previous next


SOME writers reckon the Curetes among the Acarnanians, others among the Ætolians; some allege that they came from Crete, others that they came from Eubœa. Since, however, they are mentioned by Homer, we must first examine his account of them. It is thought that he does not mean the Acarnanians, but the Ætolians, in the following verses, for the sons of Porthaon were,

“ Agrius, Melas, and the hero Œneus,
These dwelt at Pleuron, and the lofty Calydon,1

Il. xiv. 116.
both of which are Ætolian cities, and are mentioned in the Ætolian Catalogue; wherefore since those who inhabited Pleuron appear to be, according to Homer, Curetes, they might be Ætolians. The opponents of this conclusion are misled by the mode of expression in these verses,

“ Curetes and Ætolians, firm in battle, were fighting for the city Calydon,2

Il. ix. 525.
for neither would he have used appropriate terms if he had said, “ Bœotians and Thebans were contending against each other,

” nor “ Argives and Peloponnesians.

” But we have shown in a former part of this work, that this mode of expression is usual with Homer, and even trite among other poets. This objection then is easily answered. But let the objectors explain, how, if these people were not Æto- lians, the poet came to reckon the Pleuronii among the Æto lians. [2]

Ephorus, after having asserted that the nation of the Ætolians were never in subjection to any other people, but, from all times of which any memorial remains, their country continued exempt from the ravages of war, both on account of its local obstacles and their own experience in warfare, says, that from the beginning Curetes were in possession of the whole country, but on the arrival of Ætōlus, the son of Endy- nion, from Elis, who defeated them in various battles, the Curetes retreated to the present Acarnania, and the Ætolians returned with a body of Epeii, and founded ten of the most ancient cities in Ætolia; and in the tenth generation afterwards Elis was founded, in conjunction with that people, by Oxylus, the son of Hæmon, who had passed over from Ætolia. They produce, as proofs of these facts, inscriptions, one sculptured on the base of the statue of Ætolus at Therma in Ætolia, where, according to the custom of the country, they assemble to elect their magistrates; “‘this statue of Ætolus, son of Endymion, brought up near the streams of the Alpheius, and in the neighbourhood of the stadia of Olympia, Ætolians dedicated as a public monument of his merits.’” And the other inscription on the statue of Oxylus is in the market-place of Elis; “‘Ætolus, having formerly abandoned the original inhabitants of this country, won by the toils of war the land of the Curetes. But Oxylus, the son of Hæmon, the tenth scion of that race, founded this ancient city.’” [3]

He rightly alleges, as a proof of the affinity subsisting reciprocally between the Eleii and the $Etolians, these inscriptions, both of which recognise not the affinity alone, but also that their founders had established settlers in each other's country. Whence he clearly convicts those of falsehood who assert, that the Eleii were a colony of Ætolians, and that the Ætolians were not a colony of Eleii. But he seems to exhibit the same inconsistency in his positions here, that we proved with regard to the oracle at Delphi. For after asserting that Ætolia had never been ravaged by war from all time of which there was any memorial, and saying, that from the first the Curetes were in possession of this country, he 3 ought to have inferred from such premises, that the Curetes continued to occupy the country of Ætolia to his days. For in this manner it might be understood never to have been devastated, nor in subjection to any other nation. But forgetting his position, he does not infer this, but the contrary, that Ætolus came from Elis, and having defeated the Curetes in various battles, these people retreated into Acarnania. What else then is there peculiar to the devastation of a country than the defeat of the inhabitants in war and their abandonment of their land, which is evinced by the inscription among the Eleii; for speaking of Ætolus the words are, “‘he obtained possession of the country of the Curetes by the continued toils of war.’” [4]

But perhaps some person may say, that he means Ætolia was not laid waste, reckoning from the time that it had this name after the arrival of Ætolus; but he takes away the ground of this supposition, by saying afterwards, that the greatest part of the people, that remained among the Ætolians, were those called Epeii, with whom Ætolians were afterwards intermingled, who had been expelled from Thessaly together with Bœotians, and possessed the country in common with these people. But is it probable that, without any hostilities, they invaded the country of another nation and divided it among themselves and the original possessors, who did not require such a partition of their land? If this is not probable, is it to be believed that the victors agreed to an equal division of the territory? What else then is devastation of a country, but the conquest of it by arms? Besides, Apollodorus says that, according to history, the Hyantes abandoned Bœotia and came and settled among the Ætolians, and concludes as confident that his opinion is right by saying it is our custom to relate these and similar facts exactly, whenever any of them is altogether dubious, or concerning which erroneous opinions are entertained. [5]

