The Northern Way

JORDANE'S
THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS

VII


(49) After his death, while the army under his successors was engaged in an expedition in other parts, a neighboring tribe attempted to carry off women of the Goths as booty. But they made a brave resistance, as they had been taught to do by their husbands, and routed in disgrace the enemy who had come upon them. When they had won this victory, they were inspired with greater daring. Mutually encouraging each other, they took up arms and chose two of the bolder, Lampeto and Marpesia, to act as their leaders. (50) While they were in command, they cast lots both for the defense of their own country and the devastation of other lands. So Lampeto remained to guard their native land and Marpesia took a company of women and led this novel army into Asia. After conquering various tribes in war and making others their allies by treaties, she came to the Caucasus. There she remained for some time and gave the place the name Rock of Marpesia, of which also Virgil makes mention:
      "Like to hard flint or the Marpesian Cliff."
      It was here Alexander the Great afterwards built gates and named them the Caspian Gates, which now the tribe of the Lazi guard as a Roman fortification. (51) Here, then, the Amazons remained for some time and were much strengthened. Then they departed and crossed the river Halys, which flows near the city of Gangra, and with equal success subdued Armenia, Syria, Cilicia, Galatia, Pisidia and all the places of Asia. Then they turned to Ionia and Aeolia, and made provinces of them after their surrender. Here they ruled for some time and even founded cities and camps bearing their name. At Ephesus also they built a very costly and beautiful temple for Diana, because of her delight in archery and the chase--arts to which they were themselves devoted. (52) Then these Scythian-born women, who had by such a chance gained control over the kingdoms of Asia, held them for almost a hundred years, and at last came back to their own kinsfolk in the Marpesian rocks I have mentioned above, namely the Caucasus mountains.
      Inasmuch as I have twice mentioned this mountain-range, I think it not out of place to describe its extent and situation, for, as is well known, it encompasses a great part of the earth with its continuous chain. (53) Beginning at the Indian Ocean, where it faces the south it is warm, giving off vapor in the sun; where it lies open to the north it is exposed to chill winds and frost. Then bending back into Syria with a curving turn, it not only sends forth many other streams, but pours from its plenteous breasts into the Vasianensian region the Euphrates and the Tigris, navigable rivers famed for their unfailing springs. These rivers surround the land of the Syrians and cause it to be called Mesopotamia, as it truly is. Their waters empty into the bosom of the Red Sea. (54) Then turning back to the north, the range I have spoken of passes with great bends through the Scythian lands. There it sends forth very famous rivers into the Caspian Sea--the Araxes, the Cyrus and the Cambyses. It goes on in continuous range even to the Rhipaeian mountains. Thence it descends from the north toward the Pontic Sea, furnishing a boundary to the Scythian tribes by its ridge, and even touches the waters of the Ister with its clustered hills. Being cut by this river, it divides, and in Scythia is named Taurus also. (55) Such then is the great range, almost the mightiest of mountain chains, rearing aloft its summits and by its natural conformation supplying men with impregnable strongholds. Here and there it divides where the ridge breaks apart and leaves a deep gap, thus forming now the Caspian Gates, and again the Armenian or the Cilician, or of whatever name the place may be. Yet they are barely passable for a wagon, for both sides are sharp and steep as well as very high. The range has different names among various peoples. The Indian calls it Imaus and in another part Paropamisus. The Parthian calls it first Choatras and afterward Niphates; the Syrian and Armenian call it Taurus; the Scythian names it Caucasus and Rhipaeus, and at its end calls it Taurus. Many other tribes have given names to the range. Now that we have devoted a few words to describing its extent, let us return to the subject of the Amazons.



VIII


(56) Fearing their race would fail, they sought marriage with neighboring tribes. They appointed a day for meeting once in every year, so that when they should return to the same place on that day in the following year each mother might give over to the father whatever male child she had borne, but should herself keep and train for warfare whatever children of the female sex were born. Or else, as some maintain, they exposed the males, destroying the life of the ill-fated child with a hate like that of a stepmother. Among them childbearing was detested, though everywhere else it is desired. (57) The terror of their cruelty was increased by common rumor; for what hope, pray, would there be for a captive, when it was considered wrong to spare even a son? Hercules, they say, fought against them and overcame Menalippe, yet more by guile than by valor. Theseus moreover, took Hippolyte captive, and of her he begat Hippolytus. And in later times the Amazons had a queen named Penthesilea, famed in the tales of the Trojan war. These women are said to have kept their power even to the time of Alexander the Great.



IX


(58) But say not "Why does a story which deals with the men of the Goths have so much to say of their women?" Hear, then, the tale of the famous and glorious valor of the men. Now Dio, the historian and diligent investigator of ancient times, who gave to his work the title "Getica" (and the Getae we have proved in a previous passage to be Goths, on the testimony of Orosius Paulus)--this Dio, I say, makes mention of a later king of theirs named Telefus. Let no one say that this name is quite foreign to the Gothic tongue, and let no one who is ignorant cavil at the fact that the tribes of men make use of many names, even as the Romans borrow from the Macedonians, the Greeks from the Romans, the Sarmatians from the Germans, and the Goths frequently from the Huns. (59) This Telefus, then, a son of Hercules by Auge, and the husband of a sister of Priam, was of towering stature and terrible strength. He matched his father's valor by virtues of his own and also recalled the traits of Hercules by his likeness in appearance. Our ancestors called his kingdom Moesia. This province has on the east the mouths of the Danube, on the south Macedonia, on the west Histria and on the north the Danube. (60) Now this king we have mentioned carried on wars with the Greeks, and in their course he slew in battle Thesander, the leader of Greece. But while he was making a hostile attack upon Ajax and was pursuing Ulysses, his horse became entangled in some vines and fell. He himself was thrown and wounded in the thigh by a javelin of Achilles, so that for a long time he could not be healed. Yet, despite his wound, he drove the Greeks from his land. Now when Telefus died, his son Eurypylus succeeded to the throne, being a son of the sister of Priam, king of the Phrygians. For love of Cassandra he sought to take part in the Trojan war, that he might come to the help of her parents and his own father-in-law; but soon after his arrival he was killed.

 

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