Boeotian Hesiod: Born in Ascra, Buried in Orkhomenos

Bacchylides, 5.187-194

“For truth’s sake it is right to praise
Only after pushing envy away with both hands
if some mortal man acts well.
The Boiotian man says these things,
Hesiod, guardian of the sweet Muses.
Whichever man the gods honor,
Mortal fame will follow.”

[Χρὴ] δ’ ἀληθείας χάριν
αἰνεῖν, φθόνον ἀμφ[οτέραι-]
[σιν] χερσὶν ἀπωσάμενον,
εἴ τις εὖ πράσσοι βροτῶ[ν.]
Βοιωτὸς ἀνὴρ τᾶδε φών[ησεν, γλυκειᾶν]
῾Ησίοδος πρόπολος
Μουσᾶν, ὃν <ἂν> ἀθάνατοι τι[μῶσι, τούτῳ]
καὶ βροτῶν φήμαν ἕπ[εσθαι.]


According to Pausanias (9.38.3) Hesiod’s grave is in Orkhomenos. Hesiod’s Epitaph (Paus. 9.38.4)

“Grain-rich Askrê was his country, but when he died
The land of the horse-driving Minyans came to hold
Hesiod’s bones—his fame will rise to be the greatest in Greece
When men are judged by a touchstone of skill”

῎Ασκρη μὲν πατρὶς πολυλήιος, ἀλλὰ θανόντος
ὀστέα πληξίππων γῆ Μινυῶν κατέχει
῾Ησιόδου, τοῦ πλεῖστον ἐν ῾Ελλάδι κῦδος ὀρεῖται
ἀνδρῶν κρινομένων ἐν βασάνῳ σοφίης.

#MythMonth Madness: The Story of Erginos

The following fragment of Pherecydes, the fifth century mythographer, is from a Scholion to Euripides’ Phoenissae 53. Fowler (Early Greek Mythography, 2001) prints this as Pherecydes fr. 95):

“Pherecydes says these things about the children and the marriages of Oedipus: “Kreon,” he says, “gave the kingdom and Laios’ wife, his own mother Iokasta to Oedipus, and from here were born Phrastôr and Laonutos, who died thanks to the Minyans and Erginos. Then a year had passed, Oedipus married Euryganeia, the daughter of Periphas, and from her were born Antigone and Ismene, the girl Tydeus took at the stream and for that reason the stream is called Ismene. The sons Eteokles and Polyneices were also born to Oedipus from here. When Euryganeia died, Oedipus married Astymedea, the daughter of Stenelos. And some people add that Euryganeia was the sister of Oedipus’ mother Iokaste.”

γαμεῖ δὲ τὴν τεκοῦσαν: Φερεκύδης τὰ κατὰ τοὺς Οἰδίποδος παῖδας καὶ τὰς γημαμένας οὕτως ἱστορεῖ· ‘Οἰδίποδι, φησὶ, Κρέων δίδωσι τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα Λαΐου, μητέρα δ’ αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιοκάστην, ἐξ ἧς γίνονται αὐτῷ Φράστωρ καὶ Λαόνυτος, οἳ θνῄσκουσιν ὑπὸ Μινυῶν καὶ ᾿Εργίνου. ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐνιαυτὸς παρῆλθε, γαμεῖ ὁ Οἰδίπους Εὐρυγάνειαν τὴν Περίφαντος, ἐξ ἧς γίνονται αὐτῷ ᾿Αντιγόνη καὶ ᾿Ισμήνη, ἣν ἀναιρεῖ Τυδεὺς ἐπὶ κρήνης καὶ ἀπ’ αὐτῆς ἡ κρήνη ᾿Ισμήνη καλεῖται. υἱοὶ δὲ αὐτῷ ἐξ αὐτῆς ᾿Ετεοκλῆς καὶ Πολυνείκης. ἐπεὶ δὲ Εὐρυγάνεια ἐτελεύτησε, γαμεῖ ὁ Οἰδίπους ᾿Αστυμέδουσαν τὴν Σθενέλου.’ τινὲς δὲ Εὐρυγάνειαν ἀδελφὴν λέγουσιν εἶναι ᾿Ιοκάστης τῆς μητρὸς Οἰδίποδος: —

Continue reading “#MythMonth Madness: The Story of Erginos”

“A Test Proves the Worth of a Man”: Pindar, Olympian 4.17-27

Last week I mentioned the tale of Erginos, the legendary king of the Minyans from Orchomenos in Boiotia. Pindar uses him as an example (he is the “child of Klumenos” below)

“I will not stain my story
With a lie. A test proves the worth of a man.
This rescued the child of Klumenos
from the dishonor of the Lemnian women.
He won the race in bronze armor
And said to Hypsipyle as he left with the crown:
“This is my speed:
My hands and heart are its equal. Sometimes gray hair
grows even on young men
thick, before the appointed time.

