Explaining the Cuckoo: Women Know Everything

Scholion on Theokritos, Idylls 15.64

“Women know everything, even how Zeus married Hera.”

Homer has, “They traveled together to bed, avoiding their parents’ notice”. Aristokles in his work “On the Cults of Hermione”, provides something of an odd tale about the marriage of Zeus and Hera. For, as the story goes, Zeus was planning on having sex with Hera when he noticed that she was separated from the other gods. Because he did not want to be obvious and did not want to be seen by her, he changed his appearance into a cuckoo and was waiting on a mountain which was first called Thornax but is now just called Cuckoo.

Zeus made a terrible storm on that day and when Hera was going toward the mountain alone, she stopped at the very place where there is currently a temple to Hera Teleia. The cuckoo, flew down and sat on her lap when he saw her, shivering and freezing because of the weather. Hera saw the bird and pitied him and covered him with her cloak. Then Zeus suddenly transformed his appearance and grabbed a hold of Hera. Because she was refusing him due to their mother, he promised that he would marry her.

Among the Argives, who honor the goddess the most of all the Greeks, the cult image of Hera sits in the temple on a throne holding a scepter in one hand on which a cuckoo is seated.”

πάντα γυναῖκες ἴσαντι, καὶ ὡς Ζεὺς ἀγάγεθ᾽ ῞Ηραν] … ῞Ομηρος «εἰς εὐνὴν φοιτῶντε φίλους λήθοντο τοκῆας.» ᾽Αριστοκλῆς δὲ ἐν τῶι Περὶ τῶν ῾Ερμιόνης ἱερῶν ἰδιωτέρως ἱστορεῖ περὶ τοῦ Διὸς καὶ [τοῦ τῆς] ῞Ηρας γάμου. τὸν γὰρ Δία μυθολογεῖται ἐπιβουλεύειν τῆι ῞Ηραι μιγῆναι, ὅτε αὐτὴν ἴδοι χωρισθεῖσαν ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν. βουλόμενος δὲ ἀφανὴς γενέσθαι καὶ μὴ ὀφθῆναι ὑπ᾽ αὐτῆς τὴν ὄψιν μεταβάλλει εἰς κόκκυγα καὶ καθέζεται εἰς ὄρος, ὃ πρῶτον μὲν Θόρναξ ἐκαλεῖτο, νῦν δὲ Κόκκυξ. τὸν δὲ Δία χειμῶνα δεινὸν ποιῆσαι τῆι ἡμέραι ἐκείνηι· τὴν δὲ ῞Ηραν πορευομένην μόνην ἀφικέσθαι πρὸς τὸ ὄρος καὶ καθέζεσθαι εἰς αὐτό, ὅπου νῦν ἐστιν ἱερὸν ῞Ηρας Τελείας. τὸν δὲ κόκκυγα ἰδόντα καταπετασθῆναι καὶ καθεσθῆναι ἐπὶ τὰ γόνατα αὐτῆς πεφρικότα καὶ ῥιγῶντα ὑπὸ τοῦ χειμῶνος. τὴν δὲ ῞Ηραν ἰδοῦσαν αὐτὸν οἰκτεῖραι καὶ περιβαλεῖν τῆι ἀμπεχόνηι. τὸν δὲ Δία εὐθέως μεταβαλεῖν τὴν ὄψιν καὶ ἐπιλαβέσθαι τῆς ῞Ηρας. τῆς δὲ τὴν μίξιν παραιτουμένης διὰ τὴν μητέρα, αὐτὸν ὑποσχέσθαι γυναῖκα αὐτὴν ποιήσασθαι. καὶ παρ᾽ ᾽Αργείοις δέ, οἳ μέγιστα τῶν ῾Ελλήνων τιμῶσι τὴν θεόν, τὸ [δὲ] ἄγαλμα τῆς ῞Ηρας ἐν τῶι ναῶι καθήμενον ἐν τῶι θρόνωι τῆι χειρὶ ἔχει σκῆπτρον, καὶ ἐπ᾽ αὐτῶι τῶι σκήπτρωι κόκκυξ.

