Nowhere are men so ignorant as in the lands by the Euxine Pontus (excluding the Scythian nation) into which Darius led his army. For we cannot show that any nation within the region of the Pontus has any cleverness, nor do we know of (overlooking the Scythian nation and Anacharsis) any notable man born there.
But the Scythian race has made the cleverest discovery that we know in what is the most important of all human affairs; I do not praise the Scythians in all respects, but in this, the most important: that they have contrived that no one who attacks them can escape, and no one can catch them if they do not want to be found.
For when men have no established cities or forts, but are all nomads and mounted archers, not living by tilling the soil but by raising cattle and carrying their dwellings on wagons, how can they not be invincible and unapproachable?
They have made this discovery in a land that suits their purpose and has rivers that are their allies; for their country is flat and grassy and well-watered, and rivers run through it not very many fewer in number than the canals of Egypt.
As many of them as are famous and can be entered from the sea, I shall name. There is the Ister, which has five mouths, and the Tyras, and Hypanis, and Borysthenes, and Panticapes, and Hypacuris, and Gerrhus, and Tanaïs. Their courses are as I shall indicate.
The Ister, the greatest of all rivers which we know, flows with the same volume in summer and winter; it is most westerly Scythian river of all, and the greatest because other rivers are its tributaries.
Those that make it great, five flowing through the Scythian country, are these: the river called by Scythians Porata and by Greeks Pyretus, [Note] and besides this the Tiarantus, the Ararus, the Naparis, and the Ordessus.
The first-named of these rivers is a great stream flowing east and uniting its waters with the Ister; the second, the Tiarantus, is more westerly and smaller; the Ararus, Naparis, and Ordessus flow between these two and pour their waters into the Ister.
These are the native-born Scythian rivers that help to swell it; but the Maris river, which commingles with the Ister, flows from the Agathyrsi. The Atlas, Auras, and Tibisis, three other great rivers that pour into it, flow north from the heights of Haemus. [Note] The Athrys, the Noes, and the Artanes flow into the Ister from the country of the Crobyzi in Thrace; the Cius river, which cuts through the middle of Haemus, from the Paeonians and the mountain range of Rhodope.
The Angrus river flows north from Illyria into the Triballic plain and the Brongus river, and the Brongus into the Ister, which receives these two great rivers into itself. The Carpis and another river called Alpis also flow northward, from the country north of the Ombrici, to flow into it;