Myth and Metamorphosis: The Story of Kêuks and Alkuonê

[For Ovid’s version, see the Metamorphoses 11.410-749; Ancient testimonia attribute a Wedding of Kêuks poem to Hesiod]

Hes. Fr. 10d

“Kêuks, the son of the star the Light-Bringer, married Alkuonê, the daughter of Aiolos. They were both arrogant. Because they loved each other, she called him Zeus and he addressed her as Hera. In rage at this, Zeus changed them both into birds, as Hesiod records in the Catalogue of Women.”

᾿Αλκυόνην τὴν Αἰόλου ἔγημε̣ Κή̣[ϋξ ὁ Φωσφό]ρου τ̣ο̣ῦ ἀστέρος
υἱός. ἄμφω δ’ ἦσα[ν ὑπερή]φ̣α[νοι, ἀλ]λήλων δ’ ἐρασθέντ̣ες ἡ
[μὲν .].α̣.[.]κ̣[.]ρνα[…..] Δία κ̣α[λ]εῖ, <ὁ δὲ> αὐτ̣ὴν ῞Ηραν
προσ̣η̣γ̣ό̣[ρε]υεν· ἐφ’ [ὧι ὀργι]σθεὶ[ς] ὁ Ζεὺς μετεμόρφωσε̣ν̣
ἀ̣μ̣φοτέρους [εἰς ὄρ]νε[α,] ὡς ῾Ησίοδος ἐν Γυναικῶν καταλόγωι.

Apollodorus 1.52

“Kêuks, the son of the Dawn-star, married Alkuonê. These two were destroyed because of their sacrilege. For, he used to call his wife Hera and she called her husband Zeus. Zeus turned them into birds, he made her into a halcyon (kingfisher) and him into a keuks (gannet?)”

᾿Αλκυόνην δὲ Κῆυξ ἔγημεν ῾Εωσφόρου παῖς. οὗτοι δὲ δι’ ὑπερηφάνειαν ἀπώλοντο· ὁ μὲν γὰρ τὴν γυναῖκα ἔλεγεν ῞Ηραν, ἡ δὲ τὸν ἄνδρα Δία, Ζεὺς δὲ αὐτοὺς ἀπωρνέωσε, καὶ τὴν μὲν ἀλκυόνα ἐποίησε τὸν δὲ κήυκα.

Schol. ad Arist. Aves 250

“This is the wife of the king of the Trachinians, Kêuks. They enjoyed the greatest prosperity, but they came to such a point of arrogance, that they did not think it right to be called by their proper names. So he used to call himself Zeus, and she called herself Hera. Once, when he was sailing out to sea, Zeus became enraged and destroyed him and the ship. She wept over the death of her husband with the greatest sorrow along the shore and Zeus turned her into a bird because he pitied her. He turned him into a bird too, the one people call a kêrulos. When she was weeping over her eggs breaking in the sea, Zeus took pity on her and established a number of calm days each year which are called Halcyon days in which she might give birth to and carry out her young.”

ἔστι δὲ ἡ Κήϋκος τοῦ Τραχινίων βασιλέως γυνή. οἳ ὄλβῳ μεγίστῳ ἐπαρθέντες, εἰς τοσοῦτον ἦλθον φρυάγματος, ὡς ἀπαξιοῦν τοῖς ἰδίοις ὀνόμασι καλεῖσθαι. καὶ ὁ μὲν ἐκάλεσεν αὑτὸν Δία, ἡ δὲ ῞Ηραν. καί ποτε ἐν θαλάσσῃ αὐτοῦ πλέοντος ὁ Ζεὺς ὀργισθεὶς αὐτόν τε διέφθειρε καὶ τὴν ναῦν. ἡ δὲ ἄγαν περιπαθῶς ὠδύρετο τὸν τοῦ ἀνδρὸς θάνατον παρὰ τῷ αἰγιαλῷ, ἣν ἐλεήσας ὁ Ζεὺς ἀπωρνέωσε. καὶ ἐκεῖνον δὲ εἰς ὄρνεον μετέβαλεν, ὃν κηρύλον καλοῦσιν. ἐθρήνει δὲ τῶν ᾠῶν αὑτῆς ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ κλωμένων. διὸ κατὰ Διὸς οἶκτον ιδ′ ἡμέρας ἀλκυονίτιδας καλουμένας εὐδιεινὰς ἔχει τοῦ ἔτους, ἐν αἷς τίκτουσα ἐκβάλλει τοὺς νεοττούς.]

