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The History of Herodotus, parallel English/Greek, tr. G. C. Macaulay, [1890], at

Herodotus Book 4: Melpomene [110]

110. About the Sauromatai the following tale is told:--When the Hellenes had fought with the Amazons,--now the Amazons are called by the Scythians Oiorpata, which name means in the Hellenic tongue "slayers of men," for "man" they call oior, and pata means "to slay,"--then, as the story goes, the Hellenes, having conquered them in the battle at the Thermodon, were sailing away and conveying with them in three ships as many Amazons as they were able to take prisoners. These in the open sea set upon the men and cast them out of the ships; but they knew nothing about ships, nor how to use rudders or sails or oars, and after they had cast out the men they were driven about by wave and wind and came to that part of the Maiotian lake where Cremnoi stands; now Cremnoi is in the land of the free Scythians. There the Amazons disembarked from their ships and made their way into the country, and having met first with a troop of horses feeding they seized them, and mounted upon these they plundered the property of the Scythians. 110. [1] Σαυροματέων δὲ πὲρι ὧδε λέγεται. ὅτε Ἕλληνες Ἀμαζόσι ἐμαχέσαντο (τὰς δὲ Ἀμαζόνας καλέουσι Σκύθαι Οἰόρπατα, δύναται δὲ τὸ οὔνομα τοῦτο κατὰ Ἑλλάδα γλῶσσαν ἀνδροκτόνοι· οἰὸρ γὰρ καλέουσι ἄνδρα, τὸ δὲ πατὰ κτείνειν), τότε λόγος τοὐς Ἕλληνας νικήσαντας τῇ ἐπὶ Θερμώδοντι μάχη ἀποπλέειν ἄγοντας τρισὶ πλοίοισι τῶν Ἀμαζόνων ὅσας ἐδυνέατο ζωγρῆσαι, τὰς δὲ ἐν τῷ πελάγει ἐπιθεμένας ἐκκόψαι τοὺς ἄνδρας. [2] πλοῖα δὲ οὐ γινώσκειν αὐτὰς οὐδὲ πηδαλίοισι χρᾶσθαι οὐδὲ ἱστίοισι οὐδὲ εἰρεσίῃ· ἀλλ᾽ ἐπεὶ ἐξέκοψαν τοὺς ἄνδρας ἐφέροντο κατὰ κῦμα καὶ ἄνεμον, καὶ ἀπικνέονται τῆς λίμνης τῆς Μαιήτιδος ἐπὶ Κρημνούς· οἱ δὲ Κρημνοὶ εἰσὶ γῆς τῆς Σκυθέων τῶν ἐλευθέρων. ἐνθαῦτα ἀποβᾶσαι ἀπὸ τῶν πλοίων αἱ Ἀμαζόνες ὁδοιπόρεον ἐς τὴν οἰκεομένην. ἐντυχοῦσαι δὲ πρώτῳ ἱπποφορβίῳ τοῦτο διήρπασαν, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτων ἱππαζόμεναι ἐληίζοντο τὰ τῶν Σκυθέων.

