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Author
Herodotus

Translated into English by G. C. MACAULAY, M.A. Credits
Gutenberg Project

VOLUME ONE

Book I
Page 01
   Page 02   Page 03   Page 04   Page 05   Page 06   Page 07   Page 08   Page 09

Book II
Page 10
   Page 11   Page 12   Page 13   Page 14   Page 15

Book III
Book 16
   Page 17   Page 18   Page 19   Page 20

Book IV
Page 21
   Page 22   Page 23   Page 24   Page 25   Page 26


VOLUME TWO

Book V
Page 27
   Page 28   Page 29   Page 30

Book VI
Page 31
   Page 32   Page 33   Page 34

Book VII
Page 35
   Page 36   Page 37   Page 38   Page 39   Page 40   Page 41

Book VIII
Page 42
   Page 43   Page 44   Page 45

Book IX
Page 46
   Page 47   Page 48   Page 49
 

 

The History of Herodotus: Page 23

Volume One - Book IV

62. To the others of the gods they sacrifice thus and these kinds of beasts, but to Ares as follows:--In each district of the several governments[61] they have a temple of Ares set up in this way:-- bundles of brushwood are heaped up for about three furlongs[62] in length and in breadth, but less in height; and on the top of this there is a level square made, and three of the sides rise sheer but by the remaining one side the pile may be ascended. Every year they pile on a hundred and fifty waggon-loads of brushwood, for it is constantly settling down by reason of the weather.[63] Upon this pile of which I speak each people has an ancient iron sword[64] set up, and this is the sacred symbol[65] of Ares. To this sword they bring yearly offerings of cattle and of horses; and they have the following sacrifice in addition, beyond what they make to the other gods, that is to say, of all the enemies whom they take captive in war they sacrifice one man in every hundred, not in the same manner as they sacrifice cattle, but in a different manner: for they first pour wine over their heads, and after that they cut the throats of the men, so that the blood runs into a bowl; and then they carry this up to the top of the pile of brushwood and pour the blood over the sword. This, I say, they carry up; and meanwhile below by the side of the temple they are doing thus:--they cut off all the right arms of the slaughtered men with the hands and throw them up into the air, and then when they have finished offering the other victims, they go away; and the arm lies wheresoever it has chanced to fall, and the corpse apart from it.

63. Such are the sacrifices which are established among them; but of swine these make no use, nor indeed are they wont to keep them at all in their land.

64. That which relates to war is thus ordered with them:--When a Scythian has slain his first man, he drinks some of his blood: and of all those whom he slays in the battle he bears the heads to the king; for if he has brought a head he shares in the spoil which they have taken, but otherwise not. And he takes off the skin of the head by cutting it round about the ears and then taking hold of the scalp and shaking it off; afterwards he scrapes off the flesh with the rib of an ox, and works the skin about with his hands; and when he has thus tempered it, he keeps it as a napkin to wipe the hands upon, and hangs it from the bridle of the horse on which he himself rides, and takes pride in it; for whosoever has the greatest number of skins to wipe the hands upon, he is judged to be the bravest man. Many also make cloaks to wear of the skins stripped off, sewing them together like shepherds' cloaks of skins;[66] and many take the skin together with the finger-nails off the right hands of their enemies when they are dead, and make them into covers for their quivers: now human skin it seems is both thick and glossy in appearance, more brilliantly white than any other skin. Many also take the skins off the whole bodies of men and stretch them on pieces of wood and carry them about on their horses.

65. Such are their established customs about these things; and to the skulls themselves, not of all but of their greatest enemies, they do thus:--the man saws off all below the eyebrows and clears out the inside; and if he is a poor man he only stretches ox-hide round it and then makes use of it; but if he be rich, besides stretching the ox-hide he gilds it over within, and makes use of it as a drinking- cup. They do this also if any of their own family have been at variance with them and the man gets the better of his adversary in trial before the king; and when strangers come to him whom he highly esteems, he sets these skulls before them, and adds the comment that they being of his own family had made war against him, and that he had got the better of them; and this they hold to be a proof of manly virtue.

