Ongoing comments on a Pausanias reader in progress

Gregory Nagy

Editors: Angelia Hanhardt and Keith DeStone

Web producer: Noel Spencer

Consultant for images: Jill Curry Robbins

The comments collected here represent Gregory Nagy’s ongoing commentary on Pausanias and will be continually updated with further comments. These comments are also to be found in A Pausanias Commentary in ProgressAPCIP, co-authored by Gregory Nagy together with Greta Hawes and Carolyn Higbie. Each comment by each of these three co-authors has its own author-stamp and date-stamp. This project, APCIP, is coordinated with a separate project, A Pausanias Reader in Progress = APRIP, authored by Gregory Nagy,  which is edited by Angelia Hanhardt and Keith DeStone (the Web Producer is Noel Spencer and the consultant for images is Jill Curry Robbins). Nagy’s APRIP is an ongoing project, with the ultimate aim of retranslating Pausanias where updating is needed for the original translation by W. H. S. Jones, 1918 (Scroll 2 with H.A. Ormerod). 

Map of Greece keyed to the ten scrolls of Pausanias
Map of Greece keyed to the ten scrolls of Pausanias, Description of Greece

Scroll I. Attica


subject heading(s): Hellēnikos/Hellēnikē ‘Greek, Hellenic’; ēpeiros ‘mainland’; Cyclades Islands; Aegean Sea; akrā ‘headland’; Sounion; Attica; nāos ‘temple, shrine’; Souniás ‘Athena-of-Sounion’; koruphē ‘summit’

§1.1. The first two sentences of the whole narrative are crafted in such a way as to set the trajectory for everything that will be narrated hereafter. In the translation as I have configured it, to be found in A Pausanias reader in progress (hereafter abbreviated as APRIP), I have tried to simulate the structure of the Greek text by following as closely as possible the original word order.

§1.2. Pausanias has been sailing on a westward journey along the Aegean Sea, making his way past the Cycladic Islands and heading toward a magnificent headland named Sounion as his first point of contact with the mainland of Europe. The view of this headland will create for Pausanias, as the viewer, his first impression not only of Europe in general but also of Attica in particular, which was a land-mass dominated by the city of Athens. And, just as the view of Attica is already now emerging as the dominant view of Europe for Pausanias, so also the upcoming view of Athens will dominate his entire narrative. Further, as we will see, the viewer’s first impression of Athens will be linked with Athena, the goddess of Athens.

§1.3. The first two words in the Greek text of 1.1.1 are a noun and an adjective referring to the European mainland of the Greek-speaking world as it existed in the era of Pausanias, and the genitive case of the noun and adjective here anticipates what is about to be highlighted as the subject of the sentence: ‘Belonging to the Greek mainland [ēpeiros] …is…’. And we already know that the very first place that is highlighted as ‘belonging to the Greek mainland’ is the magnificent headland of Sounion.

§1.4. Here I need to ask a question that turns out to be most relevant: what is the ‘Greek’ mainland? The adjective describing the noun ēpeiros ‘mainland’ in Pausanias 1.1.1 is Hellēnikē, which I translate as ‘Greek’. Here and everywhere in this Reader, ‘Greek’ translates the adjective Hellēnikos/Hellēnikē ‘Hellenic’ as well as the noun Hellēn ‘Hellene’; and ‘Greece’ translates Hellás ‘Hellas, Hellenic land’. On the use of these words in the era of Pausanias, I recommend the observations of Habicht 1998:25–27. I must add as a further observation, however, that the use of these same words Hellēnikos/Hellēnikē and Hellēn and Hellás in earlier eras was more complicated. A case in point is the era marked by the sea battle at Salamis in 480 BCE, where the navies of Athens and of other European Greek city-states defeated the invading naval forces of the Persian Empire: at the time, as I argue in Nagy 2017.06.25 §§43–50 on the basis of what we read in Scroll 8 of Herodotus, the words that I am now translating as ‘Hellenic’ or ‘Greek’ did not apply to all the Greeks involved in that sea battle: besides the Greeks of Europe who fought against the Persian Empire at Salamis, there were Greeks from Asia Minor and from outlying islands such as Samos who were fighting on the other side, and such Asiatic Greeks, who lived under the rule of the Persian Empire, thought of themselves as Ionians, not as Hellenes. More than six centuries later, however, in the era of Pausanias, Asiatic Greeks no longer thought of themselves as non-Hellenes. A case in point is Pausanias, who was a native of the Asiatic Greek mainland but who considered himself to be a Hellene. On Pausanias as a spokesman for Hellenic identity, I refer again to the observations of Habicht 1998:25–27.

§1.5. But now I need to ask another relevant question: why does Pausanias, who thinks of himself as a Hellene, refer to the mainland of Greek Europe as the ‘Hellenic’ mainland? What seems problematic here is the fact that the mainland of Greek Asia Minor was just as ‘Hellenic’ in the era of Pausanias as was the mainland of Greek Europe. But the problem is solved if we keep in mind the fact that Asiatic Hellenes thought of the European mainland as the homeland from where they had migrated eastward in prehistoric times. There is a multitude of myths centering on the migrations of Greeks from Europe to Asia Minor, and Pausanias himself is a source for some of these myths, as we see for example at 7.2.1, 7.2.4, 7.3.2, 7.3.6. Even many of the place-names in Greek Asia Minor reflect indirectly such myths. I choose here as prominent examples a pair of two cities in Asia Minor that are both named Magnesia: one is Magnesia-at-Sipylos, situated at the foot of a mountain range known as Sipylos and contiguous with the river Hermos, while the other is Magnesia-at-the-Maeander, which was a city further south, contiguous with the river Maeander. Both sites were evidently named after a well-known site in European Thessaly that was likewise named Magnesia. I have chosen as prominent examples these two cities of Magnesia in Asia Minor because Pausanias in his reportage shows an intimate familiarity with both these Magnesias and their environs, and, as I infer from this familiarity, he thought of himself as a Magnesian in origin. A similar inference, again on the grounds of the familiarity shown by Pausanias, has been made by Habicht 1998:14–15—though he is speaking there only about Magnesia-at-Sipylos as the homeland of Pausanias, whereas I include also Magnesia-at-the-Maeander, which the text describes in comparably familiar terms. To justify this inclusion, I refer to my comment at 1.1.2, which can be supplemented by the relevant comments of Habicht 1998:5, 15. In his comments as cited here, as also further at his p. 17, Habicht acknowledges that Pausanias was familiar with both Magnesia-at-Sipylos and Magnesia-on-the-Maeander—as also with practically all of Greek Asia Minor—even though the trajectory of the travels that he narrates in sequence does not include those parts of the Greek-speaking world that are situated on the mainland of Asia Minor: for more on the travels of Pausanias beyond the travels that he narrates in the ten scrolls attributed to him, I recommend the analysis of Habicht 1998:17. To sum up, then, what has been argued so far: in the overall narrative that Pausanias is about to present at the beginning of his work, he will be focusing not on the mainland of Greek Asia Minor, which is his homeland, but on the mainland of Greek Europe, which he is about to highlight at the very beginning of his narrative.

§1.6. That said, I am ready to take a closer look at the very first place that Pausanias highlights as ‘belonging to the Greek mainland’. This place, as we will now see, is relevant to the European identity of the ‘Greek’ mainland. In the wording that follows the first two words of the Greek text, the very idea of a ‘mainland’ is now highlighted as the magnificent akrā or ‘headland’ named Sounion. As if to intensify the highlighting, Pausanias uses the word akrā three times here at 1.1.1. The view of this headland will give the viewer his first impression not only of the ‘Greek mainland’ in general but also of Attica in particular, which as I have already noted was the name of the land-mass dominated by the city of Athens. Here is Pausanias sailing east to west, from the direction of Asia Minor to Europe, and his first impression of Europe is already becoming an Athenian impression. Just as the view of Attica has already now become the dominant way to view Europe, so also the upcoming view of Athens will become the dominant way to view Attica. Further, as we will see in §1.7, the viewer’s first impression of Athens will be linked with the goddess of Athens, Athena, who is signaled here as presiding over a temple at Sounion. The presence of the goddess at Sounion anticipates her presence in Athens, which will be the first city to be visited by Pausanias. And, as the first city, Athens will dominate the entire narrative of Pausanias.

§1.7. As Pausanias proceeds to sail round the headland of Sounion, now heading toward Athens, he sees a sacred space where the goddess Athena is worshipped. As he notes at a later point, 1.28.2, it is when you round the headland of Sounion that you see from far off in the distance the tip of the spear of Athena Promakhos, a famous outdoors statue of the goddess Athena imagined as fully-armed—hence her epithet promakhos ‘leading the battle’. As we see at 1.28.2, this statue of the goddess Athena was situated in the heights of the Acropolis of Athens, guarding the entrance to the sacred space. The mention of Athena at 1.28.2 can be linked with the context here at 1.1.1, where the goddess is mentioned for the first time by Pausanias. The sacred space of Athena at Sounion, 1.1.1., is mentally connected here with the spear tip of the goddess high up and far away on the Acropolis of Athens. We see here a metonymy. The metonymy here is relevant to the relationship between the name of the goddess, Athēnē, and the name of the city over which the goddess presides, Athēnai. As I have pointed out in HC 4§117, the Greek language has preserved a most ancient and fundamental connection that exists between the name of Athena and the name of Athens. The singular name of the goddess Athena, Athḗnē, is coextensive with the plural name of her city of Athens, Athênai. This plural name means, elliptically, ‘Athena and everything/everyone connected to her’. In other words, the name of the city of Athens is itself a most ancient metonym that expresses the divine power of integrating and unifying the diversity of all things and all people connected with the city of Athens. From the vantage point of Pausanias, as I infer from what he says at 1.28.2, the metonymy can start at the moment when you see the tip of Athena’s spear as you sail around the headland of Sounion. From the tip of the spear your mental image can work its way down, down, further down, and, the next thing you know, you grasp the totalizing concept of Athens. [[GN 2017.10.14]]

Pausanias at Sounion: why no mention of Poseidon?

subject heading(s): Poseidon, temple (sanctuary) of Poseidon, Athena, temple (sanctuary) of Athena

§2.0. At the very beginning of the Description of Greece as narrated by Pausanias (1.1.1), when the ship carrying our traveler approaches the east side of the akrā or ‘headland’ of Sounion, he must have been struck by the view of a magnificent temple situated at the highest point of the headland—a temple that archaeologists have identified as sacred to the god Poseidon, lord of the seas. The visual power of this view is evident from the photograph I show, where we see the temple of Poseidon as viewed from the east side of the headland. But why does Pausanias make no mention of Poseidon? My answer, in what follows, will require a shift in emphasis. What I really need to ask is this: why does Pausanias make no mention of Poseidon as a god who presides over the headland of Sounion? And the answer, I will argue, is that the god Poseidon is at least for the moment eclipsed, in the mind of Pausanias, by the goddess Athena.

§2.1. But what is this moment? It happens, as I picture it, when the ship bringing our traveler has rounded the akrā or ‘headland’ of Sounion and is now making its way toward the nearby harbor, located on the west side of the headland. At this moment my mind’s eye, as if it were a camera, zooms out, moving backward, backing away—far back enough to take in a full view, looking east, of the west side of this massive headland of Sounion, with its rugged profile defiantly jutting out into the turbulent seas that rage against it. What I imagine can be seen in this photograph of the west profile:

Cape Sounion in profile.
Cape Sounion in profile. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Drawing, by Jill Curry Robbins, of the profile of Cape Sounion.
Drawing, by Jill Curry Robbins, of the profile of Cape Sounion.

§2.2. In this photograph of the west profile of Sounion, matched by the drawing underneath it, we can see at the right, which is south, the highest point of the headland, and, sitting on top of this point, this elevation, is the temple of Poseidon—or, to put it more broadly, the sanctuary of the god. Then there is a lower point, further to the left, that is, further to the north (more precisely, north-east), and, sitting on top of this lower point—but this point too is an elevation—is the sanctuary of Athena Souniás, as Pausanias refers to her. So, the goddess is, for Pausanias, ‘Our Lady of Sounion’. I have already commented, at §1.1 through §1.7 [Nagy 2017.10.10], about the connections of Athena with the headland of Sounion in the thinking of Pausanias.

§2.3. But what about Poseidon? Why does Pausanias not refer to ‘Our Lord of Sounion’, as it were? The absence of any mention of the god in the description given by our traveler had led to the common assumption, shared even by James Frazer in his commentary on Pausanias (1913 2:2), that the temple of Poseidon, far better preserved than the temple of Athena Souniás, was really the temple of the goddess. As is evident, however, from the text of an inscription dating from around 460–450 BCE (Inscriptiones Graecae I³8), the temple that we still see today at the highest point of the headland has been identified, in the words of the archaeologist Barbara Barletta (2017:10) as “belonging not to Athena, as earlier believed, but to Poseidon.”

§2.4. It does not necessarily follow, however, that Pausanias made a mistake and wrongly identified the structure situated at the higher elevation, further south, with the sanctuary of Athena, which was situated at the lower elevation, further north. There may be other explanations that absolve Pausanias from having made such a mistake, and I recommend the relevant discussion of Barletta (2017:9–10), who surveys a wide variety of such explanations, with bibliography.

