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Eth. ARGIPPAEI (Eth. Ἀργιππαῖοι, according to the common text of Hdt. 4.23; but two good MSS. have Ὀργιεμπαῖοι, which Dindorf adopts; Ὀργιέμπεοι, Zenob. Prov, 5.25; Arimphaei or Arymphaei, Mela, Plin. ll. inf. cc.), a people in the north of Asia, dwelling beyond the Scythians, at the foot of inaccessible mountains, beyond which, says Herodotus (100.25), the country was unknown; only the Argippaei stated that these mountains were inhabited by men with goats' feet, and that beyond them were other men who slept for six months; “but this story,” he adds, “I do not at all accept.” East of the Argippaei dwelt the Issedones; but to the N. of both nothing was known. As far as the Argippaei, however, the people were well. known, through the traffic both of the Scythians and of the Greek colonies on the Pontus.

These people were all bald from their birth, both men and women; flat-nosed and long-chinned. They spoke a distinct language, but wore the Scythian dress. They lived on the fruit of a species of cherry (probably the Prunus padus, or bird-cherry), the thick juice of which they strained through cloths, and drank it pure, or mingled with milk; and they made cakes with the pulp, the juice of which they called ἄσχυ. Their flocks were few, because the pasturage was scanty. Each man made his abode under a tree, about which a sort of blanket was hung in tile winter only. The bald people were esteemed sacred, and were unmolested, though carrying no arms. Their neighbours referred disputes to their decision; and all fugitives who reached them enjoyed the right of sanctuary. Throughout his account Herodotus calls them the bald people (οἱ φαλακροί), only mentioning their proper name once, where the reading is doubtful.

Mela (1.19.20), enumerating the peoples E. of the Tanaïs, says that, beyond the Thyssagetae and Turcae, a rocky and desert region extends far and wide to the Arymphaei, of whom he gives a description, manifestly copied from Herodotus, and then adds, that beyond them rises the mountain Rhipaeus, beyond which lies the shore of the Ocean. A precisely similar position is assigned to the Arimphaei by Pliny (6.7, 13. s. 14), who calls them a race not unlike the Hyperborei, and then, like Mela, abridges the description of Herodotus. (Comp. Amm. Marc. 22.8.38; Solin. 21. s. 17; Marcian. Cap. vi. p. 214.)

An account of the various opinions respecting this race will be found in Baehr's Notes on the passage in Herodotus. They have been identified with the Chinese, the Brahmins or Lamas, and the Calmucks. The last seems to be the most probable opinion, or the description of Herodotus may be applied to the Mongols in general; for there are several striking points of resemblance. Their sacred character has been explained as referring to the class of priests among them; but perhaps it is only a form of the celebrated fable of the Hyperboreans. The mountains, at the foot of which they are placed, are identified, according to the different views about the people, with the Ural, or the W. extremity of the Altai, or the eastern part of the Altai. (De Guignes, Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscrip. vol. xxxv. p. 551; Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. ii. pp. 691, 765, 892, Vorhalle, p. 292; Heeren, Ideen, 1.2, p. 299; Bohlen, Indien, i. p. 100; Ukert, 3.2. pp. 543--546; Forbiger, ii. p. 470.)


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.23
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.13
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.7
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 22.8.38
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