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How the Scythians Used Hemp – Paragraphs 73-75 from Book 4 of The Histories of Herodotus [circa 440 BC]
|| 4/2/2010 || 4:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the influential works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known around the Mediterranean and Western Asia at that time. These paragraphs are about the Scythians, who were an Ancient Iranian people of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who throughout Classical Antiquity dominated the Pontic-Caspian steppe in present day Kazakhstan, southern Russia, and Ukraine. Below is how the Scythians used hemp about 2,450 years ago:


73. Thus they bury their kings; but as for the other Scythians, when they die their nearest relations carry them round laid in wagons to their friends in succession; and of them each one when he receives the body entertains those who accompany it, and before the corpse they serve up of all things about the same quantity as before the others. Thus private persons are carried about for forty days, and then they are buried: and after burying them the Scythians cleanse themselves in the following way:–they soap their heads and wash them well, and then, for their body, they set up three stakes leaning towards one another and about them they stretch woolen felt coverings, and when they have closed them as much as possible they throw stones heated red-hot into a basin placed in the middle of the stakes and the felt coverings. 73. [1] οὕτω μὲν τοὺς βασιλέας θάπτουσι· τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους Σκύθας, ἐπεὰν ἀποθάνωσι, περιάγουσι οἱ ἀγχοτάτω προσήκοντες κατὰ τοὺς φίλους ἐν ἀμάξῃσι κειμένους. τῶν δὲ ἕκαστος ὑποδεκόμενος εὐωχέει τοὺς ἑπομένους, καὶ τῷ νεκρῷ ἁπάντων παραπλησίως παρατίθησι ὅσα τοῖσι ἄλλοισι. ἡμέρας δὲ τεσσεράκοντα οὕτω οἱ ἰδιῶται περιάγονται, ἔπειτα θάπτονται. [2] θάψαντες δὲ οἱ Σκύψαι καθαίρονται τρόπῳ τοιῷδε. σμησάμενοι τὰς κεφαλὰς καὶ ἐκπλυνάμενοι ποιεῦσι περὶ τὸ σῶμα τάδε ἐπεὰν ξύλα στήσωσι τρία ἐς ἄλληλα κεκλιμένα, περὶ ταῦτα πίλους εἰρινέους περιτείνουσι, συμφράξαντες δὲ ὡς μάλιστα λίθους ἐκ πυρὸς διαφανέας ἐσβάλλουσι ἐς σκάφην κειμένην ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ξύλων τε καὶ τῶν πίλων.


74. Now they have hemp growing in their land, which is very like flax except in thickness and in height, for in these respects the hemp is much superior. This grows both of itself and with cultivation; and of it the Thracians even make garments, which are very like those made of flaxen thread, so that he who was not specially conversant with it would not be able to decide whether the garments were of flax or of hemp; and he who had not before seen stuff woven of hemp would suppose that the garment was made of flax. 74. [1] ἔστι δέ σφι κάνναβις φυομένη ἐν τῇ χώρῃ πλὴν παχύτητος καὶ μεγάθεος τῷ λίνῳ ἐμφερεστάτη· ταύτῃ δὲ πολλῷ ὑπερφέρει ἡ κάνναβις. αὕτη καὶ αὐτομάτη καὶ σπειρομένη φύεται, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῆς Θρήικες μὲν καὶ εἵματα ποιεῦνται τοῖσι λινέοισι ὁμοιότατα· οὐδ᾽ ἄν, ὅστις μὴ κάρτα τρίβων εἴη αὐτῆς, διαγνοίη λίνου ἢ καννάβιος ἐστί· ὃς δὲ μὴ εἶδε κω τὴν κανναβίδα, λίνεον δοκήσει εἶναι τὸ εἷμα.


75. The Scythians then take the seed of this hemp and creep under the felt coverings, and then they throw the seed upon the stones which have been heated red-hot: and it burns like incense and produces a vapour so think that no vapour-bath in Hellas would surpass it: and the Scythians being delighted with the vapour-bath howl like wolves. This is to them instead of washing, for in fact they do not wash their bodies at all in water. Their women however pound with a rough stone the wood of the cypress and cedar and frankincense tree, pouring in water with it, and then with this pounded stuff, which is thick, they plaster over all their body and also their face; and not only does a sweet smell attach to them by reason of this, but also when they take off the plaster on the next day, their skin is clean and shining.

75. [1] ταύτης ὦν οἱ Σκύθαι τῆς καννάβιος τὸ σπέρμα ἐπεὰν λάβωσι, ὑποδύνουσι ὑπὸ τοὺς πίλους, καὶ ἔπειτα ἐπιβάλλουσι τὸ σπέρμα ἐπὶ τοὺς διαφανέας λίθους τῷ πυρί· τὸ δὲ θυμιᾶται ἐπιβαλλόμενον καὶ ἀτμίδα παρέχεται τοσαύτην ὥστε Ἑλληνικὴ οὐδεμία ἄν μιν πυρίη ἀποκρατήσειε. [2] οἱ δὲ Σκύθαι ἀγάμενοι τῇ πυρίῃ ὠρύονται. τοῦτό σφι ἀντὶ λουτροῦ ἐστι. οὐ γὰρ δὴ λούονται ὕδατι τὸ παράπαν τὸ σῶμα. [3] αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν ὕδωρ παραχέουσαι κατασώχουσι περὶ λίθον τρηχὺν τῆς κυπαρίσσου καὶ κέδρου καὶ λιβάνου ξύλου, καὶ ἔπειτα τὸ κατασωχόμενον τοῦτο παχὺ ἐὸν καταπλάσσονται πᾶν τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον· καὶ ἅμα μὲν εὐωδίη σφέας ἀπὸ τούτου ἴσχει, ἅμα δὲ ἀπαιρέουσαι τῇ δευτέρη ἡμέρῃ τὴν καταπλαστὺν γίνονται καθαραὶ καὶ λαμπραί. 


