translated by Shlomo Felberbaum

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved

Installment 21

Moreover, what’s to the east of those Scythian farmers for one who crosses the Panticapes river by then Scythian nomads inhabit without sowing or ploughing anything at all—that whole land is bare of trees except Hylaea—and those nomads inhabit what’s to the east fourteen days’ way, a country that stretches down to the river Gerrus.

Further, on the other side of the Gerrus are those very places called royal and the best and most Scythians and who consider all the other Scythians to be their slaves and those extend down what’s to the south to the Tauric land and what’s to the east up to the very ditch that those born of the blind dug and up to the Maeetian lake’s mart that is called Cliffs and in respect to some of their places they extend down up to the river Tanais. And the places inland toward the north wind of the royal Scythians the Blackcloaks settle, another nation and not a Scythian, and the place inland of the Blackcloaks is lakes and a desert without human beings in so far as we know.

Then for one who crosses the Tanais river it’s no longer Scythian land, but the first of the plots is the Sauromatians’, who begin from the most inland part of the Maeetian lake and inhabit what’s toward the north wind fifteen days’ way, a land that in its entirety is bare of both wild and cultivated trees, and the Boudinians settle inland of those and have the second plot, who inhabit a land in its entirety wooded with forest of all kinds.

Then inland of the Boudinians toward the north first is a desert over seven days’ way and after the desert for one who turns aside more toward the east wind the Thussagetians are inhabitants, a large and peculiar nation, and they live from hunting. Then contiguous to those in the same spaces they are settled down, to whom the name Iyrcians is given, and those live from hunting in a manner like this: one lies in wait, after one has stepped up into a tree (and they are thick throughout the whole country) and a horse taught by each to lie on his belly for lowness is ready and a dog; then, whenever one sees the beast from the tree, at the shooting of an arrow one goes up on the horse and gives pursuit and the dog is next to one. And inland of those what’s to the east for one who turns aside other Scythians settle, who revolted from the royal Scythians and thus came to that place.

Indeed up to the country of those Scythians all that was recounted is a flat and deep-soiled land and from there on it’s stony and harsh. And, for one who goes out through a large place of the harsh land also, human beings settle high mountains’ foothills all said to be proven bald from birth, both male and female alike, who’re snub-nosed and have large chins, utter a peculiar language, use Scythian clothing and live from trees. Ponticum’s the name of the tree from which they live and in size it’s somewhere pretty nearly like the fig-tree; moreover it bears fruit equal to a bean and it has a pit. Whenever that becomes ripe, they strain it with pieces of cloth and there is from it a thick and black outflow and the name of what flows out is “aschu”; that they both lick and, mixing it with milk, drink, and from the thickness of its lees they put together cakes and eat those. For not many cattle are theirs, as the pasturages in the very place are in no way excellent. Moreover down under a tree each has a settlement during the winter whenever the tree wraps round a white watertight felt cloth and during the summer without a felt cloth. Against those no one of human beings commits injustice, because they are said to be holy, and they possess not a martial weapon. Further, on the one hand, for those who settled round them those are the ones who determine their quarrels and, on the other, whoever in fleeing takes refuge with those, is committed injustice against by no one. And their name is Argippians.

Now, up to those bald ones is much all round apparentness of the country and of the nations on this side; for in fact some of the Scythians come to them, from whom it is not difficult to learn by inquiry, as well as of the Greeks from Borysthenes’ mart and all the other Pontic marts, and of whichever Scythians go to them, with seven interpreters and with seven tongues they effect accomplishments.

Indeed up to those it is known, but what’s inland of the bald ones no one knows how to point out exactly; for high mountains are cut offs that are impassable and no one can go over them, but those bald ones give an account, although they give an account not credible to me, that goat-footed men settled the mountains and for the one who goes over those there are other human beings who sleep through six months; that however I do not take in to begin with. Rather, although as to what’s to the east of the bald ones it is known exactly, since it is settled by Issedonians, yet what’s inland toward the north wind of either the bald ones or the Issedonians is not known, except all that those themselves say.

And the Issedonians are said to observe laws like these: whenever a man’s father dies, all his relatives bring forward cattle and thereupon, having sacrificed those and cut up pieces of meat, cut up the one who received them’s dead father; then, having mixed up all the pieces of meat, they put forward for themselves a banquet. Finally having made bare and cleaned out his head, they gild it utterly and thereupon use it as if an image by bringing to completion great yearly sacrifices. So son does that for father, just as the Greeks “the Genesia”. Moreover, in other matters those are also said to be just and the women similarly equal in power to the men.

