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Melpomene   


bald-headed men are well known to us. For some of the Scythians are
accustomed to penetrate as far, of whom inquiry may easily be made,
and Greeks also go there from the mart on the Borysthenes, and from
the other marts along the Euxine. The Scythians who make this
journey communicate with the inhabitants by means of seven
interpreters and seven languages.
Thus far, therefore, the land is known; but beyond the bald-headed
men lies a region of which no one can give any exact account. Lofty
and precipitous mountains, which are never crossed, bar further
progress. The bald men say, but it does not seem to me credible,
that the people who live in these mountains have feet like goats;
and that after passing them you find another race of men, who sleep
during one half of the year. This latter statement appears to me quite
unworthy of credit. The region east of the bald-headed men is well
known to be inhabited by the Issedonians, but the tract that lies to
the north of these two nations is entirely unknown, except by the
accounts which they give of it.
The Issedonians are said to have the following customs. When a
man's father dies, all the near relatives bring sheep to the house;
which are sacrificed, and their flesh cut in pieces, while at the same
time the dead body undergoes the like treatment. The two sorts of
flesh are afterwards mixed together, and the whole is served up at a
banquet. The head of the dead man is treated differently: it is
stripped bare, cleansed, and set in gold. It then becomes an
ornament on which they pride themselves, and is brought out year by
year at the great festival which sons keep in honour of their fathers'
death, just as the Greeks keep their Genesia. In other respects the
Issedonians are reputed to be observers of justice: and it is to be
remarked that their women have equal authority with the men. Thus
our knowledge extends as far as this nation.
The regions beyond are known only from the accounts of the
Issedonians, by whom the stories are told of the one-eyed race of
men and the gold-guarding griffins. These stories are received by
the Scythians from the Issedonians, and by them passed on to us
Greeks: whence it arises that we give the one-eyed race the Scythian
name of Arimaspi, "arima" being the Scythic word for "one," and
"spu" for "the eye."
The whole district whereof we have here discoursed has winters
of exceeding rigour. During eight months the frost is so intense
that water poured upon the ground does not form mud, but if a fire
be lighted on it mud is produced. The sea freezes, and the Cimmerian
Bosphorus is frozen over. At that season the Scythians who dwell
inside the trench make warlike expeditions upon the ice, and even
drive their waggons across to the country of the Sindians. Such is the
intensity of the cold during eight months out of the twelve; and
even in the remaining four the climate is still cool. The character of
the winter likewise is unlike that of the same season in any other
country; for at that time, when the rains ought to fall in Scythia,
there is scarcely any rain worth mentioning, while in summer it
never gives over raining; and thunder, which elsewhere is frequent
then, in Scythia is unknown in that part of the year, coming only in
summer, when it is very heavy. Thunder in the winter-time is there
accounted a prodigy; as also are earthquakes, whether they happen in
winter or summer. Horses bear the winter well, cold as it is, but
mules and asses are quite unable to bear it; whereas in other
countries mules and asses are found to endure the cold, while
horses, if they stand still, are frost-bitten.
To me it seems that the cold may likewise be the cause which
prevents the oxen in Scythia from having horns. There is a line of
Homer's in the Odyssey which gives a support to my opinion:-

Libya too, where horns hud quick on the foreheads of lambkins.

He means to say what is quite true, that in warm countries the horns

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