Dionysus and Heracles in Scythia
The Eschatological String of
Herodotus Book 4
by George Hinge
1. The mysteries of Dionysus and the Mother and the teachings of the
Pythagoreans play a crucial role in Herodotus’ Histories in general
and in the Scythian logos in particular. The mysteries are,
however, not referred to overtly, but concealed in disparate details in
the narrative. It will be the ambition of the present article to combine these details into a complete and
coherent picture. I shall argue that Herodotus Book 4 is pervaded by an
“eschatological ideology” which shall illustrate the fundamental
difference between the nomadic Scythian culture and the Greek
An often-quoted testimony to Dionysiac cult in the Greek colony of
Olbia is Herodotus’ tragic story of the Scythian king Scyles (4.78-80). He
had a Greek mother, was fond of Greek customs and stayed for a month or
more a year in Olbia. He kept a house and a wife in the city. Eventually,
he chose to be initiated into the mysteries of Dionysus Baccheios. The
story is presented as an illustration of the reservations of the Scythians
towards Greek culture. Accordingly, when the Scythians learn what their
king is doing behind the walls of Olbia, Scyles is forced to escape to
Thrace, only to be rendered back and executed. Herodotus is not
particularly precise as to the nature of the initiation, but I shall try
to substantiate that Scyles was initiated into Dionysiac mysteries of the
so-called Orphic type, which was popular in many parts of the Greek world
in the Classical age. A couple of inscriptions have been discovered that
document the existence of these mysteries in Olbia. The most interesting –
and most often referred to – are three bone tablets carrying the following
- SEG 28.659 βίος. θάνατος. βίος. ἀλήθεια. Ζα(γρεύς). Διό(νυσος)
“Life. Death. Life. Truth. Za(greus?). Dio(nysos). Orphics”
- SEG 28.660 εἰρήνη. πόλεμος. ἀλήθεια. ψεῦδος. Διόν(υσος) “Peace. War.
Truth. Lie. Dion(ysos)”
- SEG 28.661 Διόν(υσος). ἀλήθεια. σῶμα. ψυχή “Dion(ysos). Truth. Body.
Even though it is anything but evident what was the actual function of
these tablets they send a clear message: Life ends with death, but after
that a new life begins. Furthermore, this belief in an afterlife is
associated explicitly with Dionysus and the Orphics. The popularity of
Orphic beliefs in the northern Black Sea area is supported by other
inscriptions from Olbia. A bronze mirror dated to ca. 500 BC carrying a
Dionysiac inscription reflects without doubt the Orphic myth of Dionysus’
death, according to which the god looked at himself in a mirror when he
was attacked by the Titans (cf. Orph. fr. 209 Kern). A fragment of a
black-glazed cylix found in Olbia carries the very beginning of Odysseus’
own tale in the Odyssey (9.39): Ἰλιό[θεν] με φ[έρων] ἄνεμ[ος
Κικ]όνεσσι [πέλ]ασσεν “a wind brought me from Troy to the Ciconians” (=
SEG 30.933); given that the concept of the wind carrying the soul to and
fro was ascribed to Orpheus (Arist., De an. 410b = Orph.
fr. 27 Kern), and the Thracian Ciconians and their king Ismarus were
connected not only with wine (Od. 9.196-7, Archil. fr. 2.2), but
also with Dionysus (cf. Ps.-Hes., fr. 238), the inscription may be yet
another testimony to the character of the Olbian cult of Dionysus. I would like to see Orphic beliefs in later
inscriptions from Panticapaeum as well: e.g. CIRB 117 (3rd
cent. BC): the deceased breaths Lenaeos; CIRB 119 (2nd/1st cent. BC):
killed in battle, the deceased will go, not to Hades, but to the land of
heroes; CIRB 121 (1st cent. BC): the deceased has escaped the
wheel of calamities.
We are in a rather controversial area of Classical studies. The label
of Orphism is ambiguous in antiquity, and one cannot point out a single
Orphic doctrine or school like, say, the Pythagorean, Platonic or
Aristotelian schools (which are not, of course, uniform either). The
mythical name of “Orpheus” was rather a seal of approval given to writings
belonging to diverse intellectual movements. These obligatory reservations
being stated, it must be admitted that both in Classical and Hellenistic
times there were in fact religious societies which have to be called and
were called “Orphic”. The Olbian bone tablets are an important testimony
to that. Furthermore, the existence of an Orphic-Dionysiac cult is
confirmed by gold leaves found in graves from South Italy, Crete and
Thessaly dating to the Classical and Hellenistic periods. They give
instructions to the deceased of what he or she is going to do when he or
she enters Hades, and we learn of two different ends: the ordinary souls
live in the forgetful darkness of Hades, whereas the souls of the
initiates drink of the Lake of Memory and come to another, more joyful
place. In a gold leaf found in Hipponion (= Pugliese
Carratelli I A 1), the initiates are called mystai kai bacchoi,
which demonstrates beyond doubt that Dionysus played a main role in the
ritual. Two gold leaves found in Pelinna in Thessaly (II B 3+4,
4th cent. BC) start with these verses:
νῦν ἔθανες καὶ νῦν ἐγένου, τρισόλβιε, ἄματι τῶιδε.
σ’ ὅτι Βάκχιος αὐτὸς ἔλυσε
“Now you have died, and now you are born, three times blessed, on this
very day. Say to Persephone that it is Bacchius himself that has redeemed
They express the same line of thought as the Olbian bone plates, only
2. However, even if there can be no doubt that Orphic-Dionysiac cults
and beliefs did exist in the fifth century in various places in the Greek
world including Olbia, it does not follow that Herodotus has such beliefs
in mind in the Scyles story. After all, Herodotus does not mention the
Orphics explicitly, nor does he describe the Dionysiac mysteries. Scyles
is initiated into as some kind of preparation for a more blessed
afterlife. His description of the ritual is, if anything, pictured as a
wild bacchanal. The keyword is “madness” expressed in the Greek verb
mainesthai occurring twice in chapter 79: in the description of the
Scythians’ general prejudice towards Bacchic cult (οὐ γάρ φασι οἰκὸς εἶναι
ἐξευρίσκειν τοῦτον, ὅστις μαίνεσθαι ἐνάγει ἀνθρώπους) and in the Greeks’
gossip about Scyles’ initiation (νῦν οὗτος ὁ δαίμων καὶ τὸν ὑμέτερον
βασιλέα λελάβηκε, καὶ βακχεύει τε καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μαίνεται). In general Dionysus Baccheius is associated with
ecstatic rituals. Since Olbia was a colony of Miletus (as it is
stated in the Scyles story: 4.78.3), it is natural to compare Scyles’
mysteries with the Milesian sacred law for the cult of Dionysius Bacchius
(LSAM 48, 276/5 BC). It speaks about a ritual called ōmophagion,
i.e. “eating of raw meat”. Euripides’ tragedy Bacchae also mentions
the ritual of eating raw meat (v. 139). It is furthermore reflected in
Dionysus’ epicleses Ōmostēs (Alcaeus, fr. 129.9 V) and
Ōmadios (Hymn.Orph. 30.5). The ritual is about leaving
civilisation, killing with one’s bare hands and eating raw meat, a total
regression to the animalistic stage. This regression is not an arrangement
which serves only to give the participants a breath of wild air in the
daily round. It is a rite of transgression in which the
temporary bestiality is supposed to lead to a more sober and civilised
life-style. In this analysis, the Bacchanals and the Orphic Dionysus
mysteries are two sides of the same coin. Thus, Scyles’ ritual madness
does not exclude that his initiation is about redemption in the afterlife.
The link between Bacchantic fury and salvation is also suggested by the
description in Euripides’ Cretes (fr. 79 Austin), even if there
seems to be some kind of syncresis of Dionysiac and Curetan rituals:
ἁγνὸν δὲ βίον τείνων ἐξ οὗ
Διὸς Ἰδαίου μύστης γενόμην,
νυκτιπόλου Ζαγρέως βροντὰς
τοὺς ὠμοφάγους δαίτας τελέσας
ὀρείῳ δᾷδας ἀνασχὼν
βάκχος ἐκλήθην ὁσιωθείς.
“It is a pure life I have since I have become initiate of the Idaean
Zeus and herdsman of nocturnal Zagreus [Dionysus]; after I have celebrated
the dinners of raw meat and raised the torches for the Mother in the
mountains with the Curetes, I have been sanctified and have acquired the
These ideas rest on a special Orphic mythology and cosmogony
different from the classic one presented by Hesiod in the Theogony.
For a long time, our comprehension of the Orphic mythology relied mainly
on late authors like Athenagoras and Damascius – supplied with scattered
allusions in Classical and Hellenistic authors. That this mythology
existed in Classical times already is testified by the Derveni papyrus,
even if the extant parts do not mention Dionysus. So, we have to rely on
references in the later sources anyway. The Latin author Firmicus Maternus
gives this account of the Orphic Dionysus myth (Err.prof.rel. 9 =
Orph. fr. 214 Kern; my paraphrase):
The Cretan tyrant Jupiter [Zeus] had an illegitimate son, Liber
[Dionysus]. He put him on his throne, though he was still a boy. His
jealous wife Juno [Hera] had her servants, the Titans, attack him. They
fooled him with rattles and a mirror, killed him, cut him and cooked the
pieces. His sister Minerva [Athena] rescued the heart and brought it to
their father, who got furious and killed the Titans. He made a gypsum
statuette, in which he inserted Liber’s heart, and put it in a temple,
where the boy’s pedagogue Silenus served as a priest. To mitigate their
tyrant, the Cretans celebrate each year a festival and every second year
mysteries, during which they revive Liber’s passions. They tear a living
ox with their teeth and run about screaming and acting as if they were mad
(fingunt animi furentis insaniam) in the woods, and they carry with
them the basket, in which Minerva hid Liber’s heart.