§2.5. I can agree with none of the explanations published so far. But I disagree only in one detail with the formulation of an archaeologist I knew in the early 1970s, John Young (1961), who has this to say in a terse abstract he published about the relevant testimony of Pausanias (1.1.1): “although the author did neglect to mention the temple of Poseidon, his location of the other points [that he did mention] is correct.” And the first two of the points highlighted by Young are the harbor at the west bay and the temple of Athena Souniás, sitting on the elevation overlooking the harbor. I do agree with Young that Pausanias was “correct” in saying as much as he said in his description. I show here a photograph of the west bay, as viewed from the elevation overlooking the harbor. It is on top of this elevation that the remains of the temple of Athena are still visible.

The bay west of Cape Sounion.
The bay west of Cape Sounion. Image via Flickr, under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

§2.6. My one point of disagreement with the formulation of Young (1961) centers on his idea that Pausanias “neglected” Poseidon. Instead, as I already indicated at the beginning of my relevant comments here, I argue that the god Poseidon is at least for the moment eclipsed, in the mind of Pausanias, by the goddess Athena. It is not a matter of neglect. Rather, Pausanias prioritizes Athena in the context of her rivalry with Poseidon, a rivalry that can be viewed on the level of ritual, not only on the level of myth. There is a similar eclipse I see happening when Pausanias visits the Acropolis of Athens: at 1.26.5–6, his treatment of the old sanctuary of Athena Poliás eclipses his treatment of the adjacent sanctuary of Poseidon.

§2.7. For Poseidon to be eclipsed by Athena is not a matter of neglect on the part of the ancients who worshipped both these divinities. Rather, it is a matter of their recognizing, in ritual as well as in myth, the dominance of one divinity over another. It is a matter of picturing a sacred space that is shared by two such divinities, one of whom is dominant while the other is, by comparison, recessive. I will have more to say in later comments about such a pattern of sharing, such a condominium of sacred space. [[GN 2020.06.12]]

The island of Patroklos

subject heading(s): Island of Patroklos; defamiliarization

Island of Patroklos… Our first impression, as we read the name Patroklos, may be that the referent here is the Homeric hero Patroklos. As we read on, however, we are quickly defamiliarized: this Patroklos is a historical figure, stemming from the Hellenistic era—which is the period of time starting with the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and lasting up to the time when the Roman Empire takes possession of Hellas or ‘Greece’ in the second century BCE. I think that Pausanias, by way of his defamiliarizing gesture in introducing the name of Patroklos, is creating a signature, as it were, for the genre in which he is expressing himself. I agree with Cohen 2001:95 when she says that the work of Pausanias is one of the few surviving examples of this genre, which has “a Hellenistic background.” [[GN 2014.04.03.]]


subject heading(s): Peiraieus; dēmos ‘deme’; epineion ‘seaport’; Themistocles; spelling of Greek names; arkhōn ‘archon’; Phaleron; Athenian thalassocracy; neōs oikoi ‘ship-sheds’; Menestheus: Athenian signatures in Homeric poetry; Theseus; Minos; Minoan thalassocracy; Androgeos ‘man born of Earth’; speaking name; limēn ‘harbor’; tomb of Themistokles at Peiraieus

spelling of Greek names… I offer a general comment on the spelling of Greek names, with primary reference to the name of Themistocles here at 1.1.2… The name of this famous Athenian statesman could have been spelled here and elsewhere in the hellenized way, as Themistokles. The same can be said about the name of another famous Athenian statesman, Pericles, who is first mentioned by Pausanias at 1.25.1: here as well, the name could have been spelled in the hellenized way, as Perikles. In general, however, I spell any Greek name in a latinized way wherever the said name has become a “household word” in English, as in the case of Themistocles and Pericles. When I say latinized I mean spellings where Latin lettering is substituted for the corresponding hellenized lettering: so, c for kch for khae for aioe for oiu for ou-us for –os, and so on. Besides Themistocles and Pericles, I will spell in a latinized (and anglicized) way such other “household words” as represented by the following Greek names: Academy (not Akademeia), Achilles (not Akhilleus), Acropolis (not Akropolis), Aeneas (not Aineias), Ajax (not Aias), Alcibiades (not Alkibiades), Alexander (not Alexandros), Anacreon (not Anakreon), Andromache (not Andromakhe), Apollo (not Apollon), Arcadia (not Arkadia), Attica (not Attike), Cambyses (not Kambuses), Cassandra (not Kassandra), Chersonesus (not Kherronesos), Chios (not Khios), Chrysippus (not Khrusippos), Cleisthenes (not Kleisthenes), Corcyra (not Kerkura), Corinth (not Korinthos), Cyclades (not Kuklades), Cyrene (not Kurene), Cythera (not Kuthera), Delphi (not Delphoi), Dionysus (not Dionusos), Euboea (not Euboia), Herodotus (not Herodotos), Hesiod (not Hesiodos), Hippolytus (not Hippolutos), Homer (not Homeros), Isocrates (not Isokrates), Lacedaemonia (not Lakedaimonia), Lyceum (not Lukeion: see my comments on Pausanias 1.19.3), Lycurgus (name of the Athenian statesman, as also of the early Spartan ‘lawgiver’; not Lukourgos), Maeander (not Maiandros), Menander (not Menandros), Musaeus (not Mousaios), Oedipus (not Oidipous), Palladium (not Palladion), Peloponnesus (not Peloponnesos), Phaedra (not Phaidra), Philip (not Philippos), Pindar (not Pindaros), Philoctetes (not Philoktetes), Plato (not Platon), Pluto (not Plouton), Polygnotus (not Polugnotos), Polyxena (not Poluxene), Ptolemy (not Ptolemaios), Socrates (not Sokrates), Sophocles (not Sophokles), Syracuse (not Surakoussai), Tarentum (not Taras), Thermopylae (not Thermopulai), Thucydides (not Thoukudides). All these examples come from Pausanias 1.1 through 1.30. Some “household names” of the past, however, are less likely to qualify as such today, and I include in this smaller list such names as Antipatros (not Antipater), Kassandros (not Cassander), Aratos (not Aratus), Eurydikē (not Eurydice), Oitē (not Oeta), Rōxanē (not Roxana), Khairōneia (not Chaeronea), Aigeus (not Aegeus), Daidalos (not Daedalus), Ikaros (not Icarus), Hipparkhos (not Hipparchus). I have included in this shorter list even the names of the father of Theseus, Aigeus (not Aegeus), after whom the Aegean Sea is named, and of the Ptolemaic queen Eurydikē, despite the association of the mythical figure Eurydice with Orpheus, as in Pausanias 9.30.6. In many cases, it is relatively easy to recognize the latinized versions underneath the more hellenized spellings. A shining example is the father-and-son pair Daidalos and Ikaros, for Daedalus and Icarus. Another such example is Kleopatra, for Cleopatra. In many cases, my reasons for preferring the hellenized spelling over the latinized version have to do with word-associations that become evident in contexts highlighted by Pausanias. In the case of Daidalos, for example, the meaning of his name is relevant to the name of a festival, the Daidala, as described by Pausanias 9.3.2–6. [[GN 2017.10.05.]]

archon [arkhōn]… As we see later in our readings, Pausanias 4.5.10, this word ‘archon’ [arkhōn], meaning literally ‘leader’, was the Athenian title of an official who was appointed yearly by lot. The traditional Athenian way of dating any given year when any event happened was by remembering the name of the archon [arkhōn] who was in charge during that year.

thalassocracy… In the history of Athens, the era of the Athenian Empire was most noted for the city’s maritime power, the Greek word for which was thalassokratiā or ‘thalassocracy’. For background on this word, see 1§§5–6 in Nagy 2017.04.11, “Diachronic Homer and a Cretan Odyssey.” [[GN 2014.04.13]]

ship-sheds [neōs oikoi]… In the glory days of the Athenian Empire, a most celebrated visual marker of the magnificence as well as the power of its thalassocracy was the architectural complex of colossal buildings known as neōs oikoi ‘ship-sheds’ at the dockyards of seaport of Peiraieus. I have invited Mills McArthur to write a comment here about these buildings. [[GN 2014.04.13]]

The neōs-oikoi ‘ship-sheds’–literally ‘ship houses’–of Peiraieus sheltered the warships so critical to the military success of the city of Athens. Ships would be drawn up out of the water on ramps into their ‘houses’. But these utilitarian dockyard structures ultimately transcended their function, gaining great symbolic importance for the Athenians—so much so that Demosthenes (fourth century BCE), enumerating some of the prominent symbols of Athens’ glory, grouped the ship-sheds of the dockyards of Peiraieus together with the Parthenon itself (Speech 22 section 76)! The atmosphere of the docks on the verge of an expedition is vividly captured in Greek literature, ranging from the hustle and bustle (Aristophanes Acharnians 544–554) to a mixture of hope and foreboding on occasions when the ships were launched in the glory days of the Athenian Empire (Thucydides 6.30–32). Even after the empire went into decline, the glory of the dockyards of the Peiraieus was still very much in evidence, as we see from the testimony of Demosthenes. See also Pausanias 1.29.16, where he speaks about the rebuilding of the neōs oikoi ‘ship-sheds’ of the Peiraieus in the era of the statesman Lycurgus of Athens, who dominated the cultural and political life of Athens in the late fourth century BCE. The Roman general Sulla sacked the Peiraieus in 86 BCE, and so Pausanias in the second century CE would have seen just a trace of the structures that formerly highlighted the naval power of Athens. [[MM 2014.04.15.]]

Magnesia-at-Maeander… The city of Magnesia, contiguous with the river Maeander, is situated on the mainland of Greek Asia Minor. In the time of Themistocles, Magnesia was part of the Persian Empire. After Themistocles was banished from his native city of Athens, he eventually defected to the king of the Persians, Artaxerxes I, who appointed him as ruler of Magnesia. See Pausanias 1.26.4, also the comments of Habicht 1998:5. On the symbolism implicit in the name of Magnesia, see HC 3§§77–94. [[GN 2017.10.15.]]

tomb of Themistocles at Peiraieus… This detail in Pausanias 1.1.2 is of special interest to me. I find it intriguing that Pausanias, visiting Athens in the second century CE, is foregrounding here a detail about Themistocles that could easily be ignored by professional Classicists who study only the testimony of the Classical period of the fifth and the fourth centuries BCE. It is as if he were saying to such professionals: here is something that I bet you did not know—or had ignored… Themistocles was rehabilitated by the Athenians, despite his having defected to the Persian Empire after his political successes in Athens had gone sour. And the visible sign of his rehabilitation is his tomb. The tomb of Themistocles, as a visible reminder, reconnects the memories about Themistocles with the present. Here the medium of Pausanias, which is a visual journey that reconnects with the history of the past, shows its power to reshape or even restore history as he sees it. I see a comparable gesture of rehabilitation in my comment on a later passage, Pausanias 1.23.9. [[GN 2014.04.13.]]

Parthenon… The political as well as the cultural significance of the Parthenon here is made evident by the context. We see here in Pausanias 1.1.2 his first mention of the Parthenon. The author has not wasted much time in making mention of this all-important monument. [[GN 2017.10.15.]]


subject heading(s): hērōs ‘hero’; hero cult; Phaleros; Argonauts; Phaleros as culture hero linked with myth of the Argonauts; Androgeōs; hero cult of Androgeōs; mystical name of cult hero as Hērōs; epichoric myths and rituals

heroes… So, already at this early stage in his narrative, Pausanias shows a special interest in hero cults. [[GN 2017.10.15.]]

those, however, who pay special attention to the study of their local-antiquities [enkhōria] know that… We see here Pausanias in the role of a researcher interested in epichoric myths and rituals. [[GN 2017.10.20.]]


subject heading(s): Ionia as a region of Asia Minor; Pausanias as a researcher of Ionian traditions

On observations made by Pausanias about the cultural identity of Ionia and the Ionians in Asia Minor, I have comments on one of the examples in Nagy 2017.06.25 §33, with reference to Pausanias 7.3.3. [[GN 2017.11.05.]]


subject heading(s): mnēma ‘tomb’; Antiope the Amazon; first impressions of the visual kind; Antiope the Amazon as first impression; name of Amazon Antiope as ‘rivaling in looks/appearances’; Murinē the Amazon; Amazons as cult heroes; Molpadia the Amazon; war between Amazons and Athenians; Theseus; abduction of Antiope by Theseus; theme of Amazon falling in love with her abductor; Hippolyte the Amazon; Megara; lupē ‘pain’; Pindar F 174; Pindar F 175

