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Classical Greek Online

Lesson 5

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

In Book 4 of his History, Herodotus relates the expedition of Darius against the Scythians, who were located in the western highlands of the Persian Empire. Darius set out to avenge their earlier invasion of Media. While Herodotus tells of his attempt to punish the Scythians, most of the sections of the book dealing with the Scythians describe their customs. Among these the two sections on their use of cannabis are of great interest, both for their linguistic importance and for their information about the knowledge among the Greeks of this drug. The name for the plant, probably of Scythian origin, is found not only in Greek and Latin, but also in Armenian as kanap', in Albanian as kanep, and in Church Slavonic as konoplja. Found in so many dialects, the word might be reconstructed for Indo-European but for the information given by Herodotus, especially in view of its forms in Germanic.

The forms in the Germanic languages, such as our word hemp, Old Icelandic hampr, and German Hanf include changes in consonants, k > h, b > p, that indicate the word was imported into Germanic before the first consonant shift. The time of its importation is unclear, but on the basis of the changes we may assume that the time was somewhat before our era. There are, however, problems with the assignment, since words may be modified when imported, though scarcely as completely as in the changed Germanic forms. Both for their linguistic and their cultural information, these two sections have been included from among the many of great interest in Herodotus's description of the customs of the Scythians.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Sections 74 and 75 of Book 4 are straightforward. Herodotus describes the appearance of the plant and its uses for clothing. While he mentions that he traveled by ship in the Black Sea, it is unclear whether he went north of it to the homes of the Scythians, or whether he has his information from reports by other travelers or from Scythians themselves. Whatever the basis of his information, his description of the use of the plant for achieving ecstasy and substituting for bathing, as well as the beauty preparations of the women, are clear and credible.

Esti de sphi kannabis phuomenê en tê chôrê plên pachutêtos kai megatheos tô linô empherestatê. # Book 4, section 74

  • esti -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <eimi> I am -- there is (they have)
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- and
  • sphi -- reflexive pronoun; dative plural masculine of <spheis> they -- (for them)
  • kannabis -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <kannabis> hemp -- hemp
  • phuomenê -- verb; nominative singular feminine of present participle middle of <phuô> grow -- growing
  • en -- preposition; <en> in -- in
  • -- article; dative singular feminine of <ho> the -- the
  • chôrê -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <chôra> land, country -- country
  • plên -- preposition; <plên> except -- except for
  • pachutêtos -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <pachutês> thickness -- thickness
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • megatheos -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <megathês> height -- height
  • -- article; dative singular neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • linô -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <linon> linen -- linen
  • empherestatê -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of superlative of <empherês> resembling -- very much like

tautê de pollô huperpherei hê kannabis

  • tautê -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular feminine of <houtos> this -- in this (respect)
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- indeed
  • pollô -- adverb; dative singular neuter of <polus> many -- by far
  • huperpherei -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <huperpherô> surpass -- surpasses
  • -- article; nominative singular feminine of <ho> the -- the
  • kannabis -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <kannabis> hemp -- hemp

hautê kai automatê kai speiromenê phuetai, kai ex autês Thrêikes men kai heimata poieuntai toisi lineoisi homoiotata;

  • hautê -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <houtos> this -- this
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- both
  • automatê -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <automatos> by itself -- by itself
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • speiromenê -- verb; nominative singular feminine of present participle passive of <speirô> sow -- sown
  • phuetai -- verb; 3rd person singular present middle of <phuô> grow -- grows
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • ex -- preposition; <ex> from, out of -- out of
  • autês -- pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <autos> oneself, he -- it
  • Thrêikes -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Thrêix> Thracian -- (the) Thracians
  • men -- particle; <men> on the one hand -- and
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- even
  • heimata -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <heima> clothing -- clothing
  • poieuntai -- verb; 3rd person plural present middle of <poieô> make, do -- make
  • toisi -- article; dative plural neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • lineoisi -- adjective; dative plural neuter of <lineos> of linen -- linen
  • homoiotata -- adjective; accusative plural neuter superlative of <homoios> like, similar -- very much like

oud' an hostis mê karta tribôn eiê autês, diagnoiê linou ê kannabios esti;

  • oud' -- particle; <oude> not -- and...not
  • an -- particle; <an> if -- unless
  • hostis -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hostis> whoever, whatever -- one
  • -- particle; <> not -- ...
  • karta -- adverb; <karta> very much, extremely -- very
  • tribôn -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of present participle of <tribô> skilled, experienced -- experienced
  • eiê -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative of <eimi> I am -- were
  • autês -- pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <autos> oneself, he -- in it
  • diagnoiê -- verb; 3rd person singular optative aorist of <diagignôskô> discern, distinguish -- he would discern
  • linou -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <linon> linen -- linen
  • ê -- conjunction; <ê> or, than -- or
  • kannabios -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <kannabis> hemp -- hemp
  • esti -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <eimi> I am -- (whether) it is

hos de mê eide kô tên kannabida, lineon dokêsei einai to heima.

