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Eth. PHTHIRO´PHAGI (Eth. Φθειροφάγοι), i. e. “lice-eaters,” a Scythian people, so called from their filth and dirt (ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐχμοῦ καὶ ροῦ πίνου, Strab. xi. p.449). Some modern writers endeavour to derive their name from φθείρ, the fruit of the πίτυς or firtree, which served as their food (Ritter, Vorhalle, p. 549), but there can be no doubt, from the explanation of Strabo, of the sense in which the word was understood in antiquity. This savage people is variously placed by different writers. According to Strabo they inhabited the mountains of Caucasus (Strab. xi. pp. 492, 499), and according to other writers different parts of the coasts of the Black Sea. (Arrian, Per. P. Eux. p. 18; Mela, 1.18; Plin. Nat. 6.4.) Ptolemy places them in Asiatic Sarmatia beyond the Rha (5.9.17). According to Pliny (vi 4) they were subsequently called Salae. The Budini are also said to have ate lice (φθειροτραγέουσι, Hdt. 4.109).

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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.109
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.4
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