Indeed those too are known, but as to what’s inland from those the Issedonians are those who say there are the one-eyed human beings and the gold-guarding griffins, from them the Scythians take over and give that account and from the Scythians we, all the rest, have a custom and call them in Scythian Arimaspians; for the Scythians call one arima and an eye spou.

Further, all that country recounted somewhat quite thus is hard in winter: it’s where for eight of the months there comes to be what kind of an unbearable frost, during which by pouring out water mud you will not make, but by kindling fire you will make mud and the sea is made solid as well as the whole Cimmerian Bosporus, while on the ice the Scythians who have settlements on this side of the ditch advance with an army and drive their wagons on it across to the Sindians. Thus indeed eight months winter continues to be, whereas the remaining four cold spells are in the very place, and that winter is separate in its manners in reference to all the winters that come to be in other spots, during which in its season it rains nothing worthy of account, while during the summer it lets not go of raining. And thunderclaps when in the rest of the land they come about, at that time come about not, but in summer are abundant, and if in winter a thunderclap comes about, like a portent it is marvelled at. Moreover, horses hold themselves up in and bear that winter, while mules and asses do not hold themselves up to begin with, but in the rest of the land horses that stand in frost completely mortify, while asses and mules hold themselves up.

And also the hornless race of the cows seems to me on account of that to grow no horns in the very place and an epic verse of Homer in the Odyssey that is the following too bears witness to my judgement,

And Libya, where lambs forthwith are born with horns

since it is spoken truly that in the heat spells swiftly the horns come to be present. But in the strong cold spells either the cattle grow no horns to begin with or, if they grow them, they grow them with difficulty.

Now, there on account of the cold spells that comes about, but I marvel (for indeed my account was searching for additions from the beginning) at why in all the Elean country mules cannot come to be, although neither is the place cold nor any other cause visible. And the Eleans themselves assert mules come not about for them because of a curse, but whenever the hour goes forward for the mares to conceive, they drive them to their neighbors and thereafter to them in the land of those near they put the asses, until the mares should be with child in womb; then thereafter they drive them off back.

And about the feathers, with which the Scythians say the lower air is filled up, and because of which it is not possible either to see the farther part of the mainland or go through and out of it, I have this judgement about them: the inland parts of that country on each and every occasion are snowed on and with less in the summer than in the winter, just as is also reasonable; by now then whoever from near saw thick snow falling knows what I am saying; for the snow is like feathers. And on account of that winter that is like that what’s to the north of that mainland is unsettleable. Therefore as the feathers by making a likeness the snow the Scythians and those settled round, I think, speak of. Now, those parts that are accounted farthest have been spoken of.

About Hyperborean human beings then neither the Scythians say anything at all nor any others among those who have their settlements there, except after all the Issedonians, and as I think, not even those say anything; for the Scythians too would give an account, as about the one-eyed ones they give an account. But by Hesiod statements are made about the Hyperboreans and they are also by Homer in the Afterborn, if indeed really at any rate Homer wrote those epics.

Further, somewhat far the most about them the Delians say by asserting for themselves that sacred offerings bound in straw of pieces of wheat are borne from the Hyperboreans and come to the Scythians, from the Scythians by then each group of neighbors receive and convey them the farthest to the west to Adries, thence, when they are sent forth to the south, the Dodonians are the first of the Greeks to receive them, from those they go down to the Melian gulf and make their way through to Euboea, and finally city to city sends them up to Carystus and from there on they leave out Andrus; for their conveyers to Tenos are the Carystians and to Delos the Tenians. Now, thus those sacred offerings come they say to Delos and first the Hyperboreans sent two maidens with the sacred offerings, whom the Delians name to be Hyperoche and Laodice, and together with those for safety’s sake the Hyperboreans sent five men among their townsmen as escorts, those who now are called Perpherians and have great honors in Delos; then when for the Hyperboreans those sent off were not returning back off and they thought awful if it would befall them on each and every occasion, when they were dispatching them off, not to receive them back, then indeed they, bringing to their borders the sacred offerings bound in pieces of wheat’s straw, they entrusted them to their neighbors and bade them send them forth from themselves to another nation. Those in fact, sent forth thus, came, they say, to Delos, and I myself know this is done similar to those sacred offerings: the Thracian and the Paeonian women, whenever they sacrifice to royal Artemis, not without pieces of wheat’s straw perform the sacred offerings.

