[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces a section of Herodotus
published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]

(Vol. II) Herodotus

 p345  Book IV: chapters 145‑205

In the left margin, links to Rawlinson's translation (Vol. II, with valuable notes),
and to the running commentary by How and Wells.

145 Rawlinson p119 H & W Thus Megabazus did. About this time a great armament was sent against Libya also, for a reason which I will show after this story which I will now relate. The descendants of the crew of the Argo had been driven out by those Pelasgians who carried off the Athenian women from Brauron; being driven out of Lemnos by these, they sailed away to Lacedaemon, and there encamped on Taÿgetum and kindled a fire. Seeing this, the Lacedaemonians sent a messenger to enquire who they were and whence they came. They answered the messenger that they were Minyae, descendants of the heroes who had sailed in the Argo, and had put in at Lemnos and there begotten their race. Hearing the story of the lineage of the Minyae, the Lacedaemonians sent a second time and asked to what end they had come into Laconia and kindled a fire. They replied, that being expelled by the Pelasgians they had come to the land of their fathers,  p347 as (they said) was most just; and for their desire, it was that they might dwell with their father's people, sharing in their rights and receiving allotted parcels of land. It pleased the Lacedaemonians to receive the Minyae1 on the terms which their guests desired; the chief cause of their so consenting was that the Tyndaridae2 had been in the ship's company of the Argo; so they received the Minyae and gave them of their land and divided them among their own tribes. The Minyae forthwith wedded wives, and gave in marriage to others the women they had brought from Lemnos.

146 Rawlinson p121 H & W But in no long time these Minyae waxed over-proud, demanding an equal right to the kingship, and doing other things unlawful; wherefore the Lacedaemonians resolved to slay them, and they seized and cast them into prison. (When the Lacedaemonians kill, they do it by night, never by day.) Now when they were about to kill the prisoners, the wives of the Minyae, who were native to the country, daughters of the chief among the Spartans, entreated leave to enter the prison and have speech each with her husband; the Lacedaemonians granted this, supposing that the women would deal honestly with them. But when the wives came into the prison, they gave to their husbands all their own garments, and themselves put on the men's dress; so the Minyae donned the female dress and so passed on in the guise of women, and having thus escaped once more encamped on Taÿgetum.

147 Now about this same time Theras (who was  p349 a descendant of Polynices, through Thersander, Tisamenus, and Autesion) was preparing to lead out colonists from Lacedaemon. This Theras was of the lineage of Cadmus and an uncle on the mother's side of Aristodemus' sons Eurysthenes and Procles; and while these boys were yet children he held the royal power of Sparta as regent; but when his nephews grew up and became kings, then Theras could not brook to be a subject when he had had a taste of supreme power, and said he would abide no longer in Lacedaemon but sail away to his kinsfolk. There were in the island now called Thera, but then Calliste, descendants of Membliarus the son of Poeciles, a Phoenician; for Cadmus son of Agenor, in his search for Europa, had put in at the place now called Thera; and having put in, either because the land pleased him, or because for some other reason he desired so to do, he left in this island, among other Phoenicians, his own kinsman Membliarus. These dwelt in the island Calliste for eight generations before Theras came from Lacedaemon.

148 Rawlinson p124 H & W It was these whom Theras was preparing to join, taking with him a company of people from the tribes; it was his intent to settle among the folk of Calliste, and not to drive them out but to claim them as verily his own people. So when the Minyae escaped out of prison and encamped on Taÿgetum, and the Lacedaemonians were taking counsel to put them to death, Theras entreated for their lives, that there might be no killing, promising himself to lead them out of the country. The Lacedaemonians consenting to this, Theras sailed with three fifty-oared ships to join the descendants of Membliarus, taking with him  p351 not all the Minyae but a few only; for the greater part of them made their way to the lands of the Paroreatae and Caucones, whom having driven out the country they divided themselves into six companies and founded in the land they had won the cities of Lepreum, Macistus, Phrixae, Pyrgus, Epium, Nudium;3 most of which were in my time taken and sacked by the Eleans. After the island Calliste, it was called Thera after its colonist.

149 But as Theras' son would not sail with him, his father therefore said that he would leave him behind as a sheep among wolves; after which saying the stripling got the nickname of Oeolycus,4 and it so fell out that this became his customary name. He had a son born to him, Aegeus,a from whom the Aegidae, a great Spartan clan, take their name. The men of this clan, finding that none of their children lived, set up, by the instruction of an oracle, a temple of the avenging spirits of Laius and Oedipus,5 after which the children lived. Thus it fared also with the children of the Aegidae at Thera.

150 Thus far in my story the Lacedaemonian and Theraean records agree; for the rest we have only the word of the Theraeans. Grinnus son of Aesanius, king of Thera, a descendant of this same Theras, came to Delphi bringing an hecatomb from his city; there came with him, among others of his  p353 people, Battus son of Polymnestus, a descendant of Euphemus of the Minyan clan. When Grinnus king of Thera inquired of the oracle concerning other matters, the priestess' answer was that that he should found a city in Libya. "Nay, Lord," answered Grinnus, "I am grown old and heavy to stir; do thou lay this command on some one of these younger men," pointing as he spoke to Battus. No more was then said. But when they had departed, they neglected to obey the oracle, seeing that they knew not where Libya was, and feared to send a colony out to an uncertain goal.