[ source ]



YouTube Video of Edith Piaf Singing “La Foule” with English Subtitles
|| 2/16/2010 || 2:57 pm || + Render A Comment || ||


[WATCH ON YOUTUBE]

I’ve always enjoyed this song, but never knew what the lyrics translated to.

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Of (the Tartars) manners both good and bad (around 400 years ago)
|| 4/19/2008 || 3:26 pm || Comments Off on Of (the Tartars) manners both good and bad (around 400 years ago) || ||

1732 Map of Great Tartary by Herman Moll
Obtained from the David Rumsey Map Collection

Today’s entry follows up my successful layout of Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure for Love and employs the same side by side Latin / English text. Below you will find Chapter 5 of Richard Hakluyt’s The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation – Volume 2 published 1598-1600 in London, England.

Richard Hakluyt was an English author, editor, translator, and personal chaplain to Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, principal Secretary of State to Elizabeth I and James I. A great history of his life and works can be found in his Wikipedia entry. Most notably, he was one of the biggest advocates for English colonization of Virginia. Some of his other exploration-related works include the Discovery of Muscovy, Voyagers Tales, Voyages in Searth of the North-West Passage, and numerous similar volumes related to The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (Project Gutenberg lists a total of 12 volumes altogether).

In the chapter below he describes the manners of the people of Tartary. This antiquated geographic name was used by Europeans from the Middle Ages until the twentieth century to designate the great tract of northern and central Asia stretching from the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean (see map above). Inhabited by Turkic and Mongol peoples of the Mongol Empire who were generically referred to as “Tartars”, the present day geography includes the current areas of Siberia, Turkestan (including East Turkestan), Greater Mongolia, and parts China. In many ways the book reminds me of how an antiquarian National Geographic article might have read. The aim of this book, and many of his other works, was to consolidate what others had written about different regions around the known world and in doing so help spread the diffusion of geographic & ethnographic knowledge.

Lastly, in regards to the transcription below, I did not modify the original Project Gutenberg text, so when reading please note that there are some typographic differences in the old English and contemporary English. Remember to change the lowercase V to a lowercase U and in some cases, change the I’s to J’s. I did consider updating the text to modern English, but in some ways I feel that it would be better to keep the text in it’s originally transcribed format. Unlike Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure for Love, I did not include the line numbers because they were not given in the original text. I did, however, separate the text into easy to read paragraphs. If you are reading this entry via Google Reader, the chapter can be better read by hiding the sidebar that shows your subscriptions by clicking the small arrow on the left separator or by pressing “u” on your keyboard to switch to wide screen.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did:

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Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love by Ovid
|| 4/3/2008 || 1:28 pm || Comments Off on Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love by Ovid || ||

Remedia Amoris (Love’s Remedy or The Cure for Love) is a 814 line poem in Latin by the Roman poet Ovid written around 5 BC. The aim of the poem is to teach young men how they can avoid idealizing the women they love and to give assistance if love brings despair and misfortune.

I discovered this poem when I was researching antique stained glass sundials and I came to the initial conclusion that Ovid’s prose is visually interpreted on Blaeu’s world map from the mid-1600s (detail above). Late last night I found both the latin and translated version of the poem, so I decided to do something I wish there was more of on the internet: a side by side layout which shows the original Latin on the left and the translated English on the right.

To add a unique visual element to the poem, I made the line number (which came from the Latin text) the color of the English translation. This involved quite a bit of manual coding, but I think it makes the latin / english comparison easier and slightly more visually engaging. By using red & white type face and numerical indention, the layout looks like a creve coeur or broken heart when scrolling. I bolded one section for emphasis related it’s discovery [hint: around line #185].

There are a few translation discrepancies that I’ve found thus far and there are many others which come across slightly convoluted and require more inquiry, but overall the poem is quite interesting. It includes topics like tree grafting (Genetic Engineering Version 1.0), having multiple lovers, travelling, and what to do and not to do when getting over a relationship. It’s interesting how much things have changed in the last 2,000 years, and as cliche as it may sound, how much our emotions have stayed the same. We all face the same relationship troubles and like Ovid, there will always be people telling you how to deal with them.



If you’ve got about 45 minutes to spare, here is Ovid’s Remedia Amoris / The Cure For Love:
(You might need to widen your browser window to view the on-line polyglot correctly — it was originally design for a previous layout on this website. Drag the lower right hand corner to make the screen wider. Some browsers you can adjust the font size to achieve a similar result.)

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Random Banners Now Greet You – continued
|| 7/20/2007 || 2:35 pm || Comments Off on Random Banners Now Greet You – continued || ||


Banner created from Star of Guinea-Bissau

In March of this year I created 15 banners that are displayed randomly each time the website loads. Earlier this week a friend of mine in Shanghai, China sent me my name in Simplified Chinese. She also sent me some useful words I plan on adding to some future maps. I’ve decided to make another batch of banners using this text. There are now a total of 34 different banners.

View the new banners after the fold…

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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  • thank you,
    come again!