This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Ἀσσύριοι: under this term Hdt. may here intend to include (a） Assyrians properly so called, (b) Babylonians, and dwellers in Mesopotamia generally, (c) Syrians (Aramaeans) properly so called, as none of these peoples is separately accounted for in the list. His use of Ἀσσυρίη, Ἀσσύριοι in Bks. 1-3 (e.g. 3. 92 ἀπὸ Βαβυλῶνος δὲ καὶ τῆς λοιπῆς Ἀσσυρίης) will justify (a), (b), and the remark here below (c).
στρατευόμενοι , i.e. militiae; for domi they were μιτρηφόροι, 1. 195. χάλκεά τε κράνεα καὶ πεπλεγμένα, apparently two distinct kinds of helmet, the latter kind perhaps of leather. Assyrian helmets are of various types (Rawlinson's illustrations ad l. present five). Hdt.'s confession of inability to describe their outlandish (βάρβαρον) form is curious; he has not seen them, and cannot understand his ‘source.’ Had Hdt. been in Babylon before writing this passage it would hardly have been thus obscure; had he ever been in Babylonia he might have revised it. The obscurity has its bearing upon the problems of Hdt.'s Travels, Sources, Composition; cp. next note.
παραπλήσια τῇσι Αἰγυπτίῃσι is somewhat of a crux. Are shield, spear, and dagger (poignard) all in the Egyptian style? or only the poignard? What word is to be supplied with Αἰγ.? Probably the Egyptian type applies to all three weapons; on the latter point cp. App. Crit. Hdt. will hardly have been in Egypt before writing in this manner; cp. c. 89 infra, and next note but one.
ῥόπαλα ξύλων τετυλωμένα σιδήρῳ: ‘wooden clubs studded with iron knobs’ sound barbarous indeed, but something of the kind had been known, perhaps, even in Athens (cp. 1. 59); cp. c. 69 infra. The genitive ξύλων, especially in the plural, is observable; cp. 1. 59, 2. 63 ξύλων κορύνας ἔχοντες κτλ. followed immediately by ἔχοντες ξύλα; cp. 4. 180 μάχονται ... λίθοισί τε καὶ ξύλοισι. Is ξύλων merely a ‘material’ genitive, or is each ῥόπαλον, each κορύνη, equivalent to one ξύλον?
λινέους θώρηκας look eminently Egyptian, cp. 2. 182, 3. 47, although not described as such here. Has Hdt. correctly identified the ‘Egyptian’ analogies, or elements, in the ‘Assyrian’ armature?
καλέονται Σύριοι ... Ἀσσύριοι ἐκλήθησαν. The variation in tense seems mainly for the ear, rhetorical (to avoid a flat repetition), and somewhat pointless (‘descriptive’ present, ‘narrative’ aorist, Sitzler). The statement in any case involves a considerable inaccuracy, though Rawlinson's assertion that “Syrian” and “Assyrian” are entirely different words (Syrian, Tyrian, Tsyrian, from Tsur, <*>, a rock; Assyrian, from Asshur, <*>) is apparently now out of date; cp. Encyc. Bibl. iv. 4845. ‘Syria,’ unknown to Hebr., possibly identical with Babyl. Suri, a N. Euphratean district of uncertain boundaries; but possibly a corruption of Ἀσσύριοι, op. cit. 1. 349. Asshur as a land is named from a city, and the city from a god, Ašur ib. The ‘Syrians’ called themselves Aram (cp. op. cit. sub v., recognized in the Ἄριμοι, Il. 2. 783, op. cit. 4845, and the Ἐρεμβοί, Od. 4. 84, op. cit. 276). The ‘Assyria’ of the Achaimenid inscriptions, though distinct from ‘Babylon,’ seems to correspond rather to Syria than to Northern Mesopotamia.
τούτων δὲ μεταξὺ Χαλδαῖοι has very much the air of a gloss, not so much because it is inconsistent with 1. 181 (for there might be ‘Chaldaians’ and ‘Chaldaians,’ and Hdt. is not self-consistent), nor because μεταξύ is anomalous, but because there appears no particular ground for special notice of the Χαλδαῖοι among all the number of ‘Syrians’ and ‘Assyrians’ here massed together. If authentic, the observation could hardly have been written after 1. 181, and thus would support the belief in the earlier composition of Bks. 7-9; the statement, or implication, that the Chaldaeans (Kaldu) were a nation, or people (not merely a caste or priestly order) is, however, correct; cp. Encyc. Bibl. i. 720.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.