111. The Scythians meanwhile were not able to understand the matter, for they did not know either their speech or their dress or the race to which they belonged, but were in wonder as to whence they had come and thought that they were men, of an age corresponding to their appearance: and finally they fought a battle against them, and after the battle the Scythians got possession of the bodies of the dead, and thus they discovered that they were women. They took counsel therefore and resolved by no means to go on trying to kill them, but to send against them the youngest men from among themselves, making conjecture of the number so as to send just as many men as there were women. These were told to encamp near them, and do whatsoever they should do; if however the women should come after them, they were not to fight but to retire before them, and when the women stopped, they were to approach near and encamp. This plan was adopted by the Scythians because they desired to have children born from them. 111. [1] οἱ δὲ Σκύθαι οὐκ εἶχον συμβαλέσθαι τὸ πρῆγμα· οὔτε γὰρ φωνὴν οὔτε ἐσθῆτα οὔτε τὸ ἔθνος ἐγίνωσκον, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν θώματι ἦσαν ὁκόθεν ἔλθοιεν, ἐδόκεον δ᾽ αὐτὰς εἶναι ἄνδρας τὴν αὐτὴν ἡλικίην ἔχοντας, μάχην τε δὴ πρὸς αὐτὰς ἐποιεῦντο. ἐκ δὲ τῆς μάχης τῶν νεκρῶν ἐκράτησαν οἱ Σκύθαι, καὶ οὕτω ἔγνωσαν ἐούσας γυναῖκας. [2] βουλευομένοισι ὦν αὐτοῖσι ἔδοξε κτείνειν μὲν οὐδενὶ τρόπῳ ἔτι αὐτάς, ἑωυτῶν δὲ τοὺς νεωτάτους ἀποπέμψαι ἐς αὐτάς, πλῆθος εἰκάσαντας ὅσαι περ ἐκεῖναι ἦσαν τούτους δὲ στρατοπεδεύεσθαι πλησίον ἐκεινέων καὶ ποιέειν τὰ περ ἂν καὶ ἐκεῖναι ποιέωσι. ἢν δὲ αὐτοὺς διώκωσι, μάχεσθαι μὲν μή, ὑποφεύγειν δέ· ἐπεὰν δὲ παύσωνται, ἐλθόντας αὖτις πλησίον στρατοπεδεύεσθαι. ταῦτα ἐβουλεύσαντο οἱ Σκύθαι βουλόμενοι ἐξ αὐτέων παῖδας ἐκγενήσεσθαι.

112. The young men accordingly were sent out and did that which had been commanded them: and when the Amazons perceived that they had not come to do them any harm, they let them alone; and the two camps approached nearer to one another every day: and the young men, like the Amazons, had nothing except their arms and their horses, and got their living, as the Amazons did, by hunting and by taking booty. 112. [1] ἀποπεμφθέντες δὲ οἱ νεηνίσκοι ἐποίευν τὰ ἐντεταλμένα. ἐπεὶ δὲ ἔμαθον αὐτοὺς αἱ Ἀμαζόνες ἐπ᾽ οὐδεμιῇ δηλήσι ἀπιγμένους, ἔων χαίρειν· προσεχώρεον δὲ πλησιαιτέρω τὸ στρατόπεδον τῷ στρατοπέδῳ ἐπ᾽ ἡμέρῃ ἑκάστη. εἶχον δὲ οὐδὲν οὐδ᾽ οἱ νεηνίσκοι, ὥσπερ αἱ Ἀμαζόνες, εἰ μὴ τὰ ὅπλα καὶ τοὺς ἵππους, ἀλλὰ ζόην ἔζωον τὴν αὐτὴν ἐκείνῃσι, θηρεύοντές τε καὶ ληιζόμενοι.

113. Now the Amazons at midday used to scatter abroad either one by one or by two together, dispersing to a distance from one another to ease themselves; and the Scythians also having perceived this did the same thing: and one of the Scythians came near to one of those Amazons who were apart by themselves, and she did not repulse him but allowed him to lie with her: and she could not speak to him, for they did not understand one another's speech, but she made signs to him with her hand to come on the following day to the same place and to bring another with him, signifying to him that there should be two of them, and that she would bring another with her. The young man therefore, when he returned, reported this to the others; and on the next day he came himself to the place and also brought another, and he found the Amazon awaiting him with another in her company. Then hearing this the rest of the young men also in their turn tamed for themselves the remainder of the Amazons; 113. [1] ἐποίευν δὲ αἱ Ἀμαζόνες ἐς τὴν μεσαμβρίην τοιόνδε· ἐγίνοντο σποράδες κατὰ μίαν τε καὶ δύο, πρόσω δὴ ἀπ᾽ ἀλληλέων ἐς εὐμαρείην ἀποσκιδνάμεναι. μαθόντες δὲ καὶ οἱ Σκύθαι ἐποίευν τὠυτὸ τοῦτο. καί τις μουνωθεισέων τινὶ αὐτέων ἐνεχρίμπτετο, [2] καὶ ἡ Ἀμαζὼν οὐκ ἀπωθέετο ἀλλὰ περιεῖδε χρήσασθαι. καὶ φωνῆσαι μὲν οὐκ εἶχε, οὐ γὰρ συνίεσαν ἀλλήλων, τῇ δὲ χειρὶ ἔφραζε ἐς τὴν ὑστεραίην ἐλθεῖν ἐς τωὐτὸ χωρίον καὶ ἕτερον ἄγειν, σημαίνουσα δύο γενέσθαι καὶ αὐτὴ ἑτέρην ἄξειν. [3] ὁ δὲ νεηνίσκος, ἐπεὶ ἀπῆλθε, ἔλεξε ταῦτα πρὸς τοὺς λοιπούς· τῇ δὲ δευτεραίῃ ἦλθε ἐς τὸ χωρίον αὐτός τε οὗτος καὶ ἕτερον ἦγε, καὶ τὴν Ἀμαζόνα εὗρε δευτέρην αὐτὴν ὑπομένουσαν. οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ νεηνίσκοι ὡς ἐπύθοντο ταῦτα, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐκτιλώσαντο τὰς λοιπὰς τῶν Ἀμαζόνων.

