“This is One of Those Speeches”: Isocrates on Good Advice and the Common Enemy

Isocrates, Panegyricus 1-6

“I have often been surprised at those who called together the assemblies and established the athletic contests, particularly at the fact that, while they considered the successes of the body to be worthy of prizes so great, they apportioned no kind of honor to those who had toiled for the commons with their private effort and who had prepared their minds so that they might be able to help others. It is appropriate to make a greater consideration for these men—for, although athletes obtain twice the amount of their strength, they provide nothing more for everyone else; but should one man offer good advice, everyone who wants to share in his opinion would profit.

And, truly, I do not choose to take it easy because I have been dispirited by this things—no, because I think that I will have as a sufficient prize the reputation that will come from this speech, I have come for the purpose of counseling you about both the war against the barbarians and your harmony with one another. And I do this even though I am not ignorant that many of those who pretend to be wise have rushed to this subject before, but because at the same time I expect that I will take this so far that nothing will seem to have ever been spoken before on this matters, and, because I think that these are the most noble words, ones that happen to be about the most important matters and which illuminate those who speak them the best and most help those who hear them. This is one of those speeches.

Furthermore, the opportunity to act has not yet passed us by—so it is not pointless to speak about these matters. For it is right to stope speaking about something when an end has overtaken affairs and it is no longer necessary to advise about them, or when one sees that the argument has such an end that nothing is left for others to say. But as long as these are similar to how they were before, and what was previously said happens to be insufficient, how is it not right to examine and weigh this argument philosophically when the correct plan will free us from this war against one another, our present turmoil, and the greatest evils we face?”

Πολλάκις ἐθαύμασα τῶν τὰς πανηγύρεις συναγαγόντων καὶ τοὺς γυμνικοὺς ἀγῶνας καταστησάντων, ὅτι τὰς μὲν τῶν σωμάτων εὐτυχίας οὕτω μεγάλων δωρεῶν ἠξίωσαν, τοῖς δ᾿ ὑπὲρ τῶν κοινῶν ἰδίᾳ πονήσασι καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχὰς οὕτω παρασκευάσασιν ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ὠφελεῖν δύνασθαι, τούτοις δ᾿ οὐδεμίαν τιμὴν ἀπένειμαν· ὧν εἰκὸς ἦν αὐτοὺς μᾶλλον ποιήσασθαι πρόνοιαν· τῶν μὲν γὰρ ἀθλητῶν δὶς τοσαύτην ῥώμην λαβόντων οὐδὲν ἂν πλέον γένοιτο τοῖς ἄλλοις, ἑνὸς δὲ ἀνδρὸς εὖ φρονήσαντος ἅπαντες ἂν ἀπολαύσειαν οἱ βουλόμενοι κοινωνεῖν τῆς ἐκείνου διανοίας.

