previous next

As for the Curetes, some assign them to the Acarnanians, others to the Aetolians; and some assert that they originated in Crete, but others in Euboea; but since Homer mentions them, I should first investigate his account. It is thought that he means that they were Aetolians rather than Acarnanians, if indeed the sons of Porthaon were“Agrius and Melas, and, the third, Oeneus the knight;
and they lived in Pleuron and steep Calydon.
1These are both Aetolian cities, and are referred to in the Aetolian catalogue; and therefore, since, even according to the poet, the Curetes obviously lived in Pleuron, they would be Aetolians. Those writers who oppose this view are misled by Homer's mode of expression when he says,“the Curetes were fighting, and the Aetolians steadfast in battle, about the city of Calydon;
2for, they add, neither would he have spoken appropriately if he had said, "the Boeotians and the Thebans were fighting against one another"; or "the Argives and the Peloponnesians." But, as I have shown heretofore,3 this habit of expression not only is Homeric, but is much used by the other poets also. This interpretation, then, is easy to defend; but let those writers explain how the poet could catalogue the Pleuronians among the Aetolians if they were not Aetolians or at least of the same race. [2]

Ephorus,4 after saying that the Aetolians were a race which had never become subject to any other people, but throughout all time of which there is any record had remained undevastated, both because of the ruggedness of their country and because of their training in warfare, says at the outset that the Curetes held possession of the whole country, but when Aetolus,5 the son of Endymion, arrived from Elis and overpowered them in war, the Curetes withdrew to what is now called Acarnania, whereas the Aetolians came back with Epeians and founded the earliest of the cities of Aetolia, and in the tenth generation after that Elis was settled by Oxylus6 the son of Haemon, who had crossed over from Aetolia. And he cites as evidence of all this two inscriptions, the one at Therma in Aetolia (where it is their ancestral custom to hold their elections of magistrates), engraved on the base of the statue of Aetolus:“Founder of the country, once reared beside the eddies of the Alpheius, neighbor of the race-courses of Olympia, son of Endymion, this Aetolus has been set up by the Aetolians as a memorial of his valor to behold;
” and the other inscription in the marketplace of the Eleians on the statue of Oxylus:“Aetolus once left this autochthonous people, and through many a toil with the spear took possession of the land of Curetis; but the tenth scion of the same stock, Oxylus, the son of Haemon, founded this city in early times.
” [3]

Now through these inscriptions Ephorus correctly signifies the kinship of the Eleians and Aetolians with one another, since both inscriptions agree, not merely as to the kinship of the two peoples, but also that each people was the founder of the other, through which he successfully convicts of falsehood those who assert that, while the Eleians were indeed colonists of the Aetolians, the Aetolians were not colonists of the Eleians. But here, too, Ephorus manifestly displays the same inconsistency in his writing and his pronouncements as in the case of the oracle at Delphi, which I have already set forth;7 for, after saying that Aetolia has been undevastated throughout all times of which there is any record, and after saying also that in the beginning the Curetes held possession of this country, he should have added as a corollary to what he had already said that the Curetes continued to hold possession of the Aetolian land down to his own time, for only thus could it have been rightly said that the land had been undevastated and that it had never come under the power of others; and yet, utterly forgetting his promise,8 he does not add this, but the contrary, that when Aetolus arrived from Elis and overpowered the Curetes in war, they withdrew into Acarnania. What else, pray, is specifically characteristic of a devastation than being overpowered in war and abandoning the country? And this is evidenced also by the inscription among the Eleians, for Aetolus, it says,“through many a toil with the spear took possession of the land of Curetis.
” [4]

Perhaps, however, one might say that Ephorus means that Aetolia was undevastated from the time when it got this name, that is, after Aetolus arrived there; but Ephorus has deprived himself of the argument in support of this idea by saying in his next words that this, meaning the tribe of the Epeians, constituted the greatest part of the people who stayed on among the Aetolians, but that later, when Aeolians, who at the same time with Boeotians had been compelled to migrate from Thessaly, were intermingled with them, they in common with these held possession of the country. Is it credible, pray, that without war they invaded the country of a different people and divided it up with its possessors, when the latter had no need of such a partnership? Or, since this is not credible, is it credible that those who were overpowered by arms came out on an equality with the victors? What else, pray, is devastation than being overpowered by arms? Apollodorus, also, says that, according to history, the Hyantes left Boeotia and settled among the Aetolians. But Ephorus, as though he had achieved success in his argument, adds: "It is my wont to examine such matters as these with precision, whenever any matter is either altogether doubtful or falsely interpreted." [5]