Eusthathius. Comm. Ad Il. II.2.8

“The story goes that there was a union of a man and women—the husband was named Kêuks. They came to such a level of arrogance, that he wanted to be called Zeus’ name and she submitted herself to be called Hera. Then they started actually doing this. Zeus, because he was outraged by such hubris, changed the people into birds and increased the punishment by compelling them to give birth to their young during winter and near the sea. This is why they are called Al-kuones, because they give birth [kuein] along the sea [ala]. But when their eggs were breaking and offspring were not being provided, and as a result there was no future generation, a great grief overcame them. Zeus, then, because pity overcame him and changed his mind, pitied the pathetic birds, and assigned a peaceful time of the hear for them and it turned out that the birds could lay eggs and bring their young to life. Once that happened in later years he declared that these days should remain Halcyon days.”

Φέρεται γὰρ λόγος, ὅτι συζυγία τις ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικός—Κῆϋξ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ ἐκαλεῖτο. —ἐς τοσοῦτον ἦλθε φυσήματος, ὡς ἐθέλειν τὸν μὲν Διὸς καλεῖσθαι ὀνόματι, τὴν δὲ τῇ τῆς ῞Ηρας κλήσει καλλωπίζεσθαι. καὶ ἐποίουν μὲν αὐτοὶ οὕτω. Ζεὺς δὲ ἀχθεσθεὶς τῆς ὕβρεως μετάγει τοὺς ἀνθρώπους εἰς ὄρνις καὶ τὸ κακὸν προσαύξων ἀναγκάζει χειμῶνός τε νεοττεύειν αὐτοὺς καὶ περὶ αἰγιαλόν. ὅθεν καὶ ἀλκυόνες ἐκλήθησαν διὰ τὸ παρὰ τὴν ἅλα κύειν. ᾿Επεὶ δὲ τὰ ᾠά σφισιν ἐκλύζοντο καὶ ἦν ὁ τόκος ἀτελεσφόρητος καὶ οὐκ εἶχε τὸ γένος διαδοχήν, ἦν αὐτοῖς πολὺ πένθος, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πολύ. ὁ Ζεὺς οὖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸν οἶκτος εἰσέρχεται καὶ ἐπαναστρέφει τοῦ θυμοῦ καὶ κατελεεῖ τοὺς γοεροὺς ὄρνις καὶ ἐπιτάττει τῷ καιρῷ γαλήνην καὶ
γίνεται, καὶ οἱ ὄρνις ἐπωάζουσι καὶ εἰς φῶς ἐκφαίνουσι νεοσσούς. Καὶ τοῦτο
γενόμενον καὶ εἰς ὀπίσω καὶ ἐπὶ πολλοὺς παραμεῖναν ἐνιαυτοὺς τὰς ἀλκυονίδας
ἡμέρας ἔφηνε.

Image result for Ceyx and Alcyone
“Ceyx et Alcyone”, 18th Century Oil Painting

This story was likely part of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women as attested by fr. 10d above. Several Papyri have suggestive remains;

Fr. 71a = P. Oxy. 2999, ed. Parsons

η̣[
ε̣[
Κη̣[ϋ
῾Ιππ̣[
Κ̣ηϋ̣[
τ̣ὴ̣ν̣ ο̣[
του[σ]θ̣[
Βουτ̣[
τοὶ κού̣[ρας ἀγάγοντο
῾Υλλίδα̣[ς
τῶν γέ̣[νετ
ἠ’ οἵη Σχ[

Fr. 71a may not look like much, but if compared to fr. 10a 89-98 (=P. Oxy. 2075 fr. 2) it is interesting. Here we have the collocation of Zeus, Alkuonê, Kêuks.