Οὐ μὴν ἐπὶ τούτοις ἀθυμήσας εἱλόμην ῥᾳθυμεῖν, ἀλλ᾿ ἱκανὸν νομίσας ἆθλον ἔσεσθαί μοι τὴν δόξαν τὴν ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ τοῦ λόγου γενησομένην ἥκω συμβουλεύσων περί τε τοῦ πολέμου τοῦ πρὸς τοὺς βαρβάρους καὶ τῆς ὁμονοίας τῆς πρὸς ἡμᾶς αὐτούς, οὐκ ἀγνοῶν ὅτι πολλοὶ τῶν προσποιησαμένων εἶναι σοφιστῶν ἐπὶ τοῦτον τὸν λόγον ὥρμησαν, ἀλλ᾿ ἅμα μὲν ἐλπίζων τοσοῦτον διοίσειν ὥστε τοῖς ἄλλοις μηδὲν πώποτε δοκεῖν εἰρῆσθαι περὶ αὐτῶν, ἅμα δὲ προκρίνας τούτους καλλίστους εἶναι τῶν λόγων, οἵτινες περὶ μεγίστων τυγχάνουσιν ὄντες καὶ τούς τε λέγοντας μάλιστ᾿ ἐπιδεικνύουσι καὶ τοὺς ἀκούοντας πλεῖστ᾿ ὠφελοῦσιν, ὧν εἷς οὗτός ἐστιν. ἔπειτ᾿ οὐδ᾿ οἱ καιροί πω παρεληλύθασιν, ὥστ᾿ ἤδη μάτην εἶναι τὸ μεμνῆσθαι περὶ τούτων. τότε γὰρ χρὴ παύεσθαι λέγοντας, ὅταν ἢ τὰ πράγματα λάβῃ τέλος καὶ μηκέτι δέῃ βουλεύεσθαι περὶ αὐτῶν, ἢ τὸν λόγον ἴδῃ τις ἔχοντα πέρας, ὥστε μηδεμίαν λελεῖφθαι τοῖς ἄλλοις ὑπερβολήν. ἕως δ᾿ ἂν τὰ μὲν ὁμοίως ὥσπερ πρότερον φέρηται, τὰ δ᾿ εἰρημένα φαύλως ἔχοντα τυγχάνῃ, πῶς οὐ χρὴ σκοπεῖν καὶ φιλοσοφεῖν τοῦτον τὸν λόγον, ὃς ἢν κατορθωθῇ, καὶ τοῦ πολέμου τοῦ πρὸς ἀλλήλους καὶ τῆς ταραχῆς τῆς παρούσης καὶ τῶν μεγίστων κακῶν ἡμᾶς ἀπαλλάξει;


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Two Accounts for the Name Therapne: Helen Dendrites; Clever Menelaos

In a mythography assignment, several students wrote about cults of Helen in the ancient world (below are some of the secondary texts I told them to consult). I don’t know if I forgot or just never heard of the story of Helen’s death in Rhodes (below). Several students mentioned this (including the one who just wrote about Helen’s deaths). Pausanias presents the best known account of this story; there is a variation from a rhetorician below.

Pausanias 3.19. 9–13

“Therapnê has its name for the country from the daughter of Lelegos. There is a shrine of Menelaos there where they say that Menelaos and Helen are married. The Rhodians do not agree with the Lakedamonians when they say that because Menelaos died and Orestes was still wandering, Helen was expelled by Nikostratos and Megapenthes and arrived in Rhodes where she had help from Poluksô, the wife of Tlepolemos. Poluksô was Argive by birth, and she shared Tlepolemos’ exile to Rhodes after she married him. Then she ruled the island, abandoned with an orphan child. They claim that this Poluksô, once she got her in her power, wanted to take vengeance upon Helen for the death of Tlepolemos. When Helen was bathing, she sent serving women dressed up just like the Furies to her. These women took ahold of Helen and hanged her from a tree. For this reason, there is a shrine to “Helen of the Tree”.

Θεράπνη δὲ ὄνομα μὲν τῷ χωρίῳ γέγονεν ἀπὸ τῆς Λέλεγος θυγατρός, Μενελάου δέ ἐστιν ἐν αὐτῇ ναός, καὶ Μενέλαον καὶ Ἑλένην ἐνταῦθα ταφῆναι λέγουσιν. Ῥόδιοι δὲ οὐχ ὁμολογοῦντες Λακεδαιμονίοις φασὶν Ἑλένην Μενελάου τελευτήσαντος, Ὀρέστου δὲ ἔτι πλανωμένου, τηνικαῦτα ὑπὸ Νικοστράτου καὶ Μεγαπένθους διωχθεῖσαν ἐς Ῥόδον ἀφικέσθαι Πολυξοῖ τῇ Τληπολέμου γυναικὶ ἔχουσαν ἐπιτηδείως· εἶναι γὰρ καὶ Πολυξὼ τὸ γένος Ἀργείαν, Τηλπολέμῳ δὲ ἔτι πρότερον συνοικοῦσαν φυγῆς μετασχεῖν τῆς ἐς Ῥόδον καὶ τῆς νήσου τηνικαῦτα ἄρχειν ὑπολειπομένην ἐπὶ ὀρφανῷ παιδί. ταύτην τὴν Πολυξώ φασιν ἐπιθυμοῦσαν Ἑλένην τιμωρήσασθαι τελευτῆς τῆς Τληπολέμου τότε, ὡς ἔλαβεν αὐτὴν ὑποχείριον, ἐπιπέμψαι οἱ λουμένῃ θεραπαίνας Ἐρινύσιν ἴσα ἐσκευασμένας· καὶ αὗται διαλαβοῦσαι δὴ τὴν Ἑλένην αἱ γυναῖκες ἀπάγχουσιν ἐπὶ δένδρου, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτῳ Ῥοδίοις Ἑλένης ἱερόν ἐστι Δενδρίτιδος.

