previous next
[7]

Just now I was discussing the Thracians, and the ““Mysians, hand-to-hand fighters, and the proud Hippemolgi, Galactophagi, and Abii, men most just,”
12 because I wished to make a comparison between the statements made by Poseidonius and myself and those made by the two men in question. Take first the fact that the argument which they have attempted is contrary to the proposition which they set out to prove; for although they set out to prove that the men of earlier times were more ignorant of regions remote from Greece than the men of more recent times, they showed the reverse, not only in regard to regions remote, but also in regard to places in Greece itself. However, as I was saying, let me put off everything else and look to what is now before me: they3 say that the poet through ignorance fails to mention the Scythians, or their savage dealings with strangers, in that they sacrifice them, eat their flesh, and use their skulls as drinking-cups, although it was on account of the Scythians that the Puntus was called “Axine,” but that he invents certain “proud Hippemolgi, Galactophagi, and Abii, men most just”—people that exist nowhere on earth, How, then, could they call the sea “Axine” if they did not know about the ferocity or about the people who were most ferocious? And these, of course, are the Scythians. And were the people who lived beyond the Mysians and Thracians and Getae not also “Hippemolgi,”4 not also “Galactophagi”5 and “Abii”?6 In fact, even now7 there are Wagon-dwellers and Nomads, so called, who live off their herds, and on milk and cheese, and particularly on cheese made from mare's milk, and know nothing about storing up food or about peddling merchandise either, except the exchange of wares for wares. How, then, could the poet be ignorant of the Scythians if he called certain people “Hippemolgi and Galactophagi”? For that the people of his time were wont to call the Scythians “Hippemolgi,” Hesiod, too, is witness in the words cited by Eratosthenes: “The Ethiopians, the Ligurians, and also the Scythians, Hippemolgi.”
8Now wherein is it to be wondered at that, because of the widespread injustice connected with contracts in our country, Homer called “most just” and “proud” those who by no means spend their lives on contracts and money-getting but actually possess all things in common except sword and drinking-cup, and above all things have their wives and their children in common, in the Platonic way? 9 Aeschylus, too, is clearly pleading the cause of the poet when he says about the Scythians: ““But the Scythians, law-abiding, eaters of cheese made of mare's milk.”
10 And this assumption even now still persists among the Greeks; for we regard the Scythians the most straightforward of men and the least prone to mischief, as also far more frugal and independent of others than we are. And yet our mode of life has spread its change for the worse to almost all peoples, introducing amongst them luxury and sensual pleasures and, to satisfy these vices, base artifices that lead to innumerable acts of greed. So then, much wickedness of this sort has fallen on the barbarian peoples also, on the Nomads as well as the rest; for as the result of taking up a seafaring life they not only have become morally worse, indulging in the practice of piracy and of slaying strangers, but also, because of their intercourse with many peoples, have partaken of the luxury and the peddling habits of those peoples. But though these things seem to conduce strongly to gentleness of manner, they corrupt morals and introduce cunning instead of the straightforwardness which I just now mentioned.

1 Hom. Il. 13.5f

2 See 7. 3. 2 and the footnote.

3 Eratosthenes and Apollodorus.

4 “Mare-milkers.”

5 “Curd-eaters.”

6 “A resourceless folk.”

7 Cp. the similar words quoted from Ephorus, 7. 3. 9.

8 Eratosthenes Fr. 232 (Loeb); (Rzach, Fr. 55

9 Plat. Rep. 457d, 458c-d, 460b-d, 540, 543

10 Aesch. Fr. 198 (Nauck)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
load focus Greek (1877)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (4 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: