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 [50]

50. So then it is because these which have been named and many others join their waters together, that Ister becomes the greatest of rivers; since if we compare the single streams, the Nile is superior in volume of water; for into this no river or spring flows, to contribute to its volume. And the Ister flows at an equal level always both in summer and in winter for some such cause as this, as I suppose:--in winter it is of the natural size, or becomes only a little larger than its nature, seeing that this land receives very little rain in winter, but constantly has snow; whereas in summer the snow which fell in the winter, in quantity abundant, melts and runs from all parts into the Ister. This snow of which I speak, running into the river helps to swell its volume, and with it also many and violent showers of rain, for it rains during the summer: and thus the waters which mingle with the Ister are more copious in summer than they are in winter by about as much as the water which the Sun draws to himself in summer exceeds that which he draws in winter; and by the setting of these things against one another there is produced a balance; so that the river is seen to be of equal volume always.

50. [1] τούτων ὦν τῶν καταλεχθέντων καὶ ἄλλων πολλῶν συμβαλλομένων τὸ σφέτερον ὕδωρ γίνεται ὁ Ἴστρος ποταμῶν μέγιστος, ἐπεὶ ὕδωρ γε ἓν πρὸς ἓν συμβάλλειν ὁ Νεῖλος πλήθει ἀποκρατέει. ἴσος δὲ γὰρ δὴ τοῦτον οὔτε ποταμὸς οὔτε κρήνη οὐδεμία ἐσδιδοῦσα ἐς πλῆθός οἱ συμβάλλεται. [2] ἴσος δὲ αἰεὶ ῥέει ἐν τε θέρει καὶ χειμῶνι ὁ Ἴστρος κατὰ τοιόνδε τι, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκέει· τοῦ μὲν χειμῶνος ἐστὶ ὅσος περ ἐστι, ὀλίγῳ τε μέζων τῆς ἑωυτοῦ φύσιος γίνεται· ὕεται γὰρ ἡ γῆ αὕτη τοῦ χειμῶνος πάμπαν ὀλίγῳ, νιφετῷ δὲ πάντα χρᾶται· [3] τοῦ δὲ θέρεος ἡ χιὼν ἡ ἐν τῷ χειμῶνι πεσοῦσα, ἐοῦσα ἀμφιλαφής, τηκομένη πάντοθεν ἐσδιδοῖ ἐς τὸν Ἴστρον. αὕτη τε δὴ ἡ χιὼν ἐσδιδοῦσα ἐς αὐτὸν συμπληθύει καὶ ὄμβροι πολλοί τε καὶ λάβροι σὺν αὐτῇ· ὕει γὰρ δὴ τὸ θέρος. [4] ὅσω δὲ πλέον ἐπ᾽ ἑωυτὸν ὕδωρ ὁ ἥλιος ἐπέλκεται ἐν τῶ θέρει ἢ ἐν τῷ χειμῶνι, τοσούτῳ τὰ συμμισγόμενα τῷ Ἴστρῳ πολλαπλήσια ἐστὶ τοῦ θέρεος ἤ περ τοῦ χειμῶνος· ἀντιτιθέμενα δὲ ταῦτα ἀντισήκωσις γίνεται, ὥστε ἴσον μιν αἰεὶ φαίνεσθαι ἐόντα. 

51. One, I say, of the rivers which the Scythians have is the Ister; and after it the Tyras, which starts from the North and begins its course from a large lake which is the boundary between the land of the Scythians and that of the Neuroi. At its mouth are settled those Hellenes who are called Tyritai. 51. [1] εἷς μὲν δὴ τῶν ποταμῶν τοῖσι Σκύθῃσι ἐστὶ ὁ Ἴστρος, μετὰ δὲ τοῦτον Τύρης, ὃς ἀπὸ βορέω μεγάλης ἣ οὐρίζει τήν τε Σκυθικὴν καὶ Νευρίδα γῆν. ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ κατοίκηνται Ἕλληνες οἳ Τυρῖται καλέονται.

52. The third river is the Hypanis, which starts from Scythia and flows from a great lake round which feed white wild horses; and this lake is rightly called "Mother of Hypanis." From this then the river Hypanis takes its rise and for a distance of five days' sail it flows shallow and with sweet water still; but from this point on towards the sea for four days' sail it is very bitter, for there flows into it the water of a bitter spring, which is so exceedingly bitter that, small as it is, it changes the water of the Hypanis by mingling with it, though that is a river to which few are equal in greatness. This spring is on the border between the lands of the agricultural Scythians and of the Alazonians, and the name of the spring and of the place from which it flows is in Scythian Exampaios, and in the Hellenic tongue Hierai Hodoi. Now the Tyras and the Hypanis approach one another in their windings in the land of the Alazonians, but after this each turns off and widens the space between them as they flow.