As one enters the city, there is a tomb [mnēma] of Antiope the Amazon… We read in Frazer 1913 II 37 about the wording here: “it appears that the tomb of Antiope was just inside the city-wall of Athens”; Frazer also comments here on the relevant information provided by Plutarch Life of Theseus 27. I find it most significant that the tomb of Antiope the Amazon should be the very first thing to be seen by Pausanias as he enters the city of Athens. We have already seen that first impressions of the visual kind are very important to Pausanias. In the case of the temple sacred to the goddess Athena at Sounion, for example, the traveler’s first impression of the goddess there is linked to the view, from there, of the tip of Athena’s spear on the Acropolis of Athens. And now, as Pausanias enters the city of Athens, the very first thing he says he sees is the mnēma ‘tomb’ of Antiope the Amazon. Once again, the traveler’s first impression becomes a dominant theme in his narrative. From the wording at Iliad 2.811–815, we can see that the tomb of the Amazon Murinē is pictured there as the monument of a cult hero: see the comments at I.02.811–815 in A Sampling of Comments on the Iliad and Odyssey. Similarly here, the tombs of the Amazons Antiope and Molpadia are pictured as monuments of cult heroes. On the symbolism of Athenian myths about a primordial antagonism between Athens and the Amazons, I refer to my analysis in HC 4§§213–215, 4§224. According to one myth, this antagonism was precipitated by the abduction of Antiope, queen of the Amazons, by Theseus, king of Athens. The idea that Antiope then falls in love with Theseus as her abductor, as mentioned by Pausanias here at 1.2.1, is a topic that disturbs—and that needs further investigation. Relevant, I think, is what we read later on at 1.41.7 in the narrative of Pausanias, where he says that he saw in the city of Megara a mnēma ‘tomb’ of another Amazon, Hippolyte, who was sister of Antiope. Pausanias says that this tomb was linked with a myth about Hippolyte: how this hero became queen of the Amazons after her sister Antiope was abducted by Theseus, king of the Athenians, and how Hippolyte and her fellow Amazons then went to war against Athens to avenge the abduction. The outcome was a bitter defeat for the Amazons, and most of them perished in the war, but Hippolyte survived and sought refuge at Megara, where she died from her lupē. This word lupē as used by Pausanias at 1.41.7 can best be translated as the ‘pain’ of mourning. By combining what we read at 1.2.1 and at 1.41.7 in the narrative of Pausanias, we can piece together a central theme in the overall myth that is linked to the hero cults of the Amazons Antiope, Molpadia, and Hippolyte: that all the pain resulting from the war between the Amazons and the Athenians can be traced back to the primal abduction of Antiope, queen of the Amazons, by Theseus, king of the Athenians. That abduction must have been highlighted in a song of Pindar as mentioned by Pausanias 1.2.1. Classicists track this mention by referring to it this way: Pindar F 175 ed. Maehler. In Pausanias 7.2.6, we read another mention of these Amazons, and Classicists refer to this mention as Pindar F 174 ed. Maehler. One final word about the references made by Pausanias to Amazons as cult heroes: I deliberately use the word “hero” and not “heroine” in such contexts because I seek to challenge the assumption, common to native speakers of English, that only men are heroes. In terms of ancient Greek hero cults, both men and women could become cult heroes after death, and the wording of Pausanias at 1.2.1 and at 1.41.7 makes it clear that the Amazons Antiope, Molpadia, and Hippolyte were all three considered to be cult heroes. [[GN 2017.11.06.]]



subject heading(s): court poets and their patrons

As an example of the relationship between court poets and their patrons, Pausanias here at 1.2.2 refers to a Homeric passage at O.03.267–271. The generic aoidos ‘singer’, as represented by the anonymous figure who is mentioned there, has the power to supervise the deeds of men and women by way of praising what is good and blaming what is bad. The aoidos that Agamemnon left behind to supervise Clytemnestra cannot be neutralized by way of removal from the scene. The aoidos does not need to see bad deeds in order to tell about them, since he can hear about them from the Muses. [[GN 2017.03.29 via BA 37–38, 2§13n5; PH 392.]]





subject heading(s): harpazein ‘abduct’; Eos; Kephalos; Phaethon; Aphrodite

On the myth about the abduction of Kephalos by Eos, see the commentary at O.15.250–251 as presented in On the myth about the abduction of Phaethon by Aphrodite, as narrated in Hesiod Theogony 986–991 and as mentioned here in Pausanias 1.3.1, see again the commentary at O.15.250–251.





subject heading(s): Gauls [Galatai]; defamiliarizing

In his narrative, Pausanias will focus here on the ancient Celtic people known as the Gauls, called Galatai in Greek, as they existed in the third century BCE. By maintaining this focus, Pausanias will be defamiliarizing the Gauls as they existed in his own time, that is, in the second century CE. I say this because it stands to reason that educated Greeks in the time of Pausanias would have been well enough informed about the existence of romanized Gauls living in the western and non-Greek part of Roman Empire—in what is now northern Italy, France, and Spain. By contrast, educated Romans in the time of Pausanias—and even Greeks—would have been relatively unfamiliar with the reality of earlier Gauls who figured in the pre-imperial history of the eastern and Greek part of the same Roman Empire.


subject heading(s): Ēridanos; Gauls [Galatai]; Hēlios; [Hēliades ‘Daughters of the Sun’;] ēlektron ‘amber’; Phaethon

I highlight here the linking of a river named Ēridanos with the ancient Gauls—Galatai in Greek. Although Pausanias is vague about the location of this river, he is explicit about linking it with the Gauls, as we see here. Why is he explicit? In looking for an answer, I turn to an early work of mine where I studied in some detail the ancient Greek sources concerning this river: Nagy 1973, rewritten as Ch.9 in the book Nagy 1990b (page-references to this study of mine will be keyed to the version printed in the book). As I show in that study, ancient Greek sources other than Pausanias likewise link the name Ēridanos with rivers flowing through territories once settled by Gauls: thus, Ēridanos was once the Greek name for the river Po, located in the formerly Gaulish territory of northern Italy, and it was also the Greek name for the river Rhône in France, that is, in the heartland of ancient Gaul (Nagy 1990b:237–238). But there is a problem with the traditional Greek naming of such real rivers as the Po and the Rhône. The problem is, the name Ēridanos is linked not only with these rivers flowing in Gaulish territories. As Pausanias himself says, Ēridanos is linked also with myths about the hero Phaethon, son of Hēlios. This hero had plunged into a river by the name of Ēridanos when the solar chariot that he was driving across the sky was shattered in a spectacular cosmic crash. There, by the banks of the river Ēridanos, the dead hero Phaethon, son of Hēlios, will be lamented forever by his mourning sisters, the Hēliades or ‘Daughters of the Sun’, who will be shedding tears of ēlektron ‘amber’ in their sorrow for the death of their solar brother. The myth, including the detail about the tears of amber shed by the Daughters of the Sun, is most beautifully retold in the Hippolytus of Euripides, where the chorus is singing a song of escapist reveries:

ἀρθείην δ’ ἐπὶ πόντιον | κῦμα τᾶς Ἀδριηνᾶς | ἀκτᾶς Ἠριδανοῦ θ’ ὕδωρ, ἔνθα πορφύρεον σταλάσ|σουσ’ εἰς οἶδμα τάλαιναι | κόραι Φαέθοντος οἴκτῳ δακρύων | τὰς ἠλεκτροφαεῖς αὐγάς

Let me fly off [like a bird], soaring over the sea wave of the Adriatic headland and the water of Ēridanos, where the wretched girls, in sorrow for Phaethon, pour forth into the seething sea their shining-amber [ēlektrophaeis] rays of tears.

Euripides Hippolytus 735–741

In the wording of Euripides, as we see in the passage I just quoted, the river Ēridanos is evidently mythical: on its banks are stationed the solar sisters of Phaethon, shedding tears of amber that signal the golden redness of a most spectacular sunset. In the myths about Phaethon, the river Ēridanos is a cosmic fresh-water stream that encircles the world, interacting with the celestial dynamics of the sun. This Ēridanos is like another famous cosmic fresh-water stream, the river Ōkeanos, which in other myths likewise encircles the world. The sun sets into the waters of such cosmic streams at sunset and rises from the same waters at sunrise. And the myth of Phaethon is an episodic retelling of one aspect of the solar cycle—the aspect of sunset. Phaethon plunges into the river Ēridanos just as the sun plunges into the cosmic stream of the Ōkeanos—or of the Ēridanos—at sunset. (For the sources, I refer to my analysis of the relevant myths in Nagy 1990b:236–238.) Such parallelism between the river Ēridanos and the river Ōkeanos, was not to last, however: while the first of the two cosmic rivers remains a river, the second eventually becomes the Ocean in the current sense of the name—that is, the Atlantic Ocean. (Again, I refer to my analysis in Nagy 1990b:236–238. In that analysis, I explain how the myth about Phaethon son of Hēlios god of the sun is distinct from another myth about Phaethon son of Ēōs goddess of the dawn—a myth that is also familiar to Pausanias, as we saw already at 1.3.1.)

And so, as I already said a minute ago, the river Ēridanos is mythical in the poetic description of Euripides. But the river Ēridanos is simultaneously “real” in the wording of that very same description, Hippolytus 736–737: This wording envisions Ēridanos as the river Po, seen at the climactic moment when its waters stream into the Adriatic Sea at the Gulf of Venice. (I have further comments in Nagy 1990b: 236–238. At p. 236 there, I should add, I had translated ἐπὶ πόντιον | κῦμα at lines 735–736 of the Hippolytus as ‘heading for the sea wave’. I now regret that interpretation, since the Gulf of Venice is not the final destination of the flying bird, and so I follow Barrett 1964:300–301 in translating as ‘soaring over’.)

For a rationalist like the geographer Strabo (5.1.9 C215), what needs to be said first and foremost about Ēridanos is that this river simply cannot be real, belonging as it does to the mythical world of Phaethon and his cosmic sisters, the Daughters of the Sun. Although Strabo cannot deny that real rivers can be named Ēridanos, this reality is for him delegitimized by the existence of myths about a mythical Ēridanos. Even rationalists like Strabo linked the name Ēridanos primarily with the myth about a solar boy and the solar girls who forever lament his death by shedding tears of amber. Thus, Strabo would link the same name only secondarily with the reality of real rivers named Ēridanos, such as the Po.

Pausanias too is such a rationalist, I think, and that is why he distances his thoughts from the reality of real rivers named Ēridanos. For him to be vague about the precise location of the Ēridanos in Gaul is to achieve such a mental distancing. Even if the Gaulish territories of northern Italy and southern France, as integral parts of the Roman Empire, must have been familiar to educated Greeks in the age of Pausanias, the mythical associations of the name Ēridanos would still lead to an attitude of defamiliarization in thinking about real rivers that went by that name in these territories.

That said, I return to my initial question: why is Pausanias explicit about linking the name Ēridanos with the Gauls? By now I see that I should have asked, rather, a different question: why is Pausanias vague about the existence, inside the territories of the Gauls, of a real river that the Greeks knew by the name of Ēridanos? And I have already offered an answer to such a question in my previous comment: Pausanias is defamiliarizing the Gauls in the western and non-Greek part of the Roman Empire by way of highlighting the earlier Gauls who figured in the pre-imperial history of the eastern and Greek part of the same Roman Empire.







subject heading(s): phūlē (plural phūlai) ‘subdivision’

Here and elsewhere, I avoid translating phūlē as ‘tribe’, which is a misleading rendition. See Nagy 1990b:277–293.




subject headings: Procne (Proknē), Philomela (Philomēlā), Tereus (Tēreus).

On the form Philomēlā: grammarians in the ancient world (for example, Herodian 3.1 p. 255 line 14 ed. A. Lentz 1867) called attention to the exceptional ending ā instead of the expected ē. The catastrophic story of Procne, Philomela, and Tereus is best known today from the celebrated retelling by Ovid, Metaphorphoses 6.401–674. A briefer retelling of the myth can be found in “Apollodorus” Bibliotheca 3.193–195. These retellings seem to originate from a version of the myth that was anchored in the region of Athens. Another version, anchored in the region of Ephesus, is analyzed at §23 in Nagy 2016.01.07. As for the version anchored in Athens, it is linked to still another version that is anchored in the region of Megara, as we see later when we read Pausanias 1.41.8–9, where I offer further comments. Pausanias refers to the myth of Procne, Philomela, and Tereus also at 9.16.4 and at 10.4.8–9, where I offer still further comments. For now, I simply introduce the myth, epitomizing from §§19–23 in Nagy 2016.01.07:

As we read in Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.401–674, Procne and Philomela are women who become transformed respectively into the prototypical Nightingale and the prototypical Swallow in the course of their tragic interaction with the king of Thrace, a man named Tereus. In some versions of the myth, the names of the two women are more overt: Aēdōn and Khelidōn, that is, Nightingale and Swallow (for more such versions, I cite Levaniouk 2011:215n6). As for the man, King Tereus, he becomes transformed into a bird known in Greek as epops. To say it in English, Tereus becomes the prototypical Hoopoe. The myth about these three doomed humans who are turned into birds is a story of an Eternal Triangle. Tereus marries Procne and then violates her sister Philomela, only to be punished for his crime when Procne takes revenge on her husband by killing their own son and then serving up the child’s cooked body to an unsuspecting Tereus, who thinks he is eating the meat of an animal. That is the dikē or ‘retribution’ to which the narrative of Pausanias is referring here. Once Tereus discovers that his stomach has become the tomb of his own son, Tereus experiences a grief that matches the grief of the two sisters. The combined grief becomes too much for all three to bear, and the gods take pity by transforming them all into birds. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses 6.576–578, we read that Philomela the would-be Swallow weaves into a web the story of her violation by Tereus. She cannot express the sad story in words, since Tereus had cut out her tongue and now keeps her imprisoned in a fortress, hidden away from her sister. For Philomela, the act of weaving a web becomes a substitute for the act of singing a lament in expressing her grief.

































subject heading(s): Pyrrhos the hero, Pyrrhos the king

Pausanias at 1.11.1 begins here his narrative about Pyrrhos-son-of-Aiakidēs, king of Epeiros. I have already noted that Pyrrhos claimed as his ancestor, counting twenty generations backward in time, the Greek hero Pyrrhos-son-of-Achilles. (Pausanias complicates the numbering by starting with an ancestor that goes five generations back and then adding fifteen generations more.) This hero was otherwise known as Neoptolemos, meaning ‘renewer of war’. As for his name Pyrrhos, it means ‘fiery red’. Both names are most apt, because the hero Pyrrhos/Neoptolemos is traditionally pictured in the verbal and visual arts of the ancient Greeks as a veritable killing machine—whose fiery temperament in war replicates and thus renews the deadliest wartime moments of his father. In the case of Achilles, we find a horrific example of such a moment at Iliad 21.328–384, where the hero goes berserk as he proceeds to slaughter, one after the next, all the fleeing Trojan warriors whom he overtakes in his murderous progression of martial fury: the more blood he spills, the more furious he gets—until he becomes the embodiment of fire itself, since the poetry of the Iliad now merges this warrior’s rage with the cosmic power of Hephaistos as the god of raging fire. In the case of Pyrrhos/Neoptolemos, such horrific moments of martial fury are further augmented and multiplied: examples include the fiery hero’s slaughtering of Priam the old king, of Polyxena the beautiful princess, and of prince Astyanax, hapless child of Hector and Andromache.

