Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece


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Fried's study concerns a document known as the Constitutum Constantini , supposedly originating with the Roman emperor Constantine but in fact forged in the medieval period. By the eleventh century the idea had arisen that through this document Constantine had given Pope Sylvester I and his successors not only primacy over other ecclesiastical officials but also supreme political authority in the western Roman empire, just as Constantine ruled in the East.

Known as the Donation of Constantine, this idea in fact was never to be found in the Constitutum. Moreover, the story was a historical fiction. Yet, it gained currency in the collective memory of Europeans, passed down through both literary and oral evidence, as attested by the poet Walter von der Vogelweide c.

It was through written sources that doubts about the information in and attributed to the Constitutum were raised. Although the bishop Otto of Freising did not reject the historicity of the Donation, he noted in the mid twelfth century that other written evidence contradicted certain details about it, such as Constantine bequeathing the empire, including the West, to his sons, which would preclude the grant of secular power to the church. Others likewise were reluctant to reject the Donation outright but were concerned to qualify its interpretation, as when Otto's contemporary Gerhoch of Reichersberg, an Augustinian provost, argued that Constantine could not have disposed of public property and had made a fine distinction about the limits of the church's authority in the West.

In the centuries that followed, the Donation became even more divorced from the actual text of the Constitutum , which almost no one saw, and underwent further changes, producing additional versions to the ones that were already circulating and were generally accepted. In short, this tradition had too much momentum in the minds of most Europeans for it to be rejected, and later popes certainly applied its basic principles with zeal.

Even such intellectuals as named above, though needled by doubts about certain details, could not reject the Donation's overall historicity, no doubt because they were largely cleric and drawn to the interests of the church. But their case reminds us of the Greek scholars who likewise embraced a reality of myth at a certain level, whatever their quibblings and doubts, for the responses to myth of both, despite widely different contexts, were motivated by a common purpose. This purpose was recognized especially by Herodotus, as I noted above: that myth gives shape to the ideas that bind a society, whether they involve a community's origins and sense of its identity, the justification of an elite family to be paramount in a polis or a royal dynasty in a particular territory, or the sanctioning of the authority of a religious body e.

As for the general milieu of medieval thinking about the Constitutum and the Donation, Fried's conclusion is worthy of quotation: The audience of Walter von der Vogelweide. They had no way of countering it, in spite of the fact that the literary sources contained the knowledge required to correct it, and scholars could actually have done so.

The culture of oral memory and the literary tradition were in fact not two separate lines, but were intertwined, influencing each other and reshaping themselves, before emerging in distorted forms as a new element in the cultural memory of the West. This summation also encapsulates very nicely the issues we face in studying kinship myth in the ancient Greek world and provides my main justification for undertaking this study, with goals that differ from those of the last book written in English on kinship diplomacy: Christopher Jones' Kinship Diplomacy in the Ancient World.

Because its importance cannot be underestimated, we will stop for a moment to lay out some points of contrast. In that study, Jones said, "This book is not about myth," by which he seems to have meant that he is less concerned with the mythopoeic concepts and processes that informed the creation of kinship links, opting instead to survey the phenomenon of kinship diplomacy throughout antiquity, with consideration not only of mythical kinship but of links based on, from our perspective, historical explanations, such as hellenistic colonization. While Jones' study serves as a very effective introduction to kinship diplomacy, my intention is to go further with the Greeks' conception and use of kinship myth and, thus, to limit my examples to mythical kinship.

Jones is quite right that the Greeks themselves saw no practical difference between what we would think of as mythical and what would be historical, except in that the former had "the sanction of antiquity. Again, I am applying the term "myth" in a very broad sense. Jonathan Hall has shown that this approach accounts for the creation of specifically ethnic identity, noting that "it is proof of descent that will act as a defining criterion of ethnicity.

This recognition, however, does not vindicate a genetic approach to ethnic identity, because the myth of descent is precisely that—a recognition of a putative shared ancestry. The genealogical reality of such claims is irrelevant. Such a genealogy might be recognized from an outside perspective as lacking veracity, as we would certainly say about a community's descent from Dorus, by which it would claim a Dorian identity.

Moreover, an outside perspective, what anthropologists used to call "etic," might see other characteristics, such as language, clothing, burial customs, political affiliations, and so on, as criteria for determining ethnicity. Any of those features might come into play, but in the end, as many anthropological investigations have shown, the choice will be limited to those "which the actors themselves regard as significant. And when myth is employed in the manner examined in the following chapters, we might think of this perspective as the collective memory of the group, within which the myth has its true significance as an expression of identity.