151 Rawlinson p126 Then for seven years after this there was no rain in Thera; all their trees in the island save one were withered. The Theraeans inquired again at Delphi, and the priestess made mention of the colony they should send to Libya. So since there was no remedy for their ills, they sent messengers to Crete to seek out any Cretan or sojourner there who had travelled to Libya. These, in their journeys about the island, came to the town of Itanus, where they met a trader in purple called Corobius, who told them that he had once been driven out of his course by winds to Libya, to an island there called Platea.6 This man they hired to come with them to Thera; thence but a few men were first sent on shipboard to spy out the land, who, being guided by Corobius to the aforesaid island Platea, left him there with provision for I know not how many months, and themselves sailed back with all speed to Thera to bring news of the island.

152 H & W But when they had been away for longer than the agreed time, and Corobius had no provision  p355 left, a Samian ship sailing for Egypt, whereof the captain was Colaeus, was driven out of her course to Platea, where the Samians heard the whole story from Corobius and left him provision for a year; they then put out to sea from the island and would have voyaged to Egypt, but an easterly wind drove them from their course, and ceased not till they had passed through the Pillars of Heracles and came (by heaven's providence) to Tartessus. Now this was at that time a virgin7 port; wherefore the Samians brought back from it so great a profit on their wares as no Greeks ever did of whom we have any exact knowledge, save only Sostratus of Aegina, son of Laodamas; with him none could vie. The Samians took six talents, the tenth part of their profit, and made therewith a bronze vessel, like an Argolic cauldron, with griffins' heads projecting from the rim all round; this they set up in their temple of Here, supporting it with three colossal kneeling figures of bronze, each seven cubits high. This that the Samians had done was the beginning of a close friendship between them and the men of Cyrene and Thera.

153 Rawlinson p128 As for the Theraeans, when they came to Thera after leaving Corobius on the island, they brought word that they had founded a settlement on an island off Libya. The Theraeans resolved to send out men from their seven regions, taking by lot one of every pair of brothers, and making Battus leader and king of all. Then they manned two fifty-oared ships and sent them to Platea.

154 This is what the Theraeans say; and now  p357 begins the part in which the Theraean and Cyrenaean stories agree, but not till now, for the Cyrenaeans tell a wholly different tale of Battus, which is this. There is a town in Crete called Oaxus, of which one Etearchus became ruler. He had a motherless daughter called Phronime, but he must needs marry another wife too. When the second wife came into his house, she thought fit to be in very deed a stepmother to Phronime, ill‑treating her and devising all evil against her; at last she accused the girl of lewdness, and persuaded her husband that the charge was true. So Etearchus was over-persuaded by his wife and devised a great sin against his daughter. There was at Oaxus a Theraean trader, one Themison; Etearchus made this man his guest and friend, and took an oath of him that he would do him whatever service he desired; which done, he gave the man his own daughter, bidding him take her away and throw her into the sea. But Themison was very angry at being so tricked with the oath and renounced his friendship with Etearchus; presently he took the girl and sailed away, and that he might duly fulfil the oath that he had sworn to Etearchus, when he was on the high seas he bound her about with ropes and let her down into the sea and drew her up again, and presently came to Thera.

155 There Polymnestus, a notable Theraean, took Phronime and made her his concubine. In time there was born to him a son of weak and stammering speech, to whom he gave the name Battus,8 as the Theraeans and Cyrenaeans say; but to my thinking the boy was given some other name, and changed it  p359 to Battus on his coming to Libya, taking this new name by reason of the oracle uttered at Delphi and the honourable office which he received. For the Libyan word for king is "battus," and this (methinks) is why the Pythian priestess called him so in her prophecy, using a Libyan name because she knew that he was to be king in Libya. For when he came to man's estate, he went to Delphi to enquire concerning his voice; and the priestess in answer gave him this oracle:

"Battus, thou askest a voice; but the King, ev'n Phoebus Apollo.

Sends thee to make thee a home in Libya, the country of sheepfolds,"

even as though she said to him, using our word, "O King, thou askest a voice." But he made answer: "Lord, I came to thee to enquire concerning my speech; but thy answer is of other matters, things impossible of performance; thou biddest me plant a colony in Libya; where shall I get me the power or might of hand for it?" Thus spoke Battus, but the god not being won to give him another oracle and ever answering as before, he departed while the priestess yet spake, and went away to Thera.

156 Rawlinson p130 But afterwards matters went untowardly with Battus and the rest of the Theraeans; and when, knowing not the cause of their misfortunes, they sent to Delphi to enquire concerning their present ills, the priestess declared that they would fare better if they aided Battus to plant a colony at Cyrene in Libya. Then the Theraeans sent Battus with two fifty-oared ships; these sailed to Libya, but presently  p361 not knowing what else to do returned back to Thera. There the Theraeans shot at them as they came to land and would not suffer the ship to put in, bidding them sail back; which under stress of necessity they did, and planted a colony in an island off the Libyan coast called (as I have said already) Platea. This island is said to be as big as the city of Cyrene is now.

157 Here they dwelt for two years; but as all went wrong with them, leaving there one of themselves the rest voyaged to Delphi, and on their coming enquired of the oracle, and said that they were dwelling in Libya, but that they were none the better off for that. Then the priestess gave them this reply:

"I have seen Libya's pastures: thine eyes have never beheld them.

Knowest them better than I? then wondrous indeed is thy wisdom."

