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[8]

I must also mention some strange customs, everywhere talked about, of the utterly barbarous tribes; for instance, the tribes round the Caucasus and the mountainous country in general. What Euripides refers to is said to be a custom among some of them,“to lament the new-born babe, in view of all the sorrows it will meet in life, but on the other hand to carry forth from their homes with joy and benedictions those who are dead and at rest from their troubles;
1and it is said to be a custom among others to put to death none of the greatest criminals, but only to cast them and their children out of their borders—a custom contrary to that of the Derbices, for these slaughter people even for slight offences. The Derbices worship Mother Earth; and they do not sacrifice, or eat, anything that is female; and when men become over seventy years of age they are slaughtered, and their flesh is consumed by their nearest of kin; but their old women are strangled and then buried. However, the men who die under seventy years of age are not eaten, but only buried. The Siginni imitate the Persians in all their customs, except that they use ponies that are small and shaggy, which, though unable to carry a horseman, are yoked together in a four-horse team and are driven by women trained thereto from childhood; and the woman who drives best cohabits with whomever she wishes. Others are said to practise making their heads appear as long as possible and making their foreheads project beyond their chins. It is a custom of the Tapyri for the men to dress in black and wear their hair long, and for the women to dress in white and wear their hair short. They live between the Derbices and the Hyrcanians. And he who is adjudged the bravest marries whomever he wishes. The Caspians starve to death those who are over seventy years of age and place their bodies out in the desert; and then they keep watch from a distance, and if they see them dragged from their biers by birds, they consider them fortunate, and if by wild beasts or dogs, less so, but if by nothing, they consider them cursed by fortune.

1 Eur. Cresphontes 449 (Nauck)

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