Pausanias (2.17.4) describes a statue in a temple to Hera outside of Corinth:

“The statue of Hera—extraordinarily huge—sits on a throne made of gold and ivory, a work of Polykleitos. She has a crown embossed with Graces and the Seasons and carries in one hand a pomegranate fruit and in the other a scepter. I must pass over the reason for the pomegranate, since the tale is protected by sacred rite. But people say that the cuckoo bird sitting on the scepter is Zeus: because he was in love with Hera when she was a maiden and turned himself into this bird which she hunted to have as a pet. I record this story as much as the others of the gods which I offer incredulously—but I record them still.”

τὸ δὲ ἄγαλμα τῆς ῞Ηρας ἐπὶ θρόνου κάθηται μεγέθει μέγα, χρυσοῦ μὲν καὶ ἐλέφαντος, Πολυκλείτου δὲ ἔργον· ἔπεστι δέ οἱ στέφανος Χάριτας ἔχων καὶ ῞Ωρας ἐπειργασμένας, καὶ τῶν χειρῶν τῇ μὲν καρπὸν φέρει ῥοιᾶς, τῇ δὲ σκῆπτρον. τὰ μὲν οὖν ἐς τὴν ῥοιὰν—ἀπορρητότερος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λόγος—ἀφείσθω μοι· κόκκυγα δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ σκήπτρῳ καθῆσθαί φασι λέγοντες τὸν Δία, ὅτε ἤρα παρθένου τῆς ῞Ηρας, ἐς τοῦτον τὸν ὄρνιθα ἀλλαγῆναι, τὴν δὲ ἅτε παίγνιον θηρᾶσαι. τοῦτον τὸν λόγον καὶ ὅσα ἐοικότα εἴρηται περὶ θεῶν οὐκ ἀποδεχόμενος γράφω, γράφω δὲ οὐδὲν ἧσσον.

 

Jupiter and Juno on Mt. Ida, by James Barry (1773)

 

Prometheus, Philosopher King and the Invention of Marriage

Suda Pi 2506

“Prometheus: Know that during the period of the Judean Judges, Prometheus was known among the Greeks as the one who invented academic philosophy. People say that he crafted human beings because he rendered those who were idiots capable of understanding philosophy.

And there was also Epimetheus, who invented the art of music and, in addition, Atlas, who first interpreted astronomy which is why they claim he “holds up the sky”. There is also Argos of many eyes because he was seen by many people, when he was really the one who first established technical knowledge. Then there was also a prophetess named the Sibyl.

When Pharaoh, who is also called Parakhô, was king in Egypt, then Kekrops was king in Athens among the Greeks. He was called Diphyes [“double-formed”] due to the size or because he established a law that women who were still virgins should be given in marriage to a single man, after he named them brides. Previously women of the land had sex like animals. For a woman was no man’s, but gave herself like a prostitute to anyone.  No one knew whose son or daughter a child was—instead the mother used to claim and give the child to which ever man it seemed best to her to claim.

Kekrops did this because he came from Egypt and was ignorant of the law which Hephaestus had made when he ruled there before. For he claimed that it was because of this sinful intercourse that Athens was destroyed by the flood. After that point, the people who lived in Greece lived more prudently. Kekrops ruled for 40 years.”

Προμηθεύς· ὅτι ἐπὶ τῶν Κριτῶν τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων παρ’ ῞Ελλησιν ἐγνωρίζετο Προμηθεύς, ὃς εὗρε πρῶτος τὴν γραμματικὴν φιλοσοφίαν. περὶ οὗ λέγουσιν, ὅτι ἀνθρώπους ἔπλασε, καθό τινας ἰδιώτας ὄντας ἐποίησεν ἐπιγινώσκειν σοφίαν. καὶ ᾿Επιμηθεύς, ὃς ἐξεῦρε τὴν μουσικήν· καὶ ῎Ατλας, ὃς τὴν ἀστρονομίαν ἡρμήνευσε· διὸ λέγουσιν, ὅτι τὸν οὐρανὸν βαστάζει. καὶ ὁ πολυόμματος ῎Αργος, διὸ περίβλεπτος ἦν, καθότι τὴν τεχνικὴν ἐπιστήμην αὐτὸς ἐπενόησε πρῶτος. ἦν δὲ τότε

καὶ μάντις Σιβύλλα. βασιλεύοντος παρ’ Αἰγυπτίοις Φαραὼ τοῦ καὶ Παραχώ, παρ’ ῞Ελλησιν ἐν ᾿Αθήναις ἐβασίλευε Κέκροψ, ὃς ἐκλήθη Διφυὴς διὰ τὸ τοῦ σώματος μέγεθος, ἢ ὅτι νόμον ἐξέθετο, ὥστε τὰς γυναῖκας παρθένους ἔτι οὔσας ἑνὶ ἐκδίδοσθαι ἀνδρί, καλέσας αὐτὰς νύμφας· πρότερον γὰρ αἱ τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης γυναῖκες θηριώδη μίξιν ἐμίγνυντο· οὐδενὸς γὰρ ἦν γυνή, ἀλλὰ ἐδίδου ἑαυτὴν εἰς πορνείαν ἑκάστῳ. οὐδεὶς οὖν ᾔδει, τίνος ἦν υἱὸς ἢ θυγάτηρ, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἂν ἔδοξε

τῇ μητρί, ἔλεγε καὶ ἐδίδου τὸ τεχθὲν ᾧ ἐβούλετο ἀνδρί. τοῦτο δὲ ἐποίησεν ὁ Κέκροψ, ὡς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου καταγόμενος καὶ τὴν νομοθεσίαν ῾Ηφαίστου τοῦ βασιλεύσαντος ἐκεῖ οὐκ ἀγνοήσας. ἔλεγε γάρ, ὅτι διὰ τὴν τοιαύτην τῆς ἀσελγείας συνήθειαν κατεκλύσθη ἡ ᾿Αττική. ἀπὸ τότε οὖν ἐσωφρονίσθησαν οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν τῶν ῾Ελλήνων χώραν. ἐβασίλευσε δὲ Κέκροψ ἔτη ν′.

Related image
Black Figure vase with Promethus, from Pinterest

Hermione and the Sons of Heroes

Lysimachos BNJ 382 F 10b Scholia Ad Andromache, 32

Proksenos in the first book of Epirote Histories says that Pielos was born from Neoptolemos, also named Peleus, and not from Hermione as is told.

Πρόξενος δὲ ἐν τῆι πρώτηι τῶν ᾽Ηπειρωτικῶν Νεοπτολέμου μὲν Πίελόν φησι γεγονέναι, τὸν καὶ Πηλέα· οὐ μὴν ὅτι ἐξ ῾Ερμιόνης, <ὡς> προδεδήλωται.

 

Eustathios, Commentarii ad Homeri Odysseam 1.141, vv. 26-3

“People say that Sophocles records, in his Hermione, that when Menelaos was still in Troy, Tyndareus gave her to Orestes. Later on, she was seized from him and given to Neoptolemus to honor the promise made in Troy. After Neoptolemos was killed by Makhaireus, who was asking Apollo to pay him back for his father’s murder, she was returned to Orestes again. Tisamenos was born from them.”

Σοφοκλῆς δέ φασιν ἐν Ἑρμιόνῃ ἱστορεῖ, ἐν Τροίᾳ ὄντος ἔτι Μενελάου, ἐκδοθῆναι τὴν Ἑρμιόνην ὑπὸ τοῦ Τυνδάρεω τῷ Ὀρέστῃ. εἶτα ὕστερον ἀφαιρεθεῖσαν αὐτοῦ, ἐκδοθῆναι τῷ Νεοπτολέμῳ κατὰ τὴν ἐν Τροίᾳ ὑπόσχεσιν. αὐτοῦ δὲ Πυθοῖ ἀναιρεθέντος ὑπὸ Μαχαιρέως ὅτε τὸν Ἀπόλλω τινύμενος τὸν τοῦ πατρὸς ἐξεδίκει φόνον, ἀποκαταστῆναι αὖθις αὐτὴν τῷ Ὀρέστῃ. ἐξ ὧν γενέσθαι τὸν Τισαμενόν.

From Wikimedia: By Class of Cambridge 49 – Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=511079

Weekend Party Advice: Don’t Talk about Centaurs!

Xenophanes, fr. B1 13-24

“First, it is right for merry men to praise the god
with righteous tales and cleansing words
after they have poured libations and prayed to be able to do
what is right: in fact, these things are easier to do,
instead of sacrilege. It is right as well to drink as much as you can
and still go home without help, unless you are very old.
It is right to praise a man who shares noble ideas when drinking
so that we remember and work towards excellence.
It is not right to narrate the wars of Titans or Giants
nor again of Centaurs, the fantasies of our forebears,
Nor of destructive strife. There is nothing useful in these tales.
It is right always to keep in mind good thoughts of the gods.”

χρὴ δὲ πρῶτον μὲν θεὸν ὑμνεῖν εὔφρονας ἄνδρας
εὐφήμοις μύθοις καὶ καθαροῖσι λόγοις,
σπείσαντάς τε καὶ εὐξαμένους τὰ δίκαια δύνασθαι
πρήσσειν• ταῦτα γὰρ ὦν ἐστι προχειρότερον,
οὐχ ὕβρεις• πίνειν δ’ ὁπόσον κεν ἔχων ἀφίκοιο
οἴκαδ’ ἄνευ προπόλου μὴ πάνυ γηραλέος.
ἀνδρῶν δ’ αἰνεῖν τοῦτον ὃς ἐσθλὰ πιὼν ἀναφαίνει,
ὡς ἦι μνημοσύνη καὶ τόνος ἀμφ’ ἀρετῆς,
οὔ τι μάχας διέπειν Τιτήνων οὐδὲ Γιγάντων
οὐδὲ Κενταύρων, πλάσμα τῶν προτέρων,
ἢ στάσιας σφεδανάς• τοῖς οὐδὲν χρηστὸν ἔνεστιν•
θεῶν προμηθείην αἰὲν ἔχειν ἀγαθήν.

Image result for ancient greek centaur
2nd Century CE Mosaic (Berlin)

 

The Wings of Daedalus’ Ship

Servius Danielis, Commentary ad Aeneid, 6, 14

“Phandicus, in his Deliakon says that Daedalus embarked on a ship in flight for the reasons I mentioned earlier and when those who were following got close, he spread out a large cloth to get the winds to help them and escaped in this way. When his pursuers returned, they announced that “he escaped with wings”.

Phanodicos Deliacon Daedalum propter supradictas causas fugientem navem conscendisse et, cum imminerent qui eum sequebantur, intendisse pallium ad adiuvandum ventos et sic evasisse: illos vero qui insequebantur reversos nuntiasse pinnis illum evasisse.

Pottery: black-figured kylix (drinking cup) with scenes of a merchant vessel being chased and attacked by pirates.
Kylix from the British Museum, Attic 520 BCE (1867,0508.963)

Dancing With the Heroes

Schol ad Pind. Pyth 2:

 “He used the word Kastorian because of the account of some that the Dioskouri invented the dance in armor. For some say that the Dioskouroi are dancers. Epicharmus, however, says that Athena played the martial song for the Dioskouri on an Aulos and for this reason the Lakonians march against the enemy to the same sound. But others claim that he Kastorean is a certain rhythm and that the Laconians use it when attacking the enemy.

There is also a distinction between the dance of the pyrrikhê for which the hyporkhêmata were composed. For some say that the Kouretes invented dancing in armor and performed this dance, or that Pyrrikhos of Krete or Thaletas first created them. But Sosibios argues that all hyporkhêmata are Cretan.

Still, some say that the pyrrhic dance is not named from Pyrrikhos of Crete but from Achilles’ son Pyrrhos who danced in his arms over his victory over Telephos, which the Kyprians call the prulis, making the name pyrrikhê from the pyre.”