In fact those indeed those women I know do and for those girls from the Hyperboreans who met with their end in Delos both the maidens and the boys of the Delians shave themselves; the former, after cutting from themselves a lock before marriage and making a winding round a spindle, put it on the tomb (and the tomb is for one who goes within, into the Artemision, on the left hand and there is grown on it an olive-tree), while all who are boys of the Delians make a winding round a green shoot and those too put some of their hairs on the tomb. Those indeed have that as an honor from Delos’ settlers and those same assert also that Arge and Opis, who were girls from the Hyperboreans, by those same human beings made their way and came to Delos still earlier than Hyperoche and Laodice; now, those for Eileithyie brought away in return for quick childbirth the tribute that they had imposed on themselves and came, but Arge and Opis together with the gods came they say and to them other honors were given by them; for in fact the women make a collection for them and call on them by naming their names in the hymn that Olen, a Lycian man, composed for them and the islanders and Ionians, having learned from them, hymn Opis and Arge, while they call on them by naming and make a collection (and that Olen composed also all the other ancient hymns, when he had gone from Lycia, that are sung in Delos), and when the thigh-bones are burning on the altar, that ash is used up by being thrown on the tomb of Opis and Arge. And their tomb is behind the Artemision turned to the east nearest the Ceians’ banquet hall.

Let that in fact be said about the Hyperboreans. For the account about Abaris, who was said to be a Hyperborean, I give not, that he brought an arrow round through the whole earth, while he ate nothing. And if there are any Hyperborean human beings, there are also Hypernotian others. Moreover I laugh on seeing many by now depict earth’s ways round and none expounds in a way that has sense, as they depict Ocean as flowing around the earth that is circular like from compasses and since they make Asia equal to Europe. For in few words I will make clear the size of each of them and what a kind is each for depicting.

The Persians are settlers who extend down to the south sea that is called Red and inland of those toward the north wind the Medes are settlers, inland of the Medes the Saspeirians and inland of the Saspeirians the Colchians who extend down to the north sea, in which the Phasis river discharges. Those four nations are the settlers from sea to sea.

Thence then regarding what’s toward the west two promontories from it stretch to the sea, of which I for my part will offer a relation. On one side the one promontory regarding what’s toward the north begins from the Phasis and is stretched along the Pontus and the Hellespont up to Trojan Sigeium and regarding what’s toward the south that same promontory from the Myriandian gulf that lies near Phoenician land stretches over what’s to the sea up to Triopium, a headland. And thirty nations of human beings settle on that promontory.

Now, that’s one of the promontories and the other indeed begins from the Persians and is stretched to the Red sea, the Persian and, when it receives out territory from that land, the Assyrian and, when from the Assyrian, the Arabian. Then that comes to a stop and comes to a stop not if not by convention at the Arabian gulf, into which Darius from the Nile led a trench. Now, up to Phoenicia from the Persians a broad and large place exists and regarding what’s from Phoenicia that promontory extends through this sea along Palaestinian Syria and Egypt, at which it comes to an end. In it are three nations alone.

Those are the places that extend to the west of Asia from the Persians and along the ones inland of the Persians, the Medes, the Saspeirians and the Colchians, that are to the east and the sun’s rising up, on one side the Red sea extends and toward the north the Caspian sea and the Araxes river, as it flows to the sun’s going up. Then up to the Indian land Asia is settled and from there on is desert by now what’s to the east and no one is able to point out precisely what kind of a spot it is.

Asia is like that and like that size and Libya is on the other promontory; for from Egypt Libya by now receives out territory. Now, at Egypt that promontory is narrow, as from this sea to the Red sea are ten myriads of fathoms and those would be a thousand stades, and from that narrow place on the promontory is in fact very broad that is called Libya.

Therefore I marvel at those who draw boundaries up for and divide up Libya, Asia and Europe, because their differences are not small, as in length Europe extends along both and about breadth not even worth comparing appears to me to be. For Libya makes itself clear that it is surrounded by water, except all of it that borders on Asia, since Necos the Egyptians’ king was the first of those whom we know to make the discovery, who, when he had stopped digging the trench that extends through from the Nile to the Arabian gulf, sent away Phoenician men with boats and enjoined that on the way back through Heracles’ pillars they should sail out until they should come to the north sea and thus to Egypt. Accordingly the Phoenicians set off from the Red sea and sailed the south sea and, whenever it came to be autumn, they put in and sowed the earth, where in Libya on each occasion in their sailing they came to be, and awaited the harvest; then they did the summer work on the wheat and sailed so that, two years having gone past, the third year they bent round Heracles’ pillars and came to Egypt. And they gave an account not credible to me, but to some other, that in sailing round Libya they had the sun on their right.

