Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Hippocrates
Pages of On Airs, Waters, And Places

Previous | Next

On Airs, Waters, And Places   

also eat hippace, which is cheese prepared from the milk of the
mare. Such is their mode of life and their customs.
19. In respect of the seasons and figure of body, the Scythian race,
like the Egyptian, have a uniformity of resemblance, different from
all other nations; they are by no means prolific, and the wild
beasts which are indigenous there are small in size and few in number,
for the country lies under the Northern Bears, and the Rhiphaean
mountains, whence the north wind blows; the sun comes very near to
them only when in the summer solstice, and warms them but for a
short period, and not strongly; and the winds blowing from the hot
regions of the earth do not reach them, or but seldom, and with little
force; but the winds from the north always blow, congealed, as they
are, by the snow, ice, and much water, for these never leave the
mountains, which are thereby rendered uninhabitable. A thick fog
covers the plains during the day, and amidst it they live, so that
winter may be said to be always present with them; or, if they have
summer, it is only for a few days, and the heat is not very strong.
Their plains are high-lying and naked, not crowned with mountains, but
extending upwards under the Northern Bears. The wild beasts there
are not large, but such as can be sheltered underground; for the
cold of winter and the barrenness of the country prevent their growth,
and because they have no covert nor shelter. The changes of the
seasons, too, are not great nor violent, for, in fact, they change
gradually; and therefore their figures resemble one another, as they
all equally use the same food, and the same clothing summer and
winter, respiring a humid and dense atmosphere, and drinking water
from snow and ice; neither do they make any laborious exertions, for
neither body nor mind is capable of enduring fatigue when the
changes of the seasons are not great. For these reasons their shapes
are gross and fleshy, with ill-marked joints, of a humid
temperament, and deficient in tone: the internal cavities, and
especially those of the intestines, are full of humors; for the
belly cannot possibly be dry in such a country, with such a
constitution and in such a climate; but owing to their fat, and the
absence of hairs from their bodies, their shapes resemble one another,
the males being all alike, and so also with the women; for the seasons
being of a uniform temperature, no corruption or deterioration takes
place in the concretion of the semen, unless from some violent
cause, or from disease.
20. I Will give you a strong proof of the humidity (laxity?) of
their constitutions. You will find the greater part of the
Scythians, and all the Nomades, with marks of the cautery on their
shoulders, arms, wrists, breasts, hip-joints, and loins, and that
for no other reason but the humidity and flabbiness of their
constitution, for they can neither strain with their bows, nor
launch the javelin from their shoulder owing to their humidity and
atony: but when they are burnt, much of the humidity in their joints
is dried up, and they become better braced, better fed, and their
joints get into a more suitable condition. They are flabby and squat
at first, because, as in Egypt, they are not swathed (?); and then
they pay no attention to horsemanship, so that they may be adepts at
it; and because of their sedentary mode of life; for the males, when
they cannot be carried about on horseback, sit the most of their
time in the wagon, and rarely practise walking, because of their
frequent migrations and shiftings of situation; and as to the women,
it is amazing how flabby and sluggish they are. The Scythian race
are tawny from the cold, and not from the intense heat of the sun, for
the whiteness of the skin is parched by the cold, and becomes tawny.
21. It is impossible that persons of such a constitution could be
prolific, for, with the man, the sexual desires are not strong,
owing to the laxity of his constitution, the softness and coldness
of his belly, from all which causes it is little likely that a man
should be given to venery; and besides, from being jaded by exercise
on horseback, the men become weak in their desires. On the part of the

Previous | Next
Site Search