Monday, June 19, 2017

TFBT: The Hero Parnassus

Recently the Attican Study Group has been translating Pausanias.  I have always assumed that his travelouge was pretty straight forward until recently.  Previously we put some effort into understanding the second temple at Delphi.  It was made of wax and feather.  Apollo made some effort to rid himself of the temple and the associated bee-goddesses at Delphi.  Which got me to think there is more to Pausanias than meets the eye.  Last week were worked on the following;

They say that the oldest city was founded here by Parnassus, a son of Cleodora, a nymph. Like the other heroes, as they are called, he had two fathers; one they say was the god Poseidon, the human father being Cleopompus. After this Parnassus were named, they say, both the mountain and also the Parnassian glen. Augury from flying birds was, it is said, a discovery of Parnassus. [10.6.1]

Some one asked if Parnassus was the god of the mountain.  He is not. There are surprisingly few mountain-gods in Greek mythology.  What puzzled me with the above is that Pausanias is not following the Homeric Hymn to Apollo in his description of Delphian history.  So I started doing some research the Hero Parnassus.  Ends up that Pausanias is the only source of the triad above. I kept looking for other information on the hero; 

Now(Parnassus’) city so the story goes on, was flooded by the rains that fell in the time of Deucalion. Such of the inhabitants as were able to escape the storm were led by the howls of wolves to safety on the top of Parnassus, being led on their way by these beasts, and on this account they called the city that they founded Lycoreia (Mountain wolf-city). [10.6.2]

Hoping to better understand the etymology of “Parnassus” I looked at the index to Robert Graves “The Greek Myths”, there I mostly discovered that any divine name starting with “Par” referred to a “maiden”.  Since I was interested in the meaning of a mortal name I went to The “Greek Mythology Link”.  Where Aaron Atsma’s “” specializes in gods, Carlos Parada and Maicar Förlag concentrate on mortals  I found four names in a row listed the biographical dictionary; 

1. Parnassus, after whom Mount Parnassus was named, is the founder of the oldest city in Phocis. He was son of Cleodora , one of the nymphs,  his father being either Poseidon or Cleopompus [Pau.10.6.1].

2.Paroreus. Founder of Paroria in Arcadia. He was son of Tricolonus 1, son of Lycaon 2 [Pau.8.35.6].

For those unfamiliar with Lycaon;Lykaon brought a human baby to the altar of Zeus Lykaios, and sacrificed it, pouring out its blood upon the altar, and according to the legend immediately after the sacrifice he was changed from a man to a wolf (lykos).” (8. 2. 1 – 6)  Some sources speculate that the blasphemy of Lycaon triggered the great flood  in the time of Deucalion.

3.Parrhasius. Twin brother of Lycastus 3. His mother Phylonome (grand-daughter of Lycaon) cast them into the river Erymanthus, but they survived when a wolf suckled them and a shepherd, Gyliphus, reared them. Parrhasius succeeded later to the throne of Arcadia. His father was Ares [Plu.PS.36].

4.Parthaon 1. Son of Periphetes 4, son of Nyctimus, son of Lycaon 2. Parthaon 1 was father of Aristas, father of Erymanthus 1, father of Arrhon 2, father of Psophis 1, the man who founded Psophis in Arcadia  [Pau.8.24.1] 

In summary, although I haven’t learned much about the Hero Parnassus or the significance of the tale that Pausanias told about him.  It appears the hero is part of a series of names starting with “Par” that have a strong connection to wolves, Lycaon and the Deucalion Deluge.

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