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Monsters in the Scythian Culture

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Abstract. The article is devoted to monstrous images and their role in the religious and mythological ideas of the Scythians. There is a widespread opinion of its insignificance in Scythian culture. However, this assumption is groundless at least because the Scythians not only borrowed monstrous characters, but also had their own various original images.
The semantics of the cycle of being reflected in scenes of torment that are so characteristic of Scythian art, as well as the inherent principle of combining in one image the traits of opposite beings (“zoomorphic transformations”) resembles the Chinese concept of yin-yang. This similarity (apart from the very principle of the dynamic combination of opposites) is manifested in intensity of expression of both phenomena in their shamanistic background, in their characteristic connection with ecstatic cults and the ritual change of sex. And just as in Taoism, which preserved many of the ancient beliefs and cults, the yin-yang principle, which is based on the concept of the world as a conjugation of opposing entities, crystallized in a famous sign, this similar intuition of the Scythians was probably reflected in the system of “zoomorphic transformations”, in images of scenes of torment, and in monstrous images.
Monsters were perceived by the Scythians primarily as servants of the Great Goddess, as well as her male companion, and the main hypostases of these deities also had a monstrous appearance.
The popularity and diversity of images of monsters in Scythian culture can largely be explained by the fact that they were produced by an altered state of consciousness caused by the use of cannabis (hashish) by Scythians.

Keywords: monsters, the culture of the Scythians, Greek-Scythian art, religious and mythological ideas of the Scythians, the Great Goddess and her consort, the Chinese concept of yin-yang, altered state of consciousness.

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