Hearing this, Battus and his men sailed back again; for the god would not suffer them to do aught short of colonising Libya itself and having come to the island and taken again him whom they had left there, they made a settlement at a place in Libya itself, over against the island which was called Aziris. This is a place enclosed on both sides by the fairest of groves, and a river flows by one side of it.

158 Rawlinson p132 Here they dwelt for six years; but in the seventh the Libyans persuaded them by entreaty to leave the place, saying that they would lead them to a better; and they brought the Greeks from Aziris and led them westwards, so reckoning the hours of daylight that they led the Greeks by night past the fairest place in their country, called Irasa,  p363 lest the Greeks should see it in their passage. Then they brought the Greeks to what is called the Fountain of Apollo, and said to them: "Here, ye Greeks, it befits you to dwell; for here is a hole in the sky."9

159 Rawlinson p134 H & W Now in the time of Battus the founder of the colony, who ruled for forty years, and of his son Arcesilaus who ruled for seventeen, the dwellers in Cyrene were no more in number than when they had first gone forth to the colony. But in the time of the third ruler, that Battus who was called the Fortunate, the Pythian priestess admonished all Greeks by an oracle to cross the sea and dwell in Libya with the Cyrenaeans; for the Cyrenaeans invited them, promising a new division of lands; and this was the oracle:

"Whoso delayeth to go till the fields be fully divided

Unto the Libyan land, that man shall surely repent it."

So a great multitude gathered together at Cyrene, and cut off great tracts of land from the territory of the neighbouring Libyans. Then these with their king, whose name was Adicran, being robbed of their lands and violently entreated by the Cyrenaeans, sent to Egypt and put themselves in the hands of Apries, the king of that country. Apries mustered a great host of Egyptians and sent it against Cyrene; the Cyrenaeans marched out to the place Irasa and the spring Thestes, and there battled with the Egyptians and overcame them; for the Egyptians had as yet no knowledge of Greeks, and  p365 despised their enemy; whereby they were so utterly destroyed that few of them returned to Egypt. For this mishap, and because they blamed Apries for it, the Egyptians revolted from him.10

160 Rawlinson p136 This Battus had a son Arcesilaus; he at his first coming to reign quarrelled with his own brothers, till they left him and went away to another place in Libya, where they founded a city for themselves, which was then and is now called Barce; and while they were founding it, they persuaded the Libyans to revolt from the Cyrenaeans. Then Arcesilaus came with an army into the country of the Libyans who had received his brothers and had also revolted; and these fled in fear of him to the eastern Libyans. Arcesilaus followed their flight until he came in his pursuit to Leucon in Libya, where the Libyans resolved to attack him; they joined battle and so wholly overcame the Cyrenaeans that seven thousand Cyrenaean men‑at‑arms were there slain. After this disaster Arcesilaus, being sick and having drunk medicine, was strangled by his brother Haliarchus; Haliarchus was craftily slain by Arcesilaus' wife Eryxo.

161 Rawlinson p139 Arcesilaus' kingship passed to his son Battus, who was lame and infirm on his feet. The Cyrenaeans, in their affliction, sent to Delphi to enquire what ordering of their state should best give them prosperity; the priestess bade them bring a peacemaker from Mantinea in Arcadia. The Cyrenaeans then sending their request, the Mantineans gave them their most esteemed townsman, whose  p367 name was Demonax. When this man came to Cyrene and learnt all, he divided the people into three tribes;11 of which divisions the Theraeans and dispossessed Libyans were one, the Peloponnesians and Cretans the second, and all the islanders the third; moreover he set apart certain domains and priesthoods for their king Battus, but gave all the rest, which had belonged to the kings, to be now held by the people in common.

162 Rawlinson p141 H & W During the life of this Battus aforesaid these ordinances held good, but in the time of his son Arcesilaus there arose much contention concerning the king's rights. Arcesilaus, son of the lame Battus and Pheretime, would not abide by the ordinances of Demonax, but demanded back the prerogative of his forefathers, and made himself the head of a faction; but he was worsted and banished to Samos, and his mother fled to Salamis in Cyprus. Now Salamis at this time was ruled by Evelthon, who dedicated that marvellous censer at Delphi which stands in the treasury of the Corinthians. To him Pheretime came, asking him for an army which should bring her and her son back to Cyrene; but Evelthon being willing to give her all else, only not an army, when she took what he gave her she said that this was well, but it were better to give her an army at her request. This she would still say, whatever was the gift; at the last Evelthon sent her a golden spindle and distaff, and wool therewith; and Pheretime uttering the same words as before, he answered that these, and not armies, were gifts for women.

163 Rawlinson p142 Meanwhile Arcesilaus was in Samos, gathering  p369 all men that he could and promising them a new division of land; and while a great army was thus mustering, he made a journey to Delphi, to enquire of the oracle concerning his return. The priestess gave him this answer: "For the lives of four named Battus and four named Arcesilaus, to wit, for eight generations of men, Loxias grants to your house the kingship of Cyrene; more than this he counsels you not so much as to essay. But thou, return to thy country and dwell there in peace. But if thou findest the oven full of earthen pots, bake not the pots, but let them go unscathed. And if thou bakest them in the oven, go not into the sea‑girt place; for if thou dost, then shalt thou thyself be slain, and the bull too that is fairest of the herd." This was the oracle given by the priestess to Arcesilaus.

