Thirsty as A Wolf: How Lykia Got Its Name

BNJ 769 F 2 Antoninos Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 35

“Cowherds: Menekrates the Xanthian reports in his Lykian Matters and Nicander does as well. Once she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on the island Asteria, Leto went to Lykia carrying the children to the baths of Xanthus. And as soon she she appeared in the land, she went to the Melitean spring where she wanted her children to drink before they went to the Xanthus.

But when some cowherds drove her away, so that their cattle might drink from the spring, Leto retreated, abandoning the Melitê, and wolves came to meet her, and they gave her directions and led her right up to the Xanthus itself while wagging their tails. She drank the water, bathed her children and made the Xanthus sacred to Apollo. She also changed the land’s name to Lykia—it was called Tremilis before—after the wolves who led her there.

Then she went again to the spring to bring punishment to the cowherds who drove her off. At they time they were washing their cattle near the spring. After she changed them all into frogs and struck their backs and shoulders with rough stones, she threw them all into the spring and granted them  life in the water. In our time still, they shout out along the rivers and ponds.”

Βουκόλοι. ἱστορεῖ Μενεκράτης Ξάνθιος Λυκιακοῖς καὶ Νίκανδρος. Λητὼ ἐπεὶ ἔτεκεν ᾽Απόλλωνα καὶ ῎Αρτεμιν ἐν ᾽Αστερίαι τῆι νήσωι, ἀφίκετο εἰς Λυκίαν ἐπιφερομένη τοὺς παῖδας ἐπὶ τὰ λουτρὰ τοῦ Ξάνθου  καὶ ἐπεὶ τάχιστα ἐγένετο ἐν τῆι γῆι ταύτηι, ἐνέτυχε πρῶτα Μελίτηι κρήνηι, καὶ προεθυμεῖτο πρὶν ἐπὶ τὸν Ξάνθον ἐλθεῖν ἐνταυθοῖ τοὺς παῖδας ἀπολοῦσαι. (2) ἐπεὶ δὲ αὐτὴν ἐξήλασαν ἄνδρες βουκόλοι, ὅπως ἂν αὐτοῖς οἱ βόες ἐκ τῆς κρήνης πίωσιν, ἀπαλλάττεται καταλιποῦσα τὴν Μελίτην ἡ Λητώ, λύκοι δὲ συναντόμενοι καὶ σήναντες ὑφηγήσαντο τῆς ὁδοῦ, καὶ ἀπήγαγον ἄχρι πρὸς τὸν ποταμὸν αὐτὴν τὸν Ξάνθον. (3) ἡ δὲ πιοῦσα τοῦ ὕδατος καὶ ἀπολούσασα τοὺς παῖδας τὸν μὲν Ξάνθον ἱερὸν ἀπέδειξεν ᾽Απόλλωνος, τὴν δὲ γῆν Τρεμιλίδα λεγομένην Λυκίαν μετωνόμασεν ἀπὸ τῶν καθηγησαμένων λύκων. (4) ἐπὶ δὲ τὴν κρήνην αὖτις ἐξίκετο δίκην ἐπιβαλοῦσα τοῖς ἀπελάσασιν αὐτὴν βουκόλοις. καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀπέλουον τότε παρὰ τὴν κρήνην τοὺς βοῦς, Λητὼ δὲ μεταβαλοῦσα πάντας ἐποίησε βατράχους, καὶ λίθωι τραχεῖ τύπτουσα τὰ νῶτα καὶ τοὺς ὤμους κατέβαλε πάντας εἰς τὴν κρήνην, καὶ βίον ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καθ᾽ ὓδατος · οἱ δὲ ἄχρι νῦν παρὰ ποταμοὺς βοῶσι καὶ λίμνας.

Lycian rock cut tombs of Dalyan
Tombs in Lykia (AlexanderShap at en.wikipedia)

Thirsty as A Wolf: How Lykia Got Its Name

BNJ 769 F 2 Antoninos Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 35

“Cowherds: Menekrates the Xanthian reports in his Lykian Matters and Nicander does as well. Once she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on the island Asteria, Leto went to Lykia carrying the children to the baths of Xanthus. And as soon she she appeared in the land, she went to the Melitean spring where she wanted her children to drink before they went to the Xanthus.

