Πύλον. The position of the Neleian Pylos is an ancient subject of controversy. The Schol. on Aristoph. Eqq.1059 fills up Cleon's oracle “ἔστι Πύλος πρὸ Πύλοιο”, with the hemistich “Πύλος γε μέν ἐστι καὶ ἄλλη”. Compare Cellarius, notit. orbis ant. 1. 1188 ‘tres in Peloponneso Pyli, Eliacus, Triphyliacus, et Messeniacus: omnes alumno Nestore gloriabantur. Quod vero Nestoris possessiones Homerus ( Il.2. 591; 5.545; 11. 711) ad utramque ripam Alphei disposuit, Strabo inde, libro 8. p. 341, verisimillimum censet Pylum Nestoris fuisse Triphyliacum, qui solus fuit circa fluvium Alpheum.’ There is little or nothing to be said in favour of the Eleian Pylos, so that the claim lies between the Triphylian and Messenian. Strabo, as quoted above, argues strongly on behalf of the former; the latter view he says was held by “οἱ νεώτεροι ποιηταί”. His first argument is based on Il.5. 545“Ἀλφειοῦ ὅς τ᾽ εὐρὺ ῥέει Πυλίων διὰ γαίης”, but to this it may be answered that Pylos is loosely used in Homer to describe the whole Neleid Kingdom, as Strabo himself acknowledges, “Ὅμηρος δὲ ταύτην ἅπασαν τὴν χώραν μέχρι Μεσσήνης καλεῖ Πύλον ὁμωνύμως τῇ πόλει”. His second argument is more elaborate, from an examination of Nestor's description of the raids and reprisals between himself and the Epeians, Il.11. 670 foll. He decides that the circumstances there recorded follow each other too quickly to be compatible with the longer distances which the Messenian Pylos would necessitate. And here he decidedly makes a strong point. Again, he contends that the Neleian Pylos could not have been on the coast, as the Messenian is supposed to have been, because after Telemachus had embarked and had proceeded to Nestor's house he was obliged to send back a messenger to summon his companions from the ship ( Od.3. 423); and, in another passage ( Od.15. 199 foll.), the ship is again represented as being at some distance from the town. But we are still left in the dark as to the actual distance, and as to the position of the harbour with respect to the town. The testimony of the ancients preponderates decidedly in favour of the Messenian Pylos; Pausanias does not even allude to the existence of the Triphylian, while Pindar distinctly calls Nestor ( Pyth.6. 35) “Μεσσάνιος γέρων”, and the Scholl. on the present passage, as well as Eustath., declare for the same. The epithet “ἠμαθόεις” suits well with the Messenian Pylos, situated on the promontory of Coryphasium, at the north of the bay of Navarino. It may be uncertain whether the town of Pylos was somewhat further inland than Coryphasium, and the port alone was on the promontory; a view which would solve the difficulties stated by Strabo respecting the distance of the town from the sea. The coast line has no doubt materially changed in historical times (see Arnold, Thucyd. vol. 2, append.), but still it fully merits the Homeric epithet “ἠμαθόεις”, which epithet Strabo seems to have thought so strong that he attempts to neutralise it by interpreting it, contrary to all usage, as equivalent to ‘situated on the river Amathus’ (see Damm, Lex. Hom. s. v. Ἄμαθος). The strongest argument however in favour of the Messenian Pylos is the fact that Telemachus performs the journey from Pylos to Sparta in two days, without change of horses, passing the first night at Pherae; “λιπέτην δὲ Πύλου αἰπὺ πτολίεθρον”,“οἱ δὲ πανημέριοι σεῖον ζυγὸν . . δύσετό τ᾽ ἠέλιος . . ἐς Φηρὰς δ᾽ ἵκοντο” ( Od.3. 485 foll.); and the next evening “ἷξον κοίλην Λακεδαίμονα κητώεσσαν” ( Od.4. 1). Now the Messenian Pylos, Pherae (at the head of the Sinus Messeniacus), and Sparta lie nearly in a line at intervals of about 30 miles. The Triphylian Pylos lies quite out of the way, and a traveller leaving that city for Lacedaemon would come down the valley of the Eurotas without approaching Pherae.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.