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 All the mountaineers are frugal, their beverage is water, they sleep on the ground, and wear a profuse quantity of long hair after the fashion of women, which they bind around the forehead when they go to battle.1 They subsist principally on the flesh of the goat, which animal they sacrifice to Mars, as also prisoners taken in war, and horses. They likewise offer hecatombs of each kind after the manner of the Greeks, described by Pindar, “ To sacrifice a hundred of every [species].2
” They practise gymnastic exercises,3 both as heavy-armed soldiers, and cavalry, also boxing, running, skirmishing, and fighting in bands. For two-thirds of the year the mountaineers feed on the acorn, which they dry, bruise, and afterwards grind and make into a kind of bread, which may be stored up for a long period. They also use beer; wine is very scarce, and what is made they speedily consume in feasting with their relatives. In place of oil they use butter. Their meals they take sitting, on seats put up round the walls, and they take place on these according to their age and rank. The supper is carried round, and whilst drinking they dance to the sound of the flute and trumpet, springing up and sinking upon the knees.4 In Bastetania the women dance promiscuously with the men, each holding the other's hand. They all dress in black, the majority of them in cloaks called saga, in which they sleep on beds of straw. They make use of wooden vessels like the Kelts. The women wear dresses and embroidered garments. Instead of money, those who dwell far in the interior exchange merchandise, or give pieces of silver cut off from plates of that metal. Those condemned to death are executed by stoning; parricides are put to death without the frontiers or the cities. They marry according to the customs of the Greeks.5 Their sick they expose upon the highways, in the same way as the Egyptians6 did anciently, in the hope that some one who has experienced the malady may be able to give them advice. Up to the time of [the expedition of] Brutus they made use of vessels constructed of skins for crossing the lagoons formed by the tides; they now have them formed out of the single trunk of a tree, but these are scarce. Their salt is purple, but becomes white by pounding. The life of the mountaineers is such as I have described, I mean those bordering the northern side of Iberia, the Gallicians, the Asturians, and the Cantabrians,7 as far as the Vascons8 and the Pyrenees. The mode of life amongst all these is similar. But I am reluctant to fill my page with their names, and would fain escape the disagreeable task of writing them, unless perchance the Pleutauri, the Bardyetæ, the Allotriges,9 and other names still worse and more out of the way than these might be grateful to the ear of some one.
1 This reminds one of the glibs the Irish used to wear down to a recent period.
2 This passage is not found in any of the odes of Pindar now remaining.
3 The French translators observe, that we should probably understand this passage as follows, They exercise themselves as light-armed infantry, heavy-armed infantry, cavalry, &c.
4 Xenophon describes this, or one very similar, as the Persian dance: τέλος δὲ τὸ πεοͅσικὸν ὠοͅχεῖτο, κοͅοτῶν τὰς πέλτας καὶ ὤκλαζε, καὶ ἐξανίατατο. ‘Last of all he danced the Persian dance, clashing his bucklers, and in dancing fell on his knees, then sprang up again.’ Xen. Anab. b. vi. c. 1, 10.
5 This is said to distinguish them from their neighbours, the inhabitants of Majorca and Minorca, whose peculiar marriage ceremonies are thus described by Diodorus Siculus, lib. v. c. 18: παράδοξον δέ τι καὶ κατὰ τοὺς γάμους νόμιμον παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς ἐστιν ἐν γὰρ ταῦς κατὰ τοὺς γάμους εὐωχίαις, οἰκείων τε καὶ φίλων κατὰ τὴν ὴλικίαν ὁ πρῶτος άνὰ και ὁ δετερος, καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ κατὰ τὸ ἑξῆς, μίσγονται ταῖς νύμφαις ἀνὰ μέρος, ἐσχάτου τοῦ νυμφίου τυγχάνοντος ταύτης τῆς τιμῆς.
6 The mention of Egyptians here seems surprising, inasmuch as no writer appears to have recorded this as one of their customs. Of the Assyrians it is stated, both by Herodotus, i. 197, and also by Strabo him- self xvi. cap. i. 746. It seems therefore most probable that Assyrians are intended, Egyptians being merely an error of the transcriber.
7 Inhabitants of Biscay.
8 People of Navarre.
9 Who the Pleutauri were, we do not know. The Bardyete appear to be the same people whom Strabo afterwards speaks of as Bardyiti, or Bardyali, who occupied a narrow slip of land between the east of Alava and the west of Navarre. The Allotriges Casaubon supposes to be the same as the Autrigones, who occupied the coast from Laredo to the Gulf of Bilboa.
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