Firmicus Maternus is a Christian author of the fourth century AD. The
general outline of the myth is, however, much older. Thus, Euphorion (fr.
13 Powell) and Callimachus (fr. 643 Pfeiffer) refer to the cooking of
Dionysus. What makes Firmicus’ testimony interesting in this context is
the fact that he associates the Dionysiac mania and
ōmophagia with the specifically Orphic mythology about Dionysus’
death and resurrection. He calls the séances during which the passions of
Dionysus are re-performed trieterica consecratio. A
trietēris festival is commemorated in Classical sources too (e.g.
Hymn.Hom.Dion. 1.11; Eur., Bacch. 133), and it is associated with the cult of Dionysus
Baccheius in the above-mentioned Milesian sacred law. Herodotus informs that the Geloni, living north of
the Scythians, “celebrate a trietēris festival for Dionysus and are
Bacchants” (4.108). Since he wants to emphasise that the Geloni are not
nomadic Scythians, he may very well be thinking of the same sort of
mysteries into which Scyles was initiated some pages earlier; it is at any
rate important that these Bacchanals are seen as a condicio sine qua
non of agricultural civilisation. In Euripides’ Bacchae,
Pentheus, who refuses to believe in Dionysus, is torn by wild Bacchants.
It is a mythical staging of the trietēris ritual, with a real man
as the victim instead of a bull or some other animal. The
staragmos, or “tearing” (Bacch. 735, 1127), was considered a
reminiscence of the god’s own end. The participants are called Bacchoi or
Bacchai; by submitting themselves to a (ritual) death and
resurrection, they have become identical to the god himself. This
conception is implied by the text of the gold leaves, of which some say
(II A 1; similarly ΙΙ Α 2, II B 1; cf. also II C 2):
καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ὑμῶν γένος εὔχομαι ὄλβιον εἶναι.
ποινὰν δ’ ἀνταπέτεισ’
ἔργων ἕνεκα οὔτι δικαίων,
εἴτε με Μοῖρα ἐδαμάσατο εἴτε Ἀστεροπῆτα
νῦν δ’ ἱκέτις ἥκω παρ’ ἁγνὴν Φερσεφόνεαν
ὥς με πρόφρων
πέμψηι ἕδρας ἐς εὐαγέων
“For I can also boast that I belong to your blessed stock. I have paid
the penalty for the unjust deeds, whether Fate or the Lightener have
suppressed me. Now, I come as a supplicant to Persephone, in order that
she sends me to the seats of the pure”.
3. The myth of the murder of Dionysus was known to Herodotus. Even if
he does not mention it explicitly, it is evident from his treatment of the
Egyptian religion. As many others, he identified Dionysus with Osiris, who
was killed by Seth and cut to pieces, but his mother Isis, identified with
the Greek Demeter, brought the pieces together and embalmed him. Herodotus
does not tell that myth either, but he alludes to it when he tells that
Apollo / Horus, son of Dionysus / Osiris was the last divine king of the
Egyptians, the successor of Typhon / Seth (2.144, 2.156). Moreover, he
touches it on several occasions, but says that it would not be right (οὐκ
ὅσιον) to go into details:
2.48.3 (about phallagogy) “Why the private member is so huge and the
only part of the body that moves is told in a sacred tale.”
2.61.1 (about grievances at the festival for Isis in Saïs) “It is not
right for me to say over whom they are grieving.”
2.86.2 (about different mummification packages offered by the
undertakers) “... and the most expensive one carries the name of him whose
name it would not be right for me to mention in this context...”
2.170-171 “There are also graves over him whose name it is not right to
mention in this context, in Saïs in the sanctuary of Athena, behind the
temple ... At this lake, they make representations of his sufferings at
night, what the Egyptians call mysteries. Even though I know more about it
and know all the details, I shall keep my mouth.”
Cf. also 2.47.2; 2.132.2.
It is evident that it is Osiris that is killed, cut to pieces and
revived except for the penis. Herodotus is not restrained by some Egyptian
pledge of secrecy. The details about the death of Osiris were well-known
in Egypt and often described in details in Egyptian literature. His
reservations are due to the fact that he identifies the Egyptian rituals
with the Greek mystery cults. Thus, it would have been an offence against Greek
religious law to say straight out that the mysteries were about the death
of Osiris alias Dionysus. The obligatory secrecy is characteristic
of Greek mystery cults in general and of the Orphic movement in
particular. The verse ἀείδω ξυνετοῖσι· θύρας δ᾿ ἐπίθεσθε βέβηλοι “I sing
to those who know; the uninitiated must close the doors” (Orph. fr. 334
Kern; similarly frr. 245 and 247) is not only alluded to in Plato
(Symp. 218b), but also quoted, it seems, in the Derveni
papyrus (col. IV). In an Orphic context, Pindar says that he has many
arrows in his quiver that will speak to those who understand, or they will
need interpretation (Ol. 2.84-86). If we accept that Scyles’ initiation was in fact
an initiation into Orphic-Dionysic mysteries, we have a good reason why
Herodotus does not spell this point out either. He, too, writes for them
My hypothesis that Herodotus has an
Orphic-Dionysiac ritual in mind is supported by an important detail in his
narrative. When Scyles was ready for the initiation, a most powerful omen
(φάσμα μέγιστον) occurred: “the god darted the thunderbolt upon his
Olbian palace, and it burnt down; nevertheless, Scyles fulfilled his
initiation” (4.79.1-2). Yet, to be struck by lightening is at the same
time considered a divine way of passing away, a shortcut to immortality,
so to speak. The divinising death of Dionysus’ mother Semele
was due to the thunderbolt of Zeus (Pind. Ol. 2.25-26; Diod.Sic.
5.52.2). According to one tradition, Orpheus was killed by lightening as
well (Anth.Pal. 7.617 ~ Alcidamas, Ulixes 24). Heracles’
pyre was also hit by Zeus’ thunderbolt (Diod.Sic. 4.38.5). Several Orphic
gold leaves speak about the deceased being suppressed by the “Lightener”
(Pugliese Carratelli II A 1-2, B1 Ἀστεροπῆτα / Ἀστεροβλῆτα κεραυνῶν). I
presume that the lightening omen is meant as a hint to the interpretation
of the Scyles story – with the tragic contrast that Scyles is not
divinised but killed by his own after an unsuccessful escape to the
Thracians on the other side of the Danube. A little later in the Scythian
logos, we are told that the Thracian tribe of the Getans - who live in the
very same region - believes the soul to be immortal. It is, I think, no
coincidence that Herodotus tells us that in their disrespect for other
gods than Zalmoxis, the Getans shoot with their arrows against thunder and
Admittedly, the Orphic character of the initiation of Scyles is not
mentioned directly and unequivocally, but it is supported by accumulative
circumstantial evidence. As I shall demonstrate in the following sections
of the paper, it is also supported by references to other kinds of
eschatological beliefs and practices.
4. At the beginning of the fourth book, Herodotus presents three
different explanations of the origin of the Scythian people: a Scythian
myth, a Pontic Greek myth and a rationalist version. In the Greek myth,
Heracles plays a central role. Returning from Erythia, Geryon’s “Red
Island”, following a path around the disc of the earth, he finally comes
to Hylaea in Scythia. A female monster steals his horses from him, and she
refuses to give them back unless he goes in bed with her. She succeeds in
holding him back in her cave long enough to get three sons with him, the
eponym forefathers of the Scythians, Agathyrsians and Geloni.
The journey to Erythia is a kind of katabasis, a journey to the
underworld. Geryon may be seen as a variant of Hades. He is three-headed
like Cerberus (cf. Hes., Theog. 287), and just like Heracles must
fetch the dog of Hades on a later occasion, so he kills Geryon’s dog
Orthos. Of the canonical twelve labours of Heracles, the Geryonic cattle
count as number ten, the apples of the Hesperids as number eleven, and
Cerberus as number twelve, and they are in a sense variants of the same
story. The classic presentation of the Geryon story was the
Geryoneid of Stesichorus, to which Herodotus possibly alludes in
4.8.1; Stesichorus locates Erythia opposite the river of
Tartessus in Spain (fr. 184 P.) and relates that Heracles travelled in the
cup of Helios (fr. 185 P.). It is understandable that the west, where the sun
sets and “dies”, is at the same time the corner of the earth where one
would locate the entrance to the land of the dead. The Pontic Greek myth
about Heracles and the monstrous cave woman is only one among many stories
about the hindrances confronting the hero on his return with the kine of
Geryon. Other versions have other female monsters with whom Heracles has
to sleep to get home with the cattle: e.g. Scylla (Schol. Lycophon,
Alex. 46) and Celto / Celtine / Galate (Parth., Myth. 30;
Diod.Sic. 5.24). In most versions, Heracles travels through Italy
(the name of which was derived from this very story). What is more, Ephorus says that the entrance to
Hades goes through the Lake Avernus near Cumae (cf. also Verg.,
Aen., Book 6), and the Cimmerians have an oracle there (FGrHist 70
In the eleventh song of the Odyssey, Odysseus and his men come to the
borders of the Oceanus. Here is, we are told, the people and city of the
Cimmerians (Od. 11.14). Without doubt, Herodotus and all
contemporary readers were familiar with these verses. When immediately
after the Heracles story, in the third myth of origin, Herodotus tells
that the Cimmerians were the aboriginal population in Scythia before the
Scythians, the reader will get his point. According to the mythical
geography – which Herodotus does not accept but may use for his purpose –
if you go west to the Oceanus and follow the stream with the sun, you will
eventually come to Scythia and Hylaea. The last hero with whom Odysseus
speaks in the Nekyia is precisely Heracles (11.601-626) – or rather
“his image – he was himself among the immortal gods” (εἴδωλον· αὐτὸς δὲ
μετ᾽ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι). Since the idea that the person was his soul
conflicts with the opening of the Iliad (1.3-4), it was considered
an interpolation already in antiquity. The verses may have been used by Orphic itinerant
preachers in Classical times already. At any rate, the mention of
Heracles, the Cimmerians and the far west cannot but evoke associations
with contemporary eschatological beliefs.
Heracles has in fact a prominent position in the Orphic cosmogonies.
According to the summaries given in Athenagoras and Damascius, in the
beginning, there was water and mud, but after that a winged three-headed
snake was born; he was called Time (Χρόνος) or Heracles (= Orph. fr. 54 +
57 Kern). Martin L. West argues that Heracles’ place in the cosmogonic
tradition is influenced by a stoic allegoric interpretation of the
Heracles myth, according to which Heracles’ cremation on mount Oeta was
identified with the ekpyrōsis (cf. Seneca, Ben. 4.8.1). Nevertheless, it may still have some foundation in
older cosmogonic beliefs. In Hesiod’s Theogony (vv. 270-336),
Geryon is the great-nephew of a lady called Echidna, who is half woman and
half snake just like the monster of the myth told in Herodotus. Herodotus
even calls her an echidna; since the border between appellatives
and proper names is fluent, the reader (and writer) would naturally
identify the two. Hesiod’s Echidna lives together with Typhon – the Titan
that murdered Dionysus according to the Orphic mythology. Hesiod informs
that they had three children together: Orthus, the dog of Geryon,
Cerberus, the dog of Hades, and the Hydra, all monsters with whom Heracles
had to fight. Typhon is an alter ego of Geryon. Another variant is Cacus,
the monster of the Aventine whom Heracles meets on his way home with the
oxen (Verg., Aen. 8.185-275); he is at the same time a counterpart
of Echidna (his feminine side is represented by his sister Caca). Ophion – like Pherecydes’ Ophioneus an alter ego
of Typhon - started a war against Zeus at Tartessus, i.e. at the same
scene as Heracles’ battle against Geryon (Sch. Hom., Il. 8.479
The Geryon myth has an unmistakable parallel in the Vedic story about
the hero Trita Āptya, who killed the three-headed Viśvarūpa and stole his
cattle (RV 10.8, 10.48), and in the Avestic story about Thraētaona
killed the three-headed Aži Dahāka and obtained his two wives (Yt.
5.34), and it probably goes back to a common Indo-European myth. The Typhon myth, on the other hand, has a striking
parallel in the Hittite illuyankas myth. Since Typhon is in the
Greek tradition located in a cave in Cilicia (Hom., Il. 2.783;
Hes., Theog. 304; Pind., fr. 93), the myth is probably borrowed
from the Hittite. Both myths are cosmological dramas about the death
and rebirth of the world and the change of seasons. It may have implied
some eschatology too, the life of man and the life of the world being
equated. Even though the core of the Geryon myth is most likely derived
from a Proto-Indo-European model, there can be no doubt that the Greek
variant was heavily influenced by Near Eastern mythology as well. We have
already seen that Typhon was identified with the Egyptian Seth. Similarly
Heracles was recognised as the Phoenician god Melqart, who had an
important temple at Gibraltar; the Greek name “Pillars of Heracles” is
probably due to Phoenician influence. Thus, the Geryon myth, which takes
place just outside of Gibraltar, is possibly the result of a combination
of Greek and Phoenician myths. Heracles’ apotheosis by the way of the pyre
has parallels both in Tyre and Cilicia. Herodotus is aware of these attempts of
syncretism, even if he considers it wiser to distinguish the god Heracles
from the hero Heracles (2.43-45). It is highly probable that Heracles’
labours were, or could be, interpreted cosmologically in Classical times
already, even if we do not know if he was exploited by Orphic cosmogonies
at that time, and it is highly probable that the Geryon myth would evoke
cosmological associations in the readers of Herodotus’ text, especially
when it is combined with a travel along the Oceanus and an encounter with
a chthonic echidna.
5. Heracles’ liaison in Hylaea is in all probability a variant
of the Great Mother, and so their encounter may be analysed as a
cosmological event. At the same time, it may be the mythical model of an
initiation. Heracles follows the route of the Sun to the entrance of the
underworld where he kills the monster Geryon and obtains his cattle. In
Hylaea he meets another obstacle, a chthonic goddess and begets with her
the people of the Scythians. In the myth, we are told that the land was
empty, but Herodotus soon informs that it was in fact inhabited by the
Cimmerians. It is interesting that the late lexicographer Hesychius quotes
Cimmeris thea, “the Cimmerian goddess”, as a name for the Mother of
Gods. Furthermore, the readers of Herodotus would have known that after
his return to Greece with the cattle of Geryon, Heracles was initiated
into the Eleusinian mysteries, before, as his last labour, he went down to Hades
via Taenarum to fetch Cerberus, and he was finally divinised by the way of
the pyre on Mount Oeta. Thus, the life story of Heracles follows the
pattern of the initiate. Just like the struggle with Geryon corresponds to
the collection of Cerberus, Heracles’ delay in Echidna’s cave is an
obvious doublet or rather anticipation of his initiation into Demeter’s
mysteries in Eleusis.
The Scyles story is preceded by a story about the Scythian prince
Anacharsis. He is in Greek literature the prototype of the wise savage
travelling in Greece and observing the alien culture. Under his name, a
number of so-called apophthegms are transmitted which emphasise the
absurdities of Greek civilisation. Herodotus informs that on his return
from Greece, Anacharsis landed on the peninsula of Cyzicus and saw a
procession for the Mother of Gods (τῇ Μητρὶ τῶν Θεῶν). He promises the
goddess that he will sacrifice to her in the way of the Cyzicenes if he
returns safe and sound. Thus, when he landed on the north shore, he
arranged a festival of Meter in Hylaea. Unfortunately, a Scythian saw it
and reported it to King Saulius, who went to the location and immediately
shot Anacharsis with his bow (4.76.3-4). The story follows the same
pattern as the Scyles story.
The cult of the Mother of Gods seems to be referred to in a Greek
letter written on a small potsherd found in Olbia. It was originally part
of a Samian vessel produced ca. 550-530 BC. The inscription consists of 12
lines of which the left and right margins are not legible anymore, and the
text is therefore difficult to read (= SEG 42.710). Nevertheless, the
interpretation of the lines 6-8 is quite certain:
…]ληι ἐνθεῦθεν ἐς τὴν Ὑλαί[ην ...
... ] αὖτις οἱ βωμοὶ βεβλαμμένο[ι
... Μ]ητρὸς θεῶν καὶ Βορυσθέ(νεω) καὶ Ἡρακλ[ῆος ...
“from there to Hylaea ... once more the altars were destroyed ... of
the Mother of the Gods, Borysthenes and Heracles”.
The letters have a quite archaic appearance, pointing to a date in the
sixth century BC. The cult is attested in another inscription from
Olbia as well (= Dubois, No. 81, 5th cent. BC): [Μητρὶ Θε]ῶν
μεδεόσ[ηι] Ὑλαί[ης]. These two inscriptions attest the presence of Meter
in the same spot and at the same date as Anacharsis’ ritual in Herodotus’
narrative. It is interesting that Hylaea, which is dedicated to the cult
of Meter, is also the place where Heracles meets the female monster. It is
tempting to identify the two deities. The mention of an altar of Heracles
supports this interpretation.
The goddess introduced by Anacharsis from Cyzicus is the Phrygian
Cybele (Cyzicus is close to Archaic Phrygia). She was introduced into
Greece in the sixth century BC, and mysteries were performed in her name.
The mysteries of Dionysus, Demeter and Cybele are of course not identical.
Both the mythologies and rites differ. There are, however, important
analogies and convergences, which the Classical authors emphasise:
Pindar’s second dithyramb puts Cybele in connection with Dionysus (fr.
70b.6-11). In the quoted fragment of the tragedy Cretes (fr. 79
Austin), Euripides unites mysteries of Meter and Dionysus (cf. also
Euripides, Bacch. 72-82; Aeschylus, fr. 57). In the Cretan
mysteries, the Mother of Gods plays a central role, and Giovanni Pugliese
Carratelli speaks about a more primitive version of the Dionysiac
mysteries than the Orphic-Pythagorean ones represented by the South
Italian gold leaves (cf. also IC 1(xxiii).3, Phaestus, 2nd
cent. BC). On one of the gold leaves from Thurii (III 1), we
read names like Pammater, Cybeleia and Demeter. Pseudo-Apollodorus
(Bibl. 3.5.1) relates that Dionysus, after having being afflicted
with madness by the jealous Hera, he wandered about in Egypt and Syria,
but eventually came to Phrygia and was purified by Rheia and initiated
into the rituals (τὰς τελετὰς ἐκμαθών). A similar version is ascribed to the epic poet
Eumelus of the eighth (?) century BC (fr. 11 Bernabé ap. Sch. Hom.,
Il. 6.131). The story is a close parallel to the purification and
initiation of Heracles in Eleusis. Dionysus goes to Hades, too, to fetch
his mortal mother Semele and make her an Olympian goddess (Hes.,
Theog. 940-2; Apollod., Bibl. 3.5.3; Diod.Sic. 4.25.4).
