On the Illyrian Veneti of Herodotus’ Book I

In addition to the passage in Book V, 9, 2 that we discussed here, Herodotus also mentions the Veneti (Eneti) in Book I, 196, 1.  Here is that passage (Godley edition) which comes in the context of a discussion of Babylonians:

“This is the equipment of their persons. I will now speak of their established customs. The wisest of these, in our judgment, is one which I have learned by inquiry is also a custom of the Eneti in Illyria. It is this: once a year in every village all the maidens as they attained marriageable age were collected and brought together into one place, with a crowd of men standing around.”

“Then a crier would display and offer them for sale one by one, first the fairest of all; and then, when she had fetched a great price, he put up for sale the next most attractive, selling all the maidens as lawful wives. Rich men of Assyria who desired to marry would outbid each other for the fairest; the ordinary people, who desired to marry and had no use for beauty, could take the ugly ones and money besides;”

“for when the crier had sold all the most attractive, he would put up the one that was least beautiful, or crippled, and offer her to whoever would take her to wife for the least amount, until she fell to one who promised to accept least; the money came from the sale of the attractive ones, who thus paid the dowry of the ugly and the crippled. But a man could not give his daughter in marriage to whomever he liked, nor could one that bought a girl take her away without giving security that he would in fact make her his wife.”

“And if the couple could not agree, it was a law that the money be returned. Men might also come from other villages to buy if they so desired.”

“This, then, was their best custom; but it does not continue at this time; they have invented a new one lately [so that the women not be wronged or taken to another city]; since the conquest of Babylon made them afflicted and poor, everyone of the people that lacks a livelihood prostitutes his daughters.”

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May 10, 2017

6 thoughts on “On the Illyrian Veneti of Herodotus’ Book I

  1. Hjorvarth Cronus

    Great information throughout this whole website I must say, informative, always sourced and to the point, (especially the rare not generally known about sources are very interesting and I usually go there afterwards to double check and learn more),lucid relevant added commentary and extra facts and insight which give a better overall understanding to the topics, wikipedia is sometimes like kindergarden and basic compared and sometimes spoiled by trolls with agendas, wikipedia gives the impression that the Stavanoi and Soubenoi were next door neighbors instead of in different continents lol, the whole ancient Veneti topic vis a vis origins of the new 6th century slang term Sclav/Slav and vis a vis other Central European peoples and nations is intriguing and the maps/images are very helpful, good humor too. Veneti-Goths-Vandals-Harvada fjollum-Vistula-Carpi-Getae-Sclavs-Jordanes-Sporades islands-Scythia-Rus-Herodutus-Tacitus etc, just all really fascinating. Keep up the great work.

  2. Hjorvarth Cronus

    …Oh yeah, the added mentions of various legends, poems and folk tales etc, are very interesting too, sometimes I google names and places mentioned in them and then learn more, (for instance many people don’t know even about the Varangian/Rus-Kievan Rus or France-Franks connections which is very basic and everyone should know, I also know for a fact (there’s too many instances to show here) that a lot of the books published and views from the bolshevik/communist countries era historians is largely agenda driven,blatantly false and just commie crap), sometimes there’s even a kernal of truth in some of the legends, poems and folk tales that deserves looking into, just really informative and great supplementary mentions.

  3. Hjorvarth Cronus

    …and I guess I should also note that while occasionally reading here and googling around for information, I’ve come across plenty of actual real agenda driven propaganda and utter nonsense. For example as the authors here already know, we already know from the eastern emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in his 10th century work “De
    Administrando Imperio” when he stated that…”Serbs’ in the tongue of the Romans is the word
    for ‘slaves’, whence the colloquial ‘serbula’ for menial shoes, and ‘tzerboulianoi’ for those who wear
    cheap, shoddy footgear…this name the Serbs acquired from their being slaves of the emperor of the
    Romans.”…which is very clearly explained to understand, yet still these days some serb “historians” lol, and internet trolls I’ve read have tried to imply and actually believe that the ancient Roman city in the province of Pannonia and found today in BiH, ancient Roman Serbinum/Servitium, is named after and/or founded by serbs. But we know the word Servitium in Latin means “Service, Slavery” and it was a front-line area/town where there were multitudes of Roman troops in order to defend the area against Barbarians in the early centuries. Its second name was Seruitio which in Latin means “To obey”! Its third name Servitii means “service”. It’s quite easy to understand that it is a Roman Latin word and doesn’t have anything at all to do with any factual Serbs or delusion history. lol. (thanks to emperor Constantine for explaining it all so simply and factually…serbs-serbula-serbinium-servinium-slaves/service etc). I’ve read similar bizarre things in their sites where they attempt to do the same and make serbs and serb cities all the way to Spain, Britain and all over the place, just really pathetic psuedo-history. I think those types are followers of that magalomaniac psuedohistorian Jovan Deretic (google his name and read his RationalWiki article for a brief synopsis), he does the same and tries to make the ancient Romans, Dracula, Romanians, Germans, Jews, Jesus, Moses and all white people in Europe ever and more into serbs using the same wacko history methodology.(lol). Once again, great website here full of very usefull sources and information, keep up the good work.

    1. torino Post author

      I think you need to cut down on your Balkan obsessions. It absolutely is strange that Servitum should be exactly in the same place as the later Serbia. It does not take a fake historian to start asking question about that. That is an entirely separate matter from whether every Srb town in Europe refers to the original Serbs, whoever they may have been. Likewise, it is very interesting why it is that in Latin and later WE languages both serv and slave refer to the same concept.


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