Sacred Texts  Classics  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at
Buy this Book on Kindle

The History of Herodotus, parallel English/Greek, tr. G. C. Macaulay, [1890], at

Herodotus Book 4: Melpomene [20]

20. Then on the other side of the Gerros we have those parts which are called the "Royal" lands and those Scythians who are the bravest and most numerous and who esteem the other Scythians their slaves. These reach Southwards to the Tauric land, and Eastwards to the trench which those who were begotten of the blind slaves dug, and to the trading station which is called Cremnoi upon the Maiotian lake; and some parts of their country reach to the river Tanaïs. Beyond the Royal Scythians towards the North Wind dwell the Melanchlainoi, of a different race and not Scythian. The region beyond the Melanchlainoi is marshy and not inhabited by any, so far as we know.

20. [1] πέρην δὲ τοῦ Γέρρου ταῦτα δὴ τὰ καλεύμενα βασιλήια ἐστὶ καὶ Σκύθαι οἱ ἄριστοί τε καὶ πλεῖστοι καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους νομίζοντες Σκύθας δούλους σφετέρους εἶναι· κατήκουσι δὲ οὗτοι τὸ μὲν πρὸς μεσαμβρίην ἐς τὴν Ταυρικήν, τὸ δὲ πρὸς ἠῶ ἐπί τε τάφρον, τὴν δὴ οἱ ἐκ τῶν τυφλῶν γενόμενοι ὤρυξαν, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς λίμνης τῆς Μαιήτιδος τὸ ἐμπόριον τὸ καλέεται Κρημνοί· τὰ δὲ αὐτῶν κατήκουσι ἐπὶ ποταμὸν Τάναϊν. [2] τὰ δὲ κατύπερθε πρὸς βορέην ἄνεμον τῶν βασιληίων Σκυθέων οἰκέουσι Μελάγχλαινοι, ἄλλο ἔθνος καὶ οὐ Σκυθικὸν. Μελαγχλαίνων δὲ τὸ κατύπερθε λίμναι καὶ ἔρημος ἐστὶ ἀνθρώπων, κατ᾽ ὅσον ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν.

21. After one has crossed the river Tanaïs the country is no longer Scythia, but the first of the divisions belongs to the Sauromatai, who beginning at the corner of the Maiotian lake occupy land extending towards the North Wind fifteen days' journey, and wholly bare of trees both cultivated and wild. Above these, holding the next division of land, dwell the Budinoi, who occupy a land wholly overgrown with forest consisting of all kinds of trees. 21. [1] Τάναϊν δὲ ποταμὸν διαβάντι οὐκέτι Σκυθική, ἀλλ᾽ ἡ μὲν πρώτη τῶν λαξίων Σαυροματέων ἐστί, οἳ ἐκ τοῦ μυχοῦ ἀρξάμενοι τῆς Μαιήτιδος λίμνης νέμονται τὸ πρὸς βορέην ἄνεμον ἡμερέων πεντεκαίδεκα ὁδόν, πᾶσαν ἐοῦσαν ψιλὴν καὶ ἀγρίων καὶ ἡμέρων δενδρέων· ὑπεροικέουσι δὲ τούτων δευτέρην λάξιν ἔχοντες Βουδῖνοι, γῆν νεμόμενοι πᾶσαν δασέαν ὕλη παντοίῃ.

22. Then beyond the Budinoi towards the North, first there is desert for seven days' journey; and after the desert turning aside somewhat more towards the East Wind we come to land occupied by the Thyssagetai, a numerous people and of separate race from the others. These live by hunting; and bordering upon them there are settled also in these same regions men who are called Irycai, who also live by hunting, which they practise in the following manner:--the hunter climbs up a tree and lies in wait there for his game (now trees are abundant in all this country), and each has a horse at hand, which has been taught to lie down upon its belly in order that it may make itself low, and also a dog: and when he sees the wild animal from the tree, he first shoots his arrow and then mounts upon his horse and pursues it, and the dog seizes hold of it. Above these in a direction towards the East dwell other Scythians, who have revolted from the Royal Scythians and so have come to this region.

