Friday, November 27, 2015

TFBT: Trojan Princes

This is Part II on my research into situations where the gods seem to confuse an ancient Greek hero with his lineage and vice versa.  Part I was TFBT Looking at His Lineage Rather than the Man

Homer tells us that;  "Tros, who was lord of the Trojans, and to Tros in turn there were born godlike Ganymedes who was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer, for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals[i]  This is the first instant  of the Olympians’ love of  Trojan princes, apparently due to their beauty.    Ganymede consequently became immortal and unaging.  He never had any children.  However his brother unfaulted Ilus fathered Capys and his other brother Assaracus fathered the universally hated Laomedon.   

Laomedon in turn sired Priam and Tithonus.  Of Tithonus we hear that  golden-throned Eos (Dawn) snatched up Tithonus presumeable because he was as beautiful as the deathless gods and brought him to Ethiopia, and there consorting with him she bore two sons, Emathion and Memnon.[ii]  At some point the rosy fingered goddess went to ask the dark-clouded Son of Cronos that he should be deathless and live eternally; and Zeus bowed his head to her prayer and fulfilled her desire.”[iii]  When Memnon died as men do, the gods so loved him that once again the granted immortality to a descendant of Tros.[iv]  Memnon’s cousin Hector too is  “dear to the gods.” [v]  

Meanwhile the descendants of Capys though not made immortal seemed to be dear to the gods also because of their great beauty.  Hence we hear;  

"Anchises, (son of Capys) most glorious of mortal men, take courage and be not too fearful in your heart. You need fear no harm from me nor from the other blessed ones, for you are dear to the gods: and you shall have a dear son who shall reign among the Trojans, and children's children after him, springing up continually. His name shall be Aeneas, because I felt awful grief in that I laid me in the bed of mortal man: yet are those of your race always the most like to gods of all mortal men in beauty and in stature.” (Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 191)  

Of Aeneas’ son Ascanius supposedly Virgil says in the Aeneid “Blessings on your fresh courage, boy, scion of gods and ancestor of gods yet to be, so it is man rises to the stars." 

Ascanius was ancestor of the Emperor August of Rome.  He as also the ancestor of Queen Victoria who ruled a quarter of the planet and upon whose empire the sun never set.  These two other descendants of Tros seem pretty favored by the gods too!

[i] ( Iliad 20. 232)  
[iii] HOMERIC HYMNS 5. [218] 
[iv] (Arctinus of Miletus, The Aethiopis Frag 1 (from Proclus, Chrestomathia 2) 
[v] (Homer, Iliad 24:[746)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

TFBT: My Best Blog on a Greek Heroine?

Maya, Monica and All,

I offered to write a blog for Hour 25. My blog on Aethra, mother of Theseus was a big hit.  So they asked for a blog on another woman.  So, my  question to you is; have I written a blog about a woman or women I could update and offer up?


Monday, November 16, 2015

TFBT: Greater Than His Father

 "Charlemange did not want his daughters married for strategic reasons, fearing political rivalry from their potential husbands. "  Bertha; Wikipedia

None of the first generation Titanesses or second generation non-Olympian Titanesses chose  life-long virginity as a lifestyle.  They all apparently bore and raised children.  In suspicious contrast life-long virginity was a self choice among Olympian goddesses.  Zeus daughters Artemis and Athena along with his sister Hestia chose to maintained their virginity (HH to Aphrodite).  Likewise his early ally Hecate (Apollonius Rhodiius 3.840). There was always a concern among the Olympians that a child of theirs might prove greater than his father.  (For example; Poseidon's sons Otus & Ephialtes, Poseidon and Zeus' potential son Achilles and Hera's son Typhon).   Maybe this supposed self restraint was "fearing political rivalry from their potential husbands. " 

The only other Titanic family to be on the winning side of the Titanomachy were the Olympian's presumed allies the Hyperionides; Helios, Selene and Eos. Aphrodite cursed Eos and Helios with a passion for mortals.  (Apollodorus 1.27 & Metamorphoses 41.69). Their sister showed similar tendency.  The curse conveniently reduces the chances of them producing offspring greater than Zeus .

The oracle about Thetis predicted that she could bear to Zeus or Poseidon ( and probably Hades) a son greater than his father. (Hyginus, Fabulae 54). Did Zeus know this and rig the contest when they threw lots and divided up the cosmos?   

"Haides was usually regarded as an infertile god, for a god of the dead should, by his very nature, be incapable of siring children." (Aaron Atsma). 

