The name BORYSTHENES for the river DNIEPER appears for the first time in Herodotus’ Histories, written in the 5th century BC.
The Frenchman Louis Philippe de Ségure also used it for the Dnieper, which he visited more than a thousand years later as the French ambassador during the voyage of Tsarina Catherine II. I use it as the title of a book dedicated to the memory of the Second World War, which the Germans launched in 1939 with the invasion of the then Soviet Union.
Borysthenes – border river between East and West
The Dnieper, border river between Western and Eastern Europe, had a magical aura for both sides, beyond its strategic importance. For the Wehrmacht, crossing it opened up the prospect of seemingly unimpeded conquest; the vastness of the country seemed to lie before them unopposed. In the counterattack two years later, the Red Army prevented the Germans from retreating behind the river to establish a new line of defense. With a firm belief in the impassability of the river, the Red Army had lost the first battles, and the Wehrmacht definitely the war.
That humans were ever sedentary is to be doubted. It is not without reason that paradise stands at the beginning of all interpretations of the world as a state of effortlessness. And at the end, once the toil is behind us, the great rest is again promised; until all eternity. In between, nothing but departures: the search for more fertile soil, warmer climate, available water. The history of mankind is a succession of wars that have a framework: nature. It is stronger; it does not help people; it stays with itself. If you want to say something sustainable about history, you have to do it by including the settings.
Already the oldest historian of Europe, Herodotus, made studies 400 years before Christ, which included rivers, steppes, deserts and seas as a precondition of history.
The second witness who dealt with the river in writing more than a thousand years later was Count Louis Philippe de Ségur. He participated as ambassador of France in the “Taurian Voyage” of Catherine II (1778) and commented on his impressions in a tendentiously modern journal.
The third witness is the author, who embarked on Djneper at a time when “all seemed well” (2003): The Soviet Union had dissolved, the former satellite states, among others Ukraine, experienced murder and manslaughter for the purpose of preventing free elections, but the young generation seemed not to be intimidated and took to the streets.
BORYSTHENES emerged from the diary notes of that cruise; however, as a novel, not as reportage.