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Herodotus: Racist or Ethnographer?

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    107686
  • All excerpts included below have been copied from the excellent out-of-copyright translation of Herodotus by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus, 4 vols (New York: Tandy-Thomas Co, 1909). The prose has been modernized at points for the benefit of twenty-first century readers. Editors: Jessalynn Bird, Brittany Blagburn, Anna Noone, and Marirose Osborne.

     

    File:Herodotus world map-en.svg

    A depiction of how Herodotus might have conceived of the world known to him. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

     

    Who was Herodotus?

    Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, a Greek city on the coast of modern-day Turkey, in about 484 BCE. His father appears to have been a Greek-speaker named Lyxes, while his mother, Rhoio (Dryo?) may have been partly or entirely non-Greek. For unknown reasons, Lydamis, grandson of Queen Artemesia, exiled Herodotus from Halicarnassus. After traveling widely, Herodotus returned to Halicarnassus in 444 BCE before leaving to become part of a new Athenian colony founded at Thuria (Italy). This may explain the pro-Athenian bias of Herodotus’ writings. He lived during the Peloponnesian War, which pitted Athens and her allies against Sparta and its allies, yet he wrote about the earlier wars between the Persians and Greek-speaking city-states in 490 and 480 BCE. 

    Father of History or Father of Lies?

    Herodotus is often credited with inventing the western tradition of history-writing, although he was criticized a generation later by Thucydides as including “mythical” and fantastical elements and not conforming to Thucydides’ narrower definition of what deserved to be included in a history: politics, economics, war and diplomacy. In contrast, Herodotus observed widely, writing on geography, natural history, religious and sexual practices, and more. He deliberately recorded what he heard from others, sometimes from multiple sources, leaving the reader (then as now) to decide whether and which sources to believe.

    Greek Concepts of Race and Ethnicity

    Before you begin the questions and reading, a note on race in Ancient Greek culture is necessary. The Greeks did not "see" race or ethnic group the way we do today. Unlike the modern era, ideas of "race" in Ancient Greece were based less on skin color or physical appearance, and more on which cultural practices or region a person was from. The Greeks considered the Phoenicians, for example, as a different ethnicity (because their language was not Greek), while the Spartans, despite their many wars with Athens, shared the same language and were thus labeled Greek. These “racial” lines were considered strengthened by descent from a common ancestor (often a mythical figure like Zeus, Poseidon, or a hero such as Theseus) and ties were further strengthened by marriage alliances. 

    Although the various Greek-speaking peoples acknowledged their differences, they stood united against other peoples who they considered “uncivilized.” When the Greeks did not understand a people or their culture, they would lump them together as a group and attribute specific marks of foreignness to them. In some cases these marks were small, such as magic using certain herbs, or the usage of different dyes in clothing or food products. However, in other cases the attributions could be more extreme. The centaurs, for example, are often thought to represent unfamiliar barbarian tribes in Greek artwork and legends. Similarly, the mythical Amazons, thought to be a race of men-hating female warriors, may have served as a distorted reflection of the Scythians, one of various tribal confederations that inhabited central Asia. 

    These ideas would have been familiar to Herodotus. He wrote specifically about wars between the Greek city-states (distinct groups that were nonetheless all considered "Greek") and the Persians (non-Greeks and thus a different race), yet his time in an Athenian colony in Asia Minor  would have exposed him to these ideas. In his writings Herodotus often records testimony from other Greek travelers to those lands - people who would have most likely held similar concepts about race and other cultures. 

     

    File:Slab from the Amazonomachy frieze from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, British Museum.jpg

    Carole Raddato, Detail of the Amazon Frieze from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus: Combats between Amazons and Greeks, c. 351 BCE, London, British Museum. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

     

    What Do I Do When I Read These Passages?

    Ask yourself the following questions as you read your assigned section(s). Take notes and be prepared to discuss these questions in class.

     

    1. Why is Herodotus describing these groups for Greek audiences?

     

    1. How does Herodotus describe each particular group? What implied rating system does he use for each culture? 

     

    1. What makes a culture “civilized” according to Herodotus? What makes it not “civilized”?

     

    1. What part do gender roles play in Herodotus’ ratings of civilizations? Why do you think this is an important issue for him?

     

    1. How do climate, geography, and neighboring cultures shape a civilization? Which is more important, according to Herodotus?

     

    1. Are there any achievements of these cultures Herodotus finds worthy of praise? What are they?

     

    1. Can we guess from Herodotus’ description of this culture if it violates Greek practices or taboos or confirms them? Which ones and how? (your group may have more than one culture--in this case, compare and contrast)

     

    1. What have we just learned about how one ancient Greek author viewed other cultures? 

     

    1. Has that changed our conception about “Greek” culture and what it has come to stand for? What does Greek culture stand for in Herodotus’ time? In ours?

     

     LYDIA

    I.93.  Lydia, unlike most other countries, scarcely offers any wonders for the historian to describe, except the gold-dust which is washed down from the range of Tmolus [1]. It has, however, one structure of enormous size, only inferior to the monuments of Egypt and Babylon. This is the tomb of Alyattes, the father of Croesus, the base of which is formed of immense blocks of stone, the rest being a vast mound of earth. It was raised by the joint labor of the traders, artisans, and courtesans of Saris, and had at the top five stone pillars, which remained to my day, with inscriptions cut on them, showing how much of the work was done by each class of workers. It appeared on measurement that the portion of the courtesans was the largest. The daughters of the common people in Lydia, one and all, pursue this traffic, wishing to collect money for their [marriage] portions [2]. They continue the practice till they marry; and are accustomed to contract themselves in marriage [....]

    I.94. The Lydians have very nearly the same customs as the Greeks, with the exception that these last do not bring up their girls in the same way. So far as we know, they were the first nation to introduce the use of gold and silver coin, and the first to sell goods by retail. They claim also the invention of all the games which are common to them with the Greeks. These they declare that they invented about the time when they colonized Tyrrhenia, an event of which they give the following account. In the days of Atys, the son of Manes, there was great scarcity through the whole land of Lydia. For some time the Lydians bore the affliction patiently, but finding that it did not pass away, they set to work to devise remedies for the evil. Various expedients were discovered by various persons; dice, and knuckle-bones, and ball, and all such games were invented [...]. The plan adopted against the famine was to engage in games one day so entirely as not to feel any craving for food, and the next day to eat and abstain from games. In this way they passed eighteen years. Still the affliction continued and even became more grievous. So the king decided to divide the nation in half, and to make the two portions draw lots, the one to stay, the other to leave the land. He would continue to reign over those whose lot it should be to remain behind; the emigrants should have his son Tyrrhenus for their leader. The lot was cast and they who had to emigrate went down to Smyrna and built themselves ships, in which, after they had put on board all needful stores, they sailed away in search of new homes and better sustenance. After sailing past many countries they came to Umbria, where they built cities for themselves and fixed their residence. Their former name of Lydians they laid aside and called themselves after the name of the king’s son who led the colony, Tyrrhenians.

    Footnotes:

    [1] A mountain named after the King of Lydia

    [2] Dowries. In Greek culture, the girls' family would arrange a marriage on her behalf, often without her imput.

     

    PERSIA

    I.131. The customs which I know the Persians to observe are the following. They have no images of the gods, no temples nor altars, and consider the use of them a sign of folly. This comes, I think, from their not believing the gods to have the same nature as men, as the Greeks imagine. Their custom, however, is to ascend the summits of the loftiest mountains, and there to offer sacrifice to Zeus, which is the name they give to their whole circuit of the firmament. They likewise offer to the sun and moon, to the earth, to fire, to water, and to the winds. These are the only gods whose worship has come down to them from ancient times. At a later period they began the worship of Urania, which they borrowed from the Arabians and Assyrians. Mylitta is the name by which the Assyrians know this goddess, whom the Arabians call Alitta and the Persians Mitra.

    I.132. To these gods the Persians offer sacrifice in the following manner: they raise no altar, light no fire, pour no libations; there is no sound of the flute, no putting on of chaplets, no consecrated barley-cake; but the man who wishes to sacrifice brings his victim to a spot of ground which is pure from pollution, and there calls upon the name of the god to whom he intends to offer. It is usual to have the turban encircled with a wreath, most commonly of myrtle. The sacrificer is not allowed to pray for blessings on himself alone, but he prays for the welfare of the king and of the whole Persian people, among whom he is of necessity included. He cuts the victim in pieces, and having boiled the flesh, he lays it out on the most tender plants he can find, trefoil especially. When all is ready, one of the Magi [3] comes forward and chants a hymn, which they say recounts the origin of the gods. It is not lawful to offer sacrifice unless there is a Magus present. After waiting a short time the sacrificer carries the flesh of the victim away with him and makes whatever use of it he may please.

    I.133. Of all the days in the year, the one which they celebrate most is their birthday. It is customary to have the board furnished on that day with a more ample supply than is usual. The richer Persians cause an ox, a horse, a camel and an ass to be baked whole and so served up to them. The poorer class use instead the smaller kinds of cattle. They eat little solid food but an abundance of dessert, which is set on the table a few dishes at a time; this it is which makes them say that “the Greeks when they eat, leave off hungry, having nothing worth mention served up to them after the meats; whereas, if they had more put before them, they would not stop eating.” They are very fond of wine and drink it in large quantities. To vomit or obey natural calls in the presence of another is forbidden among them. Such are their customs in these matters. It is also their general practice to deliberate on affairs of weight when they are drunk. Then, the next morning, when they are sober, the decision they came to the night before is put before them by the master of the house in which it was made. If it is then approved of, they act on it. If not, they set it aside. Sometimes, however, they are sober at their first deliberation, but in this case they always reconsider the matter under the influence of wine.

    I.134. When they meet each other in the streets, you may know if the persons meeting are of equal rank by the following token; if they are, instead of speaking, they kiss each other on the lips. In the case where one is slightly inferior to the other, the kiss is given on the cheek; where the difference of rank is great, the inferior prostrates himself on the ground. Of nations, they honor most their nearest neighbors, whom they esteem next to themselves; those who live beyond these they honor in the second degree; and so with the remainder, the further they are removed, the less the esteem in which they hold them. The reason is that they look upon themselves as very greatly superior in all respects to the rest of mankind, regarding others as approaching in excellence in proportion as they dwell nearer to them. And so it comes to pass that those who are the farthest off must be the most degraded of mankind. Under the dominion of the Medes, the several nations of the empire exercise authority over each other in this order [....]

    I.135. There is no nation which so readily adopts foreign customs as the Persians. Thus they have taken the dress of the Medes, considering it superior to their own; and in war they wear the Egyptian breastplate. As soon as they hear of any luxury, they instantly make it their own: and hence, among other novelties, they have learned unnatural lust from the Greeks. Each of them has several wives, and a still larger number of concubines.

    I.136. Next to prowess in arms, it is regarded as the greatest proof of manly excellence to be the father of many sons. Every year the king sends rich gifts to the man who can show the largest number: for they hold that number is strength. Their sons are carefully instructed from their fifth to their twentieth year, in three things alone -- to ride, to draw the bow, and to speak the truth. Until their fifth year they are not allowed to come into the sight of their father but pass their lives with the women. This is done so that, if the child dies young, the father may not be afflicted by its loss.

    I.137. To my mind it is a wise rule, as also is the following --that the king shall not put anyone to death for a single fault and that none of the Persians shall visit a single fault in a slave with any extreme penalty; but in every case the services of the offender shall be set against his misdoings; and if the latter be found to outweigh the former, the aggrieved part shall then proceed to punishment.

    I.138. The Persians maintain that never yet did any one kill his own father or mother; but in all such cases they are quite sure that, if matters were sifted to the bottom, it would be discovered that the child was either a changeling or else the product of adultery; for it is not likely they say that the real father should perish by the hands of his child.

    I.139. They hold it unlawful to talk of anything which it is unlawful to do. The most disgraceful thing in the world, they think, is to tell a lie; the next worst, to owe a debt: because among other reasons, the debtor is obliged to tell lies. If a Persian has leprosy he is not allowed to enter into a city or have any dealings with other Persians. They say he must have sinned against the sun. Foreigners attacked by this disorder [leprosy] are forced to leave the country; even white pigeons are often driven away as guilty of the same offense. They never defile a river with the secretions of their bodies, not even wash their hands in one. Nor will they allow others to do so, as they have a great reverence for rivers [....]

    I.140. This much I can declare of the Persians with entire certainty from my own actual knowledge.  There is another custom which is spoken of with reserve and not openly concerning their dead. It is said that the body of a male Persian is never buried until it has been torn by a dog or by a bird of prey.  That the Magi have this custom is beyond a doubt, for they practice it without any concealment. The dead bodies are covered with wax and then buried in the ground. The Magi are a very peculiar race, different entirely from the Egyptian priests and indeed from all other men whatsoever. The Egyptian priests make it a point of religion not to kill any live animals except those which they offer in sacrifice. The Magi, on the contrary, kill animals of all kinds with their bare hands, with the exception of dogs and men. They even seem to take a delight in the employment and kill as readily as they do other animals, ants and snakes and such like flying or creeping things. However, since this has always been their custom, let them keep to it.  

    Footnotes:

    [3] Priests

     

    LIBYA 

    IV.158. Here they [the Cyrenaeans] remained six years, at the end of which time the Libyans induced them to move, promising that they would lead them to a better situation. So the Greeks left Aziris and were conducted by the Libyans towards the west, their journey being so arranged, by the calculations of their guides, that they passed in the night the most beautiful district of that whole country, which is the region called Irasa. The Libyans brought them to a spring, which goes by the name of Apollo’s fountain, and told them: “Here, Grecians, is the proper place for you to settle; for here the sky leaks.”

    IV.159. During the lifetime of Battus, the founder of the colony, who reigned forty years, and during that of his son Arcesilaüs, who reigned sixteen, the Cyrenæans continued at the same level, neither more nor fewer in number than they were at first. But in the reign of the third king, Battus, surnamed the Happy, the advice of the Pythoness brought Greeks from every quarter into Libya, to join the settlement. The Cyrenæans had offered to all comers a share in their lands; and the oracle [4] had spoken as follows: “He that is backward to share in the pleasant Libyan acres, / Sooner or later, I warn him, will feel regret at his folly.”

    And so a great multitude were collected together to Cyrêné, and the Libyans of the neighborhood found themselves stripped of large portions of their lands. So they, and their king Adicran, being robbed and insulted by the Cyrenæans, sent messengers to Egypt, and put themselves under the rule of Apries, the Egyptian monarch; who, upon this, levied a vast army of Egyptians, and sent them against Cyrêné. The inhabitants of that place left their walls and marched out in force to the district of Irasa, where, near the spring called Thesté, they engaged the Egyptian host, and defeated it. The Egyptians, who had never before made trial of the prowess of the Greeks, and so thought but meanly of them, were routed with such slaughter that but a very few of them ever got back home. For this reason, the subjects of Apries, who laid the blame of the defeat on him, revolted from his authority.

    IV.160. This Battus left a son called Arcesilaüs, who, when he came to the throne, had disagreements with his brothers, which ended in their quitting him and departing to another region of Libya, where, after consulting among themselves, they founded the city [...] Barca. At the same time they endeavored to induce the Libyans to revolt from Cyrêné. Not long afterwards Arcesilaüs made an expedition against the Libyans who had received his brothers and been prevailed upon to revolt; and they, fearing his power, fled to their countrymen who dwelt towards the east. Arcesilaüs pursued, and chased them to a place called Leucon, which is in Libya, where the Libyans resolved to risk a battle. Accordingly they engaged the Cyrenæans, and defeated them so entirely that as many as seven thousand of their heavy-armed were slain in the fight. Arcesilaüs, after this blow, fell sick, and, whilst he was under the influence of a medicine which he had drunk, was strangled by Learchus, one of his brothers. This Learchus was afterwards entrapped by Eryxo, the widow of Arcesilaüs, and put to death.

    IV.161. Battus, Arcesilaüs’ son, succeeded to the kingdom, a lame man, who limped in his walk. Their late calamities now induced the Cyrenæans to send to Delphi [5] and inquire of the god what form of government they had best set up to secure themselves prosperity. The Pythoness answered by recommending them to fetch an arbitrator from Mantinea in Arcadia. Accordingly they sent; and the Mantineans gave them a man named Demônax, a person of high repute among the citizens; who, on his arrival at Cyrêné, having first made himself acquainted with all the circumstances, proceeded to enroll the people in three tribes. One he made to consist of the Theræans and their vassals; another of the Peloponnesians and Cretans; and a third of the various islanders. Besides this, he deprived the king Battus of his former privileges, only reserving for him certain sacred lands and offices; while, with respect to the powers which had hitherto been exercised by the king, he gave them all into the hands of the people.

    IV.162. So matters rested during the lifetime of this Battus, but when his son Arcesilaüs came to the throne, great disturbance arose about the privileges. For Arcesilaüs, son of Battus the lame and Pheretima, refused to submit to the arrangements of Demônax the Mantinean, and claimed all the powers of his forefathers. In the contention which followed, Arcesilaüs was worsted, whereupon he fled to Samos, while his mother took refuge at Salamis in the island of Cyprus. Salamis was at that time ruled by Evelthon, the same who offered at Delphi the censer which is in the treasury of the Corinthians, a work deserving of admiration. Of him Pheretima made a request, that he would give her an army, whereby she and her son might regain Cyrêné. But Evelthon, preferring to give her anything rather than an army, made her various presents. Pheretima accepted them all, saying, as she took them: “Good is this too, O king! but better were it to give me the army which I crave at thy hands.” Finding that she repeated these words each time that he presented her with a gift, Evelthon at last sent her a golden spindle and distaff, with the wool ready for spinning. Again she uttered the same speech as before, whereupon Evelthon rejoined: “These are the gifts I present to women, not armies.”

    IV.163. At Samos, meanwhile, Arcesilaüs was collecting troops by the promise of granting them lands. Having in this way drawn together a vast host, he sent to Delphi to consult the oracle about his restoration. The answer of the Pythoness was this: “Loxias [6] grants your race to rule over Cyrêné, till four kings Battus, four Arcesilaüs by name, have passed away. Beyond this term of eight generations of men, he warns you not to seek to extend your reign. You, for your part, be gentle, when thou art restored. If you find the oven full of jars, bake not the jars; but be sure to speed them on their way. If, however, you heat the oven, then avoid the island—else thou wilt die thyself, and with you the most beautiful bull.”

    IV.164. So spoke the Pythoness. Arcesilaüs upon this returned to Cyrêné, taking with him the troops which he had raised in Samos. There he obtained possession of the supreme power; whereupon, forgetful of the oracle, he took proceedings against those who had driven him into banishment. Some of them fled from him and quitted the country for good; others fell into his hands and were sent to suffer death in Cyprus. These last, happening on their passage to put in through stress of weather at Cnidus, the Cnidians rescued them, and sent them off to Thera. Another group found a refuge in the great tower of Aglômachus, a private edifice, and were there destroyed by Arcesilaüs, who heaped wood around the place, and burnt them to death. Aware, after the deed was done, that this was what the Pythoness meant when she warned him, if he found the jars in the oven, not to bake them, he withdrew himself of his own accord from the city of Cyrêné, believing that to be the island of the oracle, and fearing to die as had been prophesied. Being married to a relation of his own, a daughter of Alazir, at that time king of the Barcæans, he took up his abode with him. At Barca, however, certain of the citizens, together with a number of Cyrenean exiles, recognizing him as he walked in the forum, killed him; they slew also at the same time Alazir, his father-in-law. So Arcesilaüs, wittingly or unwittingly, disobeyed the oracle, and thereby fulfilled his destiny.