114. and after this they joined their camps and lived together, each man having for his wife her with whom he had had dealings at first; and the men were not able to learn the speech of the women, but the women came to comprehend that of the men. So when they understood one another, the men spoke to the Amazons as follows: "We have parents and we have possessions; now therefore let us no longer lead a life of this kind, but let us go away to the main body of our people and dwell with them; and we will have you for wives and no others." They however spoke thus in reply: "We should not be able to live with your women, for we and they have not the same customs. We shoot with bows and hurl javelins and ride horses, but the works of women we never learnt; whereas your women do none of these things which we said, but stay in the waggons and work at the works of women, neither going out to the chase nor anywhither else. We therefore should not be able to live in agreement with them: but if ye desire to keep us for your wives and to be thought honest men, go to your parents and obtain from them your share of the goods, and then let us go and dwell by ourselves." 114. [1] μετὰ δὲ συμμίξαντες τὰ στρατόπεδα οἴκεον ὁμοῦ, γυναῖκα ἔχων ἕκαστος ταύτην τῇ τὸ πρῶτον συνεμίχθη. τὴν δὲ φωνὴν τὴν μὲν τῶν γυναικῶν οἱ ἄνδρες οὐκ ἐδυνέατο μαθεῖν, τὴν δὲ τῶν ἀνδρῶν αἱ γυναῖκες συνέλαβον. [2] ἐπεὶ δὲ συνῆκαν ἀλλήλων, ἔλεξαν πρὸς τὰς Ἀμαζόνας τάδε οἱ ἄνδρες. «ἡμῖν εἰσὶ μὲν τοκέες, εἰσὶ δὲ κτήσιες· νῦν ὦν μηκέτι πλεῦνα χρόνον ζόην τοιήνδε ἔχωμεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπελθόντες ἐς τὸ πλῆθος διαιτώμεθα. γυναῖκας δὲ ἕξομεν ὑμέας καὶ οὐδαμὰς ἄλλας. αἳ δὲ πρὸς ταῦτα ἔλεξαν τάδε. [3] «ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἂν δυναίμεθα οἰκέειν μετὰ τῶν ὑμετερέων γυναικῶν· οὐ γὰρ τὰ αὐτὰ νόμαια ἡμῖν τε κἀκείνῃσι ἐστί. ἡμεῖς μὲν τοξεύομέν τε καὶ ἀκοντίζομεν καὶ ἱππαζόμεθα, ἔργα δὲ γυναικήια οὐκ ἐμάθομεν· αἱ δὲ ὑμέτεραι γυναῖκες τούτων μὲν οὐδὲν τῶν ἡμεῖς κατελέξαμεν ποιεῦσι, ἔργα δὲ γυναικήια ἐργάζονται μένουσαι ἐν τῇσι ἁμάξῃσι, οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ θήρην ἰοῦσαι οὔτε ἄλλῃ οὐδαμῇ. [4] οὐκ ἂν ὦν δυναίμεθα ἐκείνῃσι συμφέρεσθαι. ἀλλ᾽ εἰ βούλεσθε γυναῖκας ἔχειν ἡμέας καὶ δοκέειν εἶναι δίκαιοι, ἐλθόντες παρὰ τοὺς τοκέας ἀπολάχετε τῶν κτημάτων τὸ μέρος, καὶ ἔπειτα ἐλθόντες οἰκέωμεν ἐπὶ ἡμέων αὐτῶν.»