Notwithstanding these faults in Ephorus, still he is superior to other writers. Polybius himself, who has studiously given him so much praise, has said that Eudoxus has written well on Grecian affairs, but that Ephorus has given the best account of the foundation of cities, of the relationship subsisting between nations, of changes of settlements, and of leaders of colonies, in these words, ‘but I shall explain the present state of places, both as to position and distances; for this is the peculiar province of chorography.’4

But you, Polybius, who introduce popular hearsay, and rumours on the subject of distances, not only of places beyond Greece, but in Greece itself, have you not been called to answer the charges sometimes of Posidonius, sometimes of Artemidorus, and of many other writers? ought you not therefore to excuse us, and not to be offended, if in transferring into our own work a large part of the historical poets from such writers we commit some errors, and to commend us when we are generally more exact in what we say than others, or supply what they omitted through want of information. [6]

With respect to the Curetes, some facts are related which belong more immediately, some more remotely, to the history of the Ætolians and Acarnanians. The facts more immediately relating to them, are those which have been mentioned before, as that the Curetes were living in the country which is now called Ætolia, and that a body of Ætolians under the command of Ætolus came there, and drove them into Acarnania; and these facts besides, that Æolians invaded Pleuronia, which was inhabited by Curetes, and called Curetis, took away their territory, and expelled the possessors.

But Archemachus5 of Eubœa says that the Curetes had their settlement at Chalcis, but being continually at war about the plain Lelantum, and finding that the enemy used to seize and drag them by the hair of the forehead, they wore their hair long behind, and cut the hair short in front, whence they had the name of Curetes, (or the shorn,) from eura, (κουοͅά,) or the tonsure which they had undergone; that they removed to Ætolia, and occupied the places about Pleuron; that others, who lived on the other side of the Achelous, because they kept their heads unshorn, were called Acarnanians.6

But according to some writers each tribe derived its name from some hero;7 according to others, that they had the name of Curetes from the mountain Curium,8 which is situated above Pleuron, and that this is an Ætolian tribe, like the Ophieis, Agræi, Eurytanes, and many others.

But, as we have before said, when Ætolia was divided into two parts, the country about Calydon was said to be in the possession of Œneus; and a portion of Pleuronia in that of the Porthaonidæ of the branch of Agrius,9 for

“ they dwelt at Pleuron, and the lofty Calydon.10

Il. xiv. 117.
Thestius however, father-in-law of Œneus, and father of Althea, chief of the Curetes, was master of Pleuronia. But when war broke out between the Thestiadæ, Œneus, and Meleager about a boar's head and skin, according to the poet,11 following the fable concerning the boar of Calydon, but, as is probable, the dispute related to a portion of the territory; the words are these,

“ Curetes and Ætolians, firm in battle, fought against one another.12

Il. ix. 525.
These then are the facts more immediately connected (with geography). [7]

There13 are others more remote from the subject of this work, which have been erroneously placed by historians under one head on account of the sameness of name: for instance, accounts relating to ‘Curetic affairs’ and ‘concerning the Curetes’ have been considered as identical with accounts ‘concerning the people (of the same name) who inhabited Ætolia and Acarnania.’ But the former differ from the latter, and resemble rather the accounts which we have of Satyri and Silenes, Bacchæ and Tityri; for the Curetes are represented as certain dæmons, or ministers of the gods, by those who have handed down the traditions respecting Cretan and Phrygian affairs, and which involve certain religious rites, some mystical, others the contrary, relative to the nurture of Jupiter in Crete; the celebration of orgies in honour of the mother of the gods, in Phrygia, and in the neighbourhood of the Trojan Ida. There is however a very great variety14 in these accounts. According to some, the Corybantes, Cabeiri, Idæan Dactyli, and Telchines are repre- sented as the same persons as the Curetes; according to others, they are related to, yet distinguished from, each other by some slight differences; but to describe them in general terms and more at length, they are inspired with an enthusiastic and Bacchic frenzy, which is exhibited by them as ministers at the celebration of the sacred rites, by inspiring terror with armed dances, accompanied with the tumult and noise of cymbals, drums, and armour, and with the sound of pipes and shouting; so that these sacred ceremonies are nearly the same as those that are performed among the Samothracians in Lemnus, and in many other places; since the ministers of the god are said to be the same.15 The whole of this kind of discussion is of a theological nature, and is not alien to the contemplation of the philosopher. [8]

But since even the historians, through the similarity of the name Curetes, have collected into one body a mass of dissimilar facts, I myself do not hesitate to speak of them at length by way of digression, adding the physical considerations which belong to the history.16 Some writers however endeavour to reconcile one account with the other, and perhaps they have some degree of probability in their favour. They say, for instance, that the people about Ætolia have the name of Curetes from wearing long dresses like girls, (κόραι,) and that there was, among the Greeks, a fondness for some such fashion. The Ionians also were called ‘tunic-trailers,’17 and the soldiers of Leonidas,18 who went out to battle with their hair dressed, were despised by the Persians, but subjects of their admiration in the contest. In short, the application of art to the hair consists in attending to its growth, and the manner of cutting it,19 and both these are the peculiar care of girls and youths;20 whence in several ways it is easy to find a derivation of the name Curetes. It is also probable, that the practice of armed dances, first introduced by persons who paid so much attention to their hair and their dress, and who were called Curetes, afforded a pretence for men more warlike than others, and who passed their lives in arms, to be themselves called by the same name of Curetes, I mean those in Eubœa, Ætolia, and Acarnania. Homer also gives this name to the young soldiers; “‘selecting Curetes, the bravest of the Ach$eans, to carry from the swift ship, presents, which, yesterday, we promised to Achilles.’21” And again;

“ Curetes Acheei carried the presents.22

Il. xvi. 617.
So much then on the subject of the etymology of the name Curetes. [The dance in armour is a military dance; this is shown by the Pyrrhic dance and by Pyrrichus, who, it is said, invented this kind of exercise for youths, to prepare them for military service.]23 [9]

We are now to consider how the names of these people agree together, and the theology, which is contained in their history.

Now this is common both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, to perform their religious ceremonies with the observance of a festival, and a relaxation from labour; some are performed with enthusiasm, others without any emotion; some accompanied with music, others without music; some in mysterious privacy, others publicly; and these are the dictates of nature.24 For relaxation from labour withdraws the thoughts from human occupations, and directs the reflecting mind to the divinity: enthusiasm seems to be attended with a certain divine inspiration, and to approach the prophetic character; the mystical concealment of the sacred rites excites veneration for the divinity, and imitates his nature, which shuns human senses and perception; music also, accompanied with the dance, rhythm, and song, for the same reason brings us near the deity by the pleasure which it excites, and by the charms of art. For it has been justly said, that men resemble the gods chiefly in doing good, but it may be said more properly, when they are happy; and this happiness consists in rejoicing, in festivals, in philosophy, and in music.25 For let not the art be blamed, if it should sometimes be abused by the musician employing it to excite voluptuousness in convivial meetings at banquets, on the stage, or under other circum stances, but let the nature of the institutions which are founded on it be examined.26 [10]

Hence Plato, and, before his time, the Pythagoreans, called music philosophy. They maintained that the world subsisted by harmony, and considered every kind of music to be the work of the gods. It is thus that the muses are regarded as deities, and Apollo has the name of President of the Muses, and all poetry divine, as being conversant about the praises of the gods. Thus also they ascribe to music the formation of manners, as everything which refines the mind approximates to the power of the gods.

The greater part of the Greeks attribute to Bacchus, Apollo, Hecate, the Muses, and Ceres, everything connected with orgies and Bacchanalian rites, dances, and the mysteries attended upon initiation. They call also Bacchus, Dionysus, and the chief Dæmon of the mysteries of Ceres.27 The carrying about of branches of trees, dances, and initiations are common to the worship of these gods. But with respect to Apollo and the Muses, the latter preside over choirs of singers and dancers; the former presides both over these and divination. All persons instructed in science, and particularly those who have cultivated music, are ministers of the Muses; these and also all who are engaged in divination are ministers of Apollo. Those of Ceres, are the Mystæ, torch-bearers and Hierophants; of Dionysus, Seileni, Satyri, Tityri, Bacchæ Lenæ, Thyiæ, Mimallones, Naïdes, and Nymphæ, as they are called. [11]

But in Crete both these, and the sacred rites of Jupiter in particular, were celebrated with the performance of orgies, and by ministers, like the Satyri, who are employed in the worship of Dionysus. These were called Curetes, certain youths who executed military movements in armour, accompanied with dancing, exhibiting the fable of the birth of Jupiter, in which Saturn was introduced, whose custom it was to devour his children immediately after their birth; Rhea attempts to conceal the pains of childbirth, and to remove the new-born infant out of sight, using her utmost endeavours to preserve it. In this she has the assistance of the Curetes who surround the goddess, and by the noise of drums and other similar sounds, by dancing in armour and by tumult, endeavour to strike terror into Saturn, and escape notice whilst removing his child. The child is then delivered into their hands to be brought up with the same care by which he was rescued. The Curetes therefore obtained this appellation, either because they were boys (κόροι), or because they educated Jupiter in his youth (κουροτροθεῖν), for there are two explanations, inasmuch as they acted the same part with respect to Jupiter as the Satyri (with respect to Dionysus). Such then is the worship of the Greeks, as far as relates to the celebration of orgies. [12]