    IV.165. Pheretima, the mother of Arcesilaüs, during the time that her son, after working his own ruin, dwelt at Barca, continued to enjoy all his privileges at Cyrêné, managing the government, and taking her seat at the council-board. No sooner, however, did she hear of the death of her son at Barca, then, leaving Cyrêné, she fled in haste to Egypt. Arcesilaüs had claims for service done to Cambyses, son of Cyrus; since it was by him that Cyrêné was put under the Persian yoke, and a rate of tribute agreed on. Pheretima therefore went straight to Egypt, and presenting herself as a suppliant [7] before Aryandes, entreated him to avenge her wrongs. Her son, she said, had met his death on account of his being so well disposed towards the Medes.

    IV.166. Now Aryandes had been made governor of Egypt by Cambyses. It was he who later was punished with death by Darius for seeking to rival him. Aware, by report and also by his own eyesight, that Darius wished to leave a memorial of himself, such as no king had ever left before, Aryandes resolved to follow his example, and did so, till he got his reward. Darius had refined gold to the last perfection of purity in order to have coins struck from it: Aryandes, in his Egyptian government, did the very same with silver, so that to this day there is no such pure silver anywhere as the Aryandic. Darius, when this came to his ears, brought another charge, a charge of rebellion, against Aryandes, and put him to death.

    IV.167. At the time of which we are speaking Aryandes, moved with compassion for Pheretima, granted her all the forces which there were in Egypt, both land and sea. The command of the army he gave to Amasis, a Maraphian; while Badres, one of the tribe of the Pasargadæ, was appointed to lead the fleet. Before the expedition, however, left Egypt, he sent a herald to Barca to inquire who it was that had slain king Arcesilaüs. The Barcæans replied “that they, one and all, acknowledged the deed—Arcesilaüs had done them many and great injuries.” After receiving this reply, Aryandes gave the troops orders to march with Pheretima. Such was the cause which served as a pretext for this expedition: its real object was, I believe, the subjugation of Libya. For Libya is inhabited by many and various races, and of these but a very few were subjects of the Persian king, while by far the larger number held Darius in no manner of respect.

    IV.168. The Libyans dwell in the order which I will now describe. Beginning on the side of Egypt, the first Libyans are the Adyrmachidæ. These people have, in most points, the same customs as the Egyptians, but use the costume of the Libyans. Their women wear on each leg a ring made of bronze, they let their hair grow long, and when they catch any vermin on their persons, bite it and throw it away. In this they differ from all the other Libyans. They are also the only tribe with whom the custom obtains of bringing all women about to become brides before the king, that he may choose such as are agreeable to him. The Adyrmachidæ extend from the borders of Egypt to the harbour called Port Plynus.

    IV.169. Next to the Adyrmachidæ are the Gilligammæ, who inhabit the country westward as far as the island of Aphrodisias. Off this tract is the island of Platea, which the Cyrenæans colonised. Here too, upon the mainland, are Port Menelaü, and Aziris, where the Cyrenæans once lived. The Silphium begins to grow in this region, extending from the island of Platea on the one side to the mouth of the Syrtis on the other. The customs of the Gilligammæ are like those of the rest of their countrymen.

    IV.170. The Asbystæ adjoin the Gilligammæ upon the west. They inhabit the regions above Cyrêné, but do not reach to the coast, which belongs to the Cyrenæans. Four-horse chariots are in more common use among them than among any other Libyans. In most of their customs they imitate the manners of the Cyrenæans.

    IV.171. Westward of the Asbystæ dwell the Auschisæ, who possess the country above Barca, reaching, however, to the sea at the place called Euesperides. In the middle of their territory is the little tribe of the Cabalians, which touches the coast near Tauchira, a city of the Barcæans. Their customs are like those of the Libyans above Cyrêné.

    IV.172. The Nasamonians, a numerous people, are the western neighbours of the Auschisæ. In summer they leave their flocks and herds upon the sea-shore, and go up the country to a place called Augila, where they gather the dates from the palms, which in those parts grow thickly, and are of great size, all of them being of the fruit-bearing kind. They also chase the locusts, and, when caught, dry them in the sun, after which they grind them to powder, and, sprinkling this upon their milk, so drink it. Each man among them has several wives, in their intercourse with whom they resemble the Massagetæ. The following are their customs in the swearing of oaths and the practice of augury. The man, as he swears, lays his hand upon the tomb of some one considered to have been pre-eminently just and good, and so doing swears by his name. For divination they visit the burial places of their own ancestors, and, after praying, lie down to sleep upon their graves; by the dreams which then come to them they guide their conduct. When they pledge their faith to one another, each gives the other to drink out of his hand; if there is no liquid to hand, they take up dust from the ground, and put their tongues to it.

    IV.173. On the country of the Nasamonians borders that of the Psylli, who were swept away under the following circumstances. The southwind had blown for a long time and dried up all the tanks in which their water was stored. Now the whole region within the Syrtis is utterly devoid of springs. Accordingly, the Psylli took counsel among themselves, and by common consent made war upon the south-wind—so at least the Libyans say, I do but repeat their words—they went forth and reached the desert; but there the south-wind rose and buried them under heaps of sand: whereupon, the Psylli being destroyed, their lands passed to the Nasamonians.

    IV.174. Above the Nasamonians, towards the south, in the district where the wild beasts abound, dwell the Garamantians, who avoid all society or intercourse with their fellowmen, have no weapon of war, and do not know how to defend themselves.

    IV.175. These border the Nasamonians on the south: westward along the sea-shore their neighbours are the Macæ, who, by letting the locks about the crown of their head grow long, while they clip them close everywhere else, make their hair resemble a crest. In war these people use the skins of ostriches for shields. The river Cinyps rises among them from the height called “the Hill of the Graces,” and runs from thence through their country to the sea. The Hill of the Graces is thickly covered with wood, and is thus very unlike the rest of Libya, which is bare. It is two hundred furlongs from the sea.

    IV.176. Adjoining the Macæ are the Gindanes, whose women wear on their legs anklets of leather. Each lover that a woman has gives her one; and she who can show the most is the best esteemed, as she appears to have been loved by the greatest number of men.

    IV.177. A promontory jutting out into the sea from the country of the Gindanes is inhabited by the Lotophagi, who live entirely on the fruit of the lotus-tree. The lotus fruit is about the size of the lentisk berry, and in sweetness resembles the date. The Lotophagi even succeed in obtaining from it a sort of wine.

    IV.178. The sea-coast beyond the Lotophagi is occupied by the Machlyans, who use the lotus to some extent, though not so much as the people of whom we last spoke. The Machlyans reach as far as the great river called the Triton, which empties itself into the great lake Tritônis. Here, in this lake is an island called Phla, which it is said the Lacedæmonians were to have colonised, according to an oracle.

    IV.179. The following is the story as it is commonly told. When Jason had finished building the Argo at the foot of Mount Pelion, he took on board the usual hecatomb [8], and moreover a bronze tripod. So equipped, he set sail, intending to coast round the Peloponnese, and so to reach Delphi. The voyage was prosperous as far as Malea; but at that point a gale of wind from the north came on suddenly, and carried him out of his course to the coast of Libya; where, before he discovered the land, he got among the shallows of Lake Tritônis. As he was turning it in his mind how he should find his way out, Triton (they say) appeared to him, and offered to show him the channel, and secure him a safe retreat, if he would give him the tripod. Jason complying, was shown by Triton the passage through the shallows; after which the god took the tripod, and, carrying it to his own temple, seated himself upon it, and, filled with prophetic fury, delivered to Jason and his companions a long prediction. “When a descendant,” he said, “of one of the Argo’s crew should seize and carry off the brazen tripod, then by inevitable fate would a hundred Grecian cities be built around Lake Tritônis.” The Libyans of that region, when they heard the words of this prophecy, took away the tripod and hid it.

    IV.180. The next tribe beyond the Machlyans is the tribe of the Auseans. Both these nations inhabit the borders of Lake Tritônis, being separated from one another by the river Triton. Both also wear their hair long, but the Machlyans let it grow at the back of the head, while the Auseans have it long in front. The Ausean maidens keep year by year a feast in honour of Minerva, where their custom is to draw up in two groups, and fight with stones and clubs. They say that these are rites which have come down to them from their fathers, and that they honor with them their native goddess, who is the same as the Minerva (Athena) of the Grecians. If any of the maidens die of the wounds they receive, the Auseans declare that such are false maidens. Before the fight is permitted to begin, they have another ceremony. One of the virgins, the loveliest of the number, is selected from the rest; a Corinthian helmet and a complete suit of Greek armor are publicly put upon her; and, thus adorned, she is made to mount into a chariot, and led around the whole lake in a procession. What arms they used for the adornment of their maidens before the Greeks came to live in their country, I cannot say. I imagine they dressed them in Egyptian armor, for I maintain that both the shield and the helmet came into Greece from Egypt. The Auseans declare that Minerva is the daughter of Neptune [9] and the Lake Tritônis—they say she quarreled with her father, and applied to Jupiter [10], who consented to let her be his child; and so she became his adopted daughter. These people do not marry or live in families, but dwell together like the gregarious beasts. When their children are full-grown, they are brought before the assembly of the men, which is held every third month, and assigned to those whom they most resemble.

    IV.181. Such are the tribes of wandering Libyans dwelling upon the sea-coast. Above them inland is the wild-beast tract: and beyond that, a ridge of sand, reaching from Egyptian Thebes to the Pillars of Hercules. Throughout this ridge, at the distance of about ten days’ journey from one another, heaps of salt in large lumps lie upon hills. At the top of every hill there gushes forth from the middle of the salt a stream of water, which is both cold and sweet. Around dwell men who are the last inhabitants of Libya on the side of the desert, living, as they do, more inland than the wild-beast district. Of these nations the first is that of the Ammonians, who dwell at a distance of ten days’ journey from Thebes, and have a temple derived from that of the Theban Jupiter. For at Thebes likewise, as I mentioned above, the image of Jupiter has a face like that of a ram. The Ammonians have another spring besides that which rises from the salt. The water of this stream is lukewarm at early dawn; at the time when the market fills it is much cooler; by noon it has grown quite cold; at this time, therefore, they water their gardens. As the afternoon advances the coldness goes off till, about sunset, the water is once more lukewarm; still the heat increases, and at midnight it boils furiously. After this time it again begins to cool, and grows less and less hot till morning comes. This spring is called “the Fountain of the Sun.”

    IV.182. Next to the Ammonians, at the distance of ten days’ journey along the ridge of sand, there is a second salt-hill like the Ammonian, and a second spring. The country round is inhabited, and the place bears the name of Augila. Hither it is that the Nasamonians come to gather in the dates.

    IV.183. Ten days’ journey from Augila there is again a salt-hill and a spring; palms of the fruitful kind grow here abundantly [...]. This region is inhabited by a nation called the Garamantians, a very powerful people, who cover the salt with earth, and then sow their crops. From there is the shortest road to the Lotophagi, a journey of thirty days. In the Garamantian country are found the oxen which, as they graze, walk backwards. This they do because their horns curve outwards in front of their heads, so that it is not possible for them when grazing to move forwards, since in that case their horns would become fixed in the ground. Only in this way do they differ from other oxen, and further in the thickness and hardness of their hides. The Garamantians have four-horse chariots, in which they chase the Troglodyte Ethiopians, who of all the nations whereof any account has reached our ears are by far the swiftest of foot. The Troglodytes feed on serpents, lizards, and other similar reptiles. Their language is unlike that of any other people; it sounds like the screeching of bats.

    IV.184. At the distance of ten days’ journey from the Garamantians there is again another salt-hill and spring of water; around which dwell a people, called the Atarantians, who alone of all known nations are destitute of names. The title of Atarantians is borne by the whole race in common; but the men have no particular names of their own. The Atarantians, when the sun rises high in the heaven, curse him, and load him with reproaches, because (they say) he burns and wastes both their country and themselves. Once more at the distance of ten days’ journey there is a salt-hill, a spring, and an inhabited tract. Near the salt is a mountain called Atlas, very taper and round; so lofty, moreover, that the top (it is said) cannot be seen, the clouds never quitting it either summer or winter. The natives call this mountain “the Pillar of Heaven”; and they themselves take their name from it, being called Atlantes. They are reported not to eat any living thing, and never to have any dreams.

    IV.185. As far as the Atlantes the names of the nations inhabiting the sandy ridge are known to me; but beyond them my knowledge fails. The ridge itself extends as far as the Pillars of Hercules [11], and even further than these; and throughout the whole distance, at the end of every ten days’ journey, there is a salt-mine, with people dwelling round it who all of them build their houses with blocks of the salt. No rain falls in these parts of Libya; if it were otherwise, the walls of these houses could not stand. The salt quarried is of two colors, white and purple. Beyond the ridge, southwards, in the direction of the interior, the country is a desert, with no springs, no beasts, no rain, no wood, and altogether destitute of moisture.

    IV.186. Thus from Egypt as far as Lake Tritônis Libya is inhabited by wandering tribes, whose drink is milk, and their food the flesh of animals. Cow’s flesh however none of these tribes ever taste, but abstain from it for the same reason as the Egyptians, neither do they any of them breed swine. Even at Cyrêné, the women think it wrong to eat the flesh of the cow, honoring in this Isis, the Egyptian goddess, whom they worship both with fasts and festivals. The Barcæan women abstain, not from cow’s flesh only, but also from the flesh of swine.

    IV.187. West of Lake Tritônis the Libyans are no longer wanderers, nor do they practice the same customs as the wandering people, or treat their children in the same way. For the wandering Libyans, many of them at any rate, if not all—concerning which I cannot speak with certainty—when their children come to the age of four years, burn the veins at the top of their heads with a flock from the fleece of a sheep: others burn the veins about the temples. This they do to prevent them from being plagued in their later years by a flow of rheum from the head; and such they declare is the reason why they are so much more healthy than other men. Certainly the Libyans are the healthiest men that I know; but whether this is what makes them so, or not, I cannot positively say—the healthiest certainly they are. If when the children are being burnt convulsions come on, there is a remedy of which they have made discovery. It is to sprinkle goat’s water upon the child, who thus treated, is sure to recover. In all this I only repeat what is said by the Libyans.

    IV.188. The rites which the wandering Libyans use in sacrificing are the following. They begin with the ear of the victim, which they cut off and throw over their house: this done, they kill the animal by twisting the neck. They sacrifice to the Sun and Moon, but not to any other God. This worship is common to all the Libyans. The inhabitants of the parts about Lake Tritônis worship in addition Triton, Neptune, and Minerva, the last especially.

    IV.189. The dress wherewith Minerva’s statues are adorned, and her Ægis, were derived by the Greeks from the women of Libya. For except that the garments of the Libyan women are of leather, and their fringes made of leathern thongs instead of serpents, in all else the dress of both is exactly alike. The name too itself shows that the mode of dressing the Pallas [12] statues came from Libya. For the Libyan women wear over their dress goat-skins stripped of the hair, fringed at their edges, and coloured with vermilion; and from these goat-skins the Greeks get their word Ægis (goat-harness). I think for my part that the loud cries uttered in our sacred rites came also from thence; for the Libyan women are greatly given to such cries and utter them very sweetly. Likewise the Greeks learnt from the Libyans to yoke four horses to a chariot.

    IV.190. All the wandering tribes bury their dead according to the fashion of the Greeks, except the Nasamonians. They bury them sitting, and are right careful when the sick man is at the point of giving up the ghost, to make him sit and not let him die lying down. The dwellings of these people are made of the stems of the asphodel, and of rushes wattled together. They can be carried from place to place. Such are the customs of the afore-mentioned tribes.

    IV.191. Westward of the river Triton and adjoining upon the Auseans, are other Libyans who till the ground, and live in houses: these people are named the Maxyans. They let the hair grow long on the right side of the head, and shave it close on the left; they besmear their bodies with red paint; and they say that they are descended from the men of Troy. Their country and the remainder of Libya towards the west is far fuller of wild beasts, and of wood, than the country of the wandering people. For the eastern side of Libya, where the wanderers dwell, is low and sandy, as far as the river Triton; but westward of that the land of the husbandmen is very hilly, and abounds with forests and wild beasts. For this is the tract in which the huge serpents are found, and the lions, the elephants, the bears, the aspicks, and the horned asses. Here too are the dog-faced creatures, and the creatures without heads, whom the Libyans declare to have their eyes in their breasts; and also the wild men, and the wild women, and many other far less fabulous beasts.

    IV.192. Among the wanderers are none of these, but quite other animals; as antelopes, gazelles, buffaloes, and asses, not of the horned sort, but of a kind which does not need to drink; also oryxes, whose horns are used for the curved sides of citherns, and whose size is about that of the ox; foxes, hyenas, porcupines, wild ram, dictyes, jackals, panthers, boryes, land-crocodiles, about three cubits in length, very like lizards, ostriches, and little snakes, each with a single horn. All these animals are found here, and likewise those belonging to other countries, except the stag and the wild-boar; but neither stag nor wild-boar are found in any part of Libya. There are, however, three sorts of mice in these parts; the first are called two-footed; the next, zegeries, which is a Libyan word meaning “hills”; and the third, urchins. Weasels also are found in the Silphium-region, much like the Tartessian. So many, therefore, are the animals belonging to the land of the wandering Libyans, in so far, at least, as my researches have been able to reach.

    IV.193. Next to the Maxyan Libyans are the Zavecians, whose wives drive their chariots to battle.

    IV.194. On them border the Gyzantians, in whose country a vast deal of honey is made by bees; very much more, however, by the skill of men. The people all paint themselves red, and eat monkeys, whereof there is inexhaustible store in the hills.

    IV.195. Off their coast, as the Carthaginians report, lies an island, by name Cyraunis, the length of which is two hundred furlongs, its breadth not great, and which is soon reached from the mainland. Vines and olive-trees cover the whole of it, and there is in the island a lake, from which the young maidens of the country draw up gold dust, by dipping into the mud birds’ feathers smeared with pitch. If this be true, I know not; I but write what is said. It may be even so, however; since I myself have seen pitch drawn up out of the water from a lake in Zacynthus. At the place I speak of there are a number of lakes; but one is larger than the rest, being seventy feet every way, and two fathoms in depth. Here they let down a pole into the water, with a bunch of myrtle tied to one end, and when they raise it again, there is pitch sticking to the myrtle, which in smell is similar to bitumen, but in all else is better than the pitch of Pieria. This they pour into a trench dug by the lake’s side; and when a good deal has thus been got together, they draw it off and put it up in jars. Whatever falls into the lake passes underground, and comes up in the sea, which is no less than four furlongs distant. So then what is said of the island off the Libyan coast is not without likelihood.

    IV.196. The Carthaginians also relate the following: There is a country in Libya, and a nation, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which they are accustomed to visit, where they no sooner arrive but right away they unload their wares, and having disposed them after an orderly fashion along the beach, leave them, and, returning aboard their ships, raise a great smoke. The natives, when they see the smoke, come down to the shore, and, laying out to view as much gold as they think the worth of the wares, withdraw to a distance. The Carthaginians upon this come ashore and look. If they think the gold enough, they take it and go their way; but if it does not seem to them sufficient, they go aboard ship once more and wait patiently. Then the others approach and add to their gold, till the Carthaginians are content. Neither party deals unfairly by the other: for they themselves never touch the gold till it comes up to the worth of their goods, nor do the natives ever carry off the goods till the gold is taken away.

    IV.197. These are the Libyan tribes whereof I am able to give the names; and most of these cared little then, and indeed care little now, for the king of the Medes. One thing more also I can add concerning this region, namely, that, so far as our knowledge reaches, four nations, and no more, inhabit it; and two of these nations are indigenous, while two are not. The two indigenous are the Libyans and Ethiopians, who dwell respectively in the north and south of Libya. The Phœnicians and the Greeks are [recent] in-comers.

    IV.198. It seems to me that Libya is not to compare for goodness of soil with either Asia or Europe, except the Cinyps-region, which is named after the river that waters it. This piece of land is equal to any country in the world for cereal crops, and is in nothing like the rest of Libya. For the soil here is black, and springs of water abound; so that there is nothing to fear from drought; nor do heavy rains (and it rains in that part of Libya) do any harm when they soak the ground. The returns of the harvest come up to the measure which prevails in Babylonia. The soil is likewise good in the country of the Euesperites; for there the land brings forth in the best years a hundred-fold. But the Cinyps-region yields three hundred-fold.