The katabasis may have been an important part of the cult of the
Mother. In the Eleusinian mysteries, the initiands met Persephone in a
dark room, and they were thereby prepared for death (even though there
were apparently no ideas about metempsychosis in Eleusis). The chthonic character of Hylaea is stressed by
Herodotus twice, both in the Anacharsis story (4.76) and in the catalogue
of rivers (4.56) when he remarks that it lies near the Achillean
Race-Course. He does not go into explaining why a locality was named after
Achilleus on the north shore of the Black Sea. It was, however, well-known
to any contemporaneous reader that Achilleus was worshipped as some sort
of death god in Scythia. The small island of Leuce east of the mouth of the
Danube was considered the place to which Thetis took his mortal remains
(as related in the epos Aithiopis, 8th/7th
cent. BC). Pindar presupposes that his audience knows the island, when he
says “Achilleus (rules) the bright island in the Euxine Sea” (Nem.
4.49-50 ἐν δ᾿ Εὐξείνῳ πελάγει φαεννὰν Αχιλεὺς νᾶσον). In the “Orphic”
victory song, Pindar says that Achilleus was brought to “the Isle of the
Blest” (Ol. 2.71-80 μακάρων νᾶσον). In other words, the Isle of the
Blest and the White Island could be considered one and the same
locality. If Alcaeus fr. 354 V. is authentic, Achilleus was
known as “the god of Scythia” already ca. 600 BC. So, Herodotus’ mention of Achilleus’ Race-Course
may be meant as a discrete key to the interpretation of the locality
Hylaea, namely that the Mother of Gods worshipped in that locality was the
patroness of chthonic mysteries not unlike those of Eleusis. This reading is moreover confirmed by the
juxtaposition of the stories of Anacharsis and Scyles.
6. Meter played an important role among the Pythagoreans too. According
to Timaeus, Pythagoras’ house was built into a temple for Demeter (FGrHist
566 F 131 in Porph., Vita Pyth. 4). Hermippus (fr. 20 W. ap.
Diog.Laert. 8.41) informs that Pythagoras built himself a subterranean
chamber and hid for a time in it; he told his mother to write down what
was going on on the surface, so when he returned and was able to know all
that, people thought he was some kind of psychic (θεῖόν τινα). Walter
Burkert is without doubt right when he proposes that “mother” stands for
the goddess Meter in a more orthodox tradition and the story refers to a
ritual katabasis (cf. also Hieronymus fr. 42 W. ap. Diog.Laert.
8.21). Leonid Zhmud, who aims at a more rationalist and
less religious Pythagoras, of course rejects this evidence. On the other hand, Herodotus puts Pythagoreanism
on the same footing as Orphism (2.81). Even though the doctrines and
especially the myths must have differed, they were part of the same
intellectual milieu, sharing concepts of the soul and the bios of
the initiate. As we have seen, bone tablets have been excavated
in Olbia which associate Dionysus and Orphism. Another bone tablet
mentions Apollo and Meter in the midst of mythical elaborations on the
number seven (SEG 36.694 = Dubois, No. 93, 550-525 BC). The bone tablet, which may be as old as the
founding of Pythagoras’ school in Italy or even older, illustrates the
character of the archaic intellectual milieu out of which Pythagoreanism
eventually arose. The opposition between an Apollinian Pythagoreanism and
a Dionysian Orphism is, at any rate, anachronistic. The cults of Apollo
and Dionysus do not exclude one another. In the Orphic hymns, Dionysus is
called Paean (52.10) and Apollo Bacchius (34.7 v.l.). Dionysus’
grave was shown to the tourists in Delphi, and it was said that the famous
tripod of Apollo contained his remains (e.g. Plut., De Is. et Os.
We have already seen that what I call the eschatological string of the
fourth book is anticipated in the Egyptian logos. It contains
several references to the Osiris myth, which is in Herodotus’ mind
identical to the Orphic Dionysus myth, and, as we shall see, the Ethiopian
excursus illustrates the perfect Orphic bios. Furthermore,
Herodotus claims that Greek ideas about metempsychosis are derived from an
Egyptian model (2.123). He refuses to tell the names of the persons
sharing them, but there can be no doubt that a contemporaneous reader
would have thought of Pythagoras and Empedocles at first. Between the
Egyptian and Scythian logoi, Herodotus treats the internal politics
of the Persian Empire. A considerable part is taken up by the story about
the Samian tyrant Polycrates (3.39-60, 120-128, 139-149). One wonders if
Herodotus expects his readers to know that Pythagoras lived on Samus
during the reign of Polycrates and went on his study tour in Egypt with a
letter of recommendation from the tyrant himself. Herodotus does not, however, stress the point, but
it is not at all impossible in the general framework. At any rate, it is
supported by the fact that short after the death of Polycrates – and
explicitly in connexion with the Polycrates affair – the Crotonian
Democedes enters the scene (3.131-137). Croton is the city where
Pythagoreanism prevailed, and we know from other sources that the early
Pythagoreans assembled in the house of Democedes’ father-in-law Milon. In Herodotus we are told that Democedes becomes
Dareios’ court physician, but escapes back to Southern Italy and marries
Milon’s daughter. In accordance with his general reticence in these
matters, Herodotus says nothing about Milon’s philosophical interests; he
is only described as the palaistēs “wrestler” (3.137.5). However, Herodotus must have been well-informed in
these matters since his own biography was connected with both Samus and
Southern Italy: Being expelled by Lygdamis, he lived for some time as an
exile on Samus, and later on he participated in the colony of
Thurii, which was founded in 444 BC on the location of the former Sybaris
destroyed in the war with Croton in 511 BC (cf. 5.44-45).
In the fourth book, after the myth of Heracles, Herodotus gives a third
rationalist version of how the Scythian people originated, namely out of a
series of migrations starting in Central Asia (4.13-15). His main source
is the epic Arimaspea by Aristeas of Proconnesus. He claimed to
have travelled to the tribe of the Issedones possessed by Apollo
(φοιβόλαμπτος γενόμενος), i.e. probably in some sort of soul journey; he lay dead, disappeared and returned after six
years (ἑβδόμῳ ἔτεϊ). Herodotus adds that Aristeas showed up in Metaponton
240 years later and told to the locals that he had followed Apollo in the
shape of a raven. He disappeared once more, and the Metapontines erected a
statue of him next to the altar of Apollo (4.15). Since Metaponton is the
city to which Pythagoras withdraws after a crisis in Croton, this story
must belong to the Pythagorean tradition.
Herodotus continues his account with an outline of the geography of the
Scythian territory, from the Black Sea to the Issedones (4.16-31). He is
probably following the scheme laid out by Aristeas’ epic. Herodotus stresses at the outset (with reference
to Aristeas) and at the end of this outline that nobody can say anything
about what is lying further north. Then, he starts to argue against the
idea of the so-called Hyperboreans (4.32-36.1). He speaks about the
mythical Hyperborean delegations to Delus and ends with the words: “I will
not tell the story told about Abaris, and say how he carried his arrow all
around the world without eating anything” (4.36). Later sources relate how Abaris flew to Greece on
an arrow given to him by Apollo (Heraclides Ponticus, fr. 51c W.), and how
he meets Pythagoras in Southern Italy and recognises him as the
Hyperborean Apollo (Iambl., VP, 19.90-91; Porph., VP 28). I
find it quite obvious that Herodotus alludes to the same story, but deliberately chooses not to tell it
explicitly. The loud praeteritio suffices to bring the point to the
mind of his readers. After having laid out the Scythian origin and
geography with reference to two persons who were most likely central in
Pythagorean mythology because they demonstrated Apollo’s acknowledge of
the master’s authority, Herodotus continues with an excursus in which he
criticises the traditional representation of the map of the world and
especially the concept of the Oceanus, the World-Stream (4.36.2-45, cf.
also 3.115). It is ironical, but hardly a coincidence, that he undermines
the Geryon myth when he expresses his doubts of the possibility of sailing
north of Europe. The two tales are tied together in the negation.
The first time Pythagoras’ name is mentioned explicitly is in chapter
4.95. In an excursus on Dareios’ journey through Thrace, Herodotus speaks
about the Getans and their belief in an immortal soul; after death one
comes to the god Zalmoxis, and therefore the Getans show an extreme
carelessness with their lives. Herodotus ascribes to the local Greeks a
down-to-earth explanation of the Getan religion: Zalmoxis was earlier the
slave of Pythagoras on Samus, but he was freed and returned to Thrace. He
taught his compatriots that they should not die, but come to another place
and live there happy forever after. He convinced them about the truth of
this doctrine by building a subterranean chamber to himself and hiding in
it for three years. It is pretty much the same story as the one told about
Pythagoras. As Walter Burkert points out, Hermippus has not simply
duplicated Herodotus’ version, for the detail about the “mother” does not
occur there. Even though Herodotus is sceptic about this
version (he prefers a much higher date for Zalmoxis), by telling it, he
gives a useful hint to the interpretation of the Scythian logos.
The suppressed allusions are solved.
The stories of Scyles and Zalmoxis are obviously connected in the
narrative of Herodotus. The ritual death practised by Zalmoxis corresponds
to the physical death suffered by Scyles. The red thread is the border
between the civilised world and the steppes and between new and old
religion. The bridge of Darius over the Hellespont leads to the Dionysus
temple in Byzantion (4.88), and Thrace is in a sense a Dionysiac
territory. The bridge itself is an obvious symbol of an initiation (though
it would probably be an overinterpretation to suggest that the Samian
nationality of its architect is meant as an indication of its Pythagorean
character). Transgressing the Danube by another bridge, Darius comes into
a world that is again completely different; it is a kind of
katabasis in which the enemy is just as intangible as the shadows
of Hades, and the army has a narrow escape. Dareios’ expedition follows an
axis, which is repeated several times in the fourth book: Anacharsis
travels from Cyzicus to Hylaea, and Aristeas from Cyzicus to beyond the
Scythian territory. Immediately after the stories of Anacharsis and
Scyles, Herodotus speaks about two gigantic cauldrons put up by the
Scythian Ariantas and the Spartan Pausanias in Exampaeus and at the
I do not suggest that Herodotus followed a single specific doctrine and
his text should be regarded as some kind of sacred text of a religious
society. He alludes indiscriminately to the polymorph mass of
eschatological “schools” prevailing in the fifth century BC in order to
stress a more general point in his narrative. Herodotus states at the
beginning of the Egyptian logos that he is generally reluctant
towards speaking about “divine matters” (τὰ θεῖα τῶν ἀπηγημάτων) because
“all people have the same knowledge about them” (2.3.3, similarly 2.65.2).
