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Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)

Maeotis Palus

  Maeotis Palus the large body of water to the NE. of the Euxine now called the Sea of Azov, or the Azak-deniz-i of the Turks. This sea was usually called Palus Maeotis (he Maiotis limne, Aesch. Prom. 427), but sometimes Maeotica or Maeotia Palus (Plin. ii. 67; Lucan ii.641), Maeotius or Maeotis Lacus (Plin. iv. 24, vi. 6), Maeotium or Maeoticum aequor (Avien. v. 32; Val. Flac. iv. 720), Cimmeriae Paludes (Claud. in Eutrop. i. 249), Cimmericum or Bosporicum Mare (Gell. xvii. 8), Scythicae Undae, Paludes (Ovid. Her. vi. 107, Trist. iii. 4. 49). The genitive in Latin followed the Greek form Maeotidis, but was sometimes Maeotis (Ennius, ap. Cic. Tusc. v. 17). The accusative has the two forms Maiotin Maeotim (Plin. x. 10), and Maiotida Maeotida (Pomp. Mela, i. 3. § 1, ii. 1. § 1). Pliny (vi. 7) has preserved the Scythian name Temerinda, which he translates by Mater Maris.
  The Maeotic gulf, with a surface of rather more than 13,000 square miles, was supposed by the ancients to be of far larger dimensions than it really is. Thus Herodotus (iv. 86) believed it to be not much less in extent than the Euxine, while Scylax (p. 30, ed. Hudson) calculated it at half the size of that sea. Strabo (ii. p. 125, comp. vii. pp. 307-312, xi. p. 493; Arrian. Perip. p. 20, ed. Hudson; Agathem. i. 3, ii. 14) estimated the circumference at somewhat more than 9000 stadia, but Polybius (iv. 39) reduces it to 8000 stadia. According to Pliny (iv. 24) its circuit was reckoned at 1406 M. P., or, according to some, 1125 M.P. Strabo (vii. p. 310) reckons it in length 2200 stadia between the Cimmerian Bosporus and the mouth of the Tanais, and therefore came nearest amongst the ancients in the length; but he seems to have supposed it to carry its width on towards the Tanais (comp. Rennell, Compar. Geog. vol. ii. p. 331). The length according to Pliny (l. c.) is 385 M. P., which agrees with the estimate of Ptolemy (v. 9. § § 1-7). Polybius (l. c.) confidently anticipated an entire and speedy choking of the waters of the Maeotis; and ever since his time the theory that the Sea of Azov has contracted its boundaries has met with considerable support, though on this point there is a material discordance among the various authorities; the latest statement, and approximation to the amount of its cubic contents will be found in Admiral Smyth's work (The Mediterranean, p. 148). The ancients appear to have been correct in their assertion about the absence of salt in its waters, as, although in SW. winds,when the water is highest, it becomes brackish, yet at other times it is drinkable, though of a disagreeable flavour (Jones, Trav. vol. ii. p. 143; Journ Geog. Soc. vol. i. p. 106).

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


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