115. The young men agreed and did this; and when they had obtained the share of the goods which belonged to them and had returned back to the Amazons, the women spoke to them as follows: "We are possessed by fear and trembling to think that we must dwell in this place, having not only separated you from your fathers, but also done great damage to your land. Since then ye think it right to have us as your wives, do this together with us,--come and let us remove from this land and pass over the river Tanaïs and there dwell." 115. [1] ἐπείθοντο καὶ ἐποίησαν ταῦτα οἱ νεηνίσκοι. ἐπείτε δὲ ἀπολαχόντες τῶν κτημάτων τὸ ἐπιβάλλον ἦλθον ὀπίσω παρὰ τὰς Ἀμαζόνας, ἔλεξαν αἱ γυναῖκες πρὸς αὐτοὺς τάδε. [2] «ἡμέας ἔχει φόβος τε καὶ δέος ὅκως χρὴ οἰκέειν ἐν τῷδε τῷ χώρῳ, τοῦτο μὲν ὑμέας ἀποστερησάσας πατέρων, τοῦτο δὲ γῆν τὴν ὑμετέρην δηλησαμένας πολλά. [3] ἀλλ᾽ ἐπείτε ἀξιοῦτε ἡμέας γυναῖκας ἔχειν, τάδε ποιέετε ἅμα ἡμῖν· φέρετε ἐξαναστέωμεν ἐκ τῆς γῆς τῆσδε καὶ περήσαντες Τάναιν ποταμὸν οἰκέωμεν.»

116. The young men agreed to this also, and they crossed over the Tanaïs and made their way towards the rising sun for three days' journey from Tanaïs, and also towards the North Wind for three days' journey from the Maiotian lake: and having arrived at the place where they are now settled, they took up their abode there: and from thenceforward the women of the Sauromatai practise their ancient way of living, going out regularly on horseback to the chase both in company with the men and apart from them, and going regularly to war, and wearing the same dress as the men. 116. [1] ἐπείθοντο καὶ ταῦτα οἱ νεηνίσκοι, διαβάντες δὲ τὸν Τάναϊν ὁδοιπόρεον πρὸς ἥλιον ἀνίσχοντα τριῶν μὲν ἡμερέων ἀπὸ τοῦ Τανάιδος ὁδόν, τριῶν δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς λίμνης τῆς Μαιήτιδος πρὸς βορέην ἄνεμον. ἀπικόμενοι δὲ ἐς τοῦτον τὸν χῶρον ἐν τῷ νυν κατοίκηνται, οἴκησαν τοῦτον. [2] καὶ διαίτῃ ἀπὸ τούτου χρὲωνται τῇ παλαιῇ τῶν Σαυροματέων αἱ γυναῖκες, καὶ ἐπὶ θήρην ἐπ᾽ ἵππων ἐκφοιτῶσαι ἅμα τοῖσι ἀνδράσι καὶ χωρὶς τῶν ἀνδρῶν, καὶ ἐς πόλεμον φοιτῶσαι καὶ στολὴν τὴν αὐτὴν τοῖσι ἀνδράσι φορέουσαι.

117. And the Sauromatai make use of the Scythian tongue, speaking it barbarously however from the first, since the Amazons did not learn it thoroughly well. As regards marriages their rule is this, that no maiden is married until she has slain a man of their enemies; and some of them even grow old and die before they are married, because they are not able to fulfil the requirement of the law.