However, this does not mean that he is an atheist. He often refers to
divine causes, e.g. when the Demeter sanctuary in Plataeae is free from
corpses of Persian soldiers because the goddess will not have them on her
soil after they have burnt her temple in Eleusis (9.65.2). He says he was
initiated into the Samothracian mysteries (2.51.8), and he was probably
initiated into the Orphic-Dionysiac mysteries as well since he repeatedly
refers to some vow of silence. He was certainly sympathetic towards the
Pythagorean doctrine, calling Pythagoras “not the worst sage among the
Greeks” (4.94.2 Ἑλλήνων οὐ τῷ ἀσθενεστάτῳ σοφιστῇ). It would, on the other
hand, be wrong to see the Histories as a Holy Scripture of an
Orphic-Pythagorean sect. Herodotus does quote the story about Zalmoxis’
hide in the subterranean chamber, which was certainly meant as a criticism
not only of the local Getan religion, but also of Pythagoras’ ritual
katabasis, even if he rejects this version. He seems to accept the fantastic story of
Aristeas’ second coming in Metaponton, but he refuses to relate the Abaris
story. Herodotus’ rationalism means that he cannot rely on hearsay that
has not been substantiated by other evidence; but he does not reject the
existence of divine causes or a higher justice.
In the third book, Herodotus speaks about the magic table of the Sun,
which provides the people of the Ethiopians with meat without the
unpleasant sacrifice of blood (3.18). Jean-Pierre Vernant compares it to
the story about the cattle of the Sun in the Odyssey
(12.260-402): On the return from Hades and the island of Circe,
Odysseus lands on the island of the Sun. In spite of several warnings, his
men decide to sacrifice the cattle and eat the meat. It is the ultimate
sacrilege. Even after it has been roasted, the meat is still raw, the
hides are wandering about and the slaughtered animals are still mooing. It
is the perfect example of ōmophagia. It is likely that Herodotus presupposes that his
readers are familiar with this story of the Odyssey. The army that
Cambyses sends against the Ethiopians ends up starving and resorts to
cannibalism, a sacrilege comparable to that of Odysseus’ men (3.25.6). In
other words, the Ethiopian excursus, which is a natural prolongation of
the Egyptian logos, offers an example of the Orphic bios,
according to which people eat without having to slay other creatures.
Whereas the mythical Hyperboreans occupied an idealistic place
comparable to that of the Ethiopians, the Scythians were not at all sacred: They
sacrifice by strangulation (4.60-61), i.e. they eat the meat with the
blood. The Ethiopians lived long, and when they died,
their corpses did not putrefy (3.24). On the other hand, murder was the
daily order among the Scythians and the neighbouring tribes. In the
northern Scythian territory, we hear about the Neuri, who were werewolves
(4.105.2), and the Androphagi, who were cannibals (4.106). The Issedones
east of the Scythians slaughter and cook their fathers when they die
(4.26). Similar rites are ascribed to the Indian Callatians (3.38.4) and
Padaeans (3.99) who are described as nomads. Thus, the nomadic cuisine was
quite the opposite of the Orphic-Pythagorean diet. Already in the first book, immediately before the
excursus on Egypt, we hear about the Central Asiatic Massagetes, who were
ascribed to the Scythians by some (but not by Herodotus): They considered
it the most blessed lot (ὀλβιώτατα) to be cooked when one died, whereas
those who died by illness were buried, which was considered a misfortune
(1.216). The division of the deceased into blessed and unfortunate ones
sounds like a perversion of the teachings of the Orphics. The parallelism
may be even more outspoken if one conjectures that the Orphic initiate was
the victim of a ritual cannibalistic act after the model of Dionysus
The Scythians are notorious milk drinkers. Since Herodotus dedicates
the first chapters of the Scythian logos to the fabrication of mare
milk, this peculiar diet must be, in his eyes, an important sign of their
economy (the same diet is attributed to the Scythians in Hes., fr. 150.15,
and Hipp., Aer. 18). The Massagetes are called galaktopotai,
“milk-drinkers” (1.216.3). The nomadic Libyans live on meat and drink milk
(4.186.1). The Cyclops is since the Odyssey the emblem of the
nomad: He does not cultivate the earth, but eats meat, milk and cheese and
is a dreadful cannibal. Drinking milk is of course not the same as being a
brutal murderer. The mare-milking and milk-consuming Abii of the
Iliad are the most just of men (Hom., Il. 13.5.6). Herodotus
informs that the Ethiopians eat boiled meat and drink milk (3.24.2), and
they despise the consumption of grain (3.22.4). It just means that you do
not belong to the agricultural urbanised civilisation. To quote Aristotle,
a person living outside of a polis is either worse or better than
man (Pol. 1253a). The Ethiopians are certainly better
(since their consumption of meat does not imply the death of another
being) and the Cyclops certainly worse.
In Euripides’ satyr play Cyclops, the one-eyed giants are called
“nomads” (v. 120); they do not sow “Demeter’s ear of corn” or drink
“Bromios’ drink, the juice of the grape” (vv. 121, 123); the Cyclops’
shelter is empty of Bacchants (Cyc. 63-75), but he is finally
“defeated by Bacchos” (Cyc. 446, 454, 521, 575), and the choir ends
in a laudation of Dionysus (Cyc. 709). We have no indications that
Herodotus knew this satyr play, and it is probably too late. Yet, they share the same concept of civilisation.
The space of the Cyclops is called an erēmia (Cyc. 22, 116,
447, 622). The phrase Skythōn erēmia, which is the name of the
Scythian steppes in Pseudo-Hippocrates (Aer. 18), becomes
proverbial as a designation of the conditions of primitive man (since Ar.,
Ach. 704; it is popular in Imperial and Byzantine authors). In
Herodotus, the inner space of the Scythians is not described as deserted,
but the adjective erēmos usually characterises the frontier regions
of Scythia (4.17.2, 4.18.2, 4.18.3, 4.20.2, 4.22.1, 4.53.4, 4.123.2,
4.124.1, 4.125.5, 4.127.2). Thus, Herodotus transposes the traditional scheme
of a polis and an uninhabited periphery centre to the Black Sea
area. It has itself a centre inhabited and cultivated by Greeks or
semi-Greeks and a desolate periphery into which the Scythians can choose
to recede, and where the graves of their ancestors are located (4.53.4,
4.127.2-3). In the Dionysiac cult, as we have seen,
unrestrained rituals were performed on mountain tops and in other desolate
places, where victims were torn and eaten raw. When Euripides speaks about
“the raw-eating mountain-walking Cyclops” (Tro. 436), the Cyclops
becomes some kind of uninitiated, self-appointed Bacchant, who cannot
escape the lunacy. Similarly, the Skythōn erēmia is represented as
a liminal space inhabited by uncivilised non-initiates.
8. According to Herodotus, the Scythians criticise the Dionysiac cult
of the Greeks because they think it is wrong to invent a god that drives
people mad. This sobriety of Scythian religion is in sharp conflict with
the ecstatic shamanism which is ascribed to the Scythians in modern
scholarly literature and considered an important source of inspiration for
Greek Pythagoreanism and Orphism. This line of thought is represented by
Karl Meuli, Eric R. Dodds, Walter Burkert and Martin L. West. In spite of these awe-inspiring names, some
opposition has been uttered, especially by Jan N. Bremmer and Leonid
Zhmud. The hypothesis of a Scythian shamanism rests on
two pieces of information found in Herodotus:
A) The Scythians had a certain type of soothsayers called Enarees, who
were characterised by a feminine behaviour (1.105.4 θήλειαν νοῦσον; 4.67.2
B) Scythian funerals involved a purification ceremony, during which
hashish seeds were burnt in tents and caused great satisfaction in the
On the basis of Central Asiatic and American parallels, Karl Meuli
concluded that the Scythians had cross-dressing shamans, who used
hallucinating drugs to be able to leave their bodies and lead the souls of
the dead safely to the underworld. However, Herodotus does not describe
the Enarees as shamans; they are soothsayers, who read the future in birch
bark, but we are told of no soul journeys at all (similarly in Hipp.,
Aer. 18). It is true that shamans in some cultures dress and live
like the opposite sex, but it does not necessarily mean that any
transgender magician is also a shaman. Moreover, the association of the
Enarees with the hashish tents is without any basis in the text of
Herodotus. He says they were used for purification instead of baths, and
it is evident that he intends a contrast between Greek water and Scythian
fire as a means of purification. Hashish tents have been excavated in a
Kurgan in Pazyryk in Central Asia, but there is nothing that links them to
shamanism. On the other hand, there is nothing that
excludes a shamanistic interpretation either. Even if the
hallucinating effect of hemp seeds is rather limited, it may have
served some purpose that had to do with the soul of the deceased being led
safely to the hereafter. The phenomena of soul journey and bilocation are
in Greek literature frequently associated with the distant north. As we have seen, Aristeas travels to a people
living east of the Scythians, and Abaris comes from a country beyond the
north wind. Similarly, according to Bacchylides (3.57-60), Croesus was
rescued from the pyre and moved to the Hyperboreans. Stesichorus had got
the impetus for his Palinody, which put Helen in Egypt and her
eidōlon in Troy, from Leonymus of Croton (!), who had visited the
island of Leuce and talked with Helen’s ghost (Conon FGrHist 26 F 1,
XVIII; Paus. 3.19.11-13). This preference for the north may, however,
reflect a fundamental geographical scheme in Greek thought, which is
independent of the ethnographical realities.
