Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography/Iberus

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IBE'RUS (Ἴβηρ, gen. -ηρος, and Ἴβηρος; in MSS. often Hiberus: Ebro), one of the chief rivers of Spain, the basin of which includes the NE. portion of the peninsula, between the great mountain chains of the Pyrenees and Idubeda. [Hispania.] It rises in the mountains of the Cantabri, not far from the middle of the chain, near the city of Juliobriga (the source lies 12 miles W. of Reyñosa), and, flowing with a nearly uniform direction to the SE., after a course of 450 M. P. (340 miles), falls into the Mediterranean, in 40° 42' N. lat., and 0° 50' E. long., forming a considerable delta at its month. It was navigable for 260 M. P. from the town of Varia (Varea, in Burgos). Its chief tributaries were:—on the left, the Sicoris (Segre) and the Gallicus (Gallego), and on the right the Salo (Xalon). It was long the boundary of the two Spains [Hispania], whence perhaps arose the error of Appian (Hisp. 6), who makes it divide the peninsula into two equal parts. There are some other errors not worthy of notice. The origin of the name is disputed. Dismissing derivations from the Phoenician, the question seems to depend very much on whether the Iberians derived their name from the river, as was the belief of the ancient writers, or whether the river took its name from the people, as W. von Humboldt contends. If the former was the case, and if Niebuhr's view is correct, that the population of NE. Spain was originally Celtic [Hispania], a natural etymology is at once found in the Celtic aber, i. e. water, (Polyb. ii. 13, iii. 34, 40, et alib.; Scyl. p. 1; Strab. iii. pp. 156, et seq.; Steph. B. s. v.; Mela, ii. 6. § 5; Caes. B. C. i. 60; Liv. xxi..5, 19, 22, &c.; Plin. iii. 3. s. 4, iv. 20. s. 34; Lucan. iv. 23; Cato, Orig. VII. ap. Nonius, s. v.Pisculentus.) [ P. S. ]