Salso River
The River Salso also known as the Imera Meridionale (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: ; Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Himera), is a river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 of Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. It rises in the Madonie Mountains (Latin: Nebrodes Mons; Sicilian
Sicilian language
Sicilian is a Romance language. Its dialects make up the Extreme-Southern Italian language group, which are spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands; in southern and central Calabria ; in the southern parts of Apulia, the Salento ; and Campania, on the Italian mainland, where it is...

: Munti Madunìi) and, traversing the provinces of Enna
Province of Enna
Enna is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy. Its capital is the city of Enna.It has an area of 2,562 km², and a total population of 177,200 . There are 20 comunes in the province, see Comunes of the Province of Enna...

 and Caltanissetta
Province of Caltanissetta
The Province of Caltanissetta is a province in the southern part of Sicily, Italy...

, flows into the Mediterranean at the western end of the Gulf of Gela
Gela is a town and comune in the province of Caltanissetta in the south of Sicily, Italy. The city is at about 84 kilometers distance from the city of Caltanissetta, on the Mediterranean Sea. The city has a larger population than the provincial capital, and ranks second in land area.Gela is an...

 at the seaport of Licata
Licata is a city and comune located on the south coast of Sicily, at the mouth of the Salso River , about midway between Agrigento and Gela...

, in the Province of Agrigento
Province of Agrigento
Agrigento is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy. It has an area of 3,042 km², and a total population of 454,370...

. Its small delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

ic system there is dominated by marine processes rather than fluvial ones. It is a seasonal torrent, with brief but violent floods during the winter rains (from November to February), and all but dry in summer droughts. In November 1915 the iron bridge across the river's mouth collapsed during floods, and 119 people were swept away in the flood and lost. The Salso, which is the longest river of Sicily (144 km, 89 miles), has a drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 area of about 2122 km² (819 mi²).

The river's historically changeable , the second debouching 5 km to the west. The mouth of the Salso has been advancing during historical times, and wind and wave formerly distributed its sand and silt to the beaches of the Gulf of Gela.

Historical significance

Himera was the ancient name of two rivers in Sicily, the Grande
Grande River (Sicily)
The Grande River is a river of Sicily, rising in the heights near Cozzo Levanche, and flowing approximately 35 km, through the comuni of Caltavuturo, Campofelice di Roccella, Cerda, Collesano, Scillato, Sclafani Bagni, Termini Imerese and Valledolmo to the Tyrrhenian Sea at the site of the...

 flowing to the north into the Tyrrhenian Sea
Tyrrhenian Sea
The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.-Geography:The sea is bounded by Corsica and Sardinia , Tuscany, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Calabria and Sicily ....

, and the Salso to the south coast of the island, but which, by a strange confusion, were regarded by many ancient writers as one and the same river, which is in consequence described as rising in the center of the island, and flowing in two different directions, so as completely to divide Sicily into two parts. It is singular that, if we may believe Vibius Sequester
Vibius Sequester
Vibius Sequester , is the author of an alphabetical list of geographical names occurring in the Roman poets, with special reference to Virgil, Ovid and Lucan...

, this absurd notion is as old as the time of Stesichorus
Stesichorus was the first great poet of the Greek West. He is best known for telling epic stories in lyric metres but he is also famous for some ancient traditions about his life, such as his opposition to the tyrant Phalaris, and the blindness he is said to have incurred and cured by composing...

, who was himself a native of the city of Himera
thumb|250px|Remains of the Temple of Victory.thumb|250px|Ideal reconstruction of the Temple of Victory.Himera , was an important ancient Greek city of Sicily, situated on the north coast of the island, at the mouth of the river of the same name , between Panormus and Cephaloedium...

. Mela
Mela is a Sanskrit word meaning 'gathering' or 'to meet' or a Fair. It is used in the Indian subcontinent for all sizes of gathering and can be religious, commercial, cultural or sports. In rural traditions melas or village fairs were of great importance...

 is, however, the only one of the ancient geographers who adopts it.

