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Works by Herodotus
Pages of Melpomene

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But the boundaries of Europe are quite unknown, and there is not a
man who can say whether any sea girds it round either on the north
or on the east, while in length it undoubtedly extends as far as
both the other two. For my part I cannot conceive why three names, and
women's names especially, should ever have been given to a tract which
is in reality one, nor why the Egyptian Nile and the Colchian Phasis
(or according to others the Maeotic Tanais and Cimmerian ferry) should
have been fixed upon for the boundary lines; nor can I even say who
gave the three tracts their names, or whence they took the epithets.
According to the Greeks in general, Libya was so called after a
certain Libya, a native woman, and Asia after the wife of
Prometheus. The Lydians, however, put in a claim to the latter name,
which, they declare, was not derived from Asia the wife of Prometheus,
but from Asies, the son of Cotys, and grandson of Manes, who also gave
name to the tribe Asias at Sardis. As for Europe, no one can say
whether it is surrounded by the sea or not, neither is it known whence
the name of Europe was derived, nor who gave it name, unless we say
that Europe was so called after the Tyrian Europe, and before her time
was nameless, like the other divisions. But it is certain that
Europe was an Asiatic, and never even set foot on the land which the
Greeks now call Europe, only sailing from Phoenicia to Crete, and from
Crete to Lycia. However let us quit these matters. We shall
ourselves continue to use the names which custom sanctions.
The Euxine sea, where Darius now went to war, has nations dwelling
around it, with the one exception of the Scythians, more unpolished
than those of any other region that we know of. For, setting aside
Anacharsis and the Scythian people, there is not within this region
a single nation which can be put forward as having any claims to
wisdom, or which has produced a single person of any high repute.
The Scythians indeed have in one respect, and that the very most
important of all those that fall under man's control, shown themselves
wiser than any nation upon the face of the earth. Their customs
otherwise are not such as I admire. The one thing of which I speak
is the contrivance whereby they make it impossible for the enemy who
invades them to escape destruction, while they themselves are entirely
out of his reach, unless it please them to engage with him. Having
neither cities nor forts, and carrying their dwellings with them
wherever they go; accustomed, moreover, one and all of them, to
shoot from horseback; and living not by husbandry but on their cattle,
their waggons the only houses that they possess, how can they fail
of being unconquerable, and unassailable even?
The nature of their country, and the rivers by which it is
intersected, greatly favour this mode of resisting attacks. For the
land is level, well watered, and abounding in pasture; while the
rivers which traverse it are almost equal in number to the canals of
Egypt. Of these I shall only mention the most famous and such as are
navigable to some distance from the sea. They are, the Ister, which
has five mouths; the Tyras, the Hypanis, the Borysthenes, the
Panticapes, the Hypacyris, the Gerrhus, and the Tanais. The courses of
these streams I shall now proceed to describe.
The Ister is of all the rivers with which we are acquainted the
mightiest. It never varies in height, but continues at the same
level summer and winter. Counting from the west it is the first of the
Scythian rivers, and the reason of its being the greatest is that it
receives the water of several tributaries. Now the tributaries which
swell its flood are the following: first, on the side of Scythia,
these five- the stream called by the Scythians Porata, and by the
Greeks Pyretus, the Tiarantus, the Ararus, the Naparis, and the
Ordessus. The first mentioned is a great stream, and is the
easternmost of the tributaries. The Tiarantus is of less volume, and
more to the west. The Ararus, Naparis, and Ordessus fall into the
Ister between these two. All the above mentioned are genuine
Scythian rivers, and go to swell the current of the Ister.
From the country of the Agathyrsi comes down another river, the

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