But the Berecyntes, a tribe of Phrygians, the Phrygians in general, and the Trojans, who live about Mount Ida, themselves also worship Rhea, and perform orgies in her honour; they call her mother of gods, Agdistis, and Phrygia,28 the Great Goddess; from the places also where she is worshipped, Idæa, and Dindymene,29 Sipylene,30 Pessinuntis,31 and Cybele.32 The Greeks call her ministers by the same name Curetes, not that they follow the same mythology, but they mean a different kind of persons, a sort of agents analogous to the Satyri. These same ministers are also called by them Corybantes. [13]

We have the testimony of the poets in favour of these opinions. Pindar, in the Dithyrambus, which begins in this manner; “‘formerly the dithyrambus used to creep upon the ground, long and trailing.’” After mentioning the hymns, both ancient and modern, in honour of Bacchus, he makes a digression, and says, “‘for thee, O Mother, resound the large circles of the cymbals, and the ringing crotala; for thee, blaze the torches of the yellow pine;’” where he combines with one another the rites celebrated among the Greeks in honour of Dionysus with those performed among the Phrygians in honour of the mother of the gods. Euripides, in the Bacchæ, does the same thing, con joining, from the proximity of the countries,33 Lydian and Phrygian customs. “"Then forsaking Tmolus, the rampart of Lydia, my maidens, my pride, [whom I took from among barbarians and made the partners and companions of my way, raise on high the tambourine of Phrygia, the tambourine of the great mother Rhea,] my invention. ‘Blest and happy he who, initiated into the sacred rites of the gods, leads a pure life; who celebrating the orgies of the Great Mother Cybele, who brandishing on high the thyrsus and with ivy crowned, becomes Dionysus' worshipper. Haste, Bacchanalians, haste, and bring Bromius Dionysus down from the Phrygian mountains to the wide plains of Greece.’

” And again, in what follows, he combines with these the Cretan rites. “‘Hail, sacred haunt of the Curetes, and divine inhabitants of Crete, progenitors of Jove, where for me the triple-crested Corybantes in their caves invented this skin-stretched circle [of the tambourine], who mingled with Bacchic strains the sweet breath of harmony from Phrygian pipes, and placed in Rhea's hands this instrument which re-echoes to the joyous shouts of Bacchanalians: from the Mother Rhea the frantic Satyri succeeded in obtaining it, and introduced it into the dances of the Trieterides, among whom Dionysus delights to dwell.’34” And the chorus in Palamedes says, “‘Not revelling with Dionysus, who together with his mother was cheered with the resounding drums along the tops of Ida.’” [14]

Conjoining then Seilenus, Marsyas, and Olympus, and ascribing to them the invention of the flute, they thus again combine Dionysiac and Phrygian rites, frequently confounding Ida and Olympus,35 and making them re-echo with their noise, as if they were the same mountain. There are four peaks of Ida called Olympi, opposite Antandros.36 There is also a Mysian Olympus, bordering upon Ida, but not the same mountain. Sopholes represents Menelaus in the Polyxena as setting sail in haste from Troy, and Agamemnon as wishing to remain behind a short time, with a view to propitiate Minerva. He introduces Menelaus as saying,

“ But do thou remain there on the Idæan land,
Collect the flocks on Olympus, and offer sacrifice.37

Od. iii. 144.

They invented terms appropriate to the sounds of the pipe, of the crotala, cymbals, and drums; to the noise also of shouts; to the cries of Evoe; and to the beating of the ground with the feet. They invented certain well-known names also to designate the ministers, dancers, and servants employed about the sacred rites, as Cabeiri, Corybantes, Pans, Satyri, Tityri, the god Bacchus; Rhea, Cybele, Cybebe, and Dindymene, from the places where she was worshipped. [The god] Sabazius belongs to the Phrygian rites, and may be considered the child as it were of the [Great] Mother. The traditional ceremonies observed in his worship are those of Bacchus.38 [16]

The rites called Cotytia, and Bendideia,39 celebrated among the Thracians, resemble these. The Orphic ceremonies had their origin among these people. Æschylus mentions the goddess Cotys, and the instruments used in her worship among the Edoni.40 For after saying, “ O divine Cotys, goddess of the Edoni,
With the instruments of the mountain worship;"
immediately introduces the followers of Dionysus,