But though Ephorus is such, still he is better than others. And Polybius9 himself, who praises him so earnestly, and says concerning the Greek histories that Eudoxus10 indeed gave a good account, but Ephorus gave the best account of the foundings of cities, kinships, migrations, and original founders, "but I," he says, “shall show the facts as they now are, as regards both the position of places and the distances between them; for this is the most appropriate function of Chorography.”11But assuredly you, Polybius, who introduce "popular notions"12 concerning distances, not only in dealing with places outside of Greece, but also when treating Greece itself, must also submit to an accounting, not only to Poseidonius,13 and to Apollodorus, but to several others as well. One should therefore pardon me as well, and not be vexed, if I make any mistakes when I borrow from such writers most of my historical material, but should rather be content if in the majority of cases I improve upon the accounts given by others, or if I add such facts as have elsewhere, owing to lack of knowledge, been left untold. [6]

Concerning the Curetes still further accounts, to the following effect, are given, some of them being more closely related to the history of the Aetolians and the Acarnanians, others more remotely. More closely related are such accounts as I have given before—that the Curetes were living in the country which is now called Aetolia, and that the Aetolians came with Aetolus and drove them into Acarnania; and also accounts of this kind, that, when Pleuronia was inhabited by the Curetes and was called Curetis, Aeolians made an invasion and took it away from them, and drove out its occupants. Archemachus the Euboean14 says that the Curetes settled at Chalcis, but since they were continually at war for the Lelantine Plain and the enemy would catch them by the front hair and drag them down, he says, they let their hair grow long behind but cut short the part in front, and because of this they were called "Curetes," from the cut of their hair,15 and they then migrated to Aetolia, and, after taking possession of the region round Pleuron, called the people who lived on the far side of the Acheloüs "Acarnanians," because they kept their heads "unshorn."16 But some say that each of the two tribes got its name from a hero; others, that the Curetes were named after the mountain Curium, which is situated about Pleuron, and also that this is an Aetolian tribe, like the Ophians and the Agraeans and the Eurytanians and several others. But, as I have already stated,17 when Aetolia was divided into two parts, the region round Calydon, they say, was in the possession of Oeneus, whereas a certain part of Pleuronia was in the possession of the sons of Porthaon, that is, Agrius and his followers, if it be true that“they lived in Pleuron and steep Calydon;
18the mastery over Pleuronia, however, was held by Thestius (the father-in-law of Oeneus and father of Althaea), who was leader of the Curetes; but when war broke out between the sons of Thestius, on the one hand, and Oeneus and Meleager, on the other (“about the hog's head and skin,
19as the poet says, following the mythical story of the boar,20 but in all probability about the possession of a part of the territory), according to the words of the poet,“the Curetes were fighting, as also the Aetolians steadfast in battle.
21So much for the accounts which are more closely related. [7]

The accounts which are more remotely related, however, to the present subject, but are wrongly, on account of the identity of the names, brought into the same connection by the historians—I mean those accounts which, although they are called "Curetan History" and "History of the Curetes," just as if they were the history of those Curetes who lived in Aetolia and Acarnania, not only are different from that history, but are more like the accounts of the Satyri, Sileni, Bacchae, and Tityri; for the Curetes, like these, are called genii or ministers of gods by those who have handed down to us the Cretan and the Phrygian traditions, which are interwoven with certain sacred rites, some mystical, the others connected in part with the rearing of the child Zeus22 in Crete and in part with the orgies in honor of the mother of the gods which are celebrated in Phrygia and in the region of the Trojan Ida. But the variation in these accounts is so small that, whereas some represent the Corybantes, the Cabeiri, the Idaean Dactyli, and the Telchines as identical with the Curetes, others represent them as all kinsmen of one another and differentiate only certain small matters in which they differ in respect to one another; but, roughly speaking and in general, they represent them, one and all, as a kind of inspired people and as subject to Bacchic frenzy, and, in the guise of ministers, as inspiring terror at the celebration of the sacred rites by means of war-dances, accompanied by uproar and noise and cymbals and drums and arms, and also by flute and outcry; and consequently these rites are in a way regarded as having a common relationship, I mean these and those of the Samothracians and those in Lemnos and in several other places, because the divine ministers are called the same. However, every investigation of this kind pertains to theology, and is not foreign to the speculation of the philosopher. [8]