A moment ago, I described the hero Pyrrhos as ‘fiery’ in such contexts of martial fury. I will now elaborate, epitomizing from an earlier work (BA 122, 7§5; 330–332, 20§12).

My description ‘fiery’ matches the hero’s name Púrrhos, deriving from the adjective purrhós, meaning ‘fiery red’, which in turn derives from the noun pûr ‘fire’. The description matches also the association of this hero with a kind of war dance known as the purrhíkhē—a word that likewise derives from the adjective purrhós. Here is a basic definition of the purrhíkhē as we find it in the ancient lexicographical tradition attributed to Hesychius (under the entry πυρριχίζειν): τήν ἐνόπλιον ὄρχησιν καὶ σύντονον πυρρίχην ἔλεγον ‘the word for energetic dancing in armor was purrhíkhē’. In the work that I am epitomizing, I offered detailed evidence to show that this kind of war dance was a ritual dramatization of biē ‘force, violence’ in warfare. I hold back on repeating the details here, except to add that the noun purrhíkhē is appropriate to the name Púrrhos, not only to the adjective purrhós, since there are myths that derive the name of the war dance from the name of the hero. According to the poetry of Archilochus (F 304W), for example, the word purrhíkhē refers to a war dance because Púrrhos danced such a war dance for joy after he killed the hero Eurypylos in the Trojan War. According to another tradition, mentioned by Lucian (On dance 9) and by other sources, Púrrhos not only “invented” the purrhíkhē: he also captured Troy through the ignition of this war dance, since he started the fire that burned down the city when he leapt out of the Wooden Horse, already dancing his dance and thus igniting the fire.

As we have already seen, the hero Pyrrhos/Neoptolemos is traditionally pictured in the verbal and visual arts of the ancient Greeks as a veritable killing machine—whose fiery temperament in war replicates and thus renews the deadliest wartime moments of his father. And yet, before the Trojan War begins, Pyrrhos can be pictured as a most contemplative young man. He turns into a fiery killing machine only after he arms himself with the armor of Achilles. As we know from the plot summary of the Little Iliad, which is part of the so-called epic Cycle, this armor is handed over to Pyrrhos by Odysseus (p. 107 lines 29–30 ed. Allen 1912). I show here a close-up from a vase painting by Douris, dated at around 490 BCE, which pictures a moment when Pyrrhos the hero reaches out to receive the helmet of his dead father, Achilles. The expression on the hero’s face is still composed and collected as he contemplates the helmet that he holds delicately in his hand. But the profile of the helmet that is facing him seems to have a face of its own, a dead face that is staring back at Pyrrhos, returning the young man’s gaze. The dead face is radiating its own vision of death in war.

Pyrrhos holding the helmet of Achilles as he receives the armor of Achilles from Odysseus. 500–450 BCE, by the painter Douris. Image via Wikimedia Commons.






















subject heading(s): transition

We see here an abrupt transition from the narrative about Pyrrhos, which has just come to an end at 1.13.9.





subject heading(s): epi (+ dative case) ‘in responsiveness to’

The syntax of the preposition epi (+ dative case) is analyzed in my comment at 1.14.6. In the context of 1.14.6, the dative case that goes with the preposition epi there involves the persona of a cult hero, Erikhthonios. In the present context, there is no involvement of a hero, though the dead at Marathon were in the course of time treated as cult heroes. That is why I apply here as well my experimental translation ‘in responsiveness to’.


subject heading(s): Erikhthonios; Erekhtheus; epi (+ dative case) ‘in responsiveness to’

The myth of the hero Erikhthonios, as mentioned here at 1.14.6, was already mentioned at 1.2.5, where Pausanias reported that Erikhthonios was born, so they say, not of anthrōpoi ‘humans’ but from Mother Earth or /Gaia, and that his father was the divine smith Hephaistos. Pausanias keeps Erikhthonios distinct from Erekhtheus, who is described at 1.5.3 as the grandson of Erikhthonios. In Homeric poetry, however, Erikhthonios is not distinct from Erekhtheus, and it is the second of the two names that refers to the hero who was born of Mother Earth. There is a reference to the hero cult of this Erekhtheus in Iliad 2.547, where he is described as a prototypical human: the goddess Earth gave birth to him and the goddess Athena ‘nursed’ him (548 threpse). In this context, Erekhtheus is pictured as a cult hero who is worshipped by the Athenians in a festive setting of seasonally recurring sacrifices. The link between Athena and this cult hero Erekhtheus is reflected also in another Homeric reference, at Odyssey 7.78–81. As I argue in HC 1§138, the figure of this cult hero underwent a mitosis. The one figure with one name becomes two figures with two names. In the evolution of Athenian myths and rituals, the name Erikhthonios displaced the name Erekhtheus in occupying the older role of the prototypical human conceived by the goddess Earth, while the name Erekhtheus was reassigned to the newer role of a dynastic grandson of Erikhthonios. In terms of this pattern of displacement and reassignment, as we see most clearly from the narrative of “Apollodorus” (Library 3.187–189), Erikhthonios now became the name of the prototypical human who was begotten by the god Hephaistos, born of the goddess Earth, and ‘nursed’ by the goddess Athena (3.189 etrephen). Here at 1.14.6, Pausanias says cryptically that he knows a myth about a relationship between Erikhthonios and Athena. One way to describe such a relationship, I suggest, is to say that Erikhthonios is the son that Athena “never” had. And here is how I would explain the scare quotes that envelop my wording “never” in referring to a myth about any relationship between Erikhthonios and Athena. As we see from several sources, including the text of “Apollodorus” as already cited, there was a myth that told how Hephaistos had tried to have sex with Athena, but his semen fell on the ground instead and thus impregnated Earth. The myth is analyzed most perceptively by Douglas Frame (2009:461–462), who shows that earlier versions of such a myth could have pictured Athena herself as a Mother Goddess in her own right, so that she could have been once upon a time not only the wet nurse but also the mother of Erekhtheus as the earthling hero of the Athenians. In terms of such an analysis, Erikhthonios eventually displaced Erekhtheus as the prototypical earthling hero, though the sacred space that housed the myths and rituals concerning Erikhthonios and the goddess Athena Poliás continued to be defined by the name Erekhtheus, as we see from the context of the reference made by Pausanias at 1.26.5 to this space as the Erekhtheion or Erechtheum. There will be more to say about Erikhthonios as a cult hero in the comment on Pausanias 1.24.7, but for now I confine myself to a brief remark about what I think is the relevant syntax of the preposition epi (+ dative case) here in Pausanias 1.14.6. This syntax is linked with contexts of hero cult, where the spirits of dead heroes require some kind of response from the living who worship them. I analyze such contexts in PH 121 = 4§7; also in H24H 8a §10, where I translate epi as ‘in compensation for’. But I now experiment with a new translation, ‘in responsiveness to’, in order to convey the idea that an act or even a thought of compensation by the worshipper is actually required by the spirit of the dead hero who is being worshipped. By being responsive to the requirements of the heroes that they worship, worshippers can take full responsibility for them.


subject heading(s): Aigeus, Procne (Proknē), Philomela (Philomēlā); dēmoi ‘demes’; epichoric myths

On Procne and Philomela, sisters of Aigeus, see the comment on 1.5.4.



subject heading(s): Stoā Poikilē ‘painted portico’; Amazons; Hēraklēs; Ajax; Cassandra; graphē ‘painting’

Pausanias here mentions two separate myths having to do with Amazons. One of the myths has already been mentioned by him at 1.2.1 and will be mentioned again at 1.17.2 and at 1.25.2 and yet again at 1.41.7 (further mentions at 2.31.4, 2.32.9, 5.11.7, 7.2.7): this myth is about the war between the Amazons and the Athenians, when the female warriors attacked Athens in retaliation for the abduction of their queen Antiope by Theseus. The second of the two myths has not been mentioned by Pausanias before now: this myth is about the intervention of the Amazons in the Trojan War, where they fought against the Achaeans—and thus against the Athenians as well. This myth focuses on a mortal combat between Achilles and Penthesileia, queen of the Amazons, and the story of their combat, which led to the death of the queen, was told in the epic Cycle (specifically, in the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, plot-summary by Proclus p. 105 lines 22–26 ed. Allen 1912). I offer a commentary on this story in H24H 3§§4–9, with references to the retellings of this story in the visual art of vase painting.


subject heading(s): Marathon the hero; hērōs ‘hero’; Marathon the place; Athena; Theseus; Hēraklēs; graphē ‘painting’; Ekhetlos

Pausanias says here that the name Marathon applies to a cult hero, that is, to a figure who is worshipped by the local population, and that the locale of Marathon is named after him. We see here that a place-name can be simply a hero’s name. Another example where a place-name is attributed to a cult hero’s name is Kolōnos, named after a cult hero called Kolōnos, as we see in Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 59. Commentary in H24H 18§§2–4.







subject heading(s): graphē ‘painting’; Battle of Athenians and Amazons

I have already noted the passing reference made by Pausanias here at 1.17.2 to the Amazonomachy. And I have also already noted the previous references made by Pausanias, at 1.2.1 and at 1.15.2, to the fighting between the Amazons and the Athenians as led by their prototypical king and primary cult hero, Theseus. Here at 1.17.2, Pausanias is referring to the Amazonomachy as pictured in two different media of the visual arts. One of these media is monumental wall painting, while the other is monumental metalwork. At 1.15.2, Pausanias had said that he saw a monumental wall painting that pictured the Amazonomachy, and that the painting was housed in the Stoā Poikilē. Here at 1.17.2, Pausanias is saying that he saw another such monumental wall painting that pictures the battle—and, in this case, the painting was housed in the sanctuary of Theseus. Then, in practically the same breath, Pausanias now mentions yet another picturing of the battle. But here the medium is not monumental wall painting but monumental metalwork, and, as we know from the wording of Pausanias, the person who created this work of art was none other than the great Athenian artist Pheidias. In this case, the creation of Pheidias was a gigantic Shield of Athena, which was positioned at the side of a gigantic gold-and-ivory statue of a standing Athena Parthenos, likewise a creation of Pheidias, which dominated the interior of the Parthenon. This Shield of Athena will be mentioned one more time by Pausanias, in passing, at 1.24.7.

From other ancient sources, we can learn more about the Shield of Athena, this celebrated masterpiece of metalwork created by Pheidias himself. I have studied one of these sources in HC 4§§213–215, and here I give an epitome of what I said there:

{4§213.} As we see from the description of Pliny the Elder, the convex exterior of the gigantic Shield of Athena, positioned at the side of the gigantic gold-and-ivory statue of Athena herself in the Parthenon, featured a pictorial narrative of the Amazonomachy; as for the concave interior, it featured a pictorial narrative of the Gigantomachy (Gigantomakhiā), that is, the primal conflict between the gods and the giants (gigantes). Here is the wording of Pliny (Natural History 36.18): in scuto eius Amazonum proelium caelavit intumescente ambitu, <in> parmae eiusdem concava parte deorum et Gigantum dimicationes ‘on her [= Athena’s] Shield he [= Pheidias] chased [caelāre] the Battle of the Amazons in the convex part, while he chased in the concave part of the same shield the conflicts of gods and giants’.

{4§214.} The pictorial narratives featured on the two sides of the Shield of Athena were not painted by Pheidias, as had once been thought; rather, the Shield was a masterpiece of metalwork. Here is a useful formulation by an expert (Leipen 1971:49): “the interior as well as the exterior of Athena’s Shield was chased, not painted.” Pliny the Elder, in the statement I quoted just a moment ago (Natural History 36.18), says explicitly that Pheidias ‘chased’, caelavit, the surface of the Shield: that is, he worked it in metal (verb caelāre ‘chase’). Another expert has this to say about the testimony of Pliny (Thompson 1939:297–298): “caelavit means chased and is commonly used for metalwork in relief, certainly not for painting […;] the shield of the great Athena, being of gold, had no reason whatsoever for being painted inside or out.” Following the lead of these expert formulations I conclude that the metalwork of the Shield was in bronze, with a gilded surface.

{4§215.} I propose that there is a mythological symbolism inherent in combining the Amazonomachy on the convex surface of the Shield with the Gigantomachy on the concave surface. The exterior narrative of the Shield, about the Amazonomachy, celebrates the dominance of male over female, which corresponds to the dominance of Athena’s male exterior over her female interior. As for the interior narrative, it celebrates the dominance of the Olympian over the earthbound or “chthonic,” which corresponds to the dominance of Athena’s affinities with the Olympians gods over her affinities with the goddess Earth and the Giants that Earth generated in revolt against the Sky. Besides the mythological text, as it were, of these two narratives, there was also a political subtext: sub-narratives that were worked into the Shield may have evoked indirectly the prestige of Pericles and even of Pheidias himself (Life of Pericles 31.3–4).