117. [1] φωνῇ δὲ οἱ Σαυρομάται νομίζουσι Σκυθικῇ, σολοικίζοντες αὐτῇ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀρχαίου, ἐπεὶ οὐ χρηστῶς ἐξέμαθον αὐτὴν αἱ Ἀμαζόνες. τὰ περὶ γάμων δὲ ὧδέ σφι διακέεται. οὐ γαμὲεται παρθένος οὐδεμία πρὶν ἂν τῶν πολεμίων ἄνδρα ἀποκτείνῃ· αἳ δὲ τινὲς αὐτέων καὶ τελευτῶσι γηραιαὶ πρὶν γήμασθαι, οὐ δυνάμεναι τὸν νόμον ἐκπλῆσαι, 

118. To the kings of these nations then, which have been mentioned in order, the messengers of the Scythians came, finding them gathered together, and spoke declaring to them how the Persian king, after having subdued all things to himself in the other continent, had laid a bridge over the neck of the Bosphorus and had crossed over to that continent, and having crossed over and subdued the Thracians, was making a bridge over the river Ister, desiring to bring under his power all these regions also. "Do ye therefore," they said, "by no means stand aloof and allow us to be destroyed, but let us become all of one mind and oppose him who is coming against us. If ye shall not do so, we on our part shall either be forced by necessity to leave our land, or we shall stay in it and make a treaty with the invader; for what else can we do if ye are not willing to help us? and for you after this it will be in no respect easier; for the Persian has come not at all less against you than against us, nor will it content him to subdue us and abstain from you. And of the truth of that which we say we will mention a strong evidence: if the Persian had been making his expedition against us alone, because he desired to take vengeance for the former servitude, he ought to have abstained from all the rest and to have come at once to invade our land, and he would thus have made it clear to all that he was marching to fight against the Scythians and not against the rest. In fact however, ever since he crossed over to this continent, he has compelled all who came in his way to submit to him, and he holds under him now not only the other Thracians but also the Getai, who are our nearest neighbours." 118. [1] ἐπὶ τούτων ὦν τῶν καταλεχθέντων ἐθνέων τοὺς βασιλέας ἁλισμένους ἀπικόμενος τῶν Σκυθέων οἱ ἄγγελοι ἔλεγον ἐκδιδάσκοντες ὡς ὁ Πέρσης, ἐπειδή οἱ τὰ ἐν τῇ ἠπείρῳ τῇ ἑτέρῃ πάντα κατέστραπται, γέφυραν ζεύξας ἐπὶ τῷ αὐχένι τοῦ Βοσπόρου διαβέβηκε ἐς τήνδε τὴν ἤπειρον, διαβὰς δὲ καὶ καταστρεψάμενος Θρήικας γεφυροῖ ποταμὸν Ἴστρον, βουλόμενος καὶ τάδε πάντα ὑπ᾽ ἑωυτῷ ποιήσασθαι. [2] «ὑμεῖς ὦν μηδενὶ τρόπῳ ἐκ τοῦ μέσου κατήμενοι περιίδητε ἡμέας διαφθαρέντας, ἀλλὰ τὠυτὸ νοήσαντες ἀντιάζωμεν τὸν ἐπιόντα. οὔκων ποιήσετε ταῦτα; ἡμεῖς μὲν πιεζόμενοι ἢ ἐκλείψομεν τὴν χώρην ἢ μένοντες ὁμολογίῃ χρησόμεθα. [3] τί γὰρ πάθωμεν μὴ βουλομένων ὑμέων τιμωρέειν; ὑμῖν δὲ οὐδὲν ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἔσται ἐλαφρότερον. ἥκει γὰρ ὁ Πέρσης οὐδέν τι μᾶλλον ἐπ᾽ ἡμέας ἢ οὐ καὶ ἐπ᾽ ὑμέας, οὐδέ οἱ καταχρήσει ἡμέας καταστρεψαμένῳ ὑμέων ἀπέχεσθαι. [4] μέγα δὲ ὑμῖν λόγων τῶνδε μαρτύριον ἐρέομεν. εἰ γὰρ ἐπ᾽ ἡμέας μούνους ἐστρατηλάτεε ὁ Πέρσης τίσασθαι τῆς πρόσθε δουλοσύνης βουλόμενος, χρῆν αὐτὸν πάντων τῶν ἄλλων ἀπεχόμενον ἰέναι οὕτω ἐπὶ τὴν ἡμετέρην, καὶ ἂν ἐδήλου πᾶσι ὡς ἐπὶ Σκύθας ἐλαύνει καὶ οὐκ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄλλους. [5] νῦν δὲ ἐπείτε τάχιστα διέβη ἐς τήνδε τὴν ἤπειρον, τοὺς αἰεὶ ἐμποδὼν γινομένους ἡμεροῦται πάντας· τούς τε δὴ ἄλλους ἔχει ὑπ᾽ ἑωυτῷ Θρήικας καὶ δὴ καὶ τοὺς ἡμῖν ἐόντας πλησιοχώρους Γέτας.»

