Androphagi (Ancient Greek : "Ἀνδροφάγοι" for "man-eaters") was an ancient nation of cannibals north of Scythia (according to Herodotus), probably in the forests between the upper waters of the Dnepr and Don. These people may have assisted the Scythians when King Darius the Great led a Persian invasion into what is now Southern Russia to punish the Scythians for their raids into the Achaemenid Empire.
Herodotus first wrote of andropophagi in his Histories, where he described them as one of several tribes near Scythia. An extra note indicates that the andropophagi are cannibals, as reflected in their name:
The manners of the Androphagi are more savage than those of any other race. They neither observe justice, nor are governed, by any laws. They are nomads, and their dress is Scythian; but the language which they speak is peculiar to themselves. Unlike any other nation in these parts, they are cannibals.— Histories, Book 4 (Melpomene), trans. George Rawlinson, 1858-1860
The Androphagi, whom we have previously mentioned as dwelling ten days' journey beyond the Borysthenes, according to the account of Isigonus of Nicæa, were in the habit of drinking out of human skulls, and placing the scalps, with the hair attached, upon their breasts, like so many napkins.
Historian Marija Gimbutas has hypothesized that "Androphagoi" is a Greek translation of *mard-xwaar "man-eater" in the old North Iranian language of the Scythians. From *mard-xwaar one can derive "Mordva" or "Mordvin", the Russian name of the Finno-Ugrian Erzya and Moksha peoples of east-central European Russia. From Herodotus we can deduce a location for the Androphagoi that is approximately the same as that occupied by the modern Mordvins.
- Marija Gimbutas's "The Balts" and "The Slavs"
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Androphagi". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.