The Supreme Gods of the Bosporan Kingdom: Celestial Aphrodite and the Most High God

By Yulia U. Ustinova | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE LOCAL GODDESSES

1.2.1 Herodotus on the Goddesses of the Scythian Pantheon

Herodotus (4.59) listed the Scythian gods and identified them with the Greek ones:

The only gods whom they propitiate “by worship” are these: Hestia
most of all, and next Zeus and Ge, whom they deem to be the wife
of Zeus, after these, Apollo, and Aphrodite Ourania, and Heracles and
Ares. All the Scythians worship these as gods, but the Scythians called
Royal sacrifice also to Poseidon. In the Scythian language, Hestia is
called Tabiti, Zeus (in my judgment most rightly so called) Papaios,
Ge is Api, Apollo Goitosyros, Aphrodite Ourania Argimpasa, and Poseidon
Thagimasades. (Translation by A. D. Godley, slightly modified)

This fragment aroused a number of questions, some of which are still debated. The majority of scholars agrees about the basic authenticity of the Scythian names (Bessonova 1983: 25), notwithstanding their variants in different manuscripts, which render the linguistic interpretation somewhat unsafe (Zhebelyov 1953: 30). The question is who is responsible for the interpretatio Graeca of the Scythian gods,

1 The words και Ήρακλέα are omitted in the text of Kallenberg's edition of the
Historia, but retained by other editors.

2 Orig. Contra Cels. 6.39: ΓογU03B3òσυρος; Hesych. s.v. Γοιτόσυρον τòν Ἀπόλλωνα.
Σκύθαι.

3 Orig. Contra Cels. 6.39: 'Αργίμπασα; Hesych. s.v. Άρτίμηασαν Ούρανίαν 'Αφρο-
δίτην, ύπò Σκυθω̑ν.

-67-

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