But since also the historians, because of the identity of name of the Curetes, have classed together things that are unlike, neither should I myself shrink from discussing them at greater length, by way of digression, adding such account of their physical habits as is appropriate to history. And yet some historians even wish to assimilate their physical habits with those others, and perhaps there is something plausible in their undertaking. For instance, they say that the Curetes of Aetolia got this name because, like "girls,"23 they wore women's clothes, for, they add, there was a fashion of this kind among the Greeks, and the Ionians were called "tunic-trailing,"24 and the soldiers of Leonidas were "dressing their hair"25 when they were to go forth to battle, so that the Persians, it is said, conceived a contempt for them, though in the battle they marvelled at them. Speaking generally, the art of caring for the hair consists both in its nurture and in the way it is cut, and both are given special attention by "girls" and "youths";26 so that there are several ways in which it is easy to derive an etymology of the word "Curetes." It is reasonable to suppose, also, that the war-dance was first introduced by persons who were trained in this particular way in the matter of hair and dress, these being called Curetes, and that this dance afforded a pretext to those also who were more warlike than the rest and spent their life under arms, so that they too came to be called by the same name, "Curetes "—I mean the Curetes in Euboea, Aetolia, and Acarnania. And indeed Homer applied this name to young soldiers,“choose thou the noblest young men27 from all the Achaeans, and bring the gifts from the swift ship, all that we promised yesterday to Achilles";
28and again,“the young men of the Achaeans brought the gifts.
29 So much for the etymology of the word "Curetes." The war-dance was a soldiers' dance; and this is plainly indicated both by the "Pyrrhic dance,"30 and by "Pyrrichus," who is said to be the founder of this kind of training for young men, as also by the treatises on military affairs.31 [9]

But I must now investigate how it comes about that so many names have been used of one and the same thing, and the theological element contained in their history. Now this is common both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, to perform their sacred rites in connection with the relaxation of a festival, these rites being performed sometimes with religious frenzy, sometimes without it; sometimes with music, sometimes not; and sometimes in secret, sometimes openly. And it is in accordance with the dictates of nature that this should be so, for, in the first place, the relaxation draws the mind away from human occupations and turns the real mind towards that which is divine; and, secondly, the religious frenzy seems to afford a kind of divine inspiration and to be very like that of the soothsayer; and, thirdly, the secrecy with which the sacred rites are concealed induces reverence for the divine, since it imitates the nature of the divine, which is to avoid being perceived by our human senses; and, fourthly, music, which includes dancing as well as rhythm and melody, at the same time, by the delight it affords and by its artistic beauty, brings us in touch with the divine, and this for the following reason; for although it has been well said that human beings then act most like the gods when they are doing good to others, yet one might better say, when they are happy; and such happiness consists of rejoicing, celebrating festivals, pursuing philosophy, and engaging in music; for, if music is perverted when musicians turn their art to sensual delights at symposiums and in orchestric and scenic performances and the like, we should not lay the blame upon music itself, but should rather examine the nature of our system of education, since this is based on music. [10]

And on this account Plato, and even before his time the Pythagoreians, called philosophy music;32 and they say that the universe is constituted in accordance with harmony,33 assuming that every form of music is the work of the gods. And in this sense, also, the Muses are goddesses, and Apollo is leader of the Muses, and poetry as a whole is laudatory of the gods. And by the same course of reasoning they also attribute to music the upbuilding of morals, believing that everything which tends to correct the mind is close to the gods. Now most of the Greeks assigned to Dionysus, Apollo, Hecate, the Muses, and above all to Demeter, everything of an orgiastic or Bacchic or choral nature, as well as the mystic element in initiations; and they give the name "Iacchus" not only to Dionysus but also to the leader-in-chief of the mysteries, who is the genius of Demeter. And branch-bearing, choral dancing, and initiations are common elements in the worship of these gods. As for the Muses and Apollo, the Muses preside over the choruses, whereas Apollo presides both over these and the rites of divination. But all educated men, and especially the musicians, are ministers of the Muses; and both these and those who have to do with divination are ministers of Apollo; and the initiated and torch-bearers and hierophants, of Demeter; and the Sileni and Satyri and Bacchae, and also the Lenae and Thyiae and Mimallones and Naïdes and Nymphae and the beings called Tityri, of Dionysus. [11]