  • hos -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hos> who, which -- he who
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- but
  • -- particle; <> not -- not
  • eide -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <eidon> saw -- has seen
  • -- adverb; <> yet -- yet
  • tên -- article; accusative singular feminine of <ho> the -- the
  • kannabida -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <kannabis> hemp -- hemp clothing
  • lineon -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <lineos> of linen -- of linen
  • dokêsei -- verb; 3rd person singular future of <dokeô> seem, think -- will think
  • einai -- verb; infinitive of <eimi> I am -- (it) is
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • heima -- noun, neuter; nominative singular of <heima> clothing -- clothing

Tautês ôn hoi Skuthai tês kannabios to sperma epean labôsi, hupodunousi hupo tous pilous, kai epeita epiballousi to sperma epi tous diaphaneas lithous tô puri; # Book 4, section 75

  • tautês -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular feminine of <houtos> this -- of this
  • ôn -- adverb; <ôn> indeed -- indeed
  • hoi -- article; nominative plural masculine of <ho> the -- the
  • Skuthai -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Skuthês> Scythian -- Scythians
  • tês -- article; genitive singular feminine of <ho> the -- the
  • kannabios -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <kannabis> hemp -- hemp
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • sperma -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sperma> seed -- seed
  • epean -- conjunction; <epean> when, after -- after
  • labôsi -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist subjunctive of <lambanô> receive, capture -- take
  • hupodunousi -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <hupoduô> go under -- (and) they go (under)
  • hupo -- preposition; <hupo> under, by -- under
  • tous -- article; accusative plural masculine of <ho> the -- the
  • pilous -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <pilos> mat -- mats
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • epeita -- adverb; <epeita> thereupon -- then
  • epiballousi -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <epiballô> throw on -- they throw
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • sperma -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sperma> seed -- seed
  • epi -- preposition; <epi> on, about -- on
  • tous -- article; accusative plural masculine of <ho> the -- the
  • diaphaneas -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <diaphanês> transparent, red-hot -- red-hot
  • lithous -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <lithos> stone -- stones
  • -- article; dative singular neuter of <ho> the -- with the
  • puri -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <pur> fire -- fire

to de thumiatai epiballomenon kai atmida parechetai tosautên hôste Hellênikê oudemia an min puriê apokratêseie.

  • to -- article; nominative singular neuter of <ho> the -- it
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- and
  • thumiatai -- verb; 3rd person singular present middle of <thumiaô> burn with smoke -- burn with smoke
  • epiballomenon -- verb; accusative singular neuter of present participle passive of <epiballô> throw on -- (so) thrown
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • atmida -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <atmis> steam, vapor -- vapor
  • parechetai -- verb; 3rd person singular present middle of <parechô> provide -- it produces
  • tosautên -- adjective; accusative singular feminine of <tosoutos> such -- such
  • hôste -- adverbial conjunction; <hôste> like, so that -- that
  • Hellênikê -- adjective; nominative singular feminine of <Hellênikos> Greek -- Greek
  • oudemia -- pronoun; nominative singular feminine of <oudeis, oudemia, ouden> no one, nothing -- no
  • an -- particle; <an> if -- ...
  • min -- pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <min> it -- it
  • puriê -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <puriê> vapor bath -- vapor bath
  • apokratêseie -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist optative of <apokrateô> exceed -- might exceed

hoi de Skuthai agamenoi tê puriê ôruontai.

  • hoi -- article; nominative plural masculine of <ho> the -- the
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- and
  • Skuthai -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <Skuthês> Scythian -- Scythians
  • agamenoi -- deponent verb; nominative plural masculine of present participle middle of <agamai> to wonder, admire -- delighted
  • -- article; dative singular feminine of <ho> the -- by the
  • puriê -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <puriê> vapor bath -- vapor bath
  • ôruontai -- verb; 3rd person plural present middle of <ôruomai> howl -- howl

touto sphi anti loutrou esti.

  • touto -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter of <houtos> this -- this
  • sphi -- reflexive pronoun; dative plural masculine of <spheis> they -- for them
  • anti -- preposition; <anti> instead of -- instead of
  • loutrou -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <loutron> bathing -- bathing
  • esti -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <eimi> I am -- is (done)

ou gar dê louontai hudati to parapan to sôma.

