Now of the land about which this account has been begun, no one knows precisely what lies beyond it: for I am not able to hear of any one who alleges that he knows as an eye-witness . . . .
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16. Now of the land about which this account has been begun, no one knows precisely what lies beyond it: for I am not able to hear of any one who alleges that he knows as an eye-witness; and even Aristeas, the man of whom I was making mention just now, even he, I say, did not allege, although he was composing verse, that he went further than the Issedonians; but that which is beyond them he spoke of by hearsay, and reported that it was the Issedonians who said these things. So far however as we were able to arrive at certainty by hearsay, carrying inquiries as far as possible, all this shall be told.
17. Beginning with the trading station of the Borysthenites,—for of the parts along the sea this is the central point of all Scythia,—beginning with this, the first regions are occupied by the Callipidai, who are Hellenic Scythians; and above these is another race, who are called Alazonians. These last and the Callipidai in all other respects have the same customs as the Scythians, but they both sow corn and use it as food, and also onions, leeks, lentils and millet. Above the Alazonians dwell Scythians who till the ground, and these sow their corn not for food but to sell.
18. Beyond them dwell the Neuroi; and beyond the Neuroi towards the North Wind is a region without inhabitants, as far as we know. These races are along the river Hypanis to the West of the Borysthenes; but after crossing the Borysthenes, first from the sea-coast is Hylaia, and beyond this as one goes up the river dwell agricultural Scythians, whom the Hellenes who live upon the river Hypanis call Borysthenites, calling themselves at the same time citizens of Olbia. These agricultural Scythians occupy the region which extends Eastwards for a distance of three days’ journey, reaching to a river which is called Panticapes, and Northwards for a distance of eleven days’ sail up the Borysthenes. Then immediately beyond these begins the desert and extends for a great distance; and on the other side of the desert dwell the Androphagoi, a race apart by themselves and having no connection with the Scythians. Beyond them begins a region which is really desert and has no race of men in it, as far as we know.
19. The region which lies to the East of these agricultural Scythians, after one has crossed the river Panticapes, is occupied by nomad Scythians, who neither sow anything nor plough the earth; and this whole region is bare of trees except Hylaia. These nomads occupy a country which extends to the river Gerros, a distance of fourteen days’ journey Eastwards.
20. Then on the other side of the Gerros we have those parts which are called the Royal lands and those Scythians who are the bravest and most numerous and who esteem the other Scythians their slaves. These reach Southwards to the Tauric land, and Eastwards to the trench which those who were begotten of the blind slaves dug, and to the trading station which is called Cremnoi upon the Maiotian lake; and some parts of their country reach to the river Tanaïs. Beyond the Royal Scythians towards the North Wind dwell the Melanchlainoi, of a different race and not Scythian. The region beyond the Melanchlainoi is marshy and not inhabited by any, so far as we know.
21. After one has crossed the river Tanaïs the country is no longer Scythia, but the first of the divisions belongs to the Sauromatai, who beginning at the corner of the Maiotian lake occupy land extending towards the North Wind fifteen days’ journey, and wholly bare of trees both cultivated and wild. Above these, holding the next division of land, dwell the Budinoi, who occupy a land wholly overgrown with forest consisting of all kinds of trees.
22. Then beyond the Budinoi towards the North, first there is desert for seven days’ journey; and after the desert turning aside somewhat more towards the East Wind we come to land occupied by the Thyssagetai, a numerous people and of separate race from the others. These live by hunting; and bordering upon them there are settled also in these same regions men who are called Irycai, who also live by hunting, which they practice in the following manner:—the hunter climbs up a tree and lies in wait there for his game (now trees are abundant in all this country), and each has a horse at hand, which has been taught to lie down upon its belly in order that it may make itself low, and also a dog: and when he sees the wild animal from the tree, he first shoots his arrow and then mounts upon his horse and pursues it, and the dog seizes hold of it. Above these in a direction towards the East dwell other Scythians, who have revolted from the Royal Scythians and so have come to this region.
23. As far as the country of these Scythians the whole land which has been described is level plain and has a deep soil; but after this point it is stony and rugged. Then when one has passed through a great extent of this rugged country, there dwell in the skirts of lofty mountains men who are said to be all bald-headed from their birth, male and female equally, and who have flat noses and large chins and speak a language of their own, using the Scythian manner of dress, and living on the produce of trees. The tree on the fruit of which they live is called the Pontic tree, and it is about the size of a fig-tree: this bears a fruit the size of a bean, containing a stone. When the fruit has ripened, they strain it through cloths and there flows from it a thick black juice, and this juice which flows from it is called as-chy. This they either lick up or drink mixed with milk, and from its lees, that is the solid part, they make cakes and use them for food; for they have not many cattle, since the pastures there are by no means good. Each man has his dwelling under a tree, in winter covering the tree all round with close white felt-cloth, and in summer without it. These are injured by no men, for they are said to be sacred, and they possess no weapon of war. These are they also who decide the disputes rising among their neighbors; and besides this, whatever fugitive takes refuge with them is injured by no one: and they are called Argippaians.
– Herodotus, Book IV
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