It has been argued that shamanism originated in Central Asia under the
influence of Buddhism. In that case it is rather difficult to imagine
that the Greeks were influenced by Scythian shamanism in the seventh or
eighth centuries BC already. Ken Dowden argues that the Greek practice of
soul journey was borrowed directly from some previous stage of the
ecstatic practices which eventually led to Buddhism. The evidence for contacts between India and Greece
in this early period is, however, virtually non-existent. On the other hand, the Scythians may in fact have
shared the same beliefs about the immortality of the soul and its
capability of leaving the body. Scythians and Indians belonged to the same
branch of the Indo-European family, and they were in the first centuries
of the first millennium BC not so different linguistically and culturally
as to exclude an exchange of ideas. Thus, before we make Aristeas go all
the way to India to be apprenticed to a former incarnation of Buddha, we
should perhaps trace the inspiration to the Scythians, who ca. 700 BC
crossed the Caucasus and advanced along the northern coast of Asia Minor
(the so-called “Cimmerians”). Thus, early ecstatic practices may have been
borrowed from India to the neighbouring Sakas in Bactria and then
introduced to the Greeks by the Pontic Scythians; after all, the steppe
nomads were extremely mobile. Another possibility is that the Scythians
inherited a more primitive stage of ecstatic practices which was borrowed
to the Greeks and later developed into shamanism stricto sensu
under the influence of Buddhism. It is, however, mere conjecture. It is
true that Herodotus does not give any reason at all for assuming that the
Scythians practised any proto-shamanistic ecstatic rituals, but as we have
seen, he may have had his own motives for suppressing such beliefs and
offering instead a non-spiritualistic, behaviouristic description of the
At any rate, ideas about an afterlife are attested by the Scythian
burial customs. According to Herodotus, when a Scythian king died, he was
buried in a large tumulus together with one of his wives, fifty servants
and fifty horses (4.72). The described rituals agree tremendously well
with the archaeological record; the so-called Kurgan graves are scattered
all over the area dominated by the Scythians. We have seen that the Getans, the neighbours of
the Scythians, had ideas about an immortal soul and aspired to death, and
similar beliefs and practices are ascribed to the Celts (Diod.Sic. 5.28.6;
Caes., BGall. 6.14.5). The Scythians may very well have thought of
the royal funerals in the same way. Herodotus informs that the Scythians
had the deceased transported around in forty days before he was buried
(4.73.1). This custom becomes a macabre contrast to the Orphic-Pythagorean
doctrine, which must have been in the minds of the contemporary reader
after he has read (or heard) the Egyptian logos and the first part
of the Scythian logos. Instead of a soul journey, we have a bizarre
body journey. The rich grave gifts and the tour of the dead body emphasise
the material continuity, but nothing is said about the soul of the
9. The so-called eschatological string rests primarily on four episodes
in the fourth book of Herodotus’ Histories:
- Heracles’ journey to Erytheia and his encounter with the chthonic
monster in Hylaea (4.8-10).
- Aristeas’ last journey to Metaponton and the transient mention of
Abaris (4.11-15, 4.36.1).
- Scyles’ initiation into the Dionysiac mysteries and his subsequent
- Zalmoxis’ vulgar Pythagorean religion (4.93-96).
My hypothesis is that these are not isolated episodes, but bricks in a
more fundamental structure of Herodotus’ narrative. Herodotus prepares his
readers for this analysis in the earlier books of his Histories. In the
second book he repeatedly refers to the Dionysus/Osiris myth (though
implicitly, bound as he is by some Orphic pledge of secrecy); he speaks
about an Orphic-Pythagorean taboo against burying the dead in wool cloths
(2.81) and the concept of metempsychosis being derived from Egypt (2.123).
In the third book the Ethiopian table of the Sun suggests the
Orphic-Pythagorean bios (3.17-25), and the Polycrates and Democedes
episodes bring Pythagoras’ birthplace Samus and his later home Croton into
the scene (3.39-60, 120-149). The prominence of the Croesus story in the
first book with its emphasis on true happiness and the king’s
enlightenment on the pyre (1.29-33, 86-87) must have contributed to the
expectations as well. The single episodes and references do not suffice
per se, but the accumulation of them makes it highly probable that
they served a purpose in the narrative.
The episodes i., ii., and iv. involve some sort of initiation into the
mysteries of Meter or Dionysus. The core of the initiation is a rite of
liminality that takes place either in Hades (a subterranean chamber) or in
the wilderness. In the Orphic-Dionysiac initiation, the initiand probably
went through some sort of ritual death by virtue of which he was
identified with the murdered god himself; he was torn to pieces and cooked
(symbolically). After that, the initiate observed a different bios
from others and ate differently, and after death he would expect a special
treatment, some kind of apotheosis or redemption from the “wheel of
reincarnation”. The catechumens Anacharsis and Scyles, on the other hand,
never succeeded in their initiations, but traded the ritual death of the
blessed for a less coveted physical one.
The bios of the Scythian nomad is comparable to that of the
liminal phase, but it does not lead to a sacred bios. The
eschatological allusions, which would be perfectly comprehensible to
“those who know”, underline the Scythians’ fundamental lack of
agricultural civilisation. Thus, when crossing the Danube into the land of
the Scythians, Darius enters a nightmare landscape of inverted values. His
campaign is unsuccessful, and he returns uninitiated, immediately before
he begins his great, but tragic war with Greece, the heart of
civilisation. In other words, the many subtle eschatological references
contribute in making Book 4 the pivotal scene of Herodotus’
Histories, which are basically about the tragic Clash of
Civilisations between the Orient and Occident.
 The present article is an enlarged version of a paper
published in Danish (= Hinge 2004b).
 4.76.1 ξεινικοῖσι δὲ νομαίοισι καὶ οὗτοι φεύγουσι αἰνῶς
χρᾶσθαι, μήτε γέων ἄλλεων, Ἑλληνικοῖσι δὲ καὶ μάλιστα.
 Dubois 1996, 152, suggests that the very name of the
city is due to the influence of the Orphic cult (“the blessed city”, cf.
SEG 36.694 = Dubois, No. 93). Vinogradov 1997 emphasises the political
significance of the Orphic-Dionysiac cult.
 Rusjaeva 1989, 80-82 = Dubois 1996, No. 92 Δημώνασσα
Ληναίο εὐαί καὶ Λήναιος Δημόκλο εἰαί. The exclamation εὐαί (like εὐάν and
εὐοῖ) is associated with Dionysiac cult.
 Dettori 1996.
 It is normally assumed that the deceased died of
excessive drinking or simply liked to drink (cf. Struve 1965, 115).
However, the juncture [Λ]ηναίου [π]νείοντα resembles Nonnus, Dion.
19.133 ληνὸν ἔτι πνείοντα, and it may have been part of an Orphic hymnic
tradition. Sim., Anth.Pal. 7.25 = 67 Page, which shows several
affinities with our epigram, may reflect the same tradition.
 εὕδων οὖν Ἑκαταῖε, μεσόχρονος, ἴσθ᾿ ὅτι θᾶσσον κύκλον
ἀνιηρῶν ἐχέφυγες καμάτων: cf. Pugliese Carratelli II B 1.5 κύκλον δ᾿
ἐξέπταν βαρυπενθέος καρπαλίμοισι, Orph., fr. 229 κύκλου τ᾿ ἂν λήξαι καὶ
ἀναπνεύσαι κακότητος, 224b.1-2 οὕνεκ᾿ ἀμειβομένη ψυχὴ κατὰ κύκλα χρόνοιο
ἀνθρώπων ζώιοισι μετέρχεται ἄλλοθεν ἄλλοις (cf. also Antiphilus,
Anth.Pal. 6.95.6 Πάρμις, ἀνιηρῶν παυσάμενος καμάτων).
 Cf., e.g., Graf 1993; Burkert 2003, 79-106.
 The most recent edition is Pugliese Carratelli 2001.
This type of instructions may be due to the model of the Egyptian Book
of the Dead, cf. Merkelbach 1999.
 Cf. Graf 1993.
 Cf. Henrichs 1994, 47-51.
 Graf 1985, 285-291.
 It is exactly what the festivals are to the Athenians
according to Pericles (in Thucydides 2.38): τῶν πόνων πλείστας ἀναπαύλας.
The Athenian festivals celebrated in the honour of Dionysus had nothing to
do with eschatological mysteries; apparently, this need was fulfilled by
the Eleusinian mysteries instead.
 Burkert 1972a, 50-51.
 For the importance of cosmology in the mystery cult,
see Obbink 1997.
 Cf. also Diod.Sic. 3.65.8; Eus., Praep.ev.
2.2.5; Hymn.Orph. 44.7, 45 (title), 52.8, 53.4, 54.3. Cf. Jeanmaire
1951, 172, 218-219; Merkelbach 1988, 86-87.
 LSAM 48.18-20 καὶ ἐάν τις γυνὴ βούληται τελεῖν τῶι
Διονύσωι | τῶι Βακχίωι ἐν τῆι πόλει ἢ ἐν τῆι χώραι ἢ ἐν ταῖς νήσοις,
[ἀπο]|διδότω τῆι ἱερείαι στατῆρα κατ’ ἑκάστην τριετηρίδα.