The Salso enters the sea at Licata (the ancient Phintias). In the upper part of its course it is composed of two branches, running nearly parallel with one another; the one now called the Fiume Grande rising near Gangi, the other, called the Fiume di Petralia, from the town of the same name
Petralia Soprana
Petralia Soprana is a comune in the Province of Palermo in the Italian region Sicily, located about 70 km southeast of Palermo...

: it is only after the junction of the two that it obtains the name of Salso. It is impossible to say which of the two branches was regarded by the ancients as the true Himera; but in either case that river has a course of above 90 km from north to south, and its sources are not above 24 km from the north coast of the island. Hence the expression of Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 and Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

, that the Himera nearly divides the whole of Sicily into two parts, is by no means inaccurate. But it is evidently this circumstance, coupled with the fact that there was another river of the same name flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea, which gave rise to the fable above noticed. Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, who does not notice the southern Himera, applies (evidently by mistake) very nearly the same words as Polybius to the northern river of the name. (Strab. vi. p. 266.) Diodorus notices the brackish quality of the waters of the Himera, which gives rise to its modern name of Fiume Salso: this is caused by the junction of a small stream near Caltanisetta, that flows from the salt mines in that vicinity. Solinus erroneously ascribes this quality to the northern Himera; while Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

 rightly attributes it to the southern river only.

Historically, the southern Himera is remarkable for the great battle fought on its banks between Agathocles
Agathocles , , was tyrant of Syracuse and king of Sicily .-Biography:...

 and the Carthaginians
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, in which the latter obtained a complete victory, 311 BCE. The scene of this action was a short distance from the mouth of the river, the Carthaginians occupying the hill of Ecnomus, while Agathocles was encamped on the left bank. At a much earlier period, 446 BCE, it witnessed a defeat of the Agrigentines
Agrigento , is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas , one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden...

 by the Syracusans
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

; and, again, in the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, 212 BCE, became the scene of an action between Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus , five times elected as consul of the Roman Republic, was an important Roman military leader during the Gallic War of 225 BC and the Second Punic War...

 and the Carthaginian forces under Hanno
Hanno may refer to:* Hanno, Saitama, Honshū, Japan* Hanno , a lunar crater* Hanno , the pet white elephant of Pope Leo XPeople named Hanno:*Several ancient Carthaginians, including:...

 and Epicydes of Syracuse
Epicydes or Epikudês was a Carthaginian general in the Second Punic War.A Syracusan by origin, he was born and educated at Carthage as the son of a Carthaginian mother...

, in which the latter were defeated and driven to take shelter within the walls of Agrigentum (modern Agrigento
Agrigento , is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, and capital of the province of Agrigento. It is renowned as the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas , one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden...

). By the treaty concluded with Carthage by Hieronymus of Syracuse
Hieronymus of Syracuse
Hieronymus was a tyrant of Syracuse. He succeeded his grandfather, Hiero II, in 215 BC. He was at this time only fifteen years old, and he ascended the throne at a crisis full of peril, for the battle of Cannae had given a shock to the Roman power, the influence of which had been felt in Sicily;...

, it was agreed to divide the whole of Sicily between the two powers, so that the river Himera (Salso) should be the boundary of their respective dominions. But this arrangement was never actually carried into effect. Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 correctly places the mouth of the southern Himera to the east of the emporium of Agrigentum; he is the only one of the geographers who mentions both rivers of the name. An inscription containing a dedication "ΑΣΚΑΗΠΙΩ KAI IMEPA ΠΟΤΑΜΩ", must, from its being found at Caltanisetta, refer to the southern Himera (i.e., the Salso).

The Salso was of importance in antiquity because, according to Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 after a series of conflicts between the Siculi and the Sicani
The Sicani or Sicanians were one of three ancient peoples of Sicily present at the time of Phoenician and Greek colonization.-History:The Sicani are thought to be the oldest inhabitants of Sicily with a recorded name...

, the River Salso was declared the boundary between their respective territories, the Siculi dwelling to its east, the Sicani to its west.

The name Salso is also given to a tributary of the Simeto, the most important river of Sicily.
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