In Crete, not only these rites, but in particular those sacred to Zeus, were performed along with orgiastic worship and with the kind of ministers who were in the service of Dionysus, I mean the Satyri. These ministers they called "Curetes," young men who executed movements in armour, accompanied by dancing, as they set forth the mythical story of the birth of Zeus; in this they introduced Cronus as accustomed to swallow his children immediately after their birth, and Rhea as trying to keep her travail secret and, when the child was born, to get it out of the way and save its life by every means in her power; and to accomplish this it is said that she took as helpers the Curetes, who, by surrounding the goddess with tambourines and similar noisy instruments and with war-dance and uproar, were supposed to strike terror into Cronus and without his knowledge to steal his child away; and that, according to tradition, Zeus was actually reared by them with the same diligence; consequently the Curetes, either because, being young, that is "youths,"34 they performed this service, or because they "reared" Zeus "in his youth"35 (for both explanations are given), were accorded this appellation, as if they were Satyrs, so to speak, in the service of Zeus. Such, then, were the Greeks in the matter of orgiastic worship. [12]

But as for the Berecyntes,36 a tribe of Phrygians, and the Phrygians in general, and those of the Trojans who live round Ida, they too hold Rhea in honor and worship her with orgies, calling her Mother of the gods and Agdistis and Phrygia the Great Goddess, and also, from the places where she is worshipped, Idaea and Dindymene and Sipylene and Pessinuntis and Cybele and Cybebe.37 The Greeks use the same name "Curetes" for the ministers of the goddess, not taking the name, however, from the same mythical story,38 but regarding them as a different set of "Curetes," helpers as it were, analogous to the Satyri; and the same they also call Corybantes. [13]

The poets bear witness to such views as I have suggested. For instance, when Pindar, in the dithyramb which begins with these words,“In earlier times there marched39 the lay of the dithyrambs long drawn out,
”mentions the hymns sung in honor of Dionysus, both the ancient and the later ones, and then, passing on from these, says,“To perform the prelude in thy honor, great Mother, the whirling of cymbals is at hand, and among them, also, the clanging of castanets, and the torch that blazeth beneath the tawny pine-trees,
”he bears witness to the common relationship between the rites exhibited in the worship of Dionysus among the Greeks and those in the worship of the Mother of the gods among the Phrygians, for he makes these rites closely akin to one another. And Euripides does likewise, in his Bacchae, citing the Lydian usages at the same time with those of Phrygia, because of their similarity:“But ye who left Mt. Tmolus, fortress of Lydia, revel-band of mine, women whom I brought from the land of barbarians as my assistants and travelling companions, uplift the tambourines native to Phrygian cities, inventions of mine and mother Rhea.
40And again,“happy he who, blest man, initiated in the mystic rites, is pure in his life, . . . who, preserving the righteous orgies of the great mother Cybele, and brandishing the thyrsus on high, and wreathed with ivy, doth worship Dionysus. Come, ye Bacchae, come, ye Bacchae, bringing down41 Bromius,42 god the child of god, out of the Phrygian mountains into the broad highways of Greece.
43And again, in the following verses he connects the Cretan usages also with the Phrygian:“O thou hiding-bower44 of the Curetes, and sacred haunts of Crete that gave birth to Zeus, where for me45 the triple-crested46 Corybantes47 in their caverns invented this hide-stretched circlet,48 and blent its Bacchic revelry with the high-pitched, sweet-sounding breath of Phrygian flutes, and in Rhea's hands placed its resounding noise, to accompany the shouts of the Bacchae,49 and from Mother Rhea frenzied Satyrs obtained it and joined it to the choral dances of the Trieterides,50 in whom Dionysus takes delight.
51 And in the Palamedes the Chorus says,52“Thysa, daughter of Dionysus, who on Ida rejoices with his dear mother in the Iacchic revels of tambourines.
” [14]

