late 14c., from Latin Æthiops "Ethiopian, negro," from Greek Aithiops, long supposed in popular etymology to be from aithein "to burn" + ops "face" (compare aithops "fiery-looking," later "sunburned").
Who the Homeric Æthiopians were is a matter of doubt. The poet elsewhere speaks of two divisions of them, one dwelling near the rising, the other near the setting of the sun, both having imbrowned visages from their proximity to that luminary, and both leading a blissful existence, because living amid a flood of light; and, as a natural concomitant of a blissful existence, blameless, and pure, and free from every kind of moral defilement. [Charles Anthon, note to "The First Six Books of Homer's Iliad," 1878]
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