Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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The Greeks indeed considered the Getæ to be Thracians. They occupied either bank of the Danube, as also did the Mysians, likewise a Thracian people, now called the Moesi, from whom are descended the Mysians, settled between the Lydians, the Phrygians, and the inhabitants of the Troad. Even the Phrygians themselves are the same as the Briges, a people of Thrace, as also are the Mygdones, the Bebryces, the Mædobithyni, the Bithyni, the Thyni, and, as I consider, also are the Mariandyni. All these people quitted Europe entirely, the Mysians alone remaining. Posidonius appears to me to have rightly conjectured that it is the Mysians of Europe (or as I should say of Thrace) that Homer designates when he says, and his glorious eyes
Averting, on the land look'd down remote
Of the horse-breeding Thracians, of the bold
Close-fighting Mysian race. . . . [Note]
Iliad xiii. 3.
For if any one should understand them as the Mysians of Asia, the expression of the poet would not be fitting. For this would be, that having turned his eyes from the Trojans towards the land of the Thracians, he beheld at the same time the land of the Mysians, situated not far off from where he was, but conterminous with the Troad, rather behind it and on either side, but separated from Thrace by the breadth of the Hellespont. [Note] This would be to confound the continents, and at the same time to disregard the form of the poet's expression. For to turn his eyes again, is more especially to turn them behind him; but he who extends his vision from the Trojans to the people either behind them, or on either side of them, stretches his sight to a greater distance, but not in the least behind him. And this also is introduced as a proof of this very thing, that Homer classes with these the Hippemolgi, [Note] the Galactophagi, [Note] and the Abii, [Note] who are the Scythian Hamaxœci [Note] and Sarmatians; for at this day, all these nations, as well as the Bastarnæ, are mixed with the Thracians, more especially with those beyond the Danube, and some even with

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the Thracians on this side the Danube; also amongst these are the Keltic tribes of the Boii, Scordisci, and Taurisci. Some, indeed, call the Scordisci the Scordistæ, and give to the Taurisci the names of Ligurisci [Note] and Tauristæ. 7.3.3

Posidonius relates that the Mysians religiously abstain from eating any thing that had life, and consequently, from cattle; but that they lived in a quiet way on honey, milk, and cheese; wherefore they are considered a religious people, and called Capnobatæ. [Note] He adds, that there are amongst the Thracians some who live without wives, and who are known by the name of Ctistæ. These are considered sacred and worthy of honour, and live in great freedom. [He pretends] that the poet comprehends the whole of these people when he says, and where abide,
On milk sustain'd, and blest with length of days,
The Hippemolgi, justest of mankind. [Note]
Iliad xiii. 5.
These he designates as without life, more particularly on account of their living without wives, considering their solitary state as but a half life; in the same way as he likewise designates the house of Protesilaus imperfect, on account of the bereavement of his widow; in the same manner he applies to the Mysians the epithet of close-fighting, on account of their being invincible, like good warriors. [Finally, Posidonius pretends] that in the thirteenth [Note] book of the Iliad we ought to substitute for the close-fighting Mysians, [the close-fighting Mœsi.] 7.3.4

Nevertheless it would perhaps be superfluous to change the text [of Homer], which has stood the test of so many years. For it appears more probable to suppose that the people were anciently called Mysians, but that their name is now altered. Further, any one would suppose that the Abii [Note] were no more so named from being unmarried than from their being houseless, [Note] or their dwelling in waggons.

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In fact, as injustice is ordinarily committed in matters relative to bonds for money and the acquisition of wealth, it would be natural that the people living so frugally on such small property should be called [by Homer] the justest of mankind: and the more so as the philosophers who place justice next to moderation, aim at independence of others and frugality as amongst the most desirable objects of attainment; from which however some, having passed the bounds of moderation, have wandered into a cynical mode of life. [Note] But [the words of the poet] sanction no such assertion of the Thracians, and the Getæ in particular, that they live without wives. But see what Menander says of these people, not out of his own imagination, as it should seem, but deriving it from history. All the Thracians truly, and especially above all others we Getæ, (for I myself glory in being descended from this race,) are not very chaste. And a little after he gives examples of their rage for women. For there is no one among us who marries fewer than ten or eleven wives, and some have twelve, or even more. [Note] If any one loses his life who has only married four or five wives, he is lamented by us as unfortunate, and one deprived of the pleasures of Hymen. Such a one would be accounted as unmarried amongst them. These things are likewise confirmed by the evidence of other historians. And it is not likely that the same people should regard as an unhappy life that which is passed without the enjoyment of many women, and at the same time regard as a dignified and holy life that which is passed in celibacy without any women. But that those living without wives should be considered holy, and termed Capnobatæ, is entirely opposed to our received opinions; for all agree in regarding women as the authors of devotion to the gods, and it is they

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who induce the men by their example to a more attentive worship of the gods, and to the observance of feast-days and supplications; for scarcely is there found a man living by himself who pays any regard to such matters. And again attend to the words of the same poet when he speaks in one of his characters, bringing in a man disgusted with the expenses [Note] of the sacrifices of the women. The gods weary us indeed, but especially our married men, who are always obliged to celebrate some feast. And his Misogynes, complaining of the same things, exclaims, We sacrificed five times a day, while seven female slaves ranged in a circle played on the cymbals, and others raised their suppliant cries. It would therefore seem absurd to suppose that only those among the Getæ who remained without wives were considered pious, but that the care of worshipping the Supreme Being is great among this nation is not to be doubted, after what Posidonius has related, and they even abstain from animal food from religious motives, as likewise on account of the testimony of other historians.

Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.2.4 Str. 7.3.3 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.3.6

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