52. [1] τρίτος δὲ Ὕπανις ποταμὸς ὁρμᾶται μὲν ἐκ τῆς Σκυθικῆς, ῥέει δὲ ἐκ λίμνης μεγάλης τὴν πέριξ νέμονται ἵπποι ἄγριοι λευκοί· καλέεται δὲ ἡ λίμνη αὕτη ὀρθῶς μήτηρ Ὑπάνιος. [2] ἐκ ταύτης ὦν ἀνατέλλων ὁ Ὕπανις ποταμὸς ῥέει ἐπὶ μὲν πέντε ἡμερέων πλόον βραχὺς καὶ γλυκύς ἐστι, ἀπὸ δὲ τούτου πρὸς θαλάσσης τεσσέρων ἡμερέων πλόον πικρὸς δεινῶς· [3] ἐκδιδοῖ γὰρ ἐς αὐτὸν κρήνη πικρή, οὕτω δή τι ἐοῦσα πικρή, ἣ μεγάθει σμικρὴ ἐοῦσα κιρνᾷ τὸν Ὕπανιν ἐόντα ποταμὸν ἐν ὀλίγοισι μέγαν. ἔστι δὲ ἡ κρήνη αὕτη ἐν οὔροισι χώρης τῆς τε ἀροτήρων Σκυθέων καὶ Ἀλαζόνων· οὔνομα δὲ τῇ κρήνῃ καὶ ὅθεν ῥέει τῷ χώρῳ σκυθιστὶ μὲν Ἐξαμπαῖος, κατὰ δὲ τὴν Ἑλλήνων γλῶσσαν Ἱραὶ ὁδοί. [4] συνάγουσι δὲ τὰ τέρματα ὅ τε Τύρης καὶ ὁ Ὕπανις κατὰ Ἀλαζόνας, τὸ δὲ ἀπὸ τούτου ἀποστρέψας ἑκάτερος ῥέει εὐρύνων τὸ μέσον.

53. Fourth is the river Borysthenes, which is both the largest of these after the Ister, and also in our opinion the most serviceable not only of the Scythian rivers but also of all the rivers of the world besides, excepting only the Nile of Egypt, for to this it is not possible to compare any other river: of the rest however the Borysthenes is the most serviceable, seeing that it provides both pastures which are the fairest and the richest for cattle, and fish which are better by far and more numerous than those of any other river, and also it is the sweetest water to drink, and flows with clear stream, though others beside it are turbid, and along its banks crops are produced better than elsewhere, while in parts where it is not sown, grass grows deeper. Moreover at its mouth salt forms of itself in abundance, and it produces also huge fish without spines, which they call antacaioi, to be used for salting, and many other things also worthy of wonder. Now as far as the region of the Gerrians, to which it is a voyage of forty days, the Borysthenes is known as flowing from the North Wind; but above this none can tell through what nations it flows: it is certain however that it runs through desert to the land of the agricultural Scythians; for these Scythians dwell along its banks for a distance of ten days' sail. Of this river alone and of the Nile I cannot tell where the sources are, nor, I think, can any of the Hellenes. When the Borysthenes comes near the sea in its course, the Hypanis mingles with it, running out into the same marsh; and the space between these two rivers, which is as it were a beak of land, is called the point of Hippoles, and in it is placed a temple of the Mother, and opposite the temple upon the river Hypanis are settled the Borysthenites.

