Saturday, July 26, 2014

TFBT: The Event at Mecone

“to see Mecone, the seat of the blessed gods, again

Where the gods threw lots and for the first time divided

The domain among themselves after the war of the Giants”

Callimachus, frag 119 Pfeiffer


Hesiod says at Theogony [881] that it was after the Titanomachy that the blessed gods “pressed far-seeing Olympian Zeus to reign and to rule over them…So he divided their dignities amongst them.”  Presumably all the victorious gods and their allies came sort of like other divine gatherings; “There was no river that came not, save only Oceanus, nor any nymph, of all that haunt the fair copses, the springs that feed the rivers, and the grassy meadows. (Iliad 20.5)   


 So all the gods came to Mecone except Oceanus, (too big I presume) and Helios, who had to work as it were.  Pindar says at Olympian Ode 7. 54   "when Zeus and the immortals made division of the lands of earth …But for Helios (the Sun) no lot was drawn; for he was absent”.  Helios was given the island of Rhodes with the Fates assistance.


At Iliad 15.187 Poseidon attests that he casts lots with his two brothers to determine their realms  I “won for my portion the grey sea to be my habitation forever, and Hades won the murky darkness, while Zeus won the broad heaven amid the air and the clouds; but the earth and high Olympus remain yet common to us all”


Presumably Zeus reaffirmed the traditional honors of the elder gods like he promised Hecate at Theogony [410] and reconfirmed promised honors like those give to Styx prior to the war (Theogony 383)


Finally Hesiod (Theogony 545) references “For when the gods and mortal men had a dispute at Mecone.”  The dispute was over which group got which portion of the burn offerings.  Jenny Strauss Clay offers a slightly different translation “In Mekone it was decide what is a god and what a human being”


Clay writes well and extensively in “Hesiod’s Cosmos” and “The Politics of Olympus”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this review!
    Do you think the casting of lots between the Olympian brothers was honest? I somehow find it difficult to imagine that Zeus, the victorious leader, could draw a lot different from what he drew :-).
    In the Republic, Plato suggest reproductive rights in his "ideal" state to be given by lot, which should be falsified so that "poor-quality" people always lose. Maybe Plato had the mythological lot in mind.