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Herodotus' HISTORY BOOK 4 (MELPOMENE) Complete

Translated by G. Macaulay.

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5. Now the Scythians say that their nation is the youngest of all nations, and that this came to pass as follows:—The first man who ever existed in this region, which then was desert, was one named Targitaos: and of this Targitaos they say, though I do not believe it for my part, however they say the parents were Zeus and the daughter of the river Borysthenes. Targitaos, they report, was produced from some such origin as this, and of him were begotten three sons, Lipoxaïs and Arpoxaïs and the youngest Colaxaïs. In the reign of these [9] there came down from heaven certain things wrought of gold, a plough, a yoke, a battle-axe, [10] and a cup, and fell in the Scythian land: and first the eldest saw and came near them, desiring to take them, but the gold blazed with fire when he approached it: then when he had gone away from it, the second approached, and again it did the same thing. These then the gold repelled by blazing with fire; but when the third and youngest came up to it, the flame was quenched, and he carried them to his own house. The elder brothers then, acknowledging the significance of this thing, delivered the whole of the kingly power to the youngest. 6. From Lixopaïs, they say, are descended those Scythians who are called the race of the Auchatai; from the middle brother Arpoxaïs those who are called Catiaroi and Traspians, and from the youngest of them the "Royal" tribe, [11] who are called Paralatai: and the whole together are called, they say, Scolotoi, after the name of their king; [12] but the Hellenes gave them the name of Scythians. 7. Thus the Scythians say they were produced; and from the time of their origin, that is to say from the first king Targitaos, to the passing over of Dareios against them, they say that there is a period of a thousand years and no more. Now this sacred gold is guarded by the kings with the utmost care, and they visit it every year with solemn sacrifices of propitiation: moreover if any one goes to sleep while watching in the open air over this gold during the festival, the Scythians say that he does not live out the year; and there is given him for this so much land as he shall ride round himself on his horse in one day. Now as the land was large, Colaxaïs, they say, established three kingdoms for his sons; and of these he made one larger than the rest, and in this the gold is kept. But as to the upper parts which lie on the North side of those who dwell above this land, they say one can neither see nor pass through any further by reason of feathers which are poured down; for both the earth and the air are full of feathers, and this is that which shuts off the view.

[9] {epi touton arkhonton}: the word {arkhonton} is omitted in some MSS. and by some Editors.

[10] {sagarin}.

[11] {tous basileious}: so Wesseling. The MSS. have {tous basileas}, "the kings," which may perhaps be used here as equivalent to {tous basileious}: some Editors, including Stein, adopt the conjecture {tou basileos}, "from the youngest of them who, was king, those who," etc.

[12] {tou basileos}: some Editors read by conjecture {Skolotou basileos}, "after their king Scolotos."

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