53. [1] τέταρτος δὲ Βορυσθένης ποταμός, ὃς ἐστί τε μέγιστος μετὰ Ἴστρον τούτων καὶ πολυαρκέστατος κατὰ γνώμας τὰς ἡμετέρας οὔτι μοῦνον τῶν Σκυθικῶν ποταμῶν ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων, πλὴν Νείλου τοῦ Αἰγυπτίου· τούτῳ γὰρ οὐκ οἷά τε ἐστὶ συμβαλεῖν ἄλλον ποταμόν· [2] τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν Βορυσθένης ἐστὶ πολυαρκέστατος, ὃς νομάς τε καλλίστας καὶ εὐκομιδεστάτας κτήνεσι παρέχεται ἰχθύας τε ἀρίστους διακριδὸν καὶ πλείστους, πίνεσθαι τε ἥδιστος ἐστί, ῥέει τε καθαρὸς παρὰ θολεροῖσι, σπόρος τε παρ᾽ αὐτὸν ἄριστος γίνεται, ποίη τε, τῇ οὐ σπείρεται ἡ χώρη, βαθυτάτη· [3] ἅλες τε ἐπὶ τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ αὐτόματοι πήγνυνται ἄπλετοι· κήτεά τε μεγάλα ἀνάκανθα, τὰ ἀντακαίους καλέουσι, παρέχεται ἐς ταρίχευσιν, ἄλλα τε πολλὰ θωμάσαι ἄξια. [4] μέχρι μέν νυν Γερρέων χώρου, ἐς τὸν τεσσεράκοντα ἡμερέων πλόος ἐστί, γινώσκεται ῥέων ἀπὸ βορέω ἀνέμου· τὸ δὲ κατύπερθε δι᾽ ὧν ῥέει ἀνθρώπων οὐδεὶς ἔχει φράσαι· φαίνεται δὲ ῥέων δι᾽ ἐρήμου ἐς τῶν γεωργῶν Σκυθέων τὴν χώρην· οὗτοι γὰρ οἱ Σκύθαι παρ᾽ αὐτὸν ἐπὶ δέκα ἡμερέων πλόον νέμονται. [5] μούνου δὲ τούτου τοῦ ποταμοῦ καὶ Νείλου οὐκ ἔχω φράσαι τὰς πηγάς, δοκέω δέ, οὐδὲ οὐδεὶς Ἑλλήνων. ἀγχοῦ τε δὴ θαλάσσης ὁ Βορυσθένης ῥέων γίνεται καὶ οἱ συμμίσγεται ὁ Ὕπανις ἐς τὠυτὸ ἕλος ἐκδιδούς. [6] τὸ δὲ μεταξὺ τῶν ποταμῶν τούτων, ἐὸν ἔμβολον τῆς χώρης, Ἱππόλεω ἄκρη καλέεται, ἐν δὲ αὐτῷ, ἱρὸν Δήμητρος ἐνίδρυται· πέρην δὲ τοῦ ἱροῦ ἐπὶ τῷ Ὑπάνι Βορυσθενεῖ̈ται κατοίκηνται.

54. This is that which has to do with these rivers; and after these there is a fifth river besides, called Panticapes. This also flows both from the North and from a lake, and in the space between this river and the Borysthenes dwell the agricultural Scythians: it runs out into the region of Hylaia, and having passed by this it mingles with the Borysthenes. 54. [1] ταῦτα μὲν τὰ ἀπὸ τούτων τῶν ποταμῶν, μετὰ δὲ τούτους πέμπτος ποταμὸς ἄλλος, τῷ οὔνομα Παντικάπης, ῥέει μὲν καὶ οὗτος ἀπὸ βορέω τε καὶ ἐκ λίμνης, καὶ τὸ μεταξὺ τούτου τε καὶ τοῦ Βορυσθένεος νέμονται οἱ γεωργοὶ Σκύθαι, ἐκδιδοῖ δὲ ἐς τὴν Ὑβλαίην, παραμειψάμενος δὲ ταύτην τῷ Βορυσθένεϊ συμμίσγεται.

55. Sixth comes the river Hypakyris, which starts from a lake, and flowing through the midst of the nomad Scythians runs out into the sea by the city of Carkinitis, skirting on its right bank the region of Hylaia and the so-called racecourse of Achilles. 55. [1] ἕκτος δὲ Ὑπάκυρις ποταμός, ὃς ὁρμᾶται μὲν ἐκ λίμνης, διὰ μέσων δὲ τῶν νομάδων Σκυθέων ῥέων ἐκδιδοῖ κατὰ Καρκινῖτιν πόλιν, ἐς δεξιὴν ἀπέργων τήν τε Ὑλαίην καὶ τὸν Ἀχιλλήιον δρόμον καλεόμενον.