    IV.199. The country of the Cyrenæans, which is the highest tract within the part of Libya inhabited by the wandering tribes, has three seasons that deserve mention. First the crops along the sea-coast begin to ripen, and are ready for the harvest and the vintage; after they have been gathered in, the crops of the middle tract above the coast-region (the hill-country, as they call it) need harvesting; while about the time when this middle crop is housed, the fruits ripen and are fit for cutting in the highest tract of all. So that the produce of the first tract has been all eaten and drunk by the time that the last harvest comes in. And the harvest-time of the Cyrenæans continues thus for eight full months. So much concerning these matters.

    Footnotes:

    [4] A person who gave prophecies that were believed to come directly from the gods.

    [5] The Oracle of Delphi (also known as the Pythia) was a priestess of Apollo.

    [6] Apollo.

    [7] A humble petitioner.

    [8] A sacrifice of 100 cattle.

    [9] Latin name for Poseidon.

    [10] Latin name for Zeus.

    [11] Two elevated points along the Strait of Gibraltar. The Rock of Gibraltar in Gibraltar is considered to be the northern pillar while the southern pillar is either Jebel Musa in Morocco or Monte Hacho in Spain.

    [12] Another name for Athena.

     

    EGYPT

    Herodotus was clearly impressed by the geography, history, and natural wonders of Egypt. What follows are short excerpts from the second book of his history devoted to Egypt.

    II.2. Now the Egyptians, before the reign of their king Psammetichus, believed themselves to be the most ancient of mankind. Since Psammetichus, however, made an attempt to discover who were actually the primitive race, they have been of the opinion that while they surpass all other nations, the Phrygians surpass them in antiquity. This king, finding it impossible to make out by dint of inquiry what men were the most ancient, contrived the following method of discovery: He took two children of the common sort, and gave them over to a herdsman to bring up at his folds, strictly charging him to let no one utter a word in their presence, but to keep them in a sequestered cottage, and from time to time introduce goats to their apartment, see that they got their fill of milk, and in all other respects look after them. His goal here was to know, after the indistinct babblings of infancy were over, what word they would first articulate. It happened as he had anticipated. The herdsman obeyed his orders for two years, and at the end of that time, on his one day opening the door of their room and going in, the children both ran up to him with outstretched arms, and distinctly said “Becos.” When this first happened the herdsman took no notice; but afterwards when he observed, on coming often to see after them, that the word was constantly in their mouths, he informed his lord, and by his command brought the children into his presence. Psammetichus then himself heard them say the word, upon which he proceeded to make inquiry what people there was who called anything “becos,” and hereupon he learnt that “becos” was the Phrygian name for bread. In consideration of this circumstance the Egyptians yielded their claims, and admitted the greater antiquity of the Phrygians.

    III.3. That these were the real facts I learnt at Memphis from the priests of Vulcan [13]. The Greeks, among other foolish tales, relate that Psammetichus had the children brought up by women whose tongues he had previously cut out; but the priests said their bringing up was such as I have stated above. I got much other information also from conversation with these priests while I was at Memphis, and I even went to Heliopolis and to Thebes, expressly to try whether the priests of those places would agree in their accounts with the priests at Memphis. The Heliopolitans have the reputation of being the best skilled in history of all the Egyptians. What they told me about their religion it is not my intention to repeat, except the names of their deities, which I believe all men know equally. If I relate anything else concerning these matters, it will only be when compelled to do so by the course of my narrative.

    III.4. Now with regard to mere human matters, the accounts which they gave, and in which all agreed, were the following: The Egyptians, they said, were the first to discover the solar year, and to portion out its course into twelve parts. They obtained this knowledge from the stars. (To my mind they contrive their year much more cleverly than the Greeks, for these last every other year intercalate a whole month, but the Egyptians, dividing the year into twelve months of thirty days each, add every year a space of five days besides, whereby the circuit of the seasons is made to return with uniformity.) The Egyptians, they went on to affirm, first brought into use the names of the twelve gods, which the Greeks adopted from them; and first erected altars, images, and temples to the Gods; and also first engraved upon stone the figures of animals. In most of these cases they proved to me that what they said was true. And they told me that the first man who ruled over Egypt was Men, and that in his time all Egypt, except the Thebaic canton, was a marsh, none of the land below lake Mœris then showing itself above the surface of the water. This is a distance of seven days’ sail from the sea up the river.

    II.5. What they said of their country seemed to me very reasonable. For any one who sees Egypt, without having heard a word about it before, must perceive, if he has only common powers of observation, that the Egypt to which the Greeks go in their ships is an acquired country, the gift of the river. The same is true of the land above the lake to the distance of three days’ voyage, concerning which the Egyptians say nothing, but which is exactly the same kind of country.

    The following is the general character of the region. In the first place, on approaching it by sea, when you are still a day’s sail from the land, if you let down a sounding-line you will bring up mud, and find yourself in eleven fathoms’ water, which shows that the soil washed down by the stream extends to that distance.

    [Herodotus describes Egypt largely in terms of land surrounding the Nile river.]

    II.11. In Arabia, not far from Egypt, there is a long and narrow gulf running inland from the sea called the Erythræan, of which I will here set down the dimensions. Starting from its innermost recess, and using a row-boat, you take forty days to reach the open main, while you may cross the gulf at its widest part in the space of half a day. In this sea there is an ebb and flow of the tide every day. My opinion is, that Egypt was formerly very much such a gulf as this—one gulf penetrated from the sea that washes Egypt on the north, and extended itself towards Ethiopia; another entered from the southern ocean, and stretched towards Syria; the two gulfs ran into the land so as almost to meet each other, and left between them only a very narrow tract of country. Now if the Nile should choose to divert its waters from their present bed into this Arabian gulf, what is there to hinder it from being filled up by the stream within, at the utmost, twenty thousand years? For my part, I think it would be filled in half the time. How then should not a gulf, even of much greater size, have been filled up in the ages that passed before I was born, by a river that is at once so large and so given to working changes?

    II.12. Thus I give credit to those from whom I received this account of Egypt, and am myself, moreover, strongly of the same opinion, since I remarked that the country projects into the sea further than the neighboring shores, and I observed that there were shells upon the hills, and that salt exuded from the soil to such an extent as even to injure the pyramids; and I noticed also that there is but a single hill in all Egypt where sand is found, namely, the hill above Memphis; and further, I found the country to bear no resemblance either to its border-land, Arabia, or to Libya—nay, nor even to Syria, which forms the seaboard of Arabia; but whereas the soil of Libya is, we know, sandy and of a reddish hue, and that of Arabia and Syria inclines to stone and clay, Egypt has a soil that is black and crumbly, as being alluvial and formed of the deposits brought down by the river from Ethiopia.

    II.13. One fact which I learnt of the priests is to me a strong evidence of the origin of the country. They said that when Mœris was king, the Nile overflowed all Egypt below Memphis, as soon as it rose so little as eight cubits. Now Mœris had not been dead 900 years at the time when I heard this of the priests; yet at the present day, unless the river rise sixteen, or, at the very least, fifteen cubits [14], it does not overflow the lands. It seems to me, therefore, that if the land goes on rising and growing at this rate, the Egyptians who dwell below lake Mœris, in the Delta (as it is called) and elsewhere, will one day, by the stoppage of the inundations, suffer permanently the fate which they told me they expected would some time or other befall the Greeks. On hearing that the whole land of Greece is watered by rain from heaven, and not, like their own, inundated by rivers, they observed: “Some day the Greeks will be disappointed of their grand hope, and then they will be wretchedly hungry;” which was as much as to say, “If God shall some day see fit not to grant the Greeks rain, but shall afflict them with a long drought, the Greeks will be swept away by a famine, since they have nothing to rely on but rain from Jove [15], and have no other resource for water.”

    II.14. And certainly, in thus speaking of the Greeks the Egyptians say nothing but what is true. But now let me tell the Egyptians how the case stands with themselves. If, as I said before, the country below Memphis, which is the land that is always rising, continues to increase in height at the rate at which it has risen in times gone by, how will it be possible for the inhabitants of that region to avoid hunger, when they will certainly have no rain, and the river will not be able to overflow their corn-lands? At present, it must be confessed, they obtain the fruits of the field with less trouble than any other people in the world, the rest of the Egyptians included, since they have no need to break up the ground with the plough, nor to use the hoe, nor to do any of the work which the rest of mankind find necessary if they are to get a crop; but the husbandman waits till the river has of its own accord spread itself over the fields and withdrawn again to its bed, and then sows his plot of ground, and after sowing turns his swine into it—the swine tread in the corn—after which he has only to await the harvest. The swine serve him also to thrash the grain, which is then carried to the garner.

    II.15. If then we choose to adopt the views of the Ionians concerning Egypt, we must come to the conclusion that the Egyptians had formerly no country at all. For the Ionians say that nothing is really Egypt but the Delta, which extends along shore from the Watch-tower of Perseus, as it is called, to the Pelusiac Salt-pans, a distance of forty schœnes, and stretches inland as far as the city of Cercasôrus, where the Nile divides into the two streams which reach the sea at Pelusium and Canôbus respectively. The rest of what is accounted Egypt belongs, they say, either to Arabia or Libya. But the Delta, as the Egyptians affirm, and as I myself am persuaded, is formed of the deposits of the river, and has only recently, if I may use the expression, come to light. If, then, they had formerly no territory at all, how came they to be so extravagant as to fancy themselves the most ancient race in the world? Surely there was no need of their making the experiment with the children to see what language they would first speak. But in truth I do not believe that the Egyptians came into being at the same time with the Delta, as the Ionians call it; I think they have always existed ever since the human race began; as the land went on increasing, part of the population came down into the new country, part remained in their old settlements. In ancient times the Thebaïs bore the name of Egypt, a district of which the entire circumference is but 6120 furlongs.

    II.16. If, then, my judgment on these matters be right, the Ionians are mistaken in what they say of Egypt. If, on the contrary, it is they who are right, then I undertake to show that neither the Ionians nor any of the other Greeks know how to count. For they all say that the earth is divided into three parts, Europe, Asia, and Libya, whereas they ought to add a fourth part, the Delta of Egypt, since they do not include it either in Asia or Libya. For is it not their theory that the Nile separates Asia from Libya? As the Nile, therefore, splits in two at the apex of the Delta, the Delta itself must be a separate country, not contained in either Asia or Libya.

    II.17. Here I take my leave of the opinions of the Ionians, and proceed to deliver my own sentiments on these subjects. I consider Egypt to be the whole country inhabited by the Egyptians, just as Cilicia is the tract occupied by the Cilicians, and Assyria that possessed by the Assyrians. And I regard the only proper boundary line between Libya and Asia to be that which is marked out by the Egyptian frontier. For if we take the boundary line commonly received by the Greeks, we must regard Egypt as divided, along its whole length from Elephantiné and the Cataracts to Cercasôrus, into two parts, each belonging to a different portion of the world, one to Asia, the other to Libya; since the Nile divides Egypt in two from the Cataracts to the sea, running as far as the city of Cercasôrus in a single stream, but at that point separating into three branches, whereof the one which bends eastward is called the Pelusiac mouth, and that which slants to the west, the Canobic. Meanwhile the straight course of the stream, which comes down from the upper country and meets the apex of the Delta, continues on, dividing the Delta down the middle, and empties itself into the sea by a mouth, which is as celebrated, and carries as large a body of water, as most of the others, the mouth called the Sebennytic. Besides these there are two other mouths which run out of the Sebennytic called respectively the Saïtic and the Mendesian. The Bolbitine mouth, and the Bucolic, are not natural branches, but channels made by excavation.

    II.18. My judgment as to the extent of Egypt is confirmed by an oracle delivered at the shrine of Ammon, of which I had no knowledge at all until after I had formed my opinion. It happened that the people of the cities Marea and Apis, who live in the part of Egypt that borders on Libya, took a dislike to the religious usages of the country concerning sacrificial animals, and wished no longer to be restricted from eating the flesh of cows. So, as they believed themselves to be Libyans and not Egyptians, they sent to the shrine to say that, having nothing in common with the Egyptians, neither inhabiting the Delta nor using the Egyptian tongue, they claimed to be allowed to eat whatever they pleased. Their request, however, was refused by the god, who declared in reply that Egypt was the entire tract of country which the Nile overspreads and irrigates, and the Egyptians were the people who lived below Elephantiné, and drank the waters of that river.

    II.28. [....] With regard to the sources of the Nile, I have found no one among all those with whom I have conversed, whether Egyptians, Libyans, or Greeks, who professed to have any knowledge, except a single person. He was the scribe who kept the register of the sacred treasures of Minerva in the city of Saïs, and he did not seem to me to be in earnest when he said that he knew them perfectly well. His story was as follows: “Between Syêné, a city of the Thebaïs, and Elephantiné, there are” (he said) “two hills with sharp conical tops; the name of the one is Cophi, of the other, Mophi. Midway between them are the fountains of the Nile, fountains which it is impossible to fathom. Half the water runs northward into Egypt, half to the south towards Ethiopia.” The fountains were known to be unfathomable, he declared, because Psammetichus, an Egyptian king, had made trial of them. He had caused a rope to be made, many thousand fathoms in length, and had sounded the fountain with it, but could find no bottom. By this the scribe gave me to understand, if there was any truth at all in what he said, that in this fountain there are certain strong eddies, and a regurgitation, owing to the force wherewith the water dashes against the mountains, and hence a sounding-line cannot be got to reach the bottom of the spring.

    II.29. No other information on this head could I obtain from any quarter. All that I succeeded in learning further of the more distant portions of the Nile, by ascending myself as high as Elephantiné, and making inquiries concerning the parts beyond, was the following: As one advances beyond Elephantiné, the land rises. Hence it is necessary in this part of the river to attach a rope to the boat on each side, as men harness an ox, and so proceed on the journey. If the rope snaps, the vessel is borne away down stream by the force of the current. The navigation continues the same for four days, the river winding greatly, like the Mæander, and the distance traversed amounting to twelve schœnes. Here you come upon a smooth and level plain, where the Nile flows in two branches, round an island called Tachompso. The country above Elephantiné is inhabited by the Ethiopians, who possess one-half of this island, the Egyptians occupying the other. Above the island there is a great lake, the shores of which are inhabited by Ethiopian nomads; after passing it, you come again to the stream of the Nile, which runs into the lake. Here you land, and travel for forty days along the banks of the river, since it is impossible to proceed further in a boat on account of the sharp peaks which jut out from the water, and the sunken rocks which abound in that part of the stream. When you have passed this portion of the river in the space of forty days, you go on board another boat and proceed by water for twelve days more, at the end of which time you reach a great city called Meroë, which is said to be the capital of the other Ethiopians. The only gods worshipped by the inhabitants are Jupiter and Bacchus [16], to whom great honors are paid. There is an oracle of Jupiter in the city, which directs the warlike expeditions of the Ethiopians; when it commands they go to war, and in whatever direction it bids them march, in that direction straightaway they carry their arms.

    II.30. On leaving this city, and again mounting the stream, in the same space of time which it took you to reach the capital from Elephantiné, you come to the Deserters, who bear the name of Asmach. This word, translated into our language, means “the men who stand on the left hand of the king.” These Deserters are Egyptians of the warrior caste, who, to the number of two hundred and forty thousand, went over to the Ethiopians in the reign of king Psammetichus. The cause of their desertion was the following: Three garrisons were maintained in Egypt at that time, one in the city of Elephantiné against the Ethiopians, another in the Pelusiac Daphnæ, against the Syrians and Arabians, and a third, against the Libyans, in Marea. (The very same posts are to this day occupied by the Persians, whose forces are in garrison both in Daphnæ and in Elephantiné.) Now it happened that on one occasion the garrisons were not relieved during the space of three years; the soldiers, therefore, at the end of that time, consulted together, and having determined by common consent to revolt, marched away towards Ethiopia. Psammetichus, informed of the movement, set out in pursuit, and coming up with them, besought them with many words not to desert the gods of their country, nor abandon their wives and children. “Nay, but,” said one of the deserters with an unseemly gesture, “wherever we go, we are sure enough of finding wives and children.” Arrived in Ethiopia, they placed themselves at the disposal of the king. In return, he made them a present of a tract of land which belonged to certain Ethiopians with whom he was at feud, bidding them expel the inhabitants and take possession of their territory. From the time that this settlement was formed, their acquaintance with Egyptian manners has tended to civilize the Ethiopians.

    II.31. Thus the course of the Nile is known, not only throughout Egypt, but to the extent of four months’ journey either by land or water above the Egyptian boundary; for on calculation it will be found that it takes that length of time to travel from Elephantiné to the country of the Deserters. There the direction of the river is from west to east. Beyond, no one has any certain knowledge of its course, since the country is uninhabited by reason of the excessive heat.

    II.32. I did hear, indeed, what I will now relate, from certain natives of Cyrêné. Once upon a time, they said, they were on a visit to the oracular shrine of Ammon, when it chanced that in the course of conversation with Etearchus, the Ammonian king, the talk fell upon the Nile, how that its sources were unknown to all men. Etearchus upon this mentioned that some Nasamonians had once come to his court, and when asked if they could give any information concerning the uninhabited parts of Libya, had told the following tale. (The Nasamonians are a Libyan race who occupy the Syrtis, and a tract of no great size towards the east.) They said there had grown up among them some wild young men, the sons of certain chiefs, who, when they came to man’s estate, indulged in all manner of extravagances, and among other things drew lots for five of their number to go and explore the desert parts of Libya, and try if they could not penetrate further than any had done previously. (The coast of Libya along the sea which washes it to the north, throughout its entire length from Egypt to Cape Soloeis, which is its furthest point, is inhabited by Libyans of many distinct tribes who possess the whole tract except certain portions which belong to the Phœnicians and the Greeks. Above the coast-line and the country inhabited by the maritime tribes, Libya is full of wild beasts; while beyond the wild-beast region there is a tract which is wholly sand, very scant of water, and utterly and entirely a desert.) The young men therefore, dispatched on this errand by their comrades with a plentiful supply of water and provisions, traveled at first through the inhabited region, passing which they came to the wild beast tract, whence they finally entered upon the desert, which they proceeded to cross in a direction from east to west. After journeying for many days over a wide extent of sand, they came at last to a plain where they observed trees growing; approaching them, and seeing fruit on them, they proceeded to gather it. While they were thus engaged, there came upon them some dwarfish men, under the middle height, who seized them and carried them off. The Nasamonians could not understand a word of their language, nor had they any acquaintance with the language of the Nasamonians. They were led across extensive marshes, and finally came to a town, where all the men were of the height of their conductors, and black-complexioned. A great river flowed by the town, running from west to east, and containing crocodiles.

    II. 33. Here let me dismiss Etearchus the Ammonian, and his story, only adding that (according to the Cyrenæans) he declared that the Nasamonians got safe back to their country, and that the men whose city they had reached were a nation of sorcerers. With respect to the river  which ran by their town, Etearchus conjectured it to be the Nile; and reason favors that view. For the Nile certainly flows out of Libya, dividing it down the middle, and as I conceive, judging the unknown from the known, rises at the same distance from its mouth as the Ister. This latter river has its source in the country of the Celts near the city Pyrêné, and runs through the middle of Europe, dividing it into two portions. The Celts live beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and border on the Cynesians, who dwell at the extreme west of Europe. Thus the Ister flows through the whole of Europe before it finally empties itself into the Euxine at Istria, one of the colonies of the Milesians.

