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Eth. LE´LEGES (Λέλεγες), an ancient race which was spread over Greece, the adjoining islands, and the Asiatic coast, before the Hellenes. They were so widely diffused that we must either suppose that their name was descriptive, and applied to several different tribes, or that it was the name of a single tribe and was afterwards extended to others. Strabo (vii. p.322) regarded them as a mixed race, and was disposed to believe that their name had reference to this (τὸ συλλέκτους γεγονέναι). They may probably be looked upon, like the Pelasgians and the other early inhabitants of Greece, as members of the great Indo-European race, who became gradually incorporated with the Hellenes, and thus ceased to exist as an independent people.

The most distinct statement of ancient writers on the origin of the Leleges is that of Herodotus, who says that the name of Leleges was the ancient name of the Carians (Hdt. 1.171). A later Greek writer considered the Leleges as standing in the same relation to the Carians as the Helots to the Lacedaemonians and the Penestae to the Thessalians. (Athen. 6.271.) In Homer both Leleges and Carians appear as equals, and as auxiliaries of the Trojans. (Il. 10.428.) The Leleges are ruled by Altes, the father-in-law of Priam, and inhabit a [p. 2.155]town called Pedasus at the foot of Mount Ida. (Il. 21.86.) Strabo relates that Leleges and Carians once occupied the whole of Ionia, and that in the Milesian territory and in all Caria tombs and forts of the Leleges were shown. He further says that the two were so intermingled that they were frequently regarded as the same people. (Strab. vii. p.321, xiii. p. 611.) It would therefore appear that there was some close connection between the Leleges and Carians, though they were probably different peoples. The Leleges seem at one time to have occupied a considerable part of the western coast of Asia Minor. They were the earliest known inhabitants of Samos. (Athen. 15.672.) The connection of the Leleges and the Carians was probably the foundation of the Megarian tradition, that in the twelfth generation after Car, Lelex came over from Egypt to Megara, and gave his name to the people (Paus. 1.39.6); but their Egyptian origin was evidently an invention of later times, when it became the fashion to derive the civilisation of Greece from that of Egypt. A grandson of this Lelex is said to have led a colony of Megarian Leleges into Messenia, where they founded Pylus, and remained until they were driven out by Neleus and the Pelasgians from Iolcos; whereupon they took possession of Pylus in Elis. (Paus. 5.36.1.) The Lacedaemonian traditions, on the other hand, represented the Leleges as the autochthons of Laconia; they spoke of Lelex as the first native of the soil, from whom the people were called Leleges and the land Lelegia; and the son of this Lelex is said to have been the first king of Messenia. (Paus. 3.1.1, 4.1. § § 1, 5.) Aristotle seems to have regarded Leucadia, or the western parts of Acarnania, as the original seats of the Leleges; for, according to this writer, Lelex was the autochthon of Leucadia, and from him were descended the Teleboans, the ancient inhabitants of the Taphian islands. He also regarded them as the same people as the Locrians, in which he appears to have followed the authority of Hesiod, who spoke of them as the subjects of Locrus, and as produced from the stones with which Deucalion repeopled the earth after the deluge. (Strab. vii. pp. 321, 322.) Hence all the inhabitants of Mount Parnassus, Locrians, Phocians, Boeotians, and others, are sometimes described as Leleges. (Comp. Dionys. A. R. 1.17.) (See Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. i. p. 42, seq.)

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