And when they bring Seilenus and Marsyas and Olympus into one and the same connection, and make them the historical inventors of flutes, they again, a second time, connect the Dionysiac and the Phrygian rites; and they often in a confused manner drum on53 Ida and Olympus as the same mountain. Now there are four peaks of Ida called Olympus, near Antandria; and there is also the Mysian Olympus, which indeed borders on Ida, but is not the same. At any rate, Sophocles, in his Polyxena, representing Menelaus as in haste to set sail from Troy, but Agamemnon as wishing to remain behind for a short time for the sake of propitiating Athena, introduces Menelaüs as saying,“But do thou, here remaining, somewhere in the Idaean land collect flocks of Olympus and offer them in sacrifice.
54 [15]

They invented names appropriate to the flute, and to the noises made by castanets, cymbals, and drums, and to their acclamations and shouts of "ev-ah," and stampings of the feet;55 and they also invented some of the names by which to designate the ministers, choral dancers, and attendants upon the sacred rites, I mean "Cabeiri" and "Corybantes" and "Pans" and "Satyri" and "Tityri," and they called the god "Bacchus," and Rhea "Cybele" or "Cybebe" or "Dindymene" according to the places where she was worshipped. Sabazius also belongs to the Phrygian group and in a way is the child of the Mother, since he too transmitted the rites of Dionysus.56 [16]

Also resembling these rites are the Cotytian and the Bendideian rites practiced among the Thracians, among whom the Orphic rites had their beginning. Now the Cotys who is worshipped among the Edonians, and also the instruments used in her rites, are mentioned by Aeschylus; for he says,“O adorable Cotys among the Edonians, and ye who hold mountain-ranging57 instruments;
”and he mentions immediately afterwards the attendants of Dionysus:“one, holding in his hands the bombyces,58 toilsome work of the turner's chisel, fills full the fingered melody, the call that brings on frenzy, while another causes to resound the bronze-bound cotylae59
”and again,“stringed instruments raise their shrill cry, and frightful mimickers from some place unseen bellow like bulls, and the semblance60 of drums, as of subterranean thunder, rolls along, a terrifying sound;
”for these rites resemble the Phrygian rites, and it is at least not unlikely that, just as the Phrygians themselves were colonists from Thrace, so also their sacred rites were borrowed from there. Also when they identify Dionysus and the Edonian Lycurgus, they hint at the homogeneity of their sacred rites. [17]

From its melody and rhythm and instruments, all Thracian music has been considered to be Asiatic. And this is clear, first, from the places where the Muses have been worshipped, for Pieria and Olympus and Pimpla and Leibethrum were in ancient times Thracian places and mountains, though they are now held by the Macedonians; and again, Helicon was consecrated to the Muses by the Thracians who settled in Boeotia, the same who consecrated the cave of the nymphs called Leibethrides. And again, those who devoted their attention to the music of early times are called Thracians, I mean Orpheus, Musaeus, and Thamyris; and Eumolpus,61 too, got his name from there. And those writers who have consecrated the whole of Asia, as far as India, to Dionysus, derive the greater part of music from there. And one writer says, "striking the Asiatic cithara"; another calls flutes "Berecyntian" and "Phrygian"; and some of the instruments have been called by barbarian names, "nablas," "sambyce," "barbitos," "magadis," and several others. [18]

Just as in all other respects the Athenians continue to be hospitable to things foreign, so also in their worship of the gods; for they welcomed so many of the foreign rites that they were ridiculed therefore by comic writers; and among these were the Thracian and Phrygian rites. For instance, the Bendideian rites are mentioned by Plato,62 and the Phrygian by Demosthenes,63 when he casts the reproach upon Aeschines' mother and Aeschines himself that he was with her when she conducted initiations, that he joined her in leading the Dionysiac march, and that many a time he cried out "evoe saboe," and "hyes attes, attes hyes"; for these words are in the ritual of Sabazius and the Mother. [19]

