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The Büyük Menderes River (historically the Maeander or Meander); , Ancient Greek: Μαίανδρος, Maíandros) is a river in southwestern Turkeymarker. It rises in west central Turkey near Dinarmarker before flowing west through the Büyük Menderes graben until reaching the Aegean Seamarker in the proximity of the ancient Ionian city Miletusmarker. The word "meander" is used to describe a winding pattern, after the river (see below).

Modern geography

Ancient geography

The Maeander was a celebrated river of Caria in Asia Minormarker. It appears earliest in the Catalog of Trojans of Homer's Iliad along with Miletusmarker and Mycalemarker.


The river has its sources not far from Celaenae in Phrygia (now Dinarmarker), where it gushed forth in a park of Cyrus. According to some its sources were the same as those of the river Marsyas; but this is irreconcilable with Xenophon, according to whom the sources of the two rivers were only near each other, the Marsyas rising in a royal palace. Others state that the Maeander flowed out of a lake on Mount Aulocrene. William Martin Leake reconciles all these apparently different statements by the remark that both the Maeander and the Marsyas have their origin in the lake on Mount Aulocrene, above Celaenae, but that they issue at different parts of the mountain below the lake.


The Maeander was so celebrated in antiquity for its numerous windings, that its classical name "Maeander" became, and still is, proverbial. Its whole course has a southwesterly direction on the south of the range of Mount Messogis. South of Tripolismarker it receives the waters of the Lycus, whereby it becomes a river of some importance. Near Carura it passes from Phrygia into Caria, where it flows in its tortuous course through the Maeandrian plain, and finally discharges itself in the Gulf of Icaros (an arm of the Aegean Seamarker), between Prienemarker and Myusmarker, opposite to the Ionian city of Miletusmarker, from which its mouth is only 10 stadia distant.


The tributaries of the Maeander include the Orgyas, Marsyas, Cludrus, Lethaeus, and Gaeson, in the north; and the Obrimas, Lycus, Harpasus, and a second Marsyas in the south.

Physical description

The Maeander is everywhere a very deep river, but not very broad, so that in many parts its depth equals its breadth. As moreover it carried in its waters a great quantity of mud, it was navigable only for small craft. It frequently overflowed its banks; and, in consequence of the quantity of its deposits at its mouth, the coast has been pushed about 20 or 30 stadia further into the sea, so that several small islands off the coast have become united with the mainland.


There was a legend about a subterraneous connection between the Maeander and the Alpheusmarker River in Elis.


  1. Herodotus, Histories, Book 7 section 26.
  2. Xenophon, Anabasis, Book 1 Chapter 2.
  3. Strabo xii. p. 578; Maximus of Tyre viii. 38.
  4. Xenophon, Anabasis 1.2.8.
  5. Pliny (v. 31), Solinus (40. § 7), and Martianus Capella (6. p. 221).
  6. Asia Minor, p. 158, &c.
  7. Hesiod, Theogony, line 339; Strabo, Geography, Book 12, Chapter 8, Section 15; Pausanias viii. 41. § 3; Ovid Met. viii. 162, &c.; Livy xxxviii. 13; Seneca Herc. Fur. 683, &c., Phoen. 605.
  8. comp. Strabo xiv. p. 648, xv. p. 691
  9. Pliny l. c.; Pausanias ii. 5. § 2.
  10. Niketas Choniates, p. 125; Livy l. c.
  11. Strabo xii. p. 579, xiv. p. 636.
  12. Pausanias viii. 24. § 5; Thucydides viii. 17.)
  13. Pausanias il. 5. § 2; comp. Hamilton, Researches, vol. i. p. 525, foll., ii. p. 161, foll.


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  • Xenophon, Anabasis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann, Ltd., London. 1980. OCLC 10290977. ISBN 0674991001.

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