A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἄβαρις), son of Seuthes, was a Hyperborean priest of Apollo (Hdt. 4.36), and came from the country about the Caucasus (Ov. Met. 5.86) 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. (Strab. vii. p. 301.) He travelled about in Greece, carrying with him an arrow as the symbol of Apollo, and gave oracles. Toland, in his History of the Druids, considers him to have been a Druid of the Hebrides, because the arrow formed a part of the costume of a Druid. His history, which is entirely mythical, is related in various ways, and worked in with extraordinary particulars: he is said to have taken no earthly food (Hdt. 4.36), and to have ridden on his arrow, the gift of Apollo, through the air. (Lobeck, Aglaophamus, p. 314.) He cured diseases by incantations (Plat. Charmid. p. 158, B.), delivered the world from a plague (Suidas, s. v. Ἄβαρις), and built at Sparta a temple of Κόρη σώτειρα. (Paus. 3.13.2.) 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 Ol. 3, others in Ol. 21, and others again make him a contemporary of Croesus. (Bentley, On the Epist. of Phalaris, p. 34.) Lobeck places it about the year B. C. 570, 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 Herod. vol. iii. p. 446.