to be navigable from Augusta Taurinorum (Turin), more than 120 miles above Placentia. (Strab. v. p. 217; Plin. iii. 17. s. 21.) Ancient writers already remarked that the stream of the Padus was fuller and more abundant in summer than in winter or spring, owing to its being fed in great part by the melting of the snows in the high Alps. (Pol. ii. 16; Plin. iii. 16. s. 20.) It is not till after it has received the waters of the Duria Major or Dora Baltea, a stream at least as considerable as itself, that the Po becomes a really great river. Hence, it is about this point (as Pliny observes) that it first attains to. a considerable depth. But at the present day it is not practicable for vessels of any considerable burden above Casale, about 25 miles lower down.
  The origin of the name of Padus is uncertain. According to Metrodorus of Scepsis (cited by Pliny, l. c.), it was a Celtic name, derived from the number of pine-trees which grew around its sources. The etymology seems very doubtful; but the fact that the name was of Celtic origin is rendered probable by the circumstance that, according both to Polybius and Pliny, the name given it by the Ligurians (the most ancient inhabitants of its banks) was Bodincus or Bodencus (Bodenkos, Pol. ii. 16; Plin. iii. 16. s. 20), a name said to be derived from its great it depth. It is well known that it was early identified it by the Greeks with the mythical Eridanus and was commonly called by them, as well as by the Latin poets, by that name, even at a late period. It may be added, that the poplar trees which figure in the fable of Phaeton (in its later form) evidently refer to the tall and graceful trees, still commonly known as Lombardy poplars, from their growing in abundance on the banks of the Po.
1 Much curious information concerning the delta of the Po, and the changes which this part of the coast: has undergone will be. found in a, note appended to Cuvier's Discours sur les Revolutions de la Surface du Globe, p. 75, 4to. edit. Paris, 1825.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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Total results on 28/3/2001: 45 for Eridanus, 6 for Eridanos.

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