It should be immediately clear that "the group" in ancient Greece will range enormously in scope and that we are talking about not only ethnic identity but other kinds as well. The significance of a myth of identity will be recognized within the collective memory of the citizens of a single polis , especially through its charter myth or myths; of associated parties of a particular region or within a so-called ethnic group such as the Dorian or Ionian; of the subjects of elite families or royal dynasties with aetiological myths to explain why they deserve their paramount status; of the audiences of particular oral works such as the Iliad or literary such as Herodotus' history, which circulate traditions in much the same way as Walter von der Vogelweide did the Donation of Constantine; or most broadly of Greeks across the wide spectrum of the hellenic world, where, for example, some common Greekness is recognized through collective descent from Hellen, the eponym of all the Hellenes.

If there is a difference between perceptions of myth at the panhellenic level and the most local e. Ways to connect to it through local heroes and city founders, however, will result in narratives so localized—that is, charter myths and other stories that respond to the individual conditions and needs of that community, its citizens, its leaders, and so on—as to produce not only epichoric myths but variants of popular heroic accounts. As we shall see, kinship diplomacy, especially as attested in the epigraphical record of the hellenistic period, often involved the reconciliation of variant, sometimes even contradictory, accounts of shared heroes or, alternatively, ostensibly unrelated narratives that were connected through Hellen and his sons.

As we have seen, communities relied heavily on myth for the development of an identity within their walls, but its uses beyond also were myriad. Their relations with other Greek and with non-Greek communities were, in a sense, "international. In much of ancient Greece, the polis was the basis of one's political identity, which was expressed through the concept of citizenship. This was something most Greek communities guarded like gold, for with citizenship came the benefits of political participation usually and the protections of law.

It was also an effective way of raising barriers between states. So when a link extending beyond the community was established, it was a remarkable event indeed. Homer illustrates this with a story about another important bond called xenia , or "guest-friendship. They fall into the typical Homeric habit of making speeches before hacking at each other, and along the way they come to realize that they have a bond of xenia. This relationship was established generations earlier when Diomedes' grandfather Oeneus received as a guest the hero Bellerophon, from whom Glaucus is descended.

The usual rituals of xenia involve providing food, shelter, and entertainment and exchanging gifts, but more importantly a close relationship is established between host and guest. Not only can the roles be reversed and the guest become host in his own home at some future date, but the descendants of the two can extend the same courtesy, respect, and familiar affection to each other. And so Glaucus and Diomedes decide to put their immediate obligations aside and, in stark contrast to the heroic code of claiming the enemy's armor as a war prize to denote one's honor, actually exchange their armor, which have become gifts of xenia Il.

In other words, they have put this personal bond ahead of the exigencies of war, acknowledging that in a context more important than the immediate one they are not enemies at all. The scene demonstrates how it could be possible for there to be personal bonds between distant parties in the most unlikely circumstances.

Because almost every case of kinship diplomacy involves one community that needs something from another, it is tempting to say merely that Greek states saw a link of sungeneia as a way to persuade the other community to agree to their proposals. But there is more to it than that. Kinship was meant to be seen as more than a means to an end, a device for immediate purposes. It was essentially an articulation of the same sort of bond between states that existed between members of a family or between citizens of the same polis.

And as with xenia , it was not just for the moment but enduring, potentially over generations. Most importantly, as we have said, it opened doors. It provided the context for one "brother" to help out another "brother," an especially useful facility if no other diplomatic device was available for this purpose. The endurance of such bonds is attested in inscriptions that speak of "renewing" kinship that was previously claimed, as in the case of IG IX 1 97 and I.

The use of some form of ananeoomai was not merely formulaic for the occasion of the diplomacy. In some cases, there may actually have been previous diplomacy between the states to which the inscription makes an oblique reference and for which we can find no extant evidence.

But in any case, while we can detect a "formulaic" aspect to the diplomatic idiom in which the inscriptions were written, the "formulas" would have no meaning if there was not some genuine belief of continuous kinship behind them. Much of the previous debate about kinship diplomacy centered on the meaning of these terms in the inscriptions.

The more specialized and comprehensive works published between and built on work done in more piecemeal fashion by scholars such as Domenico Musti and Louis Robert who examined individual passages and inscriptions, noting here and there instances of kinship diplomacy. Robert's work on inscriptions, especially from Asia Minor, is copious. From his research it is clear that many instances of kinship diplomacy were initiated in Asia Minor in the hellenistic period, not surprising given that most of the cities in question were colonies of other Greek states.

Even when those colonizations were historical in nature, occurring, for example, in the great Ionian movements of the eleventh century BCE, the accounts we have of them many of them derived from native informants and local traditions by Pausanias and others involved mythical personages. One conclusion to be drawn from Robert's work is that the attempt to account for the origin of a city and especially of its connection with another city often required turning to myth, which could provide information and even a narrative where history could not.

From his analysis of numerous inscriptions, Robert concluded that the terms had distinct senses in general but often meant the same thing, depending on the situation. Other studies have sought to ascertain what sorts of situations called for which terms. As Domenico Musti saw it, c. Before then, it was used for relationships with a "historical" from the Greek point of view basis, supported by a well-established tradition. In the later hellenistic and the Roman periods, artifice came into greater play.