66. Once every year each ruler of a district mixes in his own district a bowl of wine, from which those of the Scythians drink by whom enemies have been slain; but those by whom this has not been done do not taste of the wine, but sit apart dishonoured; and this is the greatest of all disgraces among them: but those of them who have slain a very great number of men, drink with two cups together at the same time.

67. Diviners there are many among the Scythians, and they divine with a number of willow rods in the following manner:--they bring large bundles of rods, and having laid them on the ground they unroll them, and setting each rod by itself apart they prophesy; and while speaking thus, they roll the rods together again, and after that they place them in order a second time one by one.[67] This manner of divination they have from their fathers: but the EnareŽs or "man-women"[68] say that Aphrodite gave them the gift of divination, and they divine accordingly with the bark of the linden-tree. Having divided the linden-bark into three strips, the man twists them together in his fingers and untwists them again, and as he does this he utters the oracle.

68. When the king of the Scythians is sick, he sends for three of the diviners, namely those who are most in repute, who divine in the manner which has been said: and these say for the most part something like this, namely that so and so has sworn falsely by the hearth of the king, and they name one of the citizens, whosoever it may happen to be: now it is the prevailing custom of the Scythians to swear by the hearth of the king at the times when they desire to swear the most solemn oath. He then who they say has sworn falsely, is brought forthwith held fast on both sides; and when he has come the diviners charge him with this, that he is shown by their divination to have sworn falsely by the hearth of the king, and that for this reason the king is suffering pain: and he denies and says that he did not swear falsely, and complains indignantly: and when he denies it, the king sends for other diviners twice as many in number, and if these also by looking into their divination pronounce him guilty of having sworn falsely, at once they cut off the man's head, and the diviners who came first part his goods among them by lot; but if the diviners who came in afterwards acquit him, other diviners come in, and again others after them. If then the greater number acquit the man, the sentence is that the first diviners shall themselves be put to death.

69. They put them to death accordingly in the following manner:--first they fill a waggon with brushwood and yoke oxen to it; then having bound the feet of the diviners and tied their hands behind them and stopped their mouths with gags, they fasten them down in the middle of the brushwood, and having set fire to it they scare the oxen and let them go: and often the oxen are burnt to death together with the diviners, and often they escape after being scorched, when the pole to which they are fastened has been burnt: and they burn the diviners in the manner described for other causes also, calling them false prophets. Now when the king puts any to death, he does not leave alive their sons either, but he puts to death all the males, not doing any hurt to the females.

70. In the following manner the Scythians make oaths to whomsoever they make them:--they pour wine into a great earthenware cup and mingle with it blood of those who are taking the oath to one another, either making a prick with an awl or cutting with a dagger a little way into their body, and then they dip into the cup a sword[64] and arrows and a battle-axe and a javelin; and having done this, they invoke many curses on the breaker of the oath, and afterwards they drink it off, both they who are making the oath and the most honourable of their company.

71. The burial-place of the kings is in the land of the Gerrians, the place up to which the Borysthenes is navigable. In this place, when their king has died, they make a large square excavation in the earth; and when they have made this ready, they take up the corpse (the body being covered over with wax and the belly ripped up and cleansed, and then sewn together again, after it has been filled with /kyperos/[69] cut up and spices and parsley-seed and anise), and they convey it in a waggon to another nation. Then those who receive the corpse thus conveyed to them do the same as the Royal Scythians, that is they cut off a part of their ear and shave their hair round about and cut themselves all over the arms and tear their forehead and nose and pass arrows through their left hand. Thence they convey in the waggon the corpse of the king to another of the nations over whom they rule; and they to whom they came before accompany them: and when they have gone round to all conveying the corpse, then they are in the land of the Gerrians, who have their settlements furthest away of all the nations over whom they rule, and they have reached the spot where the burial place is. After that, having placed the corpse in the tomb upon a bed of leaves, they stick spears along on this side and that of the corpse and stretch pieces of wood over them, and then they cover the place in with matting. Then they strangle and bury in the remaining space of the tomb one of the king's mistresses, his cup-bearer, his cook, his horse-keeper, his attendant, and his bearer of messages, and also horses, and a first portion of all things else, and cups of gold; for silver they do not use at all, nor yet bronze.[70] Having thus done they all join together to pile up a great mound, vying with one another and zealously endeavouring to make it as large as possible.