119. When the Scythians proposed this, the kings who had come from the various nations took counsel together, and their opinions were divided. The kings of the Gelonians, of the Budinoi and of the Sauromatai agreed together and accepted the proposal that they should help the Scythians, but those of the Agathyrsians, Neuroi, Androphagoi, Melanchlainoi and Tauroi returned answer to the Scythians as follows: "If ye had not been the first to do wrong to the Persians and to begin war, then we should have surely thought that ye were speaking justly in asking for those things for which ye now ask, and we should have yielded to your request and shared your fortunes. As it is however, ye on the one hand made invasion without us into their land, and bare rule over the Persians for so long a time as God permitted you; and they in their turn, since the same God stirs them up, are repaying you with the like. As for us however, neither at that time did we do any wrong to these men nor now shall we attempt to do any wrong to them unprovoked: if however the Persians shall come against our land also, and do wrong first to us, we also shall refuse to submit: but until we shall see this, we shall remain by ourselves, for we are of opinion that the Persians have come not against us, but against those who were the authors of the wrong." 119. [1] ταῦτα Σκυθέων ἐπαγγελλομένων ἐβουλεύοντο οἱ βασιλέες οἱ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνέων ἥκοντες, καί σφεων ἐσχίσθησαν αἱ γνῶμαι· ὁ μὲν γὰρ Γελωνὸς καὶ ὁ Βουδῖνος καὶ ὁ Σαυρομάτης κατὰ τὠυτὸ γενόμενοι ὑπεδέκοντο Σκύθῃσι τιμωρήσειν, ὁ δὲ Ἀγάθυρσος καὶ Νευρὸς καὶ Ἀνδροφάγος καὶ οἱ τῶν Μελαγχλαίνων καὶ Ταύρων τάδε Σκύθῃσι ὑπεκρίναντο. [2] «εἰ μὲν μὴ ὑμεῖς ἔατε οἱ πρότεροι ἀδικήσαντες Πέρσας καὶ ἄρξαντες πολέμου, τούτων δεόμενοι τῶν νῦν δέεσθε λέγειν τε ἂν ἐφαίνεσθε ἡμῖν ὀρθά, καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑπακούσαντες τὠυτὸ ἂν ὑμῖν ἐπρήσσομεν. [3] νῦν δὲ ὑμεῖς τε ἐς τὴν ἐκείνων ἐσβαλόντες γῆν ἄνευ ἡμέων ἐπεκρατέετε Περσέων ὅσον χρόνον ὑμῖν ὁ θεὸς παρεδίδου, καὶ ἐκεῖνοι, ἐπεί σφεας ὡυτὸς θεὸς ἐγείρει, τὴν ὁμοίην ὑμῖν ἀποδιδοῦσι. [4] ἡμεῖς δὲ οὔτε τι τότε ἠδικήσαμεν τοὺς ἄνδρας τούτους οὐδὲν οὔτε νῦν πρότεροι πειρησόμεθα ἀδικέειν. ἢν μέντοι ἐπίῃ καὶ τὴν ἡμετέρην ἄρξῃ τε ἀδικέων, καὶ ἡμεῖς οὐ πεισόμεθα, μέχρι δὲ τοῦτο ἴδωμεν, μενέομεν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖσι· ἥκειν γὰρ δοκέομεν οὐκ ἐπ᾽ ἡμέας Πέρσας ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τοὺς αἰτίους τῆς ἀδικίης γενομὲνους.» 

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