” “‘one holding the bombyces, the admirable work of the turner, with the fingers makes the loud notes resound, exciting frenzy; another makes the brass-bound cotylæ to re-echo.’” And in another passage; “‘The song of victory is poured forth; invisible mimes low and bellow from time to time like bulls, inspiring fear, and the echo of the drum rolls along like the noise of subterranean thunder;’41” for these are like the Phrygian ceremonies, nor is it at all improbable that, as the Phrygians themselves are a colony of Thracians, so they brought from Thrace their sacred ceremonies, and by joining together Dionysus and the Edonian Lycurgus they intimate a similarity in the mode of the worship of both. [17]

From the song, the rhythm, and the instruments, all Thracian music is supposed to be Asiatic. This is evident also from the places where the Muses are held in honour. For Pieria, Olympus, Pimpla, and Leibethrum were anciently places, and mountains, belonging to the Thracians, but at present they are in the possession of the Macedonians. The Thracians, who were settled in Bœotia, dedicated Helicon to the Muses, and consecrated the cave of the Nymphs, Leibethriades. The cultivators of ancient music are said to have been Thracians, as Orpheus, Musaus, Thamyris; hence also Eumolpus had his name. Those who regard the whole of Asia as far as India as consecrated to Bacchus, refer to that country as the origin of a great portion of the present music. One author speaks of ‘striking forcibly the Asiatic cithara;’ another calls the pipes Berecynthian and Phry- gian. Some of the instruments also have barbarous names, as Nablas, Sambyce,42 Barbitus,43 Magadis,44 and many others. [18]

As in other things the Athenians always showed their admiration of foreign customs, so they displayed it in what respected the gods. They adopted many foreign sacred ceremonies, particularly those of Thrace and Phrygia; for which they were ridiculed in comedies. Plato mentions the Bendidean, and Demosthenes the Phrygian rites, where he is exposing Æschines and his mother to the scorn of the people; the former for having been present when his mother was sacrificing, and for frequently joining the band of Bacchanalians in celebrating their festivals, and shouting, Evoi, Saboi, Hyes Attes, and Attes Hyes, for these cries belong to the rites of Sabazius and the Great Mother. [19]

But there may be discovered respecting these dæmons, and the variety of their names, that they were not called ministers only of the gods, but themselves were called gods. For Hesiod says that Hecaterus and the daughter of Phoroneus had five daughters, “ From whom sprung the goddesses, the mountain nymphs,
And the worthless and idle race of satyrs,
And the gods Curetes, lovers of sport and dance.

” The author of the Phoronis calls the Curetes, players upon the pipe, and Phrygians; others call them ‘earth-born, and wearing brazen shields.’ Another author terms the Corybantes, and not the Curetes, Phrygians, and the Curetes, Cretans. Brazen shields were first worn in Eubœa, whence the people had the name of Chalcidenses.45 Others say, that the Corybantes who came from Bactriana, or, according to some writers, from the Colchi, were given to Rhea, as a band of armed ministers, by Titan. But in the Cretan history the Curetes are called nurses and guardians of Jove, and are described as having been sent for from Phrygia to Crete by Rhea. According to other writers, there were nine Telchines in Rhodes, who accompanied Rhea to Crete, and from nursing46 Jupiter had the name of Curetes;47 that Corybus, one of their party, was the founder of Hierapytna, and furnished the Prasians48 in Rhodes with the pretext for saying that Cory bantes were certain dæmons, children of Minerva and the sun. By others, the Corybantes are represented to be the children of Saturn; by others, of Jupiter and Calliope, or to be the same persons as the Cabeiri; that they went away49 to Samothrace,50 which was formerly called Melite; but their lives and actions are mysterious. [20]

The Scepsian (Demetrius) who has collected fabulous stories of this kind, does not receive this account because no mysterious tradition about the Cabeiri is preserved in Samothrace, yet he gives the opinion of Stesimbrotus of Thasus, to the effect that the sacred rites in Samothrace were celebrated in honour of the Cabeiri.51 Demetrius, however, says that they had their name from Cabeirus, the mountain in Berecynthia. According to others, the Curetes were the same as the Cory- bantes, and were ministers of Hecate.

