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Ancient place-names

Liris river

  Liris (Leiris: Garigliano), one of the principal rivers of central Italy, flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea a little below Minturnae. It had its source in the central Apennines, only a few miles from the Lacus Fucinus, of which it has been sometimes, but erroneously, regarded as a subterranean outlet. It flows at first in a SE. direction through a long troughlike valley, parallel to the general direction of the Apennines, until it reaches the city of Sora, where it turns abruptly to the SW., and pursues that course until after its junction with the Trerus or Sacco, close to the site of Fregellae ; from thence, it again makes a great bend to the SE., but ultimately resumes its SW. direction before it enters the sea near Minturnae. Both Strabo and Pliny tell us that it was originally called Clanis, a name which appears to have been common to many Italian rivers: the former writer erroneously assigns its sources to the country of the Vestini; an opinion which is adopted also by Lucan. (Strab. v. p. 233; Lucan ii.425.) The Liris is noticed by several of the Roman poets, as a very gentle and tranquil stream (Hor. Carm. i. 31. 8; Sil. Ital. iv. 348),- a character which it well deserves in the lower part of its course, where it is described by a modern traveller as a wide and noble river, winding under the shadow of poplars through a lovely vale, and then gliding gently towards the sea. (Eustace's Classical Tour, vol. ii. p. 320.) But nearer its source it is a clear and rapid mountain river, and at the village of Isola, about four miles below Sora, and just after its junction with the Fibrenus, it forms a cascade of above 90 feet in height, one of the most remarkable waterfalls in Italy. (Craven's Abruzzi, vol. i. p. 93.)
  The Liris, which is still called Liri in the upper part of its course, though better known by the name of Garigliano, which it assumes when it becomes a more considerable stream, has a course altogether of above 60 geographical miles: its most considerable tributary is the Trerus or Sacco, which joins it about three miles below Ceprano. A few miles higher up it receives the waters of the Fibrenus, so celebrated from Cicero's description (de Leg. ii. 3); which is, however, but a small stream, though remarkable for the clearness and beauty of its waters. The Melfis (Melfa), which joins it a few miles below the Sacco, but from the opposite bank, is equally inconsiderable.
  At the mouth of the Liris near Minturnae, was an extensive sacred grove consecrated to Marica, a nymph or local divinity, who was represented by a tradition, adopted by Virgil, as mother of Latinus, while others identified her with Circe. (Virg. Aen. vii. 47; Lactant. Inst. Div. i. 21.) Her grove and temple (LUCUS MARICAE: Marikas alsos, Plut. Mar. 39) were not only objects of great veneration to the people of the neighbouring town of Minturnae, but appear to have enjoyed considerable celebrity with the Romans themselves. (Strab. v. p. 233; Liv, xxvii. 37; Serv. ad Aen. vii. 47.) Immediately adjoining its mouth was an extensive marsh, formed probably by the stagnation of the river itself, and celebrated in history in connection with the adventures of Marius.

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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