Further, one might also find, in addition to these facts concerning these genii and their various names, that they were called, not only ministers of gods, but also gods themselves. For instance, Hesiod says that five daughters were born to Hecaterus and the daughter of Phoroneus,“from whom sprang the mountain-ranging nymphs, goddesses, and the breed of Satyrs, creatures worthless and unfit for work, and also the Curetes, sportive gods, dancers.
64And the author of Phoronis65 speaks of the Curetes as "flute-players" and "Phrygians"; and others as "earth-born" and "wearing brazen shields." Some call the Corybantes, and not the Curetes, "Phrygians," but the Curetes "Cretes,"66 and say that the Cretes were the first people to don brazen armour in Euboea, and that on this account they were also called "Chalcidians";67 still others say that the Corybantes, who came from Bactriana (some say from among the Colchians), were given as armed ministers to Rhea by the Titans. But in the Cretan accounts the Curetes are called "rearers of Zeus," and "protectors of Zeus," having been summoned from Phrygia to Crete by Rhea. Some say that, of the nine Telchines68 who lived in Rhodes, those who accompanied Rhea to Crete and "reared" Zeus "in his youth"69 were named "Curetes"; and that Cyrbas, a comrade of these, who was the founder of Hierapytna, afforded a pretext to the Prasians70 for saying among the Rhodians that the Corybantes were certain genii, sons of Athena and Helius. Further, some call the Corybantes sons of Cronus, but others say that the Corybantes were sons of Zeus and Calliope and were identical with the Cabeiri, and that these went off to Samothrace, which in earlier times was called Melite, and that their rites were mystical. [20]

But though the Scepsian,71 who compiled these myths, does not accept the last statement, on the ground that no mystic story of the Cabeiri is told in Samothrace, still he cites also the opinion of Stesimbrotus the Thasian 72 that the sacred rites in Samothrace were performed in honor of the Cabeiri: and the Scepsian says that they were called Cabeiri after the mountain Cabeirus in Berecyntia. Some, however, believe that the Curetes were the same as the Corybantes and were ministers of Hecate. But the Scepsian again states, in opposition to the words of Euripides,73 that the rites of Rhea were not sanctioned or in vogue in Crete, but only in Phrygia and the Troad, and that those who say otherwise are dealing in myths rather than in history, though perhaps the identity of the place-names contributed to their making this mistake. For instance, Ida is not only a Trojan, but also a Cretan, mountain; and Dicte is a place in Scepsia74 and also a mountain in Crete; and Pytna, after which the city Hierapytna75 was named, is a peak of Ida. And there is a Hippocorona in the territory of Adramyttium and a Hippocoronium in Crete. And Samonium is the eastern promontory of the island and a plain in the territory of Neandria and in that of the Alexandreians.76 [21]

Acusilaüs,77 the Argive, calls Cadmilus the son of Cabeiro and Hephaestus, and Cadmilus the father of three Cabeiri, and these the fathers of the nymphs called Cabeirides. Pherecydes78 says that nine Cyrbantes were sprung from Apollo and Rhetia, and that they took up their abode in Samothrace; and that three Cabeiri and three nymphs called Cabeirides were the children of Cabeiro, the daughter of Proteus, and Hephaestus, and that sacred rites were instituted in honor of each triad. Now it has so happened that the Cabeiri are most honored in Imbros and Lemnos, but they are also honored in separate cities of the Troad; their names, however, are kept secret. Herodotus79 says that there were temples of the Cabeiri in Memphis, as also of Hephaestus, but that Cambyses destroyed them. The places where these deities were worshipped are uninhabited, both the Corybanteium in Hamaxitia in the territory now belonging to the Alexandreians near Sminthium,80 and Corybissa in Scepsia in the neighborhood of the river Eurëeis and of the village which bears the same name and also of the winter torrent Aethalöeis. The Scepsian says that it is probable that the Curetes and the Corybantes were the same, being those who had been accepted as young men, or "youths," for the war-dance in connection with the holy rites of the Mother of the gods, and also as "corybantes" from the fact that they "walked with a butting of their heads" in a dancing way.81 These are called by the poet "betarmones":82“Come now, all ye that are the best 'betarmones' of the Phaeacians.
83 And because the Corybantes are inclined to dancing and to religious frenzy, we say of those who are stirred with frenzy that they are "corybantising." [22]

