, Strab. vii. p.308
), the inhabitants of the Chersonesus Taurica, or modern Crimea.
They were probably the remains of the Cimmerians, who were driven out of the Chersonese by the Scythians. (Hdt. 4.11
; Heeren, Ideen,
1.2. p. 271; Mannert, iv. p. 278.) They seem to have been divided into several tribes: but the two main divisions of them were the nomad Tauri and the agricultural. (Strab. vii. p.311
The former possessed the northern part of the country, and lived on meat, mare's milk, and cheese prepared from it.
The agricultural Tauri were somewhat more civilised; yet altogether they were a rude and savage people, delighting in war and plunder, and particularly addicted to piracy. (Hdt. 4.103
; Strab. vii. p.308
; Mela, 2.1; Tac. Ann. 12.17
.), Nevertheless, in early times at least, they appear to have been united under a monarchical government (Hdt. 4.119
). Their religion was particularly gloomy and horrible, consisting of human sacrifices to a virgin goddess, who, according to Ammianus Marcelinus (22.8. s. 34), was named Oreiloche, though the Greeks regarded her as identical with Their Artemis, and called her Tauropolos. (Soph. Aj. 172
; Eur. Iph. Taur.
1457; Diod. 4.44
; Ach. Tat. 8.2; Strab. 13.535; Böckh, Inscr.
ii. p. 89.)
These victims consisted of shipwrecked persons, or Greeks that fell into their. hands.
After killing them, they stuck their heads upon poles, or, according to Ammianus (l.c.
), affixed them to the wall of the temple, whilst they cast down the bodies from the rock on which the temple stood. (Hdt. 4.103
; Ov. ex Pont. 3.2
45, seq., Trist.
According to a tradition among the Tauri themselves, this goddess was Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon (Herod. l.c.
) They had also a custom of cutting off the heads of prisoners of war, and setting them on poles above the chimneys of their houses, which usage they regarded as a protection of their dwellings (lb
). If the king died, all his dearest friends were buried with him. On the decease of a friend of the king's, he either cut off the whole or part of the deceased person's ear, according to his dignity. (Nic. Damasc. p. 160, Orell.)