    II.34. Now as this river flows through regions that are inhabited, its course is perfectly well known; but of the sources of the Nile no one can give any account, since Libya, the country through which it passes, is desert and without inhabitants. As far as it was possible to get information by inquiry, I have given a description of the stream. It enters Egypt from the parts beyond. Egypt lies almost exactly opposite the mountainous portion of Cilicia, whence a lightly-equipped traveller may reach Sinôpé on the Euxine in five days by the direct route. Sinôpé lies opposite the place where the Ister falls into the sea. My opinion therefore is that the Nile, as it traverses the whole of Libya, is of equal length with the Ister. And here I take my leave of this subject.

    II.35. Concerning Egypt itself I shall extend my remarks to a great length, because there is no country that possesses so many wonders, nor any that has such a number of works which defy description. Not only is the climate different from that of the rest of the world, and the rivers unlike any other rivers, but the people also, in most of their manners and customs, exactly reverse the common practice of mankind. The women attend the markets and trade, while the men sit at home at the loom; and here, while the rest of the world works the woof up the warp, the Egyptians work it down; the women likewise carry burdens upon their shoulders, while the men carry them upon their heads. They eat their food out of doors in the streets, but retire for private purposes to their houses, giving as a reason that what is unseemly, but necessary, ought to be done in secret, but what has nothing unseemly about it, should be done openly. A woman cannot serve the priestly office, either for god or goddess, but men are priests to both; sons need not support their parents unless they choose, but daughters must, whether they choose or not.

    II.36. In other countries the priests have long hair, in Egypt their heads are shaven; elsewhere it is customary, in mourning, for near relations to cut their hair close; the Egyptians, who wear no hair at any other time, when they lose a relative, let their beards and the hair of their heads grow long. All other men pass their lives separate from animals, the Egyptians have animals always living with them; others make barley and wheat their food; it is a disgrace to do so in Egypt, where the grain they live on is spelt, which some call zea. Dough they knead with their feet; but they mix mud, and even take up dirt, with their hands. They are the only people in the world—they at least, and such as have learnt the practice from them—who use circumcision. Their men wear two garments apiece, their women but one. They put on the rings and fasten the ropes to sails inside; others put them outside. When they write or calculate, instead of going, like the Greeks, from left to right, they move their hand from right to left; and they insist, notwithstanding, that it is they who go to the right, and the Greeks who go to the left. They have two quite different kinds of writing, one of which is called sacred, the other common.

    II.37. They are religious to excess, far beyond any other race of men, and use the following ceremonies: They drink out of brazen cups, which they scour every day: there is no exception to this practice. They wear linen garments, which they are specially careful to have always fresh washed. They practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely. The priests shave their whole body every other day, that no lice or other impure thing may adhere to them when they are engaged in the service of the gods. Their dress is entirely of linen, and their shoes of the papyrus plant: it is not lawful for them to wear either dress or shoes of any other material. They bathe twice every day in cold water, and twice each night; besides which they observe, so to speak, thousands of ceremonies. They enjoy, however, not a few advantages. They consume none of their own property, and are at no expense for anything; but every day bread is baked for them of the sacred corn, and a plentiful supply of beef and of goose’s flesh is assigned to each, and also a portion of wine made from the grape. Fish they are not allowed to eat; and beans,—which none of the Egyptians ever sow, or eat, if they come up of their own accord, either raw or boiled—the priests will not even endure to look on, since they consider it an unclean kind of pulse. Instead of a single priest, each god has the attendance of a college, at the head of which is a chief priest; when one of these dies, his son is appointed in his room.

    II.38. Male cattle are reckoned to belong to Epaphus [17], and are therefore tested in the following manner: One of the priests appointed for the purpose searches to see if there is a single black hair on the whole body, since in that case the beast is unclean. He examines him all over, standing on his legs, and again laid upon his back; after which he takes the tongue out of his mouth, to see if it be clean in respect of the prescribed marks (what they are I will mention elsewhere); he also inspects the hairs of the tail, to observe if they grow naturally. If the animal is pronounced clean in all these various points, the priest marks him by twisting a piece of papyrus round his horns, and attaching thereto some sealing-clay, which he then stamps with his own signet-ring. After this the beast is led away; and it is forbidden, under the penalty of death, to sacrifice an animal which has not been marked in this way.

    II.39. The following is their manner of sacrifice: They lead the victim, marked with their signet, to the altar where they are about to offer it, and setting the wood alight, pour a libation of wine upon the altar in front of the victim, and at the same time invoke the god. Then they slay the animal, and cutting off his head, proceed to flay the body. Next they take the head, and heaping imprecations on it, if there is a market-place and a body of Greek traders in the city, they carry it there and sell it instantly; if, however, there are no Greeks among them, they throw the head into the river. The imprecation is to this effect: They pray that if any evil is impending either over those who sacrifice, or over universal Egypt, it may be made to fall upon that head. These practices, the imprecations upon the heads, and the libations of wine, prevail all over Egypt, and extend to victims of all sorts; and hence the Egyptians will never eat the head of any animal.

    II.40. The disemboweling and burning are, however, different in different sacrifices. I will mention the mode in use with respect to the goddess whom they regard as the greatest, and honor with the greatest festival. When they have skinned their steer they pray, and when their prayer is ended they take the paunch of the animal out entire, leaving the intestines and the fat inside the body; they then cut off the legs, the ends of the loins, the shoulders, and the neck; and having so done, they fill the body of the steer with clean bread, honey, raisins, figs, frankincense, myrrh, and other aromatics. Thus filled, they burn the body, pouring over it great quantities of oil. Before offering the sacrifice they fast, and while the bodies of the victims are being consumed they beat themselves. Afterwards, when they have concluded this part of the ceremony, they have the other parts of the victim served up to them for a repast.

    II.41. The male cattle, therefore, if clean, and the male calves, are used for sacrifice by the Egyptians universally; but the females they are not allowed to sacrifice, since they are sacred to Isis [18]. The statue of this goddess has the form of a woman but with horns like a cow, resembling thus the Greek representations of Io; and the Egyptians, one and all, venerate cows much more highly than any other animal. This is the reason why no native of Egypt, whether man or woman, will give a Greek a kiss, or use the knife of a Greek, or his spit, or his cauldron, or taste the flesh of an ox, known to be pure, if it has been cut with a Greek knife. When cattle die, the following is the manner of their sepulture: The females are thrown into the river; the males are buried in the suburbs of the towns, with one or both of their horns appearing above the surface of the ground to mark the place. When the bodies are decayed, a boat comes, at an appointed time, from the island called Prosôpitis,—which is a portion of the Delta, nine schœnes in circumference,—and calls at the several cities in turn to collect the bones of the oxen. Prosôpitis is a district containing several cities; the name of that from which the boats come is Atarbêchis. Venus has a temple there of much sanctity. Great numbers of men go forth from this city and proceed to the other towns, where they dig up the bones, which they take away with them and bury together in one place. The same practice prevails with respect to the interment of all other cattle—the law so determining; they do not slaughter any of them.

    II.42. Such Egyptians as possess a temple of the Theban Jove, or live in the Thebaïc canton, offer no sheep in sacrifice, but only goats; for the Egyptians do not all worship the same gods, excepting Isis and Osiris [19], the latter of whom they say is the Grecian Bacchus. Those, on the contrary, who possess a temple dedicated to Mendes, or belong to the Mendesian canton, abstain from offering goats, and sacrifice sheep instead. The Thebans, and such as imitate them in their practice, give the following account of the origin of the custom: “Hercules,” they say, “wished of all things to see Jove, but Jove did not choose to be seen of him. At length, when Hercules persisted, Jove hit on a device—to flay a ram, and, cutting off his head, hold the head before him, and cover himself with the fleece. In this guise he showed himself to Hercules.” Therefore the Egyptians give their statues of Jupiter the face of a ram: and from them the practice has passed to the Ammonians, who are a joint colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, speaking a language between the two; hence also, in my opinion, the latter people took their name of Ammonians, since the Egyptian name for Jupiter is Amun. Such, then, is the reason why the Thebans do not sacrifice rams, but consider them sacred animals. Upon one day in the year, however, at the festival of Jupiter, they slay a single ram, and stripping off the fleece, cover with it the statue of that god, as he once covered himself, and then bring up to the statue of Jove an image of Hercules. When this has been done, the whole assembly beat their breasts in mourning for the ram, and afterwards bury him in a holy tomb.

    II.43. The account which I received of this Hercules makes him one of the twelve gods. Of the other Hercules, with whom the Greeks are familiar, I could hear nothing in any part of Egypt. That the Greeks, however (those I mean who gave the son of Amphitryon that name), took the name from the Egyptians, and not the Egyptians from the Greeks, is I think clearly proved, among other arguments, by the fact that both the parents of Hercules, Amphitryon as well as Alcmêna, were of Egyptian origin. Again, the Egyptians disclaim all knowledge of the names of Neptune and the Dioscûri, and do not include them in the number of their gods; but had they adopted the name of any god from the Greeks, these would have been the likeliest to obtain notice, since the Egyptians, as I am well convinced, practised navigation at that time, and the Greeks also were some of them mariners; so that they would have been more likely to know the names of these gods than that of Hercules. But the Egyptian Hercules is one of their ancient gods. Seventeen thousand years before the reign of Amasis, the twelve gods were, they affirm, produced from the eight: and of these twelve, Hercules is one.

    II.44. In the wish to get the best information that I could on these matters, I made a voyage to Tyre in Phœnicia, hearing there was a temple of Hercules at that place, very highly venerated. I visited the temple, and found it richly adorned with a number of offerings, among which were two pillars, one of pure gold, the other of emerald, shining with great brilliancy at night. In a conversation which I held with the priests, I inquired how long their temple had been built, and found by their answer that they, too, differed from the Greeks. They said that the temple was built at the same time that the city was founded, and that the foundation of the city took place two thousand three hundred years ago. In Tyre I remarked another temple where the same god was worshipped as the Thasian Hercules. So I went on to Thasos, where I found a temple of Hercules which had been built by the Phœnicians who colonized that island when they sailed in search of Europa. Even this was five generations earlier than the time when Hercules, son of Amphitryon, was born in Greece. These researches show plainly that there is an ancient god Hercules; and my own opinion is, that those Greeks act most wisely who build and maintain two temples of Hercules, in the one of which the Hercules worshipped is known by the name of Olympian, and has sacrifice offered to him as an immortal, while in the other the honors paid are such as are due to a hero.

    II.45. The Greeks tell many tales without due investigation, and among them the following silly fable respecting Hercules: “Hercules,” they say, “went once to Egypt, and there the inhabitants took him, and putting a chaplet on his head, led him out in solemn procession, intending to offer him a sacrifice to Jupiter. For a while he submitted quietly; but when they led him up to the altar and began the ceremonies, he put forth his strength and slew them all.” Now to me it seems that such a story proves the Greeks to be utterly ignorant of the character and customs of the people. The Egyptians do not think it allowable even to sacrifice cattle, excepting sheep and the male cattle and calves, provided they are pure, and also geese. How, then, can it be believed that they would sacrifice men? And again, how would it have been possible for Hercules alone, and, as they confess, a mere mortal, to destroy so many thousands? In saying this much concerning these matters, may I incur no displeasure either of god or hero!

    II.46. I mentioned above that some of the Egyptians abstain from sacrificing goats, either male or female. The reason is the following: These Egyptians, who are the Mendesians, consider Pan [20] to be one of the eight gods who existed before the twelve, and Pan is represented in Egypt by the painters and the sculptors, just as he is in Greece, with the face and legs of a goat. They do not, however, believe this to be his shape, or consider him in any respect unlike the other gods; but they represent him thus for a reason which I prefer not to relate. The Mendesians hold all goats in veneration, but the male more than the female, giving the goatherds of the males especial honor. One is venerated more highly than all the rest, and when he dies there is a great mourning throughout all the Mendesian canton. In Egyptian, the goat and Pan are both called Mendes.

    II.47. The pig is regarded among them as an unclean animal, so much so that if a man in passing accidentally touch a pig, he instantly hurries to the river, and plunges in with all his clothes on. Hence, too, the swineherds, notwithstanding that they are of pure Egyptian blood, are forbidden to enter into any of the temples, which are open to all other Egyptians; and further, no one will give his daughter in marriage to a swineherd, or take a wife from among them, so that the swineherds are forced to intermarry among themselves. They do not offer swine in sacrifice to any of their gods, excepting Bacchus and the Moon, whom they honor in this way at the same time, sacrificing pigs to both of them at the same full moon, and afterwards eating of the flesh. There is a reason alleged by them for their detestation of swine at all other seasons, and their use of them at this festival, with which I am well acquainted, but which I do not think it proper to mention. The following is the mode in which they sacrifice the swine to the Moon: As soon as the victim is slain, the tip of the tail, the spleen, and the caul are put together, and having been covered with all the fat that has been found in the animal’s belly, are straightway burnt. The remainder of the flesh is eaten on the same day that the sacrifice is offered, which is the day of the full moon: at any other time they would not so much as taste it. The poorer sort, who cannot afford live pigs, form pigs of dough, which they bake and offer in sacrifice.

    II.48. To Bacchus, on the eve of his feast, every Egyptian sacrifices a hog before the door of his house, which is then given back to the swineherd by whom it was furnished, and by him carried away. In other respects the festival is celebrated almost exactly as Bacchic festivals are in Greece, excepting that the Egyptians have no choral dances. They also use, instead of phalli, another invention, consisting of images a cubit high, pulled by strings, which the women carry round to the villages. A piper goes in front; and the women follow, singing hymns in honor of Bacchus. They give a religious reason for the peculiarities of the image.

    II.49. Melampus, the son of Amytheon, cannot (I think) have been ignorant of this ceremony—nay, he must, I should conceive, have been well acquainted with it. He it was who introduced into Greece the name of Bacchus, the ceremonial of his worship, and the procession of the phallus. He did not, however, so completely apprehend the whole doctrine as to be able to communicate it entirely; but various sages since his time have carried out his teaching to greater perfection. Still it is certain that Melampus introduced the phallus, and that the Greeks learnt from him the ceremonies which they now practice. I therefore maintain that Melampus, who was a wise man, and had acquired the art of divination, having become acquainted with the worship of Bacchus through knowledge derived from Egypt, introduced it into Greece, with a few slight changes, at the same time that he brought in various other practices. For I can by no means allow that it is by mere coincidence that the Bacchic ceremonies in Greece are so nearly the same as the Egyptian—they would then have been more Greek in their character, and less recent in their origin. Much less can I admit that the Egyptians borrowed these customs, or any other, from the Greeks. My belief is that Melampus got his knowledge of them from Cadmus the Tyrian, and the followers whom he brought from Phœnicia into the country which is now called Bœotia.

    II.50. Almost all the names of the gods came into Greece from Egypt. My inquiries prove that they were all derived from a foreign source; and my opinion is that Egypt furnished the greater number. For with the exception of Neptune and the Dioscûri, whom I mentioned above, and Juno [21], Vesta [22], Themis [23], the Graces [24], and the Nereids [25], the other gods have been known from time immemorial in Egypt. This I assert on the authority of the Egyptians themselves. The gods, with whose names they profess themselves unacquainted, the Greeks received, I believe, from the Pelasgi, except Neptune. Of him they got their knowledge from the Libyans, by whom he has been always honoured, and who were anciently the only people that had a god of the name. The Egyptians differ from the Greeks also in paying no divine honors to heroes.

    [Herodotus goes into great detail about religious practices in Egypt]

    II.64. [....] The Egyptians first made it a point of religion to have no converse with women in the sacred places, and not to enter them without washing, after such converse. Almost all other nations, except the Greeks and the Egyptians, act differently, regarding man as in this matter under no other law than the brutes. Many animals, they say, and various kinds of birds, may be seen to couple in the temples and the sacred precincts, which would certainly not happen if the gods were displeased at it. Such are the arguments by which they defend their practice; but I nevertheless can by no means approve of it. In these points the Egyptians are specially careful, as they are indeed in everything which concerns their sacred edifices.

    II.77. With respect to the Egyptians themselves, it is to be remarked that those who live in the corn country, devoting themselves, as they do, far more than any other people in the world, to the preservation of the memory of past actions, are the best skilled in history of any men that I have ever met. The following is the mode of life habitual to them: For three successive days in each month they purge the body by means of emetics and clysters, which is done out of a regard for their health, since they have a persuasion that every disease to which men are liable is occasioned by the substances whereon they feed. Apart from any such precautions, they are, I believe, next to the Libyans, the healthiest people in the world—an effect of their climate, in my opinion, which has no sudden changes. Diseases almost always attack men when they are exposed to a change, and never more than during changes of the weather. They live on bread made of spelt, which they form into loaves called in their own tongue cyllêstis. Their drink is a wine which they obtain from barley [beer], as they have no vines in their country. Many kinds of fish they eat raw, either salted or dried in the sun. Quails also, and ducks and small birds, they eat uncooked, merely first salting them. All other birds and fishes, excepting those which are set apart as sacred, are eaten either roasted or boiled.

    II.78. In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is ended, a servant carries round to the several guests a coffin, in which there is a wooden image of a corpse, carved and painted to resemble nature as nearly as possible, about a cubit or two cubits in length. As he shows it to each guest in turn, the servant says, “Gaze here, and drink and be merry; for when you die, such will you be.”

    II.79. The Egyptians adhere to their own national customs, and adopt no foreign usages. Many of these customs are worthy of note: among others their song, the Linus, which is sung under various names not only in Egypt but in Phœnicia, in Cyprus, and in other places; and which seems to be exactly the same as that in use among the Greeks, and by them called Linus. There were very many things in Egypt which filled me with astonishment, and this was one of them. From where could the Egyptians have got the Linus? It appears to have been sung by them from the very earliest times. For the Linus in Egyptian is called Manerôs; and they told me that Manerôs was the only son of their first king, and that on his untimely death he was honored by the Egyptians with these dirge-like strains, and in this way they got their first and only melody.

    II.80. There is another custom in which the Egyptians resemble a particular Greek people, namely the Lacedæmonians. Their young men, when they meet their elders in the streets, give way to them and step aside; and if an elder comes in where young persons are present, these latter rise from their seats. In a third point they differ entirely from all the nations of Greece. Instead of speaking to each other when they meet in the streets, they make an obeisance, sinking the hand to the knee.

    II.81. They wear a linen tunic fringed about the legs, and called calasiris; over this they have a white woolen garment thrown on afterwards. Nothing of woolen, however, is taken to their temples or buried with them, as their religion forbids it. Here their practice resembles the rites called Orphic and Bacchic, but which are in reality Egyptian and Pythagorean; for no one initiated in these mysteries can be buried in a woolen shroud, a religious reason being assigned for the observance.

    II.82. The Egyptians likewise discovered to which of the gods each month and day is sacred; and found out from the day of a man’s birth, what he will meet with in the course of his life, and how he will end his days, and what sort of man he will be—discoveries whereof the Greeks engaged in poetry have made a use. The Egyptians have also discovered more prognostics than all the rest of mankind besides. Whenever a prodigy takes place, they watch and record the result; then, if anything similar ever happens again, they expect the same consequences.

    II.83. With respect to divination, they hold that it is a gift which no mortal possesses, but only certain of the gods: thus they have an oracle of Hercules, one of Apollo, of Minerva, of Diana [26], of Mars [27], and of Jupiter. Besides these, there is the oracle of Latona at Buto, which is held in much higher repute than any of the rest. The mode of delivering the oracles is not uniform, but varies at the different shrines.

    II.84. Medicine is practiced among them on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more: thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines, and some those which are not local.

    II.85. The following is the way in which they conduct their mournings, and their funerals: On the death in any house of a man of consequence, forthwith the women of the family beplaster their heads, and sometimes even their faces, with mud; and then, leaving the body indoors, sally forth and wander through the city, with their dress fastened by a band, and their bosoms bare, beating themselves as they walk. All the female relations join them and do the same. The men too, similarly begirt, beat their breasts separately. When these ceremonies are over, the body is carried away to be embalmed. [...]