Ζ̣[εὺς δὲ ἰδὼν νεμ]έ̣σ̣ησεν ἀπ’ αἰγλήεντ̣ος̣ ᾿Ολύ̣μ̣π̣[ου,
καὶ τὴν μ̣ὲ̣ν ποί̣[ησε πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε
ἀλκυ̣ό̣ν’, ἥ τ̣[
ἀνθρώπων̣ [
ναίει καί ῥ’ ἁλίοι[
Κήϋξ δ’ οὔτε π̣[
παύεται ἀΐσσω̣[ν
ἵεται ᾿Αλκυόνη[ς
ἀλλὰ Διὸς κρυπ[τὸς πέλεται νόος, οὐδέ τις ἀνδρῶν
φράζ̣ε̣σ̣θαι δύ[ναται

Fragmentary Friday: Odysseus’ Weak Wooing of Helen

Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, Fr. 198 MW (=154C Most) 2-9

“From Ithaca the sacred force of Odysseus came to woo,
The son of Laertes who knows many well made plans.
He did not ever send any gifts for the thin-ankled girl,
For he knew in his heart that fair Menelaos would conquer
For he was the best of Achaeans in wealth.
But he sent messages to Sparta, always,
To horse-taming Kastor and prize-winning Polydeukes

ἐκ δ’ ᾿Ιθάκης ἐμνᾶτο ᾿Οδυσσῆος ἱερὴ ἴς,
υἱὸς Λαέρταο πολύκροτα μήδεα εἰδώς.
δῶρα μὲν οὔ ποτ’ ἔπεμπε τανισφύρου εἵνεκα κούρης·
ἤιδεε γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ὅτι ξανθὸς Μενέλαος
νικήσει, κτήνωι γὰρ ᾿Αχαιῶν φέρτατος ἦεν·
ἀγγελίην δ’ αἰεὶ Λακεδαίμονάδε προΐαλλεν
Κάστορί θ̣’ ἱπποδάμ̣ω̣ι̣ καὶ ἀεθλοφόρωι Πολυδεύκει.

hoplites

Some of the longer fragments of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women deal with the wooing of Helen. While later traditions offer various explanations for why Menelaos prevailed, several fragments isolate one feature of her future bridegroom:

Hesiod, Fr.204 85-57

“But everyone
The son of Atreus, war-loving Menelaus conquered
Because he brought the most [gifts]….”
… ἀλ̣λ̣’ ἄ̣[ρα πάντας
᾿Ατρε[ίδ]ης ν̣[ίκησε]ν ἀρηΐφιλος Μενέλαος
πλεῖ̣[στ]α πορών…

Hes. Fr. 203

“The Olympian gave bravery to the descendants of Aiakos,
Brains to the offspring of Amythaon, and wealth to the sons of Atreus.”

ἀλκὴν μὲν γὰρ ἔδωκεν ᾿Ολύμπιος Αἰακίδηισι,
νοῦν δ’ ᾿Αμυθαονίδαις, πλοῦτον δ’ ἔπορ’ ᾿Ατρεΐδηισι.

Aiakos was the father of Peleus and Telamon, making him the grandfather of Achilles and Ajax. The descendants of Amythaon were prophets through his son Melampous. The sons of Atreus were Agamemnon and Menelaos.

Fragmentary Friday: Two Hesiodic Passages on Autolykos

Fragment 64 .15-19

“….Divine Philonis
Who bore Autolykos and Philammon*, famous for his voice;
She gave birth to the first after she was impregnated by Apollo,
And then, after she had lovely sex with Hermes too,
She gave birth to Autolykos with the Kyllenian slayer of Argos.”

