Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TFBT: The Hero Echelos and his Bride Iasile

A few days ago I ran across this tweet and image of the Nymph Basile and the Hero Echelos. Basile is not mentioned as a goddess by Atsma at http://www.theoi.com . Echelos is not mentioned as a hero by Maicar at Greek Mythology Link. Most of the information on the internet looks similar to the attached image. And originally based on an article by Nicholas E. Crosby: “A Basrelief from Phaleron” (1895)

Crosby tells us the inscriptions on the marble votive relief identify the characters on it; “the youth in front of the chariot is Hermes, while the occupants of the chariot itself are Echelos and Basile, though present condition of the letters points to Iasile”  That said Crosby continues to identify the Nymph as Basile even thought the inscription says “Iasile”.  Following several sources he says that;

 “Echelos was hero-eponymous of deme Echelaidai… between the Peiraieus and the Herakleion in which latter place the gymnastic games were held for the Panathenaic festival, undoubtedly the ancient hippodrome.”   

The problem with that is that there is no record of an official deme (neighborhood) called Echelaidai.  This problem can be solved if we assume the neighborhood around Echelos’ hero-shrine would informally be known at Echelaidai.  Hellenismo[i] explains that “Echelos was honored with Iasile in Echelidai. It is a place within the deme Xypete rather than a constitutional deme itself

Crosby following Diodoros (3.57) then tells us a myth about the Titaness Basile, far outside the traditions and paradigms established by Hesiod and Homer and as adopted by Greek culture.  Basile, according to Crosby’s sources, was the Magna Mater (Mother of the Gods).  This is a great goddess, not one to be snatched up by a passing hero, particularly because she “forbids any one to touch her body” and on the occasion that happen “a shower of rain and thunder” followed.  The nymph in the chariot doesn’t look like a formidable Titaness and Echelos does not appear to be cowering from lightning. This is not Basile, it is Iasile  

Then Crosby discuss the possibility that Echelos is an epithet of Hades and we are viewing the rape of Persephone.  And that Hermes might be conducting her to or from the underworld.  Before leaving Echelos he compares him to Echetlos, a “divine hero who appeared on the field of Marathon”. Except Echetlos was a man of rustic appearance and dress who slaughtered many of the Persians with a plowshare.  [Pausanias1.32.5]   Not exactly the heroic image portrayed by our hero Echelos and his four horse chariot
In short,  our study here in the following blog-posts is about the Hero Echelos and his Bride Iasle.

[i] https://hellenismo.wordpress.com/tag/ancient-attica/

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