Tauri - Encyclopedia




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TAURI, the earliest known inhabitants of the mountainous south coast of the Crimea (Herodotus iv. 103). Nothing is certain as to their affinities. They probably represent an old population perhaps connected with some Caucasus stock; in spite of the resemblance of the name Taurisci they are not likely to be Celts. They were famous in the ancient world for their maiden goddess, identified by the Greeks with Artemis Tauropolos or Iphigeneia, whom the goddess was said to have brought to her shrine at the moment when she was to have been sacrificed at Aulis. Orestes sought his sister, and almost fell a victim to the Tauric custom of sacrificing to the maiden shipwrecked strangers, a real custom which was the ground of the whole myth. His adventures were the subject of plays by Euripides and Goethe. Towards the end of the 2nd century B.C. we find the Tauri dependent allies of the Scythian king Scilurus, who from their harbour of Symbolon Portus or Palacium (Balaclava) harassed Chersonese. Their later history is unknown. (E. H. M.)

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