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Ἑρμέω. The ithyphallic Hermes, as a god of fruitfulness, was represented at the street corners in Athens (Thuc. vi. 27. 1); Pausanias (iv. 33. 4) says the rest of Greece learned this form of statue from the Athenians. It is true that there were no such statues in Egypt. For H.'s views on the Pelasgians cf. App. XV; he uses the name here of the later Pelasgian settlement in Attica (as in i. 57. 2), not of the original Pelasgian inhabitants of Greece.
These later Pelasgians began to be considered Greek after their settlement in Attica; the Athenians ‘already ranked as Greeks’ (for τελεῖν ἐς cf. vi. 53. 1). The Cabiri (cf. Daremberg and Saglio, s.v.) are one of the most difficult subjects in mythology. The name is probably connected with καίω = ‘the burners’; so Aeschylus' tragedy on the subject seems to have borne the name of Κάειροι. Others connect the name with a Semitic root = ‘mighty’, and derive the Greek Cabiri from those of Phoenicia, which became familiar to the Greeks as the figureheads of galleys. (So Bloch in Rosch. ii. 2540.) But the Phoenician Cabiri were eight in number, those of Greece vary from two to four. Probably then the Cabiri belong to the early stages of Greek religion and are in this sense rightly called ‘Pelasgic’. They were worshipped in many places. e.g. Lemnos, Thebes (cf. Frazer, v. 136 seq., for their temple there), as local genii, subordinate to the Olympian gods; so H. makes them (iii. 37) the ‘sons of Hephaestus’. But in Samothrace they had remained ‘cosmic deities of the first rank’, and were identified with Hermes and Hephaestus. As the symbol of the ithyphallic Hermes shows, they were connected with fruitfulness. Some have identified the Cabiri with the Phoenician Πατάϊκοι (iii. 37. 2 n.), also used as figure-heads, but H. expressly distinguishes them, in spite of their likeness. He had obviously been himself initiated in their mysteries (cf. Aristoph. Pax 277-8).
πρότερον: i.e. before they were driven out by the Samians (Strabo, 457). τά in loose apposition to λόγον. The obscene story is referred to Cic. de Nat. Deor. iii. 22.
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