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DERBICCAE

DERBICCAE or DE´RBICES (Δερβίκκαι, Ptol. 6.10.2; Aelian, Ael. VH 4.1; Steph. B. sub voce Δέρβικες, Strab. xi. pp. 508, 514, 520; Diod. 2.2; Δερβέκιοι, Dionys. Per. 734, 738; Derbices, Mela, 3.5.4), a tribe, apparently of Scythian origin, settled in Margiana, on the left bank of the Oxus, between it, the Caspian sea, and Hyrcania. They seem to have borne various names, slightly changed from one to the other,--as Ctesias, on the authority of Stephanus, appears to have added to those quoted above, those of Derbii and Derbissi. Strabo (l.c.) gives a curious account of their manners, which are clearly those of Scythians. “They worship,” says he, “the earth; they neither sacrifice nor slay any female; but they put to death those among them who have exceeded their seventieth year, and the next of kin has the right to eat his flesh. They strangle and then bury old women. If any one dies before his seventieth year, he is not eaten, but buried.” Aelian mentions the same anecdote, and implies that the persons slain are first offered in sacrifice and then eaten in solemn feast (V. H. 4.1). Strabo (xi. p.517) had already shown that the manners of the people along the shores of the Caspian were exceedingly barbarous.

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