 As suggested by the testimony of Firmicus Maternus;
cf. also Sch. Clem.Al., Protr., p. 318 Stählin δύσαγνον κρεανομίαν·
ὠμὰ γὰρ ἤσθιον κρέα οἱ μυούμενοι Διονύσῳ, δεῖγμα τοῦτο τελούμενοι τοῦ
σπαραγμοῦ, ὃν ὑπέστη Διόνυσος ὑπὸ τῶν Μαινάδων. According to Pindar, fr.
133, those who are reborn have atoned an old suffering (οἷσι Φερσεφόνα
ποινὰν παλαιοῦ πένθεος δέξεται).
 Lloyd 1976, vol. 2, 279; Burkert 2002.
 Lloyd-Jones 1985, 257.
 Burkert 1961.
 For the twelve labours, cf. Brommer 1953. West 1997,
470-472, proposes an Egyptian model.
 Hinge 2004a. Other potential sources are Pisander and
Herodotus’ own uncle, Panyassis.
 Pherecydes of Athens seems to have identified Erythia
with Gadeira like Herodotus (fr. 18b Fowler ap. Strb. 3.5.4), whereas
Hectaeus locates the scene in Epirus (fr. 26 Fowler ap. Arr., Anab.
2.16.4). Pherecydes also has the story about the golden cup (fr. 18
 Fontenrose 1959, 94-120.
 Latin vitulus: Hellanicus, fr. 111 Fowler (ap.
Dion.Hal., Ant.Rom. 1.35.2); the same etymology, but without the
mythical reason in Varro, Rust. 2.1.9; Gell., NA 9.1.2.
 Albinus 2000, 79-81. Cf. Sch. Hom., Od.
11.385. Diod.Sic., Bibl. 1.96.6-9, sees Orphic-Egyptian influence
in the second Nekyia (Book 24).
 West 1983, 190-194; Brisson 1985; 1995. Brisson
stresses that the Derveni papyrus does not represent an earlier phase of
the Orphic “Rhapsodies”. At any rate, Pindar has a Χρόνος ὁ πάντων πατήρ
in the highly Orphic second Olympian hymn (vv. 16-17).
 According to some sources, Heracles is called
Recaranus or Garanus in this myth; it is probably a corruption of
*Tricaranus “three-horned”, cf. Puccioni 1970. The three-headedness
of the opponent seems to have been replaced by a three-hornedness of the
hero. Cf. also Lincoln 1981, 112 + n.81.
 Burkert 1979, 78-98; Watkins 1995, 464-468. On a
possible Indo-European origin of Orpheus, cf. Estell 1999.
 Watkins 1995, 448-459 (he observes that the verb
ἱμάσσω occurring repeatedly in the Greek versions (Il. 2.457; Hes.,
Theog. 857; Hymn.Hom.Apoll. 340) reflects ishimanta
in the Hittite version).
 West 1997, 465. There seem to have been myths about
the death and resurrection of Melqart, cf. Mettinger 2001, 83-111.
 Pindar (?) fr. 346 S.-M.; Eur., HF. 611-613;
Apollod., Bibl. 2.5.12; allusions in Ar., Ran. They probably
all go back to a lost epic, cf. Lloyd-Jones 1967; Graf 1974, 139-150.
According to Lada-Richards 1999, Heracles in Aristophanes’ Ranae
represents an “alterity” in contrast to the initiate Dionysus.
 Rusjaeva & Vinogradov 1991.
 Dubois 1996, 56-7, has questioned the date of the
editors because of the occasional spelling ου for the secondary (closed)
ō, which is unusual in the Olbian inscriptions before 400 BC.
However, the style of the letters is clearly archaic. Furthermore, even if
ου is not attested in contemporaneous Olbian inscriptions, it occurs
occasionally in other areas of the Greek world in the archaic age
 Pugliese Carratelli 2001, 86-93. According to West
1983, 140-175, the syncretism of Dionysiac and Cretan cult is typical for
the fifth cent. BC and the so-called Eudemian theogony.
 Steph.Byz. s.v. Μάσταυρα claims that Dionysus was
raised by Rhea. As the mystes of Cybele/Rhea Dionysus becomes a
gallos like the Attis. Dionysus was probably not castrated
literally in any tradition. However, his extreme effeminacy in Classical
tradition made him a sort of eunuch. Furthermore, Herodotus alludes to the
Egyptian myth of the disappearance of the penis of Osiris/Dionysus
 She seems to be another Thracian-Phrygian doublet of
Demeter / Kore (cf. Phrygian ζεμελως “earth gods” < PIE
*dhĝhem‑ = χθών).
 Burkert 1972a, 323-326; Graf 1974, 79-94.
 Hommel 1980, 63-64; Hedreen 1991; Rusjaeva 1992,
 Hommel 1980, 18. Cf. also Pliny, NH 4.93
eadem Leuce et Macaron appellata and Sch. Pind., Ol.
 Ἀχίλλευς ὀ τὰς Σκυθίκας μέδεις. It is interesting
that Alcaeus uses a word which is attested in dedications from Leuce: SEG
30.869 Ἀχιλλῆι Λευκῇ μεδέοντι (5th cent. BC); IPE
I2.326.2 Ἀχιλλεῖ [Λευκ]ῆς μεδέοντι (4th cent. BC).
Dubois 1996, 99-100, conjectures that the common source was the
Aithiopis. However, the participle μεδέων + Gen. is common in
epicleses to other gods in inscriptions found in the northern Black Sea
area: CIRB 31.5; 35.2; 75.12; 971.2; 1111.4 (Aphrodite); Dubois, No. 81
(Meter); No. 58 (Apollo); CIRB 22 (Hecate); 1315.3 (Artemis). It is less
frequent in inscriptions from other areas: IG I3 1492; 37;
1493; 1494; 1495; 1491; 1454; SEG 22.274 (Athena); Tituli Calymnii 108;
109; 110 (Apollo). It was possibly a formula of the archaic hymn language
that remained popular in the periphery.
 In the Derveni papyrus, the goddesses Rheia, Demeter,
Gaia and Hera are equated (col. xxiii).
 Burkert 1972b, 155-159.
 Zhmud 1997, 115.
 Burkert 1972b, 132; 2003, 105-106; Bremmer 2002,
 Lévêque 2000.
 Burkert 1972a, 140-142.
 Cf. Aristox., fr. 16 W.; Apollod. FGrHist 244 F
 Aristox., fr. 18 W.; Iambl., VP 248-252.
 It must be emphasised that wrestling was in antiquity
an aristocratic sport and by no means incompatible with a philosophical
mind; allegedly, Plato was a wrestler as well (Diog.Laert. 3.4).
 Suda s.v. Ἡρόδοτος.
 Dowden 1980. Bolton 1962 and Alemany i Vilamajó 1999,
45-55, insist on a physical journey.
 It is supported by Herodotus’ preference for the
phrase κατύπερθε πρὸς βορέην (4.7.3; 4.20.2; 4.22.1; 4.25.1), which recurs
in a fragment of the Arimaspea (fr. 5 Bernabé). On the other hand,
Ivantchik 1993 asserts that Aristeas has borrowed it from Ionic prose and
dates him accordingly to ca. 500 BC.
 τὸν γὰρ περὶ Ἀβάριος λόγον τοῦ λεγομένου εἶναι οὐ
λέγω (λέγων, ὡς τὸν ὀιστὸν περιέφερε κατὰ πᾶσαν γῆν οὐδὲν σιτεόμενος). To
avoid the repetition of the verb λέγειν, Rosén 1987 deletes the
parenthesis, while Corcella & Medaglia 1993 defend the transmitted
text. Such pleonasms are not unusual for Herodotus’ Greek, e.g. 1.94.2 ἅμα
δὲ ταύτας τε ἐξευρεθῆναι παρὰ σφίσι λέγουσι καὶ Τυρσηνίην ἀποικίσαι, ὧδε
περὶ αὐτῶν λέγοντες.
 Cf. Meuli 1935, 159-160; Dodds 1951, 161 n. 33;
Burkert 1972b, 150 (criticism in Bolton 1962, 158; Bremmer 2002, 33).
 Linforth 1918; Eliade 1970, 39-42.
 Burkert 1972b, 159.
 Burkert 1972b, 161.
 The Scythian myth of origin (4.5-7) is probably
associated with a rite of passage not unlike the Doric rituals concerning
the inclusion to the three phylae; the young men are going through
a phase of liminality including a ritual death, cf. Hinge 2003a. In
Herodotus’ discourse the signs of liminality are often extended to Scythia
 Graf 1974.
 Vernant 1979.
 Burkert 1990, 9-10.
 Orphic vegetarianism is attested in Eur.,
Hipp. 952-4; Ar., Ran. 1032; Plat., Leg.
 Cf. Hell. fr. 187b Fowler αὐτοὺς δικαιοσύνην μὴ
κρεοφαγοῦντας, ἀλλ᾽ ἀκροδρύοις χρωμένους; the diet of Abaris is even more
ascetic in Hdt. 4.36.1 (οὐ σιτεόμενος).
 Hartog 1979.
 For the archaeological background of the rituals
described by Herodotus, see Murphy & Mallory 2000.
 Shaw 1982-83.
 It has been suggested to read μονάδες instead of
νομάδες (cf. Schmidt 1975, 291), but the transmitted form is more special
than the conjecture and therefore more probable.
 Seaford 1982; 1984, 48-51.
 According to Caesar (BGall. 6.23), the
Germanic tribes showed their power by having as much empty borderland
around their territories as possible. It may have been an ideal common to
non-urbanised tribes in Central and Eastern Europe, cf. Hinge 2003b,
 Thus, from the point of view of the Scythians
themselves, periphery becomes centre, cf. Hartog 1991, 153-157; Hinge
 Meuli 1935; Dodds 1951, 134-178; Burkert 1972b,
120-165; West 1983, 143-150; Margreth 1993.