164 But he with the men from Samos returned to Cyrene, whereof having made himself master he forgot the oracle, and demanded justice upon his enemies for his banishment. Some of these departed altogether out of the country; others Arcesilaus seized and sent away to Cyprus to be there slain. These were carried out of their course to Cnidus, where the Cnidians saved them and sent them to Thera. Others of the Cyrenaeans fled for refuge into a great tower that belonged to one Aglomachus, a private man, and Arcesilaus piled wood round it and burnt them there. Then, perceiving too late that this was the purport of the Delphic oracle which forbade him to bake the pots if he found them in the oven, he refrained of set purpose from going into the city of the Cyrenaeans, fearing the death prophesied and supposing the sea‑girt place to be  p371 Cyrene. Now his wife was his own kinswoman, daughter-in‑law of Alazir king of the Barcaeans, and Arcesilaus betook himself to Alazir; but men of Barce and certain of the exiles from Cyrene were aware of him and slew him as he walked in the town, and Alazir his father-in‑law likewise. So Arcesilaus whether with or without intent missed the meaning of the oracle and fulfilled his destiny.

165 Rawlinson p144 As long as Arcesilaus, after working his own destruction, was living at Barce, his mother Pheretime held her son's prerogative at Cyrene, where she administered all his business and sat with others in council. But when she learnt of her son's death at Barce, she made her escape away to Egypt, trusting to the good service which Arcesilaus had done Cambyses the son of Cyrus; for this was the Arcesilaus who gave Cyrene to Cambyses and agreed to pay tribute. So on her coming to Egypt Pheretime made supplication to Aryandes, demanding that he should avenge her, on the plea that her son had been killed for allying himself with the Medes.

166 This Aryandes had been appointed by Cambyses viceroy of Egypt; at a later day he was put to death for making himself equal to Darius. For learning and seeing that Darius desired to leave such a memorial of himself as no king had ever wrought, Aryandes imitated him, till he got his reward; for Darius had coined money out of gold refined to an extreme purity,12 and Aryandes, then ruling Egypt, made a like silver coinage; and now there is no silver money so pure as the Aryandic. But when  p373 Darius heard that Aryandes was so doing, he put him to death, not on this plea but as a rebel.

167 Rawlinson p146 At this time Aryandes, of whom I speak, took pity on Pheretime and gave her all the Egyptian land and sea forces, appointing Amasis, a Maraphian, general of the army, and Badres of the tribe of the Pasargadae admiral of the fleet. But before dispatching the host Aryandes sent a herald to Barce to enquire who it was who had killed Arcesilaus. The Barcaeans answered that it was the deed of the whole city, for the many wrongs that Arcesilaus had done them; which when he heard, Aryandes then sent his armament with Pheretime. This was the alleged pretext; but, as I myself think, the armament was sent to subdue Libya. For the Libyan tribes are many and of divers kinds, and though a few of them were the king's subjects the greater part cared nothing for Darius.

168 Now as concerning the lands inhabited by Libyans, the Adyrmachidae are the people that dwell nearest to Egypt; they follow Egyptian usages for the most part, but wear a dress like that of other Libyans. Their women wear bronze torques on both legs; their hair is long; they catch each her own lice, then bite and throw them away. They are the only Libyans that do this, and that show the king all virgins that are to be wedded; the king takes the virginity of whichever of these pleases  p375 him. These Adyrmachidae reach from Egypt to the harbour called Plynus.

169 Next to them are the Giligamae, who inhabit the country to the west as far as the island Aphrodisias; ere this is reached the island Platea lies off the coast, and on the mainland is the haven called Menelaus, and that Aziris which was a settlement of the Cyrenaeans. Here begins the country of silphium, which reaches from the island Platea to the entrance of the Syrtis. This people is like the others in its usages.

170 Rawlinson p148 H & W The next people westward of the Giligamae are the Asbystae, who dwell inland of Cyrene, not coming down to the sea‑coast; for that is Cyrenaean territory. These are drivers of four-horse chariots not less but more than any other Libyans; it is their practice to imitate most of the Cyrenaean usages.

171 Next westward of the Asbystae are the Auschisae, dwelling inland of Barce, and touching the sea‑coast at Euhesperidae. About the middle of the land of the Auschisae dwells the little tribe of the Bacales, whose territory comes down to the sea at Tauchira, a town in the Barcaean country; their usages are the same as those of the dwellers inland of Cyrene.

172 Next westward of these Auschisae is the populous country of the Nasamones, who in summer leave their flocks by the sea and go up to the land called Augila to gather dates from the palm-trees which grow there in great abundance, and all bear fruit. They hunt locusts, which when taken they  p377 dry in the sun, and after grinding sprinkle them into milk and so drink it. It is their custom for every man to have many wives; their intercourse with women is promiscuous, in like manner as among the Massagetae; a staff is planted before the dwelling and then they have intercourse. When a man of the Nasamones first weds, on the first night the bride must by custom lie with each of the whole company in turn; and each man after intercourse gives her whatever gift he has brought from his house. As for their manner of swearing and divination, they lay their hands on the graves of the men reputed most just and good among them, and by these men they swear; their practice of divination is to go to the tombs of their ancestors, where after making prayers they lie down to sleep, and take whatever dreams come to them for oracles. They give and receive pledges by drinking each from the hand of the other party; and if they have nothing liquid they take of the dust of the earth and lick it up.

173 Rawlinson p150 On the borders of the Nasamones is the country of the Psylli, who perished in this wise: the force of the south wind dried up their water-tanks, and all their country, lying within the region of the Syrtis, was waterless. Taking counsel together they marched southward (I tell the story as it is told by the Libyans), and when they came into the sandy desert a strong south wind buried them. So they perished utterly, and the Nasamones have their country.