οὐ ψεύδεϊ τέγξω
λόγον· διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος·
ἅπερ Κλυμένοιο παῖδα
Λαμνιάδων γυναικῶν ἔλυσεν ἐξ ἀτιμίας.
χαλκέοισι δ’ ἐν ἔντεσι νικῶν δρόμον
ἔειπεν ῾Υψιπυλείᾳ μετὰ στέφανον ἰών·
‘οὗτος ἐγὼ ταχυτᾶτι·
χεῖρες δὲ καὶ ἦτορ ἴσον. φύονται δὲ καὶ νέοις
ἐν ἀνδράσιν πολιαί
θαμάκι παρὰ τὸν ἁλικίας ἐοικότα χρόνον.’

Hypsipyle is the queen of the Lemnian women who are part of the tradition of Jason and the Argonauts.

The Vanquished Boeotians: Little Piggies or Stubborn Trees?

The Athenians defeated the Boeotians in 507 BCE after over a decade of an alliance with the Plataeans (also Boeotians). This was the beginning of over a century of trouble between the two cities, marked by Theban submission to Persia in 479 BCE. The Athenians set up an inscription to mark their victory:

IG I3 501 Dedicatory Inscription on the Acropolis after the defeat of the Boiotians and Chalkidians: cf. Herodotus 5.77 for a quotation of it:

“Sons of the Athenians with iron bonds extinguished
Their pride with their deeds in war
When they subdued the Boiotian and Chalkidian peoples
And then dedicated these horses as a tithe for Pallas Athena.”

[δεσμοῖ ἐν ἀχνύεντι(?) σιδερέοι ἔσβεσαν ῾ύβ]ριν
παῖδε[ς ᾿Αθεναίον ἔργμασιν ἐμ πολέμο]
[ἔθνεα Βοιοτôν καὶ Χαλκιδέον δαμάσαντες]
/ τôν Jίππος δ̣[εκάτεν Παλλάδι τάσδ’ ἔθεσαν

For the rest of the century, they had many unkind things to say about their neighbors to the north.

Aristotle, Rhetoric 1407a

“And Perikles compared the Samians to children because, while they accept the vote, they cry about it. The Boiotians, he claimed, were most like oak trees: since oak trees knock against each other and break and the Boiotians were always fighting one another.”

καὶ ἡ Περικλέους εἰς Σαμίους, ἐοικέναι αὐτοὺς τοῖς παιδίοις ἃ τὸν ψωμὸν δέχεται μέν, κλαίοντα δέ, καὶ εἰς Βοιωτούς, ὅτι ὅμοιοι τοῖς πρίνοις· τούς τε γὰρ πρίνους ὑφ’ αὑτῶν κατακόπτεσθαι, καὶ τοὺς Βοιωτοὺς πρὸς ἀλλήλους μαχομένους.


And a scholiast to Pindar reports why the epinician poet was worried about being called a pig (Schol. In Pind. Ol. 6.90):

“If we avoid the insult ‘Boiotian pig”: He uses this because the Boiotians were called ‘pigs’ due to their ancient rustic and vulgar nature. Pindar also refers to this in his dithryambs when he writes “there was a time when the Boiotian tribe was called “piggy” “. Kratinos, the comedian adds, These men are “Swine-men”….”

“εἰ φεύγομεν, Βοιωτίαν ὗν”: ὅτι διὰ τὴν ἀγροικίαν καὶ τὴν ἀναγωγίαν τὸ παλαιὸν οἱ Βοιωτοὶ ὗες ἐκαλοῦντο· καθάπερ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν τοῖς διθυράμβοις (fr. 83)
ἦν ὅτε σύας τὸ Βοιώτιον ἔθνος ἔλεγον. καὶ Κρατῖνος (fr. 310 K.)· οὗτοι δ’ εἰσὶν Συοβοιωτοὶ, κρουπεζοφόρον γένος ἀνδρῶν.