Abaris, son of Seuthes, was a Hyperborean priest of Apollo,1 and came from the country about the Caucasus2 to Greece, while his own country was visited by a plague. He was endowed with the gift of prophecy, and by this as well as by his Scythian dress and simplicity and honesty he created great sensation in Greece, and was held in high esteem.3 He traveled about in Greece, carrying with him an arrow as the symbol of Apollo, and gave oracles.
His history, which is entirely mythical, is related in various ways, and worked up with extraordinary particulars: he is said to have taken no earthly food,4 and to have ridden on his arrow, the gift of Apollo, through the air.5 He cured diseases by incantations,6 delivered the world from a plague,7 and built at Sparta a temple of Κόρη σώτειρα (Korē soteira).8
Suidas and Eudocia ascribe to him several works, such as incantations, Scythian oracles, a poem on the marriage of the river Hebrus, expiatory formulas, the arrival of Apollo among the Hyperboreans, and a prose work on the origin of the gods. But such works, if they were really current in ancient times, were no more genuine than his reputed correspondence with Phalaris the tyrant.
The time of his appearance in Greece is stated differently, some fixing it in Olympiad 3 (Ol. 3), others in Ol. 21, and others again make him a contemporary of Croesus.9 Lobeck places it about the year 570 BCE, i.e. about Ol. 52.
Respecting the perplexing traditions about Abaris see Klopfer. Mythologisches Wörterbuch, i. p. 2; Zapf. Disputatio historica de Abaride, Lips. 1707; Larcher, on Herodotus, vol. iii, p. 446.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.