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The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 73

215. As to the Massagetai, they wear a dress which is similar to that of the Scythians, and they have a manner of life which is also like theirs; and there are of them horsemen and also men who do not ride on horses (for they have both fashions), and moreover there are both archers and spearmen, and their custom it is to carry battle-axes; 220 and for everything they use either gold or bronze, for in all that has to do with spear-points or arrow-heads or battle-axes they use bronze, but for head-dresses and girdles and belts round the arm-pits 221 they employ gold as ornament: and in like manner as regards their horses, they put breast-plates of bronze about their chests, but on their bridles and bits and cheek-pieces they employ gold. Iron however and silver they use not at all, for they have them not in their land, but gold and bronze in abundance.

216. These are the customs which they have:—Each marries a wife, but they have their wives in common; for that which the Hellenes say that the Scythians do, is not in fact done by the Scythians but by the Massagetai, that is to say, whatever woman a man of the Massagetai may desire he hangs up his quiver in front of the waggon and has commerce with her freely. They have no precise limit of age laid down for their life, but when a man becomes very old, his nearest of kin come together and slaughter him solemnly 222 and cattle also with him; and then after that they boil the flesh and banquet upon it. This is considered by them the happiest lot; but him who has ended his life by disease they do not eat, but cover him up in the earth, counting it a misfortune that he did not attain to being slaughtered. They sow no crops but live on cattle and on fish, which last they get in abundance from the river Araxes; moreover they are drinkers of milk. Of gods they reverence the Sun alone, and to him they sacrifice horses: and the rule 223 of the sacrifice is this:—to the swiftest of the gods they assign the swiftest of all mortal things.

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