[                          ]δ̣ῖ̣α̣ Φι̣λ̣ων̣[ίς
ἣ τέκεν Αὐτόλυκόν τε Φιλάμμονά τε κλυτὸν αὐδήν,
τὸν μὲν ὑποδμηθεῖσα ἑκηβόλωι ᾿Α]π̣όλ[λ]ω̣νι,
τὸν δ’ αὖθ’ ῾Ερμάωνι μιγεῖσ’ ἐρατῆι] φιλ[ό]τητι̣
Αὐτόλυκον τίκτεν Κυλληνίωι ᾿Αρ]γεϊ[φ]ό̣ντ̣[ηι

*Philammon became a powerful singer thanks to his father, Apollo, and in some traditions is credited with founding the practice of singing hymns to Leto, Artemis and Apollo. He has a son with the nymph Argiope, Thamyris, who challenges the Muses in a singing competition and loses. Autolykos’ daughter, Antiklea, is Odysseus’ mother.

 

Fragment 67

Aeidelon means unseen. Eido is to recognize something, whence we derive “I know” (oida) Eidelos is formed the way pempelos is from pempô. Formed with a suffix, aeidelos is someone that is not seen. In the work of Nicander, it comes from that which is always apparent. He explains about this that it is derived from aeidêlon with a shortening of the eta to an epsilon. But a very clear meaning has been established for aeidelos. For Hesiod uses the word concerning Autolykos to indicate what is unseen:

“Whatever he took with his hands, he made it all unseen” (fr. 67 MW)

For, since he was a thief, he would steal horses and make them look different. He changed their colors. Cf. to aidêlon.

ἀείδελον σημαίνει τὸν ἀόρατον. ῎Εστιν εἴδω τὸ γινώσκω· ᾧ ἀντιπαράκειται τὸ οἶδα. Γίνεται εἴδελος, ὡς πέμπω πέμπελος· καὶ συνθέσει ἀείδελος, ὁ μὴ θεωρούμενος. Παρὰ δὲ Νικάνδρῳ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀεὶ φανεροῦ κεῖται. Περὶ οὗ ἐστὶν εἰπεῖν, ὅτι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀείδηλον γέγονε κατὰ συστολὴν τοῦ η εἰς ε·

Τοῦ δὲ τέρας περίσημον ἀείδελον ἐστήρικτο. Νίκανδρος. ᾿Επὶ δὲ τοῦ ἀοράτου ἐχρήσατο τῇ λέξει ῾Ησίδος περὶ τοῦ Αὐτολύκου. Φησὶ γὰρ, ῞Οττι κε χερσὶ λάβεσκεν, ἀείδελα πάντα τίθεσκεν. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ αὐτὸς, κλέπτης ὢν, ἔκλεπτε τοὺς ἵππους, καὶ ἀλλοιοφανεῖς αὐτοὺς ἀπετέλει· ἐνήλλασσε δὲ τὰς χροιὰς αὐτῶν. Ζήτει εἰς τὸ ἀΐδηλον.

 

Interested in ἀΐδηλον? I wrote a little piece about it.

Achilles Missed out on Helen Because He Was At School (Hes. Cat. fr. 204.86-93)

Last week, we posted a part of the Catalogue of Women with the catalogue of Helen’s suitors, explaining that Menelaos won Helen’s hand because of the magnitude of his wealth. The fragment, however, does not stop there. No! It has to explain why Achilles didn’t win Helen’s hand:

Fr. 204.86-93

“Atreus’ war-loving son Menelaos conquered everyone
Because he gave the most gifts. Kheiron took Peleus’ son
of swift feet to wooded Pelion, that most exceptional of men,
when he was still a child. War-loving Menelaos wouldn’t have defeated him
nor would any other Mortal man on the earth who was wooing
Helen if swift Achilles had come upon her when she was still a maiden
As he returned home from Pelion.
But, as it turned out, war-loving Menelaos got her first.”