72. Afterwards, when the year comes round again, they do as follows:-- they take the most capable of the remaining servants,--and these are native Scythians, for those serve him whom the king himself commands to do so, and his servants are not bought for money,--of these attendants then they strangle fifty and also fifty of the finest horses; and when they have taken out their bowels and cleansed the belly, they fill it with chaff and sew it together again. Then they set the half of a wheel upon two stakes with the hollow side upwards, and the other half of the wheel upon other two stakes, and in this manner they fix a number of these; and after this they run thick stakes through the length of the horses as far as the necks, and they mount them upon the wheels; and the front pieces of wheel support the shoulders of the horses, while those behind bear up their bellies, going by the side of the thighs; and both front and hind legs hang in the air. On the horses they put bridles and bits, and stretch the bridles tight in front of them and then tie them up to pegs: and of the fifty young men who have been strangled they mount each one upon his horse, having first[71] run a straight stake through each body along by the spine up to the neck; and a part of this stake projects below, which they fasten into a socket made in the other stake that runs through the horse. Having set horsemen such as I have described in a circle round the tomb, they then ride away.

73. Thus they bury their kings; but as for the other Scythians, when they die their nearest relations carry them round laid in waggons to their friends in succession; and of them each one when he receives the body entertains those who accompany it, and before the corpse they serve up of all things about the same quantity as before the others. Thus private persons are carried about for forty days, and then they are buried: and after burying them the Scythians cleanse themselves in the following way:--they soap their heads and wash them well, and then, for their body, they set up three stakes leaning towards one another and about them they stretch woollen felt coverings, and when they have closed them as much as possible they throw stones heated red-hot into a basin placed in the middle of the stakes and the felt coverings.

74. Now they have hemp growing in their land, which is very like flax except in thickness and in height, for in these respects the hemp is much superior. This grows both of itself and with cultivation; and of it the Thracians even make garments, which are very like those made of flaxen thread, so that he who was not specially conversant with it would not be able to decide whether the garments were of flax or of hemp; and he who had not before seen stuff woven of hemp would suppose that the garment was made of flax.

75. The Scythians then take the seed of this hemp and creep under the felt coverings, and then they throw the seed upon the stones which have been heated red-hot: and it burns like incense and produces a vapour so think that no vapour-bath in Hellas would surpass it: and the Scythians being delighted with the vapour-bath howl like wolves.[72] This is to them instead of washing, for in fact they do not wash their bodies at all in water. Their women however pound with a rough stone the wood of the cypress and cedar and frankincense tree, pouring in water with it, and then with this pounded stuff, which is thick, they plaster over all their body and also their face; and not only does a sweet smell attach to them by reason of this, but also when they take off the plaster on the next day, their skin is clean and shining.