    II.91. The Egyptians are averse to adopt Greek customs, or, in a word, those of any other nation. This feeling is almost universal among them. At Chemmis, however, which is a large city in the Thebaïc canton near Neapolis, there is a square enclosure sacred to Perseus [28], son of Danaë. Palm trees grow all round the place, which has a stone gateway of an unusual size, surmounted by two colossal statues, also in stone. Inside this precinct is a temple, and in the temple an image of Perseus. The people of Chemmis say that Perseus often appears to them, sometimes within the sacred enclosure, sometimes in the open country: one of the sandals which he has worn is frequently found—two cubits in length, as they affirm—and then all Egypt flourishes greatly. In the worship of Perseus Greek ceremonies are used; gymnastic games are celebrated in his honor, comprising every kind of contest, with prizes of cattle, cloaks, and skins. I made inquiries of the Chemmites why it was that Perseus appeared to them and not elsewhere in Egypt, and how they came to celebrate gymnastic contests unlike the rest of the Egyptians: to which they answered, “that Perseus belonged to their city by descent. Danaüs and Lynceus were Chemmites before they set sail for Greece, and from them Perseus was descended,” they said, tracing the genealogy; “and he, when he came to Egypt for the purpose” (which the Greeks also assign) “of bringing away from Libya the Gorgon’s head, paid them a visit, and acknowledged them for his kinsmen—he had heard the name of their city from his mother before he left Greece—he bade them institute a gymnastic contest in his honour, and that was the reason why they observed the practice.”

    II.92. The customs hitherto described are those of the Egyptians who live above the marsh-country. The inhabitants of the marshes have the same customs as the rest, as well in those matters which have been mentioned above as in respect of marriage, each Egyptian takes to himself, like the Greeks, a single wife; but for greater cheapness of living the marsh-men practice certain peculiar customs, such as these following. They gather the blossoms of a certain water-lily, which grows in great abundance all over the flat country at the time when the Nile rises and floods the regions along its banks—the Egyptians call it the lotus—they gather, I say, the blossoms of this plant and dry them in the sun, after which they extract from the center of each blossom a substance like the head of a poppy, which they crush and make into bread. The root of the lotus is likewise edible, and has a pleasant sweet taste: it is round, and about the size of an apple. There is also another species of the lily in Egypt, which grows, like the lotus, in the river, and resembles the rose. The fruit springs up side by side with the blossom, on a separate stalk, and has almost exactly the look of the comb made by wasps. It contains a number of seeds, about the size of an olive-stone, which are good to eat: and these are eaten both green and dried. The byblus (papyrus), which grows year after year in the marshes, they pull up, and, cutting the plant in two, reserve the upper portion for other purposes, but take the lower, which is about a cubit long, and either eat it or else sell it. Such as wish to enjoy the byblus in full perfection bake it first in a closed vessel, heated to a glow. Some of these folk, however, live entirely on fish, which are gutted as soon as caught, and then hung up in the sun: when dry, they are used as food.

    II.94. The Egyptians who live in the marshes use for the anointing of their bodies an oil made from the fruit of the sillicyprium, which is known among them by the name of “kiki.” To obtain this they plant the sillicyprium (which grows wild in Greece) along the banks of the rivers and by the sides of the lakes, where it produces fruit in great abundance, but with a very disagreeable smell. This fruit is gathered, and then bruised and pressed, or else boiled down after roasting: the liquid which comes from it is collected and is found to be unctuous, and as well suited as olive-oil for lamps, only that it gives out an unpleasant odor.

    II.95. The contrivances which they use against gnats, wherewith the country swarms, are the following: In the parts of Egypt above the marshes the inhabitants pass the night upon lofty towers, which are of great service, as the gnats are unable to fly to any height on account of the winds. In the marsh country, where there are no towers, each man possesses a net instead. By day it serves him to catch fish, while at night he spreads it over the bed in which he is to rest, and creeping in, goes to sleep underneath. The gnats, which, if he rolls himself up in his dress or in a piece of muslin, are sure to bite through the covering, do not so much as attempt to pass the net.

    II.96. The vessels used in Egypt for the transport of merchandise are made of the Acantha (thorn), a tree which in its growth is very like the Cyrenaïc lotus, and from which there exudes a gum. They cut a quantity of planks about two cubits in length from this tree, and then proceed to their ship-building, arranging the planks, like bricks, and attaching them by ties to a number of long stakes or poles till the hull is complete, when they lay the cross-planks on the top from side to side. They give the boats no ribs, but caulk the seams with papyrus on the inside. Each has a single rudder, which is driven straight through the keel. The mast is a piece of acantha-wood, and the sails are made of papyrus. These boats cannot make way against the current unless there is a brisk breeze; they are, therefore, towed up-stream from the shore: down-stream they are managed as follows: There is a raft belonging to each, made of the wood of the tamarisk, fastened together with a wattling of reeds; and also a stone bored through the middle, about two talents in weight. The raft is fastened to the vessels by a rope, and allowed to float down the stream in front, while the stone is attached by another rope astern. The result is that the raft, hurried forward by the current, goes rapidly down the river, and drags the “baris” (for so they call this sort of boat) after it; while the stone, which is pulled along in the wake of the vessel, and lies deep in the water, keeps the boat straight. There are a vast number of these vessels in Egypt, and some of them can carry many thousand talents.

    II.99. Thus far I have spoken of Egypt from my own observation, relating what I myself saw, the ideas that I formed and the results of my own researches. What follows rests on the accounts given me by the Egyptians, which I shall now repeat, adding thereto some particulars which fell under my own notice.

    II.104. There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race. Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself. After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of them. Still the Egyptians said that they believed the Colchians to be descended from the army of Sesostris. My own conjectures were founded, first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly hair, which certainly amounts to but little, since several other nations are so too; but further and more especially, on the circumstance that the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians, are the only nations who have practiced circumcision from the earliest times. The Phœnicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves confess that they learnt the custom from the Egyptians; and the Syrians who dwell about the rivers Thermôdon and Parthenius, as well as their neighbors the Macronians, say that they have recently adopted it from the Colchians. Now these are the only nations who use circumcision, and it is plain that they all imitate herein the Egyptians. With respect to the Ethiopians, indeed, I cannot decide whether they learnt the practice from the Egyptians, or the Egyptians from them—it is undoubtedly of very ancient date in Ethiopia—but that the others derived their knowledge of it from Egypt is clear to me from the fact, that the Phœnicians, when they come to have commerce with the Greeks, cease to follow the Egyptians in this custom, and allow their children to remain uncircumcised.

    II.105. I will add a further proof of the identity of the Egyptians and the Colchians. These two nations weave their linen in exactly the same way, and this is a way entirely unknown to the rest of the world; they also in their whole mode of life and in their language resemble one another. The Colchian linen is called by the Greeks Sardinian, while that which comes from Egypt is known as Egyptian.

    II.106. The pillars which Sesostris erected in the conquered countries have for the most part disappeared; but in the part of Syria called Palestine, I myself saw them still standing, with the writing above mentioned, and the emblem distinctly visible. In Ionia also, there are two representations of this prince engraved upon rocks, one on the road from Ephesus to Phocæa, the other between Sardis and Smyrna. In each case the figure is that of a man, four cubits and a span high, with a spear in his right hand and a bow in his left, the rest of his costume being likewise half Egyptian, half Ethiopian. There is an inscription across the breast from shoulder to shoulder, in the sacred character of Egypt, which says, “With my own shoulders, I conquered this land.” The conqueror does not tell who he is, or whence he comes, though elsewhere Sesostris records these facts. Hence it has been imagined by some of those who have seen these forms, that they are figures of Memnon; but such as think so err very widely from the truth.

    II.113. The priests, in answer to my inquiries on the subject of Helen, informed me of the following particulars. When Alexander [Paris] had carried off Helen from Sparta, he took ship and sailed homewards. On his way across the Aegean a gale arose, which drove him from his course and took him down to the sea of Egypt; hence, as the wind did not abate, he was carried on to the coast, when he went ashore, landing at the Salt-Pans, in that mouth of the Nile which is now called the Canobic. At this place there stood upon the shore a temple, which still exists, dedicated to Hercules. If a slave runs away from his master, and taking sanctuary at this shrine gives himself up to the god, and receives certain sacred marks upon his person, whosoever his master may be, he cannot lay a hand on him. This law still remained unchanged to my time. Hearing, therefore, of the custom of the place, the attendants of Alexander deserted him, and fled to the temple, where they sat as suppliants. While there, wishing to damage their master, they accused him to the Egyptians, narrating all the circumstances of the rape of Helen, and the wrong done to Menelaus. These charges they brought, not only before the priests, but also before the warden of that mouth of the river, whose name was Thônis.

    II.114. As soon as he received the intelligence, Thônis sent a message to Proteus, who was at Memphis, to this effect: “A stranger has arrived from Greece; he is by race a Teucrian, and has done a wicked deed in the country from which he has come. Having beguiled the wife of the man whose guest he was, he carried her away with him, and much treasure also. Compelled by stress of weather, he has now put in here. Are we to let him depart as he came, or shall we seize what he has brought?” Proteus replied, “Seize the man, be he who he may, that has dealt so wickedly with his friend, and bring him before me, that I may hear what he will say for himself.”

    II.115. Thônis, on receiving these orders, arrested Alexander, and stopped the departure of his ships; then, taking with him Alexander, Helen, the treasures, and also the fugitive slaves, he went up to Memphis. When all were arrived, Proteus asked Alexander, “who he was, and whence he had come?” Alexander replied by giving his descent, the name of his country, and a true account of his late voyage. Then Proteus questioned him as to how he got possession of Helen. In his reply Alexander became confused, and diverged from the truth, whereon the slaves interposed, confuted his statements, and told the whole history of the crime. Finally, Proteus delivered judgment as follows: “Did I not regard it as a matter of the utmost consequence that no stranger driven to my country by adverse winds should ever be put to death, I would certainly have avenged the Greek by slaying you. You basest of men,—after accepting hospitality, to do so wicked a deed! First, you seduced the wife of your own host—then, not content with that, you must violently excite her mind, and steal her away from her husband. Nay, even so you were not satisfied, but on leaving, you must plunder the house in which you had been a guest. Now then, as I think it of the greatest importance to put no stranger to death, I will allow you to depart; but the woman and the treasures I shall not permit to be carried away. Here they must stay, till the Greek stranger comes in person and takes them back with him. For yourself and your companions, I command you to be gone from my land within the space of three days—and I warn you, that otherwise at the end of that time you will be treated as enemies.”

    II.116. Such was the tale told me by the priests concerning the arrival of Helen at the court of Proteus. It seems to me that Homer was acquainted with this story, and while discarding it, because he thought it less adapted for epic poetry than the version which he followed, showed that it was not unknown to him. This is evident from the travels which he assigns to Alexander in the Iliad—and let it be borne in mind that he has nowhere else contradicted himself—making him be carried out of his course on his return with Helen, and after divers wanderings come at last to Sidon in Phœnicia. The passage is in the Bravery of Diomed, and the words are as follows: “There were the robes, many-colored, the work of Sidonian women / They from Sidon had come, what time god-shaped Alexander/ Over the broad sea brought, that way, the high-born Helen.”

    In the Odyssey also the same fact is alluded to, in these words: “Such, so wisely prepared, were the drugs that her stores afforded, / Excellent; gift which once Polydamna, partner of Thônis, / Gave her in Egypt, where many the simples that grow in the meadows, / Potent to cure in part, in part as potent to injure.”

    Menelaus too, in the same poem, thus addresses Telemachus: “Much did I long to return, but the Gods still kept me in Egypt— /Angry because I had failed to pay them their hecatombs duly.”

    In these places Homer shows himself acquainted with the voyage of Alexander to Egypt, for Syria borders on Egypt, and the Phœnicians, to whom Sidon belongs, dwell in Syria.

    II.117. From these various passages, and from that about Sidon especially, it is clear that Homer did not write the Cypria. For there it is said that Alexander arrived at Ilium with Helen on the third day after he left Sparta, the wind having been favorable, and the sea smooth; whereas in the Iliad, the poet makes him wander before he brings her home. Enough, however, for the present of Homer and Cypria.

    II.118. I asked the priests whether the story which the Greeks tell about Ilium [Troy] is a fable, or not. In reply they related the following particulars, of which they declared that Menelaus had himself informed them. After the rape of Helen, a vast army of Greeks, wishing to render help to Menelaus, set sail for the Teucrian territory; on their arrival they disembarked, and formed their camp, after which they sent ambassadors to Ilium, of whom Menelaus was one. The embassy was received within the walls, and demanded the restoration of Helen with the treasures which Alexander had carried off, and likewise required satisfaction for the wrong done. The Teucrians gave at once the answer in which they persisted ever afterwards, backing their assertions sometimes even with oaths, to wit, that neither Helen, nor the treasures claimed, were in their possession,—both the one and the other had remained, they said, in Egypt; and it was not just to come upon them for what Proteus, king of Egypt, was detaining. The Greeks, imagining that the Teucrians were merely laughing at them, laid siege to the town, and never rested until they finally took it. As, however, no Helen was found, and they were still told the same story, they at length believed in its truth, and dispatched Menelaus to the court of Proteus.

    II.119. So Menelaus traveled to Egypt, and on his arrival sailed up the river as far as Memphis, and related all that had happened. He met with the utmost hospitality, received Helen back unharmed, and recovered all his treasures. After this friendly treatment Menelaus, they said, behaved most unjustly towards the Egyptians; for as it happened that at the time when he wanted to take his departure he was detained by the wind being contrary, and as he found this obstruction continue, he had recourse to a most wicked expedient. He seized, they said, two children of the people of the country, and offered them up in sacrifice. When this became known, the indignation of the people was stirred, and they went in pursuit of Menelaus, who, however, escaped with his ships to Libya, after which the Egyptians could not say where he went. The rest they knew full well, partly by the inquiries which they had made, and partly from the circumstances having taken place in their own land, and therefore not admitting of doubt.

    120. Such is the account given by the Egyptian priests, and I am myself inclined to regard as true all that they say of Helen from the following considerations: If Helen had been at Troy, the inhabitants would, I think, have given her up to the Greeks, whether Alexander consented to it or no. For surely neither Priam, nor his family, could have been so infatuated as to endanger their own persons, their children, and their city, merely that Alexander might possess Helen. At any rate, if they determined to refuse at first, yet afterwards, when so many of the Trojans fell on every encounter with the Greeks, and Priam too in each battle lost a son, or sometimes two, and three, or even more, if we may credit the epic poets, I do not believe that even if Priam himself had been married to her he would have declined to deliver her up, with the view of bringing the series of calamities to a close. Nor was it as if Alexander had been heir to the crown, in which case he might have had the chief management of affairs, since Priam was already old. Hector, who was his elder brother, and a far braver man, stood before him, and was the heir to the kingdom on the death of their father Priam. And it could not be Hector’s interest to uphold his brother in his wrong, when it brought such dire calamities upon himself and the other Trojans. But the fact was that they had no Helen to deliver, and so they told the Greeks, but the Greeks would not believe what they said—Divine Providence, as I think, so willing, that by their utter destruction it might be made evident to all men that when great wrongs are done, the gods will surely visit them with great punishments. Such, at least, is my view of the matter.

    II.23. Such as think the tales told by the Egyptians credible are free to accept them for history. For my own part, I propose to myself throughout my whole work faithfully to record the traditions of the several nations. The Egyptians maintain that Ceres and Bacchus preside in the realms below. They were also the first to broach the opinion, that the soul of man is immortal, and that, when the body dies, it enters into the form of an animal which is born at the moment, thence passing on from one animal into another, until it has circled through the forms of all the creatures which tenant the earth, the water, and the air, after which it enters again into a human frame, and is born anew. The whole period of the transmigration is (they say) three thousand years. There are Greek writers, some of an earlier, some of a later date, who have borrowed this doctrine from the Egyptians, and put it forward as their own. I could mention their names, but I abstain from doing so.

    Footnotes:

    [13] Latin name for Hephaestus.

    [14] Ancient unit of measurement approximately equivalent to the length of the forearm.

    [15] Latin name for Zeus.

    [16] Another name for Dionysus.

    [17] A son of Zeus and Io who became king of Egypt.

    [18] Egyptian goddess of fertility, motherhood, healing, and death.

    [19] Egyptian god of fertility, agriculture, death, and the afterlife.

    [20] God of nature, the wild, and shepherds.

    [21] Latin name for Hera.

    [22] Latin name for Hestia.

    [23] Titaness of divine order and law.

    [24] Three goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, and fertility.

    [25]  Fifty sea nymph daughters of Nereus.

    [26] Latin name for Artemis.

    [27] Latin name for Ares.

    [28] Greek hero known for beheading Medusa.

     

    ETHIOPIA

    III.17.  After this Cambyses [king of Persia] … planned three expeditions. One was against the Carthaginians, another against the Ammonians, and a third against the long-lived Ethiopians, who dwelt in that part of Libya which borders upon the southern sea. He judged it best to dispatch his fleet against Carthage and to send some portion of his land army to act against the Ammonians, while his spies went into Ethiopia, under the pretense of carrying presents to the king, but in reality to take note of all they saw, and to especially observe whether there was really what is called ‘the table of the Sun’ in Ethiopia.

    III.18. Now the table of the Sun according to the accounts given of it may be thus described--It is a meadow in the skirts of their city full of the boiled flesh of all manner of beasts, which the magistrates are careful to store with meat every night, and where whoever likes may come and eat during the day. The people of the land say that the earth itself brings forth the food [....]

    III.19.  When Cambyses had made up his mind that the spies should go, he forthwith sent to Elephantine for certain of the Icthyophagi who were acquainted with the Ethiopian tongue; and, while they were being fetched, issued orders to his fleet to sail against Carthage. But the Phoenicians said they would not go, since they were bound to the Carthaginians by solemn oaths, and since besides it would be wicked in them to make war on their own children. Now when the Phoenicians refused, the rest of the fleet was unequal to the undertaking; and so it was that the Carthaginians escaped and were not enslaved by the Persians. Cambyses thought it not right to force the war upon the Phoenicians, because they had yielded themselves to the Persians and because all his sea-service depended on the Phoenicians. The Cyprians had also joined the Persians of their own accord and took part with them in the expedition against Egypt.

    III.20. As soon as the Icthyophagi arrived from Elephantine, Cambyses told them what to say and dispatched them into Ethiopia with the following gifts:  that is, a purple robe, a gold chain for the neck, armlets, an alabaster box of myrrh and a cask of palm wine. The Ethiopians to whom this embassy was sent are said to be the tallest and handsomest men in the whole world. In their customs they differ greatly from the rest of mankind, and particularly in the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who is the tallest of the citizens, and of strength equal to his height, and appoint him to rule over them.

    III.21 The Icthyophagi, on reaching this people, delivered the gifts to the king of the country and spoke as follows -- "Cambyses, king of the Persians, anxious to become your ally and sworn friend, has sent us to hold conversations with you and bring you the gifts you see, which are the things which delight him the most." Knowing they came as spies, the Ethiopian answered -- “The king of the Persians sent you not with these gifts because he much desired to become my sworn friend -- nor is the account which you give of yourselves true, for you have come to search out my kingdom. Also your king is not a just man -- for were he so, he would not have coveted a land which is not  is own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong. Bring him this bow and say. “The king of the Ethiopians advises the king of Persians thusly -- when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength easily like this, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians. Until then, let him thank the gods that they have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiopians to covet countries which do not belong to them.”

    III.22. So speaking, he unstrung the bow, and gave it into the hands of the messengers. Then, taking the purple robe, he asked them what it was, and how it had been made. They answered truly, telling him concerning the purple, and the art of the dyer -- in response, he observed “that the men were deceitful and their garments also.” Next he took the neck-chain and the armlets and asked about them. So the Icthyophagi explained their use as ornaments. Then the king laughed, and fancying they were fetters, said, “the Ethiopians had much stronger ones.” Thirdly, he inquired about the myrrh, and when they told him how it was made and rubbed upon the limbs, he said the same as he had said about the robe. Last of all he came to the wine, and having learned their way of making it, he drank a draught, which greatly delighted him. He therefore asked what the Persian king customarily ate and what age the longest-lived of the Persians had been known to attain. They told him the king ate bread, and described the nature of wheat, adding that eighty years was the longest term of man’s life among the Persians. He replied, “It did not surprise him if they fed on dirt that they died so soon; indeed he was sure they never would have lived as long as eighty years, except for the refreshment they got from that drink (meaning the wine),” wherein he confessed the Persians surpassed the Ethiopians.