Here in my comments on the monumental metalwork of the Shield of Athena as created by Pheidias, I concentrate not on any political subtext but rather on the mythological agenda inherent in the narrative of the Amazonomachy as paired with the narrative of the Gigantomachy. Such agenda, I argue, must be primarily relevant to the identity of the goddess Athena herself as an exteriorization of Athenian men and as an interiorization of Athenian women. Although it is disturbing for us to contemplate the idea of subordinating women to men in the picturing of foreign female warriors being defeated by Athenian male warriors, that idea is relevant, in terms of my argument, to the identity of Athena herself. I have presented such an argument in HC 4§§216–236 (supplemented in MoM Chapter 3), where I connected a scene showing the Presentation of the Peplos or Robe as pictured in Block 5 of the Parthenon Marble Frieze that wraps around the inside of the Parthenon with another scene showing the Birth of Pandora as pictured on a Bronze Frieze, again created by Pheidias, which adorns the base of the gold-and-ivory statue of Athena Parthenos. There is not enough space for me here to analyze the interconnectivity of the visual narratives that were sculpted into the Marble Frieze and metalworked into the Bronze Frieze, but I do need to offer a brief summary of what I argue about the interconnectivity of the visual narratives metalworked into the Shield and sculpted into the marble metopes of the Parthenon. The summary that follows is an epitome of a lengthier argument as presented in HC 4§224:

The marble metopes adorning the exterior of the Parthenon show the Battle of the Gods and Giants on the east side, the battle of the Athenians and Amazons on the west, the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs on the south, and the battle of the Achaeans and Trojans on the north. In this case, the Gigantomachy that is sculpted into the east metopes balances the Amazonomachy sculpted into the west metopes. Similarly, the Gigantomachy that is metalworked into the concave interior of the Shield of Athena balances the Amazonomachy that is metalworked into the convex exterior. So, the contents of the east and the west metopes of the Parthenon’s exterior correspond respectively to the contents of the concave interior and convex exterior of the Shield of Athena.

From this brief summary of my argumentation, I hope I have made it clear that the narrative of the Amazonomachy needs to be treated as a myth that is interconnected with other myths that are relevant to the goddess Athena and to her city of Athens. And we cannot afford to lose sight of the more basic fact that the narrative of the Amazonomachy is a myth. I find it most unhelpful, therefore, to ignore the semantics at work in this myth by trivializing its narrative as if it were some kind of pseudo-modern fiction—or, maybe even worse, some kind of ancient pseudo-history. I am convinced that this myth cannot be analyzed without an anthropological perspective, and, for such an analysis to be successful, we need to compare other myths that are traditionally correlated with the Amazonomachy, such as the myth of the Gigantomachy. This kind of comparison is what I have attempted here, however briefly.

I should add that the correlation of the Battle of Athenians and Amazons with the Battle of the Lapithai and Centaurs in the marble relief sculptures of the metopes adorning the exterior of the Parthenon needs to be compared with a parallel correlation in the monumental wall paintings of the sanctuary of Theseus: as we saw in Pausanias 1.17.2, the Battle of the Athenians and Amazons as depicted in the wall paintings there is correlated with the Battle of the Lapithai and Centaurs: our traveler notes that he saw depicted in the wall paintings there the moment when Theseus, fighting on the side of the Lapithai, had just killed a Centaur.

Such correlations of multiple myths, I suggest, show us how to deal more effectively with whatever strikes us as disturbing in the content of any single myth. And I have something more general to say about things we find in myths that are in fact morally disturbing to us. My overall experience in reading ancient Greek myths has led me to expect that these narratives will accentuate the dysfunctionality of human behavior in the age of myth. In terms of myth, any error in the remote past of myth will need to be compensated by the correctness of ritual behavior as practiced in the post-mythical age of the notional present. The point I have just made has been developed at length in the book H24H, as at 8§§18–21. In the case of the Amazonomachy, a myth about prototypical Athenian men fighting prototypical non-Athenian women, I see a story of human error in the age of myth that needs to be corrected in the post-mythical age by a pattern of human correctness where men and women become united in marriage as overseen by their goddess Athena.

One element that was missing in my earlier study of the Amazonomachy was an exploration of the narrative action that was metalworked by Pheidias into the convex side of his monumental Shield of Athena. In that study, HC Chapters 1 and 4, I explored only the narrative of the action that this artist had metalworked into the concave side of the Shield. That narrative from the concave side, which was the story of the Gigantomachy, has been meticulously reconstructed by art historians, mostly on the basis of one particular vase painting that I analyzed at some length in the chapters I have just cited. Whereas the primary basis for reconstructing the narrative of the Gigantomachy as pictured by Pheidas has been the evidence of attested vase paintings that picture the same basic narrative, the primary basis for reconstructing the narrative of the Amazonomachy as metalworked by the same great artist into the concave side of the Shield has been the evidence of attested sculptures that were evidently meant to replicate the metalworked visualization of Pheidias himself. In the present study, I have started to take a close look at these attested sculptures, especially at the so-called Peiraieus Reliefs dating from the second century CE. In this regard, I am most persuaded by the work of Volker Michael Strocka (1967; also 2005) and by the earlier work of Evelyn B. Harrison (1966) on the Peiraieus Reliefs and on other related sculptural evidence in arguing for a faithful replication of the relevant images as composed by Pheidias himself in the fifth century BCE.

In closing, I focus on two pictures. The first picture is a line drawing that reconstructs the world of images that had been metalworked by Pheidias into the convex surface of Athena’s Shield. The second picture is a close-up color photograph showing the reconstructed Athena-with-Shield as housed in Nashville. Featured there on the surface of the Shield is the narrative of the Battle of Athenians and Amazons in all their metallic glory. I find it most moving, somehow, to see the ivory fingers of the goddess as they make contact with the upper rim of her gigantic metal Shield. Both in the line drawing and in the color photograph, you get a good view of Athena’s white fingers poised over the action of the battle that is ongoing below. And, if you look closely in both pictures, you can see on the lower right corner of Athena’s Shield that striking detail from the Amazonomachy where the beautiful Amazon with the flowing hair, in her stop-motion choreography of death, is forever prevented from leaping forward and reclaiming her freedom from domination by men.

Reconstruction of the Amazonomachy scenes on the exterior of the shield of the Athena Parthenos. Plate 38 of E. B. Harrison, “The Composition of the Amazonomachy on the Shield of Athena Parthenos,” Hesperia 35 (1966), pp. 107–133. Courtesy of the Trustees of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Shield of Athena Parthenos, Nashville Parthenon, Tennessee. Image via.


subject heading(s): graphē ‘painting’; sanctuary of Theseus; ana-sōzein (ana-sōzesthai) ‘bring back to safety’; sphrāgis ‘signet-ring’; stephanos ‘garland’

Theseus re-emerging from his dive into the sea, carrying the ring of Minos and the starred garland of Amphitrite. Drawing after a cast of a neoclassical gem, once in the Poniatowski Collection. Currently in the collection of Prof. Klaus Mueller, Bonn, cataloged and photographed by the Classical Art Research Centre.

In Nagy 2017.06.10 1§§50–51, supplemented by 1§§18–23, I have analyzed the details of the monumental wall painting as described by Pausanias at 1.17.3. I give here an epitome:

{1§50.} As a symbol, the Ring of Minos links the Minoan Empire to the imperial ideology of Athens as represented by Theseus. The mentality of finders keepers applies: Theseus finds the Ring of Minos at the bottom of the sea, where Amphitrite, pictured here as the goddess of the Aegean, freely gives it to him. Here I must add that the Ring of Minos can be seen as a signet ring that seals documents of state written in parchment.

{1§§18–23.} Documents written on parchment and then sealed with a signet ring are a distinctive feature of administrative practices perfected in the era of the Minoan Empire. Accordingly, the signet ring is a visible sign or symbol of empire.

{1§51.} And a visible sign or symbol of the idea that Theseus actually marries the sea is the golden garland that the sea-goddess gives to him when he dives into the depths of the Aegean to retrieve the Ring of Minos.

What follows is an epitome from Nagy 2017.06.10 2§1:

{2§1.} There is another version of the myth about the deep-dive of Theseus to the bottom of the sea: this version is narrated in Song 17 of Bacchylides, where we read further details that are in some ways the same and in some ways different: after Theseus dives into the depths of the sea, the sea-goddess Amphitrite welcomes him, enveloping the hero in a purple robe, line 112, and crowning his head of hair with a garland made of roses, line 116 (ῥόδοις)—a garland that she herself as a bride of Poseidon the sea-god had received as a wedding present from Aphrodite, lines 113–116. When Theseus finally comes back up for air, emerging from the depths of the sea, he is wearing the purple robe and the garland of roses, ready to confront Minos. From here on, it will be Theseus and not Minos who will have dominion over the Aegean Sea, and this dominion is expressed by the symbolism of both the purple robe and the garland of roses.

I should add that Song 17 of Bacchylides is not explicit about the recovery of the signet ring, though there is a clear reference to it at lines 60–62, when the ring is about to be thrown overboard. And, here at line 60, we see a new detail: the ring is golden, just as the garland is golden in the version described by Pausanias at 1.17.3.

On the other hand, Song 17 of Bacchylides is quite explicit in its picturing of dolphins carrying Theseus in the course of his transition to the bottom of the sea, lines 97–101, just as the hero in the modern miniature carving is pictured as being carried on the back of a dolphin.

Another detail in the modern miniature is worth noticing: the garland that is held by the hero is studded with stars.

This garland corresponds to the constellation known as the Garland of Ariadne, and the mythology of this constellation may well date back to the era of Minoan civilization: I offer comments on the background in Nagy 2017.06.10 5§§1–3.


subject heading(s): deein (deesthai) ‘tie down’

The mythological theme of being tied down or bound (as in the wording Prometheus Bound) is expressed by such verbs as deein (deesthai), which conveys the mystical idea of cosmic as well as personal immobilization. Conversely, the mythological theme of being freed from such immobility is to be mystically ‘saved’, as expressed by way of verbs like an-agein ‘bring back [to safety], komizein ‘bring to safety’, sōzein ‘save’. But Pausanias here is downplaying the mysticism associated with such words, since he prefers here to view place-names associated with myths and rituals in such a way as to shade over those myths and rituals.


subject heading(s): ekhein (ekhesthai) ‘hold back’; Menestheus

The use of the verb ekhein (ekhesthai) ‘hold back’ is parallel here to the use of the verb deein (deesthai) ‘tie down’, seen earlier, in conveying the mystical idea of cosmic as well as personal immobilization. Here again, Pausanias is downplaying the mysticism associated with such words, since he prefers to view the place-names associated with the myths and rituals of Thesprotia in such a way as to downplay the mythological aspects. If the names that are linked with local myths and rituals are detached from those myths and rituals, they can then be viewed superficially as devoid of cosmic significance. So, for example, the name Akheron may be linked with the rituals and myths of the Thesprotians, signifying a mystical contact with the world of their dead, but if you take their myths and rituals away, then their Acheron becomes just another river in just another locale. That way, Theseus is now ‘held back’ not in the local equivalent of Hadēs but in Thesprotia.


subject heading(s): Menestheus; komizein (komizesthai) ‘convey, bring back to safety’; ana-komizein (ana-komizesthai) ‘convey, bring back to safety’; ana-sōzein (ana-sōzesthai) ‘bring back to safety’

Although Pausanias has demystified the myth about the immobilization of Theseus in Hadēs, the verbs he uses in referring to the hero’s return from Thesprotia are more appropriate to an escape from Hadēs—followed by a mystical return to light and life.



subject heading(s): Erikhthonios; Kekrops; daughters of Kekrops; Aglauros, Hersē, Pandrosos; kibōtos ‘box’; autokhthōn ‘autochthon, one whose self is linked to the Earth’; autochthony; Battle of Gods and Giants

The mystical vision experienced by the daughters of Kekrops, as narrated here at 1.18.2 by Pausanias, is relevant to the identity of Kekrops himself, their father, whose form is human from the waist up and serpentine from the waist down. To say it in Greek: Kekrops is diphuēs ‘double-natured’ (scholia for Aristophanes Wasps 438): he is half human, half snake. This biformity of Kekrops is shown clearly in some ancient visual representations. In the picture I show here, for example, we see Kekrops in attendance at the moment when Gaia/Gē the Earth Mother hands over to Athena the infant Erikhthonios:

Melian clay relief, about 460 BCE. Gaia offers Erichthonios to Athena. On the right, Kekrops. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The half-human and half-snake identity of Kekrops here is a sign, I argue, of the shock experienced by the daughters of Kekrops in seeing an Earth-born baby that is likewise half-human and half-snake. The girls are looking at the true form of a true autokhthōn, an autochthon. The word means literally ‘one whose self is linked to the Earth’. Here is a ‘self’ who is literally born of the Earth, of the khthōn. But what about the girls themselves? What about their own selves? What about their own humanity? Having a father like Kekrops, should the girls not expect to be biform themselves? Perhaps, then, the realization that the Earth-born baby is biform leads to the girls’ self-realization, that they, too, must be biform. It is I think the suddenness of such a self-realization that drives them mad.