But when some cowherds drove her away, so that their cattle might drink from the spring, Leto retreated, abandoning the Melitê, and wolves came to meet her, and they gave her directions and led her right up to the Xanthus itself while wagging their tails. She drank the water, bathed her children and made the Xanthus sacred to Apollo. She also changed the land’s name to Lykia—it was called Tremilis before—after the wolves who led her there.

Then she went again to the spring to bring punishment to the cowherds who drove her off. At they time they were washing their cattle near the spring. After she changed them all into frogs and struck their backs and shoulders with rough stones, she threw them all into the spring and granted them  life in the water. In our time still, they shout out along the rivers and ponds.”

Βουκόλοι. ἱστορεῖ Μενεκράτης Ξάνθιος Λυκιακοῖς καὶ Νίκανδρος. Λητὼ ἐπεὶ ἔτεκεν ᾽Απόλλωνα καὶ ῎Αρτεμιν ἐν ᾽Αστερίαι τῆι νήσωι, ἀφίκετο εἰς Λυκίαν ἐπιφερομένη τοὺς παῖδας ἐπὶ τὰ λουτρὰ τοῦ Ξάνθου  καὶ ἐπεὶ τάχιστα ἐγένετο ἐν τῆι γῆι ταύτηι, ἐνέτυχε πρῶτα Μελίτηι κρήνηι, καὶ προεθυμεῖτο πρὶν ἐπὶ τὸν Ξάνθον ἐλθεῖν ἐνταυθοῖ τοὺς παῖδας ἀπολοῦσαι. (2) ἐπεὶ δὲ αὐτὴν ἐξήλασαν ἄνδρες βουκόλοι, ὅπως ἂν αὐτοῖς οἱ βόες ἐκ τῆς κρήνης πίωσιν, ἀπαλλάττεται καταλιποῦσα τὴν Μελίτην ἡ Λητώ, λύκοι δὲ συναντόμενοι καὶ σήναντες ὑφηγήσαντο τῆς ὁδοῦ, καὶ ἀπήγαγον ἄχρι πρὸς τὸν ποταμὸν αὐτὴν τὸν Ξάνθον. (3) ἡ δὲ πιοῦσα τοῦ ὕδατος καὶ ἀπολούσασα τοὺς παῖδας τὸν μὲν Ξάνθον ἱερὸν ἀπέδειξεν ᾽Απόλλωνος, τὴν δὲ γῆν Τρεμιλίδα λεγομένην Λυκίαν μετωνόμασεν ἀπὸ τῶν καθηγησαμένων λύκων. (4) ἐπὶ δὲ τὴν κρήνην αὖτις ἐξίκετο δίκην ἐπιβαλοῦσα τοῖς ἀπελάσασιν αὐτὴν βουκόλοις. καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀπέλουον τότε παρὰ τὴν κρήνην τοὺς βοῦς, Λητὼ δὲ μεταβαλοῦσα πάντας ἐποίησε βατράχους, καὶ λίθωι τραχεῖ τύπτουσα τὰ νῶτα καὶ τοὺς ὤμους κατέβαλε πάντας εἰς τὴν κρήνην, καὶ βίον ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καθ᾽ ὓδατος · οἱ δὲ ἄχρι νῦν παρὰ ποταμοὺς βοῶσι καὶ λίμνας.

Lycian rock cut tombs of Dalyan
Tombs in Lykia (AlexanderShap at en.wikipedia)

Werewolf Week Continues: Byzantine Verse on Lycanthropy

Surrounded by the Halloween spirit because I have small children and I like trashy television, I got interested (again) in continuities between ancient monsters and modern storytelling. Inadvertently, this week has become werewolf week. I started with a reference to turning into wolves in Plato. Then, led by the Oxford Classical Dictionary, I delighted in the werewolf tale from Petronius. This led of course to Pliny the Elder.

But the werewolf hunt does not end there.  I have some Pausanias (that shares some aspects with Pliny and Plato) for later in the week. Along the way, I have found a trove of late antique and Byzantine medical treatises on Lycanthropy. (Those are coming tomorrow). I could not wait to force this upon the world: a Byzantine didactic poem based on those medical treatises!

Master Psellos, What can you tell us about wolves about men and anything else you embellish?
Master Psellos,
What can you tell us
about wolves
about men
and anything else you embellish?