  • ou -- particle; <ou> not -- not
  • gar -- conjunction; <gar> for -- for
  • -- particle; <> indeed -- indeed
  • louontai -- verb; 3rd person plural present middle of <louomai> wash oneself -- they wash
  • hudati -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <hudôr> water -- in water
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • parapan -- adverb; <parapan> absolutely -- at all
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- their
  • sôma -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sôma> body -- body

hai de gunaikes autôn hudôr paracheousai katasôchousi peri lithon trêchun tês kuparissou kai kedrou kai libanou xulou, kai epeita to katasôchomenon touto pachu eon kataplassontai pan to sôma kai to prosôpon;

  • hai -- article; nominative plural feminine of <ho> the -- the
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- on the other hand
  • gunaikes -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <gunê> woman -- women
  • autôn -- pronoun; genitive plural feminine of <autos> oneself, he -- their
  • hudôr -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <hudôr> water -- water
  • paracheousai -- verb; nominative plural feminine of present participle of <paracheô> pour in -- pouring in
  • katasôchousi -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <katasôchô> rub in pieces -- rub
  • peri -- preposition; <peri> around -- around
  • lithon -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <lithos> stone -- stone
  • trêchun -- adjective; accusative singular masculine of <trêchus> rough -- a rough
  • tês -- article; genitive singular feminine of <ho> the -- of the
  • kuparissou -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <kuparissos> cypress -- cypress
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • kedrou -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <kedros> cedar -- cedar
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • libanou -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <libanos> frankincense, frankincense tree -- frankincense tree
  • xulou -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <xulon> wood -- wood
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • epeita -- adverb; <epeita> thereupon -- then
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- the
  • katasôchomenon -- verb; accusative singular neuter of present participle middle of <katasôchô> rub in pieces -- rubbed (matter)
  • touto -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <houtos> this -- this
  • pachu -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <pachus> thick -- thick
  • eon -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <eos> his, her -- their
  • kataplassontai -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <kataplassô> plaster over -- they plaster over
  • pan -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <pas> all, every -- entire
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- ...
  • sôma -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sôma> body -- body
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • to -- article; accusative singular neuter of <ho> the -- ...
  • prosôpon -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <prosôpon> face -- face

kai hama men euôdiê spheas apo toutou ischei, hama de apaireousai tê deuterê hêmerê tên kataplastun ginontai katharai kai lamprai.

  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • hama -- adverb; <hama> at the same time -- at the same time
  • men -- particle; <men> on the one hand -- on the one hand
  • euôdiê -- noun, feminine; nominative singular of <euôdiê> fragrant scent -- a fragrant scent
  • spheas -- reflexive pronoun; accusative plural masculine of <spheis> they -- them
  • apo -- preposition; <apo> from -- from
  • toutou -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular neuter of <houtos> this -- this
  • ischei -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <ischô> stay -- remains
  • hama -- adverb; <hama> at the same time -- and at the same time
  • de -- particle; <de> and, on the other hand -- on the other hand
  • apaireousai -- verb; nominative singular feminine of present participle of <apaireô> take off -- (when they) remove
  • -- article; dative singular feminine of <ho> the -- their
  • deuterê -- adjective; dative singular feminine of <deuteros> second -- on the second
  • hêmerê -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <hêmera> day -- day
  • tên -- article; accusative singular feminine of <ho> the -- the
  • kataplastun -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <kataplastus> plaster -- ointment
  • ginontai -- deponent verb; 3rd person plural present of <gignomai> happen, become -- they become
  • katharai -- adjective; nominative plural feminine of <katharos> clean, pure -- clean
  • kai -- conjunction; <kai> and -- and
  • lamprai -- adjective; nominative plural feminine of <lampros> shiny -- shining (in appearance)

Lesson Text

Esti de sphi kannabis phuomenê en tê chôrê plên pachutêtos kai megatheos tô linô empherestatê. tautê de pollô huperpherei hê kannabis hautê kai automatê kai speiromenê phuetai, kai ex autês Thrêikes men kai heimata poieuntai toisi lineoisi homoiotata; oud' an hostis mê karta tribôn eiê autês, diagnoiê linou ê kannabios esti; hos de mê eide kô tên kannabida, lineon dokêsei einai to heima. Tautês ôn hoi Skuthai tês kannabios to sperma epean labôsi, hupodunousi hupo tous pilous, kai epeita epiballousi to sperma epi tous diaphaneas lithous tô puri; to de thumiatai epiballomenon kai atmida parechetai tosautên hôste Hellênikê oudemia an min puriê apokratêseie. hoi de Skuthai agamenoi tê puriê ôruontai. touto sphi anti loutrou esti. ou gar dê louontai hudati to parapan to sôma. hai de gunaikes autôn hudôr paracheousai katasôchousi peri lithon trêchun tês kuparissou kai kedrou kai libanou xulou, kai epeita to katasôchomenon touto pachu eon kataplassontai pan to sôma kai to prosôpon; kai hama men euôdiê spheas apo toutou ischei, hama de apaireousai tê deuterê hêmerê tên kataplastun ginontai katharai kai lamprai.

