|Apple Tree in Blossom by Larsson (before 1919)|
“A man of Proconnesus [a Greek town in modern day NW Turkey], one Aristeas … came to the Issedones [ancient people who lived in central Asia] and, being inspired by Apollo, wrote a poem in which he declared that above the Issedones there lived a tribe of Arimaspians, being men with one eye, and, above these, the griffins [birds sacred to Apollo] that guard the gold, and, above these, the Hyperboreans, whose land reaches to the sea. All of these people, beginning with the Arimaspians and excepting only the Hyperboreans, continually make war upon their neighbours. The Issedones, say Aristeas, were thrust out of their lands by the Arimaspians, the Scythians [ancient people who lived in and around Crimea] by the Issedones, and the Cimmerians [ancient people who lived north of the Caucasus], living by the southern sea, being hard pressed by the Scythians, also left their country …Considering the Hyperboreans, then, the Scythians have nothing to tell, nor do any of the other people who live in those parts, except, perhaps for the Issedones … But Hesiod does talk about the Hyperboreans, and so does Homer …But far the most that is told about these people comes from the Delians [of the Greek island Delos, said to be the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis]. These say that holy offerings come wrapped in wheat straw from the Hyperboreans into Scythia, and, after the Scythians, each of their neighbours successively forwards these offerings to the point furthest west, at the Adriatic, and, as they conveyed to the south, the people of the Dodona [in NW Greece, a location sacred to Zeus and which had a famous oracle] are the first Greeks to receive them, and from there they … are carried … from city to city … to Tenos, and the Tenians carry them to Delos. That is how, they say, the offerings get to Delos. They say too that on the first journey the Hyperboreans sent, to bring the offerings, two girls, whom the Delians call Hyperoche and Laodice. With them, for safety’s sake, the Hyperboreans sent along with them five men as escort, citizens of their own, those who are now called Peripherees and have great honour in Delos. But when those whom the Hyperboreans sent did not come home again, the Hyperboreans made a great outcry that it should always be their lot to send out men who never came back; and so they have the offerings borne, wrapped in wheaten straw, to their borders and bid their neighbours convey them from their own land to the next. And so, they say, by this form of constant escort the offerings come to Delos. I myself know of something like this done with offerings; for the Thracian and Paeonian women [from north of Greece], when they sacrifice to Queen Artemis, have their offerings packed in wheat straw.