174 Inland of these to the southward the Garamantes dwell in the wild beasts' country. They shun the sight and fellowship of men, and have no  p379 weapons of war, nor know how to defend themselves.

175 These dwell inland of the Nasamones; the neighbouring seaboard to the west is the country of the Macae, who shave their hair to a crest, leaving that on the top of their heads to grow and shaving clean off what is on either side; they carry in war bucklers made of ostrich skins. The river Cinyps flows into their sea through their country from a hill called the Hill of the Graces. This hill is thickly wooded, while the rest of Libya whereof I have spoken is bare of trees; it is two hundred furlongs distant from the sea.

176 Rawlinson p152 H & W Next to these Macae are the Gindanes, where every woman wears many leathern anklets, because (so it is said) she puts on an anklet for every man with whom she has had intercourse; and she who wears most is reputed the best, because she has been loved by most men.

177 There is a headland jutting out to sea from the land of the Gindanes; on it dwell the Lotus-eaters, whose only fare is the lotus.13 The lotus fruit is of the bigness of a mastich-berry: it has a sweet taste like the fruit of a date-palm; the lotus-eaters not only eat it but make wine of it.

178 Next to these along the coast are the Machlyes, who also use the lotus, but less than the people aforesaid. Their country reaches to a great river  p381 called Triton,14 which issues into the great Tritonian lake, wherein is an island called Phla. It is said that the Lacedaemonians were bidden by an oracle to plant a settlement on this island.

179 Rawlinson p154 The following story is also told: — Jason (it is said) when the Argo had been built at the foot of Pelion, put therein besides a hecatomb a bronze tripod, and set forth to sail round Peloponnesus, that he might come to Delphi. But when in his course he was off Malea, a north wind caught and carried him away to Libya; and before he could spy land he came into the shallows of the Tritonian lake. There, while yet he could find no way out, Triton (so goes the story) appeared to him and bade Jason give him the tripod, promising so to show the shipmen the channel and send them on their way unharmed. Jason did his bidding, and Triton then showed them the passage out of the shallows and set the tripod in his own temple; but first he prophesied over it, declaring the whole matter to Jason's comrades; to wit, that when any descendant of the Argo's crew should take away the tripod, then needs must a hundred Greek cities be founded on the shores of the Tritonian lake. Hearing this (it is said) the Libyan people of the country hid the tripod.

180 Next to these Machlyes are the Ausees; these and the Machlyes, divided by the Triton, dwell on the shores of the Tritonian lake. The Machlyes wear the hair of their heads long behind, the Ausees in front. They make a yearly festival to Athene,  p383 whereat their maidens are parted into two bands and fight each other with stones and staves, thus (as they say) honouring after their people's manner that native goddess whom we call Athene. Maidens that die of their wounds are called false virgins. Before the girls are set fighting, the whole people choose ever the fairest maiden, and equip her with a Corinthian helmet and Greek panoply, to be then mounted on a chariot and drawn all along the lake shore. With what armour they equipped their maidens before Greeks came to dwell near them, I cannot say; but I suppose the armour to have been Egyptian; for I hold that the Greeks got their shield and helmet from Egypt. As for Athene, they say that she was daughter of Poseidon and the Tritonian lake, and that, being for some cause wroth with her father, she gave herself to Zeus, who made her his own daughter. Such is their tale. The intercourse of men and women there is promiscuous; they do not cohabit but have intercourse like cattle. When a woman's child is well grown, within three months thereafter the men assemble, and the child is adjudged to be that man's to whom it is most like.

181 Rawlinson p157 H & W I have now told of all the nomad Libyans that dwell on the sea‑coast. Farther inland than these is that Libyan country which is haunted by wild beasts, and beyond this wild beasts' land there runs a ridge of sand that stretches from Thebes of Egypt to the Pillars of Heracles.15 After about a ten  p385 days' journey along this ridge there are masses of great lumps of salt in hillocks; on the top of every hillock a fountain of cold sweet water shoots up from the midst of the salt; men dwell round it who are farthest away towards the desert and inland from the wild beasts' country. The first on the journey from Thebes, ten days distant from that place, are the Ammonians, who follow the worship of the Zeus of Thebes; for, as I have before said, the image of Zeus at Thebes has the head of a ram. They have another spring of water besides, which is warm at dawn, and colder at market-time, and very cold at noon; and it is then that they water their gardens; as the day declines the coldness abates, till at sunset the water grows warm. It becomes ever hotter and hotter till midnight, and then it boils and bubbles; after midnight it becomes ever cooler till dawn. This spring is called the spring of the sun.

182 Rawlinson p160 At a distance of ten days' journey again from the Ammonians along the sandy ridge, there is a hillock of salt like that of the Ammonians, and springs of water, where men dwell; this place is called Augila; it is to this that the Nasamones are wont to come to gather palm-fruit.

