Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.3.8 Str. 7.3.10 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.3.14

7.3.9

Ephorus, in the fourth book of his History, which is entitled Of Europe, having gone over Europe as far as the Scythians, concludes by saying that there is great difference in the manner of life both of the Sauromatæ and the other Scythians, for while some of them are exceedingly morose, and are indeed cannibals, others abstain even from the flesh of animals. Other historians, he observes, descant upon their ferocity, knowing that the terrible and the wonderful always excite attention; but they ought also to relate the better features of these people, and point to them as a pattern; for his part, he declares he will speak of those who excel in the justness of their actions, as there are some of the nomade Scythians who subsist on mares' milk, and excel all

-- 465 --

men in their justice, these are mentioned by the poets: as Homer, where he says that Jupiter beheld the land Of the Galactophagi and Abii, justest of mankind; [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5.
and Hesiod, in his poem entitled Travels round the World, who says that Phineus was taken by the Harpies To the land of the Galactophagi, who have their dwellings in waggons.
Ephorus then proceeds to state the causes of their justice, because they are frugal in their mode of life, not hoarders of wealth, and just towards each other; they possess everything in common, both their women, their children, and the whole of their kin; thus when they come into collision with other nations, they are irresistible and unconquered, having no cause for which they need endure slavery. He then cites Chœrilus, who in his Passage of the Bridge of Boats, which Darius [Note] had made, says, And the sheep-feeding Sacæ, a people of Scythian race, but they inhabited Wheat-producing Asia: truly they were a colony of the nomades, A righteous race. And again Ephorus declares of Anacharsis, whom he designates as The Wise, that he was sprung from that race; and that he was reckoned as one of the Seven Sages, on account of his pre-eminent moderation and knowledge. He asserts too that he was the inventor of the bellows, the double- fluked anchor, and the potter's wheel. [Note] I merely state this, although I know very well that Ephorus is not at all times to be relied on, especially when speaking of Anacharsis; (for how can the wheel be his invention, with which Homer, who is anterior to him, was acquainted; [who says], as when, before his wheel
Seated, the potter twirls it with both hands," &c.; [Note])
Iliad xviii. 600.

-- 466 --

for I wish to show by these references, that there was a ge- neral impression among both the ancients and moderns with regard to the nomades, that some were very far removed from the rest of mankind, that they subsisted on milk, and were very frugal, [Note] and the most just of men, and that all this was not the mere invention of Homer. 7.3.10

It is but just too that Apollodorus should give some explanation respecting the Mysians mentioned in the Epic poems of Homer, whether he takes them to be but people of his feigning, when the poet says, Of the close-fighting Mysians and the illustrious Hippemolgi, [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5.
or would he regard them as the Mysians of Asia? Now if he should declare that he considers them to be those of Asia, he will misinterpret the poet, as has been before observed; but if he should say they were but an invention, as there were no Mysians in Thrace, he will be guilty of a palpable misstatement, for even in our own times ælius Catus has removed from the opposite side of the Danube into Thrace fifty thousand Getæ, who speak a language cognate with the Thracian. They still inhabit the very spot, and pass by the name of Mœsi. Whether those of former times were so designated, and had their name slightly varied in Asia, or, as is more suitable to history and the poet's expression, those in Thrace were at the first called Mysians, [Note] is not certain. But enough of this; we must now return to our geography. 7.3.11

Let us pass over the early history of the Getæ, and occupy ourselves with their actual condition. Bœrebistas, one of the Getæ, having taken the command of his tribe, reanimated the men who were disheartened by frequent wars, and raised them to such a degree of training, sobriety, and a habit of obedience to orders, that he established a powerful dominion within a few years, and brought most of the neighbouring states into subjection to the Getæ. He at length became formidable even to the Romans, fearlessly crossing the Danube, and laying waste Thrace as far as Macedonia and Illyria; he also subdued the Kelts who live among the Thracians and Illyrians, and thoroughly annihilated the Boii who were subject to Critasirus and the Taurisci. In order to

-- 467 --

maintain the obedience of his subjects, he availed himself of the assistance of Decseneus a sorcerer, [Note] who had travelled in Egypt, and who, by predictions he had learnt to draw from certain natural signs, was enabled to assume the character of an oracle, and was almost held in the veneration of a god, as we have related when noticing Zamolxis. [Note] As an instance of their implicit obedience, we may relate that they were persuaded to root up their vines and live without wine. However, Bœrebistas was murdered in a sedition before the Romans sent an army against him. Those who succeeded to his government divided it into several states. Lately, when Augustus Cæsar sent an army against them, they were divided into five states, at another time they were four, for such divisions are but temporary in duration, and variable in their extent.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.3.8 Str. 7.3.10 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.3.14

Powered by PhiloLogic