22. [1] Βουδίνων δὲ κατύπερθε πρὸς βορέην ἐστὶ πρώτη μὲν ἔρημος ἐπ᾽ ἡμερέων ἑπτὰ ὁδόν, μετὰ δὲ τὴν ἔρημον ἀποκλίνοντι μᾶλλον πρὸς ἀπηλιώτην ἄνεμον νέμονται Θυσσαγέται, ἔθνος πολλὸν καὶ ἴδιον· ζῶσι δὲ ἀπὸ θήρης. [2] συνεχέες δὲ τούτοισι ἐν τοῖσι αὐτοῖσι τόποισι κατοικημένοι εἰσὶ τοῖσι οὔνομα κεῖται Ἰύρκαι, καὶ οὗτοι ἀπὸ θήρης ζῶντες τρόπῳ τοιῷδε· λοχᾷ ἐπὶ δένδρεον ἀναβάς, τὰ δὲ ἐστὶ πυκνὰ ἀνὰ πᾶσαν τὴν χώρην· ἵππος δὲ ἑκάστῳ δεδιδαγμένος ἐπὶ γαστέρα κεῖσθαι ταπεινότητος εἵνεκα ἕτοιμος ἐστὶ καὶ κύων· ἐπεὰν δὲ ἀπίδῃ τὸ θηρίον ἀπὸ τοῦ δενδρέου, τοξεύσας ἐπιβὰς ἐπὶ τὸν ἵππον διώκει, καὶ ὁ κύων ἔχεται, [3] ὑπὲρ δὲ τούτων τὸ πρὸς τὴν ἠῶ ἀποκλίνοντι οἰκέουσι Σκύθαι ἄλλοι, ἀπὸ τῶν βασιληίων Σκυθέων ἀποστάντες καὶ οὕτω ἀπικόμενοι ἐς τοῦτον τὸν χῶρον.

23. As far as the country of these Scythians the whole land which has been described is level plain and has a deep soil; but after this point it is stony and rugged. Then when one has passed through a great extent of this rugged country, there dwell in the skirts of lofty mountains men who are said to be all bald-headed from their birth, male and female equally, and who have flat noses and large chins and speak a language of their own, using the Scythian manner of dress, and living on the produce of trees. The tree on the fruit of which they live is called the Pontic tree, and it is about the size of a fig- tree: this bears a fruit the size of a bean, containing a stone. When the fruit has ripened, they strain it through cloths and there flows from it a thick black juice, and this juice which flows from it is called as-chy. This they either lick up or drink mixed with milk, and from its lees, that is the solid part, they make cakes and use them for food; for they have not many cattle, since the pastures there are by no means good. Each man has his dwelling under a tree, in winter covering the tree all round with close white felt-cloth, and in summer without it. These are injured by no men, for they are said to be sacred, and they possess no weapon of war. These are they also who decide the disputes rising among their neighbours; and besides this, whatever fugitive takes refuge with them is injured by no one: and they are called Argippaians.