Polyainos, 2nd Century CE (Strategemata 1.13)

“When Menelaos was leaving from Egypt and bringing Helen along he visited Rhodes. The wife of Tlepolemos, who died at Troy, Poluksô, was grieving when someone announced that Menelaos had arrived with Helen. She was planned to avenge her husband and ran toward the ships with all of the Rhodian men and women gathering up stones and fire. When Menelaos was prevented from departing by a wind, he hid Helen in the hollow ship and put her outfit and crown on the maid who was most beautiful. Because they actually believed that this was Helen, they [hurled] fire and stones at the serving woman and retreated because they believed that the death of Helen was a sufficient retribution for Tlepolemos. Then Menelaos sailed away, keeping Helen.”

Μενέλαος ἐπανιὼν ἀπ’ Αἰγύπτου τὴν ῾Ελένην ἄγων ῾Ρόδῳ προσέσχε. Τληπολέμου δὲ ἐν Τροίᾳ τεθνηκότος γυνὴ Πολυξὼ πενθοῦσα, ἐπειδή τις ἤγγειλε Μενέλεων μετὰ τῆς ῾Ελένης ἥκειν, τιμωρῆσαι τῷ ἀνδρὶ βουλομένη μετὰ ῾Ροδίων ἁπάντων ἀνδρῶν καὶ γυναικῶν αἰρομένων πῦρ καὶ λίθους ἐπὶ τὰς ναῦς κατέδραμε. Μενέλεως ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος ἀναχθῆναι κωλυόμενος τὴν μὲν ῾Ελένην ἐς κοίλην ναῦν κατέκρυψε, τὸν δὲ κόσμον αὐτῆς καὶ τὸ διάδημα θεραπαίνῃ τῇ μάλιστα καλλίστῃ περιέθηκεν. οἱ δὲ (μάλιστα) πιστεύσαντες ῾Ελένην εἶναι πῦρ καὶ λίθους ἐπὶ τὴν θεράπαιναν *** καὶ ὡς ἱκανὴν δίκην ἐπὶ τῷ Τληπολέμῳ λαβόντες τὸν ῾Ελένης θάνατον ἀνεχώρησαν. Μενέλεως δὲ τὴν ῾Ελένην ἔχων ἀπέπλευσεν.

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Some useful texts

Ruby Blondell. Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation. Oxford: 2013.

Linda Lee Clader. Helen: The Evolution from Divine to Heroic in Greek Epic Tradition. Leiden: Brill, 1976.

Lowell Edmunds. Stealing Helen: The Myth of the Abducted Wife in Comparative Perspective. Princeton 2016.

R. Farnell. The Cults of the Greek City States. 5 Volumes.

Timothy Gantz. Early Greek myth: a guide to literary and artistic sources. Baltimore.

Robert Fowler. Early Greek Mythography. 2 Vols. 2000 and 2013.

Jennifer Larson. Greek Heroine Cults. Madison, 1995. BL795.H47 L37 1995


“Dual”-ing Mythologies: One Erginos or Two?

