Tuesday, August 1, 2017

TFBT: Commentary on Pausanias 10.7.2

In this portion of Pausanias' incredible travelogue he concentrates on the Pythian Games.  Originally the contest was about singing paeans to the god, Apollo.  He list several names here. 

 1). The first winner ever according to Pausanias is a man from Crete named Chrysothemis.    Chrysothemis is a girl's name.  Not too many names in Greek mythology swing both ways.  (Anyone got examples?). In my ongoing belief that Pausanias is saying more than he is say I suggest that the first winner of the Pythian Games was a woman and Pausanias only says she is a man to be politically correct.  

2).  The second winner is Philammon.  His mother the nymph Chione was slain by Artemis for the sin of hubris.

3). The third winner was Philammon's son Thamyris.  He thought himself better than the Muses.  They consequently took his voice and sight.  Apparently hubris was a familial habit.

Next mentioned was Orpheus who did not compete.  (So, why is he mentioned? Is there some logic here other than listing Pythian champions?)   One suggestion is  he was torn apparent ad eaten by "maenads" for his hubris in entering Hades with the intent of stealing Eurydice" 

The last name listed here, also did not compete for the prize (So again why mention?) was Musaeus, student of Orpheus, who apparently learned a lesson from many of the above, followed the Delphic maxim "Know thyself." (Know your place!) And was blessed by the gods.


  1. To me, Hellen, Helenus and Helene sound much the same.

    You are right that Chrysothemis is a female name, but I find it unthinkable that the winner was a woman. Unless the case was like that Spartan princess who "won" a chariot race and got a glorifying inscription and everything... though she never competed, and we have no solid evidence that she has ever been near a horse, but she was a princess with a lot of cash (despite the allegedly strict Spartan laws) and she paid for the chariot.

    Nobody would let a woman near the place. But even if they had, so what? In today's elite sport, no female ever wins a competition with males. We have sex segregation, otherwise we the poor girls would feel excluded when looking at the winners and seeing only Y chromosomes. Last year, we had a discussion at a biologist's blog that if trans women are allowed to compete together with cis women, this will destroy female sport.

  2. Maya,

    Sadly, I think your second paragraph is correct. Political correctness could destroy many opportunities for women in sports. But, for the Olympics don't participants have to take DNA tests so this doesn't happen?