Famous Scythian Snake Goddess Gold Frontlet. Tsymbalka Kugan


Herodotus recorded the Greek myth of Herakles and the snake goddess in what is now Scythia: “The Hellenes who inhabit the Pontic region on the coast of the Euxine Sea” say that Herakles came to this land before it was inhabited by the Scythians as it is now, when he was driving the cattle of Geryon. According to the Hellenes, Geryon lived far from the Pontus on the island Erytheia, near Gadeira” outside the Pillars of Heraklesb in Ocean. The story is that Ocean flows around the entire earth,c beginning at the rising sun, but no evidence is produced to prove this theory. When Herakles came from there to the land now called Scythia, the cold winter and frost overtook him, and he drew his lion’s skin around him and fell asleep. Meanwhile, by divine fortune, his horses disappeared from where they had been grazing while yoked to his chariot. When Herakles awoke, he searched everywhere in the land and kept going until he reached the place called Hylaia. There he found a cave, and within it, a creature that was half girl, half viper. From her hips up, she was a woman; from her legs down, a serpent. At first Herakles just marveled at the sight of her, but then he asked her if she had seen his horses wandering anywhere. She declared that his horses were actually in her possession, but she would not return them until he had intercourse with her. So on these terms, Herakles had intercourse with her. But she delayed returning the horses to him, as she wished to spend as much time as possible with Herakles, while all he wanted was to take his horses and leave. At last she gave them back, saying, “When your horses came here, I kept them safe for you, and you in return have rewarded me with the three sons I have had by you. But tell me what you think I should do when they grow up: shall I settle them here (for I rule over this land), or shall I send them away to you?” That was her question; and they say that he replied. “When you see that the boys have reached manhood, you will not go wrong if you follow these instructions. Have the one you see drawing this bow and girding himself with this belt (as I shall show you) become an inhabitant of this land. But those who fall short of this requirement should be sent away from this land. If you do these things, you will not only carry out my orders, but you will make yourself happy as well.” So to demonstrate what he meant, Herakles drew one of his bows (until then he carried two) and showed her how he put on the belt, which had a golden libation cup hanging from its clasp. Then, after giving her the bow and the belt, he left. And when the boys reached manhood, she gave them their names: the firstborn she called Agathyrsos; the one who followed, Gelonos; and the youngest, Scythes. Then, remembering the advice of Herakles, she did as she had been instructed. And indeed two of the boys, Agathyrsos and Gelonos, could not manage the trial set before them, so they were expelled by their mother and disappeared from the land. But Scythes, the youngest, performed the task and remained there. The descendants of Scythes son of Herakles have succeeded ever since to the kingship of the Scythians, and because of the original libation bowl, the Scythians still to this day wear cups hanging from their belts. As for the mother of Scythes, this is the only role she is reported to have had in the origin of this race. And so that is the version of the story given by the Hellenes of the Pontic region. (Herodotus, 4. 8-11)

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