Two different figures named Erginos seem to appear in Greek mythographic and poetic traditions. One is Erginos the son of Klumenos, a descendent of Minyas and king of Orchomenos. Another is a son of Apollo who traveled from Miletus to join the voyage of the Argonauts. Pindar appears to combine the two.

The son of Poseidon who appears in Argonautic tales is said to be from Miletus:
Apollonius Rhodes, Argonautica 186-189:

“And two other children of Poseidon arrived,
One abandoned the city of glorious Miletus,
Erginos,the other, overwhelming Angkaios,
Left the seat of Imbrasian Hera, Parthenia.
Both boasted of their knowledge of seafaring and war.”

καὶ δ’ ἄλλω δύο παῖδε Ποσειδάωνος ἵκοντο,
ἤτοι ὁ μὲν πτολίεθρον ἀγαυοῦ Μιλήτοιο
νοσφισθεὶς ᾿Εργῖνος, ὁ δ’ ᾿Ιμβρασίης ἕδος ῞Ηρης
Παρθενίην ᾿Αγκαῖος ὑπέρβιος· ἴστορε δ’ ἄμφω
ἠμὲν ναυτιλίης ἠδ’ ἄρεος εὐχετόωντο.

Orphic Argonautica, 152-4:

“Erginos also came, leaving begin the rich-grained field
Of Brankhos and the land of dusky Milêtos,
where the rivers of the much-wandering Maiander flow.”

῎Ηλυθε δ’ ᾿Εργῖνος, Βράγχου πολύπυρον ἄρουραν
ἐκπρολιπὼν καὶ τύρσιν ἐρυμνῆς Μιλήτοιο,
ἔνθα ῥοαὶ κλύζουσι πολυπλανέος Μαιάνδρου.

The other Erginos is a son of Klumenos and descendant of Minyas. He is from the city of Orkhomenos in Boeotia. Here is Apollodorus’ Story of Erginos (2.68-71)

“When Herakles arrived from the hunt, heralds arrived sent by Erginos so that they might seek reparations from the Thebans. The Thebans sent tribute for this reason: Menoikeos’ charioteer, named Periêrês, struck Klumenos the king of the Minyans with a stone and wounded him in the precinct of Poseidon at Ongkhêstos. When he was brought back to Orkhomenos half-dead he ordered his son Erginos to avenge his death as he died. Erginos attacked Thebes and forced them to make a treaty after killing many of them: they would send tribute to him for twenty years, a hundred bulls a year. Herakles tortured those heralds when he came upon them as they traveled to Thebes for the tribute. He cut off their ears and noses and hands and bound them by cords around their necks.

He told them to take this back as tribute for Erginos and the Minyans. Enraged over these things, Erginos led another army against Thebes. But Herakles took weapons from the Athenians, led the battle, killed Erginos, routed the Minyans and forced them to pay double the tribute to Thebes. During the battle, Amphitryon died while fighting nobly. For his excellence, Herakles received Kreon’s oldest daughter Megara and she gave him three children: Thêrimakhos, Kreontiadês, and Dêikoôn.”