23. [1] μέχρι μὲν δὴ τῆς τούτων τῶν Σκυθέων χώρης ἐστὶ ἡ καταλεχθεῖσα πᾶσα πεδιάς τε γῆ καὶ βαθύγαιος, τὸ δ᾽ ἀπὸ τούτου λιθώδης τ᾽ ἐστὶ καὶ τρηχέα. [2] διεξελθόντι δὲ καὶ τῆς τρηχέης χώρης πολλὸν οἰκέουσι ὑπώρεαν ὀρέων ὑψηλῶν ἄνθρωποι λεγόμενοι εἶναι πάντες φαλακροὶ ἐκ γενετῆς γινόμενοι, καὶ ἔρσενες καὶ θήλεαι ὁμοίως, καὶ σιμοὶ καὶ γένεια ἔχοντες μεγάλα, φωνὴν δὲ ἰδίην ἱέντες, ἐσθῆτι δὲ χρεώμενοι Σκυθικῇ, ζῶντες δὲ ἀπὸ δενδρέων. [3] ποντικὸν μὲν οὔνομα τῷ δενδρέῳ ἀπ᾽ οὗ ζῶσι, μέγαθος δὲ κατὰ συκέην μάλιστά κῃ. καρπὸν δὲ φορέει κυάμῳ ἴσον, πυρῆνα δὲ ἔχει. τοῦτο ἐπεὰν γένηται πέπον, σακκέουσι ἱματίοισι, ἀπορρέει δὲ ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ παχὺ καὶ μέλαν· οὔνομα δὲ τῷ ἀπορρέοντι ἐστὶ ἄσχυ· τοῦτο καὶ λείχουσι καὶ γάλακτι συμμίσγοντες πίνουσι, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς παχύτητος αὐτοῦ τῆς τρυγὸς παλάθας συντιθεῖσι καὶ ταύτας σιτέονται. [4] πρόβατα γάρ σφι οὐ πολλά ἐστι. οὐ γάρ τι σπουδαῖαι αἱ νομαὶ αὐτόθι εἰσί. ὑπὸ δενδρέῳ δὲ ἕκαστος κατοίκηται, τὸν μὲν χειμῶνα ἐπεὰν τὸ δένδρεον περικαλύψῃ πίλῳ στεγνῷ λευκῷ, τὸ δὲ θέρος ἄνευ πίλου. [5] τούτους οὐδεὶς ἀδικέει ἀνθρώπων· ἱροὶ γὰρ λέγονται εἶναι· οὐδέ τι ἀρήιον ὅπλον ἐκτέαται. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν τοῖσι περιοικέουσι οὗτοι εἰσὶ οἱ τὰς διαφορὰς διαιρέοντες, τοῦτο δὲ ὃς ἂν φεύγων καταφύγῃ ἐς τούτους, ὑπ᾽ οὐδενὸς ἀδικέεται· οὔνομα δέ σφι ἐστὶ Ἀργιππαῖοι.

24. Now as far as these bald-headed men there is abundantly clear information about the land and about the nations on this side of them; for not only do certain of the Scythians go to them, from whom it is not difficult to get information, but also some of the Hellenes who are at the trading-station of the Borysthenes and the other trading- places of the Pontic coast: and those of the Scythians who go to them transact their business through seven interpreters and in seven different languages. 24. [1] μέχρι μέν νυν τῶν φαλακρῶν τούτων πολλὴ περιφανείη τῆς χώρης ἐστὶ καὶ τῶν ἔμπροσθε ἐθνέων· καὶ γὰρ Σκυθέων τινὲς ἀπικνέονται ἐς αὐτούς, τῶν οὐ χαλεπόν ἐστι πυθέσθαι καὶ Ἑλλήνων τῶν ἐκ Βορυσθένεος τε ἐμπορίου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων Ποντικῶν ἐμπορίων· Σκυθέων δὲ οἳ ἂν ἔλθωσι ἐς αὐτούς, δι᾽ ἑπτὰ ἑρμηνέων καὶ δι᾽ ἑπτὰ γλωσσέων διαπρήσσονται.

25. So far as these, I say, the land is known; but concerning the region to the North of the bald-headed men no one can speak with certainty, for lofty and impassable mountains divide it off, and no one passes over them. However these bald-headed men say (though I do not believe it) that the mountains are inhabited by men with goats' feet; and that after one has passed beyond these, others are found who sleep through six months of the year. This I do not admit at all as true. However, the country to the East of the bald-headed men is known with certainty, being inhabited by the Issedonians, but that which lies beyond both the bald-headed men and the Issedonians towards the North Wind is unknown, except so far as we know it from the accounts given by these nations which have just been mentioned. 25. [1] μέχρι μὲν δὴ τούτων γινώσκεται, τὸ δὲ τῶν φαλακρῶν κατύπερθε οὐδεὶς ἀτρεκέως οἶδε φράσαι. ὄρεα γὰρ ὑψηλὰ ἀποτάμνει ἄβατα καὶ οὐδείς σφεα ὑπερβαίνει. οἱ δὲ φαλακροὶ οὗτοι λέγουσι, ἐμοὶ μὲν οὐ πιστὰ λέγοντες, οἰκέειν τὰ ὄρεα αἰγίποδας ἄνδρας, ὑπερβάντι δὲ τούτους ἀνθρώπους ἄλλους οἳ τὴν ἑξάμηνον κατεύδουσι. τοῦτο δὲ οὐκ ἐνδέκομαι τὴν ἀρχήν, [2] ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν πρὸς ἠῶ τῶν φαλακρῶν γινώσκεται ἀτρεκέως ὑπὸ Ἰσσηδόνων οἰκεόμενον, τὸ μέντοι κατύπερθε πρὸς βορέην ἄνεμον οὐ γινώσκεται οὔτε τῶν φαλακρῶν οὔτε τῶν Ἰσσηδόνων, εἰ μὴ ὅσα αὐτῶν τούτων λεγόντων.

