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Headword: Σεμίραμις
Adler number: sigma,220
Translated headword: Semiramis
Vetting Status: high
Having first ruled and held power over the Assyrians, and having 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 there is a garden 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 from the Indus, 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 men embarking on each camel to shoot and hurl javelins at the Ethiopians. And she drove right through 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 she herself swam out across the river ... [5] and within the bed of this river she built palaces on the elevations which had been prepared and smeared with pitch, and then departed again into the river bed.[6]
Greek Original:
Σεμίραμις: αὕτη βασιλεύσασα τῶν Ἀσσυρίων πρώτη καὶ καταδυναστεύσασα καὶ πολλοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀνελοῦσα πρῶτα μὲν ἐξεῦρε τὰ μέταλλα, τοῖς δὲ αἰχμαλώτοις τὴν τούτων ἐργασίαν ἐπέτρεψε. περιέθηκε δὲ καὶ τείχη πρώτη τῇ Νινευί, μετονομάσασα ταύτην Βαβυλῶνα. καὶ τοῖς ποταμοῖς περιεβάλετο στόμια καὶ τὰς πυραμίδας ἀνήγειρε καὶ πρὸς τὸν ὠκεανὸν διαπλεύσασα τοὺς πρὸς αὐτὸν οἰκοῦντας ἱστόρησεν: εἰσὶ δὲ οἱ Αἰθίοπες. καὶ Ὅμηρος δὲ φησί: Ζεὺς γὰρ ἐς ὠκεανὸν μετ' ἀμύμονας Αἰθιοπῆας χθιζὸς ἔβη. καὶ τοὺς μὲν εἶπεν ἄτριχας εἶναι ὑπὸ τῆς τοῦ ἡλίου θέρμης κεκαυμένους, ἀλογώδη βοσκομένους δίαιταν: τοὺς δὲ τὴν παραλίαν οἰκοῦντας ἀγνοεῖν καὶ τὰς ἐν γῇ φυομένας βοτάνας, τῇ δὲ τῶν ἰχθύων ἀρκεῖσθαι βρώσει. ἐκεῖ δὲ εἶναι καὶ τὸν παράδεισον: πάντα γὰρ ὅσα εὐώδη καὶ ἀναγκαῖα ἐν τοῖς τόποις ἐκείνοις εὑρίσκεται. τὴν δὲ Σεμίραμιν καὶ Ῥέαν ἐκάλουν. Σεμίραμις λέγει Δερκεταίῳ: ἄπιθι καὶ διευτρέπιζε τρίτον ἔτος στρατείαν, ἀρξάμενος ἔκ τε Ἑλλησπόντου καὶ Λιβύης, ἄχρι Βάκτρων, πεζοῦ μὲν μυριάδας τ#, ἱππικοῦ δὲ ρ#, δρεπανηφόρων δὲ ἁρμάτων μυριάδας ι#, ἀνδρῶν ἐπὶ καμήλων μαχομένων τὸ ἴσον πλῆθος: ἄλλων δὲ καμήλων, ἐς ὅ τι ἂν ἐγὼ δέωμαι, μυριάδας κ#, βύρσας δὲ βοῶν ὠμοδεψητῶν εἰς λ# μυριάδας: ναῦς δὲ ἐν Βάκτροις ναυπηγεῖσθαι γ# μακρὰς χαλκεμβόλους, πληρώματα δὲ αὐταῖς ὁμοίως ἔκ τε Συρίας καὶ Φοινίκης καὶ Αἰγύπτου καὶ Κύπρου καὶ Κιλικίας τῶν τε παραλίων μερῶν ἄχρι Ἑλλησπόντου. ὅτι ἡ αὐτὴ ὁρμῶσα ἐπ' Ἰνδοὺς εἴδωλα ἐλεφάντινα ξύλινα συμπήγνυται εἰς μυριάδας κ#, ἃ ἔμελλον οἴσειν αἱ κάμηλοι, τὰ ἐντὸς ἐμπεπλησμένα φρυγάνου καὶ φορυτοῦ, ὡς εὐβάστακτα εἴη: τὰ δὲ ἔξωθεν αὐτῶν περιεβύρσωσεν: ἐπιβάτας δὲ ἐφ' ἑκάστην κάμηλον δύο ἔταξεν Αἰθίοπας τοξεύειν καὶ ἀκοντίζειν. καὶ ἐπέρασε τὸν Ἰνδὸν τὸν ποταμόν, ὅστις ἐστὶν ὑπὲρ ρ# σταδίους τὸ πλάτος, καὶ ζεύγνυσι γέφυραν, ᾗ στενότατος εἶναι ἐδόκει. ἦν δὲ μῆκος μὲν ξ# σταδίων: πλάτος δὲ ἐπὶ τ#. τὰ δὲ εἴδωλα ἦσαν κ# μυριάδες. ἡ αὐτὴ ἐκνεύσασα τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν ... καὶ ἐντὸς τῆς κοίτης τούτου κτίσασα παλάτια ἐπὶ ὑψωμάτων ἐγχορήγων ἠσφαλτωμένων αὖθις ἀπέλυσεν εἰς τὴν κοίτην
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. It is possible that the last phrase should read "and then she sent [the troops] out again into the river bed."
Keywords: architecture; biography; botany; epic; ethics; food; geography; historiography; history; medicine; military affairs; 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.


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