Καστόρειον εἶπε διὰ τὸ τὴν ἔνοπλον ὄρχησιν κατ᾽ ἐνίους τοὺς Διοσκούρους εὑρεῖν· ὀρχηστικοὶ γάρ τινες οἱ Διόσκουροι. ὁ δὲ Ἐπίχαρμος τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν φησι τοῖς Διοσκούροις τὸν ἐνόπλιον νόμον ἐπαυλῆσαι, ἐξ ἐκείνου δὲ τοὺς Λάκωνας μετ᾽ αὐλοῦ τοῖς πολεμίοις προσιέναι. τινὲς δὲ ῥυθμόν τινά φασι τὸ Καστόρειον, χρῆσθαι δὲ αὐτῶι τοὺς Λάκωνας ἐν ταῖς πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους συμβολαῖς. διέλκεται δὲ ἡ τῆς πυρρίχης ὄρχησις, πρὸς ἣν τὰ ὑπορχήματα ἐγράφησαν. ἔνιοι μὲν οὖν φασι τὴν ἔνοπλον ὄρχησιν πρῶτον Κούρητας εὑρηκέναι, καὶ ὑπορχήσασθαι, αὖθις δὲ Πύρριχον Κρῆτα συντάξασθαι, Θαλήταν δὲ πρῶτον τὰ εἰς αὐτὴν ὑπορχήματα. Σωσίβιος δὲ τὰ ὑπορχηματικὰ πάντα μέλη Κρηταικὰ λέγεσθαι. ἔνιοι δὲ οὐκ ἀπὸ Πυρρίχου τοῦ Κρητὸς τὴν πυρρίχην ὠνομάσθαι ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τοῦ παιδὸς τοῦ Ἀχιλλέως Πύρρου ἐν τοῖς ὅπλοις ὀρχησαμένου ἐπὶ τῆι κατὰ Εὐρυπύλου τοῦ Τηλέφου νίκηι. ᾽Αριστοτέλης δὲ πρῶτον Ἀχιλλέα ἐπὶ τῆι τοῦ Πατρόκλου πυρᾶι τῆι πυρρίχηι κεχρῆσθαι, ἣν παρὰ Κυπρίοις φησὶ πρύλιν λέγεσθαι, ὥστε παρὰ τὴν πυρὰν τῆς πυρρίχης τὸ ὄνομα θέσθαι.

Paradoxographus Vaticanus 58

58 “First of the Greeks, the Cretans were possessing the laws which Minos set down. Minos claimed to have learned them from Zeus after he wandered for nine years over a certain month which is called the “cave of Zeus”. The children of the Cretans are raised in common and brought up hardy with one another. They learn the arts of war, and hunts, and they also practice uphill runs without shoes and they work hard on the pyrrhic dance which Purrikhos invented first.”

Κρῆτες πρῶτοι ῾Ελλήνων νόμους ἔσχον Μίνωος θεμένου· προσεποιεῖτο δὲ Μίνως παρὰ τοῦ Διὸς αὐτοὺς μεμαθηκέναι ἐννέα ἔτη εἴς τι ὄρος φοιτήσας, ὃ Διὸς ἄντρον ἐλέγετο. Οἱ Κρητῶν παῖδες ἀγελάζονται κοινῇ μετ’ ἀλλήλων σκληραγωγούμενοι καὶ τὰ πολέμια διδασκόμενοι καὶ θήρας δρόμους τε ἀνάντεις ἀνυπόδετοι ἀνύοντες καὶ τὴν ἐνόπλιον πυρρίχην ἐκπονοῦντες, ἥντινα πρῶτος εὗρε Πύρριχος.

Zenobius 3.71

“To dance in darkness”: A proverb applied to those who toil over unwitnessed things—their work is invisible.”

᾿Εν σκότῳ ὀρχεῖσθαι: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀμάρτυρα μοχθούντων, ὧν τὸ ἔργον ἀφανές.

 A war-dance was performed in honor of Athena’s birth in full-armor at the Panathenain festival (pyrrhiche). See Walter Burkert, Greek Religion 1985, 102.

Image result for hero dancing vase

A Shot in the Gut not the Foot!

Eustathius, Comm. ad Hom. Odyssey, 11.538 1696, 50

“The story is that Paris killed Achilles by shooting him with his bow. Sôstratos records that Alexandros was lusted after by Apollo and was his student in Archery. He was holding an ivory bow he got from Apollo when he shot Achilles in the stomach.”

᾽Αχιλλέα δὲ ὅτι ΙΙάρις ἀνεῖλε τοξεύσας καθωμίληται. Σώστρατος δὲ ἱστορεῖ ᾽Αλέξανδρον ᾽Απόλλωνος ἐρώμενον καὶ μαθητὴν τοξείας, ὑφ᾽ οὗ τόξον ἐλεφάντινον σχόντα τοξεῦσαι ᾽Αχιλλέα κατὰ γαστρός.

From the Decembrists’ “July July”

And I say your uncle was a crooked french Canadian
And he was gut-shot runnin’ gin
And how his guts were all suspended in his fingers
And how he held ’em
How he held ’em held, ’em in

Image result for paris shooting achilles vase

I talk a little bit about the symbolic value of foot wounds in “Diomedes’ Foot-wound and the Homeric Reception of Myth.”