᾿Ατρε[ίδ]ης ν̣[ίκησε]ν ἀρηΐφιλος Μενέλαος
πλεῖ̣[στ]α πορών. Χε̣ί̣ρων δ’ ἐν Πηλίωι ὑλήεντι
Πηλείδην ἐκ̣ό̣μιζε πόδας ταχύν, ἔξοχον ἀνδρῶν,
παῖδ’ ἔτ’ ἐόν[τ’·] οὐ γάρ μιν ἀρηΐφιλος Μενέλαος
νίκησ’ οὐδέ τις ἄλλος ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
μνηστεύων ῾Ελένην, εἴ μιν κίχε παρθένον οὖσαν
οἴκαδε νοστήσας ἐκ Πηλίου ὠκὺς ᾿Αχιλλεύς.
ἀλλ’ ἄρα τὴν πρίν γ’ ἔσχεν ἀρηΐφιλος Μενέλαος·

In other traditions Achilles actually is a suitor. (Pausanias 3.24; Euripides’, Helen 98-99; see Ormand, THe Hesiodic Catalogue of Women and Archaic Greece, 2014, 149-150 and 198-201). Hesiod, however, finds it necessary to explain why he is sidelined from this game…

Leprosy in Ancient Myth? Marginalia from Bernard Knox on Hesiod

Recently I ordered a used copy of Merkelbach’s and West’s Fragmenta Hesiodea online. When I received the book in the mail, I discovered that it had once belonged to the late Hellenist Bernard Knox.

Inside the Front Cover
Inside the Front Cover

This was exciting and interesting in a way only a classicist or a bibliophile could understand completely. There is something about making inter-generational connections this way that is both humbling and attractive. In a morbid way, it made me wonder if people would still be acquiring used books some day after my passing…

For those of us who love them, books are a private and intense connection. A friend of mine from graduate school was so intense about this connection that he refused to ever give books as a gift. He quipped that books were as intimate as underwear—would you give undergarments just to anyone?

And marginal notes can be both embarrassing and illuminating. I write all over my books and I shudder to think of anyone making sense of my scribblings or forming any judgment based on them. I should start writing in pencil.

Apart from such musings, the book has marginal notes I can only assume come from the man himself. They are in a light, fine pencil. Where he writes Greek, his letters have the fine clarity of someone long accustomed to writing Greek in a school setting. Most of his markings are mere lines showing interest or surprise. What is interesting about the passage is often unclear, but one section made me laugh out loud.

 

Leprosy?
Leprosy?

Fragment 133

“Dread flowed from the sore over their heads,
Their skin turned white all over, and their hair was streaming
From their heads as their noble scalps were stripped bald.”

P. Oxy. 2488A, ed. Lobel

[ ]δε̣.ο̣[
[ ]ἀπείρονα γαῖαν
καὶ γάρ σφιν κεφαλῆισι κατὰ κνύος αἰνὸν ἔχευεν·
ἀλφὸς γὰρ χρόα πάντα κατέσχ<εθ>εν, αἱ δέ νυ χαῖται
ἔρρεον ἐκ κεφαλέων, ψίλωτο δὲ καλὰ κάρηνα.

This passage seems to describe a plague and may be part of the madness afflicted by Hera on the daughters of Proitos (relieved by the seer Melampous). Knox’s identification of this as leprosy is striking because (1) I cannot tell if he is serious and (2) it is one of the only English words written in the whole text.

I cannot judge whether or not this is a joke because I don’t know anything about leprosy or sexually transmitted diseases in the ancient world. Anyone?

Fragmentary Friday: Why Did Menelaos Win Helen’s Hand? Money.

Some of the longer fragments of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women deal with the wooing of Helen. While later traditions offer various explanations for why Menelaos prevailed, several fragments isolate one feature of her future bridegroom:

Hesiod, Fr.204 85-57

“But everyone
The son of Atreus, war-loving Menelaus conquered
Because he brought the most [gifts]….”
… ἀλ̣λ̣’ ἄ̣[ρα πάντας
᾿Ατρε[ίδ]ης ν̣[ίκησε]ν ἀρηΐφιλος Μενέλαος
πλεῖ̣[στ]α πορών…

Hesiod, fr. 198 2-6

“The sacred strength of Odysseus wooed her too,
the son of Laertes who understood clear things.
He did not send any gifts for the sake of the slender-ankled girl.
for he knew in his mind that fair Menelaos
would prevail, since he was the best of the Achaians in property.”