The biformity of an autochthon can also be a kind of bivalence. When we get to Pausanias 1.24.7, we will see that Erikhthonios himself can be visualized not only as half-snake but also as all-snake. Pausanias himself experiences such a visualization at 1.24.7 when he is describing the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Athena Parthenos inside the Parthenon. Pausanias sees there, with his own eyes, the hero Erikhthonios standing next to the goddess, and the hero here is all-snake, seen in his fully serpentine glory. But in other contexts of Athenian myth, as I will note when I get to my comment on Pausanias 1.24.7, Erikhthonios can also be visualized as all-human, not only as all-snake. I should add that, in our own non-Greek way of thinking, our comfort level with the human form of this hero can lead to an accentuation of the human side even at the moment when the primal biformity of the baby Erikhthonios is first discovered. A relevant painting by Rubens captures beautifully an accentuation of the baby’s human side, despite the clear visual markers of his serpentine side:

Finding of Erichthonius (1632/1633). Peter Paul Rubens (Dutch, 1577–1640). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As for the ground-level human condition of being born half-human and half-snake, I think we see at work a normalization of this primal biformity in the myth about the Battle of Gods and Giants, where the gods are seen in their all-human form—though this form is of course far greater in proportion to our everyday human form— while the giants, once they start losing the battle, are visualized in the process of undergoing a metamorphosis: they are changing in form from all-humans to half-snakes and then to all-snakes. I epitomize here from my relevant formulation in HC 1§§131–132:

{1§131.} Once the earth-born giants start to lose their struggle against the sky-born gods of Olympus, their legs begin to turn into serpents. In surviving pictorial representations of the Gigantomachy, some of the struggling giants are shown still having human legs to stand on while others of the giants are already showing serpents where we expect to see legs, and I interpret this variation as a dynamic representation of their devolution—from the status of aspiring sky-dwellers back to the status of the earth-bound denizens they really are.

{1§132.} Once the Olympian gods start winning the battle, the giants find themselves having no leg to stand on. Their resistance collapses. The twin serpents we see extending from their lower bodies may now be allowed to follow the natural instincts of serpents and slip back, head first, into the hollows of the same mother Earth that had generated them in the first place.

















subject heading(s): Theseus; Ariadne; Dionysus

The myth about the abandonment of Ariadne by Theseus while she is asleep is illustrated most strikingly in this vase painting.

Painting on a lekythos attributed to the Pan Painter, dated around 470 BCE.
Painting on a lekythos attributed to the Pan Painter, dated around 470 BCE (Taranto IG 4545). The line drawing, presented in rollout mode, is by Tina Ross.

The themes in this painting are analyzed at length in Nagy 2013, “Virgil’s verse invitus, regina … and its poetic antecedents.” Also relevant is another article: Nagy, G. 2017.06.10, “Diachronic Homer and a Cretan Odyssey.” I epitomize what I have to say about this painting there at 5§§7–10:

{5§7.} This picture captures the moment when Athena appears to Theseus after he has made love with Ariadne. The couple has fallen asleep after the lovemaking, but Athena awakens Theseus, gently gesturing for him to be quiet and not to awaken Ariadne, who is held fast in her sleep by a little figure of Hypnos perched on top of her head. The details have been described this way (Oakley and Sinos 1993:37):

Here we see the couple at the moment of separation. Athena has just wakened Theseus, and as she bends over him he begins to rise, bending one leg and sitting up from the pillow on which he has lain next to Ariadne. Athena tries to quiet him as he stretches out his arm, a gesture of remonstration or inquiry. In the upper left hand corner is a small female figure flying into the night.

{5§8.} I note that the small female figure who is “flying into the night” is disheveled, with her hair flying in the wind and with her clothing in disarray. I interpret this figure as a prefiguring of Ariadne herself at a later moment, the morning after, when she wakes up to find that she has been abandoned by Theseus. I recall here the verse in Catullus 64.63 where the headdress that had held the hair of Ariadne together has now come undone, and she looks like a bacchant, a frenzied devotee of Bacchus, that is, of the god Dionysus. And it is this same Bacchic frenzy, signaled by her disheveled hair, that will now attract Dionysus to her.

{5§9.} In contrast to the morning after, when Ariadne in her Bacchic frenzy will come undone, the picture of Ariadne in the present is eerily peaceful (Nagy 2013b:161–162):

Ariadne faces us directly, an unusual pose that points to her oblivion to what is happening behind her as well as allowing us a clear view of the peaceful contentment registered on her face. Her eyes are closed tight, and she will not awaken as Theseus departs, for the figure of Hypnos, Sleep, sits on her head with legs drawn up as he sleeps.

{5§10.} Continuing to look at the picture painted on the lekythos, I draw attention to another figure. Besides the sleeping Ariadne and the little sleeping Hypnos perched on top of her head, we see also the figure of a wakeful boy reclining on the farther side of the bed, to our left, whose head is positioned directly below the miniature figure of the hovering girl with the disheveled hair. In my interpretation, this boy is Eros, who had instigated a night of intense lovemaking between Ariadne and Theseus.


subject heading(s): Odeum of Pericles; mīmēsis ‘replica’; tent [skēnē] of Xerxes; aitiā ‘cause’

The building next to the Theater of Dionysus, rebuilt after its destruction in first century BCE, is none other than the Odeum of Pericles, a spectacular structure that projected the glories of the Athenian Empire as the cultural heir of the Persian Empire of Xerxes. It was this ideological projection that inspired the builders of this building to give it a shape that re-enacted, as it were, the Great Tent of the King of Kings. I comment at length in HC 4§§115–124, 174–180, especially with reference to Plutarch Pericles 13.6-15. I offer here an epitome of HC4§178:

The idea of the Odeum as a visual imitation of the Skēnē or ‘Tent’ of the Great King of the Persian empire, as described in Plutarch’s Pericles, is a most fitting expression of imperial prestige. The Odeum, as the ‘Scene’ for the monumental Panathenaic performances of Homer in the age of Pheidias, was monumental in its own right. On the inside, its “forest of columns” matched the spectacular effect achieved at the Telestērion or Great Hall of Initiation at Eleusis. In fact, the Odeum was even more spacious than the Great Hall, and the enormous seating capacity of such a monumental building made it a most fitting venue for spectacular events of state, including juridical and political assemblies.


subject heading(s): Mount Sipylos; Magnesia-at-Sipylos

Pausanias is reminded here in passing of his homeland, Magnesia in Asia Minor, and of the mountain looming over the land. See the comment at Pausanias 1.1.1, §5, about Magnesia-at-Sipylos. This Mount Sipylos, as the dominant marker of his homeland, stays on his mind as he proceeds to reminisce, a few moments later, about the Weeping Rock of Niobe at 1.21.3.






subject heading(s): Niobe; Mount Sipylos; pentheîn ‘lament’; katēphēs ‘with sunken eyes’

The picturing of Niobe as a rock exuding the tears of a fresh-water mountain stream is attested in the Homeric Iliad 24.614–617:

νῦν δέ που ἐν πέτρῃσιν ἐν οὔρεσιν οἰοπόλοισιν

ἐν Σιπύλῳ, ὅθι φασὶ θεάων ἔμμεναι εὐνὰς

νυμφάων, αἵ τ’ ἀμφ’ Ἀχελώϊον ἐρρώσαντο,

ἔνθα λίθος περ ἐοῦσα θεῶν ἐκ κήδεα πέσσει.

And now, somewhere amidst the rocks, on the desolate heights,

in Sipylos, where they say goddesses have places to sleep,

the goddess nymphs, the ones who dance on the banks of the Akhelōios,

there does she [= Niobe], though she has been turned into stone, digest her sorrows inflicted by the gods.

I offer some detailed comments on this passage in HC 1§34. Relevant is the use of the word tēkesthai ‘dissolve’ in Sophocles’ Antigone (828) picturing a weeping Niobe in a state of petrifaction. This word, as I analyze it in HC 2§§254–255 and 2§§346–348, comparing parallel wording elsewhere in Greek poetry, conjures the image of a cold mountain stream that flows without interruption from the heights where Niobe turned into stone; her tears are the uninterrupted source of that eternal stream.

Here is an epitome from my interpretation of other passages referring to the ‘dissolving’ of Niobe in Greek poetry (HC 1§34):

The sorrows of Niobe are so overwhelming that she continues to weep eternally even after the gods turn her into stone. A petrified figure should be drained of emotion, as we read in the framing narrative of Iliad 24.601–620: when the population in the land of Niobe is petrified, there can be no weeping, no mourning, and therefore no funeral, so that the gods themselves must conduct a funeral and bury the children of Niobe. But Niobe, even after she is petrified, is like a human figure in that she continues to dissolve into tears. So overwhelming are her sorrows. Unlike the dissolving of a human in mourning, however, this petrified figure takes forever to dissolve because the tears that pour out of her sunken eyes flow out of an inexhaustible source of sorrows.






























I now offer this comment on Pausanias 1.24.7, drawing from an analysis of this same passage in HC 1§140:

The wording of Pausanias here makes it clear that he is well aware of the highly charged mysticism of what he is saying when he says that the serpent who attends Athena Parthenos is none other than the autochthonous hero of Athens, Erikhthonios. The potential optative, which I translate as ‘would be’, marks the speaker’s self-awareness at a sacral moment of contemplation. He is touching on a matter of the greatest importance for the ideological self-definition of Athenian citizens as autochthonous supermen who model themselves on the cult hero Erikhthonios as the prototypical autochthon.

I offer further comment, with reference to my earlier comments on Pausanias 1.2.6, 1.14.6, and 1.18.2:

At 1.2.6 we saw the first reference made by Pausanias to the myth about the birth of Erikhthonios from Mother Earth. Then at 1.14.6 we saw a second reference to this myth, and I noted that Pausanias already there points to a mystical understanding of the hero’s birth. He says cryptically that the myth about this birth is saying something mystical about the relationship between Erikhthonios and Athena. One way to describe such a relationship, I suggested in my comment on Pausanias 1.14.6, is to say that Erikhthonios is the son that Athena “never” had. And then, we saw more, much more, in the third reference to the birth of Erikhthonios at Pausanias 1.18.2, where it was revealed for the first time that the nature of this prototypical hero of the Athenians was serpentine as well as human. As I noted in my comment on Pausanias 1.18.2, the biformity of Erikhthonios the autochthon as half-snake and half-human can also be a kind of bivalence. And now, here at Pausanias 1.24.7, we see that Erikhthonios himself can be visualized not only as half-snake but also as all-snake. As I predicted already in my comment on 1.18.2, Pausanias himself experiences such a visualization here at 1.24.7 where he gazes at the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Athena Parthenos inside the Parthenon. Pausanias sees here, with his own eyes, the hero Erikhthonios standing next to the goddess, and the hero here is all-snake, seen in his fully serpentine glory.




















subject heading(s): arrhēphoroi (Arrhephoroi); aetiology; drân ‘do, ritually-perform’; pherein ‘carry’; agein ‘lead’

Pausanias at 1.27.3 is engaged in correlating a ritual with a myth, thus pointing to a traditional aetiology. Unlike other interpreters of this passage, who are legion (there is a most helpful survey in Calame 2001:131–133), I argue that Pausanias here goes out of his way not only to say some things but also to leave other things unsaid. The leaving-out is just as intentional as the leaving-in. And I argue further that such leaving-out of some things is just as traditional as the leaving-in of other things. This further argument, which I present here only its barest outlines, is based on research I have done elsewhere, especially in an article on traditional wording in other Greek texts referring to other rituals, Nagy 2017, where I study the wording of the Linear B tablet Tn 316 from Pylos. In that article, I argue that the Greek word pherein ‘carry’, with reference to the carrying of ritual objects, is programmatically linked to the Greek word agein ‘lead’, with reference to leading or at least directing the carriers who carry such objects toward their proper ritual destination. The programmatic linking of such words, as I show in that article by analyzing not only Greek but also other Indo-European ritual texts, tends to be strictly controlled by ritual protocols concerning what can and cannot be spoken. In Pausanias 1.27.3, I now argue, we see a comparable linking of the words pherein ‘carry’ and agein ‘lead’. Even the element –phoros ‘carrying’ of the word arrhēphóros (I leave for another occasion my interpretation of the element arrhē-) shows the workings of a traditional interaction between pherein as a ‘carrying’ of a ritual object and agein as the ‘leading’ of the carriers by those who give the directions. In the case of the ritual described by Pausanias at 1.27.3, I note with special interest this detail: even the priestess of Athena who directs the Arrhephoroi to carry what they carry is unaware of the contents being carried—from the standpoint of ritual re-enactment. This ritualized unawareness corresponds to the mythologized unawareness of the daughters of Kekrops concerning the contents of the kibōtos ‘box’ entrusted to them by the goddess Athena. In the myth of the Kekropides as retold by Pausanias at 1.18.2 and as analyzed in Classical Inquiries 2018.01.25, the girl Pandrosos refrains from opening the box that contains what is not to be seen, not to be talked about, and so she remains unaware. By contrast, the girl Aglauros, together with her sister Hersē, opens the box out of curiosity and then, becoming aware by way of seeing what she sees, she plunges to her death from the top of the Acropolis. It has been argued that the sister Hersē is a later addition to an earlier mythological pair consisting of Pandrosos and Aglauros (Frame 2009:470–474). Perhaps, then, a new mythological pairing of Hersē and Aglauros may now be seen as matching the ritual pair of Arrhephoroi who descend from the top of the Acropolis to “ground zero”. In any case, the orderly ritual descent of the two Arrhephoroi matches the catastrophic mythological plunge experienced by two daughters of Kekrops. And, in the process of their descent, the Arrhephoroi pass through a natural underground kathodos ‘downward-pathway’ that corresponds to a Mycenaean passage from the Acropolis all the way down to a spring located at this same “ground zero” (details surveyed by Pirenne-Delforge 1994:50–59; following mostly Burkert 1966).