    III.23. The Icthyophagi then in their turn questioned the king concerning the term of life and diet of his people, and were told that most of them lived to be a hundred and twenty years old, while some even went beyond that age. They ate boiled flesh and had for their drink nothing but milk. When the Icthyophagi showed wonder at the number of years, he led them to a fountain. And when they had washed in it, they found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil -- and a scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was so weak, they said, that nothing would float in it, neither wood, nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom.  If the account of this fountain is true, it would be their constant use of the water from it which makes them so long-lived. When they had left the fountain, the king led them to a prison, where the prisoners were all of them bound with fetters of gold. Among the Ethiopians copper is the most scarce and valuable of all metals. After they had seen the prison, they were shown what is called “the table of the Sun.”  

    III.24 Also, last of all, they were allowed to behold the coffins of the Ethiopians, which are made, according to report, of crystal, in the following way.  When the dead body has been dried, either in the Egyptian or in some other manner, they cover the whole with gypsum and adorn it with painting until it is as like the living man as possible. Then they place the body in a crystal pillar which has been hollowed out to receive it, crystal being dug up in great abundance in their country and of a kind very easy to shape. You may see the corpse through the pillar in which it lies; and it neither gives out any unpleasant odor nor is it in any respect unseemly. Yet there is no part that is not as plainly visible as if the body were bare. The next of kin keep the carved pillar in their houses for a full year from the time of the death, and give it the first fruits continually and honor it with sacrifice. After the year is out they bear the pillar forth and set it up near the town.

    III.25 [The spies return to Cambyses, who, angered, sends an expedition against the Ethiopians “in the uttermost parts of the earth”. His army, starving, resorts to cannibalism and he calls off the offensive].

     

    INDIA, AND THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

    III.97. [....] The following peoples paid no settled tribute, but brought gifts to the king: first, the Ethiopians bordering upon Egypt, who were reduced by Cambyses when he made war on the long-lived Ethiopians, and who dwell about the sacred city of Nysa, and have festivals in honor of Bacchus. The grain on which they and their next neighbors feed is the same as that used by the Calantian Indians. Their dwelling-houses are under ground. Every third year these two nations brought—and they still bring to my day—two chœnices of virgin gold, two hundred logs of ebony, five Ethiopian boys, and twenty elephant tusks. The Colchians, and the neighboring tribes who dwell between them and the Caucasus—for so far the Persian rule reaches, while north of the Caucasus no one fears them any longer—undertook to furnish a gift, which in my day was still brought every fifth year, consisting of a hundred boys, and the same number of maidens. The Arabs brought every year a thousand talents of frankincense. Such were the gifts which the [Persian] king received over and above the tribute-money.

    III.98. The way in which the Indians get the plentiful supply of gold, which enables them to furnish year by year so vast an amount of gold-dust to the king [of Persia], is the following: Eastward of India lies a tract which is entirely sand. Indeed, of all the inhabitants of Asia, concerning whom anything certain is known, the Indians dwell the nearest to the east, and the rising of the sun. Beyond them the whole country is desert on account of the sand. The tribes of Indians are numerous, and do not all speak the same language—some are wandering tribes, others not. They who dwell in the marshes along the river, live on raw fish, which they take in boats made of reeds, each formed out of a single joint. These Indians wear a dress of sedge, which they cut in the river and bruise; afterwards they weave it into mats, and wear it as we wear a breast-plate.

    III.99. Eastward of these Indians are another tribe, called Padæans, who are wanderers, and live on raw flesh. This tribe is said to have the following customs: If one of their number be ill, man or woman, they take the sick person, and if he be a man, the men of his acquaintance proceed to put him to death, because, they say, his flesh would be spoilt for them if he pined and wasted away with sickness. The man protests he is not ill in the least; but his friends will not accept his denial—in spite of all he can say, they kill him, and feast themselves on his body. So also if a woman be sick, the women, who are her friends, take her and do with her exactly the same as the men. If one of them reaches to old age, about which there is seldom any question, as commonly before that time they have had some disease or other, and so have been put to death—but if a man, notwithstanding, comes to be old, then they offer him in sacrifice to their gods, and afterwards eat his flesh.

    III.100. There is another set of Indians whose customs are very different. They refuse to put any live animal to death, they sow no corn, and have no dwelling-houses. Vegetables are their only food. There is a plant which grows wild in their country, bearing seed, about the size of millet-seed, in a calyx; their custom is to gather this seed, and having boiled it, calyx and all, to use it for food. If one of them is attacked with sickness, he goes forth into the wilderness, and lies down to die; no one has the least concern either for the sick or for the dead.

    III.101. All the tribes which I have mentioned live together like the brute beasts; they have also all the same tint of skin, which approaches that of the Ethiopians. Their country is a long way from Persia towards the south: nor had king Darius ever any authority over them.

    III.102. Besides these, there are Indians of another tribe, who border on the city Caspatyrus, and of the country of Pactyïca; these people dwell northward of all the rest of the Indians, and follow nearly the same mode of life as the Bactrians. They are more warlike than any of the other tribes; and from them the men are sent forth who go to procure the gold. For it is in this part of India that the sandy desert lies. Here, in this desert, there live amid the sand great ants, in size somewhat less than dogs, but bigger than foxes. The Persian king has a number of them, which have been caught by the hunters in the land whereof we are speaking. These ants make their dwellings under ground, and like the Greek ants, which they very much resemble in shape, throw up sand-heaps as they burrow. Now the sand which they throw up is full of gold. The Indians, when they go into the desert to collect this sand, take three camels and harness them together, a female in the middle and a male on either side, in a leading-rein. The rider sits on the female, and they are particular to choose for the purpose one that has just dropped her young; for their female camels can run as fast as horses, while they bear burdens very much better [...]

    III.104. When the Indians therefore have thus equipped themselves, they set off in quest of the gold, calculating the time so that they may be engaged in seizing it during the most sultry part of the day, when the ants hide themselves to escape the heat. The sun in those parts shines fiercest in the morning, not, as elsewhere, at noonday; the greatest heat is from the time when he has reached a certain height, until the hour at which the market closes. During this space he burns much more furiously than at midday in Greece, so that the men there are said at that time to drench themselves with water. At noon his heat is much the same in India as in other countries, after which, as the day declines, the warmth is only equal to that of the morning sun elsewhere. Towards evening the coolness increases, till about sunset it becomes very cold.

    105. When the Indians reach the place where the gold is, they fill their bags with the sand, and ride away at their best speed: the ants, however, scenting them, as the Persians say, rush forth in pursuit. Now these animals are, they declare, so swift, that there is nothing in the world like them: if it were not, therefore, that the Indians get a start while the ants are mustering, not a single gold-gatherer could escape. During the flight the male camels, which are not so fleet as the females, grow tired, and begin to drag, first one, and then the other; but the females recollect the young which they have left behind, and never give way or flag. Such, according to the Persians, is the manner in which the Indians get the greater part of their gold; some is dug out of the earth, but of this the supply is more scanty.

    106. It seems as if the extreme regions of the earth were blessed by nature with the most excellent productions, just in the same way that Greece enjoys a climate more excellently tempered than any other country. In India, which, as I observed lately, is the furthest region of the inhabited world towards the east, all the four-footed beasts and the birds are very much bigger than those found elsewhere, except only the horses, which are surpassed by the Median breed called the Nisæan. Gold too is produced there in vast abundance, some dug from the earth, some washed down by the rivers, some carried off in the mode which I have but now described. And further, there are trees which grow wild there, the fruit whereof is a wool exceeding in beauty and goodness that of sheep. The natives make their clothes of this tree-wool.

     

     

    ARABIA

    III.107. Arabia is the last of inhabited lands towards the south, and it is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and ladanum. The Arabians do not get any of these, except the myrrh, without trouble. The frankincense they procure by means of the gum styrax, which the Greeks get from the Phœnicians; this they burn, and thereby obtain the spice. For the trees which bear the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and of varied colors, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree. They are of the same kind as the serpents that invade Egypt; and there is nothing but the smoke of the styrax which will drive them from the trees.

    III.108. The Arabians say that the whole world would swarm with these serpents if they were not kept in check in the way in which I know that vipers are. Of a truth divine Providence does appear to be, as indeed one might expect beforehand, a wise contriver. For timid animals, which are a prey to others, are all made to produce young abundantly, that so the species may not be entirely eaten up and lost; while savage and noxious creatures are made very unfruitful. The hare, for instance, which is hunted alike by beasts, birds, and men, breeds so abundantly as even to super-fetate, a thing which is true of no other animal. You find in a hare’s belly, at one and the same time, some of the young all covered with fur, others quite naked, others again just fully formed in the womb, while the hare perhaps has lately conceived afresh. The lioness, on the other hand, which is one of the strongest and boldest of brutes, brings forth young but once in her lifetime, and then a single cub; she cannot possibly conceive again, since she loses her womb at the same time that she drops her young. The reason of this is, that as soon as the cub begins to stir inside the dam, his claws, which are sharper than those of any other animal, scratch the womb; as time goes on, and he grows bigger, he tears it ever more and more; so that at last, when the birth comes, there is not a morsel in the whole womb that is sound.

    III.109. Now with respect to the vipers and the winged snakes of Arabia, if they increased as fast as their nature would allow, impossible were it for man to maintain himself upon the earth. Accordingly it is found that when the male and female come together, at the very moment of impregnation, the female seizes the male by the neck, and having once fastened, cannot be brought to leave go until she has bit the neck entirely through. And so the male perishes; but after a while he is revenged upon the female by means of the young, which, while still unborn, gnaw a passage through the womb, and then through the belly of their mother, and so make their entrance into the world. In contrast, other snakes, which are harmless, lay eggs, and hatch a vast number of young. Vipers are found in all parts of the world; but the winged serpents are nowhere seen except in Arabia, where they are all congregated together. This makes them appear so numerous.

    III.110. Such then, is the way in which the Arabians obtain their frankincense. Their manner of collecting the cassia is the following: They cover all their body and their face with the hides  of oxen and other skins, leaving only holes for the eyes, and thus protected go in search of the cassia, which grows in a lake of no great depth. All round the shores and in the lake itself there dwell a number of winged animals, much resembling bats, which screech horribly, and are very valiant. These creatures they must keep from their eyes all the while that they gather the cassia.

    III.111. Still more wonderful is the mode in which they collect the cinnamon. Where the wood grows, and what country produces it, they cannot tell—only some, following probability, relate that it comes from the country in which Bacchus was brought up. Great birds, they say, bring the sticks which we Greeks, taking the word from the Phœnicians, call cinnamon, and carry them up into the air to make their nests. These are fastened with a sort of mud to a sheer face of rock where no foot of man is able to climb. So the Arabians, to get the cinnamon, use the following artifice. They cut all the oxen and asses and beasts of burden that die in their land into large pieces, which they carry with them into those regions, and place near the nests: then they withdraw to a distance, and the old birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of meat, and fly with them up to their nests; which, not being able to support the weight, break off and fall to the ground. Hereupon the Arabians return and collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from Arabia into other countries.

    III. 112. Ledanum, which the Arabs call ladanum, is procured in a yet stranger fashion. Found in a most malodorous place, it is the sweetest-scented of all substances. It is gathered from the beards of he-goats, where it is found sticking like gum, having come from the bushes on which they browse. It is used in many sorts of unguents, and is what the Arabs chiefly burn as incense.

    III. 113. Concerning the spices of Arabia, let no more be said. The whole country is scented with them, and exhales an odor marvelously sweet. There are also in Arabia two kinds of sheep worthy of admiration, the like of which is nowhere else to be seen; the one kind has long tails, not less than three cubits in length, which, if they were allowed to trail on the ground, would be bruised and fall into sores. As it is, all the shepherds know enough of carpentering to make little trucks for their sheep’s tails. The trucks are placed under the tails, each sheep having one to himself, and the tails are then tied down upon them. The other kind has a broad tail, which is a cubit across sometimes.

    III.114. Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty, huge elephants abound, with wild trees of all sorts, and ebony; and the men are taller, handsomer, and longer lived than anywhere else.

    III.115. Now these are the furthest regions of the world in Asia and Libya. Of the extreme tracts of Europe towards the west I cannot speak with any certainty; for I do not allow that there is any river, to which the barbarians give the name of Eridanus, emptying itself into the northern sea, whence (as the tale goes) amber is procured; nor do I know of any islands called the Cassiterides (Tin Islands), whence the tin comes which we use. For in the first place the name Eridanus is manifestly not a barbarian word at all, but a Greek name, invented by some poet or other; and secondly, though I have taken vast pains, I have never been able to get an assurance from an eye-witness that there is any sea on the further side of Europe. Nevertheless, tin and amber do certainly come to us from the ends of the earth.

     

     

    THE BLACK SEA REGION: SCYTHIA AND ITS NEIGHBORS

    [At the end of book one (I.205-214) Herodotus introduces us to the story of Tomyris (Tamyris), queen of the Massagetae, whom Cyrus king of the Persians first attempted to marry, then conquer. After the Massagetan army, led by Tomryis’ son, happen on a feast set out for them as a trap, complete with wine (which they had never drunk before), they are slaughtered by the Persians and her son commits suicide from shame. Tomyris leads an army against Cyrus, defeats his forces, has his head brought to her, and plunges it into a skin full of human blood.]

    I.215. In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe. Their arms are all either of gold or brass. For their spear-heads and arrowheads and for their battle-axes, they use brass; for head-gear, belts and war-belts, gold. So too with the trappings of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they have brass and gold in abundance.

    I.216. The following are some of their customs. Each man has but one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for this is a custom of the Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice they boil the flesh and feast on it. Those who thus end their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no grain, but live on their herds and on fish, of which there is great plenty in the Araxes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.

    IV.1. After the taking of Babylon, an expedition was led by Darius into Scythia. Asia abounding in men, and vast sums flowing into the treasury, the desire seized him to exact vengeance from the Scyths, who had once in days gone by invaded Media, defeated those who met them in the field, and so begun the quarrel. During the space of eight-and-twenty years, as I have before mentioned, the Scyths continued lords of the whole of Upper Asia. They entered Asia in pursuit of the Cimmerians, and overthrew the empire of the Medes, who till they came possessed the sovereignty. On their return to their homes after the long absence of twenty-eight years, a task awaited them little less troublesome than their struggle with the Medes. They found an army of no small size prepared to oppose their entrance. For the Scythian women, when they saw that time went on, and their husbands did not come back, had intermarried with their slaves.

    IV.2. Now the Scythians blind all their slaves, to use them in preparing their milk. The plan they follow is to thrust tubes made of bone, not unlike our musical pipes, up the vulva of the mare, and then to blow into the tubes with their mouths, some milking while the others blow. They say that they do this because when the veins of the animal are full of air, the udder is forced down. The milk thus obtained is poured into deep wooden casks, about which the blind slaves are placed, and then the milk is stirred round. That which rises to the top is drawn off, and considered the best part; the under portion is of less account. Such is the reason why the Scythians blind all those whom they take in war; it arises from their not being tillers of the ground, but a pastoral race.

    IV.3. When therefore the children sprung from these slaves and the Scythian women grew to manhood, and understood the circumstances of their birth, they resolved to oppose the army which was returning from Media. And, first of all, they cut off a tract of country from the rest of Scythia by digging a broad dyke from the Tauric mountains to the vast lake of the Maeotis. Afterwards, when the Scythians tried to force an entrance, they marched out and engaged them. Many battles were fought, and the Scythians gained no advantage, until at last one of them thus addressed the remainder: "What are we doing, Scythians? We are fighting our slaves, diminishing our own number when we fall, and the number of those that belong to us when they fall by our hands. Take my advice- lay spear and bow aside, and let each man fetch his horsewhip, and go boldly up to them. So long as they see us with arms in our hands, they imagine themselves our equals in birth and bravery; but let them behold us with no other weapon but the whip, and they will feel that they are our slaves, and flee before us."

    IV.4. The Scythians followed this counsel, and the slaves were so astounded, that they forgot to fight, and immediately ran away. Such was the mode in which the Scythians, after being for a time the lords of Asia, and being forced to quit it by the Medes, returned and settled in their own country. It was this inroad of theirs that Darius was anxious to avenge, and such was the purpose for which he was now collecting an army to invade them.

    IV.5. According to the account which the Scythians themselves give, they are the youngest of all nations. Their tradition is as follows. A certain Targitaus was the first man who ever lived in their country, which before his time was a desert without inhabitants. He was a child -- I do not believe the tale, but it is told nevertheless -- of Jove and a daughter of the Borysthenes. Targitaus, thus descended, begat three sons, Leipoxais, Arpoxais, and Colaxais, who was the youngest born of the three. While they still ruled the land, there fell from the sky four implements, all of gold -- a plough, a yoke, a battle-axe, and a drinking-cup. The eldest of the brothers perceived them first, and approached to pick them up; when lo! as he came near, the gold took fire, and blazed. He therefore went his way, and the second coming forward made the attempt, but the same thing happened again. The gold rejected both the eldest and the second brother. Last of all the youngest brother approached, and immediately the flames were extinguished; so he picked up the gold, and carried it to his home. Then the two elder agreed together, and made the whole kingdom over to the youngest born.

    IV.6. From Leipoxais sprang the Scythians of the race called Auchatae; from Arpoxais, the middle brother, those known as the Catiari and Traspians; from Colaxais, the youngest, the Royal Scythians, or Paralatae. All together they are named Scoloti, after one of their kings: the Greeks, however, call them Scythians.

    IV.8. Such is the account which the Scythians give of their origin. They add that from the time of Targitaus, their first king, to the invasion of their country by Darius, is a period of one thousand years, neither less nor more. The Royal Scythians guard the sacred gold with special care, and year by year offer great sacrifices in its honor. At this feast, if the man who has the custody of the gold should fall asleep in the open air, he is sure (the Scythians say) not to outlive the year. His pay therefore is as much land as he can ride round on horseback in a day. As the extent of Scythia is very great, Colaxais gave each of his three sons a separate kingdom, one of which was of larger size than the other two: in this the gold was preserved. Above, to the northward of the farthest dwellers in Scythia, the country is said to be concealed from sight and made impassable by reason of the feathers which are shed abroad abundantly. The earth and air are alike full of them, and this is what prevents the eye from obtaining any view of the region.

    IV.9. Such is the account which the Scythians give of themselves, and of the country which lies above them. The Greeks who dwell about the Pontus tell a different story. According to Hercules, when he was carrying off the cows of Geryon, arrived in the region which is now inhabited by the Scyths, but which was then a desert. Geryon lived outside the Pontus, in an island called by the Greeks Erytheia, near Gades, which is beyond the Pillars of Hercules upon the Ocean. Now some say that the Ocean begins in the east, and runs the whole way round the world; but they give no proof that this is really so. Hercules came from thence into the region now called Scythia, and, being overtaken by storm and frost, drew his lion's skin about him, and fell fast asleep. While he slept, his mares, which he had let loose from his chariot to graze, by some wonderful chance disappeared.