26. The Issedonians are said to have these customs:--when a man's father is dead, all the relations bring cattle to the house, and then having slain them and cut up the flesh, they cut up also the dead body of the father of their entertainer, and mixing all the flesh together they set forth a banquet. His skull however they strip of the flesh and clean it out and then gild it over, and after that they deal with it as a sacred thing and perform for the dead man great sacrifices every year. This each son does for his father, just as the Hellenes keep the day of memorial for the dead. In other respects however this race also is said to live righteously, and their women have equal rights with the men. 26. [1] νόμοισι δὲ Ἰσσηδόνες τοῖσιδε λέγονται χρᾶσθαι. ἐπεὰν ἀνδρὶ ἀποθάνῃ πατήρ, οἱ προσήκοντες πάντες προσάγουσι πρόβατα, καὶ ἔπειτα ταῦτα θύσαντες καὶ καταταμόντες τὰ κρέα κατατάμνουσι καὶ τὸν τοῦ δεκομένου τεθνεῶτα γονέα, ἀναμίξαντες δὲ πάντα τὰ κρέα δαῖτα προτίθενται· [2] τὴν δὲ κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ψιλώσαντες καὶ ἐκκαθήραντες καταχρυσοῦσι καὶ ἔπειτα ἅτε ἀγάλματι χρέωνται, θυσίας μεγάλας ἐπετείους ἐπιτελέοντες. παῖς δὲ πατρὶ τοῦτο ποιέει, κατά περ Ἕλληνες τὰ γενέσια. ἄλλως δὲ δίκαιοι καὶ οὗτοι λέγονται εἶναι, ἰσοκρατέες δὲ ὁμοίως αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖσι ἀνδράσι.

27. These then also are known; but as to the region beyond them, it is the Issedonians who report that there are there one-eyed men and gold-guarding griffins; and the Scythians report this having received it from them, and from the Scythians we, that is the rest of mankind, have got our belief; and we call them in Scythian language Arimaspians, for the Scythians call the number one arima and the eye spu.

27. [1] γινώσκονται μὲν δὴ καὶ οὗτοι, τὸ δὲ ἀπὸ τούτων τὸ κατύπερθε Ἰσσηδόνες εἰσὶ οἱ λέγοντες μουνοφθάλμους ἀνθρώπους καὶ χρυσοφύλακας γρῦπας εἶναι· παρὰ δὲ τούτων Σκύθαι παραλαβόντες λέγουσι, παρὰ δὲ Σκυθέων ἡμεῖς οἱ ἄλλοι νενομίκαμεν καὶ ὀνομάζομεν αὐτοὺς σκυθιστὶ Ἀριμασπούς· ἄριμα γὰρ ἓν καλέουσι Σκύθαι, σποῦ δὲ ὀφθαλμόν.