76. This nation also[73] is very averse to adopting strange customs, rejecting even those of other tribes among themselves,[74] but especially those of the Hellenes, as the history of Anacharsis and also afterwards of Skyles proved.[75] For as to Anacharsis first, when he was returning to the abodes of the Scythians, after having visited many lands[76] and displayed in them much wisdom, as he sailed through the Hellespont he put in to Kyzicos: and since he found the people of Kyzicos celebrating a festival very magnificently in honour of the Mother of the gods, Anacharsis vowed to the Mother that if he should return safe and sound to his own land, he would both sacrifice to her with the same rites as he saw the men of Kyzicos do, and also hold a night festival. So when he came to Scythia he went down into the region called Hylaia (this is along by the side of the racecourse of Achilles and is quite full, as it happens, of trees of all kinds),-- into this, I say, Anacharsis went down, and proceeded to perform all the ceremonies of the festival in honour of the goddess, with a kettle-drum and with images hung about himself. And one of the Scythians perceived him doing this and declared it to Saulios the king; and the king came himself also, and when he saw Anacharsis doing this, he shot him with an arrow and killed him. Accordingly at the present time if one asks about Anacharsis, the Scythians say that they do not know him, and for this reason, because he went out of his own country to Hellas and adopted foreign customs. And as I heard from Tymnes the steward[77] of Ariapeithes, he was the uncle on the father's side of Idanthyrsos king of the Scythians, and the son of Gnuros, the son of Lycos, the son of Spargapeithes. If then Anacharsis was of this house, let him know that he died by the hand of his brother, for Idanthyrsos was the son of Saulios, and Saulios was he who killed Anacharsis.

77. However I have heard also another story, told by the Peloponnesians, that Anacharsis was sent out by the king of the Scythians, and so made himself a disciple of Hellas; and that when he returned back he said to him that had sent him forth, that the Hellenes were all busied about every kind of cleverness except the Lacedemonians; but these alone knew how to exchange speech sensibly. This story however has been invented[78] without any ground by the Hellenes themselves; and however that may be, the man was slain in the way that was related above.

78. This man then fared thus badly by reason of foreign customs and communication with Hellenes; and very many years afterwards Skyles the son of Ariapeithes suffered nearly the same fate as he. For Ariapeithes the king of the Scythians with other sons had Skyles born to him: and he was born of a woman who was of Istria, and certainly not a native of Scythia; and this mother taught him the language and letters of Hellas. Afterwards in course of time Ariapeithes was brought to his end by treachery at the hands of Spargapeithes the king of the Agathyrsians, and Skyles succeeded to the kingdom; and he took not only that but also the wife of his father, whose name was Opoia: this Opoia was a native Scythian and from her was born Oricos to Ariapeithes. Now when Skyles was king of the Scythians, he was by no means satisfied with the Scythian manner of life, but was much more inclined towards Hellenic ways because of the training with which he had been brought up, and he used to do somewhat as follows:--When he came with the Scythians in arms to the city of the Borysthenites (now these Borysthenites say that they are of Miletos),--when Skyles came to these, he would leave his band in the suburbs of the city and go himself within the walls and close the gates. After that he would lay aside his Scythian equipments and take Hellenic garments, and wearing them he would go about in the market-place with no guards or any other man accompanying him (and they watched the gates meanwhile, that none of the Scythians might see him wearing this dress): and while in other respects too he adopted Hellenic manners of life, he used also to perform worship to the gods according to the customs of the Hellenes. Then having stayed a month or more than that, he would put on the Scythian dress and depart. This he did many times, and he both built for himself a house in Borysthenes and also took to it a woman of the place as his wife.

79. Since however it was fated that evil should happen to him, it happened by an occasion of this kind:--he formed a desire to be initiated in the rites of Bacchus-Dionysos, and as he was just about to receive[79] the initiation, there happened a very great portent. He had in the city of the Borysthenites a house of great size and built with large expense, of which also I made mention a little before this, and round it were placed sphinxes and griffins of white stone: on this house Zeus[79a] caused a bolt to fall; and the house was altogether burnt down, but Skyles none the less for this completed his initiation. Now the Scythians make the rites of Bacchus a reproach against the Hellenes, for they say that it is not fitting to invent a god like this, who impels men to frenzy. So when Skyles had been initiated into the rites of Bacchus, one of the Borysthenites went off[80] to the Scythians and said: "Whereas ye laugh at us, O Scythians, because we perform the rite of Bacchus and because the god seizes us, now this divinity has seized also your king; and he is both joining in the rite of Bacchus and maddened by the influence of the god. And if ye disbelieve me, follow and I will show you." The chief men of the Scythians followed him, and the Borysthenite led them secretly into the town and set them upon a tower. So when Skyles passed by with the company of revellers, and the Scythians saw him joining in the rite of Bacchus, they were exceedingly grieved at it, and they went out and declared to the whole band that which they had seen.

