Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Aimless Reading: The H's, Part 19 (Herodotus)


The Histories
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Herodotus
The Histories


Purchased at Talking Leaves Books.

A ticket stub for a train from Buffalo to Penn Station, dated March 9, 2000, sits between pages 248 and 249, the pages I left off on the last time I read this, which was likely for my oral exams in graduate school. I think I had a reading at The Poetry Project that spring, so the ticket was likely for that.

It was the first time I'd read there. I think I read with Lisa Lubasch. I remember after the reading going out to the Grass Roots Tavern with Dan Machlin and Garret Kalleberg and Laird Hunt and several others.

As with Paul Celan, there is a whole sub-library of books within my library that belong to the Charles Olson ancillary reading collection. This book belongs there. Not that I don't love Herodotus, but my reading of him is so closely bound up with my reading of Olson, that it is difficult to separate the two in my mind. When I read Herodotus, I read him as Olson told me to read him. I am not sure at this point if I could do it any other way.

(For a brief synopsis of this viewpoint, read my entry from last month on Greek and Roman Historians).

from the Histories, page 248

The Scythians, after discussing the situation and concluding that by themselves they were unequal to the task of coping with Darius in a straight fight, sent off messengers to their neighbors, whose chieftains had already met and were forming plans to deal with what was evidently a threat to their safety on a very large scale. The conference was attended by the chieftains of the following tribes: the Tauri, Agathyrsi, Neuri, Androphagi, Melanchlaeni, Geloni, Budini, and Sauromatae. It is the custom of the Tauri to sacrifice to the Maiden Goddess all shipwrecked sailors and such greeks as the happen to capture upon their coasts; there method of sacrifice is, after the preliminary ceremonies, to hit the victim on the head with a club. Some say that they push the victim's body over the edge of the cliff on which their temple stands, and fix the head on a stake; others, while agreeing about the head, say the body is not pushed over the cliff, but buried. The Tauri themselves claim that the goddess to whom these offerings are made is Agammenon's daughter, Iphigenia. Any one of them who takes a prisoner in war, cuts off his head and carries it home, where he sets it up high over the house on a long pole, generally above the chimney. The heads are suppose to act as guardians of the whole house over which they hang. War and plunder are the sources of this people's livelihood.

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