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Melpomene   


the second coming forward made the attempt, but the same thing
happened again. The gold rejected both the eldest and the second
brother. Last of all the youngest brother approached, and
immediately the flames were extinguished; so he picked up the gold,
and carried it to his home. Then the two elder agreed together, and
made the whole kingdom over to the youngest born.
From Leipoxais sprang the Scythians of the race called Auchatae;
from Arpoxais, the middle brother, those known as the Catiari and
Traspians; from Colaxais, the youngest, the Royal Scythians, or
Paralatae. All together they are named Scoloti, after one of their
kings: the Greeks, however, call them Scythians.
Such is the account which the Scythians give of their origin. They
add that from the time of Targitaus, their first king, to the invasion
of their country by Darius, is a period of one thousand years, neither
less nor more. The Royal Scythians guard the sacred gold with most
especial care, and year by year offer great sacrifices in its
honour. At this feast, if the man who has the custody of the gold
should fall asleep in the open air, he is sure (the Scythians say) not
to outlive the year. His pay therefore is as much land as he can
ride round on horseback in a day. As the extent of Scythia is very
great, Colaxais gave each of his three sons a separate kingdom, one of
which was of ampler size than the other two: in this the gold was
preserved. Above, to the northward of the farthest dwellers in
Scythia, the country is said to be concealed from sight and made
impassable by reason of the feathers which are shed abroad abundantly.
The earth and air are alike full of them, and this it is which
prevents the eye from obtaining any view of the region.
Such is the account which the Scythians give of themselves, and of
the country which lies above them. The Greeks who dwell about the
Pontus tell a different story. According to Hercules, when he was
carrying off the cows of Geryon, arrived in the region which is now
inhabited by the Scyths, but which was then a desert. Geryon lived
outside the Pontus, in an island called by the Greeks Erytheia, near
Gades, which is beyond the Pillars of Hercules upon the Ocean. Now
some say that the Ocean begins in the east, and runs the whole way
round the world; but they give no proof that this is really so.
Hercules came from thence into the region now called Scythia, and,
being overtaken by storm and frost, drew his lion's skin about him,
and fell fast asleep. While he slept, his mares, which he had loosed
from his chariot to graze, by some wonderful chance disappeared.
On waking, he went in quest of them, and, after wandering over the
whole country, came at last to the district called "the Woodland,"
where he found in a cave a strange being, between a maiden and a
serpent, whose form from the waist upwards was like that of a woman,
while all below was like a snake. He looked at her wonderingly; but
nevertheless inquired, whether she had chanced to see his strayed
mares anywhere. She answered him, "Yes, and they were now in her
keeping; but never would she consent to give them back, unless he took
her for his mistress." So Hercules, to get his mares back, agreed; but
afterwards she put him off and delayed restoring the mares, since
she wished to keep him with her as long as possible. He, on the
other hand, was only anxious to secure them and to get away. At
last, when she gave them up, she said to him, "When thy mares
strayed hither, it was I who saved them for thee: now thou hast paid
their salvage; for lo! I bear in my womb three sons of thine. Tell
me therefore when thy sons grow up, what must I do with them?
Wouldst thou wish that I should settle them here in this land, whereof
I am mistress, or shall I send them to thee?" Thus questioned, they
say, Hercules answered, "When the lads have grown to manhood, do thus,
and assuredly thou wilt not err. Watch them, and when thou seest one
of them bend this bow as I now bend it, and gird himself with this
girdle thus, choose him to remain in the land. Those who fail in the
trial, send away. Thus wilt thou at once please thyself and obey me."
Hereupon he strung one of his bows- up to that time he had carried

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