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Orontes

ORONTES (ō-rŏn'tēz). The chief river in Aram (Syria), almost 400 miles (640 km.) long, begins in the Anti-Lebanon range, at the height of almost 4,000 feet (1,250 m.), and flows north for the major portion of its course. It turns west around the northern end of its range at Antioch, and then bends SW to the sea. Its fertile valley forms the only extensive area in Syria-Palestine not broken by mountains where a powerful political unit might take shape. The Orontes valley was the scene of the campaign of Rameses II against the Hittites in 1288 b.c. The campaign and the culminating battle of Kadesh on the river constitute the most publicized feat of ancient Egyptian armed conflict. The Roman satirist Juvenal, writing of the undesirable Syrian immigrants in Rome, uses the river as a metaphor for the whole province: “Long since has Syrian Orontes been a tributary of the Tiber.”