Poseidon got stuck with the sea and was obligated for political reasons to bed Pontides to insure his influence under the sea.  This clan of sea gods produced most the monsters in Greek myth.  Inter-breeding with them produced a brood of hybrid children for Poseidon.  Triton (Theogony 930) had the head of a god and "hairy trunk of a man to the waist and below the belly of a great fish." (Aeneid 10.209) and was Poseidon's son by the Nereid Amphitrite.  The Cyclops Polyphemus was Poseidon's son by the phorcide Thoosa.  And the winged horse Pegasus he sired on the Phorcide Medusa.  Not exactly threats to Zeus' throne.  Could Zeus had arranged this too!

So, like Charlemange, maybe Zeus convinced his daughters, a sister and cousin to be virgins.  Maybe he Restricted the blood lines of his allies and brothers.    What do you think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

TFBT: Looking at his Lineage Rather than the Man, Part I

“Now, that is just the point, Miss Sorenson…Betty.  This is the point of view of John Thomas and his fore-bears.  But there are always at least two points of view.  From the viewpoint of Lummox she…he…was not a pet.  Quite the contrary.  John Thomas was his pet.  Lummox was engaged in raising John Thomases.”   
                     The Star Beast by Robert Heinlein and David Baker

Any day I can start a blog post with a quote from my childhood hero Robert Heinlein, is a good day.  I use it to set a tone for this piece.  The “dragon” Lummox had raised four generations of the John Thomas family while it was still a teenager.  Likewise, several times in the Iliad characters point out that in comparison to the immortals, men are just like leaves on a tree that are there for a season and then wilt and die.  (Iliad 6.144 and 21.461)  How difficult it must be for a god to keep an eye on just one leaf in the flurry of the falling leaves in the autumn.  I wonder if the gods, like Lummox, rather than thinking about an individual “short-lived” hero thought instead of a lineage of “John Thomases” or pious Aeacides? 

The favor of a single god or goddess might be fickle, but the favor “of the gods” seems to be eternal.  I still am unsure where all this is going, but all the examples I have to offer seem to involve heroic lineages who “pious”, “piety”, “favor” and beloved of the gods. 


This brings us to Peleus.  We have odd descriptions of this son of Aeacus and father of Achilles.  Peleus, who was heartily dear to the immortals.”(Iliad 24.59), “blameless”, (Iliad 20.207) “the most chaste of men”[i] and said to be the most pious man living on the plain of Iolcus.[ii]  And yet this pious man (dear to the immortals) murdered his half-brother Phocus , [iii] undesignedly” slew his father-in-law Eurytion,[iv]  diced up Queen Astydamia and lead “his army through her (body parts) into the city”[v] and as a finale raped the goddess Thetis.  (Okay, more accurately he assaulted, abducted and forced the sea nymph to marry him.  Standard fairy-tale motif of the fairy-bride.)   None of the immediate above seems pious in any sense of the word and yet the gods attended his wedding!

You know who was pious?  Aeacus his father.

"Now Aiakos was the most pious of men. Therefore, when Greece suffered from infertility on account of Pelops, (who)  slew King (Stymphalos) under a pretense of friendship, and scattered his mangled limb (just like Peleus a generation later), oracles of the gods declared that Greece would be rid of its present calamities if Aiakos would offer prayers on its behalf. So Aiakos did offer prayers, and Greece was delivered from the dearth." 
                               Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 12. 6

So apparently, because all the Aeacides are interchangeable from the gods’ perspective and because (in my experience) a good reputation is hard to get and harder to lose.  We hear of “ Peleus, who was heartily dear to the immortals and that Achilles too was “very dear to the gods." (Odyssey 24.32 )

Helen North in “Pindar, Isthmian 8 24-38[vi] says that “ in his odes Pindar frequently praises the Aeacidae (that’s Aeacus and his descendants)  and the island of Aegina (where they ruled) for being “just, friendly to strangers and pious or dear to the gods.”  She is talking about Aeacus, Peleus the Argonaut husband of the goddess Thetis and the heroes Achilles and Ajax of the Iliad.

Possibly a more famous proof of the interchangeability of mortals in the eyes of the divine is provided by Pindar Olympian 8.41 

 “Apollo said right away: “Troy is taken, hero (Aeacus) , through the works of your hand, so says a vision sent to me from the son of Cronus, loud-thundering Zeus not without your sons: the city will be destroyed with the first generation (Telamon), and with the third. (Neoptolemus)”

 So, this is the first in a series of examples.  What do you think?  Is it possible that sometimes when the gods find a man “pious” or” dear” they aren’t thinking so much about one specific short-lived hero, but rather his lineage? 

[i] (Plato, Republic 391c)  
[ii] (Pindar Isthiaman 8:44) 
[iii] (Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 38)
[iv] Apollodorus, Library 3.13.2)  
[v] Apollodorus, Library 3.13.7)
[vi] Pindar, Isthmian, 8, 24-28  Helen North The American Journal of Philology Vol. 69, No. 3 (1948), pp. 304-308
Published by: Johns Hopkins University Press  DOI: 10.2307/291361  Stable URL: ttp://