 Bremmer 1983, 24-53; 2002, 27-40; Zhmud 1997,
107-116. Cf. also Dowden 1980.
 Rudenko 1970, 284-285; Wolf & Andraschko
 Dodds 1951, 161 n. 32.
 Eliade 1951; Hermanns 1970, vol. 2, 343-346, argues
that shamanism arose in an area between Persia, Tibet and India in the
first centuries AD under the influence of Zoroastrism and Buddhism.
 Dowden 1979.
 Karttunen 1989, 108-119; Halbfass 1991-92.
 Sulimirski 1985, 169-171; Thordarson 1988.
Albinus, L. 2000. The House of Hades. Aarhus.
Alemany i Vilamajó, A. 1999. Els “Cants arimaspeus” d’Arísteas de
Proconnès, Faventia 21, 45-55.
Bolton, J.D.P. 1962. Aristeas of Proconnesus. Oxford.
Bremmer, J.N. 1983. The Early Greek Concept of the Soul. Princeton,
Bremmer, J.N. 2002. The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife. London, New
Brisson, L. 1985. La figure de Chronos dans la théogonie orphique, in:
D. Tiffeneau (ed.), Mythes et représentations du temps. Paris, 37-55.
Brisson, L. 1995. Chronos in Column XII of the Derveni Papyrus, in: A.
Laks & G.W. Most (eds.), Studies on the Derveni Papyrus. Oxford,
Brommer, F. 1953. Herakles. Die zwölf Taten des Helden in antiker Kunst
und Literatur. Münster, Köln.
Burkert, W. 1961. Elysion, Glotta 39, 208-213.
Burkert, W. 1972a. Homo necans. Berlin, New York.
Burkert, W. 1972b. Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism.
Burkert, W. 1979. Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual.
Berkeley, Los Angeles.
Burkert, W. 1990. Herodot als Historiker fremder Religionen, in: G.
Nenci (ed.), Hérodote et les peuples non grecs. Vandœuvres-Genève,
Burkert, W. 2002. Mysterien der Ägypter in griechischer Sicht, in: J.
Assmann & M. Bommas (eds.), Ägyptische Mysterien? München, 9-26.
Burkert, W. 2003. Die Griechen und der Orient. Von Homer bis zu den
Corcella, A., & S.M. Medaglia 1993. Erodoto. Le storie. Libro IV.
La Scizia e la Libia. Milano.
Detienne, M. & J.-P. Vernant (eds.) 1979. La cuisine du sacrifice
en pays grecs. Paris.
Dettori, E. 1996. Testi Orfici dalla Magna Grecia al Mar Nero, PP 51,
Dodds, E.R. 1951. The Greeks and Irrational. Berkeley and Los
Dowden, K. 1979. Apollon et l’esprit dans la machine, Rev.Ét.Grec. 92,
Dowden, K. 1980. Deux notes sur les Scythes et les Arimaspes,
Rev.Ét.Grec. 92, 486-492.
Dubois, L. 1996. Inscriptions grecques dialectales d’Olbia du Pont.
Eliade, M. 1951. Le chamanisme et les techniques archaiques de
Eliade, M. 1970. De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan. Paris.
Estell, M. 1999. Orpheus and Rbhu revisited, JIES 27, 327-333.
Fontenrose, J. 1959. Python. A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origin.
Berkeley, Los Angeles.
Graf, F. 1974. Eleusis und die orphische Dichtung Athens. Berlin, New
Graf, F. 1985. Nordionische Kulte. Rome.
Graf, F. 1993. Dionysian and Orphic Eschatology, in: T.H. Carpenter
& C.A. Faraone (eds.), Masks of Dionysus. Ithaca, London, 239-258.
Halbfass, W. 1991-92. Early Indian References to the Greeks, in: H.
Bechert (ed.), The Dating of the Historical Buddha. Göttingen, vol. 1,
Hartog, F. 1979. Le bœuf “autocuiseur” et les boissons d’Arès, in:
Detienne & Vernant 1979, 251-269.
Hartog, F. 1991. Le miroir d’Herodote. Paris, 2nd
Hedreen, G. 1991. The Cult of Achilles in the Euxine, Hesperia 60,
Henrichs, A. 1994. Der rasende Gott, Antike und Abendland 40,
Hermanns, M. 1970. Schamanen – Pseudoschamanen. Wiesbaden.
Hinge, G. 2003a. Scythian and Spartan
Analogies in Herodotos Representation, in: P.G. Bilde, J.M. Højte
& V.F. Stolba (eds.), The Cauldron of Ariantas. Aarhus, 55-74.
Hinge, G. 2003b. Herodots skythiske
nomader, in: T. Bekker-Nielsen & G. Hinge (eds.), På randen af det
ukendte. Århus, 13-33.
Hinge, G. 2004a. Dialect colouring in
quotations of Classical Greek poetry, in: G. Rocca (ed.), Dialetti,
dialettismi, generi letterari e funzioni soxiali, Alessandria,
Hinge, G. 2004b. Sjælevandring Skythien
tur-retur, in: P.G. Bilde & J.M. Højte (eds.), Mennesker og guder
ved Sortehavets kyster. Århus, 11-27.
Hommel, H. 1980. Der Gott Achilleus. Heidelberg.
Ivantchik, A.I. 1993. La datation du poeme l’Arimaspée d’Aristéas de
Proconnèse, Ant.Class. 62, 35-67.
Jeanmaire, H. 1951. Dionysos. Histoire du culte de Bacchus. Paris.
Karttunen, K. India in Early Greek Literature. Helsinki 1989.
Lada-Richards, I. 1999. Initiating Dionysus. Ritual and Theatre in
Aristophanes’ Frogs. Oxford.
Lévêque, P. 2000. Apollon et l’Orphisme à Olbia du Pont, in: M.
Totorelli Ghidini, A. Storchi Marino & A. Visconti (eds.), Tra Orfeo e
Pitagora. Napoli, 81-90.
Lincoln, B. 1981. Priests, Warriors, and Cattle. Berkeley and Los
Linforth, I.M. 1918. Οἱ ἀθανατίζοντες, CPhil. 13, 23-33.
Lloyd, A.B. 1976. Herodotus. Book II. Vol. 1-3. Leiden, New York,
Lloyd-Jones, H. 1967. Heracles at Eleusis, Maia 19, 206-229.
Lloyd-Jones, H. 1985. Pindar and the Afterlife, in: A. Hurst (ed.),
Pindare. Vandœuvres-Genève, 245-283.
Margreth, D. 1993. Skythische Schamanen? Die Nachrichten über
Enarees-Anarieis bei Herodot und Hippokrates. Schaffhausen.
Merkelbach, R. 1988. Die Hirten des Dionysos. Stuttgart.
Merkelbach, R. 1999. Die goldenen Totenpässe: ägyptisch, orphisch,
bakchisch, ZPE 128, 1-13
Mettinger, T.N.D. 2001. The Riddle of Resurrection. Stockholm.
Meuli, K. 1935. Scythica, Hermes 70, 121-176.
Murphy, E.M., & J.P. Mallory. 2000. Herodotus and the cannibals,
Antiquity 74, 388-394.
Obbink, D. 1997. Cosmology as initiation, in: A. Laks & G.W. Most
(eds.), Studies on the Derveni Papyrus. Oxford, 39-54.
Puccioni, G. 1970. Hercules Trikaranos nell’«Origo gentis Romanae», in:
Mythos: scripta in honorem Marii Untersteiner. Genova, 235-239.
Pugliese Carratelli, G. 2001. Le lamine doro orfiche. Milano.
Rolle, R., M. Müller-Wille & K. Schietzel (eds.) 1991. Gold der
Rosén, H.B. 1987. Herodoti Historiae. Vol. 1. Leipzig.
Rudenko, S.I. 1970. Frozen tombs of Siberia. London.
Rusjaeva, A.S. 1992. Religija i kul’ty antičnoj Ol’vii. Kiev.
Rusjaeva, A.S., & J.G. Vinogradov. 1991. Der „Brief des Priesters“
aus Hylaea, in: Rolle, Müller-Wille & Schietzel (eds.) 1991,
Schmidt, V. 1975. Zu Euripides, Kyklops 120 und 707, Maia 27,
Seaford, R. 1982. The Date of Euripides Cyclops, JHS 102, 161-172.
Seaford, R. 1984. Euripides. Cyclops. Oxford.
Shaw, B.D. 1982-83. “Eaters of flesh, drinkers of milk”: the ancient
Mediterranean ideology of the pastoral nomad, Ancient Society 13-14,
Struve, V.V. (ed.) 1965. Korpus bosporskich nadpisej. Corpus
inscriptionum regni Bosporani. Moskva.
Sulimirski, V. 1985. The Scyths, in: I. Gershevitch (ed.), The
Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge, vol. 2, 149-199.
Thordarson, F. 1988. The Scythian funeral customs, in: J.
Duchesne-Guillemin & D. Marcotte (eds.), A Green Leaf: Papers in
Honour of Professor Jes P. Asmussen. Leiden, 539-547.
Vernant, J.-P. 1979. Manger aux pays du soleil, in: Detienne &
Vernant 1979, 239-249.
Vinogradov, J.G. 1997. Zur sachlichen und geschichtlichen Deutung der
Orphiker-Plättchen von Olbia, in: Pontische Studien. Mainz, 242-249.
Watkins, C. 1995. How to Kill a Dragon. Oxford.
West, M.L. 1983. Orphic Poems. Oxford.
West, M.L. 1997. The East Face of Helicon. Oxford.
Wolf, G., & F.M. Andraschko. 1991. “... und heulen vor Lust“, in:
Rolle, Müller-Wille & Schietzel 1991, 157-160.
Zhmud, L. 1997. Wissenschaft, Philosophie und Religion im frühen