ePub 版
[ocr errors]

LXVIII. Whenever the Scythian monarch happens to be indisposed, he sends for three of the most celebrated of these diviners. When the Scythians desire to use the most folemn kind of oath, they swear by the king's throne 76: these diviners, therefore, make no fcruple of affirming, that such or such individual, pointing him out by name, has forsworn himself by the royal throne. Irnmediately the person thus marked out is seized, and informed that by their art of divination, which is infallible, he has been indirectly the occasion of the king's illness, by having violated the oath which we have mentioned. If the accused not only denies the charge, but expresses himself enraged at the imputation, the, king convokes a double number of diviners, who, examining into the mode which has been pursued in criminating him, decide accordingly. If he be found guilty, he immediately loses his head, and the three diviners who were first consulted share his effects. If these last diviners acquit the accused, others are at hand, of whom if the greater number abfolve him, the first diviners are put to death.

LXIX. The manner in which they are executed is this:--Some oxen are yoked to a waggon filled with faggots, in the midst of which, with their feet tied, their hands fastened behind, and their mouths gagged, these diviners are placed ; fire is

70 King's throne.)- The Turks at this day,” says Larcher, “ fivear by the Ottoman Porte.” Reiske has the same remark: “ Adhuc obtinet apud Turcas, per Portam Ottomani. cam, hoc eft domicilium sui principis, jurare."-T.


then set to the wood, and the oxen terrified to make them run violently away. It sometimes happens that the oxen themselves are burned ; and often when the waggon is consumed, the oxen escape severely scorched. This is the method by which, for the above-mentioned or similar offences, they put to death those whom they call false diviners.

LXX. Of those whom the king condemns to death, he constantly destroys the male children, leaving the females unmolested. Whenever the Scythians form alliances 77, they observe these ceremonies :-A large earthen vessel is filled with wine, into this is poured some of the blood of the contracting parties, obtained by a night incision of a knife or a sword; in this cup they dip a scymetar, some arrows, a hatchet, and a spear. After this they pronounce some folemn prayers, and the parties who form the contract, with such of their friends as are of superior dignity, finally drink the contents of the vessel.

LXXI. The fepulchres of the kings are in the district of the Gerrhi. As soon as the king dies 78 a large trench of a quadrangular form is sunk, near where the Borysthenes begins to be navigable, When this has been done, the body is enclosed in

[ocr errors]

77 Form alliances. ]See book i. c. 74.

78 King dies.]-A minute and interesting description of the funeral ceremonies of various ancient nations may be found in Montfaucon, vol. v. 126, &c.T.



wax, after it has been thoroughly cleansed, and the entrails taken out; before it is sown up they fill it with anise, parsley-feed, bruised cypress, and various aromatics. They then place it on a carriage, and remove it to another district, where the persons who receive it, like the Royal Scythians, cut off a part of their ear, shave their heads in a circular form, take a round piece of flesh from their arm, wound their foreheads, noses, and pierce their left hands with arrows. The body is again carried to another province of the deceased king's realms, the inhabitants of the former district accompanying the procession. After thus transporting the dead body through the different provinces of the kingdom, they come at last to the Gerrhi, who live in the remotest parts of Scythia, and amongst whom the sepulchres are. Here the corple is placed upon a couch, round which at different distances daggers are fixed; upon the whole are disposed pieces of wood covered with branches of willow. In some other part of this trench they bury one of the deceased's concubines, whom they previously strangle, together with the baker, the cook, the groom, his most confidential servant, his horses, the choicest of his effects, and finally some golden goblets, for they pofless neither silver nor brass : to conclude all, they fill up the trench with earth, and seem to be emulous in their endeavours to raise as high a mound as possible.

· LXXII. The ceremony does not here terminate. They select such of the deceased king's at


tendants, in the following year, as have been most about his person ; these are all native Scythians, for in Scythia there are no purchased saves, the king selecting such to attend him as he 'thinks proper : fifty of these they strangle”, with an equal number of his best horses. Of all these they open and cleanse the bodies, which having filled with straw, they few up again: then upon two pieces of wood they place a third of a femicircular form, with its concave side uppermoit, a second is disposed in like manner, then a third, and so on, till a sufficient number have been erected. Upon these semicircular pieces of wood they place the horses, after passing large poles through them, from the feet to the neck.

79. They ftrangle.) Voltaire supposes that they impaled alive the favourite officers of the khan of the Scythians, round the dead body; whereas Herodotus expressly says that they strangled them first-Larcher.

Whoever has occasion minutely to examine any of the more ancient authors, will frequently feel his contempt excited, or his indignation provoked, from finding a multitude of passages ignoran ly misunderstood, or wilfully perverted This remark is in a particular manner applicable to M. Voltaire, in whose work falfe and partial quotations, with ignorant misconceptions of the ancients, obviously abound. The learned Pauw cannot in this respect be entirely exculpated; and I have a passage now before me, in which the fault I would reprobate is eminently conspicuous.--Speaking of the Chinese laws, he says, “ they punish the relations of a criminal convicted of a capital offence with death, excepting the females, whom they fell as slaves, fola lowing in this respect the maxim of the Scythians, recorded by Herodotus." . On the contrary, our historian fays, chap. 70, tha the females are not moleited. A similar remark, as it refpects M. Pauw, is somewhere made by Larcher.--T.

R 3 . One

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

One part of the structure, formed as we have defcribed, supporting the shoulders of the horse, the other his hinder parts, the legs are left to project upwards. The horses are then bridled, and the reins fastened to the legs ; upon each of these they afterwards place one of the youths who have been strangled, in the following manner: a pole is passed through each quite to the neck, through the back, the extremity of which is fixed to the piece of timber with which the horse has been spitted ; having done this with each, they fo leave them.

· LXXIII. The above are the ceremonies observed in the interment of their kings : as to the people in general, when any one dies the neighbours place the body on a carriage, and carry it about to the different acquaintance of the deceased; these prepare fome entertainment for those who accompany the corpse, placing before the body the same as before the rest. Private persons, after being thus carried about for the space of forty days, are then buried so. They who have been engaged in the


80 Are then buried.]-The Scythians did not all of them observe the same customs with respect to their funerals: there were some who suspended the dead bodies from a tree, and in that state left them to putrefy. “Of what confequence,” says Plutarch, “ is it to Theodorus, whether he rots in the earth or upon it: Such with the Scythians is the most honourable funeral.” Silius Italicus mentions also this custom :

At gente in Scythicâ fuffixa cadavera truncis "Lenta dies sepelit, putri liquentia tabo."

« 上一頁繼續 »