80. After this when Skyles was riding out again to his own abode, the Scythians took his brother Octamasades for their leader, who was a son of the daughter of Teres, and made insurrection against Skyles. He then when he perceived that which was being done to his hurt and for what reason it was being done, fled for refuge to Thrace; and Octamasades being informed of this, proceeded to march upon Thrace. So when he had arrived at the river Ister, the Thracians met him; and as they were about to engage battle, Sitalkes sent a messenger to Octamasades and said: "Why must we make trial of one another in fight? Thou art my sister's son and thou hast in thy power my brother. Do thou give him back to me, and I will deliver to thee thy brother Skyles: and let us not either of us set our armies in peril, either thou or I." Thus Sitalkes proposed to him by a herald; for there was with Octamasades a brother of Sitalkes, who had gone into exile for fear of him. And Octamasades agreed to this, and by giving up his own mother's brother to Sitalkes he received his brother Skyles in exchange: and Sitalkes when he received his brother led him away as a prisoner, but Octamasades cut off the head of Skyles there upon the spot. Thus do the Scythians carefully guard their own customary observances, and such are the penalties which they inflict upon those who acquire foreign customs besides their own.

81. How many the Scythians are I was not able to ascertain precisely, but I heard various reports of the number: for reports say both that they are very many in number and also that they are few, at least as regards the true Scythians.[81] Thus far however they gave me evidence of my own eyesight:--there is between the river Borysthenes and the Hypanis a place called Exampaios, of which also I made mention somewhat before this, saying that there was in it a spring of bitter water, from which the water flows and makes the river Hypanis unfit to drink. In this place there is set a bronze bowl, in size at least six times as large as the mixing-bowl at the entrance of the Pontus, which Pausanias the son of Cleombrotos dedicated: and for him who has never seen that, I will make the matter clear by saying that the bowl in Scythia holds easily six hundred amphors,[82] and the thickness of this Scythian bowl is six fingers. This then the natives of the place told me had been made of arrow-heads: for their king, they said, whose name was Ariantas, wishing to know how many the Scythians were, ordered all the Scythians to bring one arrow-head, each from his own arrow, and whosoever should not bring one, he threatened with death. So a great multitude of arrow-heads was brought, and he resolved to make of them a memorial and to leave it behind him: from these then, they said, he made this bronze bowl and dedicated it in this place Exampaios.

82. This is what I heard about the number of the Scythians. Now this land has no marvellous things except that it has rivers which are by far larger and more numerous than those of any other land. One thing however shall be mentioned which it has to show, and which is worthy of wonder even besides the rivers and the greatness of the plain, that is to say, they point out a footprint of Heracles in the rock by the bank of the river Tyras, which in shape is like the mark of a man's foot but in size is two cubits long. This then is such as I have said; and I will go back now to the history which I was about to tell at first.

*****

83. While Dareios was preparing to go against the Scythians and was sending messengers to appoint to some the furnishing of a land-army, to others that of ships, and to others the bridging over of the Thracian Bosphorus, Artabanos, the son of Hystaspes and brother of Dareios, urged him by no means to make the march against the Scythians, telling him how difficult the Scythians were to deal with. Since however he did not persuade him, though he gave him good counsel, he ceased to urge; and Dareios, when all his preparations had been made, began to march his army forth from Susa.

84. Then one of the Persians, Oiobazos, made request to Dareios that as he had three sons and all were serving in the expedition, one might be left behind for him: and Dareios said that as he was a friend and made a reasonable request, he would leave behind all the sons. So Oiobazos was greatly rejoiced, supposing that his sons had been freed from service, but Dareios commanded those who had the charge of such things to put to death all the sons of Oiobazos.

