Who Were the Mysterious Arimaspi?

Who Were the Mysterious Arimaspi?

The Arimaspi were a race of one-eyed Scythian people. The first mention of the Arimapsi comes from Herodotus. However, there is one another mention in the poem of  Aristeas of Proconessus. The poem holds the name of Arimaspea. It is due to this poem, rather than Herodotus’ writings, that the questions began. There was lots of interest concerning these beings with one eye that stole gold from the Grypes.

Some accounts say that Herodotus himself heard of this poem and this is where his interest started. Speculation says that the name comes from two Scythian glosses: arima and spou. The former means one and the latter means eye. They were a tribe of people who lived at the foot of the Rhipaion Mountains in northern Skythia. Probably a part of the Carpathians. What we do know of them is that they were constantly at war with the Grypes for their gold. The Grypes were a sort of Griffin, with the head of an eagle and body of a lion.

Who Were the Mysterious Arimaspi?Who Were the Mysterious Arimaspi

In the fourth century BC, scenes of the Arimaspi battling Griffins became really popular. This was part of a trend in exoticizing scenes with eastern themes. On the other hand, it was also a resurgence in painting griffins on vases again, after a hiatus. In these depictions, the Grypes appear with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. This suggested a canonical acceptance of how these creatures looked like.

With the Arimaspi the things were not as clear. If we analyze vases from different locations and of different types, we can see the differences. With these creatures, there seems to be a lot more room for imagination. Moreover, they have clothes with a variety of patters, different poses as well as different traits. Mostly, these figures have Eastern-styled clothing, long hair and do not have a beard.

In most scenes, these figures are holding various weapons above their heads. It is clearly a fighting scene, suggesting the two races are at war. To sum up, the Arimaspi remain a bit of a mystery.

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