Some writers say that the name "Idaean Dactyli" was given to the first settlers of the lower slopes of Mt. Ida, for the lower slopes of mountains are called "feet," and the summits "heads"; accordingly, the several extremities of Ida (all of which are sacred to the Mother of the gods) were called Dactyli.84 Sophocles85 thinks that the first male Dactyli were five in number, who were the first to discover and to work iron, as well as many other things which are useful for the purposes of life, and that their sisters were five in number, and that they were called Dactyli from their number. But different writers tell the myth in different ways, joining difficulty to difficulty; and both the names and numbers they use are different; and they name one of them "Celmis" and others "Damnameneus" and "Heracles" and "Acmon." Some call them natives of Ida, others settlers; but all agree that iron was first worked by these on Ida; and all have assumed that they were wizards and attendants of the Mother of the gods, and that they lived in Phrygia about Ida; and they use the term Phrygia for the Troad because, after Troy was sacked, the Phrygians, whose territory bordered on the Troad, got the mastery over it. And they suspect that both the Curetes and the Corybantes were offspring of the Idaean Dactyli; at any rate, the first hundred men born in Crete were called Idaean Dactyli, they say, and as offspring of these were born nine Curetes, and each of these begot ten children who were called Idaean Dactyli. [23]

I have been led on to discuss these people rather at length, although I am not in the least fond of myths, because the facts in their case border on the province of theology. And theology as a whole must examine early opinions and myths, since the ancients expressed enigmatically the physical notions which they entertained concerning the facts and always added the mythical element to their accounts. Now it is not easy to solve with accuracy all the enigmas, but if the multitude of myths be set before us, some agreeing and others contradicting one another, one might be able more readily to conjecture out of them what the truth is. For instance, men probably speak in their myths about the "mountain-roaming" of religious zealots and of gods themselves, and about their "religious frenzies," for the same reason that they are prompted to believe that the gods dwell in the skies and show forethought, among their other interests, for prognostication by signs. Now seeking for metals, and hunting, and searching for the things that are useful for the purposes of life, are manifestly closely related to mountain-roaming, whereas juggling and magic are closely related to religious frenzies, worship, and divination. And such also is devotion to the arts, in particular to the Dionysiac and Orphic arts. But enough on this subject.

1 Hom. Il. 14.116-17

2 Hom. Il. 9.529

3 8. 3. 8, 10. 2. 10.

4 See Dictionary in Vol. I.

5 Cp. 8. 3. 33.

6 Cf. 8. 3. 33.

7 9. 3. 11.

8 See 9. 3. 11.

9 Polybius 34 Fr. 1

10 Eudoxus of Cnidus (fl. about 350 B.C.

11 Polybius Book 34, Fr. 1

12 See 2. 4. 2 and 7. 5. 9

13 Cf. 2. 3. 1 ff. and 2. 4. 3 ff.

14 Archemachus (fl. not later than the third century B.C.) wrote works (now lost) on the History of Euboea and Metonymies (Change of Names).

15 "Cura." From this passage one might identify the "Curetes" with the "Abantes" (see 10. 1. 3), whom Homer speaks of as "letting their hair grow long behind" (Hom. Il. 2.542). According to a scholium (on Iliad l. c.), the Euboeans wore their hair long behind "for the sake of manly strength." The Greeks in general, however, let their hair grow long all over the head in Trojan times, being often referred to by Homer as the "long-haired Achaeans."

16 The Greek adjective used is ἀκούρους ("acurus").

17 10. 2. 3, 22.

18 Hom. Il. 14.116

19 Hom. Il. 9.548

20 Known in mythology as "the Calydonian boar."

21 Hom. Il. 9.529

22 10. 3. 11.

23 "Corai" (see footnote on "girls" and "youths," p. 91).

24 e.g., Hom. Il. 13.685.

25 Hdt. 7.208, 209.

26 "Corai" and "Coroi." But the corresponding Homeric forms (κοῦροι, κοῦραι) yield English "Curae" and "Curoe"; and Strabo evidently had those forms in mind (see note on 10. 3. 11).

27 "Curetes."

28 Hom. Il. 19.193

29 Hom. Il. 19.248

30 "The Pyrrhic dance of our time seems to be a sort of Dionysiac dance, being more respectable than that of early times, for the dancers have thyrsi instead of spears, and hurl them at one another, and carry fennel-stalks and torches" (Athenaeus 14.631b).

31 Or, following the conjecture of Kramer (see critical note), we should have, instead of but . . . affairs," simply in the work of a soldier."

32 Plat. Phaedo 61.

33 Philolaus, Fr. 4 (Stobaeus 1. 458-460) See also Athenaeus 14.632b-c Aristot. Met. 1.5, Sextus Empiricus Adv. Math. 4.6 Cp. Plat. Tim. 32c, 36d, 37a, 41b, Plat. Rep. 617b, Plat. Epin. 991e.

