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Headword: Semiramis
Adler number: sigma,220
Translated headword: Semiramis
Vetting Status: high
She was the first to rule over the Assyrians; and having held power and killed many people, she discovered the first mines and handed the working of them over to captives. She first put walls around Nineveh and renamed it Babylon.[1] And she placed canals[2] around the rivers and raised the pyramids. And having sailed through [the canals?] towards the ocean, she inquired about those who live near it. They are the Ethiopians. And Homer says, "For Zeus went yesterday to the ocean, among the noble Ethiopians".[3] And they say that some of them are hairless because they have been scorched by the heat of the sun, and they follow an irrational way of life; others, dwelling by the sea, are even ignorant of the foods that grow upon the earth and are satisfied with the eating of fish. And the Garden [sc. of Eden] is there: for all fragrant and costly[4] things are found in those places. They also call Semiramis Rhea. Semiramis told Derketaios: "Go away and in the third year make ready an expedition, beginning from the Hellespont and Libya, as far as Bactria, of three hundred thousand foot soldiers, one hundred thousand cavalry, ten thousand scythed chariots, and the same number of fighting men on camels: twenty thousand other camels for whatever I may need, thirty thousand raw-tanned hides of cows, three long, bronze-beaked ships in Bactria, and a full measure likewise in Syria and Phoenicia and Egypt and Cyprus and Cilicia and the places by the sea as far as the Hellespont." Thereupon she herself, having set out against the Indians, constructed twenty thousand ivory and wooden statues, which the camels would carry, being filled inside with sticks and woodchips, so that they would be easy to bear. The outside of them was covered with leather: and she stationed two riders on each camel to shoot and hurl javelins at the Ethiopians. And she crossed the Indus river, which is one hundred stades wide, and yoked it with a bridge where it seemed to be the narrowest. The length was sixty stades, and the width was three hundred. There were twenty thousand statues. And the same woman turned the river aside ... [5] and within the bed of this river she built palaces on the elevations which had been prepared and smeared with pitch, and then released [the river] again into its bed.[6]
Greek Original:
Semiramis: hautê basileusasa tôn Assuriôn prôtê kai katadunasteusasa kai pollous anthrôpous anelousa prôta men exeure ta metalla, tois de aichmalôtois tên toutôn ergasian epetrepse. periethêke de kai teichê prôtê têi Nineui, metonomasasa tautên Babulôna. kai tois potamois periebaleto stomia kai tas puramidas anêgeire kai pros ton ôkeanon diapleusasa tous pros auton oikountas historêsen: eisi de hoi Aithiopes. kai Homêros de phêsi: Zeus gar es ôkeanon met' amumonas Aithiopêas chthizos ebê. kai tous men eipen atrichas einai hupo tês tou hêliou thermês kekaumenous, alogôdê boskomenous diaitan: tous de tên paralian oikountas agnoein kai tas en gêi phuomenas botanas, têi de tôn ichthuôn arkeisthai brôsei. ekei de einai kai ton paradeison: panta gar hosa euôdê kai anankaia en tois topois ekeinois heurisketai. tên de Semiramin kai Rhean ekaloun. Semiramis legei Derketaiôi: apithi kai dieutrepize triton etos strateian, arxamenos ek te Hellêspontou kai Libuês, achri Baktrôn, pezou men muriadas t#, hippikou de r#, drepanêphorôn de harmatôn muriadas i#, andrôn epi kamêlôn machomenôn to ison plêthos: allôn de kamêlôn, es ho ti an egô deômai, muriadas k#, bursas de boôn ômodepsêtôn eis l# muriadas: naus de en Baktrois naupêgeisthai g# makras chalkembolous, plêrômata de autais homoiôs ek te Surias kai Phoinikês kai Aiguptou kai Kuprou kai Kilikias tôn te paraliôn merôn achri Hellêspontou. hoti hê autê hormôsa ep' Indous eidôla elephantina xulina sumpêgnutai eis muriadas k#, ha emellon oisein hai kamêloi, ta entos empeplêsmena phruganou kai phorutou, hôs eubastakta eiê: ta de exôthen autôn periebursôsen: epibatas de eph' hekastên kamêlon duo etaxen Aithiopas toxeuein kai akontizein. kai eperase ton Indon ton potamon, hostis estin huper r# stadious to platos, kai zeugnusi gephuran, hêi stenotatos einai edokei. ên de mêkos men x# stadiôn: platos de epi t#. ta de eidôla êsan k# muriades. hê autê ekneusasa ton potamon ton ... kai entos tês koitês toutou ktisasa palatia epi hupsômatôn enchorêgôn êsphaltômenôn authis apelusen eis tên koitên
Attributed by Kuster to John of Antioch. More probably, it seems, from Ctesias, via Nicolaus of Damascus: see Favuzzi [cited under alpha 2798] 44-48.
For Semiramis cf. already sigma 219 and see generally OCD4 s.v.
[1] cf. generally nu 415, nu 417.
[2] "Canals" here translates sto/mia, "little mouths." This account seems to conflate Herodotus' descriptions of Semiramis and Nitocris; according to Herodotus (1.184ff), it was Nitocris who built the system of canals around Babylon.
[3] Homer, Iliad 1.423-424.
[4] Or perhaps "necessary," the more common meaning of a)nagkai=a. However, LSJ cites the Suda for the meaning "costly."
[5] There is a lacuna after the word "river."
[6] The meaning of this last sentence is rather obscure, due in part to the lacuna.
Keywords: architecture; biography; botany; epic; ethics; food; geography; historiography; history; medicine; military affairs; science and technology; trade and manufacture; women; zoology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 13 April 2000@01:12:30.
Vetted by:
Elizabeth Vandiver (Altered wording; added notes.) on 6 July 2000@15:30:22.
Elizabeth Vandiver (Altered wording; added notes; made minor cosmetic changes) on 7 July 2000@15:46:17.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 16 June 2002@10:04:18.
Catharine Roth (cosmetic) on 16 June 2002@15:14:30.
David Whitehead (augmented primary note) on 8 June 2010@04:59:28.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics; raised status) on 23 December 2013@04:09:11.
David Whitehead on 9 August 2014@10:14:22.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 2 February 2022@00:44:01.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation) on 2 February 2022@01:02:01.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note) on 2 February 2022@23:04:27.
Catharine Roth (another keyword) on 3 February 2022@00:33:16.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation) on 13 December 2023@01:32:54.


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