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Melpomene   


drink-offerings; but directly that the beast is strangled the
sacrificer flays him, and then sets to work to boil the flesh.
As Scythia, however, is utterly barren of firewood, a plan has had
to be contrived for boiling the flesh, which is the following. After
flaying the beasts, they take out all the bones, and (if they
possess such gear) put the flesh into boilers made in the country,
which are very like the cauldrons of the Lesbians, except that they
are of a much larger size; then placing the bones of the animals
beneath the cauldron, they set them alight, and so boil the meat. If
they do not happen to possess a cauldron, they make the animal's
paunch hold the flesh, and pouring in at the same time a little water,
lay the bones under and light them. The bones burn beautifully; and
the paunch easily contains all the flesh when it is stript from the
bones, so that by this plan your ox is made to boil himself, and other
victims also to do the like. When the meat is all cooked, the
sacrificer offers a portion of the flesh and of the entrails, by
casting it on the ground before him. They sacrifice all sorts of
cattle, but most commonly horses.
Such are the victims offered to the other gods, and such is the
mode in which they are sacrificed; but the rites paid to Mars are
different. In every district, at the seat of government, there
stands a temple of this god, whereof the following is a description.
It is a pile of brushwood, made of a vast quantity of fagots, in
length and breadth three furlongs; in height somewhat less, having a
square platform upon the top, three sides of which are precipitous,
while the fourth slopes so that men may walk up it. Each year a
hundred and fifty waggon-loads of brushwood are added to the pile,
which sinks continually by reason of the rains. An antique iron
sword is planted on the top of every such mound, and serves as the
image of Mars: yearly sacrifices of cattle and of horses are made to
it, and more victims are offered thus than to all the rest of their
gods. When prisoners are taken in war, out of every hundred men they
sacrifice one, not however with the same rites as the cattle, but with
different. Libations of wine are first poured upon their heads,
after which they are slaughtered over a vessel; the vessel is then
carried up to the top of the pile, and the blood poured upon the
scymitar. While this takes place at the top of the mound, below, by
the side of the temple, the right hands and arms of the slaughtered
prisoners are cut off, and tossed on high into the air. Then the other
victims are slain, and those who have offered the sacrifice depart,
leaving the hands and arms where they may chance to have fallen, and
the bodies also, separate.
Such are the observances of the Scythians with respect to
sacrifice. They never use swine for the purpose, nor indeed is it
their wont to breed them in any part of their country.
In what concerns war, their customs are the following. The
Scythian soldier drinks the blood of the first man he overthrows in
battle. Whatever number he slays, he cuts off all their heads, and
carries them to the king; since he is thus entitled to a share of
the booty, whereto he forfeits all claim if he does not produce a
head. In order to strip the skull of its covering, he makes a cut
round the head above the ears, and, laying hold of the scalp, shakes
the skull out; then with the rib of an ox he scrapes the scalp clean
of flesh, and softening it by rubbing between the hands, uses it
thenceforth as a napkin. The Scyth is proud of these scalps, and hangs
them from his bridle-rein; the greater the number of such napkins that
a man can show, the more highly is he esteemed among them. Many make
themselves cloaks, like the capotes of our peasants, by sewing a
quantity of these scalps together. Others flay the right arms of their
dead enemies, and make of the skin, which stripped off with the
nails hanging to it, a covering for their quivers. Now the skin of a
man is thick and glossy, and would in whiteness surpass almost all
other hides. Some even flay the entire body of their enemy, and
stretching it upon a frame carry it about with them wherever they

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