The tension here between Minos and Poseidon has to do with genealogy: Minos is son of Zeus, while his rival Theseus is son of Poseidon.




The visibility of the spear tip of Athena Promakhos, as noted here by Pausanias, is relevant to Pausanias 1.1.1, as argued at §1.7 of the comments there.


The ‘Pelasgian’ Wall as noted by Pausanias here corresponds to what archaeologists today call the ‘Cyclopean’ Wall, traces of which were visible even in the Classical period and beyond.




Pausanias does not specifically mention the cave of the Eumenides/Erinyes. Still, the reference here to these deities as hupo-gaioi ‘under-earth’ conveys the idea that they dwell in caves. For references elsewhere in Greek texts, I recommend Henrichs 1994:39. See also H24H 17§§1–3.


Pausanias is referring here to Iliad 23.677–679.



A variation on the theme of Athena: The Palladium, as viewed by Pausanias on the Acropolis of Athens

§1.0. This excursus is a commentary on a passage in Pausanias, 1.28.9, where our traveler, while visiting the Acropolis of Athens, refers to a statue of the goddess Athena there. He is referring in this case not to Athena Parthénos, that is, to Athena the ‘Virgin’, who was housed in the Parthenon. Nor is he referring here to Athena Poliás, that is, to Athena as the Lady of the Citadel, who was housed in the old temple of the goddess. Rather, the referent here is an ancient wooden statue known as the Palládion, conventionally latinized as Palladium. There were many divergent myths about the Palladium, but there was general agreement on at least one convergent detail: originally, myth has it, the Palladium was housed in the temple of Athena, situated on top of the acropolis of ancient Troy. In the lead illustration for my comments, I show a picturing of a familiar scene involving what I think is this very same Palladium. In this picture—and I could show many other such pictures, some of which are considerably more ancient than the one I have chosen—we see the lesser Ajax, son of Oileus, in the act of violating Cassandra after the capture of Troy by the Achaeans. Seizing her by the arm, he is about to drag her away from a statue of Athena to which she is clinging as a suppliant. The goddess, fully armed, with spear in the right hand and with shield in the left hand, is just standing there, statue that she is. Now, it goes without saying here that the goddess will have her vengeance, since she will ultimately punish the sacrilegious violator. But that is another story. My concern here is different: the question for now is, how did the Palladium find its way from the citadel of Troy to the citadel of Athens? And the answer has to do with the power of the Palladium in the scene that we see pictured in the illustration that we are considering. The Palladium is so much more than a static statue—if I am right in thinking that the statue that we see in this and other such pictures is in fact the Palladium. I have to say “if” for now, since I cannot simply assume that this statue, as represented in such pictures, can actually be identified with the Palladium. As I will argue, however, such an identification becomes most likely when we consider an Athenian myth, as reported by Pausanias, 1.28.9, about the appropriation of the Palladium by the Athenians.

§1.1. Before we can examine the Athenian myth, I need to say more about the Trojan myth of the Palladium. In a source dated to the second century CE, the Library of “Apollodorus” (3.12.3 p. 39 ed. Frazer 1921 II), we read that the Palladium was a wooden statue that fell from the sky, sent by Zeus (it was diīpetés ‘sky-fallen’), and it landed on earth at Ilion or Troy, where it was received by Ilos, founder of Troy; this Palladium had been celestially hand-crafted as a xoanon ‘wooden statue’ by the goddess Athena herself in expiation for her involuntary killing of her mortal body double, the girl Pallas (3.12.3 p. 41).

§1.2. Similarly, as we read in Pausanias, 1.26.6, there was an Athenian myth about a statue of Athena Poliás that descended from the heavens and landed on the acropolis of Athens. In this myth as well, the statue was made of wood—olive wood, as we read for example in the Library of “Apollodorus” (3.14.6 p. 93 ed. Frazer 1921 II; further sources surveyed by Frame 2009:348n13).

§1.3. But there is also a significant dissimilarity between the two statues: whereas the Palladium, in terms of my argument, was standing, the statue of Athena Poliás was seated (the relevant evidence has been assembled by Frame 2009:360–361, with bibliography). We find a striking point of comparison reported by Pausanias himself in another context: at 7.5.9, he speaks of another Athena Poliás, whose temple graced the citadel of Erythrai in Ionia, and, in this case, Pausanias says explicitly that this Athena Poliás was in a seated position.

§1.4. Also, in the Homeric Iliad, 6.92/273/303, the statue of Athena as worshipped at the acropolis of Troy is pictured as seated, not standing (that is why the offering of woven treasures can be placed on her knees). In Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2009|2010:207–209), I trace this detail back to phases in the transmission of Homeric poetry where the statue of the goddess was pictured in terms of a tradition that contradicted an alternative tradition as exemplified by the statue of Athena housed in the citadel of New Ilion, built on the ruins of Old Troy: as we know from Strabo (13.1.41 C601), the statue of the goddess in the citadel of New Ilion was not seated but standing, and the same pose is reported about her statues in citadels elsewhere, as in Phocaea and Chios (Nagy 2009|2010:207–208).

§1.5. As I show in Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2009|2010:270), the contrast between seated and standing statues of Athena can become politicized: a case in point is the choice of a seated Athena in Homeric poetry, which favors the city of Sigeion in its “Ionic” phase of existence and disfavors the city of New Ilion in its “neo-Aeolic” phase. The two cities were rival claimants to the status of being the “real” Troy, and their rivalry was expressed by way of a contrast between a seated statue of Athena in her temple at Sigeion and the standing statue in her temple at New Ilion. I should add that the non-Homeric standing statue of Athena at New Ilion was linked with rituals involving the so-called Locrian Maidens, who performed seasonally recurring expiation for the primordial sacrilege committed against this statue of the goddess by the lesser Ajax, native son of Locris (details about the Locrian Maidens in Nagy 2019).

§1.6. That said, I can resume my argument, that the non-Homeric standing statue of Athena in the citadel of Troy was the Palladium. As I indicated from the start, the traditions about the Palladium in Athens will prove to be decisive for the argumentation that follows. I start right away here with an essential fact about the visual experience of actually viewing the Palladium: as noted by Guy Hedreen (2001:28), Athenian iconographic traditions picture the goddesss of the Palladium as a look-alike of another statue. And that other statue is Athena Promakhos, the Warrior Goddess of the Athenians. She is standing in guard, forever protecting the acropolis of Athens, brandishing a spear in her right hand and a shield in her left hand.

§1.7. This Athena Promakhos made quite an impression on Pausanias, as I will now try to show. Picturing our traveler as he ascends to the heights of the Acropolis, I ask myself: what would be the very first thing he sees after he reaches the top? To prepare an answer, I am conjuring in my mind some happy memories of conversations I have had with my friend Gloria Ferrari Pinney about this question. The answer I am about to formulate owes much to my dear friend’s deeper insights. I start by imagining the moments that elapse right before that final moment when you get to the top of the Acropolis—if you were living in a time long gone, when Pausanias was making his own ascent. Before you finally get to the top, you pass through the Propylaia, that extravagantly palatial gateway that leads out into the open space of the sacred ground defined by Athena, goddess of Athens. So, what do you see when you emerge into that open space? Well, one thing you cannot see very well, not yet, is the Parthenon. There is a wall occluding a good view of the Parthenon up ahead. That palatial abode of Athena Parthenos, Athena the Virgin, which is so ostentatiously visible to all from down below, from almost any angle in metropolitan Athens down below at ground zero, would be temporarily blocked from your view up above, now that you have reached the heights of the Acropolis. This occlusion, which will last until you get past the wall, can help you focus on something else for now, something that is standing right in front of you, with the wall as its background. To my way of thinking, the very first sight to be seen by Pausanias at the top of the Acropolis would be Athena Promakhos. Our traveler looks up and sees this colossal bronze statue of the goddess, around thirty feet tall and armed as a mighty warrior. The epithet of the goddess, Promakhos, can be interpreted as ‘leading the battle’: Athena leads the battle in protecting her Acropolis. She is ever ready to fight in defense of her citadel overlooking her city, with a spear in her right hand and a shield in her left. While Pausanias is looking up at her, she is looking downward, down toward her approaching adorants. I show here a reconstruction of such a visual moment:

Reconstruction of Athena Promachos at the Acropolis of Athens.
Reconstruction of Athena Promachos at the Acropolis of Athens. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

§1.8. Just as the sight of Athena Promakhos, protector of the Acropolis, can preoccupy the vision of Pausanias when he enters the Acropolis—now he only has eyes for the goddess—this same sight had preoccupied him retroactively, back when he rounded the headland of Sounion: already back then, he only had eyes for Athena—in that case, for Athena Souniás, the goddess who protects the headland just as Athena Promakhos protects the citadel. The visibility of the spear tip of Athena Promakhos, as highlighted by Pausanias when he was rounding the headland of Sounion, has already been noted at §1.7 of the commentary on Pausanias 1.1.1. Elsewhere too, as we read further in Pausanias, we find situations where Athena is worshipped as a protector presiding over headlands jutting out into the sea: at 2.34.8–9, for example, where he is describing headlands and nearby harbors while sailing along the coastline of the Peloponnesus, Pausanias draws attention to a hieron ‘sanctuary’ of Athena, and the epithet of the goddess, presiding over the landscape and seascape, is in this case reported to be Promakhormā ‘protector of anchorage’.

§1.9. With this background in place, I am ready to comment on Pausanias 1.28.9, where our traveler refers to a statue of Athena that is actually named the Palladion or Palladium, housed in a building that is likewise called the Palladium, situated on the Acropolis of Athens. In introducing my commentary, I start with an epitome of my relevant analysis in Homer the Classic (Nagy 2008|2009 I §§93–98):

{1§93} According to the local mythology of the city of Argos, as implied by the narrative of Pausanias 2.23.5, it was the hero Diomedes who captured the Palladium from the acropolis of Troy and ultimately brought the sacred object to the city of Argos as its final resting place. But Pausanias rejects the Argive version of the narrative. He has good reason for this rejection, since the Roman version of the narrative was dominant in his time. More later on the Roman version. For now, it is enough to note that Pausanias was faced with many variations in narratives about how, when, and why Diomedes took the Palladium from the acropolis of Troy, and many of the variant stories involve Odysseus as a partner of Diomedes in the quest to take it. [I summarize those variants at 1§§93–96.]

{1§94} According to the local mythology of the city of Athens, which rivaled the local mythology of the city of Argos, the final resting place of the Palladium was not Argos but Athens. Here is a summary of this Athenian mythology as reported by a variety of sources, including the narrative of Pausanias 1.28.8–9:

Diomedes, sailing home from Troy with the Palladium in his possession, happened to stop over at the Athenian seaport of Phaleron. Mistaken for an enemy, Diomedes was attacked by the Athenians, led by a hero called Demophon. The Palladium was taken by mistake from Diomedes, and thus it found its final resting place in Athens. It was housed in the ancient building used for trials involving involuntary homicide; by metonymy, the building itself was called Palladium. [Frazer 1929 IV 263 collects the sources, including Pausanias 1.28.8–9, Polyaenus 1.5, Harpocration (s.v. ἐπὶ Παλλαδίῳ), and the Suda (s.v. ἐπὶ Παλλαδίῳ).]

I should add here that the ritualized linking of the Palladium with cases of involuntary homicide can be matched with a myth, which I have already cited from the Library of “Apollodorus”  (3.12.3 p. 41 ed. Frazer 1921 II), about the celestial crafting of the wooden statue of the Palladium—hand-crafted by the goddess Athena herself in expiation for her involuntary killing of her mortal body double, the girl Pallas.

{1§95}  [What follows here is a comment on an argument that started in 1§89: that the Palladium is not absent but very much present in Homeric poetry—as an absent signifier—and that Virgil was aware of such an absent signification, weaving it into his Aeneid.] In Virgil’s time, the canonical final resting place of the Palladium was the circular temple or aedes of Vesta in Rome: Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 1.69, 2.66.5; Plutarch Camillus 20; Pausanias 2.23.5. The question is, who brought the Palladium to Rome after the capture of Troy? A contemporary of Virgil, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, says it explicitly: according to Dionysius, Aeneas was the one who rushed up to the acropolis of Troy and snatched the Palladium from the fires of destruction at the very last moment, as the city was going up in flames; then he brought the Palladium with him to Italy, along with other sacred objects he rescued from the acropolis of Troy (Roman Antiquities 1.69.2).

{1§96} Such a version of the myth is perfectly suited to the ideology of the Roman empire in the age of Augustus. It links Augustus with the heroes of Troy, since his adoptive father Julius Caesar was a notional descendant of Aeneas by way of Ascanius, otherwise named Iulus, the son of Aeneas. Our source is Strabo (13.1.27 C594–595). [I go on to argue at 1§§97–98 that the actual rescuing of the Palladium by Aeneas is a theme that predates—and is thus originally independent of—any such Roman appropriation.]

§1.10. I regret that Pausanias rejected the myth of the Palladium as narrated by the people of Argos. But I see relevance in a detail mentioned elsewhere by Pausanias, 2.24.2, where he reports on an epithet given to Athena by her worshippers at a temple situated in the heights of Argos: she is invoked there by way of the epithet Oxuderkḗs, ‘she with the sharp vision’, because—as the story has it—she helped Diomedes see through the mist. To my way of thinking, her epithet indicates also her role as seeing far and wide from her vantage point as Mistress of the Heights. [[GN 2020.06.19]]




On this ship, I epitomize from MoM 2§115 (where I give further references):

On the occasion of the spectacular quadrennial parade known as the Panathenaic Procession, the peplos or ‘robe’ of Athena was displayed as an archetypal Sail rigged to the mast of a float that re-enacted the archetypal Athenian Ship of State; this float was rolled on wheels along the Sacred Way, from the Kerameikos through the Agora, all the way to a sacred space known as the Eleusinion (scholia for Aristophanes Knights 566).




















I see here a most revealing set of details that point to a Mycenaean role of Athena. We have just learned that the epithet Hippiā is applied to the goddess by the natives of Colonus, just as they apply the epithet Hippios to the god Poseidon. This epithet, which I translate in both cases as ‘controller-of-horses’, is I think referring primarily to the skill of charioteering. At a later point in his write-up, at 8.46.1, 4–5, Pausanias is commenting on a statue of Athena that had been safeguarded by the people of Tegea in Arcadia—until they were robbed of their prized possession by their Roman conquerors; they then replaced that statue of Athena that was lost to Rome by taking another statue of Athena from another site that was sacred to her—in this case, from a neighboring Arcadian dēmos or ‘district’ by the name of Manthouria, as we read further in Pausanias 8.47.1. We learn there that the goddess represented by this statue was called Hippiā by the local Arcadian population that worshipped her, and that she was addressed this way, as ‘controller of the horses’. Pausanias then proceeds to give the reason for worshipping Athena as Hippiā. In the mythology of these Arcadians, he reports, Athena went to war as a charioteer in their local version of a widespread myth traditionally known as the Battle of the Gods and Giants. With these details in mind, I now turn to relevant evidence in Mycenaean Greek as written in the Linear B texts found at Knossos and at Pylos. In these texts, as we are about to see, the comparable forms Athānā and hikkʷeiā are attested in contexts that correspond to the contexts of Athēnē and Hippiā as reported by Pausanias. In analyzing these texts and contexts, I mostly agree with the relevant argumentation presented in a paper jointly authored by Joann Gulizia, Kevin Pluta, and Thomas Palaima (2001). The authors, hereafter abbreviated GPP, concentrate on two texts: the tablet V 52 from Knossos, which they date around 1400 BCE, and the tablet An 1281 from Pylos, unambiguously dated around 1200 BCE.

We start with the Linear B tablet V 52 from Knossos. The specific context of this text, according to GPP, can be traced back—with some certainty—to the Room of the Chariot Tablets or RCT, as it is known to archaeologists. This context, as we will see, is relevant to a detail mentioned by Pausanias at 1.30.4: according to our traveler, as I have already noted, the goddess Athena is worshipped as Hippiā or ‘charioteer’ at Colonus. But what about the goddess in the text of tablet V 52, situated in the context of the Room of the Chariot Tablets? She is mentioned prominently, in the first line of V 52, where we read a-ta-na-po-ti-ni-ja. The second element, -po-ti-ni-ja, spells potniāi, dative case of potnia, corresponding to classical Greek potnia (πότνια), meaning ‘mistress, lady’. As for the first element, a-ta-na-, it can be interpreted as spelling either Athānāi or Athānās—so, either the dative or the genitive case of the name Athānā, corresponding to the classical Greek name Athēnē. A big question remains, though: is this Mycenaean name Athānā (1) the personal name of the goddess Athena or (2) a place-name, referring to the citadel of Athens, a primary residence of the goddess? In the paper of GPP, a persuasive argument is made for the second of these two alternative explanations. Crucial for their argumentation is a fact that I have highlighted in my own work: the fact is, as I showed at §§4–9 in Nagy 2015.09.10 with reference to Odyssey 7.78 and with bibliography referring to earlier phases of my relevant work, the singular form Athēnē can refer in Homeric Greek to the citadel of the goddess Athena in what later became, already well before the classical era, the city of Athens. Accordingly, if we follow the interpretation preferred by GPP, the wording of the first line in the tablet V 52 can be interpreted this way: ‘to the Lady [potnia] of Athens’, where a-ta-na- spells Athānās, in the genitive case, while po-ti-ni-ja spells potniāi, in the dative. Alternatively, if we were to read a-ta-na- as Athānāi, in the dative case, then we could interpret the wording this way: ‘to the Lady Athena’. Either way, in any case, the referent would be the goddess Athena, in a Mycenaean phase of her evolution.

But more can be said about such a Mycenaean Athena as a charioteer, to be matched with the role of the “classical” Athena at Colonus as Hippiā. Here we turn to the Linear B tablet An 1281 from Pylos, dated around 1200 BCE. We read in this text the noun po-ti-ni-ja, spelling potniāi, in the dative case, and meaning ‘to the Lady [potnia]’. Although the name of the goddess who receives the offering is not indicated, the identity of the divine referent here is most likely to be the goddess Athena. As we see from the analysis of GPP (p. 456), the noun po-ti-ni-ja that we see in the text of this tablet is described by way of the epithet i-qe-ja, which can be interpreted as hikkʷeiā, in the dative case—so, adjective hikkʷeiāi describing and agreeing with the noun potniāi. As observed by GPP (again, p. 456), this Mycenaean Greek epithet hikkʷeiā would be the equivalent of hippeiā in classical Greek. Thus the combination of po-ti-ni-ja and i-qe-ja in the text of this tablet can be interpreted to mean this: ‘to the Lady [potnia], controller-of-horses [hikkʷeiā]’—or, to word it more specifically, ‘to the Lady, Charioteer’.







































































































Scroll II. Corinth

































































































































































































































































I take it that Pausanias here is guardedly indicating that he saw the tomb of Hippolytus himself, situated next to the tomb of Phaedra. Our traveler is guarded because, as he said earlier at 2.32.1 about the hero cult of Hippolytus, the people of Troizen ‘do not show [apophainein] his tomb [taphos], though they know where it is’. In the wording of Pausanias, oikiā ‘house’ can refer to the ‘abode’ of a cult hero, that is, to his tomb. And he ostentatiously uses this word here at 2.32.4. A telling parallel is the wording at Pausanias 2.23.2, where he refers to the tomb of the cult hero Adrastos as an oikiā while he calls the nearby tomb of Amphiaraos simply a hieron ‘sanctuary’—and while, even more simply, he refers to the nearby tomb of Eriphyle, wife of Amphiaraos, as a mnēma, the literal meaning of which is ‘memorial marker’. This same word mnēma is used by Pausanias here at 2.32.4 with reference to the tomb of Hippolytus. Other examples where oikiā refers to tombs of cult heroes include 2.36.8, 5.14.7, 5.20.6, 9.11.1. 9.12.3. 9.16.5. 9.16.7.
























































Scroll III. Laconia


















































































































































































































































































Scroll IV. Messenia




































































































































































































































































































































Scroll V. Elis, Part 1







































































































































































































































































Scroll VI. Elis, Part 2











































































































































































































































































Scroll VII. Achaea















































































































































































The epithet of Artemis here, Laphria, is noted by Pausanias already at 4.31.7. This epithet of the goddess is distinct from the epithet Triklaria, which is applied to her at a later point of the narrative, starting at 7.19.1. As I will argue, the overall role of the goddess in Patras supersedes the inherited roles that are built into her two epithets.


The epithet Laphria, as noted here, originates from Calydon. This point of origin is noted by Pausanias already at 4.31.7.


The skhēma ‘pose’ of the statue corresponds to the role of the goddess as thēreuousa ‘huntress of wild beasts’.


Already here, Pausanias is drawing attention to the unusual nature of the sacrifice that we is about to witness. It is as if he were already distancing himself from the extreme cruelty that awaits his viewing.


The procession that leads up to the sacrifice features most prominently a priestess of Artemis. I argue that this contemporary priestess, as she figures in the ritual connected with Artems Laphria, matches the archetypal priestess who figures in the myth connected with Artemis Triklaria, which will be narrated later, starting at 7.19.1. In terms of such a match, I argue further that the overall role of the goddess supersedes her special roles as indicated by the epithets Laphria and Triklaria.


The extreme cruelty of this spectacle at Patras, where sacrificial animals are forcibly burned alive, seems to shock Pausanias. I ask myself whether he may have had in mind here the kind of cruelty that was ordinarily linked with spectacles organized for the entertainment of romanized populations. I have in mind here the kinds of spectacles that focused on the killing of wild beasts. It may be relevant that Pausanias at 7.18.7 observes that the population of Patras had been in fact thoroughly romanized by the Emperor Augustus, and this observation immediately precedes the narrative that I am analyzing here, which starts at 7.18.8.


The hero-shrine of Eurypylos, the location of which is linked by Pausanias here with the altar of Artemis Laphria, is thus thereby linked also with the rituals centering on the goddess in her role as indicated by the epithet Laphria. But now, from here on, this cult hero Eurypylos will be a bridge between Artemis in her role as Laphria and Artemis in her role as Triklaria. That is because this hero, as we will see in the narrative that follows at a later point, at 7.19.6, introduces for the people of Patras the worship of Dionysus, and this practice of worshipping that god, as we will also see later, will frame the myths and the rituals centering on Artemis in her role as indicated by the epithet Triklaria. What Artemis Laphria and Artemis Triklaria seem to have in common is the priestess of the goddess. Previously, at 7.18.12, we have seen the priestess in her role as a center of attention in ritual, that is, in the procession that leads to the sacrifice for Artemis Laphria. But now, from here on, we will see the priestess in her role as a center of attention in myth, that is, in the love story of a girl named Komaitho.


Here commences the love story about Komaitho the young priestess of Artemis and his young seducer Melanippos. The reaction of the disapproving parents of the young couple is evocative here of comparable situations found in love stories as retold in the work of Parthenius—and, more generally, in erotic novels.


On illicit sexual activity inside the sanctuary of Artemis, I cross-refer to my commentary in the post for 2018.07.13.


On the yearly human sacrifice to Artemis in myth, which I argue functions as an aetiology for the yearly animal sacrifice in ritual, I refer to my commentary in the post for 2018.07.13. As for the etymology, already noted, of Komaithō as ‘whose head-of-hair is flaming-red’, I draw attention to further discussion by Lightfoot 1999:179: she focuses there on another mythological figure who is likewise named Komaitho.


Here is where the role of Pausanias as an occasional novelist becomes most overt. He is now ostentatiously claiming that the original human sacrifice of Komaitho and Melanippos was not a total misfortune for them, unlike the yearly human sacrifices of couples who experienced the same form of death—because at least the original couple were passionately in love with each other, whereas the couples who were put to death year after year thereafter were not paired as lovers. To have the good fortune of experiencing passionate love is worth all the suffering, as Pausanias concludes before he leaves behind his temporary role as the all-understanding narrator.


Comment on 7.19.6-7.20.2

Picking up from where Pausanias left off at 7.19.1, which is where he had first signaled the story of the cult hero Eurypylos and how this hero had introduced in Patras the worship of Dionysus, our traveler now proceeds at 7.19.6 to tell that story, the content of which provides a Dionysiac outer frame for the previous telling of an inner story—how, once upon a time, the priestess Komaitho was seduced by her lover Melanippos. Similarly in the case of the so-called Cologne Epode as analyzed in the post for 2018.07.06, I have posited a Dionysiac outer frame for the telling of another inner story—how, once upon a time, the daughters of Lykambes were seduced, or so it was claimed, by Archilochus.






The details given here about the procession of paides, here referring to both boys and girls, are most telling. The collocation of the verb pherein in the sense of ‘carry [a sacred object] in procession’ with the verb agein in the sense of ‘lead [someone] in procession’ is comparable to other contexts where Pausanias is describing a procession, as at 1.27.3. I comment on that related text of Pausanias in the posting for 2018.04.05. As for the text here at 7.20.1, the ritual of a procession where the priest of Dionysus ‘carries’ a sacred object, indicated by the verb pherein, is a re-enactment of the myth of human sacrifice to Artemis, which would have featured a primal procession where the people ‘lead’, as expressed by the verb agein, a boy and a girl who are destined to become the annual sacrifical victims. The set of boys and girls who participate in re-enacting the myth in the yearly ritual are likewise being ‘led’ in procession. We see here a merger in identifying Artemis Laphria/Triklaria as the recipient of sacrifice. At 7.18.11, the recipient was called Laphria, but here at 7.20.1 the recipient is called Triklaria.


Now the narrative of Pausanias loops back to Artemis in her role as Laphria, as first mentioned at 7.18.8. His reference here at 7.20.2 to the peribolos ‘enclosure’ of Artemis Laphria shows that the myths and rituals linked with Artemis Triklaria have been contained all along, ever since 7.18.8, by the overall enclosure of Artemis Laphria. The role of Artemis Triklaria is I think older than the role of Artemis Laphria. The epithet Triklāriā refers to an old tripartion, before the unification of Patras, and this tripartition represented the communities of Mesatis, Antheia, and Aroe—as we read at 7.18.2–7.18.4. The Dionysiac framework for these communities is symbolized by the assignment of the following three epithets to the god Dionysus: Mesateus, Antheus, and Aroeus—as we read at 7.21.6 (Brelich 1969:368).
































































































Scroll VIII. Arcadia




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Scroll IX. Boeotia




































































































































































































































































































































Scroll X. Phokis, Ozolian Lokris













































































































































































































































































































































































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