Hippocrates, Airs, Waters, Places (English) (XML Header) [word count] [Hipp. Aer.].
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16PART 16

XVI. So much for the difference, in nature and in shape, between the inhabitants of Asia and the inhabitants of Europe. With regard to the lack of spirit and of courage among the inhabitants, the chief reason why Asiatics are less warlike and more gentle in character than Europeans is the uniformity of the seasons, which show no violent changes either towards heat or towards cold, but are equable. For there occur no mental shocks nor violent physical change, which are more likely to steel the temper and impart to it a fierce passion than is a monotonous sameness. For it is changes of all things that rouse the temper of man and prevent its stagnation. For these reasons, I think, Asiatics are feeble. Their institutions are a contributory cause, the greater part of Asia being governed by kings. Now where men are not their own masters and independent, but are ruled by despots, they are not keen on military efficiency but on not appearing warlike. For the risks they run are not similar. Subjects are likely to be forced to undergo military service, fatigue and death, in order to benefit their masters, and to be parted from their wives, their children and their friends. All their worthy, brave deeds merely serve to aggrandize and raise up their lords, while the harvest they themselves reap is danger and death. Moreover, the land of men like these

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must be desert, owing to their enemies and to their laziness, [Note] so that even if a naturally brave and spirited man is born his temper is changed by their institutions. Whereof I can give a clear proof. All the inhabitants of Asia, whether Greek or non-Greek, who are not ruled by despots, but are independent, toiling for their own advantage, are the most warlike of all men. For it is for their own sakes that they run their risks, and in their own persons do they receive the prizes of their valour as likewise the penalty of their cowardice. You will find that Asiatics also differ from one another, some being superior, others inferior. The reason for this, as I have said above, is the changes of the seasons.

17PART 17

XVII. Such is the condition of the inhabitants of Asia. And in Europe is a Scythian race, dwelling round Lake Maeotis, which differs from the other races. Their name is Sauromatae. Their women, so long as they are virgins, ride, shoot, throw the javelin while mounted, and fight with their enemies. They do not lay aside their virginity until they have killed three of their enemies, and they do not marry before they have performed the traditional sacred rites. A woman who takes to herself a husband no longer rides, unless she is compelled to do so by a general expedition. They have no right breast ; for while they are yet babies their mothers make

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red-hot a bronze instrument constructed for this very purpose and apply it to the right breast and cauterise it, so that its growth is arrested, and all its strength and bulk are diverted to the right shoulder and right arm.

18PART 18

XVIII. As to the physique of the other Scythians, in that they are like one another and not at all like others, the same remark applies to them as to the Egyptians, only the latter are distressed by the heat, the former by the cold. [Note] What is called the Scythian desert is level grassland, without trees, [Note] and fairly well-watered. For there are large rivers which drain the water from the plains. There too live the Scythians who are called Nomads because they have no houses but live in wagons. The smallest have four wheels, others six wheels. They are covered over with felt and are constructed, like houses, sometimes in two compartments and sometimes in three, which are proof against rain, snow and wind. The wagons are drawn by two or by three yoke of hornless oxen. They have no horns because of the cold. Now in these wagons live the women, while the men ride alone on horseback, followed by the sheep they have, their cattle and their horses. They remain in the same place just as long as there is sufficient fodder for their animals ; when it gives out they migrate. They themselves eat boiled

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meats and drink mares' milk. They have a sweetmeat called hippace, which is a cheese from the milk of mares (hippoi).

19PART 19

XIX. So much for their mode of living and their customs. As to their seasons and their physique, the Scythians are very different from all other men, and, like the Egyptians, are homogeneous ; they are the reverse of prolific, and Scythia breeds the smallest and the fewest wild animals. For it lies right close to the north and the Rhipaean mountains, from which blows the north wind. The sun comes nearest to them only at the end of its course, when it reaches the summer solstice, and then it warms them but slightly and for a short time. The winds blowing from hot regions do not reach them, save rarely, and with little force ; but from the north there are constantly blowing winds that are chilled by snow, ice, and many waters, [Note] which, never leaving the mountains, render them uninhabitable. A thick fog envelops by day the plains upon which they live, so that winter is perennial, while summer, which is but feeble, lasts only a few days. For the plains are high and bare, and are not encircled with mountains, though they slope from the north. The wild animals too that are found there are not large, but such as can find shelter under ground. They are stunted owing to the severe climate and the bareness of the land, where there is neither warmth [Note] nor shelter. And the changes of the seasons are

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neither great nor violent, the seasons being uniform and altering but little. Wherefore the men also are like one another in physique, since summer and winter they always use similar food and the same clothing, breathing a moist, thick atmosphere, drinking water from ice and snow, and abstaining from fatigue. For neither bodily nor mental endurance is possible where the changes are not violent. For these causes their physiques are gross, fleshy, showing no joints, moist and flabby, and the lower bowels are as moist as bowels can be. For the belly cannot possibly dry up in a land like this, with such a nature and such a climate, but because of their fat and the smoothness of their flesh their physiques are similar, men's to men's and women's to women's. For as the seasons are alike there takes place no corruption or deterioration in the coagulation of the seed, [Note] except through the blow of some violent cause or of some disease.



Hippocrates, Airs, Waters, Places (English) (XML Header) [word count] [Hipp. Aer.].
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