Translation

They have hemp growing in their country, very much like flax except for thickness and height. In this respect the hemp surpasses flax by far. This grows by itself and sown, and out of it the Thracians even make clothing very much like linen. And unless anyone were very experienced in it, he would not discern whether it is linen or hemp. But he who has not yet seen hemp clothing will think the clothing is linen.
Now the Scythians take the seed of the hemp and they go under their mats and then they throw the seed on the red-hot stones in the fire. So thrown it smoulders, and it produces such vapor that no Greek vapor bath might exceed it. And delighted by the vapor bath, the Scythians howl. This is done by them instead of bathing. But their women pound around a rough stone cypress and cedar and frankincense wood, pouring in water, and then they plaster this thick rubbed matter over their entire body and face. A fragrant scent remains on them from this, and at the same time when they remove the ointment on the second day they become clean and shining in appearance.

Grammar

21. Consonant stems ending in dentals.

In these stems the consonant is dropped in the nominative singular, as well as in the accusative singular of neuters, and in the dative plural.

    'foot'   'body'
Nom. sg.   ho pous   to sôma
Gen. sg.   tou podos   tou sômatos
Dat. sg.   tô podi   tô sômati
Acc. sg.   ton poda   to sôma
         
Nom. pl.   hoi podes   ta sômata
Gen. pl.   tôn podôn   tôn sômatôn
Dat. pl.   tois posi   tois sômasi
Acc. pl.   tous podas   ta sômata
22. Comparison of adjectives.

In most adjectives comparison is expressed by -teros in the comparative degree, by -tatos in the superlative degree. The forms then are inflected in accordance with the o- and a-declensions. Examples in this text are empherestatê and homoiotata. Some of the common adjectives on the other hand are irregular, for example, kakos 'bad'; kakiôn, kakistos. Their forms will be listed in dictionaries.

23. Interrogative and indefinite pronouns.

These are declined as follows:

    Interrogative   Indefinite
    Masc/Fem   Neut | Masc/Fem   Neut
    'who'   'what' | 'someone'   'something'
Nom. sg.   tis   ti | tis   ti
Gen. sg.   tinos   tinos | tinos   tinos
Dat. sg.   tini   tini | tini   tini
Acc. sg.   tina   ti | tina   ti
                 
Nom. pl.   tines   tina | tines   tina
Gen. pl.   tinôn   tinôn | tinôn   tinôn
Dat. pl.   tisi(n)   tisi(n) | tisi(n)   tisi(n)
Acc. pl.   tinas   tina | tinas   tina

    Indefinite
    Masc   Fem   Neut
    'who(ever)'   'who(ever)'   'what(ever)'
Nom. sg.   ostis   hêtis   hoti
Gen. sg.   hotou   hêstinos   hotou
Dat. sg.   hôtini   hêtini   hôtini
Acc. sg.   hontina   hêntina   hoti
             
Nom. pl.   hoitines   haitines   hatina
Gen. pl.   hôntinôn   hôntinôn   hôntinôn
Dat. pl.   hoistisi   haistisi   hoistisi
Acc. pl.   houstinas   hastinas   hatina
24. The middle and passive voices.

In the present system the forms of the middle (expressing action for one's own sake) and the passive (expressing action directed at the subject) are the same. The forms for the indicative and the imperfect are as follows.

    Present   Imperfect
1 sg   paideuomai   epaideuomên
2 sg   paideuê   epaideuou
3 sg   paideuetai   epaideueto
         
1 pl   paideuometha   epaideuometha
2 pl   paideuesthe   epaideuesthe
3 pl   paideuontai   epaideuontai
25. The subjunctive, optative, and imperative middle and passive forms, the infinitive and participle.

While these forms are not frequent, they are given here so that, if found, they may be recognized. The participial forms, on the other hand, are relatively frequent, as in this text, where a number of them occur, such as phuomenê, epiballomenon, agamenoi.

    Subjunctive   Optative   Imperative
1s   paideuômai   paiadeuoimên    
2s   paideuê   paideuoio   paideuesthô
3s   paideuêtai   paideuoito   paideuesthô
             
1p   paideuoômetha   paideuoimetha    
2p   paideuêsthe   paideuoisthe   paideuesthe
3p   paideuôntai   paideuointo   paideuesthôn

Infinitive:   paideuesthai
Participle:   paideuomenos, paideuomenê, paideuomenon