183 After ten days' journey again from Augila there is yet another hillock of salt and springs of water and many fruit-bearing palms, as at the other places;  p387 men dwell there called Garamantes, an exceeding great nation, who sow in earth which they have laid on the salt. Hence is the shortest way to the Lotus-eaters' country, thirty days' journey distant. Among the Garamantes are the oxen that go backward as they graze; whereof the reason is that their horns curve forward; therefore they walk backward in their grazing, not being able to go forward, seeing that the horns would project into the ground. In all else they are like other oxen, save that their hide is thicker, and different to the touch. These Garamantes go in their four-horse chariots chasing the cave-dwelling Ethiopians: for the Ethiopian cave-dwellers are swifter of foot than any men of whom tales are brought to us. They live on snakes, and lizards, and such-like creeping things. Their speech is like none other in the world; it is like the squeaking of bats.

184 Rawlinson p162 H & W After another ten days' journey from the Garamantes there is again a salt hillock and water; men dwell there called Atarantes. They are the only men known to us who have no names; for the whole people are called Atarantes, but no man has a name of his own. These when the sun is exceeding hot curse and most foully revile him, for that his burning heat afflicts their people and their land. After another ten days' journey there is again a hillock of salt, and water, and men dwelling there. Near to this salt is a mountain called Atlas, the shape  p389 whereof is slender and a complete circle; and it is said to be so high that its summits cannot be seen, for cloud is ever upon them winter and summer. The people of the country call it the pillar of heaven. These men have got their name, which is Atlantes, from this mountain. It is said that they eat no living creature, and see no dreams in their sleep.

185 Rawlinson p164 I know and can tell the names overall the peoples that dwell on the ridge as far as the Atlantes, but no farther than that. But this I know, that the ridge reaches as far as the Pillars of Heracles and beyond them. There is a mine of salt on it a ten days' journey distant from the Atlantes, and men dwell there. Their houses are all built of the blocks of salt; here begins the part of Libya where no rain falls; for the walls, being of salt, could not stand firm if there were rain.b The salt which is dug from this mine is both white and purple. Beyond this ridge the southern and inland parts of Libya are desert and waterless; no wild beasts are there nor rain, nor forests; this region is wholly without moisture.

186 Thus from Egypt to the Tritonian lake, the Libyans are nomads that eat meat and drink milk; for the same reason as the Egyptians too profess,c they will not touch the flesh of cows; and they rear no swine. The women of Cyrene too deem it wrong to eat cows' flesh, because of the Isis of Egypt; nay, they even honour her with fasts and  p391 festivals; and the Barcaean women refuse to eat swine too as well as cows.

187 Rawlinson p166 Thus it is with this region. But westward of the Tritonian lake the Libyans are not nomads; they follow not the same usages, nor treat their children as the nomads are wont to do. For the practice of many Libyan nomads (I cannot with exactness say whether it be the practice of all) is to take their children when four years old, and with grease of sheep's wool to burn the veins of their scalps or sometimes of their temples, that so that children may be never afterwards afflicted by phlegm running down from the head. They say that this makes their children most healthy. In truth no men known to us are so healthy as the Libyans; whether it be by reason of this practice, I cannot with exactness say; but most healthy they certainly are. When the children smart from the pain of the burning the Libyans have found a remedy, which is, to heal them by moistening with goats' urine. This is what the Libyans themselves say.

188 The nomads' manner of sacrificing is to cut a piece from the victim's ear for first-fruits and throw it over the house; which done they wring the victim's neck. They sacrifice to no gods save the sun and moon; that is, this is the practice of the whole nation; but the dwellers by the Tritonian lake sacrifice to Athene chiefly, and next to Triton and Poseidon.

189 It would seem that the robe and aegis of Athene were copied by the Greeks from  p393 the Libyan women; for save that the dress of Libyan women is leathern, and that the tassels of their goatskin bucklers are not snakes but made of thongs of hide, in all else their equipment is the same. Nay, the very name bewrays that the raiment of the statues of Pallas has come from Libya; for Libyan within wear hairless tasselled goatskins over their dress, coloured with madder, and the Greeks have changed the name of these into their "aegis."16 Further, to my thinking the ceremonial chant17 first took its rise in Libya; for the women of that country chant very tunefully. And it is from the Libyans that the Greeks have learnt to drive four-horse chariots.

190 Rawlinson p169 H & W The dead are buried by the nomads in Greek fashion, save by the Nasamones. These bury their dead sitting, being careful to make the dying man sit when he gives up the ghost, and not die lying supine. Their dwellings are compact of asphodel-stalks18 twined about reeds; they can be carried hither and thither. Such are the Libyan usages.

191 Westward of the river Triton and next to the Ausees begins the country of Libyans who till the soil and possess houses; they are called Maxyes; they wear their hair long on the right side of their heads and shave the left, and they paint their bodies with vermilion. These claim descent from the men who came from Troy. Their country, and the rest  p395 of the western part of Libya, is much fuller of wild beasts and more wooded than the country of the nomads. For the eastern region of Libya, which the nomads inhabit, is low‑lying and sandy as far as the river Triton; but the land westward of this, where dwell the tillers of the soil, is exceeding hilly and wooded and full of wild beasts. In that country are the huge snakes, and the elephants and bears and asps, the horned asses, the dog‑headed men and the headless that have their eyes in their breasts, as the Libyans say, and the wild men and women, besides many other creatures not fabulous.

