After flowing northward from Mount Lebanon through Syria and into southern Turkey, the Orontes bends to the west and empties into the Mediterranean, draining a large portion of the northern Levant. In ancient times, the Orontes separated Syria from Egypt and was a symbol of the Near East, as the Tiber was of Rome. Image from: David R. Bridgland, Rob Westaway, Mohammad Abou Romieh, Ian Candy, Mohamad Daoud, Tuncer Demir, Nikolaos Galiatsatos, Danielle C. Schreve, Ali Seyrek, Andrew D. Shaw, Tom S. White, John Whittaker, The River Orontes in Syria and Turkey: Downstream variation of fluvial archives in different crustal blocks, Geomorphology,Volumes 165–166,2012,Pages 25-49. The river god Orontes was a son of Oceanus and Tethys. Here are some references to him in classical literature from the second and third centuries: Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) : "From Oceanus and Tethys [were born] the Oceanides . . . Of the same descent Rivers : Strymon, Nile, Euphrates, Tanais, Indus, Cephisus, Ismenus, Axenus [Axios], Achelous, Simoeis, Inachus, Alpheus, Thermodon, Scamandrus, Tigris, Maeandrus, Orontes." Oppian, Cynegetica 2. 115 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd A.D.) : "Aforetime all the plain by the foot of Emblonos [in Syria] was flooded; since evermore in great volume rushed Orontes in his eagerness, forgetting the sea and burning with desire of the dark-eyed Nymphe, the daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus). He lingered amid the heights and he covered the fertile earth, unwilling to forgo his hopeless love of Meliboia (Meliboea). With mountains on either side was he encircled round, mountains that one either hand leaned their heads together. From East came the lofty form of Diokleion (Diocleum), and from the West the left horn of Emblonos, and in the midst himself raging in the plains, ever waxing and drawing night the walls, flooding with his waters that mainland at once and island [the Khersonese (Chersonese)], mine own city. Therefore was the son [Herakles] of Zeus destined straightway with club and mighty hands to apportion their water unto each, and to give separate course from the plain for the waters of the fair-tressed lake and the fair-flowing river. And he wrought his mighty labour, when he cut the girdle of the encircling hills and undid their stony bonds, and sent the river belching to its mouth, surging incontinent and wildly murmuring, and guided it towards the shores. And loudly roared the deep sea, and the mighty body of the Syrian shore echoed to the din . . . So the mighty Orontes made a noise of dread bellowing about the shores; and mightily roared the headlands when they received within their bosom the swell of the new-come sea; and the black and fertile earth took heart again, arisen form the waves, a new plain of Herakles." One of the most influential statues of antiquity was the Tyche of Antioch by Eutychides, created in about 300 B.C. The original has been lost, but surviving works modeled after it reveal that it showed her seated on a rock, with the river god Orontes at her feet. This Roman copy in marble is housed in the Vatican. Another example is this 1st-2nd century Roman bronze statuette in the Yale University Art Gallery. It is unclear if it originally included the figure of Orontes. Photo: Yale University Art Galley Note the similarities of these works to the reverse of this coin which was minted in Antioch, an important city in the Graeco-Roman world by which the Orontes flowed. As the river supported the fortunes of Antioch, the river god Orontes is depicted below Tyche, the civic diety and personification of fortune. In the first statue above, Tyche holds wheat stalks in her hand, on the coin, a palm branch. Both may symbolize the fertility of the city’s lands which were irrigated by the Orontes. Antioch served as the second capital of the Seleucid Empire from 240 BC until 63 BC, when the Romans took control through the conquering Pompey. (Founded in 312 BC, the Seleucid Empire had Seleucia as its first capital from 305 to 240 BC.). Rome made Antioch the capital of their province of Syria, and it was the third largest city of the Empire in size and importance after Rome and Alexandria. This coin also has a nice portrait on the obverse of Octavian as Augustus, the first Roman emperor; and it was struck in 3 BC, close to the time of the birth of Christ. Luke mentions Augustus in the second chapter of his gospel, “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” It was this order that prompted Joseph to travel with Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register. There, Jesus was born. Antioch was one of the earliest centers of Christianity. It is the place in which the disciples of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), and it was also the city from which the apostle Paul launched his missionary journeys. Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD). AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 15.10 g, 12h). Antioch mint, Seleucis Pieria, Syria. Dated year 29 of the Actian Era and Cos. XII = October-December 3 BC. ΚAIΣAPOΣ ΣΕ-BAΣTOY (‘of Augustus Caesar’), laureate head of Augustus right, bead and reel border / ETOYΣ ΘΚ NIKHΣ ( 'Year 29 of the victory'), Tyche, holding palm frond in right hand, seated right on rocky outcropping; at her feet, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right; in right field two monograms and IB (consular date) to right, border of dots. Post whatever you feel is relevant!