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Melpomene   

The Fourth Book, Entitled
MELPOMENE


After the taking of Babylon, an expedition was led by Darius
into Scythia. Asia abounding in men, and vast sums flowing into the
treasury, the desire seized him to exact vengeance from the Scyths,
who had once in days gone by invaded Media, defeated those who met
them in the field, and so begun the quarrel. During the space of
eight-and-twenty years, as I have before mentioned, the Scyths
continued lords of the whole of Upper Asia. They entered Asia in
pursuit of the Cimmerians, and overthrew the empire of the Medes,
who till they came possessed the sovereignty. On their return to their
homes after the long absence of twenty-eight years, a task awaited
them little less troublesome than their struggle with the Medes.
They found an army of no small size prepared to oppose their entrance.
For the Scythian women, when they saw that time went on, and their
husbands did not come back, had intermarried with their slaves.
Now the Scythians blind all their slaves, to use them in preparing
their milk. The plan they follow is to thrust tubes made of bone,
not unlike our musical pipes, up the vulva of the mare, and then to
blow into the tubes with their mouths, some milking while the others
blow. They say that they do this because when the veins of the
animal are full of air, the udder is forced down. The milk thus
obtained is poured into deep wooden casks, about which the blind
slaves are placed, and then the milk is stirred round. That which
rises to the top is drawn off, and considered the best part; the under
portion is of less account. Such is the reason why the Scythians blind
all those whom they take in war; it arises from their not being
tillers of the ground, but a pastoral race.
When therefore the children sprung from these slaves and the
Scythian women grew to manhood, and understood the circumstances of
their birth, they resolved to oppose the army which was returning from
Media. And, first of all, they cut off a tract of country from the
rest of Scythia by digging a broad dyke from the Tauric mountains to
the vast lake of the Maeotis. Afterwards, when the Scythians tried
to force an entrance, they marched out and engaged them. Many
battles were fought, and the Scythians gained no advantage, until at
last one of them thus addressed the remainder: "What are we doing,
Scythians? We are fighting our slaves, diminishing our own number when
we fall, and the number of those that belong to us when they fall by
our hands. Take my advice- lay spear and bow aside, and let each man
fetch his horsewhip, and go boldly up to them. So long as they see
us with arms in our hands, they imagine themselves our equals in birth
and bravery; but let them behold us with no other weapon but the whip,
and they will feel that they are our slaves, and flee before us."
The Scythians followed this counsel, and the slaves were so
astounded, that they forgot to fight, and immediately ran away. Such
was the mode in which the Scythians, after being for a time the
lords of Asia, and being forced to quit it by the Medes, returned
and settled in their own country. This inroad of theirs it was that
Darius was anxious to avenge, and such was the purpose for which he
was now collecting an army to invade them.
According to the account which the Scythians themselves give, they
are the youngest of all nations. Their tradition is as follows. A
certain Targitaus was the first man who ever lived in their country,
which before his time was a desert without inhabitants. He was a
child- I do not believe the tale, but it is told nevertheless- of Jove
and a daughter of the Borysthenes. Targitaus, thus descended, begat
three sons, Leipoxais, Arpoxais, and Colaxais, who was the youngest
born of the three. While they still ruled the land, there fell from
the sky four implements, all of gold- a plough, a yoke, a
battle-axe, and a drinking-cup. The eldest of the brothers perceived
them first, and approached to pick them up; when lo! as he came
near, the gold took fire, and blazed. He therefore went his way, and

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