192 Rawlinson p171 H & W But in the nomads' country there are none of these; yet there are others, gazelles of divers kinds, asses, not the horned asses, but those that called undrinking (for indeed they never drink), antilopes of the bigness of an ox, the horns whereof are made into the sides of a lyre, foxes, hyenas, porcupines, wild rams, the dictys and the borys,19 jackals and panthers, land crocodiles three cubits long, most like to lizards, and ostriches and at all one‑headed serpents; all these beasts are there besides those that are elsewhere too, save only deer and wild swine; of these two kinds there are none at all in Libya. There are in this country three kinds of mice, the two‑footed,20 the "zegeries" (this is a Libyan word, signifying in our language hills),  p397 and the hairy, as they are called. There are also weasels found in the silphium, very like to the weasels of Tartessus. So many are the wild creatures of the nomads' country, as far as by our utmost enquiry we have been able to learn.

193 Rawlinson p173 Next to the Maxyes of Libya are the Zauekes, whose women drive their chariots to war.

194 Next to these are the Gyzantes, where much honey is made by bees, and much more yet (so it is said) by craftsmen.21 It is certain that they all paint themselves with vermilion and eat apes, which do greatly abound in their mountains.

195 Off their coast (say the Carchedonians) there lies an island called Cyrauis, two hundred furlongs long and narrow across; there is a passage to it from the mainland; it is full of olives and vines. It is said that there is a lake in this island wherefrom the maidens of the country draw up gold-dust out of the mud with feathers smeared with pitch. I know not if this be truly so; I write but what is said. Yet all things are possible; for I myself saw pitch drawn from the water of a pool in Zacynthus. The pools there are many; the greatest of them is seventy feet long and broad, and two fathoms deep. Into this they drop a pole with a myrtle branch made fast to its end, and bring up pitch on the myrtle, smelling like asphalt, and for the rest better than the pitch of Pieria. Then they pour it into a pit that they have dug near the pool; and when  p399 much is collected there, they fill their vessels from the pit. Whatever thing falls into the pool is carried under ground and appears again in the sea, which is about four furlongs distant from the pool. Thus, then, the story coming from the island off the Libyan coast is like the truth.

196 Rawlinson p175 H & W Another story too is told by the Carchedonians. There is a place, they say, where men dwell beyond the Pillars of Heracles; to this they come and unload their cargo; then having laid it orderly by the waterline they go aboard their ships and light a smoking fire. The people of the country see the smoke, and coming to the sea they lay down gold to pay for the cargo and withdraw away from the wares. Then the Carchedonians disembark and examine the gold; if it seems to them a fair price for their cargo, they take it and go their ways; but if not, they go aboard again and wait, and the people come back and add more gold till the shipmen are satisfied. Herein neither party (it is said) defrauds the other; the Carchedonians do not lay hands on the gold till it matches the value of their cargo, nor do the people touch the cargo till the shipmen have taken the gold.

197 These are all the Libyans whom we can name, and of their kings the most part cared nothing for the king of the Medes at the time of which I write, nor do they care for him now. I have thus much further to say of this country: four nations and no more, as far as our knowledge serves, inhabit it, whereof two are aboriginal and two are not; the Libyans in the north and the Ethiopians in the  p401  south of Libya are aboriginal, the Phoenicians and Greeks are later settlers.

198 Rawlinson p176 To my thinking, there is in no part of Libya any great excellence whereby it should be compared to Asia or Europe, save only in the region which is called by the same name as its river, Cinyps. But this region is a match for the most fertile cornlandsº in the world, nor is it at all like to the rest of Libya. For the soil is black and well watered by springs, and has no fear of drought, nor is it harmed by drinking excessive showers (there is rain in this part of Libya). Its yield of corn is of the same measure as in the land of Babylon. The land inhabited by the Euhesperitae is also good; it yields at the most an hundredfold; but the land of the Cinyps region yields three hundredfold.

199 The country of Cyrene, which is the highest part of that Libya which the nomads inhabit, has the marvellous boon of three harvest seasons. First on the sea‑coast the fruits of the earth are ripe for reaping and plucking: when these are gathered, the middle region above the coast, that which they call the Hills, is ripe for gathering: and no sooner is this yield of the middle country gathered than the highest-lying crops are mellow and ripe, so that the latest fruits of the earth are coming in when the earliest are already spent by way of food and drink. Thus the Cyrenaeans have a harvest lasting eight months. Of these matters, then, enough.

200 Rawlinson p178 Now when the Persians sent by Aryandes from Egypt to avenge Pheretime came to Barce,22 they laid siege to the city, demanding the surrender of  p403 those who were guilty of the slaying of Arcesilaus: but the Barcaeans, whose whole people were accessory to the deed, would not consent. Then the Persians besieged Barce for nine months, digging underground passages leading to the walls, and making violent assaults. As for the mines, a smith discovered them by the means of a shield coated with bronze, and this is how he found them: carrying the shield round the inner side of the walls he smote it against the ground of the city; all other places where he smote it returned but a dull sound, but where the mines were the bronze of the shield rang clear. Here the Barcaeans made a countermine and slew those Persians who were digging the earth. Thus the mines were discovered, and the assaults were beaten off by the townsmen.

201 When much time was spent and ever many on both sides (but of the Persians more) were slain, Amasis the general of the land army devised a plot, as knowing that Barce could not be taken by force but might be taken by a guile: he dug by night a wide trench and laid frail planks across it, which he then covered over with a layer of earth level with the ground about it. Then when day came he invited the Barcaeans to confer with him, and they readily consented; at last all agreed to conditions of peace. This was done thus: standing on the hidden trench, they gave and took a sworn assurance that their treaty should hold good while the ground where they stood was unchanged; the Barcaeans should promise to pay a due sum to the king, and the Persians should do the Barcaeans no hurt. When the sworn agreement was made, the townsmen,  p405 trusting in it and opening all their gates, themselves came out of the city, and suffered all their enemies who so desired to enter within the walls: but the Persians broke down the hidden bridge and ran into the city. They broke down the bridge that they had made, that so they might keep the oath which they had sworn to the Barcaeans, namely, that this treaty should hold good for as long as the ground remained as it was; but if they broke the bridge the treaty held good no longer.