    IV.10. On waking, he went in search of them, and, after wandering over the whole country, came at last to the district called "the Woodland," where he found in a cave a strange being, between a maiden and a serpent, whose form from the waist upwards was like that of a woman, while all below was like a snake. He looked at her wonderingly; but nevertheless inquired, whether she had chanced to see his strayed mares anywhere. She answered him, "Yes, and they were now in her keeping; but never would she consent to give them back, unless he took her for his mistress." So Hercules, to get his mares back, agreed; but afterwards she put him off and delayed restoring the mares, since she wished to keep him with her as long as possible. He, on the other hand, was only anxious to secure them and to get away. At last, when she gave them up, she said to him, "When your mares strayed here, it was I who saved them for you: now you have paid their price; for look! I bear in my womb three sons of yours. Tell me therefore when your sons grow up, what must I do with them? Do you wish that I should settle them here in this land, of which I am mistress, or should I send them to you?" So questioned, they say, Hercules answered, "When the lads have grown to manhood, do the following, and assuredly you wilt not err. Watch them, and when you sees one of them bend this bow as I now bend it, and gird himself with this girdle thus, choose him to remain in the land. Those who fail in the trial, send away. So you will at once please yourself and obey me."

    IV.10. Hereupon he strung one of his bows- up to that time he had carried two- and showed her how to fasten the belt. Then he gave both bow and belt into her hands. Now the belt had a golden goblet attached to its clasp. So after he had given them to her, he went his way; and the woman, when her children grew to manhood, first gave them severally their names. One she called Agathyrsus, one Gelonus, and the other, who was the youngest, Scythes. Then she remembered the instructions she had received from Hercules, and, in obedience to his orders, she put her sons to the test. Two of them, Agathyrsus and Gelonus, proving unequal to the task enjoined, their mother sent them out of the land; Scythes, the youngest, succeeded, and so he was allowed to remain. From Scythes, the son of Hercules, were descended the after kings of Scythia; and from the circumstance of the goblet which hung from the belt, the Scythians to this day wear goblets at their girdles. This was the only thing which the mother of Scythes did for him. Such is the tale told by the Greeks who dwell around the Pontus.

    IV.11. There is also another different story, now to be related, in which I am more inclined to put faith than in any other. It is that the wandering Scythians once dwelt in Asia, and there warred with the Massagetae, but with ill success; they therefore quitted their homes, crossed the Araxes, and entered the land of Cimmeria. For the land which is now inhabited by the Scyths was formerly the country of the Cimmerians. On their coming, the natives, who heard how numerous the invading army was, held a council. At this meeting opinion was divided, and both parties stiffly maintained their own view; but the counsel of the Royal tribe was the braver. For the others urged that the best thing to be done was to leave the country, and avoid a contest with so vast a host; but the Royal tribe advised remaining and fighting for the soil to the last. As neither party chose to give way, the one determined to retire without a blow and yield their lands to the invaders; but the other, remembering the good things which they had enjoyed in their homes, and picturing to themselves the evils which they had to expect if they gave them up, resolved not to flee, but rather to die and at least be buried in their fatherland. Having thus decided, they drew apart in two bodies, the one as numerous as the other, and fought together. All of the Royal tribe were slain, and the people buried them near the river Tyras, where their grave is still to be seen. Then the rest of the Cimmerians departed, and the Scythians, on their coming, took possession of a deserted land.

    IV.12. Scythia still retains traces of the Cimmerians; there are Cimmerian castles, and a Cimmerian ferry, also a tract called Cimmeria, and a Cimmerian Bosphorus. It appears likewise that the Cimmerians, when they fled into Asia to escape the Scyths, made a settlement in the peninsula where the Greek city of Sinope was afterwards built. The Scyths, it is plain, pursued them, and missing their road, poured into Media. For the Cimmerians kept the line which led along the sea-shore, but the Scyths in their pursuit held the Caucasus upon their right, thus proceeding inland, and falling upon Media. This account is one which is common both to Greeks and barbarians.

    IV.13. Aristeas also, son of Caystrobius, a native of Proconnesus, says in the course of his poem that caught up in a Bacchic frenzy he went as far as the Issedones. Above them dwelt the Arimaspi, men with one eye; still further, the gold-guarding griffins; and beyond these, the Hyperboreans, who extended to the sea. Except the Hyperboreans, all these nations, beginning with the Arimaspi, were continually encroaching upon their neighbors. And so it came to pass that the Arimaspi drove the Issedonians from their country, while the Issedonians dispossessed the Scyths; and the Scyths, pressing upon the Cimmerians, who dwelt on the shores of the Southern Sea, forced them to leave their land. Thus even Aristeas does not agree in his account of this region with the Scythians.

    IV.16. With regard to the regions which lie above the country whereof this portion of my history treats, there is no one who possesses any exact knowledge. Not a single person can I find who professes to be acquainted with them by actual observation. Even Aristeas, the traveler of whom I lately spoke, does not claim- and he is writing poetry- to have reached any farther than the Issedonians. What he relates concerning the regions beyond is, he confesses, mere hearsay, being the account which the Issedonians gave him of those countries. However, I shall proceed to mention all that I have learnt of these parts by the most exact inquiries which I have been able to make concerning them.

    IV.17. Above the mart of the Borysthenites, which is situated in the very center of the whole sea-coast of Scythia, the first people who inhabit the land are the Callipedae, a Greco-Scythic race. Next to them, as you go inland, dwell the people called the Alazonians. These two nations in other respects resemble the Scythians in their usages, but sow and eat grain, also onions, garlic, lentils, and millet. Beyond the Alazonians reside Scythian cultivators, who grow corn, not for their own use, but for sale. Still higher up are the Neuri. Northwards of the Neuri the continent, as far as it is known to us, is uninhabited. These are the nations along the course of the river Hypanis, west of the Borysthenes.

    IV.18. Across the Borysthenes, the first country after you leave the coast is Hylaea (the Woodland). Above this dwell the Scythian Husbandmen, whom the Greeks living near the Hypanis call Borysthenites, while they call themselves Olbiopolites. These Husbandmen extend eastward a distance of three days' journey to a river bearing the name of Panticapes, while northward the country is theirs for eleven days' sail up the course of the Borysthenes. Further inland there is a vast tract which is uninhabited. Above this desolate region dwell the Cannibals, who are a people apart, much unlike the Scythians. Above them the country becomes an utter desert; not a single tribe, so far as we know, inhabits it.

    IV.19. Crossing the Panticapes, and proceeding eastward of the Husbandmen, we come upon the wandering Scythians, who neither plough nor sow. Their country, and the whole of this region, except Hylaea, is quite bare of trees. They extend towards the east a distance of fourteen' days' journey, occupying a tract which reaches to the river Gerrhus.

    IV.20. On the opposite side of the Gerrhus is the Royal district, as it is called: here dwells the largest and bravest of the Scythian tribes, which looks upon all the other tribes in the light of slaves. Its country reaches on the south to Taurica, on the east to the trench dug by the sons of the blind slaves, the mart upon the Palus Maeotis, called Cremni (the Cliffs), and in part to the river Tanais. North of the country of the Royal Scythians are the Melanchaeni (Black-Robes), a people of quite a different race from the Scythians. Beyond them lie marshes and a region without inhabitants, so far as our knowledge reaches.

    IV.21. When one crosses the Tanais, one is no longer in Scythia; the first region on crossing is that of the Sauromatae, who, beginning at the upper end of the Palus Maeotis, stretch northward a distance of fifteen days' journey, inhabiting a country which is entirely bare of trees, whether wild or cultivated. Above them, possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind.

    IV.22. Beyond the Budini, as one goes northward, first there is a desert, seven days' journey across; after which, if one inclines somewhat to the east, the Thyssagetae are reached, a numerous nation quite distinct from any other, and living by the chase. Adjoining them, and within the limits of the same region, are the people who bear the name of Iyrcae; they also support themselves by hunting, which they practice in the following manner. The hunter climbs a tree, the whole country abounding in wood, and there sets himself in ambush; he has a dog at hand, and a horse, trained to lie down upon its belly, and thus make itself low; the hunter keeps watch, and when he sees his game, lets fly an arrow; then mounting his horse, he gives the beast chase, his dog following hard all the while. Beyond these people, a little to the east, dwells a distinct tribe of Scyths, who revolted once from the Royal Scythians, and migrated into these parts.

    IV.23. As far as their country, the tract of land whereof I have been speaking is all a smooth plain, and the soil deep; beyond you enter on a region which is rugged and stony. Passing over a great extent of this rough country, you come to a people dwelling at the foot of lofty mountains, who are said to be all- both men and women- bald from their birth, to have flat noses, and very long chins. These people speak a language of their own,. the dress which they wear is the same as the Scythian. They live on the fruit of a certain tree, the name of which is Ponticum; in size it is about equal to our fig-tree, and it bears a fruit like a bean, with a stone inside. When the fruit is ripe, they strain it through cloths; the juice which runs off is black and thick, and is called by the natives "aschy." They lap this up with their tongues, and also mix it with milk for a drink; while they make the lees, which are solid, into cakes, and eat them instead of meat; for they have but few sheep in their country, in which there is no good pasturage. Each of them dwells under a tree, and they cover the tree in winter with a cloth of thick white felt, but take off the covering in the summer-time. No one harms these people, for they are looked upon as sacred- they do not even possess any warlike weapons. When their neighbors fall out, they make up the quarrel; and when one flies to them for refuge, he is safe from all hurt. They are called the Argippaeans.

    IV.24. Up to this point the territory of which we are speaking is very completely explored, and all the nations between the coast and the bald-headed men are well known to us. For some of the Scythians are accustomed to penetrate as far, of whom inquiry may easily be made, and Greeks also go there from the mart on the Borysthenes, and from the other marts along the Euxine. The Scythians who make this journey communicate with the inhabitants by means of seven interpreters and seven languages.

    IV.25. Thus far, therefore, the land is known; but beyond the bald-headed men lies a region of which no one can give any exact account. Lofty and precipitous mountains, which are never crossed, bar further progress. The bald men say, but it does not seem to me credible, that the people who live in these mountains have feet like goats; and that after passing them you find another race of men, who sleep during one half of the year. This latter statement appears to me quite unworthy of credit. The region east of the bald-headed men is well known to be inhabited by the Issedonians, but the tract that lies to the north of these two nations is entirely unknown, except by the accounts which they give of it.

    IV.26. The Issedonians are said to have the following customs. When a man's father dies, all the near relatives bring sheep to the house; which are sacrificed, and their flesh cut in pieces, while at the same time the dead body undergoes the like treatment. The two sorts of flesh are afterwards mixed together, and the whole is served up at a banquet. The head of the dead man is treated differently: it is stripped bare, cleansed, and set in gold. It then becomes an ornament on which they pride themselves, and is brought out year by year at the great festival which sons keep in honor of their fathers' death, just as the Greeks keep their Genesia [29]. In other respects the Issedonians are reputed to be observers of justice: and it is to be remarked that their women have equal authority with the men. Thus our knowledge extends as far as this nation.

    IV.27 The regions beyond are known only from the accounts of the Issedonians, by whom the stories are told of the one-eyed race of men and the gold-guarding griffins. These stories are received by the Scythians from the Issedonians, and by them passed on to us Greeks: whence it arises that we give the one-eyed race the Scythian name of Arimaspi, "arima" being the Scythic word for "one," and "spu" for "the eye."

    IV.46.  The Euxine sea, where Darius now went to war, has nations dwelling around it, with the one exception of the Scythians, more unpolished than those of any other region that we know of. For, setting aside Anacharsis and the Scythian people, there is not within this region a single nation which can be put forward as having any claims to wisdom, or which has produced a single person of any high repute. The Scythians indeed have in one respect, and that the very most important of all those that fall under man's control, shown themselves wiser than any nation upon the face of the earth. Their customs otherwise are not such as I admire. The one thing of which I speak is the contrivance whereby they make it impossible for the enemy who invades them to escape destruction, while they themselves are entirely out of his reach, unless it please them to engage with him. Having neither cities nor forts, and carrying their dwellings with them wherever they go; accustomed, moreover, one and all of them, to shoot from horseback; and living not by husbandry but on their cattle, their wagons the only houses that they possess, how can they fail of being unconquerable, and unassailable even?

    IV.59. Thus abundantly are the Scythians provided with the most important necessaries. Their manners and customs come now to be described. They worship only the following gods, namely, Vesta, whom they reverence beyond all the rest, Jupiter, and Tellus [30], whom they consider to be the wife of Jupiter; and after these Apollo, Celestial Venus [31], Hercules, and Mars. These gods are worshipped by the whole nation: the Royal Scythians offer sacrifice likewise to Neptune. In the Scythic tongue Vesta is called Tabiti, Jupiter (very properly, in my judgment) Papaeus, Tellus Apia, Apollo Oetosyrus, Celestial Venus Artimpasa, and Neptune Thamimasadas. They use no images, altars, or temples, except in the worship of Mars; but in his worship they do use them.

    IV.60. The manner of their sacrifices is everywhere and in every case the same; the victim stands with its two front feet bound together by a cord, and the person who is about to offer, taking his station behind the victim, gives the rope a pull, and thereby throws the animal down; as it falls he invokes the god to whom he is offering; after which he puts a noose round the animal's neck, and, inserting a small stick, twists it round, and so strangles him. No fire is lighted, there is no consecration, and no pouring out of drink-offerings; but directly that the beast is strangled the sacrificer flays him, and then sets to work to boil the flesh.

    IV.61. As Scythia, however, is utterly barren of firewood, a plan has had to be contrived for boiling the flesh, which is the following. After flaying the beasts, they take out all the bones, and (if they possess such gear) put the flesh into boilers made in the country, which are very like the cauldrons of the Lesbians [32], except that they are of a much larger size; then placing the bones of the animals beneath the cauldron, they set them alight, and so boil the meat. If they do not happen to possess a cauldron, they make the animal's paunch hold the flesh, and pouring in at the same time a little water, lay the bones under and light them. The bones burn beautifully; and the paunch easily contains all the flesh when it is stripped from the bones, so that by this plan your ox is made to boil himself, and other victims also to do the like. When the meat is all cooked, the sacrificer offers a portion of the flesh and of the entrails, by casting it on the ground before him. They sacrifice all sorts of cattle, but most commonly horses.

    IV.62. Such are the victims offered to the other gods, and such is the mode in which they are sacrificed; but the rites paid to Mars are different. In every district, at the seat of government, there stands a temple of this god, whereof the following is a description. It is a pile of brushwood, made of a vast quantity of fuel, in length and breadth three furlongs; in height somewhat less, having a square platform upon the top, three sides of which are precipitous, while the fourth slopes so that men may walk up it. Each year a hundred and fifty wagon-loads of brushwood are added to the pile, which sinks continually by reason of the rains. An antique iron sword is planted on the top of every such mound, and serves as the image of Mars: yearly sacrifices of cattle and of horses are made to it, and more victims are offered thus than to all the rest of their gods. When prisoners are taken in war, out of every hundred men they sacrifice one, not however with the same rites as the cattle, but with different. Libations of wine are first poured upon their heads, after which they are slaughtered over a vessel; the vessel is then carried up to the top of the pile, and the blood poured upon the scimitar. While this takes place at the top of the mound, below, by the side of the temple, the right hands and arms of the slaughtered prisoners are cut off, and tossed on high into the air. Then the other victims are slain, and those who have offered the sacrifice depart, leaving the hands and arms where they may chance to have fallen, and the bodies also, separate.

    IV.63. Such are the observances of the Scythians with respect to sacrifice. They never use swine for the purpose, nor indeed is it their wont to breed them in any part of their country.

    IV.64. In what concerns war, their customs are the following. The Scythian soldier drinks the blood of the first man he overthrows in battle. Whatever number he slays, he cuts off all their heads, and carries them to the king; since he is thus entitled to a share of the booty, whereto he forfeits all claim if he does not produce a head. In order to strip the skull of its covering, he makes a cut round the head above the ears, and, laying hold of the scalp, shakes the skull out; then with the rib of an ox he scrapes the scalp clean of flesh, and softening it by rubbing between the hands, uses it thenceforth as a napkin. The Scyth is proud of these scalps, and hangs them from his bridle-rein; the greater the number of such napkins that a man can show, the more highly is he esteemed among them. Many make themselves cloaks, like the capotes of our peasants, by sewing a quantity of these scalps together. Others flay the right arms of their dead enemies, and make of the skin, which stripped off with the nails hanging to it, a covering for their quivers. Now the skin of a man is thick and glossy, and would in whiteness surpass almost all other hides. Some even flay the entire body of their enemy, and stretching it upon a frame carry it about with them wherever they ride. Such are the Scythian customs with respect to scalps and skins.

    IV.65. The skulls of their enemies, not indeed of all, but of those whom they most detest, they treat as follows. Having sawn off the portion below the eyebrows, and cleaned out the inside, they cover the outside with leather. When a man is poor, this is all that he does; but if he is rich, he also lines the inside with gold: in either case the skull is used as a drinking-cup. They do the same with the skulls of their own kith and kin if they have been at feud with them, and have vanquished them in the presence of the king. When strangers whom they deem of any account come to visit them, these skulls are handed round, and the host tells how that these were his relations who made war upon him, and how that he got the better of them; all this being looked upon as proof of bravery.

    IV.66. Once a year the governor of each district, at a set place in his own province, mingles a bowl of wine, of which all Scythians have a right to drink by whom foes have been slain; while they who have slain no enemy are not allowed to taste of the bowl, but sit aloof in disgrace. No greater shame than this can happen to them. Such as have slain a very large number of foes, have two cups instead of one, and drink from both.

    IV.67. Scythia has an abundance of soothsayers, who foretell the future by means of a number of willow wands. A large bundle of these wands is brought and laid on the ground. The soothsayer [33] unties the bundle, and places each wand by itself, at the same time uttering his prophecy: then, while he is still speaking, he gathers the rods together again, and makes them up once more into a bundle. This mode of divination is of home growth in Scythia. The Enarees, or woman-like men, have another method, which they say Venus taught them. It is done with the inner bark of the linden-tree. They take a piece of this bark, and, splitting it into three strips, keep twining the strips about their fingers, and untwining them, while they prophesy.

    IV.68. Whenever the Scythian king falls sick, he sends for the three soothsayers of most renown at the time, who come and make trial of their art in the mode above described. Generally they say that the king is ill because such or such a person, mentioning his name, has sworn falsely by the royal hearth. This is the usual oath among the Scythians, when they wish to swear with very great solemnity. Then the man accused of having foresworn himself is arrested and brought before the king. The soothsayers tell him that by their art it is clear he has sworn a false oath by the royal hearth, and so caused the illness of the king- he denies the charge, protests that he has sworn no false oath, and loudly complains of the wrong done to him. Upon this the king sends for six new soothsayers, who try the matter by soothsaying. If they too find the man guilty of the offense, straightway he is beheaded by those who first accused him, and his goods are parted among them: if, on the contrary, they acquit him, other soothsayers, and again others, are sent for, to try the case. Should the greater number decide in favor of the man's innocence, then they who first accused him forfeit their lives.

    IV.69. The mode of their execution is the following: a wagon is loaded with brushwood, and oxen are harnessed to it; the soothsayers, with their feet tied together, their hands bound behind their backs, and their mouths gagged, are thrust into the midst of the brushwood; finally the wood is set alight, and the oxen, being startled, are made to rush off with the wagon. It often happens that the oxen and the soothsayers are both consumed together, but sometimes the pole of the wagon is burnt through, and the oxen escape with a scorching. Diviners- lying diviners, they call them- are burnt in the way described, for other causes besides the one here spoken of. When the king puts one of them to death, he takes care not to let any of his sons survive: all the male offspring are slain with the father, only the females being allowed to live.

    IV.70. Oaths among the Scyths are accompanied with the following ceremonies: a large earthen bowl is filled with wine, and the parties to the oath, wounding themselves slightly with a knife or an awl, drop some of their blood into the wine; then they plunge into the mixture a scimitar, some arrows, a battle-axe, and a javelin, all the while repeating prayers; lastly the two contracting parties drink each a draft from the bowl, as do also the chief men among their followers.