ἀνακάμπτοντι δὲ αὐτῷ ἀπὸ τῆς θήρας συνήντησαν κήρυκες παρὰ ᾿Εργίνου πεμφθέντες, ἵνα παρὰ Θηβαίων τὸν δασμὸν λάβωσιν. ἐτέλουν δὲ Θηβαῖοι τὸν δασμὸν ᾿Εργίνῳ δι’ αἰτίαν τήνδε. Κλύμενον τὸν Μινυῶν βασιλέα λίθῳ βαλὼν Μενοικέως ἡνίοχος, ὄνομα Περιήρης, ἐν ᾿Ογχηστῷ Ποσειδῶνος τεμένει τιτρώσκει· ὁ δὲ κομισθεὶς εἰς ᾿Ορχομενὸν ἡμιθνὴς ἐπισκήπτει τελευτῶν ᾿Εργίνῳ τῷ παιδὶ ἐκδικῆσαι τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ. στρατευσάμενος δὲ ᾿Εργῖνος ἐπὶ Θήβας, κτείνας οὐκ ὀλίγους ἐσπείσατο μεθ’ ὅρκων, ὅπως πέμπωσιν αὐτῷ Θηβαῖοι δασμὸν ἐπὶ εἴκοσιν ἔτη, κατὰ ἔτος ἑκατὸν βόας. ἐπὶ τοῦτον τὸν δασμὸν εἰς Θήβας τοὺς κήρυκας ἀπιόντας συντυχὼν ῾Ηρακλῆς ἐλωβήσατο· ἀποτεμὼν γὰρ αὐτῶν τὰ ὦτα καὶ τὰς ῥῖνας, καὶ διὰ σχοινίων τὰς χεῖρας δήσας ἐκ τῶν τραχήλων, ἔφη τοῦτον ᾿Εργίνῳ καὶ Μινύαις δασμὸν κομίζειν. ἐφ’ οἷς ἀγανακτῶν ἐστράτευσεν ἐπὶ Θήβας. ῾Ηρακλῆς δὲ λαβὼν ὅπλα παρ’ ᾿Αθηνᾶς καὶ πολεμαρχῶν ᾿Εργῖνον μὲν ἔκτεινε, τοὺς δὲ Μινύας ἐτρέψατο καὶ τὸν δασμὸν διπλοῦν ἠνάγκασε Θηβαίοις φέρειν. συνέβη δὲ κατὰ τὴν μάχην ᾿Αμφιτρύωνα γενναίως μαχόμενον τελευτῆσαι. λαμβάνει δὲ ῾Ηρακλῆς παρὰ Κρέοντος ἀριστεῖον τὴν πρεσβυτάτην θυγατέρα Μεγάραν, ἐξ ἧς αὐτῷ παῖδες ἐγένοντο τρεῖς, Θηρίμαχος Κρεοντιάδης Δηικόων.

But an earlier narrative appears to make the two Erginoi one and the same. Pindar makes the son of Klumenos a figure who is also part of the Argonautic tradition:

Pind. Olympian 4.17-27

“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.’
A scholion to Pindar provides a little more information about this tale:

Schol.Pind. O4 32b-c
“This contest took the dishonor of the Lemnian women away from the son of Klymenos. The story goes like this: when Hypsipyle held funeral games for her father Thoas, the king of the Lemnians, it happened that the Argonauts appeared as they were sailing for the golden fleece and they offered to compete in the games. One of them, Erginos, was younger than old, but his hair was prematurely grey and he was taunted by the women for it. But he showed them in the deeds by defeating his competitors. They were the sons of Boreas, Zetes and Kalaïs.”

ἥτις διάπειρα τὸν Κλυμένου παῖδα ἀπέλυσε τῆς ἀτιμίας τῶν ἐν Λήμνῳ γυναικῶν.
ἡ δὲ ἱστορία τοιαύτη· ῾Υψιπύλης ἀγῶνα ἐπιτελούσης ἐπιτάφιον Θόαντι τῷ πατρὶ Λημνίων βασιλεῖ, συμβέβηκεν ἀπιόντας ἐπὶ τὸ χρυσοῦν δέρας τοὺς ᾿Αργοναύτας ἐκεῖσε γενέσθαι, καὶ προτραπέντας εἰς τὸν ἀγῶνα ἀγωνίσασθαι. εἷς ὢν οὖν αὐτῶν ὁ ᾿Εργῖνος νεώτερος μὲν τῷ χρόνῳ, προπόλιος δὲ τὴν κόμην, ὡς μὴ ἱκανὸς ἀγωνίσασθαι διὰ τὴν ὄψιν τῶν πολιῶν ἐγελᾶτο ὑπὸ τῶν γυναικῶν καὶ ἐπεκερτομεῖτο. ὡς δὲ διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐδείχθη ὑπερβαλλόμενος τοὺς ἀγωνιστάς· ἦσαν δὲ οἱ τοῦ Βορέου παῖδες Ζήτης καὶ Κάλαϊς·