85. These then were left, having been slain upon the spot where they were: and Dareios meanwhile set forth from Susa and arrived at the place on the Bosphorus where the bridge of ships had been made, in the territory of Chalcedon; and there he embarked in a ship and sailed to the so-called Kyanean rocks, which the Hellenes say formerly moved backwards and forwards; and taking his seat at the temple[83] he gazed upon the Pontus, which is a sight well worth seeing. Of all seas indeed it is the most marvellous in its nature. The length of it is eleven thousand one hundred furlongs,[84] and the breadth, where it is broadest, three thousand three hundred: and of this great Sea the mouth is but four furlongs broad, and the length of the mouth, that is of the neck of water which is called Bosphorus, where, as I said, the bridge of ships had been made, is not less than a hundred and twenty furlongs. This Bosphorus extends to the Propontis; and the Propontis, being in breadth five hundred furlongs and in length one thousand four hundred, has its outlet into the Hellespont, which is but seven furlongs broad at the narrowest place, though it is four hundred furlongs in length: and the Hellespont runs out into that expanse of sea which is called the Egean.

86. These measurements I have made as follows:--a ship completes on an average in a long day a distance of seventy thousand fathoms, and in a night sixty thousand. Now we know that to the river Phasis from the mouth of the Sea (for it is here that the Pontus is longest) is a voyage of nine days and eight nights, which amounts to one hundred and eleven myriads[85] of fathoms; and these fathoms are eleven thousand one hundred furlongs. Then from the land of the Sindians to Themiskyra on the river Thermodon (for here is the broadest part of the Pontus) it is a voyage of three days and two nights, which amounts to thirty-three myriads[86] of fathoms or three thousand three hundred furlongs. This Pontus then and also the Bosphorus and the Hellespont have been measured by me thus, and their nature is such as has been said: and this Pontus also has a lake which has its outlet into it, which lake is not much less in size than the Pontus itself, and it is called Maiotis and "Mother of the Pontus."

87. Dareios then having gazed upon the Pontus sailed back to the bridge, of which Mandrocles a Samian had been chief constructor; and having gazed upon the Bosphorus also, he set up two pillars[86a] by it of white stone with characters cut upon them, on the one Assyrian and on the other Hellenic, being the names of all the nations which he was leading with him: and he was leading with him all over whom he was ruler. The whole number of them without the naval force was reckoned to be seventy myriads[87] including cavalry, and ships had been gathered together to the number of six hundred. These pillars the Byzantians conveyed to their city after the events of which I speak, and used them for the altar of Artemis Orthosia, excepting one stone, which was left standing by the side of the temple of Dionysos in Byzantion, covered over with Assyrian characters. Now the place on the Bosphorus where Dareios made his bridge is, as I conclude,[87a] midway between Byzantion and the temple at the mouth of the Pontus.

88. After this Dareios being pleased with the floating bridge rewarded the chief constructor of it, Mandrocles the Samian, with gifts tenfold;[88] and as an offering from these Mandrocles had a painting made of figures to present the whole scene of the bridge over the Bosphorus and king Dareios sitting in a prominent seat and his army crossing over; this he caused to be painted and dedicated it as an offering in the temple of Hera, with the following inscription: "Bosphorus having bridged over, the straits fish-abounding, to Hera MandrocleŽs dedicates this, of his work to record; A crown on himself he set, and he brought to the Samians glory, And for Dareios performed everything after his mind."

89. This memorial was made of him who constructed the bridge: and Dareios, after he had rewarded Mandrocles with gifts, passed over into Europe, having first commanded the Ionians to sail into the Pontus as far as the river Ister, and when they arrived at the Ister, there to wait for him, making a bridge meanwhile over the river; for the chief of his naval force were the Ionians, the Aiolians and the Hellespontians. So the fleet sailed through between the Kyanean rocks and made straight for the Ister; and then they sailed up the river a two days' voyage from the sea and proceeded to make a bridge across the neck, as it were, of the river, where the mouths of the Ister part off. Dareios meanwhile, having crossed the Bosphorus on the floating bridge, was advancing through Thrace, and when he came to the sources of the river Tearos he encamped for three days.