    IV.71. The tombs of their kings are in the land of the Gerrhi, who dwell at the point where the Borysthenes is first navigable. Here, when the king dies, they dig a grave, which is square in shape, and of great size. When it is ready, they take the king's corpse, and, having opened the belly, and cleaned out the inside, fill the cavity with a preparation of chopped cypress, frankincense, parsley-seed, and anise-seed, after which they sew up the opening, enclose the body in wax, and, placing it on a wagon, carry it about through all the different tribes. On this procession each tribe, when it receives the corpse, imitates the example which is first set by the Royal Scythians; every man chops off a piece of his ear, crops his hair close, and makes a cut all round his arm, lacerates his forehead and his nose, and thrusts an arrow through his left hand. Then they who have the care of the corpse carry it with them to another of the tribes which are under the Scythian rule, followed by those whom they first visited. On completing the circuit of all the tribes under their sway, they find themselves in the country of the Gerrhi, who are the most remote of all, and so they come to the tombs of the kings. There the body of the dead king is laid in the grave prepared for it, stretched upon a mattress; spears are fixed in the ground on either side of the corpse, and beams stretched across above it to form a roof, which is covered with a thatching of osier twigs. In the open space around the body of the king they bury one of his concubines, first killing her by strangling, and also his cup-bearer, his cook, his groom, his lackey, his messenger, some of his horses, firstlings of all his other possessions, and some golden cups; for they use neither silver nor brass. After this they set to work, and raise a vast mound above the grave, all of them vying with each other and seeking to make it as tall as possible.

    IV.72. When a year is gone by, further ceremonies take place. Fifty of the best of the late king's attendants are taken, all native Scythians (for, as bought slaves are unknown in the country, the Scythian kings choose any of their subjects that they like, to wait on them) fifty of these are taken and strangled, with fifty of the most beautiful horses. When they are dead, their bowels are taken out, and the cavity cleaned, filled full of chaff, and straightway sewn up again. This done, a number of posts are driven into the ground, in sets of two pairs each, and on every pair half the felly of a wheel is placed archwise; then strong stakes are run lengthways through the bodies of the horses from tail to neck, and they are mounted up upon the fellies, so that the felly in front supports the shoulders of the horse, while that behind sustains the belly and quarters, the legs dangling in mid-air; each horse is furnished with a bit and bridle, which latter is stretched out in front of the horse, and fastened to a peg. The fifty strangled youths are then mounted severally on the fifty horses. To effect this, a second stake is passed through their bodies along the course of the spine to the neck; the lower end of which projects from the body, and is fixed into a socket, made in the stake that runs lengthwise down the horse. The fifty riders are thus ranged in a circle round the tomb, and so left.

    IV.73. Such, then, is the mode in which the kings are buried: as for the people, when any one dies, his nearest of kin lay him upon a wagon and take him round to all his friends in succession: each receives them in turn and entertains them with a banquet, whereat the dead man is served with a portion of all that is set before the others; this is done for forty days, at the end of which time the burial takes place. After the burial, those engaged in it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. First they soap and wash their heads well; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woolen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp-seed.

    IV.74. Hemp grows in Scythia: it is very like flax; only that it is a much coarser and taller plant: some grows wild about the country, some is produced by cultivation: the Thracians make garments of it which closely resemble linen; so much so, indeed, that if a person has never seen hemp he is sure to think they are linen, and if he has, unless he is very experienced in such matters, he will not know of which material they are.

    IV.75. The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy, and this vapor serves them instead of a water-bath; for they never by any chance wash their bodies with water. Their women make a mixture of cypress, cedar, and frankincense wood, which they pound into a paste upon a rough piece of stone, adding a little water to it. With this substance, which is of a thick consistency, they plaster their faces all over, and indeed their whole bodies. A sweet odor is thereby imparted to them, and when they take off the plaster on the day following, their skin is clean and glossy.

    IV.76. The Scythians have an extreme hatred of all foreign customs, particularly of those in use among the Greeks, as the instances of Anacharsis, and, more lately, of Scylas, have fully shown. The former, after he had traveled over a great portion of the world, and displayed wherever he went many proofs of wisdom, as he sailed through the Hellespont on his return to Scythia touched at Cyzicus. There he found the inhabitants celebrating with much pomp and magnificence a festival to the Mother of the Gods, and was himself induced to make a vow to the goddess, whereby he engaged, if he got back safe and sound to his home, that he would give her a festival and a night-procession in all respects like those which he had seen in Cyzicus. When, therefore, he arrived in Scythia, he betook himself to the district called the Woodland, which lies opposite the course of Achilles [34], and is covered with trees of all manner of different kinds, and there went through all the sacred rites with the tabour in his hand, and the images tied to him. While thus employed, he was noticed by one of the Scythians, who went and told king Saulius what he had seen. Then king Saulius came in person, and when he perceived what Anacharsis was about, he shot at him with an arrow and killed him. To this day, if you ask the Scyths about Anacharsis, they pretend ignorance of him, because of his Grecian travels and adoption of the customs of foreigners. I learnt, however, from Timnes, the steward of Ariapithes, that Anacharsis was paternal uncle to the Scythian king Idanthyrsus, being the son of Gnurus, who was the son of Lycus and the grandson of Spargapithes. If Anacharsis were really of this house, it must have been by his own brother that he was slain, for Idanthyrsus was a son of the Saulius who put Anacharsis to death.

    IV.77. I have heard, however, another tale, very different from this, which is told by the Peloponnesians: they say, that Anacharsis was sent by the king of the Scyths to make acquaintance with Greece- that he went, and on his return home reported that the Greeks were all occupied in the pursuit of every kind of knowledge, except the Lacedaemonians; who, however, alone knew how to converse sensibly. A silly tale this, which the Greeks have invented for their amusement! There is no doubt that Anacharsis suffered death in the mode already related, on account of his attachment to foreign customs, and the interactions which he maintained with the Greeks.

    IV.78. Scylas, likewise, the son of Ariapithes, many years later, met with almost the very same fate. Ariapithes, the Scythian king, had several sons, among them this Scylas, who was the child, not of a native Scyth, but of a woman of Istria. Bred up by her, Scylas gained an acquaintance with the Greek language and letters. Some time afterwards, Ariapithes was treacherously slain by Spargapithes, king of the Agathyrsi; whereupon Scylas succeeded to the throne, and married one of his father's wives, a woman named Opoea. This Opoea was a Scythian by birth, and had brought Ariapithes a son called Oricus. Now when Scylas found himself king of Scythia, as he disliked the Scythic mode of life, and was attached, by his bringing up, to the manners of the Greeks, he made it his usual practice, whenever he came with his army to the town of the Borysthenites, who, according to their own account, are colonists of the Milesians- he made it his practice, I say, to leave the army before the city, and, having entered within the walls by himself, and carefully closed the gates, to exchange his Scythian dress for Grecian garments, and in this attire to walk about the forum, without guards or retinue. The Borysthenites kept watch at the gates, that no Scythian might see the king thus apparelled. Scylas, meanwhile, lived exactly as the Greeks, and even offered sacrifices to the gods according to the Grecian rites. In this way he would pass a month, or more, with the Borysthenites, after which he would clothe himself again in his Scythian dress, and so take his departure. This he did repeatedly, and even built himself a house in Borysthenes, and married a wife there who was a native of the place.

    IV.79. But when the time came that was ordained to bring him woe, the occasion of his ruin was the following. He wanted to be initiated in the Bacchic mysteries, and was on the point of obtaining admission to the rites, when a most strange prodigy occurred to him. The house which he possessed, as I mentioned a short time back, in the city of the Borysthenites, a building of great extent and erected at a vast cost, round which there stood a number of sphinxes and griffins carved in white marble, was struck by lightning from on high, and burnt to the ground. Scylas, nevertheless, went on and received the initiation. Now the Scythians are wont to reproach the Greeks with their Bacchanal rage, and to say that it is not reasonable to imagine there is a god who impels men to madness. No sooner, therefore, was Scylas initiated in the Bacchic mysteries than one of the Borysthenites went and carried the news to the Scythians "You Scyths laugh at us" he said, "because we rave when the god seizes us. But now our god has seized upon your king, who raves like us, and is maddened by the influence. If you think I do not tell you true, come with me, and I will show him to you." The chiefs of the Scythians went with the man accordingly, and the Borysthenite, conducting them into the city, placed them secretly on one of the towers. Presently Scylas passed by with the band of revellers, raving like the rest, and was seen by the watchers. Regarding the matter as a very great misfortune they instantly departed, and came and told the army what they had witnessed.

    IV.80. When, therefore, Scylas, after leaving Borysthenes, was about returning home, the Scythians broke out into revolt. They put at their head Octamasadas, grandson (on the mother's side) of Teres. Then Scylas, when he learned the danger with which he was threatened, and the reason of the disturbance, made his escape to Thrace. Octamasadas, discovering whither he had fled, marched after him, and had reached the Ister, when he was met by the forces of the Thracians. The two armies were about to engage, but before they joined battle, Sitalces sent a message to Octamasadas to this effect- "Why should there be trial of arms betwixt thee and me? Thou art my own sister's son, and thou hast in thy keeping my brother. Surrender him into my hands, and I will give thy Scylas back to thee. So neither thou nor I will risk our armies." Sitalces sent this message to Octamasadas, by a herald, and Octamasadas, with whom a brother of Sitalces had formerly taken refuge, accepted the terms. He surrendered his own uncle to Sitalces, and obtained in exchange his brother Scylas. Sitalces took his brother with him and withdrew; but Octamasadas beheaded Scylas upon the spot. So rigidly do the Scythians maintain their own customs, and so severely do they punish those who adopt foreign usages.

    IV.102. The Scythians, reflecting on their situation, perceived that they were not strong enough by themselves to contend with the army of Darius in open fight. They, therefore, sent envoys to the neighboring nations, whose kings had already met, and were in consultation upon the advance of so vast a host. Now they who had come together were the kings of the Tauri, the Agathyrsi, the Neuri, the Androphagi, the Melanchlæni, the Gelôni, the Budini, and the Sauromatæ.

    IV.103. The Tauri have the following customs. They offer in sacrifice to the Virgin all shipwrecked persons, and all Greeks compelled to put into their ports by stress of weather. The mode of sacrifice is this. After the preparatory ceremonies, they strike the victim on the head with a club. Then, according to some accounts, they hurl the trunk from the precipice on which the temple stands, and nail the head to a cross. Others grant that the head is treated in this way, but deny that the body is thrown down the cliff — on the contrary, they say, it is buried. The goddess to whom these sacrifices are offered the Tauri themselves declare to be Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon. When they take prisoners in war they treat them in the following way. The man who has taken a captive cuts off his head, and carrying it to his home, fixes it upon a tall pole, which he elevates above his house, most commonly over the chimney. The reason that the heads are set up so high, is (it is said) in order that the whole house may be under their protection. These people live entirely by war and plundering.

    IV.104. The Agathyrsi are a race of men very luxurious, and very fond of wearing gold on their persons. They have wives in common, so that they may be all brothers, and, as members of one family, may neither envy nor hate one another. In other respects their customs approach nearly to those of the Thracians.

    IV.105. The Neurian customs are like the Scythian. One generation before the attack of Darius they were driven from their land by a huge multitude of serpents which invaded them. Of these some were produced in their own country, while others, and those by far the greater number, came in from the deserts to the north. Suffering grievously beneath this scourge, they abandoned their homes, and took refuge with the Budini. It seems that these people are conjurers: for both the Scythians and the Greeks who dwell in Scythia say, that every Neurian once a year becomes a wolf for a few days, at the end of which time he is restored to his proper shape. Not that I believe this, but they constantly affirm it to be true, and are even ready to back their assertion with an oath.

    IV.106. The manners of the Androphagi [literally: human-eaters] are more savage than those of any other race. They neither observe justice, nor are governed by any laws. They are nomads, and their dress is Scythian; but the language which they speak is peculiar to themselves. Unlike any other nation in these parts, they are cannibals.

    IV.107. The Melanchlæni wear, all of them, black cloaks, and from this derive the name which they bear. Their customs are Scythian.

    IV.108. The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair. There is a city in their territory, called Gelônus, which is surrounded with a lofty wall, thirty furlongs each way, built entirely of wood. All the houses in the place and all the temples are of the same material. Here are temples built in honor of the Grecian gods, and adorned after the Greek fashion with images, altars, and shrines, all in wood. There is even a festival, held every third year in honor of Bacchus, at which the natives fall into the Bacchic fury. For the fact is that the Gelôni were anciently Greeks, who, being driven out of the factories along the coast, fled to the Budini and took up their abode with them. They still speak a language half Greek, half Scythian.

    IV.109. The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Gelôni, nor is their mode of life the same. They are the aboriginal people of the country, and are nomads; unlike any of the neighboring races, they eat lice. The Gelôni, on the contrary, are tillers of the soil, eat bread, have gardens, and both in shape and complexion are quite different from the Budini. The Greeks notwithstanding call these latter Gelôni; but it is a mistake to give them the name. Their country is thickly planted with trees of all manner of kinds. In the very woodiest part is a broad deep lake, surrounded by marshy ground with reeds growing on it. Here otters are caught, and beavers, with another sort of animal which has a square face. With the skins of this last the natives border their hooded cloaks: and they also get from them a remedy, which is of virtue in diseases of the womb.

    IV.110. It is reported of the Sauromatæ, that when the Greeks fought with the Amazons, whom the Scythians call Oior-pata, or “manslayers,” as it may be rendered, "Oior" being Scythic for “man,” and "pata" for “to slay”—it is reported, I say, that the Greeks, after gaining the battle of the Thermôdon, put to sea, taking with them on board three of their vessels all the Amazons whom they had made prisoners; and that these women upon the voyage rose up against the crews, and massacred them to a man. As however they were quite strange to ships, and did not know how to use either rudder, sails, or oars, they were carried, after the death of the men, where the winds and the waves listed. At last they reached the shores of the Palus Mæotis and came to a place called Cremni or “the Cliffs,” which is in the country of the free Scythians. Here they went ashore, and proceeded by land towards the inhabited regions; the first herd of horses which they fell in with they seized, and mounting upon their backs, fell to plundering the Scythian territory.

    IV.111. The Scyths could not tell what to make of the attack upon them—the dress, the language, the nation itself, were alike unknown—whence the enemy had come even, was a marvel. Imagining, however, that they were all men of about the same age, they went out against them, and fought a battle. Some of the bodies of the slain fell into their hands, whereby they discovered the truth. Hereupon they deliberated, and made a resolve to kill no more of them, but to send against them a detachment of their youngest men, as near as they could guess equal to the women in number, with orders to encamp in their neighborhood, and do as they saw them do—when the Amazons advanced against them, they were to retire, and avoid a fight—when they halted, the young men were to approach and pitch their camp near the camp of the enemy. All this they did on account of their strong desire to obtain children from so notable a race.

    IV.112. So the youths departed, and obeyed the orders which had been given them. The Amazons soon found out that they had not come to do them any harm; and so they on their part ceased to offer the Scythians any molestation. And now day after day the camps approached nearer to one another; both parties led the same [257] life, neither having anything but their arms and horses, so that they were forced to support themselves by hunting and pillage.

    IV.113. At last an incident brought two of them together—the man easily gained the good graces of the woman, who bade him by signs (for they did not understand each other’s language) to bring a friend the next day to the spot where they had met—promising on her part to bring with her another woman. He did so, and the woman kept her word. When the rest of the youths heard what had taken place, they also sought and gained the favor of the other Amazons.

    IV.114. The two camps were then joined in one, the Scythians living with the Amazons as their wives; and the men were unable to learn the tongue of the women, but the women soon caught up the tongue of the men. When they could thus understand one another, the Scyths addressed the Amazons in these words: “We have parents and properties, let us therefore give up this mode of life, and return to our nation, and live with them. You shall be our wives there no less than here, and we promise you to have no others.” But the Amazons said: “We could not live with your women—our customs are quite different from theirs. To draw the bow, to hurl the javelin, to bestride the horse, these are our arts—of womanly activities [258] we know nothing. Your women, on the contrary, do none of these things; but stay at home in their wagons, engaged in womanish tasks, and never go out to hunt, or to do anything. We should never agree together. But if you truly wish to keep us as your wives, and would conduct yourselves with strict justice towards us, go you home to your parents, bid them give you your inheritance, and then come back to us, and let us and you live together by ourselves.”

    IV.115. The youths approved of the advice, and followed it. They went and got the portion of goods which fell to them, returned with it, and rejoined their wives, who then addressed them in these words following: “We are ashamed, and afraid to live in the country where we now are. Not only have we stolen you from your fathers, but we have done great damage to Scythia by our ravages. As you like us for wives, grant the request we make of you. Let us leave this country together, and go and dwell beyond the Tanais.” Again the youths complied.

    IV.116. Crossing the Tanais they journeyed eastward a distance of three days’ march from that stream, and again northward a distance of three days’ march from the Palus Mæotis. Here they came to the country where they now live, and took up their abode in it. The women of the Sauromatæ have continued from that day to the present to observe their ancient customs, frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands, sometimes even unaccompanied; in war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men.

    IV.117. The Sauromatæ speak the language of Scythia, but have never spoken it correctly, because the Amazons learnt it imperfectly from the first. Their marriage-law lays it down that no girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle. Sometimes it happens that a woman dies unmarried at an advanced age, having never been able in her whole lifetime to fulfill the condition.

    Footnotes:

    [29] An ancient Greek festival of the dead.

    [30] Roman goddess of the earth.

    [31] Latin name for Aphrodite.

    [32] People from the island of Lesbos.

    [33] People who can see the future.

    [34] Greek hero and warrior during the Trojan War.

    THRACIANS

    V.3. The Thracians are the most powerful people in the world, except, of course, the Indians; and if they had one head, or were agreed among themselves, it is my belief that their match could not be found anywhere, and that they would very far surpass all other nations. But such union is impossible for them, and there are no means of ever bringing it about. Herein therefore consists their weakness. The Thracians bear many names in the different regions of their country, but all of them have like usages in every respect, excepting only the Getae, the Trausi, and those who dwell above the people of Creston.

    V.4. Now the manners and customs of the Getae, who believe in their immortality, I have already spoken of. The Trausi in all else resemble the other Thracians, but have customs at births and deaths which I will now describe. When a child is born all its kindred sit round about it in a circle and weep for the woes it will have to undergo now that it is come into the world, making mention of every ill that falls to the lot of humankind; when, on the other hand, a man has died, they bury him with laughter and rejoicings, and say that now he is free from a host of sufferings, and enjoys the most complete happiness.

    V.5. The Thracians who live above the Crestonaeans observe the following customs. Each man among them has several wives; and no sooner does a man die than a sharp contest ensues among the wives upon the question which of them all the husband loved most tenderly; the friends of each eagerly plead on her behalf, and she to whom the honour is adjudged, after receiving the praises both of men and women, is slain over the grave by the hand of her next of kin, and then buried with her husband. The others are sorely grieved, for nothing is considered such a disgrace.

    V.6. The Thracians who do not belong to these tribes have the customs which follow. They sell their children to traders. On their maidens they keep no watch, but leave them altogether free, while on the conduct of their wives they keep a most strict watch. Brides are purchased off their parents for large sums of money. Tattooing among them marks noble birth, and the want of it low birth. To be idle is accounted the most honorable thing, and to be a tiller of the ground the most dishonorable. To live by war and plunder is of all things the most glorious. These are the most remarkable of their customs.

    V.7. The gods which they worship are but three, Mars, Bacchus, and Diana. Their kings, however, unlike the rest of the citizens, worship Mercury [35] more than any other god, always swearing by his name, and declaring that they are themselves sprung from him.

    V.8. Their wealthy ones are buried in the following fashion. The body is laid out for three days; and during this time they kill victims of all kinds, and feast upon them, after first bewailing the departed. Then they either burn the body or else bury it in the ground. Lastly, they raise a mound over the grave, and hold games of all sorts, wherein the single combat is awarded the highest prize. Such is the mode of burial among the Thracians.

    Footnotes: [35] Latin name for Hermes