The poem is from a collection of didactic verses attributed to Michael Psellos of Constantinople who lived and worked in the 11th century CE. The text comes from the Teubner edition of his poems edited by L. G. Westernik (1982).

Poemata 9.841

“One kind of melancholy is lykanthropy.
And it is clearly a type of misanthropy.
Mark thus a man who rushes from the day
When you see him at night running round graves,
With a pale face, dumb dry eyes, not a care in his rage.”

Μελάγχολόν τι πρᾶγμα λυκανθρωπία·
ἔστι γὰρ αὐτόχρημα μισανθρωπία,
καὶ γνωριεῖς ἄνθρωπον εἰσπεπτωκότα
ὁρῶν περιτρέχοντα νυκτὸς τοὺς τάφους,
ὠχρόν, κατηφῆ, ξηρόν, ἠμελημένον.

Wolves and Tyrants? Politics is Spookier than Lycanthropy (Plato)

From Plato’s Republic, Book 8 (565d)

“What is the beginning of the change from guardian to tyrant? Isn’t clear when the guardian begins to do that very thing which myth says happened at the shrine of Lykaion Zeus in Arcadia?

Which is? He said.

That once someone tastes a bit of human innards mixed up with the other sacrifices he becomes a wolf by necessity? Haven’t you heard this tale?

I have.

Is it not something the same with a protector of the people? Once he controls a mob that obeys him, he cannot restrain himself from tribal blood, but he prosecutes unjustly, the sorts of things men love to do, and brings a man into court for murder, eliminating the life of a man—and with tongue and unholy mouth that have tasted the murder of his kind, he exiles, kills, and promises the cutting of debts and the redistribution of land. Is it not by necessity that such a man is fated either to be killed by his enemies or to become a tyrant, to turn into a wolf from a man?”

Τίς ἀρχὴ οὖν μεταβολῆς ἐκ προστάτου ἐπὶ τύραννον; ἢ δῆλον ὅτι ἐπειδὰν ταὐτὸν ἄρξηται δρᾶν ὁ προστάτης τῷ ἐν τῷ μύθῳ ὃς περὶ τὸ ἐν ᾿Αρκαδίᾳ τὸ τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ Λυκαίου ἱερὸν λέγεται;

Τίς; ἔφη.

῾Ως ἄρα ὁ γευσάμενος τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου σπλάγχνου, ἐν ἄλλοις ἄλλων ἱερείων ἑνὸς ἐγκατατετμημένου, ἀνάγκη δὴ τούτῳ λύκῳ γενέσθαι. ἢ οὐκ ἀκήκοας τὸν λόγον;

῎Εγωγε.

῏Αρ’ οὖν οὕτω καὶ ὃς ἂν δήμου προεστώς, λαβὼν σφόδρα πειθόμενον ὄχλον, μὴ ἀπόσχηται ἐμφυλίου αἵματος, ἀλλ’ ἀδίκως ἐπαιτιώμενος, οἷα δὴ φιλοῦσιν, εἰς δικαστήρια ἄγων μιαιφονῇ, βίον ἀνδρὸς ἀφανίζων, γλώττῃ τε καὶ στόματι ἀνοσίῳ γευόμενος φόνου συγγενοῦς, καὶ ἀνδρηλατῇ καὶ ἀποκτεινύῃ καὶ ὑποσημαίνῃ χρεῶν τε ἀποκοπὰς καὶ γῆς ἀναδασμόν, ἆρα τῷ τοιούτῳ ἀνάγκη δὴ τὸ μετὰ τοῦτο καὶ εἵμαρται ἢ ἀπολωλέναι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἢ τυραννεῖν καὶ λύκῳ ἐξ ἀνθρώπου γενέσθαι;

In ancient Greek myth, Lykaon (Lycaon, related to lúkos, “wolf”) was a king of Arcadia. According to Pausanias (8.31-5) , Lykaon sacrificed a newborn child to Zeus. In other sources he offers the infant mixed up with other food to test Zeus’ divinity (although some attribute the deed to his sons, see Apollodorus, 3.8.1). Zeus killed the sons with lightning; Lykaon was transformed into a wolf.

There may actually be physical evidence of human sacrifice in Arcadia now.

There are other sources (Pausanias, Pliny and Petronius) who mention other lycanthropies, but this one seems like an appropriate starting point.