The geographer Strabo claims that Minyans were Argonauts, and also places Erginos in Orkhomenos (9.2.40)

“Next the poet recites the catalog of the Orkhomenians, whom he distinguishes from the Boiotian tribe. He calls Orkhomenos “Minyan” from the tribe of the descendants of Minyas. People say that some of the Minyans left there for Iolcus and that this is why the Argonauts are called Minyans. The city appears to be ancient and to have been wealthy and very powerful. A testament to this is Homer, too. For when he numbers the places that were very wealthy he says “not as much as arrives in Orkhomenos or Egyptian Thebes. Indicative of its power is the fact that the Thebans paid a tribute to the Orkhomenians and their ruler Erginos who they say was killed by Herakles. Eteokles, one of those who ruled in Orkhomenos, was first to show both wealth and power in building the shrine of the Graces, either because he took graces, bestowed them, or for both reasons he honored the goddesses there.”

῾Εξῆς δ’ ὁ ποιητὴς μέμνηται τοῦ τῶν ᾿Ορχομενίων καταλόγου, χωρίζων αὐτοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ Βοιωτιακοῦ ἔθνους. καλεῖ δὲ Μινύειον τὸν ᾿Ορχομενὸν ἀπὸ ἔθνους τοῦ Μινυῶν· ἐντεῦθεν δὲ ἀποικῆσαί τινας τῶν Μινυῶν εἰς ᾿Ιωλκόν φασιν, ὅθεν τοὺς ᾿Αργοναύτας Μινύας λεχθῆναι. φαίνεται δὲ τὸ παλαιὸν καὶ πλουσία τις γεγονυῖα πόλις καὶ δυναμένη μέγα· τοῦ μὲν οὖν πλούτου μάρτυς καὶ ῞Ομηρος· διαριθμούμενος γὰρ τοὺς τόπους τοὺς πολυχρηματήσαντάς φησιν „οὐδ’ ὅσ’ ἐς ᾿Ορχομενὸν ποτινίσσεται, „οὐδ’ ὅσα Θήβας Αἰγυπτίας.” τῆς δυνάμεως δέ, ὅτι Θηβαῖοι δασμὸν ἐτέλουν τοῖς ᾿Ορχομενίοις καὶ ᾿Εργίνῳ τῷ τυραννοῦντι αὐτῶν, ὃν ὑφ’ ῾Ηρακλέους καταλυθῆναί φασιν. ᾿Ετεοκλῆς δέ, τῶν βασιλευσάντων ἐν ᾿Ορχομενῷ τις, Χαρίτων ἱερὸν ἱδρυσάμενος πρῶτος ἀμφότερα ἐμφαίνει, καὶ πλοῦτον καὶ δύναμιν, ὃς εἴτ’ ἐν τῷ λαμβάνειν χάριτας εἴτ’ ἐν τῷ διδόναι
κατορθῶν εἴτε καὶ ἀμφότερα, τὰς θεὰς ἐτίμησε ταύτας.

A scholion to Ap.Rhodes attempts to clarify the situation (several sources make Minyas a son of Poseidon):

Scholia to Ap.Rhodes 1.186

“One was the son, but Erginos was really a descendant. Angkaios was the son of Astupalaia, the Phoenician, and Poseidon. Erginos was the son of Klumenos, the son of Presbaon, and Bouzugê, the daugher of Lykos. He was Miletus…”

185—88a καὶ δ’ ἄλλω δύο παῖδε: ὁ μὲν ἦν υἱός, ὁ δὲ ᾿Εργῖνος ἀπόγονος· ᾿Αγκαῖος υἱὸς ᾿Αστυπαλαίας τῆς Φοίνικος καὶ Ποσειδῶνος, ᾿Εργῖνος δὲ Κλυμένου τοῦ Πρέσβωνος καὶ Βουζύγης τῆς Λύκου. ὁ δὲ Μίλητος, ἀφ’ οὗ καὶ ἡ πόλις Μίλητος…

