previous next

[4] Sixth, he slew Damastes, whom some call Polypemon.1 He had his dwelling beside the road, and made up two beds, one small and the other big; and offering hospitality to the passers-by, he laid the short men on the big bed and hammered them, to make them fit the bed; but the tall men he laid on the little bed and sawed off the portions of the body that projected beyond it.

So, having cleared the road, Theseus came to Athens.


1 More commonly known as Procrustes. See Bacch. 17(18).27ff., ed. Jebb; Diod. 4.59.5; Plut. Thes. 11; Paus. 1.38.5; Scholiast on Eur. Hipp. 977; Ov. Met. 7.438; Hyginus, Fab. 38. Ancient authorities are not agreed as to the name of this malefactor. Apollodorus and Plutarch call him Damastes; but Apollodorus says that some people called him Polypemon, and this latter name is supported by Pausanias, who adds that he was surnamed Procrustes. Ovid in two passages (Ov. Met. 7.438, Her. ii. 69) calls him simply Procrustes, but in a third passage (Ovid, Ibis 407) he seems to speak of him as the son of Polypemon. The Scholiast on Eur. Hipp. 977 wrongly names him Sinis. The reference of Bacchylides to him is difficult of interpretation. Jebb translates the passage: “The mighty hammer of Polypemon has dropt from the hand of the Maimer [Prokoptes], who has met with a stronger than himself.” Here Jebb understands Prokoptes to be another name for Procrustes, who received the hammer and learned the use of it from Polypemon, his predecessor, perhaps his father. But other translations and explanations have been proposed. See the note in Jebb's Appendix, pp. 490ff.; W. H. Roscher, Lexikon der griech. und röm. Mythologie, iii.2683, 2687ff. The hammer in question was the instrument with which Procrustes operated on the short men, beating them out till they fitted the long bed, as we learn from the Scholiast on Euripides as well as from Apollodorus; a handsaw was probably the instrument with which he curtailed the length of the tall men. According to Apollodorus, with whom Hyginus agrees, Procrustes had two beds for the accommodation of his guests, a long one for the short men, and a short one for the long men. But according to Diodorus Siculus, with whom the Scholiast on Euripides agrees, he had only one bed for all comers, and adjusted his visitors to it with the hammer or the handsaw according to circumstances.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Athens (Greece) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: