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Origins of the Scythian Archers in Athens.

→ Identity of the Scythian Archers.

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Scythian Archers 

Elizabeth Baughman, edition of January 30, 2003

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· Identity of the Scythian Archers ·

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Aeschines (Aeschin. 2).
Andocides (Andoc. 3).
Scholia (Schol. In Aristoph.).
Plot on a Map
Black Sea.

Aeschines and Andocides both say that Athens originally bought “Scythians,” people from Scythia, the territory to the north of the Black Sea (Aeschin. 2.173; Andoc. 3.5). It is possible that the Scythian archers did not always consist entirely of ethnic Scythians. A “scholion,” or hand-written note in the margins of a manuscript of AristophanesLysistrata says the Athenians “used to call the public slaves ‘Scythians’” (Σκύθας γὰρ καὶ τοξότας ἐκάλουν τοὺς δημοσίους ὑπηρέτας), which leaves open the possibility that the name may also have applied to those who were not Scythians (Schol. In Aristoph. Lys. 184).

Read about the evidence
Aristophanes (Aristoph. Thes.).

It seems clear that the “Scythian Archers” were at least foreigners, not Athenians. Jokes in Aristophanes’ comedies often involve the Scythian Archers’ foreign accents (Aristoph. Thes. 1002):

Scythian Archer: But what’s your name?
Euripides: Artemisia.
Scythian Archer: I will remember it. Artemuxia.

The joke is that the Scythian archer, with his foreign accent, cannot pronounce the Greek name Artemisia.

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