202 Pheretime took the most guilty of the Barcaeans, when they were delivered to her by the Persians, and set them impaled round the top of the wall; she cut off the breasts of their women and planted them around the wall in like manner. As for the remnant of the Barcaeans, she bade the Persians take them as their booty, save as many as were of the house of Battus and not accessory to the murder; to these she committed the governance of the city.

203 Rawlinson p180 The Persians thus enslaved the rest of the Barcaeans, and departed homewards. When they halted at Cyrene, the Cyrenaeans suffered them to pass through their city, that a certain oracle might be fulfilled. As the army was passing through, Badres the admiral of the fleet was for taking the city, but Amasis the general of the land army would not consent, saying that he had been sent against Barce and no other Greek city; at last they passed through Cyrene and encamped on the hill of Lycaean Zeus; there they repented of not having taken the city, and essayed to enter it again, but the Cyrenaeans would not suffer them. Then, though none attacked them, fear fell upon the Persians, and they  p407 fled to a place sixty furlongs distant and there encamped; and presently while they were there a messenger from Aryandes came to the camp bidding them return. The Persians asked and obtained of the Cyrenaeans provisions for their march, having received which they departed, to go to Egypt; but after that they fell into the hands of the Libyans, who slew the laggards and stragglers of the host for the sake of their garments and possessions; till at last they came to Egypt.

204 This Persian armament advanced as far as Euhesperidae in Libya and no farther. As for the Barcaeans whom they had taken for slaves, they carried them from Egypt into banishment and brought them to the king, and Darius gave them a town of Bactria to dwell in. They gave this town the name Barce, and it remained an inhabited place in Bactria till my own lifetime.

205 But Pheretime fared ill too, and made no good ending of her life. For immediately after she had revenged herself on the Barcaeans and returned to Egypt, she died a foul death; her living body festered and bred worms: so wroth, it would seem, are the gods with over-violent human vengeance. Such, and so great, was the vengeance which Pheretime daughter of Battus wrought upon the people of Barce.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 As descendants of the Argonauts, who were Minyae of Thessaly, living near the Pagasaean gulf.

2 Castor and Polydeuces.

3 These six towns were in the western Peloponnese, in Triphylia, a district between Elis and Messenia.

4 Literally "sheep-wolf."

5 Oedipus, son of Laius king of Thebes and was wife Iocasta, was exposed in infancy, but rescued and carried away to a far country. Returning in manhood, ignorant of his lineage, he killed his father and married his mother; after which the truth was revealed to him, too late. The story is first told by Homer, and is the subject of the Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles.

6 The island now called Bomba, east of Cyrene.

7 That is, as yet unvisited by Greeks. It was at or near the mouth of the Guadalquivir; cp. 1.163.

8 That is, the Stammerer.

9 That is, there is abundance of rain.

10 In 570 B.C.; cp. II.161.

11 According to the principle of division customary in a Dorian city state.

12 The gold coins called δαρεικοί are said to contain only 3 per cent of alloy.

13 The fruit of the Rhamnus Lotus, which grows in this part of Africa, is said to be eatable, but not so delicious as to justify its Homeric epithet "honey-sweet."

14 The "Triton" legend may arise from the Argonauts' finding a river which reminded them of their own river Triton in Boeotia, and at the same time identifying the local god (cp. 180) with Athene, one of whose epithets was Τριτογένεια (whatever that means).

15 Herodotus' description is true in so far as it points to the undoubted fact of a caravan route from Egypt to N. W. Africa; the starting-point of which, however, should be Memphis and not Thebes. But his distances between identifiable places are nearly always incorrect; the whole description will not bear criticism. The reader is referred to the editions of Rawlinson, Macan, and How and Wells for detailed discussion of difficulties.

16 The aegis is the conventional buckler of Pallas. Probably the conservatism of religious art retained for the warrior goddess the goatskin buckler which was one of the earliest forms of human armour.

17 The ὀλολυγή (says Dr. Macan) was proper to the worship of Athene; a cry of triumph or exultation, perhaps of Eastern origin and connected with the Semitic Hallelu (which survives in Hallelu‑jah).

18 Asphodel is a long-stalked plant. The name has acquired picturesque associations; but Homer's "asphodel meadow" is in the unhappy realm of the dead, and is intended clearly to indicate a place of rank weeds.

19 The dictys and borys are not identifiable. (But there is a small African deer called the Dik‑dik.)

20 Clearly, the jerboa.

21 cp. VII.31, where men are said to make honey out of wheat and tamarisk.

22 The story broken off in ch. 167 is resumed.

Thayer's Notes:

a Continuing in this vein, Aegeus (Αἰγεύς) can be derived from αἲξ, αἰγός: goat.

b In 1961‑1962 I lived in the Niger, at Niamey, where there is no rain at all except for a three- or four-week season, in June if I remember right, and then they are torrential. What I do remember distinctly is that many of the huts, being built as they were of dirt and zebu and camel dung, collapsed during that season and would be rebuilt once the rains were past.

c II.41.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 20 May 18