1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agathyrsi

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AGATHYRSI, a people of Thracian origin, who in the earliest historical times occupied the plain of the Maris (Maros), in the region now known as Transylvania. Thyrsi is supposed to be a Scythian form of Τραυσοί (Trausi), a Thracian tribe mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium. They are described by Herodotus (iv. 104) as of luxurious habits, wearing gold ornaments (the district is still auriferous) and having wives in common. They tattooed their bodies (picti, Aeneid iv. 136), degrees of rank being indicated by the manner in which this was done, and coloured their hair dark blue. Like the Gallic Druids, they recited their laws in a kind of sing-song to prevent their being forgotten, a practice still in existence in the days of Aristotle (Problemata, xix. 28). Valerius Flaccus (Argonautica vi. 135) calls them Thyrsagetae, probably in reference to their celebration of orgiastic rites in honour of some divinity akin to the Thracian Dionysus. In later times the Agathyrsi were driven farther north, and their name was unknown to the Romans in their original home.

See Ammianus Marcellinus xxxi. 2. 17; Pliny, Nat. Hist. iv. 12 [26]. 88; Pomponius Mela ii. 1. 10; W. Tomaschek "Die alten Thraker" in Sitzungsber. der philosophisch-historischen Klasse der kaiserl. Akad. der Wiss. cxxviii (Vienna, 1893).