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Early Indo-European Texts

Classical Greek

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Classical Greek with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Classical Greek Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Classical Greek language and its speakers' culture.

from Herodotus' History, Book 4

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 τοίσι λινέοισι ὁμοιότατα· οὐδ' ἄν ὅστις μὴ κάρτα τρίβων εἴη αὐτῆς, διαγνοίη λίνου ἢ καννάβιος ἐστί· ὅς δὲ μὴ εἶδέ κώ τὴν κανναβίδα, λίνεον δοκήσει εἶναι τὸ εἷμα. Ταύτης ὦν οἱ Σκύθαι τῆς καννάβιος τὸ σπέρμα ἐπεὰν λάβωσι, ὑποδύνουσι ὑπὸ τοὺς πῖλους, 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. οἱ δὲ Σκύθαι ἀγάμενοι τῇ πυρίῃ ὠρύονται. τοῦτό σφι ἀντὶ λουτροῦ ἐστι. οὐ γὰρ δὴ λούονται ὕδατι τὸ παράπαν τὸ σῶμα. 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 δευτέρῃ ἡμέρῃ τὴν καταπλαστὺν γίνονται καθαραὶ καὶ λαμπραί.

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.