90. Now the Tearos is said by those who dwell near it to be the best of all rivers, both in other respects which tend to healing and especially for curing diseases of the skin[89] both in men and in horses: and its springs are thirty-eight in number, flowing all from the same rock, of which some are cold and others warm. The way to them is of equal length from the city of Heraion near Perinthos and from Apollonia upon the Euxine Sea, that is to say two days' journey by each road. This Tearos runs into the river Contadesdos and the Contadesdos into the Agrianes and the Agrianes into the Hebros, which flows into the sea by the city of Ainos.

91. Dareios then, having come to this river and having encamped there, was pleased with the river and set up a pillar there also, with an inscription as follows: "The head-springs of the river Tearos give the best and fairest water of all rivers; and to them came leading an army against the Scythians the best and fairest of all men, Dareios the son of Hystaspes, of the Persians and of all the Continent king." These were the words which were there written.

92. Dareios then set out from thence and came to another river whose name is Artescos, which flows through the land of the Odrysians. Having come to this river he did as follows:--he appointed a place for his army and bade every man as he passed out by it place one stone in this appointed place: and when the army had performed this, then he marched away his army leaving behind great mounds of these stones.

93. But before he came to the Ister he conquered first the Getai, who believe in immortality: for the Thracians who occupy Salmydessos and are settled above the cities of Apollonian and Mesambria, called the Kyrmianai[90] and the Nipsaioi, delivered themselves over to Dareios without fighting; but the Getai, who are the bravest and the most upright in their dealings of all the Thracians, having betaken themselves to obstinacy were forthwith subdued.

94. And their belief in immortality is of this kind, that is to say, they hold that they do not die, but that he who is killed goes to Salmoxis,[91] a divinity,[92] whom some of them call Gebeleizis; and at intervals of four years[93] they send one of themselves, whomsoever the lot may select, as a messenger to Salmoxis, charging him with such requests as they have to make on each occasion; and they send him thus:--certain of them who are appointed for this have three javelins, and others meanwhile take hold on both sides of him who is being sent to Salmoxis, both by his hands and his feet, and first they swing him up, then throw him into the air so as to fall upon the spear-points: and if when he is pierced through he is killed, they think that the god is favourable to them; but if he is not killed, they find fault with the messenger himself, calling him a worthless man, and then having found fault with him they send another: and they give him the charge beforehand, while he is yet alive. These same Thracians also shoot arrows up towards the sky when thunder and lightning come, and use threats to the god, not believing that there exists any other god except their own.

95. This Salmoxis I hear from the Hellenes who dwell about the Hellespont and the Pontus, was a man, and he became a slave in Samos, and was in fact a slave of Pythagoras the son of Mnesarchos. Then having become free he gained great wealth, and afterwards returned to his own land: and as the Thracians both live hardly and are rather simple-minded, this Salmoxis, being acquainted with the Ionian way of living and with manners more cultivated[94] than the Thracians were used to see, since he had associated with Hellenes (and not only that but with Pythagoras, not the least able philosopher[95] of the Hellenes), prepared a banqueting-hall,[96] where he received and feasted the chief men of the tribe and instructed them meanwhile that neither he himself nor his guests nor their descendants in succession after them would die; but that they would come to a place where they would live for ever and have all things good. While he was doing that which has been mentioned and was saying these things, he was making for himself meanwhile a chamber under the ground; and when his chamber was finished, he disappeared from among the Thracians and went down into the underground chamber, where he continued to live for three years: and they grieved for his loss and mourned for him as dead. Then in the fourth year he appeared to the Thracians, and in this way the things which Salmoxis said became credible to them.

96. Thus they say that he did; but as to this matter and the chamber under ground, I neither disbelieve it nor do I very strongly believe, but I think that this Salmoxis lived many years before Pythagoras. However, whether there ever lived a man Salmoxis, or whether he is simply a native deity of the Getai, let us bid farewell to him now.


 

 

 

 



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