I still haven’t figured out the Milesian connection. So expect more! But I am fairly confident that there really just was one Erginos…

A krater by the Niobid painter showing Argonauts

Asclepius’ Two Mothers

The following contains some severe misogyny and a debate about Asclepius’ ‘true’ mother:

Pausanias, 2.26.6

“There is also another story about [Asclepius], that when Korônis was pregnant with him she had sex with Iskhus, Elatos’ son and that she was killed by Artemis who was defending the insult to Apollo. But when the pyre had been lit, they say that Hermes plucked the child from the flam.

The third story seems to me to be the least true—it makes Asclepius the child of Arsinoê, the daughter of Leucippus. When Apollophanes the Arcadian came to Delphi and asked the god if Asclepius was the child of Arsinoê and thus a Messenian citizen, the oracle prophesied:

Asclepius, come as a great blessing to all mortals,
Whom lovely Korônis bore after having sex with me—
The daughter of Phlegyas in rugged Epidauros.

This oracle makes it abundantly clear that Asclepius is not Arsinoê’s child but that Hesiod or one of those poets who insert lines into Hesiod’s poetry added for the favor of the Messenians.”

λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἄλλος ἐπ’ αὐτῷ λόγος, Κορωνίδα κύουσαν ᾿Ασκληπιὸν ῎Ισχυι τῷ ᾿Ελάτου συγγενέσθαι, καὶ τὴν μὲν ἀποθανεῖν ὑπὸ ᾿Αρτέμιδος ἀμυνομένης τῆς ἐς τὸν ᾿Απόλλωνα ὕβρεως, ἐξημμένης δὲ ἤδη τῆς πυρᾶς ἁρπάσαι λέγεται τὸν παῖδα ῾Ερμῆς ἀπὸ τῆς φλογός. ὁ δὲ τρίτος τῶν λόγων ἥκιστα ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν ἀληθής ἐστιν, ᾿Αρσινόης ποιήσας εἶναι τῆς Λευκίππου παῖδα ᾿Ασκληπιόν. ᾿Απολλοφάνει γὰρ τῷ ᾿Αρκάδι ἐς Δελφοὺς ἐλθόντι καὶ ἐρομένῳ τὸν θεὸν εἰ γένοιτο ἐξ ᾿Αρσινόης ᾿Ασκληπιὸς καὶ Μεσσηνίοις πολίτης εἴη, ἔχρησεν ἡ Πυθία·

ὦ μέγα χάρμα βροτοῖς βλαστὼν ᾿Ασκληπιὲ πᾶσιν,
ὃν Φλεγυηὶς ἔτικτεν ἐμοὶ φιλότητι μιγεῖσα
ἱμερόεσσα Κορωνὶς ἐνὶ κραναῇ ᾿Επιδαύρῳ.

οὗτος ὁ χρησμὸς δηλοῖ μάλιστα οὐκ ὄντα ᾿Ασκληπιὸν ᾿Αρσινόης, ἀλλὰ ῾Ησίοδον ἢ τῶν τινα ἐμπεποιηκότων ἐς τὰ ῾Ησιόδου τὰ ἔπη συνθέντα ἐς τὴν Μεσσηνίων χάριν.

The standard details are reported in the Homeric Hymn to Asclepius:

“I begin to sing of the doctor of diseases, Asclepius,
The son of Apollo whom shining Korônis bore
In the Dotian plain, that daughter of king Phlegyas.
He’s a great blessing to mortal men, a bewitcher of painful troubles.
And hail to you lord. I am beseeching you with this song.”

᾿Ιητῆρα νόσων ᾿Ασκληπιὸν ἄρχομ’ ἀείδειν
υἱὸν ᾿Απόλλωνος τὸν ἐγείνατο δῖα Κορωνὶς
Δωτίῳ ἐν πεδίῳ κούρη Φλεγύου βασιλῆος,
χάρμα μέγ’ ἀνθρώποισι, κακῶν θελκτῆρ’ ὀδυνάων.
Καὶ σὺ μὲν οὕτω χαῖρε ἄναξ· λίτομαι δέ σ’ ἀοιδῇ.

