An Ancient Chronology from Moses to the First Olympiad

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 1.21.136.3-137.4 (=BNJ 253F1 Thrasyllos of Rhodes)

‘Let’s summarize the timeline of the Greeks beginning with Moses. From the birth of Moses to the Jews’ escape from Egypt there were eighty years and then Moses died forty years later. The Exodus occurred at the time of Inachus. It was 340 years from the wandering of Sothis that Moses left Egypt. The amount of time from the leadership of Moses and the time of Inachus to the flood of Deucalion—and here I mean the second flood—as well as the immolation of Phaethon (which occurred at the time of Krotôpos) has been counted as forty generations when three generations are included in a hundred year period.

From the flood to the burning of Ida, the discovery of iron, and the Idaian Daktyls, seventy three years passed, according to Thrasyllos. And from the burning of Ida to the rape of Ganymede, sixty-five years passed. Following that period to Perseus’ expedition—when Glaukos established the Isthmian games in honor of Melikertês, there were fifteen years.

There were thirty-four years between Perseus’ expedition and the founding of Troy. After that, the voyage of the Argo happened 64 years later. 32 years passed from that time to the Theseus and the Minotaur. After this there were 10 years before the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes, three years until the founding of the Olympic games by Herakles in honor of Pelops and another nine years until the Amazons’ attack on Athens and Theseus’ abduction of Helen. The apotheosis of Herakles occurred 11 years after that. Four years later was Alexander’s rape of Helen. Then there were 20 years before the destruction of Troy followed by 10 years until Aeneas’ arrival after the fall of Troy and the founding of Lavinium. This means there were eight years before the reign of Ascanius. There were 61 years after this before the arrival of the Herakleidai. From then to the first Olympiad by Iphitos is 338 years.

[[ἄνωθεν οὖν ἀπὸ Μωυσέως συναγάγωμεν τὴν καθ᾽ ῞Ελληνας χρονογραφίαν· ἀπὸ τῆς Μωυσέως γενέσεως ἐπὶ τὴν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τῶν ᾽Ιουδαίων ἔξοδον ἔτη ὀγδοήκοντα, καὶ τὰ μέχρι τῆς τελευτῆς αὐτοῦ ἄλλα τεσσαράκοντα· γίνεται ἡ ἔξοδος κατὰ ῎Ιναχον, πρὸ τῆς Σωθιακῆς περιόδου ἐξελθόντος ἀπ᾽ Αἰγύπτου Μωυσέως ἔτει πρότερον τριακοσίοις τεσσαράκοντα ε̄. (4) ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς Μωυσέως στρατηγίας καὶ ᾽Ινάχου ἐπὶ τὸν Δευκαλίωνος κατακλυσμόν (τὴν δευτέραν λέγω ἐπομβρίαν) καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Φαέθοντος ἐμπρησμόν, ἃ δὴ συμβαίνει κατὰ Κρότωπον, γενεαὶ † τεσσαράκοντα1 ἀριθμοῦνται· εἰς μέντοι τὰ ἑκατὸν ἔτη τρεῖς ἐγκαταλέγονται γενεαί]].

(5) ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ῎Ιδης ἐμπρησμὸν καὶ τὴν εὕρεσιν τοῦ σιδήρου καὶ ᾽Ιδαίους Δακτύλους ἔτη ἑβδομήκοντα τρία, ὥς φησι Θράσυλλος. καὶ ἀπὸ ῎Ιδης ἐμπρησμοῦ ἐπὶ Γανυμήδους ἁρπαγὴν ἔτη ἑξήκοντα πέντε. (1.137.1) ἐντεῦθεν δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν Περσέως στρατείαν, ὅτε καὶ Γλαῦκος ἐπὶ Μελικέρτηι τὰ ῎Ισθμια ἔθηκεν, ἔτη πεντεκαίδεκα. ἀπὸ δὲ Περσέως στρατείας ἐπὶ ᾽Ιλίου κτίσιν ἔτη τριάκοντα τέσσαρα. ἐντεῦθεν ἐπὶ τὸν ἔκπλουν τῆς ᾽Αργοῦς ἔτη ἑξήκοντα τέσσαρα. (2) ἐκ τούτου ἐπὶ Θησέα καὶ Μινώταυρον ἔτη τριάκοντα δύο. εἶτα ἐπὶ τοὺς ῾Επτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας ἔτη δέκα. ἐπὶ δὲ τὸν ᾽Ολυμπίασιν ἀγῶνα, ὃν ῾Ηρακλῆς ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ Πέλοπι, ἔτη τρία. εἴς τε τὴν ᾽Αμαζόνων εἰς ᾽Αθήνας στρατείαν καὶ τὴν ῾Ελένης ὐπὸ Θησέως ἁρπαγὴν ἔτη ἐννέα· (3) ἐντεῦθεν ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ηρακλέους ἀποθέωσιν ἔτη ἕνδεκα· εἶτα ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ελένης ὑπὸ ᾽Αλεξάνδρου ἁρπαγὴν ἔτη τέσσαρα· εἶτα ἐπὶ τὴν Τροίας ἅλωσιν ἔτη εἴκοσι· (4) ἀπὸ δὲ Τροίας ἁλώσεως ἐπὶ τὴν Αἰνείου κάθοδον καὶ κτίσιν Λαουινίου ἔτη δέκα· ἐπί τε τὴν ᾽Ασκανίου ἀρχὴν ἔτη ὀκτώ· καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ηρακλειδῶν κάθοδον ἔτη ἑξήκοντα ἕν· ἐπί τε τὴν ᾽Ιφίτου ὀλυμπιάδα ἔτη τριακόσια τριάκοντα ὀκτώ.

Sothis: is another name for Sirius (the “Dogstar”) whose appearance was associated with the ancient flooding of the Nile.

Inachus: the first king of Argos

Krotopos: [Crotopos] A king of Argos who condemned his daughter Psamathe to death when she gave birth to a child. Apollo brought a plague on the city.

Idaian Daktyls: A People of Mount Ida who invented the art of working metals with fire.

An Abbreviated Timeline

1533 BCE Flood of Deucalion
1385 Rape of Ganymede
1282 Voyage of the Argo
1240 Seven Against Thebes
1213 Rape of Helen
1193 Destruction of Troy
776 First Olympic Games

A few notes: If Helen was 1 when she was abducted by Theseus (1228), she was 16 when she was taken by Paris and 36 at the end of the Trojan War (which would make her 46 when she meets Telemachus in the Odyssey).

2 responses

  1. For whatever its worth, the opening paragraph of the chronology is a somewhat butchered reading of Manetho’s chronology of Egypt, in which Manetho describes rulers prior to Egypt’s First Dynasty, one of whom was Amusis, who he says lived in the time of Inachus.
    Gary Greenberg

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