Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
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7.3.8

Those however who lived before our time, and more especially those who lived near to the times of Homer, were such as he describes them, and so they were esteemed to be by the Greeks. Take for instance what Herodotus relates concerning the king [Note] of the Scythians, against whom Darius waged war, and especially the answer he sent [to the messen-

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ger of Darius]. Take again what Chrysippus relates of the kings of the Bosphorus, [Satyrus [Note] and] Leuco. The letters of the Persians are full of the sincerity I have described; so likewise are the memorials of the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Indians. It was on this account that both Anacharsis and Abaris, and certain others of the same class, gained so great a reputation among the Greeks; for we may well believe they displayed their national characteristics of affability of manner, simplicity, and love of justice. But what occasion is there for me to speak of such as belonged to the times of old? for Alexander [the Great], the son of Philip, in his campaign against the Thracians beyond Mount Hæmus, [Note] is said to have penetrated as far as this in an incursion into the country of the Triballi, and observed that they occupied the territory as far as the Danube and the island Peuce, [Note] which is in it, and that the Getæ possessed the country beyond that river; however, he was unable to pass into the island for want of a sufficient number of ships, and because Syrmus, the king of the Triballi, who had taken refuge in that place, resisted the undertaking: but Alexander crossed over into the country of the Getæ and took their city, after which he returned home in haste, carrying with him presents from those nations, and also from Syrmus. Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, relates that in this campaign the Kelts who dwell on the Adriatic [Note] came to Alexander for the purpose of making a treaty of friendship and mutual hospitality, and that the king received them in a friendly way, and asked them, while drinking, what might be the chief object of their dread, supposing that they would say it was he; but that they replied, it was no man, only they felt some alarm lest the heavens should on some occasion or other

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fall on them, but that they valued the friendship of such a man as him above every thing. These examples sufficiently manifest the open sincerity of the barbarians, both of the one who would not suffer Alexander to land on the island, but nevertheless sent presents and concluded a treaty of friendship with him, and also of those who asserted that they feared no man, but that they valued the friendship of great men above every price.

In like manner Dromichætes, who was king of the Getæ in the times of the successors of Alexander, having taken captive Lysimachus, who had come to wage war against him, showed him his poverty and that of his people, and likewise their great frugality, bade him not to make war on such, but rather seek them as friends; after which he received him as a guest, made a treaty of friendship, and suffered him to depart. [Note] [*And Plato, in his Republic, [Note] considers that the neighbourhood of the sea ought to be shunned as being productive of vice, and that those who would enjoy a well-governed city, should plant it very far from the sea, and not near it. [Note]] 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

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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.

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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.



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 7.3.7 Str. 7.3.9 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 7.3.12

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