The Scepsian says in another place, in contradiction to Euripides, that it is not the custom in Crete to pay divine honours to Rhea, and that these rites were not established there, but in Phrygia only, and in the Troad, and that they who affirm the contrary are mythologists rather than historians; and were probably misled by an identity of name, for Ida is a mountain both in the Troad and in Crete; and Dicte is a spot in the Scepsian territory, and a mountain in Crete.52 Pytna is a peak of Ida, (and a mountain in Crete,) whence the city Hierapytna has its name. There is Hippocorona in the territory of Adramyttium, and Hippocoronium53 in Crete. Samonium also is the eastern promontory of the island, and a plain in the Neandris,54 and in the territory of the Alexandrians (Alexandria Troas). [21]

But Acusilaus, the Argive, mentions a Camillus, the son of Cabeira and Vulcan; who had three sons, Cabeiri, (and three daughters,) the Nymphs Cabeirides.55

According to Pherecydes, there sprung from Apollo and Rhetia nine Corybantes, who lived in Samothrace; that from Cabeira, the daughter of Proteus and Vulcan, there were three Cabeiri, and three Nymphs, Cabeirides, and that each had their own sacred rites. But it was at Lemnos and Imbros that the Cabeiri were more especially the objects of divine worship, and in some of the cities of the Troad; their names are mystical.

Herodotus56 mentions, that there were at Memphis temples of the Cabeiri as well as of Vulcan, which were destroyed by Cambyses. The places where these demons received divine honours are uninhabited, as Corybantium in the territory Hamaxitia belonging to the country of the Alexandrians, near Sminthium;57 and Corybissa in the Scepsian territory about the river Eureis, and a village of the same name, and the winter torrent Æthaloeïs.58

The Scepsian says, that it is probable that the Curetes and Corybantes are the same persons, who as youths and boys were employed to perform the armed dance in the worship of the mother of the gods. They were called Corybantes59 from their dancing gait, and butting with their head (κοοͅύπτοντας) by the poet they were called βητάπμονες, “‘Come hither, you who are the best skilled Betarmones among the Phæacians.’60” Because the Corybantes are dancers, and are frantic, we call those persons by this name whose movements are furious. [22]

Some writers say that the first inhabitants of the country at the foot of Mount Ida were called Idæan Dac- tyli, for the country below mountains is called the foot, and the summits of mountains their heads; so the separate extremities of Ida (and all are sacred to the mother of the gods) are called Idæan Dactyli.61

But Sophocles62 supposes, that the first five were males, who discovered and forged iron,63 and many other things which were useful for the purposes of life; that these persons had five sisters, and from their number had the name of Dactyli.64 Different persons however relate these fables differently, connecting one uncertainty with another. They differ both with respect to the numbers and the names of these persons; some of whom they call Celmis, and Damnameneus, and Hercules, and Acmon, who, according to some writers, were natives of Ida, according to others, were settlers, but all agree that they were the first workers in iron, and upon Mount Ida. All writers suppose them to have been magicians, attendants upon the mother of the gods, and to have lived in Phrygia about Mount Ida. They call the Troad Phrygia, because, after the devastation of Troy, the neighbouring Phrygians became masters of the country. It is also supposed that the Curetes and the Corybantes were descendants of the Idæan Dactyli, and that they gave the name of Idæan Dactyli to the first hundred persons who were born in Crete; that from these descended nine Curetes, each of whom had ten children, who were called Idæan Dactyli.65 [23]

Although we are not fond of fabulous stories, yet we have expatiated upon these, because they belong to subjects of a theological nature.

All discussion respecting the gods requires an examination of ancient opinions, and of fables, since the ancients expressed enigmatically their physical notions concerning the nature of things, and always intermixed fable with their discoveries. It is not easy therefore to solve these enigmas exactly, but if we lay before the reader a multitude of fabulous tales, some consistent with each other, others which are contradictory, we may thus with less difficulty form conjectures about the truth. For example, mythologists probably represented the ministers of the gods, and the gods themselves, as coursing over the mountains, and their enthusiastic behaviour, for the same reason that they considered the gods to be celestial beings, and to exercise a providential care over all things, and especially over signs and presages. Mining, hunting, and a search after things useful for the purposes of life, appeared to have a relation to this coursing over the mountains, but juggling and magic to be connected with enthusiastic behaviour, religious rites, and divination. Of such a nature, and connected in particular with the improvement of the arts of life, were the Dionysiac and Orphic arts. But enough of this subject.

1 Il. xiv. 116.

2 Il. ix. 525.

3 B. ix. c. iii. § ll.

4 As distinguished from geography. See b. i. c. i. § 16, note1.

5 The author of a work in several books on Eubœa. Athenæus, b. vi. c. 18.

6 The unshorn.

7 From Acarnan, son of Alcmæon. Thucyd. b. ii. c. 102. But the hero from whom the Curetes obtained their name is not mentioned.

8 The position of this mountain is not determined.

9 Œneus and his children were themselves Porthaonidæ. Œneus had possession only of Calydon, his brother Agrius and his children had a part of Pleuronia. Thestius, cousin-german of Œneus and of Agrius, received as his portion the remainder of Pleuronia and transmitted it to his children, (the Thestiadæ,) who probably succeeded in gaining possession of the whole country. The Porthaonidæ of the branch of Agrius, were Thersites, Onchestus, Prothous, Celeulor, Lycopeiis, and Melanippus. Apollodorus, b. i. c. 7, 8.

10 Il. xiv. 117.

11 Il. ix. 544.

12 Il. ix. 525.

13 "Cette digression est curieuse, sans doute * * * * Plusieurs critiques ont fait de ce morceau l'objet de leur Étude; néanmoins il demeure hérissé de difficultiés, et dernièrement M. Heyne (quel juge!) a prononcé que tout y restait à éclaircir. Du Theil. The myths relating to the Curetes abound with different statements and confusion. The following are the only points to be borne in mind. The Curetes belong to the most ancient times of Greece, and probably are to be counted among the first inhabitants of Phrygia. They were the authors and expositors of certain religious rites, which they celebrated with dances. According to mythology they played a part at the birth of Jupiter. They were sometimes called Idæan Dactyli. Hence their name was given to the ministers of the worship of the Great Mother among the Phrygians, which was celebrated with a kind of religious frenzy. The Curetes were also called Corybantes. Hence also arose the confusion between the religious rites observed in Crete, Phrygia, and Samothrace. Again, on the other hand, the Curetes have been mistaken for an Ætolian people, bearing the same name. Heyne, Not. ad Virgil. Æn. iii. 130. Religion. et Sacror. cum furore peract. Orig. Comm. Soc. R. Scient. Gotting. vol. viii. Dupuis, origin de tous les cultes, tom. 2. Sainte Croix Mém. pour servir a la religion Secrète, &c., Job. Guberleth. Diss. philol. de Myster. deorum Cabir. 1703. Frèret. Recher. pour servir à l'histoire des Cyclopes, &c. Acad. des Inscript. &c., vol. xxiii. His. pag. 27. 1749.

14 τοσαύτη ποικιλία, will bear also to be translated, id tantum varietatis, ‘this difference only,’ as Groskurd observes.

15 M. de Saint Croix (Recherches sur les Mystères, &c. sect. 2, page 25) is mistaken in asserting that ‘Strabo clearly refutes the statements of those who believed that the Cabeiri, Dactyli, Curetes, Corybantes, and Telchines, were not only the same kind of persons, but ever separate members of the same family.’ It appears to me, on the contrary, that this was the opinion adopted by our author. Du Theil.

16 προσθεὶς τὸν οἰκεῖον τῆ ἱστορίᾳ θυσικὸν λόγον. rationem naturalem, utpote congruentum huc, histories adjiciens. Xylander. Or paraphrased, ‘The history of this people will receive additional and a fitting illustra- tion by a reference to physical facts,’ such as the manner of wearing their hair, tonsure, &c.

17 ἑλκεχίτεωνας. The words καὶ κρώβυλον καὶ τἐττιγα ἐυπλεχθῆναι appear, according to Berkel. ad Steph. p. 74, to be here wanting, ‘and to bind the hair in the form of the Crobulus and ornamented with a grasshopper.’ The hair over the forehead of the Apollo Belvidere is an example of the crobulus.

18 Herod. vii. 208.

19 κουρὰν τριχὁς.

20 κόραις καὶ κὀροις.

21 Strabo therefore considered the 193, 194, 195 verses of II. xix. as authentic. Heyne was inclined to consider them as an interpolation, in which he is supported by other critics.

22 Il. xix. 248. The text is probably mutilated, and Strabo may have quoted the verses in Homer in which Merion is represented as dancing in armour. Il. xvi. 617.

23 Kramer suspects this passage to be an interpolation.

24 The reading in the text is τὸν δ᾽ ὅντως νοῦν. The translation adopts Meineke's reading, νοοῦτα.

25 Quam præclare philosophatus sit Strabo, me non monente, unusquisque assequitur; præclarius, utique, quam illi, qui ex nostro ritu religioso omnnem hilaritatem exulare voluere. Heyne, Virg. iii. 130.

26 The original, as Du Theil observes, is singularly obscure, ἀλλ̓ φὑσις τῶν παιδευμἁτων, ἐξεταζέσθω, τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐνθένδε ἔχουσα.

