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The Hyperboreans.

The Hyperboreans were so established in Greek traditional geography that H. feels bound to discuss them; but he argues that the legend as to them is not native but Greek.

The earliest mention of them is in the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus (vii. 28-9), dated by Sikes and Allen in the seventh or sixth century B. C., “ἔλπομαι Αἴγυπτον ἀφίξεται γε Κύπρον
ἐς Ὑπερβορέους ἑκαστέρω,

where their name is equivalent to ‘the ends of the earth’. We may assume that H. found it used in this sense in ‘Hesiod’ and in the ‘Epigoni’, though these works have both perished. If so, the popular etymology of their name, ‘those beyond the north wind,’ goes back at least to the seventh century. It is difficult therefore to see in them early Greek worshippers of Apollo in Thessaly and other northern parts of Greece (as Farnell, C. G. S. iv. 100 seq.); the first evidence for this view is a fragment of Hecataeus, who seems to identify them with the Locrians (Schol. to Apoll. Rhod. ii. 675). It is supported by the explanation of the name as = ὑπέρφοροι (cf. Περφερέες, 33. 3), i. e. the sacred ‘carriers’ of offerings (cf. c. 33 n.). But it is better to suppose the Hyperboreans an imaginary people, the northern counterpart of the blameless Ethiopians of the south (iii. 17. 1 n.). As geographical knowledge increased, their home was shifted further and further away (for references vid. Farnell, u. s.). Pindar (Ol. iii. 16) puts them on the Danube; then they were associated (by Damastes, a younger contemporary of H., fr. 1, F. H. G. ii. 65) with the imaginary Rhipaean Mountains, from which the north wind blew; Hippocrates (de Aer. 19) and even Aristotle (Meteor. i. 13, 350 b) accept these mountains as a reality. Later we find the Hyperboreans in an island, ‘opposite the Celts,’ which seems to be Britain (Hec. Abd. fr. 2, F. H. G. ii. 386); and finally, in the eleventh century A. D., they were identified with the Scandinavians.

The Hyperboreans were credited with all the virtues, including vegetarianism (just as, even as late as the eighteenth century A. D., Linnaeus thought the Lapps were free from all the vices of civilization and that they lived to be over 100 years old); they were especially connected with the worship of Apollo (c. 33 nn., Pind. Pyth. x. 30, and Bacchyl. iii. 59), and so identified with the Delphians by Mnaseas, a pupil of Eratosthenes (fr. 24, F. H. G. iii. 153).

H.'s refutation of the Hyperborean myth may be an attack on Hecataeus; Diodorus (ii. 47) found it in the works bearing his name, especially the story of Abaris (c. 36 n.). It is needless, as is usually done, to refer this passage in Diodorus to Hecataeus of Abdera.

δοκέω: the argument is, Aristeas might have got his story of the Hyperboreans from the Issedones (13. 1); but this is improbable, as the Scyths know nothing of the Hyperboreans, though they repeat the rest of the Issedones' story (c. 27).

The ‘Epigoni’ was the sequel of the Thebais; Pausanias (ix. 9. 2) ranked it, after the Iliad and the Odyssey, as the best of the Cyclic poems.

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