Links between cities often were more overt fabrications or were based on more tenuous or remote associations. Among the reasons for this increase of artifice was the fact that newly hellenized cities, for example, old Anatolian cities refounded by the Seleucids, were now invoking newly conceived links with the Greeks. More recent efforts have not gone much further than Musti and Robert in establishing the applicability of the terms or, to put it another way, the attitudes of the Greeks who used them.

That sungeneia must denote consanguinity begs the question: why must we assume that the Greeks overwhelmingly embraced a genealogical link based on a legendary personage as they undertook interstate diplomatic ventures when our literary sources show that the word has a number of other meanings? The controversy over these terms arises because almost none of the inscriptions studied explicitly relate the basis for the interstate connection. We must turn to literary sources to reconstruct possible routes of kinship and have a care when asserting that the cities in question had those particular routes in mind.

When we look for examples of kinship diplomacy in literary sources, however, where we do not encounter the aforementioned problems that plague the epigraphers, we find that the Greeks often resorted to myth to explain their ties of interstate kinship and by and large believed in the reality or a reality of the myths.

This evidence also provides support for both the ideological and genealogical notions of kinship discussed earlier. I do not mean to suggest that myth was the only avenue to success in kinship diplomacy. Other more pragmatic factors were clearly at work in some cases and may also lurk unspoken in our sources of others. For instance, when Alexander cowed the Thessalians into submission following their abortive attempt to throw off the Macedonian yoke, he need not have resorted to myth. His overwhelming forces were certainly enough to convince them to behave.

But he cited links through one or possibly both sides of his family, connecting the ruling Aleuadae to his father through Heracles and to his mother through Achilles. Myth often served a useful purpose even in situations in which it was not called for. Whatever the final means of persuasion, kinship myth allowed two states to transform the nature of their relationship, to make the transaction more agreeable. As Andrew Erskine explains, kinship "incorporated the other as part of the family and thus legitimated the request that was being made.

It may have been more acceptable to seek favours from relatives than from strangers. To approach strangers for help could be considered as too close to begging. I am less concerned with whether these terms are interchangeable, whether particular circumstances call for particular terms, and so on. These questions will be relevant, but the main task at hand is to understand better how kinship myth worked in the political activities of the Greeks.

For this reason, literary accounts of kinship diplomacy will be of as much importance as the epigraphical evidence. Because the focus has mainly been on inscriptions, the previous debate about credulity came with a built-in problem: where mythical sungeneia is concerned, all but two inscriptions out of many dozens that refer to kinship reveal nothing of the basis of the kinship. We may know that the two communities are kindred and that the basis of the kinship is mythical in nature, but the inscription does not fill in an important blank for us: does the kinship originate in this account or in that one, with this personage or with that one?

Athena and Poseidon - Greek Mythology Stories - Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses

That is, while the inscription records that Polis A and Polis B share a common ancestor and we might posit who that ancestor is, we have to turn to an outside source on which to base such a conjecture because the mythological explanation is missing from the inscribed text. This state of affairs also makes it very difficult to answer another important question: did the Greeks believe in the mythical ancestry that their communities claimed to share in the inscriptions?

The language became the stuff of artifice. Before , the terms were genuine expressions of putative consanguinity and other close bonds because such claims were generally made when support was at hand in the established traditions of Greek myth. This concept of "artifice," however, is ultimately based on the traditional view that hellenistic thinkers took an antiquarian interest in the culture of their forebears.

But there is a difference between antiquarian interest in the "relics" of the past e. This era was one of cosmopolitanism, to be sure, but the polis was still there and still important for local identity, if no longer a unit of international significance. Myth continued to be important as an expression of local identity. In these cases, the common ancestor was most often a legendary figure from whom both communities claimed descent. In this detailed study, Lee E. Patterson elevates the current state of research on kinship myth to a consideration of the role it plays in the construction of political and cultural identity.

He draws examples both from the literary and epigraphical records and shows the fundamental difference between the two. He also expands his study into the question of Greek credulity—how much of these founding myths did they actually believe, and how much was just a useful fiction for diplomatic relations? Of central importance is the authority the Greeks gave to myth, whether to elaborate narratives or to a simple acknowledgment of an ancestor. Most Greeks could readily accept ties of interstate kinship even when local origin narratives could not be reconciled smoothly or when myths used to explain the link between communities were only "discovered" upon the actual occasion of diplomacy, because such claims had been given authority in the collective memory of the Greeks.

The scope of this study, therefore, starts with our earliest extant Greek literature, i. I have chosen to extend the scope of this study down into the Classical period because of the intense intellectual changes in historiography from the sixth through fifth centuries and the important, perhaps related, changes in Greek genealogy-making.