34 "Coroi" (see note on "youths," 10. 3. 8).

35 "Curo-trophein," to "rear youth."

36 See 12. 8. 21.

37 i.e., from Mt. Ida, Mt. Dindymum (12. 5. 3), Mt. Sipylus, Pessinus (l.c.), and Mt. Cybela (l.c.), and Cybeba. Cf. Diod. Sic. 3.58), who spells the next to last name "Cybelum."

38 The story of the Cretan Curetes.

39 Or perhaps "was drawled" (sc. from the lips of men; see Bergk, or Pind. Fr. 79 (Sandys)). Roberts (Dio. Hal. On Literary Composition 14) translates the verb "crept in" and Sandys (l.c.) "flowed."

40 Eur. Ba. 55

41 The verb is also used in the sense of "bringing back home," and in the above case might be construed as a double entente.

42 i.e., "Boisterous" one.

43 Eur. Ba. 72

44 Where Zeus was hid.

45 The leader of the Chorus is spokesman of the chorus, and hence of all the Greeks.

46 Referring to the triple rim of their helmets (cp. the triple crown of the Pope).

47 Name of the Phrygian priests of Cybele.

48 i.e., the tambourine.

49 They shouted "ev-ah!" (εὖα; cf. Lat. ovatio), as the Greek word shows.

50 "Triennial Festivals."

51 Eur. Ba. 120

52 The reading and metrical arrangement of this corrupt passage is that of Nauck, Fr. 586.

53 "Drum on" is an effort to reproduce in English Strabo's word-play.

54 Soph. Fr. 47.9 (Nauck)

55 Cp. end of section 17 following.

56 Cp. end of section18 following.

57 The instruments, like those who play them (cp. sections 19 and 23 following), are boldly referred to as "mountain-ranging."

58 A kind of reed-flute.

59 Literally "cups"; hence, a kind of cymbal.

60 In connection with this bold use of "semblance" (εἰκών) by Aeschylus, note Strabo's studied use of "resembles" (ἔοικε, twice in this paragraph) and "unlikely" (ἀπεικός). Others either translate εἰκών "echo," or omit the thought.

61 "Sweet-singer.

62 Plat. Rep. 1.327, 2.354

63 Dem. 18.313.

64 Hes. Fr. 198 (Rzach)

65 Hellanicus of Lesbos (fl. about 430 B.C.).

66 "Cretans."

67 "Chalc" means "brazen."

68 See 14. 2. 7.

69 See 10. 3. 11.

70 See 10. 4. 12.

71 Demetrius of Scepsis.

72 Fl. about 460 B.C.; only fragments of his works are extant.

73 Quoted in 10. 3. 13.

74 13. 1. 51.

75 In Crete.

76 See 13. 1. 47.

77 Acusilaüs (fl. fifth century B.C.) wrote works entitled History and Genealogies. Only fragments remain.

78 Pherecydes (fl. in the fifth century B.C.) wrote a mythological and historical work in ten books. Only fragments remain.

79 Hdt. 3.37.

80 13. 1. 48.

81 i.e., "Cory-bant-es" is here derived from the two verbs "coryptein" ("butt with the head") and "bainein" ("walk" or "go").

82 "Harmony-walkers."

83 Hom. Od. 8.250

84 "Dactyli" means either "fingers" or "toes."

85 Soph. Cophi Satyri Fr. 337 (Nauck)

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 English (H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., 1903)
load focus Greek (1877)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

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

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
460 BC (1)
430 BC (1)
350 BC (1)
hide References (22 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (22):
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1.985b
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 313
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 120
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 55
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 72
    • Herodotus, Histories, 3.37
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.208
    • Homer, Odyssey, 8.250
    • Plato, Republic, 1.327
    • Plato, Republic, 617b
    • Plato, Phaedo, 61
    • Plato, Epinomis, 991e
    • Plato, Timaeus, 32c
    • Homer, Iliad, 13.685
    • Homer, Iliad, 14.116
    • Homer, Iliad, 19.193
    • Homer, Iliad, 19.248
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.542
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.529
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.548
    • Polybius, Histories, 34
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 3.58
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: