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Here begins the tale of the Cypselids in three parts:—1. The saving of Cypselus; 2. The advice of Thrasybulus; 3. The ghost of Melissa.

The accepted tradition, which has been largely rationalized, ran thus. At the time of the Dorian invasion the Heracleid Aletes became king in Corinth in place of the Sisyphid (Paus. ii. 4. 3, 4; Thuc. iv. 42). Ten Dorian kings reigned before the monarchy gave way to the oligarchy of the Bacchiadae, whose clan of two hundred or more families took its name from the fifth king Bacchis. After the death of the last king Telestes, annual Prytaneis were elected from the ruling race for ninety years (747-657 B. C.). But the whole scheme is highly artificial and due to late chronologists (Busolt, i. 631 f.).

ἐδίδοσαν καὶ ἤγοντο: the formal expression for ἐπιγαμία, conubium, though ἐκδίδοναι is more regular (ii. 47. 1; i. 196. 4; iv. 145. 5; Thuc. viii. 21). Legitimate marriage was clearly impossible outside the ruling clan, just as at Rome in early days there was no conubium between patrician and plebeian. Such close aristocracies claiming descent from a royal house were common (Whibley, Greek Oligarchies, p. 120 f.). They tended to become the narrowest of despotic oligarchies (δυναστεῖαι, Thuc. iii. 62; iv. 78; Ar. Pol. 1302 b 17, 1306 a 24), resembling real tyrannies. Cf. ἀνδράσι μουνάρχοισι infra.

Λάβδα. So called because her deformity resembled the letter Λ (Etym. Mag. 199). Perhaps the lameness is symbolic (cf. iv. 161; Xen. Hell. iii. 3. 3).

δήμου. Perhaps influenced by Attic usage; cf. ix. 73. 1 Σωφάνης . . . ἐκ δήμου Δεκελεῆθεν. Cf. Hom. Il. v. 710; Od. i. 103; xiii. 322, &c. But demes are known in Elis, Rhodes, &c., outside Attica; for a collection of instances cf. Pauly-Wissowa s. v. Petra probably lay south of Corinth on the northern slope of the Argive hills near Tenea.

Λαπίθης τε καὶ Καινείδης: generic and specific designation; so ch. 65. 3 Πύλιοί τε καὶ Νηλεῖδαι. Caeneus, the invulnerable Lapith, was slain by the weight of the trees hurled on him by the Centaurs in the fight at the wedding of Pirithous. The Lapiths are a prae-Hellenic Thessalian race; but, according to Paus. ii. 4. 4, v. 18. 7, the Cypselids sprang from Melas, son of Antasus, a man of Gonoessa above Sicyon, whom Aletes, in spite of a warning from an oracle, suffered to come to Corinth. In any case, Eetion belonged to the prae-Dorian ‘Aeolic’ population of Corinth (Thuc. iv. 42), the tyrannis, as usual in Peloponnese, marking an anti-Dorian reaction on the part of the conquered race.

οὐδέ, ‘he had no children by this or any other woman.’ Cf. i. 215. 2; ii. 52. 1, and especially Arist. Av. 694γῆ δ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ἀὴρ οὐδ̓ οὐρανὸς ἦν”.

ὀλοοίτροχον: cf. viii. 52. 2. A play on the synonym Petra, as the line before is on Eetion.

δικαιώσει. Here = ‘chastise’, as shown by l. 14. Cf. i. 100. 2; iii. 29. 3.

αἰετὸς ἐν πέτρῃσι: Ἠετίων (Dor. Ἀετίων) ἐκ Πέτρης.

λεόντα. The lion is a symbol of royal power, vi. 131. 2, and perhaps v. 56. 1, vii. 225. 2.

Corinth is called the city of Pirene (Pind. Ol. xiii. 161), but the site of the spring is uncertain. The Pirene of Strabo (379) (cf. Paus. ii. 5. 1; Frazer, iii. 32) is on Acro-Corinthus, a quarter of an hour from the summit by the east wall of the fortifications. The Pirene of Pausanias (ii. 3. 2) is in Old-Corinth at the foot of Acro-Corinthus, on the road from Lechaeum to the market-place, south-east of the well-known temple of Apollo. The latter Romanized fountain of Pirene has been thoroughly excavated by Professor Richardson, of the American school at Athens, who showed it me in 1899. See J. H. S. xix, p. 324; xx. 175; Century Magazine, March, 1899.

ὀφρυόεντα, ‘on a brow,’ probably of the towering Acro-Corinthus, though the town itself stood on a rocky plateau two hundred feet above the plain. Cf. Il. xxii. 411Ἴλιος ὀφρυόεσσα”, Strab. 382 χώραν δ᾽ ἔσχεν οὐκ εὔγεων σφόδρα, ἀλλὰ σκολιάν τε καὶ τραχεῖαν, ἀφ᾽ οὗ πάντες ὀφρυόεντα Κόρινθον εἰρήκασι καὶ παροιμιάζονται: Κόρινθος ὀφρυᾷ τε καὶ κολαίνεται.

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hide References (13 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (13):
    • Aristophanes, Birds, 694
    • Aristotle, Politics, 5.1306a
    • Homer, Odyssey, 1.103
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.4.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.4.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.5.1
    • Pindar, Olympian, 13
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.62
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.42
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.21
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 3.3.3
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.411
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.710
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