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Every study needs a limit to its scope; however, to be too rigid about dates here would be to lose important evidence about the development of genealogy and genealogical thinking. Any changes we may see in genealogy-making e. These are the genealogies of Krethen and Orsilochos Il. Each of these passages establishes identity and character, on or off the battlefield, through the recounting of ancestors. Upon encountering a stranger, Homeric characters often ask not only for a name, but a location and parentage, e.

From where? Where is your city? And your parents? And Glaukos answers, in an apparent formula repeated by Aineias at Il. Glaukos then proceeds to give his full genealogy. Such is the context of Homeric genealogies: they appear, given either by the hero or the poet, in response to questions of identity or character. Compared to the other sources of genealogical material, Homeric poetry presents a rare opportunity to study complete extant genealogies in context.

However, this context must be handled with care. When it comes to Homer, we should not claim that Homeric examples represent some aspect of reality, transposing the amalgamated and literary world of epic poetry onto the real Early Greek world. For example, we cannot assume that historical men had pedigrees equivalent to their Homeric counterparts, as Lacey does when, following a References to and quotations from the Iliad and Odyssey are from Monro and Allen and Allen respectively.

Translations are my own. Homeric genealogies cannot be used as direct evidence that historical men had genealogies like those of the Homeric heroes. We can, however, look at the genealogies in Homer within their own literary context. How were they told? What was their structure and form? What did they include, stress, or leave out? We can look at their use and purpose in the world of epic poetry.

We can look at the myths they tell and the ideas of kinship the express. We can study them in their own right. A more nuanced understanding of their relationship to the realities of the Early Greek world can thus be developed on the basis of those investigations concerning structure, scope, purpose, myth, and kinship ideas. This approach must also hold true for other Early Greek genealogical material, as we are dealing with literary and mythical worlds that were not a- Lacey , These two requests are very closely connected.

The myth of succession and the recounting of the descent of the gods are closely bound together and both are part of the same story: the story of how things came to be as they are. Although West, Thalmann, and Hamilton each differ on the extent to which they References to and quotations from the Theogony are from Merkelbach and West The Hesiodic Catalogues The fragmentary Catalogue of Women is also a work of genealogical poetry and its status as such is not usually disputed, as is that of the Theogony.

Also called the Ehoiai or West , ; Thalmann , 40; Hamilton , There is disagreement on this end point see Hamilton , for an assessment of the major arguments ; however, given that our earliest suspicion about the text occurs beginning at line , it may be safest to consider anything after line to be in doubt. Therefore, we may include the information and be careful about authorship when discussing specific points of structure. Matters of structure and the order of the fragments will have to be treated with caution and careful attention will have to paid to whether evidence is found in quotation, paraphrase, or on papyri fragments and how soundly it is attributed to the work in question.

We can tell, however, from the content of the Hesiodic catalogues, that, despite their fragmentary state, they are works interested in descent and ancestry relationships involving gods and heroes, and thus are genealogical. Other Early Greek Poetry We have evidence that other poets in Early Greece wrote works of genealogy or at least works with passages of genealogical material. Hesiod is also associated with the Melampodia, a poem on seers, which may or may not have been genealogical in character and structure see Huxley , ; West , Given the relatively few fragments nine altogether see Hes.

While this is an approach to a troublesome collection of fragments, paraphrases, and testimonia attributed to Eumelos that allows us to move forward, it is far from resting on solid ground. Therefore, for the purposes of this study, I will accept that there probably was a poet called Eumelos working in the late eighth century and that he may have written genealogical poetry or at least passages of genealogical material; however, I will refrain from placing too much emphasis or importance on the work on Eumelos alone in argumentation.

Kinaithon of Lakedaimon and Asios of Samos were also credited in the ancient world with writing works of genealogical poetry. In this study the testimonia and fragments of Eumelos are quoted and referenced from M. The translations are my own. Those of Asios are in M. In this study the testimonia and fragments of Kinaithon and Asios are quoted and referenced from M. As fragmentary material, the works of Kinaithon and Asios will be treated in the same manner as the those of the early mythographers to be discussed below. The genealogical information about the Spartan royal lines embedded in the wider narrative of Pausanias 3.

Pausanias begins with the earliest eponymous royals followed by the return of the Herakleidai and continues recounting the sons and successions of the two Herakleidai royal lines after the twin sons of Aristodemos. As the Lakedaimonians themselves say The problem is in dating it. Therefore, because its dating is not entirely secure, I will apply the same approach to the Spartan genealogy in Pausanias as to the work of Eumelos and refrain from placing too much emphasis or importance on the genealogy alone.

As with Eumelos, however, it may be added to the weight of other evidence with a note of caution. The poetry of Pindar also contains some genealogical information, but whether such information can properly be called genealogical material is tricky. Early Greek Prose Genealogists The Early Greek mythographers wrote works of mythography, among which genealogy seems to have been a major interest if not a full-fledged genre.

Those early mythographers who are credited with works of genealogy and who fall into the time frame presented i. Ancient testimonia and introductions to the quotations or paraphrases place these writers within a tradition of genealogical writing. They do so by writing about authors making genealogies, e. Hellanikos in the Phoronis Many appear to be concerned with myths and stories.

So how do we decide what is genealogical material? In this study the testimonia and fragments of the prose genealogists are quoted from Fowler, unless absent from Fowler, in which case they are quoted from Jacoby. They are cited in the following manner: FGrHist 1 F1. The translations of the fragments of the Early Greek mythographers are my own. The methodology of this study steers the study of genealogy in the works of the mythographers towards reading genealogy out of the fragments rather than looking for and plucking out what may look like genealogy to us.

In specific matters of structure, we should be careful to focus on those fragments which appear to contain actual quotations of the mythographers rather than pre-amble or paraphrases. I have done so because the early prose genealogists seem to form a particular tradition that is deemed by many to hold a specific spot in the development of historiography, and it is important to consider as much of that tradition as possible without going too far beyond the scope of the study. This sort of cross-referencing is unusual among the genealogical material and merits consideration and so the passage will be included in this study despite its apparent brevity.

III S. It may have more in common with the later epigraphic examples than with contemporary or earlier genealogical practices, something which requires further inquiry below.

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The Value of Family in Ancient Greek Literature

Structure and Scope in Early Greek Genealogical Material Early Greek genealogies take on various structures and have vastly different scopes, from highly detailed genealogies with several branches to linear genealogies with one clear descendant as subject and no branches. However, they have at least one structural feature in common: Greek genealogies do not express family trees. Although family trees are a familiar model of kinship and a useful visual aid for making sense of information, they are a model and an interpretative structure foreign to the Early Greek world.

They do not tell us how Early Greeks thought of kinship and we can go wrong by distilling or distorting the information through interpretation. Thomas , n1; Jeffery , It is not just a difference between visual and oral or textual information. The difference lies in what connections or relationships are drawn within the information presented. Greek genealogies connect individuals through kinship primarily vertically through time in a narrative focusing mainly on descent. They do not make connections both laterally and vertically to equal measure creating a web or tree, as family trees do.

Figure 2. Notice that several details from the fuller family tree from the edition of Apollodorus are missing from that created from the information in Homer. Absent are the women apart from the divine Aphrodite, the other children of Priam, and several siblings, especially in the earlier generations.

It is not that the poet knows less of the mythological family or details than the writer of the Library does. I make mine from the profoundly different ways ancient genealogy and modern genealogy present information. The poet of the Iliad knows, just as the writer of the Library does, that Paris and many others are among the children of Priam, but only Hektor is mentioned. The Homeric genealogy does not recount the whole or even most of the family tree, nor does it try to as we can see from the outline of the genealogy itself fig.

The poet picks and chooses the information to be conveyed as part of his epic technique. In the genealogies, the poet expands at key places, but seldom includes siblings. His interest is generally much more linear. Before the genealogy begins there is a small amount of preamble, which is largely heroic posturing, in which Aineias acknowledges his opponent, Achilleus, and his divine parentage. Then he boasts about his own semi-divine parentage from Anchises and Aphrodite. At the generation of the sons of Tros he begins to recount the descendents of two branches: that of Ilos down to Hektor and that of Assarakos down to himself.

There is very little branching off of the main line of descent in order to fully describe more familial connections. Very rarely do the genealogies branch off to include the descendents of the siblings in a given generation. Although the siblings of a generation are usually listed and their stories sometimes elaborated upon, their descendents and their stories generally are not.

There are only three places in all of the generations reckoned in the Homeric genealogies where branching does occur. Then the genealogy follows the descendents of Assarakos: Kapys, his son Anchises, and his son Aineias. This is discussed below. And Anchises bore me, and Priam bore brilliant Hektor. Although the genealogy branches to connect contemporary figures in a statement of kinship, it only connects two figures. It is very limited branching, lasting only one generation and taking up only two lines of poetry in the This is unlike the genealogical material in the Theogony or the Catalogue of Women, which do include many if not all offspring in each generation.

Smith for an outline of the support, largely German, for this idea. He concludes that there is no reason to suggest from the independent evidence that the role of Aineias, his aristeia and genealogy, in Iliad 20 is related to the patronage of a family or a civic tradition P. Lenz, furthermore, regardless of his belief or not in the actual existence of a family called the Aineidai, argues for the integrity of the genealogy and aristeia of Aineias in Iliad 20 and therefore sees no need to explain the role of Aineias through patronage.

I would add the following question to the criticism of the theory: Would we even be doubting the heroics of Aineias if it were not for the special status of the hero resulting from the later Roman claim to and exploitation of Aineias? There is no need to look at this genealogy differently from the rest. But it ends with a famous heroic figure, to whom Glaukos is now connected through ancestry. The third instance of branching in Homeric genealogies occurs in the genealogy of Theoklymenos. The lineage branches at Mantios and Antiphates, the sons of Melampous the founding ancestor Od. First the genealogy relates the descendents of Antiphates down two generations to Amphiaraos, whose story is elaborated upon briefly, and down one further generation to his sons.

Next the genealogy picks back up with Mantios and his descendents down to Theoklymenos, the subject of the genealogy. Again the branching is very limited, stopping after only three generations. It is not clear whether the third generation is contemporary with that of Theoklymenos, but that lack of clarity, in and of itself, tells us that making contemporary connections is not what is important here.

What is important is the story of Amphiaraos, a past hero, a great warrior, beloved by the gods, who is related in some way by blood to the subject of the genealogy. In all three cases of branching in Homeric genealogies, the branch ends in a famous heroic individual to whom and to whose reputation the subject would wish to be connected through blood.

With very limited branching that only occurs to connect two individuals at most and no expression of maternal descent relationships, Homeric genealogies do not resemble nor represent family trees, neither in structure nor in the scope of their material. They encompass neither the entire nor even a large part of the family and the breadth of familial connections. The closest we come to expressions of lateral kinship are like that of Aineias about Hektor, which connects only two heroes for a very specific purpose and not a whole family.

Branching and Grouping In other genealogical material, however, there is more significant branching and more information about siblings as well as expressions of maternal descent relationships than in Homeric genealogies, but still not a family tree nor a connecting of contemporary individuals in a group. In recounting the family of the gods, the Theogony branches significantly, presumably lists all children and siblings, and presents descent largely maternally, i. This makes the genealogy what I would describe as largely maternally organized but not matriarchal nor matrilinear, as West asserts.

Such concepts require evidence beyond that of the Theogony and even poetry, requiring investigation into the wider socio-political climate of Early Greece. It is, however, Donlan also has noted that there is a marked absence of kinship groups beyond the oikos in Homeric poetry But for now, I would prefer to use the term maternally organized to distance the organization of material from socio-political organization.

Besides the largely maternal structure, West discerns six other principles regarding the arrangement and presentation of the genealogical information in the Theogony: the order of the genealogies is basically chronological and progresses collaterally detailing each generation before moving on to the next; if a branch is close to its end, it is often traced to that end without waiting until the next generation; related sections are made adjacent where possible creating a chiasmus; other families sets of offspring appear in the same order as the parents were listed, with the exception of the Titans; the last god listed is sometimes the youngest; and at the end of the Theogony, there are various combinations of mortals and gods in families and descent is no longer matrilinear.

Hamilton rejects these principles, citing examples where they break down. Why can a poet not change his method or structure as suits his need, desire, or artistic inclination? This means at every stage that there is significant Hamilton , The poem, therefore, does not seek to connect these individuals, gods or otherwise, in broader statements of kinship, i. What is important is where each individual comes from and the links in the chain, not the lateral relationships. There are several places in the poetry, however, where a lineage is traced beyond the current generation, seemingly deviating from the overall structure of the genealogy by generation.

It might not just become unmanageable but also unpleasant and overly mechanical. We may be better off interpreting the structure of the genealogies through the stories the poet wishes to tell. The branch from Medusa to Geryon Theog. The branch with Echidna and her children and grandchildren Theog. The branch reckoning the descendents of Krieos and Eurybie Hes. Finally the branch from Asteria to her daughter Hekate Theog. The one branch that does not also tell a story is that of the children of Night and Erebus incidentally also her father Theog.

The key to interpretation seems to lie not so much in the organization of the matieral by chronological scheme, but in the material itself, the stories the Atthidographers intended to tell gathered from traditional tales, communal memory, physical remains, and documentary evidence. Four out of the five examples of such branches that West gives either culminate in or involve extended stories about members of the lineage and the one that does not involve an extended story branches so unobtrusively that all but the keenest listener or reader would allow it to pass by without noticing the supposed deviation from the overall generational structure of the poem.

Most listeners too, one would assume, would also let it go by without comment or objection. That such stories occur seemingly not in line with the overall progression of the genealogy should not be terribly troubling. These offshoots are Hesiod telling a story.

They are part of the narrative structure and character of Early Greek genealogies. They are after all narratives and are neither so formulaic, nor mechanical, nor dogmatic in structure that they could not adapt to suit information, stories, purpose, and even cultural aesthetics. The structure of the Catalogue of Women is similar in some ways to that of the Theogony. It also seems to have been maternally organized and attempts to recount all family members in the genealogy. However, while the Theogony recounts one whole related family that of the gods with two common ancestors Gaia and Ouranos largely generation by generation, the Catalogue of Women recounts several different mythological families seemingly unrelated at their origins or else only loosely connected laterally and not necessarily through any expression of kinship.

Moreover, the number of instances of the formula is relatively small, just twelve three of which are just possible reconstructions of the text , we have a limited number of quotations and papyrus fragments, and capturing the formula involves a lucky convergence of a quotation or papyrus fragment and the right place in the text.

And possibly frag. It also appears, just once, among the fragments of the Great Ehoiai: Hes. They are quite separate entities in that regard. That being said, however, although the great genealogies of the catalogue are separate blocks, they do sometimes overlap in material mentioning the same individual in two genealogies. This is to be somewhat expected given the mythological stories that accompany these names; they are stories of intermarriage, battles, rapes, which occur between members of different families.

These great genealogies are also quite large encompassing many generations and branches within them. For example, Hes. Whatever its origins, however, the fact remains that the formula is based upon connecting people through similarity in story or situation, and we may see from its use a lack of interest on the part of the poet in drawing lateral kinship connections. The point to be drawn from this, from the junctures of the Catalogue both between great genealogies and between branches within the genealogies, is that the genealogical information is not expressed in such a way as to emphasize lateral or web-like kinship connections between lineages, branches, and individuals.

There appears to be no interest on the part of the poet in making or reinforcing kinship groups. Within the branches themselves the progress tends to be somewhat generational, listing the children of a couple divine or otherwise and then following the lineage down. Nor, like the Theogony, are connections of kinship beyond descent e. But maternal organization does not necessarily mean that we are dealing with a matriarchal society or matrilinear descent to the exclusion or even detriment of patrilinear descent.

It is merely the way the information is organized not the necessarily the society. To get from maternal organization of information to matriarchy requires more steps.

That maternal organization is present, however, is important, just as the lack of expressions of kinship connections between multiple individuals is important. It is what is expressed or not that is the key. That wider kinship connections are not expressed reveals only that they appear to not be of interest to genealogy-making, whether the presence of wider kinship connections in genealogies or the lack thereof has any bearing on the existence in reality of kinship groups based upon them is a matter for further argument.

That the Catalogue of Women is structured around women does not suggest that matriliny occurred in Early Greece. As in the Theogony, fathers are usually supplied, often in the context of the sexual act that brought about the offspring or in the context of the birth itself. Fowler, thus, argues that the structure of the Catalogue presents women as the glue between the men, who are the building blocks. When it comes to other sources of Early Greek genealogical material, structure is not so readily analysed because of the fragmentary state of much of the material.

We know that there were other works of genealogical poetry e.

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Among the works of the prose genealogists, however, there are more surviving fragments, enough to be able to make some claims about structure with varying degrees of caution. Since fragments of these prose genealogists survive mostly through quotations and paraphrases by later authors, the material has been selected and plucked out of context and it is up to modern editors to put them back into context as best they can. Luckily not all of the fragments are entirely devoid of their original context. Some fragments come with references to book numbers, and, although these cannot all be assumed to be accurate, there are enough of them to group together and from that grouping give clues about structure.

By matching the material associated with these book numbers with the material of other fragments involving the same individuals, the members of the same families, or the same myths, editors like Jacoby and Fowler have been Fowler , In constructing such schemes, fragments with no attested book numbers must first be grouped by their material thematically into either families or myths known from the mythical tradition surviving in other sources genealogical or otherwise. This apparently circularity need not deter us, however, for a few reasons: 1 the scheme suits the evidence well in that the framework provided by those fragments with numbers, albeit loose, allows for and in some cases hints at such a scheme and the other fragments slot in well, 2 a similar structure is well attested in the Catalogue of Women and so there is at least one genealogical precedent and maybe even a tradition, 3 the titles given to the works of Hellanikos suggest that his genealogies were written or at least disseminated as separate works, one for each mythical family or local tradition, and so his works at least appear to have been divided along the lines of great genealogies.

Question one: how were those great genealogies related to one another and brought together into one larger work? The fragments of any given prose genealogist give us only a spotty picture of how the material in the different great genealogies was related. Moreover, given the extremely limited papyrus fragments of the works of the prose genealogists, work such as that done by West on transitions in the Catalogue of Women is impossible here.

What we can tell from the This charge is leveled against both Eumelos and Akousilaos by Clement of Alexandria Strom. The best evidence of the actual works i. Question two: how were the great genealogies structured internally? The structure and approach to the material in the great genealogies in the works of the prose genealogists appear to be very similar to the structure and approach in the Catalogue of Women.

We must judge the internal structure of each great genealogy in the works of Hekataios, Pherekydes, and Akousilaos and of each independent genealogy of Hellanikos and Damastes, again from the grouping of fragments by book number and related mythological and genealogical information. The informational spread of the genealogies, which includes members of different branches of the same family and their stories, suggests that there was probably significant branching within the great genealogies.

It is likely that the prose genealogists took up a middle approach to dealing with genealogical information, much like the poet of the Catalogue of Women, i. Greek genealogies are not family trees, nor is it very useful to construct family tree diagrams from genealogical materials in order to understand the kinship relationships expressed in them. That practice gives us a false reading on what kinship connections were important in genealogies and how they were expressed.