Thus that land was known at the first and afterward the Carchedonians are its speakers, since at any rate Sataspes, the son of Teaspis, an Achaimenid man, sailed not round Libya, although he had been sent for that purpose itself, but rather in fear of the length of the sailing and the desolateness came back away and brought not to completion the contest that his mother had imposed on him. For he violated the daughter of Zopyrus, the son of Megabyxus, a maiden; thereafter, when he was, on account of that cause, to be impaled by King Xerxes, the mother of Sataspes, being Darius’ sister, brought about a begging off by asserting that she herself would inflict on him a greater penalty than indeed he; for it would be a necessity for him to sail round Libya, until he should come in his sailing round it to the Arabian gulf. Then, when Xerxes had agreed to that condition, after Sataspes had come to Egypt and taken a ship and sailors from those, he sailed to Heracles’ pillars and, having sailed out through and bent round the headland of Libya, whose name is Soloeis, he sailed to the south and, after he had passed many a sea in many months, since there was need of more on each and every occasion, he turned away and sailed away back to Egypt. Then on coming from there to King Xerxes he spoke and asserted at his farthest he sailed by small human beings that constantly used clothing made of palm, who, when they led themselves down to the shore by ship, fled to the mountains and left behind their cities, while they themselves refused to do any wrong in their going in, but took cattle alone from them. So as the cause of his not sailing round Libya completely he said this, that the boat was not able any longer to go forth farther, but was held fast. Xerxes however would not admit to him that he spoke truly and, since at any rate he had not brought to completion the proposed contest, impaled him and imposed as penalty the former just sentence. Then that Sataspes’ eunuch ran away to Samos, as soon as he had learned by inquiry that his master had met with his end, with much money, which a Samian man gained hold of, whose name I know and willingly forget.

The greater parts of Asia were found out by Darius, who wanted about the Indus river, that which is the second of all rivers to furnish crocodiles, about that river, to know where it discharges into the sea, and sent with boats others, whom he trusted would speak the truth, and, in particular, Scylax, a Caryandian man. Then they, having set off from the city of Caspatyrus and the Pactyan land, sailed down the river to the east and the sun’s risings up into the sea and in their sailing through the sea to the west the thirtieth month came to that place whence the Egyptians’ king dispatched the Phoenicians, whom I spoke of previously, to sail round Libya. And after those men’s sailing round Darius subjected the Indians and used that sea. Thus regarding Asia too, except the parts toward the sun’s going up, in all the other respects the land is discovered to furnish things similar to Libya.

Europe is manifest in being known by none, neither the parts toward the sun’s rising up nor those to the north, whether they are surrounded by water, but in length is known that it extends along both lands. I am both unable to conjecture after what to the earth, although it is one, three names are given, with the appellations of women, and as it boundaries the Egyptian Nile river is placed as well as the Colchian Phasis (some say the Maeetian Tanais and the Cimmerian ferries), and to learn by inquiry the names of those who drew the boundaries and whence they gave the appellations. For by now Libya after Libya, an autochthonous woman, is said by the greater number of the Greeks to have its name, and Asia after Prometheus’ wife its appellation. And yet the Lydians take for themselves a share of that name and assert for themselves that after Asies, the son of Cotys, the son of Manes, Asia is called and not after Prometheus’ wife, Asia; that after him the tribe in Sardis too is called Asian. And indeed Europe neither whether it is surrounded by water is known by any human beings nor whence it took hold of that name nor does it appear who was the one who give it it, if we will not assert that from the Tyrian Europe the country took the name; previously then after all it was nameless just as the others. But that woman at any rate manifestly was from Asia and came not to that land that is now called Europe by the Greeks, but as far as from Phoenicia to Crete and from Crete to Lycia. Now, let those statements be said to so great an extent; for we will make use of those of them that are customarily made.

The Euxine Pontus, against which Darius advanced with an army, of all countries furnishes outside of the Scythian the stupidest nations; for we neither can put forward for ourselves any nation of those within the Pontus concerning wisdom nor know a man proved a spokesman, apart from the Scythian nation and Anaxarsis. So of the Scythian race, although one thing, the greatest of all human matters, in the wisest way has been found out of all that we know, yet all else I admire not. And the greatest so has been discovered by them as for both no one to escape, if he goes against them, and if they want not to be found out, it to be not possible to overtake them; for if by them neither towns nor walls have been founded, but all, being carriers of their homes, are horse-archers and live not from ploughing, but from cattle, and their buildings are on chariots, how would those not be unconquerable and unmanageable in mixing with?

(to be continued)

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved