The First Hexameter Song and the Fragments of Boio

Boiô [Boeo] is a woman poet from, well, Boeotia

Pausanias 5.7-9

“They claim that after some time Themis was given by Gaia whatever he share was and then that Apollo received that as a gift from Themis. They say that Apollo gave to Poseidon the portion of land called Kalauria which is near Troizen as an exchange-gift for the oracle. I have also heard that men who were shepherding their flocks chanced upon the oracle and were inspired by the mist and then acted as prophets of Apollo. The account with the most adherents is the story of Phêmonoê, that she was the first prophet of the god and the first person who sang hexameters.

Boiô, a local woman who created a Hymn for the Delphians, used to say that people who visited from the Hyperboreans along with others and Olên created the oracle for the god and that he, Olên, was the first to give prophecies and to sing a hexameter.

Boiô composed these verses: “Here in fact, they built the oracle of good memory / the children of the Hyperboreans, Pagasos and shining Aguieus.”

Once she has named other Hyperboreans, near the end of the hymn she mentioned Olên: “And Olên who was the first prophet of Phoibos / and the first to make the song of ancient epic verses.” There is in common memory no mention of him at all; all that is left is the prophecy of women only.”

χρόνῳ δὲ ὕστερον, ὅσον τῇ Γῇ μετῆν, δοθῆναι Θέμιδι ὑπ᾿ αὐτῆς λέγουσιν, Ἀπόλλωνα δὲ παρὰ Θέμιδος λαβεῖν δωρεάν· Ποσειδῶνι δὲ ἀντὶ τοῦ μαντείου Καλαύρειαν ἀντιδοῦναί φασιν αὐτὸν τὴν πρὸ Τροιζῆνος. ἤκουσα δὲ καὶ ὡς ἄνδρες ποιμαίνοντες ἐπιτύχοιεν τῷ μαντείῳ, καὶ ἔνθεοί τε ἐγένοντο ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀτμοῦ καὶ ἐμαντεύσαντο ἐξ Ἀπόλλωνος. μεγίστη δὲ καὶ παρὰ πλείστων ἐς Φημονόην δόξα ἐστίν, ὡς πρόμαντις γένοιτο ἡ Φημονόη τοῦ θεοῦ πρώτη καὶ πρώτη τὸ ἑξάμετρον ᾖσεν. Βοιὼ δὲ ἐπιχωρία γυνὴ ποιήσασα ὕμνον Δελφοῖς ἔφη κατασκευάσασθαι τὸ μαντεῖον τῷ θεῷ τοὺς ἀφικομένους ἐξ Ὑπερβορέων τούς τε ἄλλους καὶ Ὠλῆνα· τοῦτον δὲ καὶ μαντεύσασθαι πρῶτον καὶ ᾄσαι πρῶτον τὸ ἑξάμετρον. πεποίηκε δὲ ἡ Βοιὼ τοιάδε·

ἔνθα τοι εὔμνηστον χρηστήριον ἐκτελέσαντο

παῖδες Ὑπερβορέων Παγασὸς καὶ δῖος Ἀγυιεύς.

ἐπαριθμοῦσα δὲ καὶ ἄλλους τῶν Ὑπερβορέων, ἐπὶ τελευτῇ τοῦ ὕμνου τὸν Ὠλῆνα ὠνόμασεν·

Ὠλήν θ᾿ ὃς γένετο πρῶτος Φοίβοιο προφάτας

πρῶτος δ᾿ ἀρχαίων ἐπέων τεκτάνατ᾿ ἀοιδάν.

οὐ μέντοι τά γε ἥκοντα ἐς μνήμην ἐς ἄλλον τινά, ἐς δὲ γυναικῶν μαντείαν ἀνήκει μόνων.

Image result for delphic oracle

2 thoughts on “The First Hexameter Song and the Fragments of Boio

  1. Pingback: A List of Women Authors from the Ancient World – SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

  2. Pingback: Women’s History Month, Week 1 – SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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