ἐκ δ’ ᾿Ιθάκης ἐμνᾶτο ᾿Οδυσσῆος ἱερὴ ἴς,
υἱὸς Λαέρταο πολύκροτα μήδεα εἰδώς.
δῶρα μὲν οὔ ποτ’ ἔπεμπε τανισφύρου εἵνεκα κούρης·
ἤιδεε γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ὅτι ξανθὸς Μενέλαος
νικήσει, κτήνωι γὰρ ᾿Αχαιῶν φέρτατος ἦεν·

It seems that the wealth of the Atreids was a motif contrasted with the qualities of other families:

Hes. Fr. 203

“The Olympian gave bravery to the descendants of Aiakos,
Brains to the offspring of Amythaon, and wealth to the sons of Atreus.”

ἀλκὴν μὲν γὰρ ἔδωκεν ᾿Ολύμπιος Αἰακίδηισι,
νοῦν δ’ ᾿Αμυθαονίδαις, πλοῦτον δ’ ἔπορ’ ᾿Ατρεΐδηισι.

Aiakos was the father of Peleus and Telamon, making him the grandfather of Achilles and Ajax. The descendants of Amythaon were prophets through his son Melampous. The sons of Atreus were Agamemnon and Menelaos.

Nelly knew this answer. I am sure of it:

Locum funditus corruptum: Who Was Deucalion’s Mother?

I recently started reading more of the fragments of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women. In doing so, I came across the mess that is the parentage of Deucalion.

Schol. Ad Hom. Od. 2.2 hypothesis

“Deukaliôn, in whose time the deluge happened, was the son of Prometheus and his mother—according to most authors—was Klymenê. But Hesiod says that his mother was Pronoê and Akousilaos claims that it was Hesione, the daughter of Okeanos and Prometheus. He married Pyrra who was the daughter of Epimêtheus and Pandôra the one who was given by Epimetheus in exchange for fire. Deukalion had two daughters, Prôtogeneia and Melantheia, and two sons, Ampiktuôn and Hellen, whom others say was actually an offspring of Zeus, but in truth he was Deucalion’s”.

Δευκαλίων, ἐφ’ οὗ ὁ κατακλυσμὸς γέγονε, Προμηθέως μὲν ἦν υἱὸς, μητρὸς δὲ, ὡς οἱ πλεῖστοι λέγουσι, Κλυμένης, ὡς δὲ ῾Ησίοδος Προνοής, ὡς δὲ ᾿Ακουσίλαος ῾Ησιόνης τῆς ᾿Ωκεανοῦ καὶ Προμηθέως. ἔγημε δὲ Πύρραν τὴν ᾿Επιμηθέως καὶ Πανδώρας τῆς ἀντὶ τοῦ πυρὸς δοθείσης τῷ ᾿Επιμηθεῖ εἰς γυναῖκα. γίνονται δὲ τῷ Δευκαλίωνι θυγατέρες μὲν δύο Πρωτογένεια καὶ Μελάνθεια, υἱοὶ δὲ ᾿Αμφικτύων καὶ ῞Ελλην. οἱ δὲ λέγουσιν ὅτι ῞Ελλην γόνῳ μὲν ἦν Διὸς, λόγῳ δὲ Δευκαλίωνος. ἐξ οὗ ῞Ελληνος Αἴολος πατὴρ Κρηθέως.

This story is a bit strange but repeats the typical connection between man and Prometheus. Here, however, mortal man is descended from Prometheus via Deucalion. He married his cousin, which was not all that uncommon, and the rest of the story proceeds somewhat as is typical (leading to the birth of Hellen, the origin of the ethnonym Hellenes).

Continue reading “Locum funditus corruptum: Who Was Deucalion’s Mother?”