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SAURO´MATAE

SAURO´MATAE (Σαυρομάται), probably the form which the root Sarmat-took in the languages from which the information of the Greeks of the parts about Olbiopolis was derived. It is the only form found in Herodotus, who knows nothing of the later name Sarmatae. When this latter term, however, came into use, Sauromatae, especially with the Roman writers, became archaic and poetical, or exotic. This is the case in the line-- “Ultra Sauromatas, fugere hinc libet, &c.

(Juv. Sat. 2.1),

and elsewhere.

The Greeks of the Black Sea would take the name from either the Scythians or the Getae; and it is probably to the language of the latter, that the form belonged. Hence, it is a form of Samartae, taken from one of the eastern dialects of Dacia by the Greeks (possibly having passed through a Scythian medium as well) as opposed.to Sarmatae, which is from the western parts of the Dacian area, and adopted by the Romans. Its first and most convenient application is to the Asiatic branch of the Sarmatians. These may be called Sarmatians as well, as they are by Ptolemy. On the contrary, it is rare, even in a Greek author, to apply Sauromatae to the Sarmatians of the Pannonian frontier. The evidence as to the identity of the words is superabundant. Besides the internal probability, there is the statement of Pliny--“Sarmatae, Graecis Sauromatae” (4.25).

With the writers of the Augustan age the use of the two forms fluctuates. It is exceptional, however, for a Greek to write Sarmatae, or a Roman Sauromatae. Exceptional, however, as it is, the change is frequent. Diodorus writes Sauromatae (2.44), speaking of the Asiatic branch; Strabo writes Sauromatae under the same circumstances; also when following Greek authorities. For the western tribes he writes Sarmatae.

Ovid uses the term that best suits his metre, giving Sarmatae the preference, caeteris paribus.Sarmaticae major Geticaeque frequentia gentes.

Trist. 5.7. 13.) “Jam didici Getice Sarmaticeque loqui.

Ibid. 5.12. 58.) “Stridula Sauromates praustra bubulcus agit.

Ibid. 3.12. 30.)

The Sauromatae of Herodotus were the occupants of a Λάξις, a word evidently used in a technical sense, and perhaps the term by which his informants translated the Scythian or Sarmatian equivalents to our word March; or it may = street. The Bashkir country, at the present moment, is divided into four streets, roads, or ways, according to the countries to which they lead. The number of these Λάξιες were two; the first being that of the Sauromatae, bounded on the south and west by the Tanais and Maeotis, and extending northwards fifteen days' journey. The country was treeless. The second Λάξις, that of the Budini, followed. This was a wooded country. There is no necessity for connecting the Budini with Sarmatae, on the strength of their both being occupants of a Λάξις. All that comes out of the text of Herodotus is, that the Scythians near Olbiopolis knew of a Λάξις of the Sauromatae and a Λάξις of the Budini. The former seems to have been the north-eastern part of the Don Kozak country, with a portion of Saratov (4.21).

When Darius invaded Scythia, the Sauromatae, Geloni, and Budini acted together, and in opposition to the Agathyrsi, Neuri, Androphagi, Melanchlaeni, and Tauri; the former agreeing to help the Scythians, the latter to leave them to their fate. This suggests the probability that, politically, the Λάξιες were confederate districts (Hdt. 4.119).

The language of the Sauromatae was Scythian with solecisms, a statement which leads to the strange story of the Amazons (4.110--116), with whom the Sauromatae were most especially connected (4.117). The women amongst them remained unmarried until they had slain an enemy.

The account of Hippocrates is substantially that of Herodotus, except that he especially calls the Sauromatae European and Scythian; though, at the same time, different from other nations. He makes the number, too, of enemies that the virgins must slay before they can marry, three.

For further details, see SARMATIA.

[R.G.L]

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