56. Seventh is the Gerros, which parts off from the Borysthenes near about that part of the country where the Borysthenes ceases to be known,--it parts off, I say, in this region and has the same name which this region itself has, namely Gerros; and as it flows to the sea it borders the country of the nomad and that of the Royal Scythians, and runs out into the Hypakyris. 56. [1] ἕβδομος δὲ Γέρρος ποταμὸς ἀπέσχισται μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ Βορυσθένεος κατὰ τοῦτο τῆς χώρης ἐς ὃ γινώσκεται ὁ Βορυσθένης· ἀπέσχισται μέν νυν ἐκ τούτου τοῦ χώρου, οὔνομα δὲ ἔχει τό περ ὁ χῶρος αὐτός, Γέρρος, ῥέων δὲ ἐς θάλασσαν οὐρίζει τήν τε τῶν νομάδων χώρην καὶ τὴν τῶν βασιληίων Σκυθέων, ἐκδιδοῖ δὲ ἐς τὸν Ὑπάκυριν.

57. The eighth is the river Tanaïs, which starts in its flow at first from a large lake, and runs out into a still larger lake called Maiotis, which is the boundary between the Royal Scythians and the Sauromatai. Into this Tanaïs falls another river, whose name is Hyrgis.

57. [1] ὄγδοος δὲ δὴ Τάναϊς ποταμός, ὃς ῥέει τἀνέκαθεν ἐκ λίμνης μεγάλης ὁρμώμενος, ἐκδιδοῖ δὲ ἐς μέζω ἔτι λίμνην καλεόμενον Μαιῆτιν, ἣ οὐρίζει Σκύθας τε τοὺς βασιληίους καὶ Σαυρομάτας. ἐς δὲ Τάναϊν τοῦτον ἄλλος ποταμὸς ἐσβάλλει τῷ οὔνομα ἐστὶ Ὕργις.

58. So many are the rivers of note with which the Scythians are provided: and for cattle the grass which comes up in the land of Scythia is the most productive of bile of any grass which we know; and that this is so you may judge when you open the bodies of the cattle.

58. [1] τοῖσι μὲν δὴ ὀνομαστοῖσι ποταμοῖσι οὕτω δή τι οἱ Σκύθαι ἐσκευάδαται, τοῖσι δὲ κτήνεσι ἡ ποίη ἀναφυομένη ἐν τῇ Σκυθικῆ ἐστι ἐπιχολωτάτη πασέων ποιέων τῶν ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν· ἀνοιγομένοισι δὲ τοῖσι κτήνεσι ἐστὶ σταθμώσασθαι ὅτι τοῦτο οὕτω ἔχει. 

59. Thus abundant supply have they of that which is most important; and as for the rest their customs are as follows. The gods whom they propitiate by worship are these only:--Hestia most of all, then Zeus and the Earth, supposing that Earth is the wife of Zeus, and after these Apollo, and Aphrodite Urania, and Heracles, and Ares. Of these all the Scythians have the worship established, and the so-called Royal Scythians sacrifice also to Poseidon. Now Hestia is called in Scythian Tabiti, and Zeus, being most rightly named in my opinion, is called Papaios, and Earth Api, and Apollo Oitosyros, and Aphrodite Urania is called Argimpasa, and Poseidon Thagimasidas. It is not their custom however to make images, altars or temples to any except Ares, but to him it is their custom to make them.

59. [1] τὰ μὲν δὴ μέγιστα οὕτω σφι εὔπορα ἐστί, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ νόμαια κατὰ τάδε σφι διακέεται. θεοὺς μὲν μούνους τούσδε ἱλάσκονται, Ἱστίην μὲν μάλιστα, ἐπὶ δὲ Δία καὶ Γῆν, νομίζοντες τὴν Γῆν τοῦ Διὸς εἶναι γυναῖκα, μετὰ δὲ τούτους, Ἀπόλλωνά τε καὶ οὐρανίην Ἀφροδίτην καὶ Ἡρακλέα καὶ Ἄρεα. τούτους μὲν πάντες Σκύθαι νενομίκασι, οἱ δὲ καλεόμενοι βασιλήιοι Σκύθαι καὶ τῷ Ποσειδέωνι θύουσι. [2] ὀνομάζεται δὲ σκυθιστὶ Ἱστίη μὲν Ταβιτί, Ζεὺς δὲ ὀρθότατα κατὰ γνώμην γε τὴν ἐμὴν καλεόμενος Παπαῖος, Γῆ δὲ Ἀπί. Ἀπόλλων δὲ Γοιτόσυρος, οὐρανίη δὲ Ἀφροδίτη Ἀργίμπασα, Ποσειδέων δὲ Θαγιμασάδας. ἀγάλματα δὲ καὶ βωμοὺς καὶ νηοὺς οὐ νομίζουσι ποιέειν πλὴν Ἄρεϊ. τούτῳ δὲ νομίζουσι.

Next: 60