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River Phasis

PHASIS was a river-god of Kolkhis (Colchis) at the easternmost end of the Black Sea (modern day Georgia).

The Phasis River had its headwaters in the Kaukasos (Caucasus) Mountains and flowed down through the land of Kolkhis to the Black Sea. The next major rivers personified by the Greeks were the Thermodon in Anatolia to the south-west and the Tanais (Don) of Skythia to the north.


[1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Hesiod Theogony 340)


[2] Perhaps ASTERODEIA


Hesiod, Theogony 337 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Tethys bore to Okeanos (Oceanus) the swirling Potamoi (Rivers) . . . Istros (Ister) of the beautiful waters, Phasis [in a list of rivers]."

Aeschylus, Fragment 107 Prometheus Unbound (from Arrian, Voyage in the Euxine 99. 22) (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"Here Phasis, the mighty common boundary of the land of Europe and Asia."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 1219 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"The whole meadow trembled under her [Hekate's] feet, and the Nymphai Heleionomai (Nymphs of the Marsh) and Potameides (of the River) who haunt the fens by Amarantian Phasis cried out in fear."

Callimachus, Aetia Fragment 9 (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"[King Aeetes of Kolkhis (Colchis) speaks :] ‘Let Helios (the Sun) be my witness and Phasis the king of our Rivers.’"

Philostratus the Younger, Imagines 8 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting :] The Argo carrying its fifty heroes has anchored in the Phasis after passing through the Bosphoros (Bosporus) and the Clashing Rocks. You see the river [Phasis] himself lying on this deep bed of rushes; his countenance is grim, for his hair is thick and stands upright, his beard bristles, and his eyes glare; and the abundant water of the stream, since it does not flow from a pitcher as is usually the case, but comes in flood from his whole figure, gives us to understand how large a stream is poured into the Pontos."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 205 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Jason prays to river-god Phasis of Kolkhis (Colchis) :] ‘O Phasis, offspring of fecund Jove [Zeus], born in the snowy region of the Arcadian Nympha, do thou but accept with tranquil stream the bark of Pallas [u,e, the ship Argo], neither gifts nor shrines shall be lacking to thee in my land; an effigy awaits thee, O Phasis, that whoso beholds may reverence, as mighty as great Enipeus or father Inachus outstretched in golden cave.’"

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 5. 425 ff :
"[Depicted on the walls of the palace of King Aeetes :] In frenzied desire savage [River] Phasis pursues [the Nymphe] Aea upon her native hills; in maiden distress and panic she shoots frightened arrows, and now her strength fails from her running to and fro and the god has overcome her, and binds her fast beneath his rapid wave."

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6. 295 ff :
"Aquites, priest of mighty Phasis, consecrated to his native waters, roamed among the warriors of the North [i.e. the Scythian army attacking Aeetes' kingdom], poplar decked his brow and his temples were conspicuous with its gray entwining sprays."





A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.