According to Strabo, xi, 8, 4, the Sakai, a Sythian tribe, built a temple to the Persian deities Anaitis, Omanus, and Onadatus, and celebrated yearly the festival τ⋯ Σάκαια, which the people who inhabited Zêla celebrated even in his own day. The passage affords evidence for the celebration of a festival at Zêla in Pontus as late as the beginning of our era. For some reason Zêla, far removed from the old home of these Persian deities, had long been the seat of these Persian cults, from which fact alone it had any importance at all. Anaitis, or the old Persian Anâhita, “the undefiled,” was a river goddess, and probably identical with the Elamitic goddess Nahunti. This old Iranian deity, Anâhita, was also a goddess of love and beauty, the Venus or Artemis of Persian religion, and consequently an identification with the Babylonian Ishtar, “queen of heaven,” was at once made, as soon as the cults of Babylonia became known to the Persians in the sixth century, and perhaps even earlier. But Strabo, who obviously believed that this Persian festival was connected with the Sacae or Sythians both historically and philologically, gives another explanation of its origin. Cyrus, he says, was defeated by the Sacae and devised this ruse to overcome them. He hastily retreated, leaving behind his camp and all his equipment.
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