Phlegyas  is the father of Ixion and Corônis.  His son Ixion was exiled as a murder and then, after Zeus cleansed him of his crime, he tried to rape Hera and was punished in Hades for eternity (spinning, crucified, on a wheel). One can easily imagine distancing Asclepius from this family…

The debate is treated by an ancient scholiast:

Schol. ad Pind. Pyth 3.14

“Some say Asklepios is the son of Arsinoê, others say he is the son of Korônis. Asclepiades claims that Arsinoê is the daughter of Leukippus the son of Periêros from whom comes Asklepios from Apollo and a daughter Eriôpis. Thus we have the line: “She bore in the halls Asklepios, marshall of men / after being subdued by Apollo, and well-tressed Eriôpis.” There is also of Arsinoê: “Arsinoê, after having sex withZeus and Leto’s son,bore Asklepios, blameless and strong.”

Socrates also claims that Asklepios is the offspring of Arsinoê and has been interpolated as the child of Korônis. The matters about Korônis have been reported in lines that were added into Hesiodic poetry….”

BDEFGQ τὸν μὲν εὐίππου θυγάτηρ: τὸν ᾿Ασκληπιὸν οἱ μὲν ᾿Αρσινόης, οἱ δὲ Κορωνίδος φασὶν εἶναι. ᾿Ασκληπιάδης δέ φησι τὴν ᾿Αρσινόην Λευκίππου εἶναι τοῦ Περιήρους, ἧς καὶ ᾿Απόλλωνος ᾿Ασκληπιὸς καὶ θυγάτηρ ᾿Εριῶπις· [Hes. 107 Rz.]

BEFGQ          ἡ δ’ ἔτεκ’ ἐν μεγάροις ᾿Ασκληπιὸν ὄρχαμον ἀνδρῶν,
Φοίβῳ ὑποδμηθεῖσα, ἐϋπλόκαμόν τ’ ᾿Εριῶπιν.
καὶ ᾿Αρσινόης ὁμοίως·

᾿Αρσινόη δὲ μιγεῖσα Διὸς καὶ Λητοῦς υἱῷ
τίκτ’ ᾿Ασκληπιὸν υἱὸν ἀμύμονά τε κρατερόν τε.

καὶ Σωκράτης (FHG IV p. 496) γόνον ᾿Αρσινόης τὸν ᾿Ασκληπιὸν  ἀποφαίνει, παῖδα δὲ Κορωνίδος εἰσποίητον. ἐν δὲ τοῖς εἰς ῾Ησίοδον ἀναφερομένοις ἔπεσι (fr. 123) φέρεται ταῦτα περὶ τῆς Κορωνίδος·


Later, the same scholion presents an attempt by a Greek historian to resolve the two narratives.

“Aristeidês in the text on the founding of Knidos reports this: Asclepios is the child of Apollo and Arsinoê but she was called Korônis when she was a maiden. She was the daughter of Leukippus of Amykla in Lakedaimon.”

᾿Αριστείδης δὲ ἐν τῷ περὶ Κνίδου κτίσεως συγγράμματί (FHG IV 324) φησιν οὕτως· ᾿Ασκληπιὸς ᾿Απόλλωνος παῖς καὶ ᾿Αρσι-νόης. αὕτη δὲ παρθένος οὖσα ὠνομάζετο Κορωνὶς, Λευκίππου δὲ θυγάτηρ ἦν τοῦ ᾿Αμύκλα τοῦ Λακεδαίμονος·

In this debate, we are likely witnessing a later comment (e.g. Pausanias) on an early divergence with roots in local (epichoric) traditions about the genealogy of Asclepius. The Panhellenic account (more Athenocentric in this case) is championed by Pausanias.

Whoever the mother, Asclepius’ father is constant!