Studying the genealogies as a whole package yields better results about the expression of kinship. In Homeric poetry, the genealogies are geared towards the subject, an individual descendent. They branch very 75 little.

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When they do so, a story or important ancestor is involved, the branch lasts for a very limited number of generations, and there is always a return to the main line of descent leading down to the subject. Other examples of Early Greek genealogical material are structured around great genealogies. They are ancestor-focused in that, unlike Homeric genealogies, they are not geared toward an individual subject, but start with a common ancestor and then branch out and down, with seemingly no one particular descendent in sight.

Even though they are thus organized by family, these genealogies do not show an interest in drawing lateral or web-like connections between members to form a cohesive group. In the final chapter of part 2, I will put forward some explanations for these differences in structure and contextualize them alongside reasons for genealogy-making in the Early Greek world. Before that, however, a look into the important style and story-telling elements of both sets of genealogies is required.

For example, they do not follow the bare formulaic pattern: x, son of y, son of z; or the pattern: x, from whom y was born, from whom z was born. Instead, ancestry and descent relationships are usually associated with and given alongside myths and stories. Their unusually barren, list-like structure will be studied further below, because first I must establish, in the following section, why their structure is so unusual among Early Greek genealogical material.

Thus, in a given genealogy, in the course of spelling out several generations, the level of detail swells at key generations making the genealogy a collection of stories and ancestors or descendents and not simply a list of ancestors and descendents connected formulaically. We can see this combination of descent information and story-telling in the genealogy of Aineias.

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In figure 2. These eleven lines are divided among four sections, none of which looks excessively formulaic. Two Il. The other sections of descent information consist of three and six lines Il. They lack a strict formulaic or repetitive structure and language. We also see the addition of epithets and short asides, e. This results in a repetitive character with respect to some terminology and content father begets son but not with respect to structure and style.

The element of story-telling in Homeric and Hesiodic genealogies has also been observed by R. Thomas and by Graf. Thomas treats the stories as something separate from or added onto the genealogies, seeing them as elaborations upon the bare-bones of genealogy. The recounting of descent and ancestry relationships seems very rarely to come without embellishment and elaboration in the Early Greek world.

Thus, to separate the two is to separate mistakenly into two practices what is only one. Yet nearly every name entails a story. That nearly every name entails a story, as Graf writes, is, however, not quite accurate. Not every name gets a story, not even most names, only a select few. Some names appear only as connectors and are often simple eponyms drawn in to link generations or to explain R.

The genealogy of Glaukos, for example, encompasses 68 lines of poetry, 47 of which are dedicated to the story of Bellerophon, from his rise to great success, his entrapment by a scorned woman, to his battle with the Chimaira, to his falling out with the gods Il. Sometimes the story is shorter, taking up only two to four lines, for example, the story of Dardanos, who founded Dardania before Troy existed, in the genealogy of Aineias Il.

The genealogies also often relate the stories of earlier relatives that are not in the direct line of descent, the stories of siblings of those in the lineage, for example Ganymedes in the genealogy of Aineias, Kleitos in the genealogy of Theoklymenos, or Amphiaraos also in the genealogy of Theoklymenos, whose story occurs in one of the rare instances of branching discussed above.

Although the shorter genealogies those of Krethon and Orsilochos, Idomeneus, Achilleus, and Telemachos, each less than 10 lines long do not contain extended stories, they do not read like lists. The short genealogy of Graf , Moreover, the shorter genealogies are littered, as are the longer ones, with the small details appropriate to epic poetry and a narrative style, i.

Both the stories and this narrative style lend Homeric genealogy a story-telling character. This kind of story-telling combined with recounting descent relationships that we see in Homeric genealogies is characteristic of most of Early Greek genealogy. It is evident throughout the Catalogue of Women and our remaining examples of genealogical poetry and prose, even in their fragmentary state.

At first glance, however, it may seem that the authors of poetic and prose genealogies were mostly concerned with ancestry and descent information, since many of the fragments deal solely with descent and ancestry relationships. But this is an illusion. Most of those fragments dealing with just ancestry or descent are selections of material paraphrased or summarized by the citing author, and so may not be indicative of the style, structure, and entire scope of the original.

They generally preserve larger amounts of text than quotations and their material has not been selected and 80 plucked out of context by an author for a particular reason or purpose. Unfortunately all of the examples of papyrus fragments preserving Early Greek genealogical material belong to the Catalogue of Women. Therefore the range of evidence is limited in scope; nevertheless we may add it to the overall picture. The papyrus fragments of the Catalogue of Women contain mythological stories and short sections listing descent relationships.

In many cases we see both together in one fragment. For example, Hesiod fragment 31 Most , preserved primarily on three Oxyrhynchus papyri with a little help from a scholium on Apollonius of Rhodes, has thirty- six lines of extant text. It begins with the brothers Neleus and Pelias, and then recounts the children of Neleus, the last of whom to be listed is Periklymenos, upon whose adventures the poet then elaborates.

Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece

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