27 Following the reading suggested by Groskurd.

28 This word appears here misplaced.

29 The chain of mountains extending from the sources of the Sagaris (the Zagari) to the Propontis was called Dindymene.

30 Sipuli Dagh.

31 Possene.

32 This name is not derived from any place.

33 διὰ τὸ ὃμοοͅον, for διά τε ῞ομηρον. Meineke.

34 The literal translation has been preserved in the text for the sake of the argument. The following is Potter's translation, in which, however, great liberty is taken with the original. “ To whom the mysteries of the gods are known,
By these his life he sanctifies,
And, deep imbibed their chaste and cleaning lore,
Hallows his soul for converse with the skies.
Enraptur'd ranging the wild mountains o'er,
The mighty mother's orgies leading,
He his head with ivy shading,
His light spear wreath'd with ivy twine,
To Bacchus holds the rites divine.
Haste then, ye Bacchæ, haste.
Attend your god, the son of heaven's high king.
From Phrygia's mountains wild and waste
To beauteous-structur'd Greece your Bacchus bring
O ye Curetes, friendly band,
You, the blest natives of Crete's sacred land,
Who tread those groves, which, dark'ning round,
O'er infant Jove their shelt'ring branches spread,
The Corybantes in their caves profound,
The triple crest high waving on their head,
This timbrel framed, whilst clear and high
Swelled the Bacchic symphony.
The Phrygian pipe attemp'ring sweet,
Their voices to respondence meet,
And placed in Rhea's hands.
The frantic satyrs to the rites advance,
The Bacchæ join the festive bands,
And raptur'd lead the Trieteric dance.

35 There were several mountains bearing the name of Olympus. 1. In Thessaly. 2. In Peloponnesus. 3. Of Ida. 4. In Mysia. 5. In Crete.

36 San Dimitri.

37 Od. iii. 144.

38 Adopting Kramer's suggestion of παραδοὺς τὰ for ταραδόντα.

39 Bendis, Diana of the Thracians; among the Athenians th?re was a festival called Bendideia.

40 Athenæus, b. xi. c. 8. Æschylus in the Edoni (a fragment) calls cymbals cotylæ.

41 Probably from a passage in the Erectheus, a lost play of Euripides.

42 Nablas and Sambyce are Syriac words. Atheneus, b. iv. c. 24.

43 The invention of Anacreon, according to Neanthus Cyzicenus.

44 Athenæus, b. xiv. c. 8, 9.

45 See above, ch. iii. § 1, 6, 8.

46 κουροτροθήσαντες.

47 κουρῆτες.

48 Who were the Prasians of Rhodes I confess I cannot say. Palmer.

49 From whence Strabo does not inform us.

50 The Scholiast of Apollonius remarks that it was formerly called Leucosia, afterwards Samos from a certain Saiis, and Samothrace when it came into possession of the Thracians. It had also the name of Dardania.

51 The true origin of the word, according to Casaubon, is to be found in the Hebrew word Cabir, signifying powerful. Tobias Gutberlethus, De mysteriis deorum Cabirotum.

52 M. Sitia.

53 Places unknown.

54 In the plain of Troy.

55 According to the Scholiast on Apollonius Rhod., Arg. 5, 917 persons were initiated into the mysteries of the Cabeiri in Samothrace. The Cabeiri were four in number; Axieros, Axiokersa, Axiokersos, and Casmilos. Axieros corresponded to Demeter or Ceres, Axiokersa to Persephone or Proserpine, Axiokersos to Hades or Pluto, and Casmilos to Hermes or Mercury. See Ueber die Gottheiten von Samothrace, T. W. I. Schelling, 1815; and the Classical Journal, vol. xiv. p. 59.

56 Herod. iii. 37.

57 Probably a temple of Apollo Smintheus.

58 Corybissa, Eureis, and Æthaloeïs are unknown.

59 They were called Curetes because they were boys, and κονρήτες μὲν ἀπὰ τοῦ κόρους εὶ̂ναι καλούμενοι. Groskurd suspects these or similar words to have followed ‘Corybantes.’

60 Od. viii. 250.

61 i. e. toes.

62 In a lost play, The Deaf Satyrs.

63 In hoc quoque dissentio, sapientes fuisse, qui ferri metalla et æris invenerunt, cum incendio silvarum adusta tellus, in summo venas jacentes liquefacta fudisset. Seneca, Epist. 90.

64 Diodorus Siculus, b. v., says that they obtained the name from being equal in number to the ten fingers or toes (Dactyli).

65 Groskurd proposes Corybantes for these latter Idæan Dactyli.

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 (1924)
load focus Greek (1877)
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.
1815 AD (1)
1749 AD (1)
1703 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: