Greek Name: Μάχλυες, Μαχλύων

Latin Name:


Cultural Notes

Use the Lotus, but not the the extent of the Lotus-eaters. Wear their long hair behind.

Geographical Notes

Africa (outside Egypt); territory runs all the way to a great river called the Triton, which issues into a large lake called Tritonis

Citations in Herodotos

4.178 use the Lotus, and their land reaches the rive Triton; 4.180 separated from the Auseans by the Triton

Key Passages in English Translation

[4.178] Next to these along the coast are the Machlyes, who also use the lotus, but less than the aforesaid people. Their country reaches to a great river called the Triton,1 which empties into the great Tritonian lake, in which is an island called Phla. It is said that the Lacedaemonians were told by an oracle to plant a settlement on this island.

[4.180] Next to these Machlyes are the Auseans; these and the Machlyes, separated by the Triton, live on the shores of the Tritonian lake. The Machlyes wear their hair long behind, the Auseans in front. [2] They celebrate a yearly festival of Athena, where their maidens are separated into two bands and fight each other with stones and sticks, thus (they say) honoring in the way of their ancestors that native goddess whom we call Athena. Maidens who die of their wounds are called false virgins. [3] Before the girls are set fighting, the whole people choose the fairest maid, and arm her with a Corinthian helmet and Greek panoply, to be then mounted on a chariot and drawn all along the lake shore. [4] With what armor they equipped their maidens before Greeks came to live near them, I cannot say; but I suppose the armor was Egyptian; for I maintain that the Greeks took their shield and helmet from Egypt. [5] As for Athena, they say that she was daughter of Poseidon and the Tritonian lake, and that, being for some reason angry at her father, she gave herself to Zeus, who made her his own daughter. Such is their tale. The intercourse of men and women there is promiscuous; they do not cohabit but have intercourse like cattle. [6] When a woman's child is well grown, the men assemble within three months and the child is adjudged to be that man's whom it is most like.

English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920. Retreived from <>

Key Passages in Greek

[4.178]  λωτοφάγων δὲ τὸ παρὰ θάλασσαν ἔχονται Μάχλυες, τῷ λωτῷ μὲν καὶ οὗτοι χρεώμενοι, ἀτὰρ ἧσσον γε τῶν πρότερον λεχθέντων, κατήκουσι δὲ ἐπὶ ποταμὸν μέγαν τῷ οὔνομα Τρίτων ἐστί: ἐκδιδοῖ δὲ οὗτος ἐς λίμνην μεγάλην Τριτωνίδα. ἐν δὲ αὐτῇ, νῆσος ἔνι τῇ, οὔνομα Φλά. ταύτην δὲ τὴν νῆσον Λακεδαιμονίοισι φασὶ λόγιον εἶναι κτίσαι.

[4.180] τούτων δὲ ἔχοντας τῶν Μαχλύων Αὐσέες: οὗτοι δὲ καὶ οἱ Μάχλυες πέριξ τὴν Τριτωνίδα λίμνην οἰκέουσι, τὸ μέσον δέ σφι οὐρίζει ὁ Τρίτων. καὶ οἱ μὲν Μάχλυες τὰ ὀπίσω κομῶσι τῆς κεφαλῆς, οἱ δὲ Αὐσέες τὰ ἔμπροσθε. [2] ὁρτῇ δὲ ἐνιαυσίῃ Ἀθηναίης αἱ παρθένοι αὐτῶν δίχα διαστᾶσαι μάχονται πρὸς ἀλλήλας λίθοισί τε καὶ ξύλοισι, τῷ αὐθιγενέι θεῷ λέγουσαι τὰ πάτρια ἀποτελέειν, τὴν Ἀθηναίην καλέομεν. τὰς δὲ ἀποθνησκούσας τῶν παρθένων ἐκ τῶν τρωμάτων ψευδοπαρθένους καλέουσι. [3] πρὶν δὲ ἀνεῖναι αὐτὰς μάχεσθαι, τάδε ποιεῦσι κοινῇ. παρθένον τὴν καλλιστεύουσαν ἑκάστοτε κοσμήσαντες κυνέῃ τε Κορινθίῃ καὶ πανοπλίῃ Ἑλληνικῇ καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἅρμα ἀναβιβάσαντες περιάγουσι τὴν λίμνην κύκλῳ. [4] ὁτέοισι δὲ τὸ πάλαι ἐκόσμεον τὰς παρθένους πρὶν ἤ σφι Ἕλληνας παροικισθῆναι, οὐκ ἔχω εἰπεῖν, δοκέω δ᾽ ὦν Αἰγυπτίοισι ὅπλοισι κοσμέεσθαι αὐτάς: ἀπὸ γὰρ Αἰγύπτου καὶ τὴν ἀσπίδα καὶ τὸ κράνος φημὶ ἀπῖχθαι ἐς τοὺς Ἕλληνας. [5] τὴν δὲ Ἀθηναίην φασὶ Ποσειδέωνος εἶναι θυγατέρα καὶ τῆς Τριτωνίδος λίμνης, καί μιν μεμφθεῖσάν τι τῷ πατρὶ δοῦναι ἑωυτὴν τῷ Διί, τὸν δὲ Δία ἑωυτοῦ μιν ποιήσασθαι θυγατέρα. ταῦτα μὲν λέγουσι, μῖξιν δὲ ἐπίκοινον τῶν γυναικῶν ποιέονται, οὔτε συνοικέοντες κτηνηδόν τε μισγόμενοι. [6] ἐπεὰν δὲ γυναικὶ τὸ παιδίον ἁδρὸν γένηται, συμφοιτῶσι ἐς τὠυτὸ οἱ ἄνδρες τρίτου μηνός, καὶ τῷ ἂν οἴκῃ τῶν ἀνδρῶν τὸ παιδίον, τούτου παῖς νομίζεται.

Other Testimonia

No information available at this time.

Other Commentary

Perseus Encyclopedia:

Machlyes, a tribe on the Libyan coast

W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotos:

λόφους κείρονται. There is some resemblance between the names and the hair-dressing methods of the Macae here, of the Machlyes (180. 1), and of the Maxyes (191. 1). The Libyan Mashuasha play a great part in Egyptian history, both as invaders and as mercenaries. The Tuaregs still wear their hair in a crest, shaving the sides of the head (Duveyrier, p. 432).

Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), William Smith, LLD, Ed.

Eth. MA´CHLYES (Μάχλυες, Hdt. 4.179; Ptol. 4.3.26. vulg. Μάχρυες), a Libyan people, in the S. of Africa Propria (Byzacena), on the river Triton, and separated by the lake Tritonis from the Lotophagi, like whom they fed upon the lotus. (Comp. Plin. Nat. 7.2.)


No information available at this time.