Herodotus, The Persian Wars

LCL 118: 326-327

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καὶ τεταραγμένους, πρὶν ἤ σφι ἐμβαλεῖν τοὺς Σκύθας πέμψαντες κήρυκα ἀπηγόρευον Σκύθῃσι μὴ ἐπιβαίνειν τῶν σφετέρων οὔρων, προλέγοντες ὡς εἰ πειρήσονται ἐσβαλόντες, σφίσι πρῶτα διαμαχήσονται. Ἀγάθυρσοι μὲν προείπαντες ταῦτα ἐβοήθεον ἐπὶ τοὺς οὔρους, ἐρύκειν ἐν νόῳ ἔχοντες τοὺς ἐπιόντας· Μελάγχλαινοι δὲ καὶ Ἀνδροφάγοι καὶ Νευροὶ ἐσβαλόντων τῶν Περσέων ἅμα Σκύθῃσι οὔτε πρὸς ἀλκὴν ἐτράποντο ἐπιλαθόμενοί τε τῆς ἀπειλῆς ἔφευγον αἰεὶ τὸ πρὸς βορέω ἐς τὴν ἔρημον τεταραγμένοι. οἱ δὲ Σκύθαι ἐς μὲν τοὺς Ἀγαθύρσους οὐκέτι ἀπείπαντας ἀπικνέοντο, οἳ δὲ ἐκ τῆς Νευρίδος χώρης ἐς τὴν σφετέρην κατηγέοντο τοῖσι Πέρσῃσι.

126. Ὡς δὲ πολλὸν τοῦτο ἐγίνετο καὶ οὐκ ἐπαύετο, πέμψας Δαρεῖος ἱππέα παρὰ τὸν Σκυθέων βασιλέα Ἰδάνθυρσον ἔλεγε τάδε. “Δαιμόνιε ἀνδρῶν, τί φεύγεις αἰεί, ἐξεόν τοι τῶνδε τὰ ἕτερα ποιέειν; εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἀξιόχρεος δοκέεις εἶναι σεωυτῷ τοῖσι ἐμοῖσι πρήγμασι ἀντιωθῆναι, σὺ δὲ στάς τε καὶ παυσάμενος πλάνης μάχεσθαι· εἰ δὲ συγγινώσκεαι εἶναι ἥσσων, σὺ δὲ καὶ οὕτω παυσάμενος τοῦ δρόμου δεσπότῃ τῷ σῷ δῶρα φέρων γῆν τε καὶ ὕδωρ ἐλθὲ ἐς λόγους.”

127. Πρὸς ταῦτα ὁ Σκυθέων βασιλεὺς Ἰδάνθυρσος λέγει τάδε. “Οὕτω τὸ ἐμὸν ἔχει, ὦ Πέρσα. ἐγὼ οὐδένα κω ἀνθρώπων δείσας ἔφυγον οὔτε πρότερον οὔτε νῦν σὲ φεύγω, οὐδέ τι νεώτερον εἰμὶ ποιήσας νῦν ἢ καὶ ἐν εἰρήνῃ ἐώθεα ποιέειν. ὅ τι δὲ οὐκ αὐτίκα μάχομαί τοι, ἐγὼ καὶ τοῦτο σημανέω. ἡμῖν οὔτε ἄστεα οὔτε γῆ πεφυτευμένη ἐστί, τῶν πέρι δείσαντες μὴ ἁλῷ ἢ


Book IV

before the Scythians could break into their land sent a herald to forbid them to set foot on their borders, warning the Scythians that if they essayed to break through they must first fight with the Agathyrsi. With this warning they mustered on their borders, with intent to stay the invaders. But the Black-cloaks and Man-eaters and Neuri, when the Persians and the Scythians broke into their lands, made no resistance, but forgot their threats and fled panic-stricken ever northward into the desert. The Scythians, being warned off by the Agathyrsi, made no second attempt on that country, but led the Persians from the lands of the Neuri into Scythia.

126. All this continuing long, and there being no end to it, Darius sent a horseman to Idanthyrsus the Scythian king, with this message: “Sir, these are strange doings. Why will you ever flee? You can choose which of two things you will do: if you deem yourself strong enough to withstand my power, wander no further, but stand and fight; but if you know yourself to be the weaker, then make an end of this running to and fro, and come to terms with your master, sending him gifts of earth and water.”

127. To this Idanthyrsus the Scythian king made answer: “It is thus with me, Persian: I have never fled for fear of any man, nor do I now flee from you; this that I have done is no new thing or other than my practice in peace. But as to the reason why I do not straightway fight with you, this too I will tell you. For we Scythians have no towns or planted lands, that we might meet you the sooner

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.herodotus-persian_wars.1920