19 confirms), that the Scythians did take great measures to honor their royal dead, filling their burial mounds (some rising over 20 meters high 10 ) with over 50 of the king's attendants, and many of their golden possessions (4.71). Still, these modest mounds, although filled with riches, pale in aesthetic comparison to the pyramids and necropoleis which tower above the Egyptian desert. The desire to have one's name remembered fueled these great monuments until it became economically unfeasible to build them. 11 Clearly, the pharaohs succeeded in their quest to be remembered in history, but their pyramids did not necessarily secure a good reputation for them. When Herodotus relates the details of the building of the pyramids, it is within the context of discussing two hated rulers, Cheops and Chephren. The priests tell him how Cheops closed their sanctuaries, halted all sacrifices and forced the people to work on the pyramids (2.124), and that “The Egyptians loathe Chephren and Cheops so much that they really do not like to mention their names. Instead they say the pyramids belonged to a shepherd called Philitis, who at this time used to graze his flocks on the same land” (2.128). While Herodotus is nonetheless impressed with the technical achievement of Egyptian monumental architecture, because he writes on it in detail, he also knows how obsession with posterity sometimes has its price. 10 Sulimirski T. and Taylor T., "The Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea." 550. 11 James, T.G.H., An Introduction to Ancient Egypt, 178-89.
20 4. Food and Health So far, we have talked about how Herodotus contrasts the Egyptians and Scythians in terms of space and time, two lofty and intangible concepts. No less important are more tangible concepts, one of which is the food these cultures eat. Food plays an interesting role in The Histories. Herodotus treats the foods eaten by his subjects as indicative of their level of civilization, from the savage cannibals to the dogmatically dieted Egyptians. As with many cultural traits, distance from the “civilized world” plays a part in how diet is viewed. The food one eats is perhaps even seen as a gauge of morality. This section will also examine the health habits of the Egyptians and Scythians, which again reveal their nature. The dichotomy of food and health of the Egyptians and Scythians is one of overcivilization and undercivilization, although it should be noted that these are not synonymous with “good” and “bad” in the Histories. As in other sections, Herodotus structures Book Four by briefly continuing the narrative of Persian conquest, here by Darius, before beginning a long ethnography of the Scythians. He starts with the predominant tribe, the Royal Scythians, and then fans out through the other, more distant surrounding tribes. His Scythian ethnography begins with the description of the use of blind slaves to milk their horses (4.02). This passage is as much an introduction to Scythian nomadism as it is to their diet. They were well-known enough for this activity to be referred to as hippemolgoi, mare-milkers, by Homer in the Iliad (13.5). In his ethnography he shows how dedicated the Scythians are to their milk-based diet, extracting the milk through an elaborate process of forcing the mare’s udder to descend, then milking the udder, and finally stirring and separating the milk (4.2). The passage demonstrates the horse’s extreme importance to the Scythian culture, being both their major food source and their primary mode of transportation,
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74 and, finally, the Greeks who ove
76 Romm, J.S. The Edges of the Eart