The night is still young as Herodotus gets going on Scythia and Libya. In Book Four of The Landmark Herodotus there is, surprisingly, much more about the ladies. Starting with the Greek myth of Herakles which explains how Scythia got its name: true, this lady in question was half viper, but we women have learned not be too particular when it comes to getting in on a few bits of history.
I gave up trying to picture the union of Herakles with a girl that was a snake from the waist down, but somehow they accomplished the task and three children were born. I may be missing something vital but from what I can make out, the child that could draw a bow and put on a belt would rule the land. That talented lad was Scythes. The mother seems to disappear from history after that, and Scythia develops as nations do:
He flays the head [of enemies taken in war] by first cutting in a circle around the ears and then, taking hold of it, shaking off the skin. He then scrapes it out with an ox’s rib and works the skin in his hands until he has softened it, after which he uses it as a handkerchief. 4.64
Feeling a little nauseated, as Herodotus gets a little excessive with the gory details, I must say I’m pleased to move on to the Spartan women who saved all their uppity Minyan husbands by visiting them in prison and exchanging clothes so that the men could make an escape. Annoyingly, Herodotus does not say what happens to the woman left in the prison dressed in their men’s garb. But, I will hold my tongue.
Herodotus: The Boudinoi speak a different language from the Gelonians, and the two peoples follow quite different ways of life. The former are indigenous nomads and the only people in Scythia who eat lice. (4.109)
Herodotus: When a Nasamonian man marries for the first time, it is customary for his bride to have intercourse with all the guests at the feast in succession. (4.172)
According to Herodotus when the Scythians engaged in battle with the Amazons (whom they called Oiorpata, or ‘man-slayers’) it wasn’t until they viewed the dead corpses that they realized they were fighting women. In an early case of “Make Love Not War,” the men decided to stop killing the lithesome ladies and instead deliberated on how best to seduce them.
The brilliant plan was as follows-
1) Stop fighting and just chill in a nearby camp.
2) Each night sneak the camp a little bit closer to the Amazon’s camp- no one will notice.
3) If the Amazons ignore them, take that as a sign of encouragement and accidentally- on-purpose come upon them as they walk away from the camp to do their ablutions and what-not.
4) Give her that come-hither look, and voilà, the hithering will come.
Nice work, Fellas.
Herodotus: Well, the Scythians take the seeds of this cannabis, creep beneath the wool covering the stakes, and throw the seed onto the blazing-hot stones within. When the seeds hit the stones, they produce smoke and give off a vapor such as no steam bath in Hellas could surpass. (4.75)
Me: I bet.
Herodotus, Darling, let’s stick to the champagne shall we?
*vintage photo I captured off tumblr months ago of unknown origin- caption mine.