28. This whole land which has been described is so exceedingly severe in climate, that for eight months of the year there is frost so hard as to be intolerable; and during these if you pour out water you will not be able to make mud, but only if you kindle a fire can you make it; and the sea is frozen and the whole of the Kimmerian Bosphorus, so that the Scythians who are settled within the trench make expeditions and drive their waggons over into the country of the Sindians. Thus it continues to be winter for eight months, and even for the remaining four it is cold in those parts. This winter is distinguished in its character from all the winters which come in other parts of the world; for in it there is no rain to speak of at the usual season for rain, whereas in summer it rains continually; and thunder does not come at the time when it comes in other countries, but is very frequent, in the summer; and if thunder comes in winter, it is marvelled at as a prodigy: just so, if an earthquake happens, whether in summer or in winter, it is accounted a prodigy in Scythia. Horses are able to endure this winter, but neither mules nor asses can endure it at all, whereas in other countries horses if they stand in frost lose their limbs by mortification, while asses and mules endure it. 28. [1] δυσχείμερος δὲ αὕτη ἡ καταλεχθεῖσα πᾶσα χώρη οὕτω δή τι ἐστί, ἔνθα τοὺς μὲν ὀκτὼ τῶν μηνῶν ἀφόρητος οἷος γίνεται κρυμός, ἐν τοῖσι ὕδωρ ἐκχέας πηλὸν οὐ ποιήσεις, πῦρ δὲ ἀνακαίων ποιήσεις πηλόν· ἡ δὲ θάλασσα πήγνυται καὶ ὁ Βόσπορος πᾶς ὁ Κιμμέριος, καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ κρυστάλλου οἱ ἐντὸς τάφρου Σκύθαι κατοικημένοι στρατεύονται καὶ τὰς ἁμάξας ἐπελαύνουσι πέρην ἐς τοὺς Σίνδους. [2] οὕτω μὲν δὴ τοὺς ὀκτὼ μῆνας διατελέει χειμὼν ἐών, τοὺς δ᾽ ἐπιλοίπους τέσσερας ψύχεα αὐτόθι ἐστί. κεχώρισται δὲ οὗτος ὁ χειμὼν τοὺς τρόπους πᾶσι τοῖσι ἐν ἄλλοισι χωρίοισι γινομένοισι χειμῶσι, ἐν τῷ τὴν μὲν ὡραίην οὐκ ὕει λόγου ἄξιον οὐδέν, τὸ δὲ θέρος ὕων οὐκ ἀνιεῖ· [3] βρονταί τε ἦμος τῇ ἄλλῃ γίνονται, τηνικαῦτα μὲν οὐ γίνονται, θέρεος δὲ ἀμφιλαφέες· ἢν δὲ χειμῶνος βροντὴ γένηται, ὡς τέρας νενόμισται θωμάζεσθαι. ὣς δὲ καὶ ἢν σεισμὸς γένηται ἤν τε θέρεος ἤν τε χειμῶνος ἐν τῇ Σκυθικῇ, τέρας νενόμισται. [4] ἵπποι δὲ ἀνεχόμενοι φέρουσι τὸν χειμῶνα τοῦτον, ἡμίονοι δὲ οὐδὲ ὄνοι οὐκ ἀνέχονται ἀρχήν· τῇ δὲ ἄλλῃ ἵπποι μὲν ἐν κρυμῷ ἑστεῶτες ἀποσφακελίζουσι, ὄνοι δὲ καὶ ἡμίονοι ἀνέχονται.

29. I think also that it is for this reason that the hornless breed of oxen in that country have no horns growing; and there is a verse of Homer in the Odyssey supporting my opinion, which runs this:--

"Also the Libyan land, where the sheep very quickly grow hornèd,"

for it is rightly said that in hot regions the horns come quickly, whereas in extreme cold the animals either have no horns growing at all, or hardly any.

29. [1] δοκέει δέ μοι καὶ τὸ γένος τῶν βοῶν τὸ κόλον διὰ ταῦτα οὐ φύειν κέρεα αὐτόθι· μαρτυρέει δέ μοι τῇ γνώμῃ καὶ Ὁμήρου ἔπος ἐν Ὀδυσσείῃ ἔχον ὧδε, 

     καὶ Λιβύην, ὅθι τ᾽ ἄρνες ἄφαρ κεραοὶ τελέθουσι,
     (Hom. Od. 4.85)

ὀρθῶς εἰρημένον, ἐν τοῖσι θερμοῖσι ταχὺ παραγίνεσθαι τὰ κέρεα, ἐν δὲ τοῖσι ἰσχυροῖσι ψύχεσι ἢ οὐ φύειν κέρεα τὰ κτήνεα ἀρχὴν ἡ φύοντα φύειν μόγις.

Next: 30