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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

ʼΈστι δέ σφι κάνναβις φυομένη ἐν τῃ̂ χώρῃ πλὴν παχύτητος καὶ μεγάθεος τῳ̂ λίνῳ ἐμφερεστάτη. ταύτῃ δὲ πολλῳ̂ ὑπερφέρει ἡ κάνναβις αʽύτη καὶ αὐτομάτη καὶ σπειρομένη φύεται, καὶ ἐξ αὐτη̂ς Θρήικες μὲν καὶ εʽίματα ποιευ̂νται τοίσι λινέοισι ὁμοιότατα· οὐδ' ʼάν ʽόστις μὴ κάρτα τρίβων εʼίη αὐτη̂ς, διαγνοίη λίνου ʼὴ καννάβιος ἐστί· ʽός δὲ μὴ εʼι̂δέ κώ τὴν κανναβίδα, λίνεον δοκήσει εʼι̂ναι τὸ εʽι̂μα. Ταύτης ʼω̂ν οἱ Σκύθαι τη̂ς καννάβιος τὸ σπέρμα ἐπεὰν λάβωσι, ὑποδύνουσι ὑπὸ τοὺς πι̂λους, καὶ ʼέπειτα ἐπιβάλλουσι τὸ σπέρμα ἐπὶ τοὺς διαφανέας λίθους τῳ̂ πυρί· τὸ δὲ θυμια̂ται ἐπιβαλλόμενον καὶ ἀτμίδα παρέχεται τοσαύτην ʽώστε ʽΕλληνικὴ οὐδεμία ʼάν μιν πυρίη ἀποκρατήσειε. οἱ δὲ Σκύθαι ἀγάμενοι τῃ̂ πυρίῃ ὠρύονται. του̂τό σφι ἀντὶ λουτρου̂ ἐστι. οὐ γὰρ δὴ λούονται ʽύδατι τὸ παράπαν τὸ σω̂μα. αἱ δὲ γυναι̂κες αὐτω̂ν ʽύδωρ παραχέουσαι κατασώχουσι περὶ λίθον τρηχὺν τη̂ς κυπαρίσσου καὶ κέδρου καὶ λιβάνου ξύλου, καὶ ʼέπειτα τὸ κατασωχόμενον του̂το παχὺ ἐὸν καταπλάσσονται πα̂ν τὸ σω̂μα καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον· καὶ ʽάμα μὲν εὐωδίη σφέας ἀπὸ τούτου ʼίσχει, ʽάμα δὲ ἀπαιρέουσαι τῃ̂ 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.